Guest Post: . . . But I’m Still a Christian!

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.  

People are going to say I’m not a Christian.

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.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

    If it makes you feel better, this Jew-turned-atheist has no doubt you’re Christian. My take on it is if you say you’re a Christian, then that’s what you are! Politics have nothing to do with religious belief inherently, and when you put them together very bad things happen.

    • AyannaCosta

      I agree. When I was a christian I like to say a moment of bad judgement. I was always weird about my views on social issues. I guess I would have been considered a more lax or liberal Christian. Whether my personal beliefs differed politically. I always honored church should be separated from state. I never thought it was right to deny peoples rights they deserved based on my religious beliefs at the time. In which why I became an atheist. I never quite felt comfortable as a believer but I felt it was how I was brought up so it must make sense right?

    • icecreamassassin

      This is going to sound smarmy, but I mean this question in all sincerity:
      I do not believe that god exists. If I called myself a Christian, would you accept that? If I *also* called myself a Taoist, would you accept that?

      If Bishop Shelby Spong called himself a Christian, would you or the author accept that?

      I have been trying to determine what it means to be a Christian for quite some time – both while I was a Catholic and now as one of the de-converted.

      I get what you’re saying about mixing personal beliefs, religion, and politics. And I tend to agree with that. But isn’t there a bare minimum of shared beliefs required for a label such as ‘Christian’ to have any meaning?

      I’m not saying that what the author is talking about fits the criteria for ‘minimum Christian requirements’ or any somesuch jazz – but I’m truly interested in opinions on whether such minimum criteria exist and what those may be. After, if there are no criteria beyond declaring oneself to be a Christian, of what use is the label? How would it be any different than labeling myself a Blathoian?

      I guess if I had any sort of actual point to this post for the author, it would be this – you believe that god exists, that Jesus was his son, died for our sins, and was resurrected on the 3rd day. That’s all good and well…by why do you *care* if people recognize your labeling as a Christian? You’ve got your worldview – do others accepting your label really matter?

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        I’m coming at this from a very Jewish perspective. “Who is a Jew” is actually something we talked about a lot, because being Jewish is religion, ethnicity, and culture all tied up together. And we decided that if you said you were Jewish, if you claimed that label for yourself, then that’s almost certainly what you were. People can be born Jews (matrilineal is the standard, but a lot of people in the US claim patrilineal descent too and that’s fine), they can convert, they can be religious or lax or atheists. It isn’t entirely inclusive- you can’t be Jewish faith and Christian faith simultaneously, for example, though you can be Jewish culturally or by lineage and still believe in Jesus. Most Jews won’t count you as “Jewish” at that point, but you can still rightly claim the label. And of course, Orthodox Jews act as much stricter gatekeepers on who “counts” as Jewish (matrilineal descent or Orthodox conversion only).

        Why would you want to claim a label that was entirely inaccurate? I mean, Christianity’s core is that you believe Jesus died for you and your sins, right? If you believe that, and the author clearly does, you’re a Christian. Your specific dogma, your social views, your political views, etc are just commentary. When you drill down into “what is a Christian?”, that’s what comes out. That’s really all you need for a shared label.

  • Gordon

    I’m glad you are clearly a decent person. That matters. I’d like it if the christian stereotype was a person like you.

  • http://catescates.com.au Catherine

    You know, this really resonates with me at present. I’m just returning to Christianity after a long period of not really knowing what I believed (I had a brief flirtation with literalism and fundamentalism years ago, and it sort of broke Christianity for me), and one thing I’m doing is reading a lot of translations and commentaries on the Bible, with a general aim of getting back to where it all started and trying to understand what I believe better.

    The trouble is, I feel very uncomfortable reading Bible commentaries in public, not because I am ashamed of what I believe, but because I am afraid that people looking at me (particularly people I work with) will assume that I am anti-gay and anti-feminist. And I don’t want people to look at me and expect judgment, especially when that’s the last thing I’d do (indeed, the prevailing view that Christianity meant these things was what drove me away from it in the first place – I can’t worship a God who wants me to do harm to others).

