The religion in which I was raised
was always deeply tinged in self-denial.
Its core values, which included pride, dignity, and legitimacy,
were inseparable from the self-loathing
that wracked me
when I yielded to impulse
and violated the religious rules of behavior
imposed on me.
Eventually I had to learn that
a desire to protect my honor,
not fear of punishment,
was my best driver.
The ancient Greeks and Israelites
were more concerned with rules of ritual purity
than with good conduct.
It was okay to rape your slave, for example,
but not during her menstrual period.
Proof of personal honor in many of today’s religions
is the brutal control
exercised over the reproductive behavior of its members.
is the imposition of strict, punitive religions.
Fear of an angry god
(crafted in the image of angry human masters)
is used to control subordinates
who lack an internal code to control themselves.
My decision to move on was transformative.
If happiness is knowing the right thing and doing it,
then I had found it.
Without personal honor shaping my sense of right,
freed from religious tyranny,
true happiness would be hard to imagine.