We’re not face to face, so these words must serve the hope of connecting my heart to yours.
There’s a lot I really want to say, and even more that I hope you will hear.
Yes, I’ve changed—nearly everything about me. I know that can be a hard pill to swallow, especially the way our spiritual paths seem to be diverging, and at times, causing great tension between us. I’m a different person now, having traveled a complete one-eighty in beliefs, values, faith, heart, and my sense of self and purpose. I understand where this onset of change is met by the glares of your disapproval and anxiety. Perhaps to you, it feels like it’s happened overnight, but I can assure you, it’s been a long time coming.
Regardless, the truth is, I’ve stepped away and outside of the conservative Evangelical faith I once held so closely. My mind has been changed and my heart has outgrown the beliefs to which I once subscribed—not in some kind of arrogant way that renders me better than you, only different.
It’s all very concerning and perhaps even offensive to you—I understand.
But, with all due respect and love, please tell me, what am I supposed to do?
What am I supposed to do when everything you taught me to be true and life-giving simply doesn’t work? Being the best person I could be for Jesus was my ultimate goal—just like you wanted. I tried, I really did—praying, studying, worshipping, serving, giving—checking off every item on the list.
Yet, as much as I don’t want to disappoint you, there was this moment where I came to the edge of all that you had poured into my life. It was there that I took an honest look into the mirror and engaged in a thorough evaluation of my long-held beliefs. In that pivotal moment of clarity, I was confronted and collided with the undeniable reality, none of it was working—at least, not for me.
In fact, when I pulled back the curtains, a startling phenomenon appeared. Please don’t take this as being hurtful, demeaning, or lacking respect, but I can’t deny what my eyes were seeing. Everyone was faking it just like me—not because we wanted to, but because truth be told, that’s the best one can do while on the religious treadmill of conservative Evangelical Christianity. I know that’s hard to hear, but it is—reality.
All the formulas for prayer—didn’t work. All the steps for overcoming sin through behavior management—didn’t work. All the attempts to press harder into Jesus and lift Him higher—didn’t work. All the inspired teachings on growing the garden of my spiritual fruits—didn’t work. All the verses memorized, recited, declared, displayed, and prayed over—didn’t work. All the increased commitments to church, cultivating my relationship with Jesus, and becoming a promise-keeping man of God and spiritual leader of my home—didn’t work.
Not only did it not work, but it all left me exhausted, discouraged, empty, ashamed, and feeling even more distant from Jesus and the people He desires for me to love. At first I thought, surely the problem is with me, I must be doing it wrong somehow. Now, I’m not so convinced. In fact, not at all.
With all due love and respect, when nearly everything you taught me about the Christian life and growing spiritually erodes me into a phony, self-righteous, faking-it-to-make-it kind of person, tell me, what am I supposed to do?
What am I supposed to do when your spiritual prescriptions seem to bring far more death than life? I’ll never forget the moment, it was like no other. Face to face with a living and breathing human being who was desperately seeking hope and life, I sought to be the good and faithful Evangelical, taking everything that you taught me to be true and life-giving and apply it (verse by verse and line by line) into this broken, sin-labelled, religious oppressed person sitting right in front of me.
She had been brutally condemned by nearly every person and spiritual entity in her life, and was grasping at my counsel for one last ray of hope. Yet, with every conservative Evangelical prescription and pre-packaged talking point that vomited off my lips, it all fell flat and reeked of death, leaving this beautiful person all the more closer to giving up as the fading light behind her eyes was now all but snuffed out. What was “biblical” in your eyes brought death to hers.
In a way like never before, the alarms went off inside of me, “something is seriously wrong, and I just can’t do it anymore.” I mean no disrespect in saying so, but this whole, “hate the sin, love the sinner” crap is nothing like Jesus. Broken people didn’t cringe at His presence and leave defeated, instead they clinged to His every being and walked away with affirmation, freedom, and unstoppable courage. I know this will be met with your displeasure and even disagreement, but the cat was out of the bag and I could no longer deny it—the more of a conservative Evangelical I became, the less Jesus I portrayed. I’m sorry, when enough is enough is enough—tell me, what am I supposed to do?