    To me, this is the opposite of what Christianity is about. Quite aside from the fact that I really don’t think that sexual morality was ever the first thing on God’s mind, we are explicitly called not to judge. And… this is a God who loves us so much and is so committed to being closer to us that he actually made himself flesh and shared our experience of life and death as a human. Surely rejection of our fellow humans is the last thing he would want from us?

    Anyway. I’m coming from the same place you are. I really think that Christianity calls us to side with the oppressed and to love our neighbours. And, among many, many other things, that means feminism and marriage equality and all those other dreadful lefty-pinko-commie-feminazi-greenie things.

    (and we lefty-pinko-commie-feminazi-greenie Christian types also need to do something around this PR problem – why do we let Christianity get defined only by people at the opposite extreme of it?)

    Catherine, who is probably a heathen…

    • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

      Thanks- glad you can relate to what I wrote. :) And I totally agree about God calling us to side with those who are oppressed, and not judge. (But instead, we get a lot of people using Christianity to reinforce that oppression… ugh.)

      • revsharkie

        If you proclaim that Jesus is Lord and seek to follow him in your life, you are a Christian. Jesus isn’t a Republican. (He’s probably not a Democrat, either, I’m afraid…) If you’re following Jesus, rather than someone’s personal opinion baptized in Jesus’ name, you’re going to find yourself in trouble with a lot of “good Christians.” Jesus pretty much always stands against oppression. So does the whole witness of Scripture (although you do have to lay aside a fair amount of humans justifying genocide by saying “God told us to do it”). Jesus valued women. If you keep your eyes open reading the Bible–even the Old Testament–you’ll find that there are a lot of women who step out of their “place” and change the world. Several of them are mentioned in Jesus’ family tree in Matthew 1, and deliberately so.

        I’m a pastor. I’ve had people who’ve asked me how I could call myself a Christian because the Bible “clearly says” women can’t be pastors. But there are women in the Bible who are pastors, apostles, and prophets. My personal take is that the Bible doesn’t “clearly say” much of anything, other than “love one another.”

    • alr

      I don’t know how we stop it from being characterized by the extreme. There are so many problems. People like you and me and perfectnumber628 don’t feel any need to stand on the street corner proclaiming our beliefs with a megaphone (there was a guy in my hometown who spent every weekend and every evening doing that for years–and you can guess what type of Christianity he was proclaiming). And the media loves the extreme. Moderates don’t say crazy stuff that gets replayed on the web or in any way drive up ratings. So I don’t know how we change the public perception. Not saying we shouldn’t try, but while we very well may still be the majority, I think we are doomed to being ignored.

      • Aaron

        To be fair, the people who turn away from Christianity don’t even nearly always do it because Christianity has a small percentage of crazy people. It certainly doesn’t help, but there are other problems that go much deeper.

      • Anat

        I doubt it is the small percentage of ‘crazy’ people that are Christianity’s main PR problem. I’d say a bigger problem for Christianity’s image is people with hateful or otherwise harmful views that appear to be in a position of leadership of some kind, whether as clergy or as being authors or speakers with what looks like a large following. An extremist individual testifies for their own views. An extremist leader testifies for the views of those who see them as a role model too.

    • Little Magpie

      Catherine – about feeling ashamed to read Christian commentary in public: Did you ever make paper covers for your texts in school? Do that with the books. (Or there are lovely cloth book covers you can buy if the books are in a fairly standard size, like mass-market paperbacks) Or get them as e-books (if that is financially viable for you and the books in question are available in such a format.) These are things I’ve done or considered when I have been self-conscious about my reading material (for completely different reasons!)

