Last night my friend Carlos and I were chatting over some drinks about how we have become increasingly hostile toward self-identifying as “Christian.” Not because we don’t love Christ, and not because we don’t find value in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but for the simple reason that Christianity seems to want nothing to do with those who approach the faith different than they do. And sometimes, when one feels as unwelcomed as I currently do, when one is told over and over how they are not “in,” when they are told over and over how they are going to hell and leading others there in the process, they simply run out of patience and withdraw. That’s about where I’m at with things.
Now, while I am struggling with self-identifying as a Christian, I hesitate to completely drop the term. Why, you might ask? Simple. It’s because I don’t want to continue to see Christianity co-opted by self-righteous bigots who seem to have no interest in the actual teachings of Jesus. I don’t want to see Christianity continue to be used as a weapon to keep people in bondage. I don’t want to continue to see a Christianity void of the Good News that Jesus came to proclaim, the Good News that was supposed to be all about liberating the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed (Luke 4:18–19)—yes, I’m talking to you Johnny Mac.
At the same time, however, it seems like such an uphill fight that I’m not sure I have the mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude to do anything about it any longer. Furthermore, what is the point in trying to gain approval from one’s abuser? Is it not a death sentence to stay in relationship with those whom oppress you? Listen to some of the recent crap that Christians have said to me:
“Enjoy the hell you enter. You will believe in it then, clown.”
“You are deceived by Satan and are in a cult; you need to repent of your sins and be born again, and make Jesus the savior of your life.”
“Guess what little guy, you have a small, finite mind and as such have no way of comprehending the infinite. But I’ll just keep praying for you.”
“We are no match for this professor of word vomit, who, in all reality, is getting ninety percent of his info from Wikipedia or a bitter Rabbi who has no reason to revere Scripture as holy.”
“You are a Pharisee. That’s pretty clear.”
I could continue, but I think you get the point. If this is the spirit of Christianity—more often than not it certainly seems to be—then I want nothing to do with it. Sorry. I tried. For years and years, I tried. I’m just not sure I can any longer. The self-righteousness just stinks too bad. The hypocrisy is simply too foul.
I mean, I don’t even care that Christians, like all other human beings, mess up and act like complete jerks from time to time. Hell, I can be one of the biggest assholes around. What gets me is that Christians will sit and act like they don’t have blemishes, like their shit doesn’t stink. But it does. And it stinks bad, which is okay, just stop telling me I’m smelling roses when I’m really smelling last night’s Taco Bell. I’m not an idiot. My olfactory senses are doing just fine, thank you very much.
So, what term will I start using? I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it yet. Like I said, I’m still hesitant about whether to drop the term “Christian.” I’m leaning that way, but I’m not quite there. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just keep pressing on, focusing my attention not on the self-proclaimed gatekeepers of the faith but on those who actually have a bit of humility in life. These are the folks worth talking to. Not the ones who act like they are God’s anointed spokespersons and who seem to get off on condemning others to the divine Auschwitz down below.