When the fruits of being a conservative Evangelical leave broken people more broken, loved people feeling less loved, and Jesus curled up in the corner crying in disgust at the judging, condemning, pretentious people we have become, tell me, what am I supposed to do?
What am I supposed to do when most everything about conservative Evangelical Christianity turns out to be one big scheme? As hard as it is to say, and perhaps even harder to hear, there is no denying the conservative Evangelical fruit dangling off the tree. I’ve tasted and seen—and so much of it, it’s not good. Look around, just open your eyes to see.
It’s not about Jesus, it’s about power. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about personal ministry empire building and fame. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about million dollar state-of-the-art worship auditoriums carefully staged with tattooed skinny-jean wearing song leaders. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about the commercialism and franchising of His name. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about a false gospel of conditions, to-do lists, sin-management, spiritual performance, and a self-righteousness that seeks to leverage control by keeping people fearfully addicted to the cancer not the cure. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about spiritually policing the world, looking for ways to lift the sins of others above the weight of our own in order to justify hate, discrimination, judgement, and the condemnation of others. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about white male heterosexual privilege and perpetuating the conservative Evangelical Death Star that seeks dominance in every sector of society. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but with every bite deeper into the fruit of conservative Evangelical Christianity, it all becomes blatantly clear—it’s not about Jesus, and truth be told, it never really has been and probably never will.
When countless LGBTQ people are bullied, driven to depression and suicide, mocked, marginalized, and rendered as sinful abominations who need to repent, or else. When women are treated as second class citizens and a lesser vessel best suited for the kitchen, church nursery, secretarial services, sexual exploitation, and lower wages. When global warming, genuine scientific discovery, and the consideration of fresh biblical understandings of Scripture are eagerly dismissed in exchange for greed, a 6,000 year old earth, and the spiritual justification of condemnation. When homosexuality is vehemently demonized and labeled a sin despite sound biblical scholarship that refutes such claims, yet racism, supremacy, gluttony, duplicity, discrimination, greed, violence, xenophobia, and nationalism are met with ambivalence and a deaf ear. When countless conservative Evangelicals elect and continue to support a pussy-grabbing, racist, greedy, childish, adulterous, vulgar, inflammatory, discriminating, bullying, and war-driven President, please tell me, what the hell am I supposed to do?
There is no denying, your heart is good and your intentions are noble. There is no denying, good and great things have come from you and your ways of believing. Yet, when nearly everything about becoming more aligned to your creeds, attitudes, and actions results in a serious downgrade in my life where with virtually every moment I become less like Jesus, increasingly imprisoned to sin, and further nose-blinded to the stench of true evil, what am I supposed to do?
If I’m honest, I would rather hang on a torturous cross fit for the worst of criminals than continue to hang out in an evil system that, in my personal opinion and experience, has ransacked Jesus and morphed Him into a conservative Evangelical tyrant whose yoke is heavy with self-righteousness, condemnation, fear, arrogance, greed, and all things religious.
With all due respect, love, and appreciation, until I see conservative Evangelical Christianity acknowledging its catastrophic fall from Grace. Until I hear the sounds of its repenting becoming louder than the rationalization of its sins. Until I witness the full-force pursuit of conservative Christianity cleaning up its own act while ceasing and desisting from bullying and condemning others. Until I see churches jettison their spiritual club mentalities, fat budgets, and judgmental stances against the world. Until I see pastors fully reject the allure and onset of ministry fame and fortune. Until I see the LGBTQ community being extravagantly served with unconditional love, listening, protection, and true humility—putting their rights and needs above our own. Until I see ministries value and declare women as being fully equal in all things with unrestrained enthusiasm. Until I see conservative Christianity leading the way in thwarting racism, supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, violence, war, discrimination, and bullying. Until I see a faith that doesn’t encourage me to turn my brain off, reject science, require my wife’s submission, and ask me to pre-qualify people for love. Until I see the ways of Jesus becoming the ways of the conservative Evangelical faith understanding, what am I supposed to do?
Perhaps you’d like to me to sit down and shut up. Perhaps you’d like me to walk it all back and beg for your forgiveness. Perhaps you’d like me to yield to your tone-policing and soften my directness. Perhaps you’d like me to retreat into the land of silence, apathy, and self-preservation. I will not, and in the presence of evil, I cannot. Grace has made it so with a bravery that will not be contained—what am I supposed to do? For He alone has the words and ways of true Life.