    • Sarah

      On the “I feel very uncomfortable reading Bible commentaries in public” bit… I totally relate, but at the same time, I don’t think we should stop doing it.
      Hypothetical scenario to explain:
      Say you pop out your commentary on your lunch break at the same cafe every day, and a gay liberal female happens to also take her lunch at the same place and time every day… and one day, maybe somebody says something hateful to her while you’re there, and you happen to be the one person who feels strongly enough to stop what you’re doing and walk over to her and tell the other person to stop, and leave, and after this moment is over she asks you how you could defend her when you’re reading the same bible all these anti-people people read… now not only are you doing what you wanted to do in the first place, you’re also addressing our little PR problem.
      You can only prove that not all christians are anti-X if people don’t know you’re christian… not saying with this one particular thing you can’t be discreet for your own comfort, but I see value in not going out of your way to avoid judgement. People shouldn’t be judging you in the first place, you are not responsible for all of the terrible things other christians have done, and christianity NEEDS more people like us out in the open.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marta.layton.5 Marta Layton

    A friend of mine, a Christian woman and counselor for women who have survived sexual exploitation, says that she serves a purple God, meaning neither red nor blue. In fact, I think if what we expect of God lines up a little too well with our own expectations, that’s a sign that something may be amiss. God, if anything exists that is worthy of that label, would be by definition outside of the boxes we might build to contain Him (or Her, if you prefer).

    One thing I’ve struggled with is tapping into parts of christianity that aren’t fundamentalist/evangelical or even conservative. I grew up a Methodist so you wouldn’t think that would be too hard (many Methodists were at the heart of the abolition movement. And first-wave feminism. And other progressive causes in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth), but I also grew up in the Bible Belt so it took a bit to see the love of equality I longed for in Christianity. It’s there, if you know where to look. The important thing is too trust in your moral conscience and your common sense. We Methodists believe that it’s our sacred duty to scrutinize everything people say in God’s name, using science and our own instincts and Christian history – which gives me freedom to call “bullsh*t” on some of the more egregious bad interpretations of the Bible you run into.

    Thanks for having the courage to write this.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I never did understand the social conservatism of so much of the Christian church. I could not read the gospels, without noticing that Jesus was expressing a liberal social view, and was opposing the conservative establishment.

    • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

      Exactly. And I wonder how I missed that, reading the bible my entire life. Sure, in church we talked about how Jesus opposed the Pharisees and religious leaders, but we never thought maybe they were us.

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      I was telling a friend the other day that when I listen to these people judging others for what they’re doing I think back to the Gospels when people would tell Jesus how someone else was sinning. There’s not a single instance where he says “You’re right, ze’s being a bad person.”

      This post resonates with me because my feminism flows so naturally from my faith that it was a long time before I realised that people didn’t agree with me. There’s a part of me that can’t help but think, “Did we read the same Bible?”

      • Aaron

        Matthew 23: 33 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell

        John 7: 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

        John 5: 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.

        So, yes, Jesus does explicitly judge.

    • http://wideopenground.com Lana

      I agree, but my parents always told me not to listen to people who said that. :P

  • DaveinTN

    Hey, I’m a guy and I totally agree with everything you said. All this reformed theology being foisted on us these days makes me want to laugh and vomit at the same time. The cause of Christ is suffering greatly because of it.

  • Kalvin

    Libby Anne, thanks for posting Perfect Number’s article. I found it to be very encouraging.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Every group has its gatekeepers. Every group. Ask yourself what you feel in your heart and what you think in your head and them embrace the word or words that best seem to describe who you are. If no label works, then no label is perfectly fine—that just means your approach is creative and unique enough that few other people have the perspective you do.

    I’ve seen discussions over what constitutes a true atheist, feminist, gay person, trans woman, trans man, socialist, agnostic, anti-racist activist, progressive… and on, and on, and on. People love labels and defining their associated membership with distinct “you are one of us” vs. “you are not one of us” criteria. It seems that even non-conformists have membership criteria.

    Screw the tribalism and do your own thing. Wear the label you want. If someone gets their polka dot undies in a bind because you don’t conform to their expectations, good for you! You are striking out on your own and thinking for yourself. Humans prefer the familiar. It’s comfortable. And that’s why thinking outside of others’ preconceived categories makes folks uncomfortable (and sometimes, downright shouty).

