Is church where you learned to hate yourself?

"Hate Yourself" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Hate Yourself” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Thankfully, not all churches are this way.

If you can find a church or community that partners with you in your personal growth, then awesome!

If not, run!

I believe religion can be an incredibly helpful tool for personal development and growth. I also know from experience and observation that it can be a terrible weapon of destruction against the human spirit.

Or maybe you grew up hating yourself and church solidified this for you.

Do you hate yourself? Are you just disappointed in yourself? You can learn to love yourself. I know.

Are you looking for a community that helps its members learn how to be happy with themselves? Are you looking for a safe place to overcome your self-hatred, self-doubt, or self-deprecation? Looking for a place of encouragement and fun where you can finally find yourself? Join The Lasting Supper!


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12 Responses

  1. Nathanael says:

    Yes. The traditional view that we are worthless, vile sinners deserving of eternal damnation apart from Christ engenders a lot of self-hatred. It takes awhile to unlearn that. I’m still working on it.

  2. Erik says:

    Damn, this hits home.

  3. Ducatihero says:

    In the light of your recent cartoons David, I’m glad to see you express it being awesome if you can find a community or church that partners with you in your personal growth.

    All of us (whatever we say) benefit from connection and belonging. I’ve experienced that learning to love yourself, to have compassion for yourself, is beautiful and important in being freed to do the same for your neighbour.

  4. Lydia says:

    I grew up in church and had never been around this sort of thinking until the Calvinist resurgence which is all over my city now in just about every church. Even some Methodists are into it now. But it never sounded right to me for those who were saved to continue to be “wicked”. It was almost presented like bragging rights. “I am the biggest sinner I know”! would exclaim the YRR preachers time after time for weeks, years. I wanted to tell them about the Bob Newhart method, “Stop it”. :o)

    In fact, they insisted that if you would not admit your heart was wicked then you were beyond reach. It was the most bizarre thing. I now tell my friends to get their teens out of these places. It is a death culture. You are better off dead so you can stop being wicked. Sheesh!

  5. John Jameson says:

    Yeah…when you’re taught right off the bat that there something wrong with you and you need to apologize…certainly led me to hate myself.

  6. Ducatihero says:

    I like the Bob Newhart “Stop it” :).

    I’ve heard someone in a prayer meeting calling themselves the “chief of all sinners” echoing Paul. I wonder if that was humility, or them wanting to have elevated status as a “sinner”. Wearing it as a badge maybe?

    I’ve spent most of my life unchurched. It seems to me that biblically the term “sinner” was used an an insult and rather odd that it should be common to refer to everyone as sinners in churches, bizzare indeed. I used to defer to that teaching but now lean more to humans being born good into a world that is not without sin.

    The truth is we all are part hero/part villain, part sinner/part saint. On being here over the last wee while, and engaging with comments, I’ve been through a process. What I’ve become aware of is that I am “nice” but nice in practicing forgiveness and compassion that may unintentionally enable mistreatment, learning about the need to be tough and unyielding in some situations. I feel challenged about this and not sure where to go with it at the moment.

    The other thing I guess I have been reflecting on is kinda in line perhaps with what David mentioned, that it could be things that have happened growing up or in church that have been unhelpful in hating yourself. I guess in church, perhaps it is more difficult in one sense because out in the world, there isn’t the expectation for things to be centred on love? Therefore perhaps we can be less guarded at times in church and vulnerable to mistreatment? On a positive note about church, I do know there are pockets where there is an awesome community and a lot of good being done for society as a whole.

    Nevertheless I do feel that the church cannot be complacent and there is always the need for teachers and congregations to adhere to the sacrificial nature of using their position to serve.

    “There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed…They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” Martin Luther King “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” 1963

    “[The church] merely reflects the cultural worlds surrounding them along with the serious illnesses attaching to these worlds” Volf M 1998, After our Likeness Grand Rapids : Eerdmans pg18

  7. Ducatihero: You say “because out in the world, there isn’t the expectation for things to be centred on love”. My experience is that there is just as much love outside the church as inside. In fact, sometimes more.

  8. Ducatihero says:

    I hear the point that you make David about your experience being there as much love if not more outside of church.I guess I was talking about was how I approached church with the expectations I had.

    In another sense what is church anyway? How do we define “church”? I have had my guard down in “church” because of what Jesus talked about with loving your neighbour as yourself. I don’t see that precedent of love being in the world. I think in the world what we see is the natural inclination towards doing what is perceived to bring happiness.

    So although you do quote my wording correctly, I would respectively say that in context, what I expressed was done so as a question, an inquiry rather than an assertion of perceived fact as it appears to be in the way you have quoted. I would ask, please that you acknowledge that and correct it.

    Nevertheless I accept you point about just as much love outside the “church”. In fact, in support of what you say, that seems to be not unlike the kind of concern that the apostle Paul addressed to the church at Corinth.

    “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good… one person remains hungry and another gets drunk… humiliating those who have nothing… and drink judgment on themselves.. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.. So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.” 1 Cor 11:17-34

    So – does humiliation happen still? Going by your cartoon and the testimony of comments it appears so! Surely then there is a solution to that now as then, to have discernment and ensure needs are met together rather than one going without and another bringing judgement on themselves?

    Does this not question what we mean by “church”? If church is a gathering centred on Jesus then surely there is (or ought to be) no place for such things?

    “Let true Christians then… put to silence the vain scoffs of ignorant objectors. Let them boldly assert the cause of Christ… of performing a still more extensive service to society at large.”
    ― William Wilberforce, Real Christianity

  9. Luke says:

    The church of my childhood was like this. In 4th grade, the priest of my small Roman Catholic Church stated (during a mass for the elementary school I went to) that divorced women are the downfall of our society. He stated in no uncertain terms that divorced women are going to hell.

    I have a hard time with that because I am the son of a divorced woman. Halfway through the priest’s homily, I could take no more. I knew he was wrong. I stood up, walked down the aisle to where my sister was, took her by the hand and walked out. Our teachers followed us and led us to the office and hugged us. I thought they were going to suspend me but instead they offered love and grace. It was their way of telling us that we were okay. My mom was called and she came and got us. The principal explained what happened and apologized, and we went home for the day.

    This event and many others like it caused me never to want to go to church again. However, when we moved to the D.C. area, my wife wanted to find a faith community. We tried all sorts, even different faiths from Christianity, but what stuck was the little United Church of Christ congregation who welcomed everyone. Who preached love. Love of the outsiders and outcasts. Love of the enemy. Love even of the shadow side of yourself.

    Imagine my surprise in becoming a pastor and trying to spread that message around. It’s why I do what I do, it’s why I find this site so important. And you don’t need a church to do this, but you do need a community. I do believe that.

  10. any kind of community helps, even if it’s an online one

  11. Bill says:

    Very True…..Ex Pentecostal. We have a network we would love to have your voice on.