The Stages in Becoming a Noahide: A Personal Observation
When we began compiling this web site it was our intention to aid the Noahide in what is a "steep learning curve" and to help him or her overcome the difficulty in searching the web for information and to avoid disinformation about Noahides and Judaism in general.
In speaking with friends who have become Noahides we found a similar pattern we all tended to go through as we progressed in our learning and studies. As a result, we thought it important that we include this "transformation", for lack of a better word, on this page. In so doing, a new Noahide might compare his or her progress with others who are currently following the Path of the Righteous Gentile.
We would be interested in hearing your comments as well! We will be compiling Your comments into a list so others can benefit from your experiences.
The Experience of Becoming a Noahide:
Stage One - Curiosity: Most people who become Noahides appear to be naturally curious and have questions, as a result they tend to stumble upon Noahides as if by accident. We now know this was no accident; it was simply Hashem's way of telling us to keep looking.
Each of us found out about Noahides in our own way. Some are looking for a clarification or better understanding of a word, verse, or concept held within our "faith". As the majority of the Noahides we have spoken with are former Christians, we found we were simply looking for answers that directly or indirectly concerned our relationship with God. For each of us, there were always questions about Christianity that were never fully answered, dismissed as being disruptive, or outright ignored by church leaders and members. While others, who were outside the Christian faith system, appeare to have been looking for Spirituality or a means in which to find a connection to a higher plain of existence.
In almost every case the individual was NOT looking to become a Noahide, rather, they were searching to "Find An Answer" to a question unrelated to Noahides. However, there were and are exceptions.
There are those few who have heard the term Noahide but knew nothing about them or who they are or what a Noahide actually is. These few, still experienced the same set of circumstances: They were Curious and were looking for an Answer.
Stage Two - Intrigue: Once our Curiosity had been peeked we found we had another common experience, Intrigue. By intrigue we mean; in Judaism we found answers to our questions, one answer lead to another question, which lead to another, and another and another, and on and on. Judaism seemed to have all the answers, simply stated, unambiguous, and without apology. We found the 7 Universal Laws that have applied to ALL mankind since Creation. Yet many of us had never heard of these Laws, why not until now?
Stage Three - Confusion and Frustration: For those Noahides coming out of Christianity the next phase we shared was confusion and frustration. For the majority of Noahides this was a very trying time in their lives because it meant facing the fact that majority of the basic "faith principles' which form the Christian Doctrine are either misguided or simply not true.
When a searching Noahide discovers that Christianity at its very core has a very close similarity to the Pagan beliefs of the early Christian era he may become frustrated and confused. It is not comforting to find that the Virgin Birth, Death on a Cross and subsequent Resurrection, god in human form, the drinking of symbolic blood and eating of symbolic flesh, and a 'second coming' all have roots in the various Pagan practices and philosophies of the time when the New Testament was written. Is this a coincidence?- or - Is it more likely a new and growing religion would incorporate these Pagan beliefs in order to appeal to a larger audience, thereby, making the change from one faith system to another more palatable and less restrictive?
With this discovery the Noahide realizes he must Un-learn and change the majority of the "faith" concepts he has grown to trust.. This can make one feel he or she is "isolated" especially if there is no Orthodox Jewish Community in your area. But rest assured Noahides are out there going through the same experiences. The Internet has served as an invaluable tool in linking Noahides who otherwise would have no contact with each other. The Internet also affords the Noahide to have direct contact with Rabbi's who are willing and able to answer the New Noahides questions.
Stage Four - Anger: The next phase a Noahide is likely to encounter is anger. A word of caution here: This is not a place where a Noahide should dwell for very long. Yet, all Noahides seem to go through this phase.
Where does this anger come from?
In speaking with other Noahides it seems to come from a combination of two places. The first is anger that is directed inward, at ones self. The key phrase seems to be: "How could I have been so stupid when everything inside me was telling me what I was hearing was wrong?" We become angry with ourselves and say, "We should have known better". When we analyze our situation we find we were in a very clever trap that appeals to all of our basic emotions of love and fear of the unknown.
Consider Christianity's appeal:
(1) It appeals to our "Fears". The fear of the unknown is strong motivating factor. "Is there life after death? If so, what will happen to me?" Coupled with the fear of eternal damnation and the fires of 'Hell' fear becomes a very strong motovating factor.
(2) It appeals to our "Greed". The Carrot-on-a-Stick philosophy, whereby those that have faith are rewarded and go to Heaven and those who reject the philosophy go to Hell. Fundamentalist churches have a term for this type of conversion: Fire Insurance! "I believe because I don't want to go to Hell." It is this afterlife 'reward' that becomes the motovating factor and NOT the desire to come closer to God. The Noahide comes to realize that in order to come closer to God he or she has to assume the posture of a "slave" who expects "No Reward" from his master and his actions are out of love, duty, and obligation. When " Future Reward" becomes the object and reason for worshiping God, at that point, our whole perspective has then shifted from a love of God to a desire for "Reward" as our ultimate reason. Thus, "Greed" becomes the motovating force and not the love of God as it should be.