  • Jinx

    Oddly, I grew up in a ‘white American middle-class suburban’ MODERATE ‘Christian subculture’, and we used to say that conservatives weren’t real Christians.
    Unfortunately, the church I grew up in still believes that being gay is ‘intrinsically disordered,’ so I felt compelled to leave it. But my point is that our fears as adults have a great deal to do with whatever was drummed into our heads as children and only a little bit to do with logic we develop as adults. Also, it sucks to lose family and friends over religion. I know. People I used to have deep friendships with rejected me after I came out. I spent so many years identifying with them over most issues that it was hard not to see myself through their eyes and feel shamed.
    I have built a new life and new friendships. Old grief doesn’t die but it does fade.
    Good luck to you and thank you for realizing that you’re still a Christian and speaking out against those who think they own the word.

  • Shannon

    (Long time lurker, first time commenting.) Thank you for your bravery in writing this. I could have written much of this! I am hoping to have my husband read this and understand where I am….he has said many of the things in this article to me, including “being influenced by the world” and “not questioning the Bible”. It is so nice to know that I am not the only one more interested in honesty when it comes to and in what Christian faith should look like, not what it has (sadly) become.

    • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

      Thanks so much! Glad to hear you can relate. :) Don’t ever be afraid to use your mind and ask questions and point out the things that seem off. God gave us a mind and a conscience.

  • MNb

    As a hardcore atheist I agree with M – if you say you’re a christian you’re a christian. Period. Still I want to point out one thing. There is a very simple answer to all your questions and doubts: there is no god.Email

    “working toward freedom and justice”
    According to my 21st standards by far not all words and actions of Jesus show him working toward freedom and justice. I really don’t think him that great a guy. Oh, he was great given the context of his society and of the time he lived in. But I think mankind has made some progression since then and I don’t see a reason to stuck with his ideas if they are worse than ours.

  • http://http//www.upsidedowngrace.com Carol Vinson

    I love this! After all, Jesus himself says love The Lord your god with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. If we all truly did this none of the other shit wrapped up in Christian packaging would matter any more. And by the way, I’m pretty sure God is big enough to take you asking the questions you are. Go for it!

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      Interestingly enough, the “Love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” bit is totally OT. It’s the bit right after the Sh’ma (the six words that define Judaism- “sh’ma yisrael adonai eloheinu adonai echad” or “Hear Oh Israel, The Lord your God, the Lord is One”). It’s the first line of the paragraph after that.

      I still remember that from my time when I prayed the Sh’ma almost daily. Some things you don’t forget, even after you don’t think they’re true anymore.

      Of course, the love your neighbor bit is totally Jesus. Hebrews weren’t super into loving their neighbors, since their neighbors had lands and cities that they wanted.

      • Anat

        Actually loving one’s neighbors is Leviticus 19:18 “Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

        But neighbor would be a fellow Israelite. When Yahweh wants to include non-Israelites he specifically mentions the stranger. (Example: Leviticus 19:10 “And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather the fallen fruit of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.”)

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com krwordgazer

    Well written, Perfectnumber! *fist-bump from fellow traveler on the same journey*

  • AyannaCosta

    But to add to the actual posting, I don’t believe being a Christian should have anything to do with your political views on stance on certain social issues. Were humans before we or anything else and not all Christians are a like neither us Atheist either. It’s sad but the more extreme and radical believers are the ones you here about constantly.

  • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

    I’m in the same boat as you – a liberal christian within a conservative evangelical culture. But one of the things I can assure you that there are a lot more people in evangelical churches who do question core teachings. I’ve served a number of years as a deacon and ministry leader at an evangelical church, and I’ve found that there’s a lot more theological questioning going on. It’s just usually directed at the Pastor or Elders. People are afraid to share their doubts with each other.

    For example, my church was overwhelmingly Republican, but there was a fairly large faction of Democrats and liberals who didn’t want to be “outed.” Their protectiveness was so intense that many of them didn’t even know that there were other liberals among them, so they couldn’t easily “find” each other. I served on a deacon board where three of us were evolutionists who didn’t take scripture literally, and the other three were your standard right wing creationists. The Pastor and the Elders knew that and were fine with it, but there was an understanding that it wasn’t something we should disclose.

