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Does A Person Break Their Word If They Leave?


sparkyone
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This is something that I've thought about off and on over the last few months since I've been questioning my Christian beliefs. I've heard from the pulpit also that if you've dedicated your life to Christ and gotten saved, then if you start questioning God and thus calling him a liar and leave the faith, then you've broken a promise. I'm a conscientious and responsible person and not quick to commit to anything for fear of not following through. So this is an important issue to me. I don't personally remember promising that I would never leave or something along those lines. I grew up in the church and accepted what I was taught, but about a year ago I realized that there's more in the world than I could imagine and maybe our belief system isn't the end-all, cure-all that I thought it was. Does that make me a dishonest person or a more honest person if I admit I'm not sure anymore about the Bible and so on? I believed it in good faith when I made a "decision for Christ" years ago, but now I have more information and it's leading me away from those beliefs. Another thing that I've wondered about was the fact that my wedding vows included to "obey" my husband, and I felt that was the right way back when I got married. Since then I've come to realize that it's more of a parent-child relationship if I'm to unquestioningly obey whatever I'm told by my husband, and since I'm an adult, I have the right to consider the options and make a decision myself. In my case, I try to get along and honor my husband's wishes, but I have felt guilty for wishing I'd never made that vow. I'm wondering if maybe some sort of unwritten "escape clause" exists since I didn't know any better back then. The good thing is that my husband doesn't "boss me around", and is respectful of me as an adult and person. I'm so thankful to his parents for setting an example of "equal partners" in their marriage. I saw more of the "husband is boss" model growing up. I actually thought for years that he wouldn't support me if I decided to get a job outside the home, but I think it was more my conditioning while growing up that made me assume that. He had expressed the hope that I wouldn't have to work to help support the family and I took that to mean he wouldn't let me. Now I'm trying to get a job to help financially and he's very supportive of me. I often find myself underestimating my husband's good sense and so am sometimes surprised at the way he responds to situations. I'm so thankful for my husband. Sometimes I see other couples and shudder to think of the type of husband I could have ended up with, having married in the fundamentalist Baptist religion.

 

Sparkyone

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My question is: How can you break a promise to something that does not exist?

If there was substantial proof of the existence of God, then perhaps you could have that on your conscience. But, since(in my opinion)there is no God then why feel bad about it?

 

Also, those statements from a pastor encourage people to be sheep. It is all cultish propaganda.

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I've heard from the pulpit also that if you've dedicated your life to Christ and gotten saved, then if you start questioning God and thus calling him a liar and leave the faith, then you've broken a promise.

If I were to hear this now I would experience some mixture of incredulity and anger. Incredulity because it is an assertion that I have broken my promise to an imaginary friend. Anger because it seems clear to me that this is an attempt to control someone.

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I'm a conscientious and responsible person and not quick to commit to anything for fear of not following through. So this is an important issue to me.

 

Which means you are precicely the type of person that particular threat was leveled at. The church uses every kind of leverage they can to keep their members in the fold.

 

In response I'd just remind you what Emerson said: "A foolish consistency is the hobgobblin of little minds." And since we are dealing with honesty, intellectual honesty is far more important than a promise or a committment that was made before all the facts were known. IMO

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There is a difference between the way children keep promises, and the way a mature adult honors a promise.

 

A child will keep a promise no matter how much keeping that promise hurts them (child molesters exact promises 'not to tell' all the time). It's one of the things about children that is so precious and endearing. Their word is all they have, and a promise kept to a friend has been the subject of many a heartwarming novel and film.

 

Such promise keeping is held as ideal, and is highly abused by authority figures like priests and ministers.

 

And of course there is the way adults keep promises. Promises kept are conditional as to the consequences for self and others as a result of keeping a promise. Promise 'breaking' is sneered at and reviled. Even if by breaking a promise, you help someone more than keeping the promise....you are still encouraged to feel rotten for doing it!

 

This is horse shit. Anyone who has broken a promise knows damn well a lot more thought and consideration go into breaking the promise than goes into keeping it. Hard choices are part of the adult realm.