I want you to know, it’s never been about a loss of love, I promise—at least not for me. There’s a special place deep within where cherished memories of our togetherness reside, and I suspect they always will. I wish things were different, but sadly they aren’t. We are all human, seeking the heart of Jesus. Which is why I pray you will know for sure, none of this has been easy—not one bit.
Yet, conservative Evangelical Christianity, tell me, what am I supposed to do when my heart has been so confronted and collided by Grace, love, and Jesus that I just can’t believe in you, as you, and be you anymore?
Not because I’m better than you, but because Jesus is so much better than this.
Grace is brave. Be brave.
What a heart felt lovely post. I have an atheist friend who believes all Christians are evangelicals like you describe. I’m trying hard to make her understand there is a Christian left. Mainstream protestant churches seem to be slowly becoming more to the left. I sat on a board for a seminary where there was an exit interview survey. Ever single seminarian claimed they became more open minded, less judgmental and more liberatl after they came to seminary. My own church twelve years ago voted against the ordination of gays 45 to 1. My vote was the one. The national church eventually allowed it. Then recently asked for votes on gay marriages sanctified in the church. To my amazement my congregation voted to allow it, 35 to 4. So be encouraged as I am, that fundamentalism cannot win.
Nancy, thanks so much for reading this article and for sharing a bit of your story! Love wins!
Thank you for your eloquent letter. So much of what you say tang true to me when I left the Babtist Church. I will not judge others. I do not believe that we are born sinfull. Much of Christian dogma have twisted the words of the bible. . Jesus taught love. He gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could have a direct relationship with the Lord and we could decern in our own souls what is the right thing to do. I felt horrible when Beth Moore, a respected,passion fueled, Christian teacher was chastised for expressing her negative feelings about Trump while he was Campaigning for the Presidency. As far as I know there are only two religions that respect women as equals and has choose to allow gay marriage. The Quakers and the Episcopal Church. If you know of any others, please let me know Thank you for your courage in writing this heartfelt post. You are not alone. I hope others that have struggled with the truth find solace in this letter. Jesus Christ knows your heart and I’m certain that your act of publishing your thoughts are not unlike the day where he threw over the tables of the money changers in the temple and declared what is truely holy. Thank you and God Speed.
I live in Canada where the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) is much like the American ELCA. The Canadian national Lutheran Church accepts gay marriage as God centred and as sacramental as between heterosexuals. Individual congregations may opt out, but my small rural church opted in. I did not leave this church when they so overwhelmingly voted against gay ordination, because I felt you could not change an organization by leaving it. And over the years, the change of heart did happen.
Thanks Meg, appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!
Are you sure the Quakers view women as equals and have allowed gay marriage? That would shock me!
Also, there’s a sect of the Lutheran church that allows gays to be ministers, and some Methodist churches. An acquaintance’s daughter who is gay is a minister in the Methodist church.
You need more anointing.
To be sure, Kath!
I want to say that it’s not just Evangelical Christians who can do injury.
I am lucky to have not been raised a Christian because when I was quite young about five or six, my mom went to her Methodist pastor for counseling. My father, her husband, was not providing for the family was disappearing for long periods of time and I am not even sure what else was happening.
Her Minister told her to cleave unto to her husband. At least that’s what she’s told me as a quote.
We never went back to church. There was a horrible and messy divorce with some abuse on the side from my biological father.
I am grateful that my childhood self only knows Jesus as a very nice person who liked everyone, who loved children and animals, and generally did good. He was also blonde and you should color his robes light blue. But still I didn’t get that I was a sinner that Jesus didn’t like. I was never taught anything that made me feel bad about myself because of God.
And I’m very very glad that my mother chose not to let injury in the name of God unto to the next generation.
Laura, very profound thoughts and words! I am saddened by your experiences with the dark sides religion. May we all chart a new course for generations to come!
With ALL respect to Chris. I do believe not all were faking it. Many acting on full- faith in the way told to them. We seem to simply believe mercy is 180 degrees from the fundamentalist belief it is given freely not necessarily earned given to us all that accept. As part of the Godhead, the cross that held the son of God was grown by Him and the ore that made the nails created by him. His sacrifice was for his children all of his creation. Even “The Beast in the Fields.” Isahia 43-20.