(3) It appeals to those who seek "Power" over others. Outside the church this is seen as a "Holier than thou" attitude. Within the church, power is used to keep the 'believer' faithful. The power of condemnation, family disapproval, societal rejection are all powers the church has at its disposal. Perhaps the strongest appeal of Power is the "Power of Judgment", whereby the individual feels he can say to those outside the church "I'm right and you're wrong." "I'm going to heaven and your not." Judgment and condemnation of others goes to the very core of our emotional being. When we look at the history of the 'early church' we see that the need to control a persons life was essential for the'church's' survival. Forced conversions, Crusades, Inquisitions all done in the name of god with little or no regard for the spiritual nature of the individual. Coercion and fear are NOT acceptable reasons in which to bring a person into a closer relationship with God. Power is perhaps the strongest of motovations; for once a person surrenders his will to an outside force he or she then becomes a tool for whomever is controling them.
In Judaism and as Noahides we learn from our teachers that Fear, Greed, and a lust for Power are all part of our "evil inclination" and it is fueled by our emotions. If we give in to our emotions and act without considered thought and reflection on the consequences of our actions, we run the risk of harm to others and to ourselves.
Once a Noahide realizes that what he or she has been lead to believe has as much to do with Paganism, Fear, Greed, and need for Power his or her own emotions seem to erupt in a sence of anger.
Which brings us to the next phase of a Noahide: Anger: Directed Outwards.
Again, this type of anger is very counterproductive and should be vented with as little outward agression as possible. Expressing your feelings to other Noahides who have had similar experiences is a healthy outlet..
In no way should a Noahide take any form action or aggression towards ANY PERSON, Place, or Thing belonging to, or having to with their past affiliations.
Anger, directed towards those we have trusted and have lead us astray. This is not a healthy phase for a Noahide to dwell on for very long. Yet, all Noahides seem to go through it in one degree or another. Anger is not a healthy way to bring about the "Closure" we are looking for. By immercing ourselves in Torah Study we can finally bring closure to our past and move on with our lives.
We seem to want to vent our frustrations on others to whom we feel are responsible for the decisions we have made. As a Christian it seemed natural to blame something outside of ourselves for what we may have done. The old saying, "The devil made me do It." comes to mind.
As a Noahide we accept the responsibility for our own actions, sins, and mistakes. As True Noahides don't place the blame on others. We made the choice. We may have been given bad advice from what we thought was a reliable source, but it was and is our responsibility to check out this information and their sources. Yet it is difficult and saddening to realize that "good intentioned and honest people" are being lead astray by Church leaders that KNOW their "teachings" are misguided. To think a minister, pastor, priest, bishop or elder within the church has never studied or at least contemplated the ideas of Idol Worship and its forms, True Monotheism, and the teachings of Judaism which are the supposed core on which their entire belief system and founder were built, is impossible to reject . Why does the church not teach the 7 Universal Laws? Because to do so is to negate the need of a "personal savior" and in so doing negate the "power" of the church and its "Trap" on the minds of its congregations. With Torah Study we are freed from this "Trap".
The directing of anger towards another individual for the purpose of retaliation and out of frustration because of errors in our own judgment is to allow our evil inclination to once again assume control over our lives. In this way, if left unchecked, we are no better off than those who attempted to control our minds in the past. The best advice my fellow Noahides can offer if you find yourself in this situation: Study Torah and Get over it! It is in the past. There are far greater rewards to be had in the study of Torah than you will ever have by being angry and venting your frustration on someone else. The best is yet to come.
The final phase a Noahide will experience is Peace. In speaking with many Noahides over the years each has expressed a feeling of Peace that seems to come over them when they finally feel they are free of the trap they were once in.
Some express it as knowing they are on the "right track", others say they feel a sense of liberation, while still others maintain they fell empowered and find new direction in their lives.
It is at this point we feel a Noahide truly "Becomes a Noahide". To reach this point the Noahide has made a huge Paradigm Shift in his or her thinking. He or She no longer looks at the world in the same way. He looks at his fellow man not so much for his faults but rather the reasons why his fellow man is in this situation and then asks the question: What can I do to help? We all can give at least a kind word, and maybe that is all that is needed to lift the spirits of one who is depressed and thinks nobody cares.
By far the greatest Paradigm Shift comes in the Noahides relationship with Hashem and the joy of studying Torah. The only way we can express it is to say when you look at the Torah and the body of wisdom it imparts to us of how the universe was created, the creation of man and his place in the universe, how to live a good, healthy, and prosperous life, our relations with friends and loved ones and how our lives directly effect and empact the lives of those around us, from the macro to the micro one comes away with a profound sense of AWE for Hashem, secure in the knowledge that He created All of This for our benefit.
Gone is the anger for those that may have lead us astry, replaced by a feeling of compassion for those still in the "Trap" we were once in. Like our Jewish brothers and sisters we are not here to "convert" anyone to what "WE" believe. We are simply here to make a better world through our example and our study of Torah whereby others might choose, of their own volition, to follow the Path of the Righteous Gentile.