    Another example: a lot of evangelicals don’t really believe in evangelizing. There are three camps: the people who think God appoints people to do all of the evangelizing for the church (like missionaries), and that means everyone else is off the hook and doesn’t have to share the Gospel. Then there’s the people who believe that evangelism is either no longer relevant since all the corners of the earth have been reached, and others (usually Calvinists) who believe that evangelism is pointless since God’s already decided who’s going to heaven.

    Then there’s the people who believe evangelizing is just plain rude and presumptive. One of the most hilarious ironies that even within the most zealously pro-evangelism Christians, there was a general belief that the people who were really into evangelizing should be given a wide berth. The same stereotypes that nonevangelicals have about the people who pass out tracts are stereotypes that the church itself holds against its own. So the people who were really into evangelism often complained because they had a hard time making friends within the church.

    And finally , there’s the secret doubters. I led a few apologetics classes and I constantly got push back from people who didn’t feel confident talking to other people about God. There was a lot of self-flagellation going on, but a big reason why people struggled with evangelism was that they weren’t 100% on board with traditional evangelical beliefs, so they didn’t want to get in a position where they had to tell their nonchristian friends what they really believed, because they were just as offended by the Old Testament genocides as their friends were, or they weren’t 100% sure that only Christians went to heaven. Their biggest fear was sharing their true beliefs, then bringing those friends to church and having their friends unintentionally “out” their doubts to the congregation.

    So you might be wondering why there’s so much pressure to conform when so many people share the same doubts. Generally the answer resides in a church’s need for internal peace and financial security. One of the most mind-boggling aspects of a church is that your Pastor or Elders may not really support the policies they instill. Instead what often happens is that you’ll have a faction within the church that demand that the Pastor takes a hardline position on an issue (like proper dress for teens, homeschooling, etc). These families will often threaten to withhold their tithes from the church to get their way, and if there are enough of them, they can push a church into fundamentalistic positions out of fear of a financial crisis or a church split.

    Often our children’s program would make decisions that favored the desires of the homeschooled families simply because the homeschoolers would threaten to withdraw financial support if the church what they thought was a took a pro-public school position. So you wind up with the odd experience of having a Pastor defend beliefs and policies that they themselves are secretly dying to get rid of. As you can imagine, for the most part homeschooling parents don’t get along with public school parents. Even if their beliefs about American culture and public schools being too secular and liberal line up perfectly, the two factions battle each constantly. A lot of the public school parents just plain thought the homeschoolers were nuts, and even though both sides shared the same culturally conservative beliefs, how they applied them to their lives made them adversaries.

    I’m not sure how evangelicals can get to the point where you or I could freely share our liberal beliefs without having our faith questioned. But the frustrating part is that some of the people who show off their credentials as “real Christians” do so because they don’t want people to suspect that they have their own doubts. The guy who’s going on about how lhomosexuals are all going to hell may have met with the pastor earlier in the week to share that he’s starting to think gay marriage is okay. So you have a church full of diverse beliefs who are all afraid to share them openly. The end result is that everyone believes their church is a lot more monolithic than it really is.

    • Cylon

      Fascinating insights, Vagabond. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thomas

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this, and thanks to Libby Anne for hosting it. This speaks to my condition. Sometimes it’s entertaining how these things play out.

    I remember one time I was lobbying for Planned Parenthood funding and a friend of mine walked by. He was surprised to see me there. He said “I thought you were Christian, Tommy!” and I said “Yes!” Of course I’m Christian, and of course I think women should have access to abortions and contraceptives. I see no contradiction.

  • indigojane

    Trouble is, you aren’t Christian by “their” definition of the word. However, I am not sure why they get to define it. I consider myself a Christian, but I don’t believe any of the things that the fundamental people seem to believe. I believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he came to earth to show us the way of salvation. I try to model my life after his. I think that whether or not I am a Democrat or Republication, feminist or SAHM, none of it matters as long as I obey the 10 Commandments and use the Beatitudes as a guide for life. So, I think I can be a Christian. I am really sorry that “they” have been allowed to appropriate the word Christian and use it to their own nefarious ends. Try not to be concerned about whether or not you fit “their” definition. Your definition of Christianity seems more Christ-like to me.

