I came from the flavor of evangelical Christianity where God was intricately involved in every aspect of my life. God was interested in getting me a better job, finding me a husband, and clearing out a primo parking space at Trader Joes. Oh yes, He was blessing me every. single. day.
The conversations would go like this:
"God blessed me big time today. You know that dress I really wanted to my anniversary dinner? It went on sale! I mean, God knows how tight money is with us, and I just can't believe He would make a way for me to be able to buy it." Or, "God just knew I needed a phone call from (whomever) today. He just knows exactly what I need."
You get the idea. I just knew that God was interested in every single detail of my life.
Pure Western Christianity ego-centrism.
So now, let's juxtapose this with the prayers of a refugee in a war torn country. Afraid for their children, they're praying desperately for a way out that never comes. Or the mother with the child who is desperately ill and in pain. Does that child get relief from the very real pain? What about the dying child? These seem like answer-worthy prayers. In fact, they seem (and mind you, I'm just a human, so I can't claim to know God's priorities), those prayers seem like they might just outrank the dress going on sale, or the best parking spot He decided to bless you with.
I have two thoughts about this.
One: When God fails to answer our prayers, he's got a mighty "get out of jail free" card. It's called His Will. When worthy prayers are not answered, then it's His "mysterious will." God is not to be questioned. His ways are higher than ours. You know the drill. However, when he finds me a parking spot, he gets all the praise. How many Christians ever stop to think how incredibly self-centered they sound as they make the (supposed) God of the Universe their personal prayer bitch? Did they ever stop and think about the really horrible things that happen to people in this world, whose prayers go completely and totally unanswered?
Two: Wow and double wow for your close personal relationship with God. He's intimately involved in every aspect of your thoughts and your life, and He's always going before you to make a way and bless you. Did it ever occur to you that your life is actually blessed by virtue of where and to whom you were born? DIdn't think so.
So the next time your Christian buddy thinks being religionless makes you selfish, this might be a good object lesson to bring up.
What are you known for? Is it your love for others? If someone were to read your social media posts, what would it reflect? What about your comments? Christians, I'm talking to YOU.
It seems the ship has sailed on loving others. Especially other Christians with whom you disagree.
I truly believe that social media has shone a stark, bright spotlight on the hearts of men (and women) and the verdict is in:
Christians have just as much hate, anger, judgement and vitriol in their hearts as everyone else.
Let that sink in. And then get angry. But not at me. I have to call it like I see it (or in this case, read it). Every. Single. Day.
Obviously, everyone is human. We all have those emotions and feelings. What I'm talking about is if you call yourself a Christian, you are held to a higher standard. Especially where your behavior towards others is concerned. But I have a question for you:
Are you the called ones? Or the ones tasked with calling everyone out?
I'm weary. Really weary.
Weary of seeing your Bible used as a weapon. So much so, that prior to my deconversion, when I did still did devotions, I would come across verses that are typically the "clobber verses," and I couldn't focus anymore. It destroyed the Bible for me. [Cue the judgmental rant: "Well, that's YOUR fault! It must be YOUR relationship with God. YOU need to work on that!] No, it could not possibly be the effect of other Christians' behavior. Nope.
I'm so weary of the superiority and judgement of believers. [Cue the proof texts about why it's OK to do this....]
I'm sick of the Christian double standard which goes something like this: "I'm on the side of God, therefore when I call you out, it's a holy calling. My behavior, however, is not up for discussion."
I see this play out day after day online. And in real life too.
I'm weary of seeing Christians nod in agreement about loving others during a sermon, and go home to eviscerate someone on Facebook who dares to have a different opinion. Especially political.
Sit tight Christian. Buckle up. I've got some news: God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When your church becomes a mouthpiece for a political party, you cease to be the church. In the words of one of your own pastors, Carey Nieuwhof:
I could not feel more strongly about this. Especially in political discourse.
Every day, I see people with little to no understanding of theology use the Bible as a weapon to make a point or win an argument. We call it "proof texting." You know what? It's destroying your witness. It's destroying other believers, and it's destroying any chance someone wants to jump into your cesspool of hate.
The rhetoric I see vomiting out of Christian mouths every day turns my stomach.
The message, more often than not, is "I love you, as long as you agree with me." If not, all bets are off. I don't recall Jesus saying that. In fact, he talked about enemy love. Another long-lost Christian command that no longer exists in Evangelical America.
What happened to being peacemakers? Instead you pledge allegiance to America First. It seems the "kingdom" that holds first place in your heart is not God's. It's man's.
This has been a long time coming.
I've yet to write my ex-timonial outlining the downfall of my faith, but that's coming. I think it's fair to say that after twenty-five years inside of evangelical Christianity, it's going to take a bit of processing and healing to get it all sorted out enough to write it all down. The best way I can come up with to describe my slow and painful exodus, would be to say it felt like death by a thousand paper cuts. The metaphor works, because any one of the "reasons" I could give, wouldn't seem on its face to be enough to walk away. But over a period of many years, it wore me down. Down to the core of my soul. So much so, that when I finally found the strength to walk away, I felt like I'd been robbed of those years. I was left trying to figure out who I was without the identity of "believer." And in truth, I didn't know. I'm still learning. I can't go back, but I can move forward, living my best life now.
These days, I am "closer to fine" than I have ever been. Ironically, I feel free and unchained. Funny, that's what Christianity tells us will happen when we accept Christ. That was even true for me, in the beginning. But what I didn't know, was that Western Christianity also comes with a lot of unspoken and unwritten "rules."
In the end, the rule book grew heavy, and the veil that was torn off was the real truth of the Bible: that it's peppered with inconsistencies that most Christians will never hear about in church. We don't have original manuscripts. The gospels were not written by apostles of Jesus. There was political infighting among various church factions that lasted over a century about which manuscripts would be considered "inspired," which was decided four hundred years after-the-fact.
As I was beginning to become a student of the real Bible (not the sacred, inspired, "either it's all true of none of it's true" Bible that evangelicals tout), Western evangelicalism decided it was time to get in bed with politics. That was my final straw. That, and the absolute hypocrisy of other evangelical Christians. There is no more discipleship. There is no more open-mindedness. No more quest for truth. The only usefulness the Bible holds for many Christians, is to use it to "proof text" other people. Including other Christians that don't see it exactly how the evangelical does. I left disgusted. I still am.
So, here I am. I've found a home at Exchristian. Shockingly, they know how to be respectful when disagreeing. I guess "godless" people aren't so bad after all. Imagine that.