Sunday, October 11, 2009

Legally Seperated, Divorce Pending

For the last couple of years, I have felt very uncomfortable in the mainstream Christian church. I grew up in an Assembly of God church, where, "God's Word says it, I believe it, That settles it!" was a mantra of sorts, but nobody bothered to question if God's word was saying what we thought it was saying.

The Christianity I grew up with does not make sense to me anymore. It hasn't for a long time, but I am feeling that now more than ever. Perhaps because of ridiculous debates I've engaged in on Facebook, perhaps because it seems that, two years after my initial departure from the church, nothing has changed. The church-at-large has no more compassion or understanding for the world around it than it did two years ago, when I first began to feel that, perhaps, we were missing something by doing things as they have always been done.

"Missing something" is an understatement. The longer I am out of the mainstream, the more I see that there is some truth in what I recently heard a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show say. He wrote a book called "Crazy for God", describing his fundamental right-wing upbringing, his own actions on behalf of the right-wing agenda, and his eventual departure from it. This man said something along the lines of, "There is a village idiot in America, and it is the fundamental Christian church. They talk about being left behind. They have been left behind, by educational, technology, art, and science. So while they stand at the hillside and wait for the rapture, the rest of us are going to get on with our lives."

Harsh words, to be sure. I would not have phrased it in such terminology myself. Still, it does reflect some of what I am feeling as I try...oh, how I've get back into the...habit?...of going to church. Habit. Like smoking. Or checking and re-checking to make sure I've definitely got my keys when I leave the house. Or checking Twitter or Facebook a bizillion times a day, looking for conversation outside of what I have with my 9 month old son. Honestly, going to church feels a lot like any one of these habits. I don't smoke anymore, and don't want to take it up again. Sadly, I feel the same way about church.

Why is this? Simply put, it's because my time away from church has allowed me to explore points of view other than what I grew up with, and it has given me reason to question mainstream Christianity to such a degree that I honestly am not sure I can be a part of it anymore.

My points of view on other religions has changed. My points of view on homosexuality has changed. My points of view on how Christians have conducted themselves in the public arena has changed significantly, to the degree that I do not want to be associated with it.

Yet, as I write this with such tremendous conviction, I also write it with a lot of sadness and confusion. My parents are still part of the brand of Christianity I grew up with, and I am not sure where to draw the line with them insofar as what they discuss with my son. I have friends who are still part of that brand of Christianity, and I am not sure how to relate to them in a real and honest way, without offending them or appearing to challenge their heart for people.

Some of the conflict comes from the ridiculous debates regarding some hot button topics, and I see what I consider to be an abundance of ignorance, blatant attempts to twist my words to make me appear as though I support things that I most definitely do not, and so on. I need to stop engaging in such debates, but it is beyond my ability to fathom how people can behave and believe so horridly, and still claim that they are emulating Christ.

Another factor is that I am seeing a tremendous outpouring of love from another group of Christians, and I am humbled. These Christians hold beliefs that certainly are not mine, I do not even go to their church, yet they are doing something amazing for me and my son.

I am getting surgery this Wednesday that is going to require me to stay in the hospital for at least a couple of days, and will leave me unable to lift my son for about six weeks. Obviously, I am going to need some help. A friend of mine, who attends a fundamentalist church, did not hesitate to tell those at her church about my need, and they are making sure that I have the help I need. They are not asking anything of me, in the way of attending their church, asking me what I believe about this or that, etc. They are simply meeting a need, doing so out of love. I see Jesus in that.

So, I am torn. While I do not want to raise my son in an environment that would immerse him in the same toxins I grew up with, I cannot keep us hidden away from everyone else, either. I am kinda thinkin' we should be around other people, yet something in me bristles at the thought of him being indoctrinated as I was. My parents meant well, but I grew up hating church and all it stood for. I don't want that for my son.

What to do...

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