My Mid-Faith Crisis: Why I Don’t Believe in Christianity Anymore

by Mari

The title of this post is very provocative and I hope people take the time to read what I have to say rather than simply rejecting me because they believe I’ve turned heathen.

Because I haven’t turned heathen.

The fact that many Christian people will judge me as a heathen based on the title of this post is one reason I don’t believe in Christianity anymore.

Christianity has turned into a political agenda, a social class, a set of rules and regulations that frankly, don’t make much sense to the average Joe who hasn’t been schooled on the issue.

My personal understanding of Christianity has evolved throughout my life. My first understanding of Christianity was “God is right and everybody else is wrong.” Then it was, “We are right and everybody else is wrong.” Then it was “The Republican, Pro-Life, Homeschool, ‘Sweet 36, Never Been Kissed’, Pop Out 17 Babies crowd is right and everybody else is wrong.” After that, it was “My church is right and my friends are maybe right, but everybody else is wrong.”

Then I had what I like to refer to as my Mid-Faith Crisis.

And at that point, I began to question if anything about Christianity — especially church, pastors and people who call themselves Christians — is right at all.

*****

It’s been over 4 years since this all went down.

During the past 4 years, I went to church every Sunday. I went to every Bible study I could. I hung out with Christian people. I prayed. I read my Bible. I talked to people about Jesus. I wrote about Jesus. I taught small children about Jesus.

And tonight, even though I have officially stepped away from the line in the sand marked “Christianity,” I am going to church. I’m going to worship Jesus, pray, read the Bible and probably listen to a sermon. I’m going to hug my friends and kiss my friends’ sweet preschoolers on the way out the door.

Because, my experience has shown me that the further you run from religious labels, the closer you get to Jesus.

*****

Several years ago, I got caught up in the idea of ministry and discipleship. I put forth great effort to love the people the church wanted me to love. They did a great job showing me how to love. It was a really great experience. It transformed my life.

Six years ago, a guest minister at my church told the congregation that I would be an example to them of how to truly give up your life for the sake of the gospel. He told them that I would be a challenge to them, not because I had a challenging attitude, but because I would do something and they would have to decide if they were going to embrace me and what I was doing.

Just over a year later, it happened. Individuals in the church chose to ostracize me. Other churches in town started rumors about me and the ministries I was working with began to disclude me. Finally, I told my pastor that I wanted to move. He said, “I believe your time in this community has come to an end.”

That little paragraph doesn’t even begin to explain the hurt and frustration. By the time I left, I wasn’t sure if I even believed in God anymore. The only thing I knew was that I hated church and “Christian” people were the biggest crowd of back-stabbing, evil people there were.

But, I kept going to church. Church was normal. So I went. I read my Bible. I sorta prayed. Sorta.

*****

This past Sunday, my pastor spoke about discipleship and challenged the church to do discipleship relationships with people. He urged us to find someone to mentor and find someone to mentor us.

I love that idea.

But the problem is that my personal way of discipling people typically isn’t a method that Christian people can make peace with.

My way of discipling people is to get to know them and figure out what they need. I like to meet them where they are, talk to them, serve them, pray for and with them and just be a friend as much as I can.

Even if the person in question is a lesbian.

Or a prostitute.

Or a single mom.

*****

I don’t believe in Christianity anymore because the meaning of Christianity has morphed into a political and social concept that is void of reality, depth and life.

Jesus didn’t come to bring political agendas and social class.

Jesus came so that we can have LIFE (John 10:10) and because this is the case, everything we do in the name of Jesus ought to be something that brings life. If we are truly followers of Jesus (which I strive to be!!), then we should be doing the things Jesus did. We should be hanging out with the outcasts (how about those who are gender-confused?), the needy (single moms, anybody?) and the broken (what about the abused spouse?). We should be looking for ways to love and serve those who need it the most.

*****

When my personal Mid-Faith Crisis began, it was because I saw someone who had a need, and I felt compelled to stand by them through their crisis.

The church failed that day.

Christianity failed.

But Jesus didn’t. That is why I follow Jesus. And that is why I don’t put much faith in the concept of “Christianity” anymore.

Comments open below

Read everything by Mari!

Mari is the middle of 5 kids — and the only girl — in a male-dominant, semi-quiverfull, rather patriarchal homeschooling family. She was raised in a patriarchal church and most of her social network as a child consisted of children of patriarchal or quiverfull families. This is the story of how she was sucked into the patriarchal/quiverfull belief system, and how she was lovingly (and in some cases, not so lovingly!) escorted out. Read her blog at: http://www.marismuses.wordpress.com

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • Cheryl Hannah

    Bravo! I’m on that same journey.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

    I’m also on that journey. And it gets pretty lonesome sometimes.

  • Sandy

    That is the conclusion I have come to. I am not in a church at the moment but am still following Christ.

  • Jay

    I’m not sure if you meant to use the term “gender-confused” for Trans* people. It’s disrespectful to what they go through, particularly considering how hostile the queer community can be to them in general.

    • http://beyond-the-wand.tumblr.com Flynn Phoenix

      Seconded. I am not “gender-confused” – I know damn well what my gender is; the only people who are “confused” are the ones who can’t wrap their heads around the notion that gender identity =/= physical sex.

