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.
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.
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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
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