The prophet Isaiah lays out what God wants of the creatures made in God's own image. God does not want self-deprivation. God does not want self-flagellation. God does not want us to suffer for the sake of suffering. God created us in love and wants us to live life to the fullest, knowing joy and communion and fulfillment.
For a variety of reasons, Christian faith in America tends to be a private and personal thing. Faith is what we believe, and that can be safely tucked away in our brain somewhere. In the faith understanding I grew up with, you can be a faithful Christian if you go to church on Sunday and abide by societal norms for morality. So, in essence, if people don't check the church par