AT the extreme end of the 'growing up religious' experience are those claiming to be suffering from religious trauma syndrome, which is recognised in science as a set of often severe post-traumatic symptoms experienced by those who have participated in or left behind authoritarian, dogmatic, and controlling religious groups and belief systems. At the other end there are those who believe that children raised by religious parents are better developed socially and psychologically than those raised in non-religious homes. What's agreed is that a religious upbringing offers a unique perspective on development, which can be a mixed blessing for those who experience it.
How did being raised religious affect your life as it relates to body image, love, family, and relationships?
The people below tell why even after some left that lifestyle ages ago, it still affects them now.
It's like attending an all-girls school, you never, ever forget those directives that are planted in you about respect, discipline, and the like. I haven't attended church since I was 16, but I was very strict with myself about sex before marriage, the man being the head of the house, and a woman's role, even though my children say that's old-fashioned.
I find myself judging other people's lifestyle a lot. I had no tolerance and it was hard getting out of that mindset. I work with an international aid agency, so you can imagine how much schooling it took from my colleagues to get me to understand that gay, lesbian, and trans people aren't condemned by God, and that individuals like unmarried mothers aren't living in sin.
My husband went outside the marriage because I wouldn't do certain things, and I still feel like they're wrong, even though our counsellor advised me that they're just natural human desires, and the marriage bed is undefiled. But how is a person supposed to go from being taught that the flesh is sinful to enjoying lovemaking just because marriage sanctified it?
I don't go to church much anymore because they can't accept the new me. Truth is, I was laughed to scorn when I went on hall and wouldn't shave, and my roommate made one big excitement about that, and the clothing I wore. I was so insecure after that, and questioned if what I always believed was the right thing. I'm still modest, but more open-minded.
My cousin is gay and out of the closet, and it really took a lot for many of the family, including myself, to get over it. It was just recently that I stopped trying to reform him, as I truly believed that the lifestyle would make it harder for him to survive here. But I realised that a lot of the fears and concerns I had were my own doing and not really based on fact or reality. It was my own biases based on my upbringing that made me judge him, and I did ask for his forgiveness.