This isn't a trivial question or a joke. A couple days ago I had one of those "Aha!" moments in which I realized there is an incredible parallel between how religion works and how abusive men keep their victims in line.
Read the following statements, and see what you think. Can you tell God from a wife/child abuser?
|Victims feel unworthy.||Christians feel unworthy.|
|Victims feel guilty.||Christians feel guilty.|
|Victims blame themselves for things they didn't do.||Christians blame themselves for things they didn't do.|
|Victims feel that when bad things happen to them, they're being punished.||Christians feel that when bad things happen to them, they're being punished.|
|Victims feel responsible for the abuser's anger and unhappiness.||Christians feel responsible for God's anger and unhappiness.|
|Victims want to appease their abuser.||Christians want to appease God.|
|Victims get huge rewards from a tiny morsel of approval from the abuser.||Christians get huge rewards from a tiny morsel of approval from God.|
|Victims have an inexplicable love for and attachment to the abuser.||Christians have an inexplicable love for and attachment to God.|
|Victims reject advice from anyone who doesn't like the abuser.||Christians reject advice from anyone who doesn't like God.|
|Victims claim that their relationship with the abuser is normal and healthy.||Christians claim that their relationship with God is normal and healthy.|
Now try it for God vs. the abuser...
|An abuser doesn't let anyone question his authority.||God doesn't let anyone question his authority.|
|An abuser demands unquestioning obedience.||God demands unquestioning obedience.|
|An abuser threatens you with great harm if you don't do what he says.||God threatens you with great harm if you don't do what he says.|
|An abuser claims that you're unworthy, but that he will forgive you.||God claims that you're unworthy, but that he will forgive you.|
|An abuser says you're a bad person even though you never do anything wrong.||God says you're a bad person even though you never do anything wrong.|
|An abuser uses both fear and love to bind his victims to himself.||God uses both fear and love to bind his victims to himself.|
This is weird. It's almost like someone designed it – a case of "Intelligent Design" of religion! But those of us who study cultural evolution and memetics know that such things can arise naturally, with no conscious design. Religious memes that work are the ones that survive, and for some reason it's easy to teach a human to be a victim.
Maybe that's why there is so much abuse in our society. Our training starts early.