When I was a younger man, I hated women with a venomous passion. As I have slowly recovered from the blight of mysogyny over the years, I have given a great deal of thought as to how it came to be. I have discovered what I believe to be the cause in the disjoin between the things that my parents taught me and reality. My parents teachings gave me certain expectations and the disappointment of these expectations led to hatred. Allow me to explain.
I was brought up to believe that men and women were “equal” in a simplistic mathematical sense. Being a person who tries to base his life on what he believes to be true, I attempted to live my life according to this “truth” and experienced great pain. Specifically, I reasoned that if men and women are “equal”, that meant that women had the same desires as I did and I treated them accordingly. When they didn’t respond to a given situation in the same way that I would have responded, I interpreted their behavior as spiteful and malevolent. How could a young woman experiencing the same painful hormones I was experiencing not want to pull down her pants and have sex with every male in the vicinity at every opportunity with very little regard for attractiveness? Within the framework of men and women being “equal”, I could not understand the continual rejection that I experienced in high school and college. Without a better explanation, I assumed that women enjoyed tormenting men like me and I hated them for it.
Fortunately for me, a dose of reality freed me from the strangling noose of propaganda that caused me so much pain. The dose took the form of a scientific study that demonstrated that women’s sex drives hit their peak when they were in their thirties while male sex drives peak much earlier. “But if that is true then men and women aren’t equal in some simplistic mathematical sense.”, I thought to myself. “Women aren’t being mean and vicious and hateful when they reject me. They don’t have the same drive as me. This fact means that they have higher standards and they don’t want to have sex with me.” As obvious as this sounds, this was one of a series of breakthrough realizations that freed me from my mental chains. Once I came to realize that I had been deceived by the simplistic truisms my parents had taught me, I began to examine all of the things I thought I knew by the light of a growing skepticism. I discovered that the Democratic party was not the bastion of purity and goodness that had brought the world out of the dark ages and many other painful facts. I began to think for myself.
Many years later, I met a young woman and recognized in her the same anger toward parental deception that I had experienced. She had been told that Santa Claus was real by her parents and long after all the other kids in her class had been told the truth, she continued to believe. She was mocked and derided for this belief for a long time before she finally realized the truth and this painful experience had made her very bitter. She swore up and down that she would never allow any child of hers to believe in Santa Claus or anything else she knew to be untrue.
I started this essay by discussing the harm that my parents simplistic teaching did to me, but I think the harm that simplistic Christian teaching can do to children brought up by Christian parents can be far greater. Rejecting the simple truisms my parents taught me led me to God, but rejecting the simple truisms taught by Christian parents leads many people away from God. I remember a brief online discussion with one young man whose bitterness over the falsehood of what he had been taught was expressed in his mocking use of the phrase, “don’t make the Baby Jesus cry.”
The problem is that most people are pragmatists who don’t really care about truth. If they think something is true or false, it has really very little effect on how they live their lives. Their outlook is primarily practical and their beliefs about the truth or falsehood of given claims don’t really impact their actions. I am not one of these people. I am a fundamentalist who uses the truth that I believe as the guide of my actions. If I was an Islamic fundamentalist, I would be blowing non-Muslims to kingdom come. If I was an atheist fundamentalist, I would be living an amoral life pursuing whatever I wanted most. As a Christian fundamentalist, I spend most of my free time thinking of how I can spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Fundamentalists are those who genuinely seek to understand and apply what they believe. Poisonous teachings are harmless to pragmatists whose actions are not determined by their beliefs, but for the tiny fraction of fundamentalists in the world they can be deadly.
As a person who is a fundamentalist to the core of my being, I wish more Christians were fundamentalists. Christians say that they believe that Jesus Christ is God, but then they turn around and interpret the Bible as though Adam was as good as Jesus Christ in the Garden of Eden. Christians say that they believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, but then they interpret the Old Testament as though Moses and the other sinful prophets were righteous by works. C. S. Lewis wrote in the problem of Pain that the difference between an archangel and a worm is insignificant as compared to the difference between God and the mightiest of his creation. I wish more Christians believed this obvious truth and lived and taught accordingly.