 

Are you a child sparkyone? Have you promised to keep your hands on the stovetop no matter how much it burns (there are abusive parents that have made their kids do things like this)? Or are you an adult capable of seeing that keeping a "promise" (particularly one you didn't know you made...and therefore you DIDN'T) is more detrimental to your mental and emotional health than leaving the promise behind?

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I agree with legion. Ask yourself this: If I make a promise to an imaginary and invisible thing is it really a promise? I don't think so. You just went along with what you were taught when you were growing up. A lot of children have imaginary friends. So if they make a promise to their imaginary buddies, do they have to keep it?

 

I went through the same thing as you. When I began to open my mind up to the world around me, I realized what a small box christians live in. They use fear of eternity in hell as a means to keep people in line. The more I think about it, the more I realize how cult-like it really is. I heard stories of people leaving christianity and thought they were going to spend eternity in hell. But I was wrong.

 

It sounds like you've got a great husband. Have you talked about leaving christianity with him? If so, what are his opinions?

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Sparkyone, I just wanted to post in here with a little something. It seems to me that you may have boundary issues. It may be unclear to you what you are responsible for and what you are not responsible for. Churches and religion can be most effective at blurring the lines in my opinion.

 

I think that it might benefit you to spend some time considering what you are responsible for, what things you will claim as belonging to you and what things you will deny. I can't help but wonder how often you say NO!

 

I'll put it to you this way. Hopefully it will make you somewhat angry. If I were the type to take advantage of people then I would consider you a prime target. You virtually scream for someone to rob you of vitality and manipulate you.

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Pay no mind to anything you hear from the pulpit.

 

It's bullshit, all of it - manipulative claptrap designed to keep frightened people in the fold. In reality, it's simply sound and fury signifying nothing.

 

You didn't make any promises when you signed on - belief in Jesus doesn't have some default "promise" of any kind attached to it. Even if you had, I'd think the church would be obligated to have offered you something real in exchange for your supposed promise - which they haven't done. Their religion isn't true, it's potentially damaging, it's coercive and undermines the human spirit. If there was any promise or bargain made, they sure as hell haven't held up their end.

 

And y'know, even if you did promise something, who cares if you break it? I mean really - what's the worst that can happen if you "break a promise" by leaving god? Yeah, maybe your old church will think you can't keep your word, but so what? Who fucking cares what they think? What, they'll think you're dishonest, that you're going to hell, that you're somehow bad or something...?

 

So what?

 

I've made a few promises in my lifetime that I've later broken. Some of them were big ones, too. One of them was a marriage vow, even. The way I see it, sometimes mitigating things come up. You find out that a promise initially made was based on a lie, or you learn new information, or you realize that a person you made a bargain with isn't holding up their end of the deal. So you change your mind. And that's fine. Anybody can do that. It doesn't make you dishonest or a liar or a promisebreaker or anything like that at all - it just means that you're able to take in new information, look at it with respect to what you think you already know, evaluate it, and change your perspective based on how the new stuff fits (or doesn't fit) into your life.

 

Anyway. I'm kind of rambling... just, dude. You haven't broken any promise. You haven't even made any in the first place. So don't stress it, if you can.

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i promised santa i'd be good this year. well, i've been rather naughty, so i guess that means i lied. i wonder if i'll still get presents.

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My question is: How can you break a promise to something that does not exist?

If there was substantial proof of the existence of God, then perhaps you could have that on your conscience. But, since(in my opinion)there is no God then why feel bad about it?

 

Also, those statements from a pastor encourage people to be sheep. It is all cultish propaganda.

 

I have to agree. This promise thing is classic guilt manipulation. Churches say things like that a lot to get you to stay with them. It's how they control people.

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My question is: How can you break a promise to something that does not exist?

If there was substantial proof of the existence of God, then perhaps you could have that on your conscience. But, since(in my opinion)there is no God then why feel bad about it?

 

Also, those statements from a pastor encourage people to be sheep. It is all cultish propaganda.

 

I have to agree. This promise thing is classic guilt manipulation. Churches say things like that a lot to get you to stay with them. It's how they control people.

