Question: I question every experience, all information, personal motives — mine and others — including the ideas presented by The Religious Recovery Program.
Instruction: Ask questions.
After considering the material in Stone Two, we might want to pause to consider whether we are opening our lives to things that are not in our best interest. Stone Three takes us a little further on our journey by reminding us that not everything we hear or experience will be helpful on our spiritual path. Part of the premise of the Religious Recovery program is that we are questioning a current or former religious experience because of some hurt or abuse we believe was done to us in the name of religion. As we heal from the hurt and abuse, we might want to remember that our questioning helped us to open our eyes and played an important role in helping us move in a more positive spiritual direction. We might find ourselves open to a multitude of religious experiences, and we might be vulnerable to more religious abuse if we are not cautious.
One of the most important cautions we would give is to be certain not to gravitate towards the familiar, at least not without the awareness that you are choosing to do so. When we heal from an abusive situation, we often find ourselves involved in another abusive situation that feels very much like the one we left. The reason is that we tend to gravitate toward the familiar in our lives. People who marry abusive people often leave that person only to find someone else who is just as abusive. Sometimes it takes years for them to break the cycle. The same thing can happen with religion. We leave one place, because we could no longer accept the abuse of power, only to find ourselves involved with another religious organization that also abuses its power.
Stone Two encourages us to open to different insights, but as we open, it is not without questioning along the way. Is this a safe place? Is love the most important thing that is taught here? Does this organization use guilt, shame, or condemnation as tools to manipulate their people? Questions will help us discover the heart of the organization, and sometimes those questions must probe below the surface. Those who have nothing to hide will not be offended by our questions. In fact, they might even encourage them. Anytime a person or religious organization becomes offended when we do not adhere to the advice or guidelines they laid out for us, we need to be aware that they may have something to hide or a personal agenda. Don’t let them make you feel bad for recognizing their ulterior motives.
If you are involved in a religious organization, pause to consider if you feel comfortable with asking questions of its leaders, their doctrine, and guidelines. Do they have rigid beliefs that you secretly don’t agree with because you fear being judged and condemned? Do their beliefs line up with the concepts of love, forgiveness, and respect for everyone?
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.