Is There Happiness without Jesus?

Here’s the link to this article by Merle Hertzler.

Beautiful and happy dog

Perhaps to you, Christ is the only hope in this world. Your life is centered on him. He is your purpose in life. I understand. I have been there. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior many years ago. I have read the Bible from cover to cover six times–every chapter, every verse, and every line. I have spent literally hours a week in prayer, as I grew in my personal relationship with the Lord. In college, I never drank alcohol. Instead, I attended prayer meetings and went door-to-door witnessing to get my thrills. I have taught Sunday school, sung in the choir, and worked in the children’s ministry. I have been there and done that. I know what it is like to discuss all the details of my life with the Lord, believing that he was right there in my heart listening to me.

I know the excitement of doing God’s work all day Sunday. And I also know the emptiness that would come on Monday. I used to wonder why a person that was so committed to the Lord would feel that way on Monday. It seemed that the more I allowed myself to get excited on Sunday, the worse I would feel on Monday.

I am no longer a believer. I have found something different. I have learned to question, to explore, to think, to be free, to be me. I have the freedom to freely grasp life without the restraint of religion. I have found a purpose that is as good on Monday as it is on Sunday. Life without Christianity can be far more fulfilling than anything that I had ever found inside. And there are hundreds of others who testify to the same thing.

Religious Beliefs and Societal Health, By Matthew Provonsha
Into the Clear Air by Adam Lee Why are these people so happy?
When You Feel Like a Loser by Merle Hertzler Sad? Discouraged? I offer some advice.
The Crazy-Making in Christianity by Marlene Winell What faith can do to you, and how to recover.
Justin Brierley and the Folly of Christianity by Richard Carrier
The Bible and Self Esteem by Merle Hertzler

Happiness links

Have you found joy in Christ? I am glad that you are happy. But tell me something, please: Why do so many Christians struggle to find that joy? Where is their peace? Why are they so discouraged? Why are they so sad?

How do I know that many Christians are sad? Here is one way to see it: Fire up your search engine and search for “sad discouraged depressed Christians.” As I write this I find 9,570,000 hits.[1 ] Sure, not all of  those sites are relevant, but most of the top sites are. They are written by Christians to help sad, depressed Christians. Why are all these people trying to help discouraged Christians? It seems that there is a problem. There must be many thousands of sad, depressed Christians out there.

Let’s look at the solutions offered on these sites. What are Christians depending on to give them hope? Some Christians look to Christ alone as their source of happiness. Others look to other sources also, such as psychology, to help them find their way. What do the top Christian sites propose? I found the usual smattering of Bible verses, and then I found suggestions such as these:

  • Replace negative with positive thoughts
  • Keep a journal of what you think and feel
  • Give yourself affirmations
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Get more light or less heat
  • Change your normal routine
  • Seek professional help
  • Take St. John’s Wort
  • Try cognitive therapy [2]

We see here a variety of techniques. It would appear to me that these suggestions have little to do with Jesus. Can no freethinker ever listen to relaxing music? Can no atheist go into the sunlight or affirm himself? These things apply to unbelievers as well as Christians. The unbeliever is not missing out on any of this. In fact, many have found that it is easier to enjoy the good life without religion.

Does Jesus really give his followers peace and joy? Then why must Christians walk around giving themselves affirmations to avoid depression?

Do you see the hypocrisy here? Non-Christians are told that they need to accept Christ to have peace and joy in their life. Yet many believers are missing peace and joy, and Christians recommend that these believers turn to therapies such as cognitive therapy, a treatment that was developed in the secular world. Is this consistent? If cognitive therapy is the cure for the troubled mind, why do evangelists tell us that Jesus is the cure?

Psychological Testimonies: Anti-Witnessing the sufficiency of Christ.

Psychology vs Faith links

Do you need to give yourself pep talks to avoid discouragement? Do you have a daily struggle trying to find peace and joy? Then you cannot tell me that I need what you have to be happy. It seems to me that it would be hypocritical to claim on Sunday that one has peace and joy in life, and then visit the psychiatrist to deal with a life in despair on Monday. Wouldn’t it be better to face the facts? Wouldn’t it be better for one to admit that, in spite of religion, he is not really happy? Wouldn’t it be better for such a person to say that his Christianity has not really satisfied him?

Perhaps you have indeed found genuine happiness in Christianity. I am glad for you. I hope you understand that others have found happiness elsewhere. You may not need what I have to be happy, and I may not need what you have.

But not all Christians are happy. Many are very sad. Some tell me that it is only weak, carnal Christians who experience such prolonged sadness. They will tell me that mature Christians overcome and are happy. Then why is it that there are sites dedicated to helping depressed missionaries?

Missionary Care  A mental health ministry for Christian missionaries.
Psychiatric Wards for Born-Again Christians Only by Edmund D. Cohen

Christian Depression links

With so many missionaries in need of recovery from depression, it seems that one can be totally dedicated to Christ and not be happy. It is difficult for me to see that they can claim that their faith alone has the way to peace and joy in life.

Some will tell me that depression, as a medical condition, is outside the scope of the Bible. Fine, but psychologists commonly treat depression with Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which originated from humanists such as Albert Ellis. If you turn to Cognitive Behavior Therapy in severe cases of depression, why would not quite similar principles used by humanists be good for mild discouragement?

There are many ways to happiness. As for me, I have found no greater joy than that of being free–free from the need to believe a religion that my mind has found to be false. I can explore the world around me and learn without the need to force my observations into a preconceived mold.

There is no experience quite like setting the mind free.

Albert Einstein once wrote,

The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.Source:

Do you have that holy curiosity? Are you free to ask questions–even about your faith? Are you free to take intellectual journeys away from the path that you have been taught? I think you will be happier if you choose to be free. 

Robert Ingersoll describes that experience:

When I became convinced that the Universe is natural– that all the ghosts and gods are myths– there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world — not even in infinite space. I was free — free to think, to express my thoughts — free to live to my own ideal — free to live for myself and those I loved — free to use all my faculties, all my senses — free to spread imagination’s wings — free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope — free to judge and determine for myself…

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought — no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings — no chains for my limbs — no lashes for my back — no fires for my flesh — no master’s frown or threat — no following another’s steps — no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.Source: Why I Am Agnostic – Robert Green Ingersoll, offsite

I agree. I am glad that folks like Ingersoll have taught me how to have a good life. They have taught me how to be free. And now I am passing the baton to you.

Exuberance, an Affirmative Philosophy of Life by Paul Kurtz
20 Atheist Quotes about Joy and Meaning by Valerie Tarico
The Promise Of Humanism by Frederick Edwords

Links on the Good Life

I hope I have helped you to ask questions, that those questions lead you to answers, and that through it all, your mind is set free.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, meditating, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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