 

Ditto - many churches use this tactic to shame and guilt their flock into staying. It's a sick appeal to human emotions. Don't listen to it.

 

And even if Jebus were real, who cares if you broke your promise to him? What has he ever done to deserve an ounce of loyalty? He's a jerkoff who eternally tortures those who do not kiss his ass and threatens people with everlasting pain if they don't obey him.

 

Do unto others as they do unto you. Jebus, according to the Babblical depictions of him, mistreats and abuses his followers by demanding their worship on pain of everlasting torment. Therefore, you owe him only your hatred and scorn, your disbelief, and nothing more. And since he doesn't exist and never has, you're doubly safe - since a make-believe spook sure can't harm you.

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Well, thanks for all your input. I am a potential target for manipulation because of my personality and my upbringing. I'm not so easily taken in anymore, though. I'm learning to think more for myself. I just remembered something a visiting pastor was saying about rebelling against authority and he was talking about running a red light as an example of the need to obey civil authority and how one should obey the one in charge at the job, and also how we are to follow the pastor as our spiritual authority, and rebellion in any of these areas is wrong. I agree with the first two for the most part, but I don't accept the third. I mean, it's mostly based on something in the Bible and a pastor's word that he is "called of God" to be our "shepherd", and the subsequent acceptance by the church members of that authority by hearsay. What if I don't believe that someone has to be my shepherd? That makes me a thinking person or a bad sheep, depending on your perspective.

 

Sparkyone

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A pledge, or an oath, or a promise made based on false and deceptive information is not binding. So don't feel one bit of guilt at breaking it. Be true to yourself, you alone are responsible for your life.

 

It sounds like your husband is a decent man who respects you. Respect him...not by being a submissive, self-denying sheep, but by being a sovereign human being, who CHOOSES, voluntarily, from a position of strength, to process life together with him, through all the challenges. THAT is a relationship. And it's one that is durable, because it's built on the personal strength of the both of you. Not weaknesses.

 

Christianity plays on our weaknesses and fears. You don't need it.

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In addition, the reason you're asking those type of questions at all is because God (if he exists) broke his promise(s) first and is himself a liar.

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There is no promise breaking involved here. It is manipulation, pure and simple, and like other lies you've heard from the pulpit: just because your minister calls this a broken promise, doesn't make it so.

 

I have many, many, many times held some belief or another, which I later gave up in light of new things that I learned, xianity being the finest example of all. That's the way we learn and grow. Trying to keep one in the fold by holding him or her to a "promise" drummed in at an earlier stage of life is an unadulterated load of crap.

 

As for the "obey" claus of your wedding vow, well, that was another area of growth. I really think you'd be doing yourself, your husband, and your marriage more of a service, and embracing the spirit of what an agreement for a good strong marriage should be with a relationship along the lines Piprus described rather than by legalistically clinging to a short, single clause which has become sort of ritually included in a ceremony, thanks to mores of previous generations and your mores before you grew.

 

You are absolutely entitled to learn and grow!

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I think it is an interesting question that has been raised. In my time as a christian i guess i made certain commitments to jeezus. Then i renounced him. Maybe i did break a promise? But hey, i really don't care. Even if jeezus were real. After the torment his religion caused me it would have been more immoral to remain a christian.

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I agree with legion. Ask yourself this: If I make a promise to an imaginary and invisible thing is it really a promise? I don't think so. You just went along with what you were taught when you were growing up. A lot of children have imaginary friends. So if they make a promise to their imaginary buddies, do they have to keep it?

 

I went through the same thing as you. When I began to open my mind up to the world around me, I realized what a small box christians live in. They use fear of eternity in hell as a means to keep people in line. The more I think about it, the more I realize how cult-like it really is. I heard stories of people leaving christianity and thought they were going to spend eternity in hell. But I was wrong.

 

It sounds like you've got a great husband. Have you talked about leaving christianity with him? If so, what are his opinions?

