Sunday, December 5, 2010

that's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight...

i recently had a really good talk with my mom one afternoon about christianity, and our inability to find a place within it anymore. it's a big step to make after growing up in church, but i feel that it is a necessary one.

i absolutely, deeply, and personally believe in god. i identify with and seek to emulate jesus. i find solace and guidance in the bible. but i am not a christian.

leaving the church is not an act of disillusionment or rebellion. i'm not angry with christianity, and i'm not leaving to join some other religion or become an athiest. i simply recognize that i don't believe the things that christians do, at least within christianity as it is understood in the modern west. the things that describe christians are not things that describe me, and so it would be a misnomer to call myself christian. if you have a friend who you have a few disagreements with, you can get past them and stay friends. but if you disagree with that person on every issue, what is the point after a while in hanging out and trying to make nice? without some commonality a relationship can't exist.

christianity began as a community of people trying to follow christ together, but it has become a set of socio-political values and mores; a religious organization; a demographic. anymore, being a christian seems to mean being pro-war, anti-abortion, sexually repressed, anti-gay, anti-science, patriotic/nationalist, and capitalist. one could try to argue that these are just practices and dogmas and that what really defines christianity is doctrine. but that argument doesn't work because the average church attendee can't explain church doctrine and doesn't know its scriptural basis or if it even has such basis. what one practices daily is what one truly believes. faith without works is dead. practice IS doctrine, and any doctrine not being practiced is meaningless.

i have doctrinal differences as well, but with such practical differences the theological ones are almost moot. since the church is so stuck on gay marriage and creationism (although neither stance can be scripturally supported) there is never time/cause/will to get to the deep stuff. i don't believe in a literal hell or the necessity of the crucifixion for atonement, but you had me at "7 literal days".

there is of course the hipster brand of christianity that loves slogans such as "it's not a religion, it's a relationship" and words like "emergent" and "dialogue", but it's just a cooler haircut on the same body. having a gay friend and swearing sometimes and meeting at a coffee shop doesn't really change anything. we'd seem to get allong for a while, but as soon as anything serious came up our incompatibility would become evident.

like i said earlier, i'm not bitter with the church. i just don't belong in it anymore. it's time to part ways. it's an amicable, but a necessary split. it isn't that we're not friends because we had a fight, we just grew apart - we just don't have anything to talk about anymore. sometimes i think the jesus i know is not the same one they know, and maybe we only thought we had a mutual friend when we met in the first place.

i believe in the transformative love of christ, and i will continue to try to know it and live it more deeply. i believe in a creative, communal, beautiful, holy god, and i will continue to try to honor and mirror their image. but i don't believe i can do that with integrity from within the church. i would love to find a community of people seeking to live the same way, but christianity is no longer that community for me. i'm a little sad, as i would be to drift away from any old friend, but it's the only honest thing to do.

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