So, I have joined the ranks of countless people who have been swept up in the promise of God, only to be let down by the people. My journey didn’t prove that there is no God, but that there is no church on earth, ever in the history of churches past, present or future, that will ever, ever get it right.
We go to church to belong to something greater. We go thinking we’re getting closer to God, lifting each other up “in Christ”, and I’ve even heard Sunday referred to has halftime in the game of life. But WE are the church. We get church wrong when we go to church thinking we are there for any other reason outside of connecting and building relationships with each other.
YET. My husband and I experienced a great, great deal of lip service, which is not relationship building. The bible actually says John 3:18, “Let us not love with words or speech, but with action and in truth.”
I think this is exactly how it was 2000 years ago. The letters in the Bible written to the church reprimanding their sins and wrongdoings supports that. Also, isn’t there a scripture that describes how people were screwing up church within like 30 minutes of its beginning? Even if not, history alone shows that church has been politically driven for nearly, if not all, of its existence. What evidence is there that churches now are not?
I see the Pastor of my former church who has a very large family, able to put his kids through all their sporting events, school events, homeschooled by mom, and all dress so nicely! Damn. On a Pastor’s salary at a church where they show us all the church income and debts and we’re always redlined, where I’ve seen staff refuse paychecks to help the church pay for stuff, where they are constantly reminding us they have bills to pay so here’s the tithing basket, where I continue to hear stories from former members about favoritism, vindictive behavior by leadership, inability to connect on a real level, an absence of any follow through whatsoever on critical issues… that’s very political.
You can’t push the message of the Gospel and have such a mess at your feet without a measure of either denial (and self-righteousness) or an agenda, or both. You cannot know of mistreatment, permit people to mistreat and remain in leadership AND peddle the message of God. Doing that makes you the opposite of what Jesus says you should do.
This has been happening for a looooooong time… and so long as people show up, give their money and are willing to participate, however innocent or oblivious they are, this will always be the church.
As you paw through my blog, you’ll see that I have a pretty strong opinion of “the church”. Why is that? Well, because it affected me so much. I don’t care how many others have had a bad experience at a church. I don’t care that what I have to say has already been said. I definitely don’t care that what I say will never change the organization I am talking about.
I talk about it because I’m appalled at my own thinking.
- That personal accountability rests more in my faith with what God could do than in the legwork necessary for change in my life.
- That submission to both my husband and God were honorable and necessary to achieve true abundance of spirit.
- That I was teaching my daughter what a healthy marriage looked like.
- That automatic assumption that anyone in front of me was a non-believer and needed to know the Lord.
- That love was best demonstrated by forgiveness of absolutely everything, which usually looked like a complete absence of boundaries.
- That the ultimate life served for the Lord was one of constant evangelism.
- That misery, discontentment, discouragement were results of my inability to:
- forgive (regardless of the degree of hurt and trauma)
- be grateful (in absolutely every single situation and circumstance)
- trust God (to help, fix, heal, fund, protect)
- That there is always a scripture for my situation; a personal message from God.
Here’s how it works:
Believers consider the proof that the bible is the living word of God in the fact that (pick one) scripture is applicable to every situation in life. What is missed is the fact that we naturally find what we’re looking for by way of interpreting scripture differently based on what is happening that day (the absence of tone of voice in scripture sure helps us to read it in various ways).
Sooo… as scripture is regularly used to provide support and guidance for people, it still does not fix anything. Neither does “seeking the Lord.”
Okay, well, to each their own, right?
Sure. Except that if a person has legitimate concerns and problems in life (anything that requires courage and endurance to get through), scripture and prayer are useless for a person.
I said to someone recently, “Jesus isn’t here anymore. I am the one with the arms and legs. It’s me that has to do the work.” I can’t reasonably expect God to step in. What’s the point of having a brain and opposable thumbs if I’m praying more than I am actually doing something like applying for a job, speaking up, setting a boundary, etc.?
Okay, so my point is this. Everything I’ve laid out is extremely unhealthy. For me, it was a form of trauma.
There was a lack of honesty about reality. For years, my loneliness was dismissed. The problems with my marriage were dismissed. My concern for my daughter in the midst of it all were dismissed. It was dismissed on the grounds that FAITH was the answer. Have faith. Be patient.
Well. Here’s the thing, ya’ll. After hearing over and over about faith and needing to pursue God more and more, I was damaged.
It hurt then and sometimes it hurts now. I’m certainly still angry about it. Hell, even being able to express anger without being looked down on is a form of freedom for me now. ‘Cause spiritual people don’t get angry, or they at least know to repent.
While I do understand that I’m far from the first person to come along and decide Christianity is just another form of patriarchal control (thank you facts of history for making my statement true), I don’t care that I’m not first.
I could say nothing and accept this is part of our civilization. But I believe that when shitty things happen to people, especially the things that create yuuuge chasms of resentment, mistrust and spiritual wounds, they should be exposed.
Remaining quiet in our pain because it’s nothing new is exactly how such things can continue.