The Legacy of the Worldwide Church of God

What it was like growing up in a cult and its impact on my life and others like me.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Up close and personal part 3

What do you want to be when you grow up?

What a moronic question this turned out to be when I was graduating highschool. By the time I was 17 and 18 I was well entrenched in the religion of The Worldwide Church of God. I was on the brink of adulthood. I never pursued college actively because I never thought it would happen. The Worldwide Church of God had taught me that the world would end soon. I clung desperately to wanting to live my own life but I remember rationalizing with a friend at that time that if I really believed God was real, didnt I have to believe what the church taught me? After all, they continually said they were the one true church and we were the select few chosen by God to represent him in a new soon coming world. I was at a tug of war within myself. The pressure was on to be baptised as I was nearing 18. I had started working when I was 16 and was already contributing and tithing up to 30 percent of my income to the church voluntarily because I wanted to do the right thing. But the pull to live in the real world started to win out.

Dating and even friendship in the church was difficult. There was so much space between all the members and we were scattered across the state. I never found anyone I was interested in dating in my own congregation but did eventually in a congregation almost 300 miles away. According to the church a womans place was beside a husband raising a family. As I leaned more to having a work life and attending some college classes that I paid for myself the church member I was dating became resentful and accusatory. I distanced myself from him and began dating someone I had met through work who didnt understand my religion but accepted me regardless. We dated continually while I still attended church and tried to do the right thing but some of the other church members my age were becoming aware that I was more involved with an outsider. Rumours began to fly. Suddenly I was the whore of Babylon, sleeping around, even when I had never before had sexual intercourse. I felt betrayed. Ashamed. Marked like in the novel Scarlet Letter. I started to skip services and the letters started to come. The guy in the church I had dated informed me I was in danger of losing my salvation. That I was going to suffer in the tribulation if I didnt come back. Everyone in the church was sure I was going to lose my eternal life in the lake of fire. I went back and forth trying to please everyone and in great turmoil. Why was it so wrong to just want to live a normal life? Why did God create us and want us to suffer? I couldnt keep it up. I was afraid of being tortured if the tribulation were to come. I wanted to be loved by someone. I didnt want to hurt for just having human emotions anymore. Following the old testament legalism of the church meant that just being and living was wrong at times.

I finally just packed it in and gave up. I couldnt keep up the Worldwide Church of God lifestyle. God was going to take me one way or another. I accepted that I was depraved and a disappointment to the church, to life, and my mother. My mother was beside herself. She hated my "worldly" boyfriend. He did end up being a shmuck but the relationship didnt stand a chance with all the crap going on inside my head concerning the church. I didnt know how to have normal relationships. When my mother found out we did eventually sleep together she told me she was sorry I was born. I suddenly had made all the bad things in my life come true. I was unwanted and unloved by God, my mother and society. I just wanted to die and eventually as the years progressed did attempt suicide. The culmination of all the events in my life......the early molestation, the repeated warped armageddon lessons and Worldwide Church of God teachings I grew up on, the disappointment and shame my mother had for me, left me shattered. How could I face life with any sort of hope?

But I did find hope. Some 20 years later. When I realized how the Worldwide Church of God spiritually abused its members. Conclusion coming soon.


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