I grew up in an extremely conservative religious tradition known as the IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptists) and all my life I’ve felt sort of tethered to them in regard to the roots of my faith. I left that tradition, physically, over 15 years ago and never looked back.
Today, as a thirty-eight-year-old man, I’ve been on a quest for God and I am not sure where to turn. I’ve read your books, I’ve read books by Phylis Tickle, I recently bought Rachel Held Evan’s “Searching for Sunday”, and I’ve been looking around for a church to go to after all this time.
My husband is a devout Catholic – oddly enough, and his religious experience with his church I sort of envy. He loves the saints (We never got any saints), the Eucharist, the ceremony of it all, and he goes to mass very often. I find myself envious of his faith to a point and I find it so hard not to address his conversation about it without snark and without criticism.
Church, for us growing up, was not an option. It was thrust upon us like this yolk that was too heavy for small necks to bear. The firebrand preaching, the gospel singing (Which I enjoyed, to be honest), and the abusive cults of personality that emerged from all of that make me feel cynical, and cold toward Christianity – universally speaking.
In the world today, there seems to be so much going wrong, and right at the center of it, there’s fundamentalism rearing it’s ugly head once again. It sometimes feels like a tsunami that I can’t quite get far enough away from. Whether we’re talking about a woman’s fundamental right to self-determination, to the demonic practice of snatching babies at the border, to gun control (or the lack thereof), to the sex scandals rocking not only the Catholic Church but evangelical churches as well, it’s so hard not to just shrug my shoulders and say, “You know, by their fruit ye shall know them,” and not have anything to do with any of it. There have been times I’ve spoken publically against these organizations due to the abuse I went through at the hands of charismatic leaders and what their message did to our family.
I want to know God. This world sucks without something else out there that I know for sure has his eye on the long game. Yet, the old adages of “God works in mysterious ways,” or “Love the sinner, not the sin,” nonsense makes my skin crawl with utter disdain. I just see Christians doing things today that even the devil, in my mind, is like, “Dude, don’t you think that perhaps that’s a bit much?”
With so much chaos going on, I can’t help but feel like one of those Christians in the middle ages unsure of what to do because three different Popes were all declaring themselves to be Pope and condemning the other two as heretics. I feel frozen in place.
Am I just dealing with the last vestiges of Fundamentalism that has me scared to go “Christian Light” (all the ceremony, half the guilt) or do I have to come up with what’s important to me regarding faith (social justice, sound doctrine)?
I don’t’ recognize Christianity anymore.