It’s been a whirlwind around here with big life celebrations for our family and my dad’s death and I haven’t written here at Patheos for a while. However, in the midst of it all I been following the reality of our current political administrations’ policies related to immigration and the ravages it continues to create for families. I have seen the polls that reflect that white evangelicals continue to be the lowest supporters of helping refugees—the supposedly most “Christian” the least likely supporters, by far, of caring for the displaced, the stranger, the hurting. I have read the story of Southern Baptist leaders speaking against women in vile ways. And I’ve been listening to people share their painful faith shift stories in our Faith Shift: Hope and Healing group and their desire to live a more just, merciful, tangible faith and being thrown out, tossed out, rejected, because they believed in marriage equality or possible flaws in the Bible or questioned leadership.
We’re in the middle of an obvious huge shift in our culture, and as hard and bumpy it is, I believe it’s a really good thing.
But it has left a lot of us feeling truly done with the Christian cultures we were part of. It has created a divide where we are unable to reconcile the differences between Jesus’ words and the actions of his followers. It has left a lot of us tired, embarrassed, displaced, and trying to find our way.
So many people who are finally “done” with church and the confines of a fused faith are wrestling with that decision, pressured by family members and church friends who are concerned about their salvation and that they are being led astray by the liberal media. Many feel that loss of severing from groups and churches and ministries that once brought life but now feel dead.
Others are crystal clear—I cannot, will not be part of the machine anymore that keeps supporting powerful systems that oppress women, people of color, LGBT+, immigrants, people of other faiths, the poor, the marginalized, the vulnerable.
The exodus out of traditional, hierarchical, patriarchal church is a tidal wave right now and as disorienting as it can seem, it’s time.
We just can’t be part of the systems we once gave our hearts and time and money to for a reason.
We just can’t anymore because we can no longer submit ourselves to all-male leadership who hold all the power with no real accountability.
We just can’t anymore because Jesus is stirring our hearts that there is deep work to do in the world to heal brokenness and injustice, not sit and sing songs and talk about how much better we are than “them” because we believe in Jesus.
We just can’t anymore because kids are being ripped from their families and placed in detention centers and we cannot hear another Christian leader make cruel excuses for it. Our reading of the gospels completely contradicts this kind of mistreatment.
We just can’t anymore because we are beginning to reckon with the brutal realities of our shared history where religion promoted pervasive racism and we can’t just ignore it because churches don’t want to offend givers with talk about “white privilege.”
These reasons may sound harsh but they are real for a lot of us. There is a lot we want to leave behind.
But our best reasons for leaving all we once knew come not from disgust, but rather a spirit-filled place of hope.
We aren’t just leaving something behind and stopping there. We are in search of something good, holy, worth-pursuing.
We are beginning to experience God in entirely new and beautiful ways through art and music and activism and nature and service and caring for the vulnerable and contemplative and it’s making our heart sing.
We believe that Jesus showed us a better way of moving in the world and we want to stumble and bumble our way through living that out.
We have daughters and sons and sisters and brothers who we want to live as free and whole as equally as possible and never be stifled because they are somehow perceived as less-than.
We have been learning to become more integrated and healthy human beings and we want to do everything to let our soul live more freely and not become divided again.
We are recognizing that life is short, and we don’t want to spend it following leaders who use, abuse, separate, and dishonor our passions and gifts. We want to bring some of our dreams into reality.
We want to be participants of healing and change in our hurting world, willing to get our hands dirty and our hearts broken, instead of focusing on comfort and ease.
We are listening to our souls longing to live out a faith filled with freedom, mystery, diversity, justice, and equality.
We know it’s time to evolve, change, move, transform despite the costs.
As brutal the divides in Christianity feel right now, with so many losing church-as-they-knew-it, there is so much good and beauty and hope emerging, too, and I just want to keep honoring that side of the coin.
Yes, it’s painful to lose so much.
It’s horrid to have Christianity be represented by such nuttiness.
It’s sad that our systems are so utterly opposite what Jesus taught.
But the stirring, the moving, the leaving, the “just can’t anymore” is ushering in the new in so many wild and wonderful and uncomfortable ways.
Here’s to all that “can be” ahead.
Also, if you are in a place where your faith has unraveled and you “just can’t anymore” but are ready to consider what you might be ready for moving forward, consider joining us for a new 6 week online course at The Work of the People called From Death to Life: Rebuilding Faith. It’s based on 6 chapters in Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and I am looking forward to it!