Again, thanks for all your input. I had pretty much come to my own conclusions about this, but it's helpful to hear it confirmed by other thinking adults. From what I've discussed with my wonderful husband, he is in no way interested in leaving Christianity. It seems to be for him a comfortable place that he was raised in, but unlike me, he actually was exposed to other viewpoints at least to some degree (he at least attended public school, unlike me) and while he isn't afraid of some debate, he would rather just leave it be. He wasn't raised as a KJV-onlyist, but came to that as an adult, partly because someone at a former church pointed something out to him that clinched it in his mind that it has to be the only inerrant word of god. I don't know what that clincher was. I wish he could remember. The thing that started me really questioning the whole thing was the absurdity of the KJV-only position I was indoctrinated in most of my life. I was past 30 when I realized how wrong that was. I've posted a little in the theological discussions forum under King James Version (?) or a similar thread (sorry, my memory is off a little). I was glad to find some others who had been exposed to that particular camp of belief and come out of it.

 

Sparkyone

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There is no promise breaking involved here. It is manipulation, pure and simple, and like other lies you've heard from the pulpit: just because your minister calls this a broken promise, doesn't make it so.

 

I have many, many, many times held some belief or another, which I later gave up in light of new things that I learned, xianity being the finest example of all. That's the way we learn and grow. Trying to keep one in the fold by holding him or her to a "promise" drummed in at an earlier stage of life is an unadulterated load of crap.

 

As for the "obey" claus of your wedding vow, well, that was another area of growth. I really think you'd be doing yourself, your husband, and your marriage more of a service, and embracing the spirit of what an agreement for a good strong marriage should be with a relationship along the lines Piprus described rather than by legalistically clinging to a short, single clause which has become sort of ritually included in a ceremony, thanks to mores of previous generations and your mores before you grew.

 

You are absolutely entitled to learn and grow!

Our relationship as spouses has grown closer and stronger since I stopped being a submissive, sheepy wife and started being more assertive in my rights as an individual. Many or all of you likely know the way women are treated in Christianity as a rule, mostly because of a few things Paul wrote to a church thousands of years ago. That's what I've based my ideas of a good, proper wife on for most of my life. I'm also happier with myself since I've started standing up for what I want in my life.

 

Sparkyone

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Sparkyone,

 

If you made a promise at all, I'm sure you made it in good faith based on the information you had at the time and based on your beliefs at the time. You've learned new information, however, and have formed new beliefs. It seems it would be dishonest of you to "fake it." Church and religion is for those who believe, not for those who simply pretend because of a promise.

 

It sounds like honesty is very important to you. That is the virtue you are trying to maintain by keeping your promise. It turns out, though, that keeping your promise would be very dishonest--to yourself and to the religious people with whom you would be pretending to be a part. Sometimes being honest means breaking a promise.

 

Congratulations on standing up for yourself in your marriage. I actually started enjoying my marriage much more when my wife gave up the submission stuff. She's much more interesting to me now. :wub:

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Folks here have raised some good points.

 

You gave your word based on things being one way. That was what you were told. If anyone came to me and said I gave my word to follow Jesus then believe me I would tell them they are right. But in order for me to keep my word you are going to have to keep yours. You will now have to change the bible and remove all the negative, inequitable teachings that promote hatred, change your preaching and follow what told me.

 

As for the marriage issue, has anyone thought that perhaps if Christianity didn't have these rules to live by (sheepish/submissive wife, head of household husband) that perhaps the divorce and adultry rate among Christians would be less?

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Sparkyone, I also am uncomfortable with unkept and broken promises but I know that if we live long enough, it is impossible to get through life without breaking our word once in awhile. If we were omniscient it would be another matter for we would be able to see into the future and know, before we speak, what various possibilities and potentialities exist in our future.

 

Be gentle with yourself, ok?

 

While we do the best we can to be persons of our word, knowing our personal honor and integrity are at stake, it's not the end of the world, to have mispoken or foolishly promised what we can no longer deliver. I think that the pattern of our lifetime speaks more loudly than our imperfections.

 

As an aside, anyone who is raising children knows one cannot always deliver at the end of the day that which was promised in the morning. We learn to modify our speech and say we will do these things if the day allows it or we will buy these things if our money holds out.

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