Why I Had to Go Further

Why I Had to Go Further November 2, 2022

Photo by Владислав Соха

While It’s true that many millions of people are deconstructing their faith, some of them will be convinced to stop short of total deconstruction. I don’t want to judge or criticize them for this. Deconstruction is hard.

But for many of us, it was necessary to continue on the journey that we started. I had to deconstruct not only some of my beliefs, but my entire belief system which included the religion and everything associated with it.

Today, it feels more like I am evolving. As I reconsider everything, the true and noble things remain and the things that aren’t authentic seem to fall away. I have moved past the guilt and shame that comes with organized religion, so I have very few regrets and what I feel mostly is peace.

Most of us that “went further,” probably couldn’t have explained it at the time, we just felt the impending need to finish what we started. After some reflection, there may be a few reasons that necessitated going further in the journey.

1. We realized the lack of healing in organized religion.

Organize religion draws people that are wounded. It also promises to help them. But generally it doesn’t follow through on the promise and many times it creates even more issues. One of the primary reasons is because most of the time and money and effort is geared towards maintaining the organization and there is very little time for our grief.

When we realize that if organized religion is going to be part of the solution, then more people are going to continue to be wounded, many of us proposed to stay away longer and try to unearth the roots of these problems, instead contributing to their flourishing.

2. We realized there is widespread abuse.

When I was a Southern Baptist, I used to take delight that another denomination had a history of child sexual abuse. After I left organized religion, it became very apparent that my own denomination was one of the main culprits and participated regularly in cover-ups and victims shaming, etc

Sexual misconduct among evangelicals and especially in upper leadership is almost expected. When we hear an evangelical leader has passed away, it’s more than commonplace for a scandal of some sort to break out. It’s not that they’re being targeted, it’s that the systems they are in are nurturing their bad behavior.

Abuse of children and women is set up by the practices of the church. When we do things like confirm and baptize children we normalize abuse. Women are set up by patriarchal ideals and centuries of practices that subjugate them.

3. We realized it is very hard to change organizations.

After I started my deconstruction, I dove back into a church, hoping they would let me help with something that can be part of the solution. But organizations are primarily focused on the organizational goals and preserving the organization.

They don’t change very often, and it’s only worse in religious organizations because bypassing is common and religious organizations hope it will just all fix itself someday. It never does.

The problems that started around the time of Constantine, some 1500 years ago are still present in the churches today. A special person still stands on an elevated platform and addresses the rest of us. There’s very little time for discussion, there is little to no time for healing and the beliefs, practices and the way the church functions doesn’t adjust for the needs of the few.

Since everyone’s journey is different, I don’t want to tell anyone else what to do. All I can do is encourage you like I was encouraged to “stay on the journey” and I trust that you will be able to determine what that means.

I hope you will read our book, Out Into The Desert, and join in the conversation with us. On our podcast, The Desert Sanctuary, we’ve been interviewing people that are going through this journey. Some of them you might relate to well.

Be where you are,
Be who you are,

Karl Forehand

 


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