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A Religious Manifesto of Sorts

CrossI’m having a crisis of faith right now. I believe in God and I believe in Jesus. I just… don’t believe in all the stuff that comes with Christianity. I don’t want to do the stuff that comes with Christianity, such as:

  • Attending church
  • Praying regularly
  • Reading the Bible

Church often feels like a social gathering—a way to meet new people. I love my church. If I could pick any church to attend, it’d be the church I’m a member of. So why do I choose sleep over worshiping God on Sunday mornings?

And then there’s all the trappings of Christian thinking (let me rant here for a moment)—anti-gay. I’ve said in Twitter rants that we live in America and it’s OK if people want to dislike people but we can’t do anything to physically harm them. Just like racists have free reign to dislike dark-skinned people and xenophobes have the freedom to not want immigrants in this country, homophobes have the freedom to think however they choose. But I just can’t believe that Jesus would act the way a lot of Christians do when face with same-sex couples. I really do a ’90s throwback on this—WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? Honestly, I think he’d say, “Go and sin no more” just as he told the heterosexual woman accused of adultery. I think Jesus would tell me that because of the sin in my life. We’re all sinners. I just have a hard time believing in a religion in which God loves some people and hates others.

“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Romans 9:13)

Why? Why does God pick and choose those He likes and those He doesn’t like? If God is truly love, doesn’t He accept everyone no matter who they are?

Anyway, I haven’t felt like praying because I just can’t get the spiritual muster for it. I pray when I need to, not when I should simply out of love for God. I’ve become all “new age-y” and tell people that I send them “love and light” because that’s how I currently feel. I want God to send love and peace into their corner of the world. I don’t promise to pray for people anymore because it’s an empty promise. I forget. I don’t pray right away. It’s not that I don’t believe God won’t answer my prayer, I just feel like He already knows everything so what’s the point of praying anyway?

The Bible—other than Revelation—is not an interesting or compelling book for me. I believe a lot of what it says, and I think we have to take certain cultural aspects into account. As a society, we don’t expect all women to be “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5) or to “cover their heads” (I Corinthians 11:6) unless they’re Mennonite or Amish. We allow people now to eat pork and shellfish. People say you can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible you adhere to and yet we do exactly that. Why can’t we recognize that homosexuality in Paul’s time was debauchery and mostly Roman men having sex with young boys? We are not talking about two people who love each other in a committed relationship. (Please don’t make it harder for people who love each other to get married.)

Regardless, I’d probably reread a Gail Carriger series before I reread God’s word. Maybe I need an updated translation and not “Thou hast spoken it so thou must abideth by it.” Or something like that.

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
—R.E.M. “Losing My Religion”

I feel as though I’m losing my religion. Secular thought seems more practical than Christian anything. I feel like I’ve been given more practical tips, an arsenal of coping skills, and an emphasis on self-care. I’ve received a lot of love and light from secular acquaintances. And I want to radiate that positive energy right back to them and (also) pay it forward.

I want my son to grow up believing in God because I think He makes sense. I want my son to grow up believing in Jesus because I think he modeled great grace and perfection. But being a Christian is no guarantee that you won’t be an asshole. I think there are certain regimens and disciplines within the Christian realm that will really benefit my son. They’d benefit me too if only I employed them.

332221_1_ftcI’m basically a Christian atheist, using the namesake of Craig Groeschel’s book. The subtitle? “Believing in God but Living as If He Doesn’t Exist.”

I’ve tried to keep up with other Christians. I reluctantly embraced homophobia for a time because I thought it made me a better Christian. I would pray for hours, thinking that God would be highly pleased with me. I devoured my Bible, hungry to say I accomplished reading the entire thing. (Still haven’t done that.) So much of my Christian life has been about performance. My entire life—from academics to social interaction—has been about performance. And I’m tired of it. Is it wrong to live Christianity the way I want to live it? Possibly. But we all make up our own rules about what makes a Christian beyond believing in Jesus.

“The devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

I believe that Jesus can save my mortal soul. I believe he died to save people from their sins. And I believe in sin because, to me, it makes more sense to believe people are inherently evil who occasionally perform good acts than to believe people are inherently good who often perform evil deeds.

I guess this is sort of a manifesto of what I currently believe and how I feel—a disjointed one at that. I do want to raise my son to be more than just a good person. I want to raise him to love God and love others. If I do that, then my mission in life will be complete.

Quite frankly, the fear of going to hell keeps me believing in the Christian God. (Is fear really enough of a motivator to push you toward love? I don’t think so.) But I think Jesus redefined who the Christian God is. He reached out to the weak, the powerless, the pariahs of society. He turned religious thinking on its head. He grew frustrated with religious people who refused to change the way they saw things.

So what does this all mean?

I will continue to thank God for the many blessings in my life. I will continue to look up Bible verses and use them as mantras when I need to. I’ll pray as the need arises. I’ll go to church again when sleep becomes less important than my need for God.

I can’t turn my back on Jesus. He saved my life. When I was 16, depressed, and suicidal, he was the reason I decided to keep going. He’s shown me (and shows me) time and time again that he loves me. I need to come to a point where I can show him my love and gratitude.

Nothing about Christianity makes much sense. But I can’t buy bunk about the universe’s energy. I believe in God creating a world, not a random big bang that formed this amazing, intricate world into being.

My “manifesto” has to end at some point. I wrote this all down by hand and have typed it into a blog post.

I love my pastor. I love my elders. I love my church family. But I don’t know how they can help me through this spiritual crisis other than… praying for me.

Is it safe to say I’m a whore for work? I love working. I love my many jobs and I love what I do. I bend over backwards to accommodate clients with last-minute requests and I hope that keeps me top-of-mind as a potential regular employee. I just try to do the best work I can given the circumstances I’m dealt.

 

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