    • Aaron

      They don’t get to define it, for sure. Of course, that goes both ways–crazy Christians, sane Christians, all Christian.

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  • http://dbaug2uga.wordpress.com Debra Baker

    If they are right, you will have a bit of company in that corner of hell because I am a feminist, I believe in gay rights, I believe in egaliterian relationships, I accept evolution and have published works in which evolution is part of the accepted paradigm, and I don’t beat my kids, and I cuss on a regular basis.

    The self-righteous intolerant, bigited, homophobic, malecentric, anal retentative, luddistic knuckledraggers have the loudest voices but they do not represent all or even likely the majority of christians.

  • Nick Gotts

    I thought it was about studying and obeying the bible—what the bible ACTUALLY says, not what we’re told “the bible clearly teaches.”

    The problem with this is that the Bible is rife with contradictions and obscurities, so “what the bible ACTUALLY says” is not at all well-defined. Genocide, rape, ethnocentrism and the subjection of women are repeatedly endorsed in the OT, and many of Jesus’s own reported words are pretty vile – like his ravings about hell, and collective punishment for cities that rejected his claims, his rude and dismissive treatment of his own mother, and his assertion that you cannot follow him without hating your family and yourself.

  • Lila

    Thank you for this article. You have been very honest with some of your struggles with labels of the Christian faith (I grew up Presbyterian/Reformed while dealing with a secret addiction and dated an Atheist for a year and a half, so I know a bit about screwed labeling). And I am delighted to see that you DO take a stance that a lot of fundamentalists would have problems with. I was so excited to learn your reasoning behind believing in gay rights and your approaches to feminism through your faith, but you skimmed over it quite quickly. Maybe you could address both in another article? I consider myself a conservative feminist, believe in tradition gender roles for the most part (and you thought YOU were crazy!) and I also teeter back and forth on gay rights and creation vs. evolution issues. The usual. Anyway, enjoyed what you wrote and hope to hear more (I also LOVE debates and am known for setting fires, my own special approach to evangelism).
    Cheers!
    LJ

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1524166867 Jean Hoehn

    I understand completely. I sometimes joke that while I am (or at least try to be) a good christian, I was a lousy baptist.

  • RebeccaElesia

    Translating the Bible myself has really helped my faith, and looking at the Word in context did too. There are SO MANY scripture passages that were mistranslated and ended up being sexist! As a whole the Bible is actually super feminist. Like me:D

    Some days its really hard though, I constantly wonder why my interpretation should be better than anyone elses. But then I think, “well who are they to force their interpretation on me?”. This cyclical thinking even infects the correctly translated Bible passages. Like, is this commentary? Is this what God said? Is this an imperfect human’s interpretation of what God said? Is this what God said to this one person on this day to help them with a specific problem of the day and age, and does it actually apply to me? Gah. I ask spiritual leaders, and the answer is almost always stemming from patriarchy.

    So I’m asking you Christian feminists, what do you think? How do we know God’s will FOR SURE, short of him/her writing us a post it note and sticking it on our bathroom mirrors? Should we, as followers of Jesus, pick and choose what parts of the Bible to follow? Or is it an all or nothing thing? I would love to get your opinions

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      I am not a Christian feminist. I’m an atheist feminist, so feel free to ignore what I’m about to say.

      That said, everyone picks and chooses. You can’t possibly take it all; we’d rightly arrest and imprison anyone who followed the whole thing. There’s a lot of offenses that are punishable by stoning- I don’t know anyone who follows the “stone non-virgin brides to death” law anymore, nor anyone who wants to.

      So, short answer, no, there isn’t any way to know God’s will FOR SURE. All you have is your brain, your morals, and your ideals. That’s all anyone ever has.

    • Adrienne

      The key for me has always been to accept that the bible was written in a particular time and place, through a particular cultural lens. Which explains so much about differences in OT and NT. Therefore, I find no problem interpreting it through the cultural lens of today. Note: I grew up in a liberal Christian and politically progressive household and community. So that solution ALWAYS seemed obvious to me, and wasn’t ever a struggle.

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