A Guest Post by Perfect Number
This post is a rant against evangelicals’ insistence that being Christian means voting Republican. The author was raised in a conservative evangelical home but has drifted to the left on her social positions even as she still identifies as Christian. Please be respectful in your comments.
Because I support gay rights. Clearly, I must be rejecting “the bible’s clear teaching on homosexuality.” A real Christian would vote against marriage equality.
And I reject the idea that “the man has to be the spiritual leader” in a marriage. Clearly I’m just selfish, trying to advocate for my own so-called “rights” rather than accepting my natural and God-given role as a supporter, not a leader.
And sometimes I read the bible, and I say, “In this passage, God commands people to kill an entire city. THAT’S TERRIBLE,” or imply that God seems to be doing something wrong. Oh but we mustn’t say such things! We mustn’t ask those questions.
And I know I’m going to be judged. “Oh, she says she’s a Christian, but … I don’t think so. Saying those things, rejecting the bible…”
Apparently, Christianity is about holding certain political views. Apparently, it’s about gender roles. Apparently, it’s about not asking too many questions. And if you just go along with all those things, you get to call yourself a Christian, and no one will challenge that claim.
Why is this? Why is it that, in the section of evangelical Christianity I come from, those issues are so tied up in the definition of “Christian”? I thought Christianity was about proclaiming Jesus as Lord. I thought it was about loving God and loving people. I thought it was about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I thought it was about proclaiming freedom and healing and rescue. I thought it was about taking up my cross and following Jesus, no matter the cost. I thought it was about studying and obeying the bible—what the bible ACTUALLY says, not what we’re told “the bible clearly teaches.”
But strangely enough, Jesus’ command to love others led me to feminism. Feminism is all about equality and justice for groups that have been oppressed. I seem to recall the bible supporting this idea too. So I am a feminist BECAUSE I am following Jesus. And I support marriage equality BECAUSE I am following Jesus. And so many other things that don’t align with “traditional” church teaching.
Other evangelical Christians are going to think I’m “falling away”, that I’m “being led astray” by “the world” and its harmful influences. I know because just a few years ago, I would have thought that too. Feminism wasn’t something anyone ever talked about in my church. All I’d heard was it was opposed to Christianity and God’s plan for men and women. Surely anyone who claimed to be a feminist and a Christian wasn’t a real Christian- they were rejecting the bible, only obeying the parts they thought were convenient, etc. (Since then, I’ve learned there’s a big difference between “rejecting the bible” and “rejecting this one interpretation of the bible.”)
And other evangelical Christians are going to think I’m “questioning my faith,” when I talk about parts of the bible I don’t like. I’m not. It’s called BEING HONEST. When I read the bible and find stories of violence, genocide, misogyny, etc, many times commanded by God, I would like to be able to say I’m not okay with that. Am I allowed to say that? Nobody at church does. But I question precisely BECAUSE I believe. Maybe a weak faith needs to be protected, out of fear that a single question or objection could send the whole thing crumbling down, but my faith is not like that.
I’m saying things now that I never heard any Christian say while I was growing up, but I’m not “falling away” or anything like that. It’s not about that at all. Jesus changed my life in big ways and small ways, and I believe he is alive in this world, working toward freedom and justice, and I want to be part of that. And somehow, it has led me to rejecting a lot of those things that I thought Christians are supposed to believe. All those political things, all those ways that those in power use the bible to stay in power.
And I’m scared. Honest about my doubts and questions, ready to argue with anyone who claims that “wives are supposed to submit to their husbands” or whatever, but scared. Because people will judge me and say I’m not “really” a Christian- just like how I used to be suspicious of anyone who claimed to be a Christian but didn’t have the “right” opinion on some issue.
And I’m scared because I’ve internalized this lie that says Christianity is about holding certain political opinions and not asking certain questions. Internalized it so far that, even though what I now believe makes SO MUCH SENSE to me, I still fear that I’m not allowed to think these things. Internalized it to the point where I wonder if God even understands why I’m a feminist. Or is God stuck in the white American middle-class suburban conservative Christian subculture where I grew up? (I know that makes no sense, but I really do subconsciously believe it.)
But here I am, trying to follow God with my whole mind and my whole heart. Here I am, changing every political view I’ve ever held. Having my eyes opened to the realities of privilege and rape culture and misogyny and all those things that feminists talk about.
Here I am, a Christian feminist. Unsure if I’m even allowed to be one, but confident this is where I need to be right now.
Perfectnumber628 grew up evangelical in the northern US, and is now trying to move to China. She loves engineering and robots, and blogs at Tell Me Why the World Is Weird about Christianity, feminism, Chinese, and everything else.