    • http://inqueeringmind.wordpress.com Gavin

      Chiming with Jay and Flynn Pheonix. I’m not confused about my gender. It’s sometimes the only thing in my life that I’m sure about. Saying I’m confused is genital essentialism and cissexism. And it’s hurtful. You don’t have to agree with how I live. But that statement is extremely condescending, whether or not you mean it that way.

      • Holly

        Maybe when Mari used the term “gender confused”, she was referring to people who were, oh I don’t know, actually gender confused? Those of you who have reached a comfortable conclusion probably do not need a sympathetic friend but someone who is still struggling and searching probably does. Ergo, that specific comment was not meant for you. Why would you assume it was? So, as the saying goes, “If it don’t apply, let it fly.”

        • Jay

          Except for the fact that the phrase “gender confused” is usually used to slander trans* people. And I wasn’t accusing her of deliberately doing so. I assumed she didn’t know any better. However, words mean things. You saying that they mean something different doesn’t change to overarching connotation of the words. Again, those words, specifically, are used very often to belittle those in the trans* community, regardless of anyone’s intent.

  • http:///krwordgazer.blogspot.com Kristen Rosser

    Yes! I saw a bumper sticker somewhere: “Jesus called. He wants His religion back.” I don’t use bumper stickers, but that’s one I’d put on my car if I did!

  • texcee

    I was raised in a devout Southern Baptist household and, until my early-to-mid 30′s, I was a devout Christian. I attended church and took my daughter to church and was happy when she made a profession of faith and was baptized. But around 1980 or so, the church began to change. I’m talking the entire denomination, because radical conservatives staged a coup and took over the Southern Baptist Convention. Moderates were forced out and the church turned toward evangelicism. I began to hear hatred and intolerance and misogynism preached and practiced. Frankly, I was outraged and offended. I stopped attending. In a church that I had attended since infancy, where my grandparents and parents, my brother and his family, my aunts, uncles and cousins, were all active members, and in which I had been active and faithful since childhood … not ONE SINGLE PERSON called me or came by to find out if something was wrong or if I needed help. NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON cared enough to reach out to me — not the pastor, assistant pastor, youth pastor, senior pastor, music minister, deacons, bible study leaders, Sunday school teachers … NO ONE. The only time I ever heard from anyone was a couple of times a year when I would get a form letter begging for money. Needless to say, they got not a penny from me. In my bitterness, I began to search for the real meaning of Christianity and, the more I studied, the more I began to realize that whatever passes for Christianity today is not anywhere close to what Jesus actually taught. I stopped believing. I won’t say that I’m an atheist, but I do identify as an agnostic. Today’s version of Christianity is as corrupted and as much of a sham as the Catholic Church at its worst during the Middle Ages. No wonder church attendance is falling yearly and people are leaving in droves.

  • BT

    Good stuff!

    One thing that’s always struck me as strange about Christian mentoring/discipleship is how often Christians seek to find people to “help,” which seems… patronizing–and often self-deluded. Perhaps it would be a more powerful experience for all parties if Christians approached such relationships without any assumption of superiority, engaging with an awareness that however things look superficially, we’re all on the same level, and the need to be served, talked to, prayed for is mutual–all-around.

    Perhaps Christians are evil and backstabbing because they don’t realize they are the ones in need of a mentor–they are the lesbian, prostitute, single mom, gender-confused, abused, etc., but they just hide it better, at least from themselves.

    Sounds like you’re onto something like that…

    I suppose I could go on for awhile talking about the arrogance that results from feeding the urge to hide inner brokenness and push others away who draw that out, but I’ll leave you with something a theology professor once told me, which I’ve only slowly come to understand: if you’re not upsetting anyone, you’re not being prophetic.

  • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

    I’ve never been involved in an evangelical church… thank God. Part of the reason for this is because I’ve come to realise the more labels people stick on their religion, the more intolerant they tend to be.

    I love your definition of missionary work, Mari.

  • Alexa

    And this is why I almost never refer to myself as a Christian. Rather, I call myself an Episcopalian. I want to maintain a clear distinction between myself, my church, my beliefs and the fundamentalist crazies who have more in common with the Taliban than with Christianity.

  • Rjbowlin

    The closer one gets to humanism the better it always gets. As a heathen myself, the bible isnt particularly Important, however, that doesn’t prevent me from taking what wisdom there is in the bible and applying it to my life. Just as i would with Aesop, Lucretious, or Dickens. When we choose the meaning for our lives to be based on the health and wellness of ourselves and all others, things begin to improve. When something becomes more sacred than these , be it gods, drugs, religion, gambling, money…etc., life will always result in emptiness, and unfullfillment.

  • Tori

    I am no longer a Christian, I get super annoyed though when people discount my opinions of the bibles content. So what if I don’t “believe” anymore? Does it never cross anyones mind that maybe I can see a little more clearly ( I now study theology)? Why can’t I take good messages away from it and apply principles in my life from it? I’m not saying it’s either all bad, OR all good (in fact I believe it is neither of those things). Even worse, people trying to “save” me. I’ve read that book cover to cover over and over again (sometimes post it notes and highlighters have been involved), what makes them think they have more to offer me than the “inerrant word of God”, exactly how arrogant ARE these people? *stomps off in a huff*


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