Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Want Out

I really wanted to stop being a Christian yesterday.

There were many factors involved. I was exhausted. I was sick. I got into a ridiculous, yet big to me argument with The Cute Sound Guy. But the main reason I wanted to quit was my following of the evolvement of the Matt Walsh/Yoga Pants/Chicks on the Right thing, the Jarrid Wilson modesty thing, and the amazing #christiancleavage thing. (If you are unfamiliar with any of these, check them out and you will know what I’m talking about.)

The gist of it is a large spike in what has been an ongoing debate about modesty. I read numerous blog/comment responses. Definitely more than I should have. Because it just makes me angry. (In case you’re wondering, I fall squarely into the camp of personal responsibility, whether you are a man or a woman.)

Yes, as a woman it bothers me. For a million reasons. 

But the thing that bothers me the most is not that someone doesn't think women should wear yoga pants, or show cleavage or kneecaps. Its not that there are people who believe that women are a submissive gender. Its not the alcohol vs abstaining that bothers me.

Its the incredible, incredible, troubling lack of empathy.

I grew up in a conservative church environment my entire life. When your dad is a minister, church is not a place that you go to on Sundays, its your family’s ENTIRE life. To say you “live in a bubble” is quite possibly the biggest understatement ever. Since moving away from my home town, I’ve had an opportunity to step back and take a little bit more of an objective look at things. To form my own opinions, to discover what I truly believe ~ not just what someone has told me. I’ve left my parent’s denomination. I’ve had hundreds of new experiences. I've fallen and gotten back up. And for the first time in my life, a huge part of my social circle are people who are not Christians. At least, not in the way I was always familiar with. 

So, I tend to view church and Christianity through the eyes of my friends ~ through the eyes of a potential individual, whose only experience or knowledge of Christianity is what is media portrayed. And I wonder, often, what we as Christians look like to them.

And I finally understand why Christians have the reputation of being self-righteous jerks.

And I think the thing that bothers me the most, is that the ones who earn the reputation of being self-righteous jerks….don’t really care. In fact, it is often displayed as a badge of honor. Of “standing up for the truth” and “defending what’s ‘right.’” They are proud to debate, be the first to call someone or something wrong. And they seem to not care in the least that they look like arrogant assholes.

And you know what? They should care. If they gave one thought to the people they take such a strong stand against….THEY SHOULD CARE.

If we, as Christians, are here on this planet to love God, and love others, they are missing the main point. And all they are doing is building walls and turning people off. And it boggles my mind that they flippantly DON’T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT IT.

There are things in Christianity that are the basic black and whites.  And there are many things that are gray. There are many interpretations. There are many denominations. Rarely, will you find 2 people that agree exactly the same on everything. 

And I like it that way.  I like the colors of patchwork quilts. I like that I can go on Pinterest and find 376 different variations of the same recipe. I like that there are countless genres of music.

And I like that there are people who believe differently than I do.

And I’m finding out that not a lot of Christians feel that way. Or, rather, are secure enough to feel that way. And they certainly don’t like it. Nor can they show any measure of respect for an individual holding a belief that is different than theirs.

The stupid, ridiculous, childish and frankly EMBARRASSING yoga pant debate underscored that like nothing else. 

Once, just once I would like to see Christians stop talking. Just stop talking and pontificating and spouting your opinions for one. Damn. Second. 

And listen.

Listen to the story of another. Listen to their life experiences. Ask them how it felt.  And then imagine yourself in their shoes and how you would feel. And realize that you ARE in their shoes. You are flawed. You are existing on the same scary planet that they are. You are not on the high platform of “having arrived,” reaching down to the poor lost dregs of humanity, trying to pull them up to where you are. You are in the same waters that they are in.  Its not an “us vs them” situation. 

Its just “us.”

At least, that is how I feel. And I am constantly confused at the Christians that constantly feel the need to try and change me and make me just like them. Instead of encouraging me to seek Christ for what He has to say to me about becoming like Him.  Actually, its not confusing at all, when I think about it.  Its because they think they are 100% right. Especially in things that have little, if any, eternal significance. 

See, there are a million things that have nothing to do with the Gospel Christians can - and do - make issues of. Even the Christians who try to be cool and not legalistic. “I drink, I smoke, cuz God is fine with those things. But let me argue arrogantly with you about eternal security. Cause YOU”RE WRONG.”

Just. Shut. Up. Please. Because the fact of the matter is this: people really don’t want to hear your opinions about things that don't really matter. And the ones that do, will ask. Trust me. Or your life example of love and being a decent person will want to make them want to explore the God that is a part of your life. 

I’ve met a lot of Christians who love. Truly love. And who are safe. And I go to a church that is a safe place to be real with your pain. And your sin. And your doubts. And your fears. And to know that you are not alone. Its is a church of “us.”  But I know that’s rare. And I wish the media platform that is given the Driscoll’s and Walsh’s of Christianity could be given just for a short time to the safe Christians. So society could be given a different picture of Christianity than the one that has been painted. The often angry, hateful, compassionless spewing. The one decrying the wearing of yoga pants, when there is so much pain and suffering going on. The amazing message of the Gospel is reduced to childish bickering. It saddens me that we know the Healer, and yet all we often offer is opinions and rules.

And that’s why I wanted to stop being a “Christian.” Because the cruel self-righteousness is embarrassing. And its not something I ever want to align myself with. I want to be a person who invites, not shuns. Who cares, not publicly shames. And with every person I interact with, I want to be damn sure that I don’t have an agenda. Other than to love. And if I need to disassociate God from Christianity in my mind to stay sane? So be it.