Thanks Thomas for sharing your thoughts!
I just read a post by a dear brother in Christ saying, “Show me where I am wrong. Where I am in rebellion. Reveal to me my sin. How many of us are brave enough to pray that prayer?” This epitomizes navel gazing sin management that fails to acknowledge the gaze of God’s love upon us that melts away any sense of sin. It’s God’s ravishing love for me that makes me brave enough to walk out the beauty that I am. Your words resonate deeply with me, precious friend!
So well said Paul! So grateful for your encouragement and friendship!
It is a heartbreak to me and infinitely more a heartbreak to Jesus Christ that His sacrificial life, death on a tortuous cross, and His resurrection are not received as adequate for salvation for these grandiose “christians”. They have through false interpretations of scripture, minimized the ultimate sacrifice that saved the world, and substituted all kinds of rules, conditions, laws, behaviors, and beliefs to EARN BY YOUR OWN SELF salvation. Well, those ministers build wealthy dynasties for themselves while making their followers self righteous “christians” who tell God how things operate. So, we find their type of love a weapon hurting and judging all kinds of people that they decide God doesn’t like. So, we find Christians who know that we cannot earn God’s forgiveness, but accept God’s amazing grace for themselves and all of God’s peoples….are also labeled as hateful. It is time to rise up and call Evangelicals what they are: Pharisees.
Nancy, your bravery is showing! 🙂
That is profound. May I post this on my wall with attribution to you?
The last time I genuinely asked conservative evangelical christianity what I was supposed to do, it told me I was supposed to sit down, shut up, and submit to the man who had been bullying and abusing me. That was the last time I would ever ask. Because after that crap, I no longer cared what it thought I was “supposed to do”.
I started paying attention to what Jesus wanted me to do. And he said he wanted me to love.
Bingo, LL, well said!
I absolutely love this. I had a 17-year gap in my church attendance until I discovered the Christian left.
Thanks Jason for your encouraging words. So appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!
As a former evangelical pastor, I too left the the institutional church about 15+ years ago for many of the same reasons you’ve cited here. In doing so, however, I ironically feel my faith and walk with Jesus has grown. I would like to share the link to this on my own page. Blessings.
Will, when I began the journey away from conservative Christianity after 20 years of being an Evangelical, it was if I was breathing for the first time. Thanks for reading and commenting. Honored to be walking this journey with people like you!
Walked out of ministry and any formal version of Christianity in 2005.
Met God officially in 2013… via questioning everything. This could be my story if i had any eloquence
Ben, you are not alone my friend! This is sadly the story of so many. I hope we can stay connected, would love to hear more of your experiences.
I am a minister in the Church of Scotland and had the wonderful privilege, I increasingly realise, of growing up within the Kirk but in a non-judgemental and more progressively minded family at home and in the church. However, almost all of my closest friends, including my wife, are in varying stages of recovery from their conservative evangelical upbringing. So I recognise almost everything you say here, not from my own experience, but by seeing the pain it has wrought in others.
As a progressive Christian for as long as I remember I am not one to throw around language such as “evil” with abandon, however I am increasingly aware that a deep evil has taken root within certain powerful threads of Christianism. I salute you for calling these out with such passion and commitment.
What I have also witnessed, however, is the grim power of rejection that being outspoken for the gospel elicits. Tribalism means any dissenting voice has to be excised and as publicly and shamefully as possible. So my prayers are with you and all my friends and others who are making this journey. Keep strong, keep brave, keep gracious.
My jaw is on the floor. This is so God breathed. You are not alone. I feel like this every single day. I am so grateful for this work of the Holy Spirit. I am delighted for you! Unfortunately the word Christian has been so corrupted. I no longer call myself a Christian, I am a Christ Follower. I pray that The Holy Spirit moves through these words and hearts will be softened and eyes will be lifted to focus on Jesus. God bless you!
Wow, look at how God works! My jaw is on the floor. This is so God breathed. You are not alone. I feel like this every single day. I am so grateful for this work of the Holy Spirit. I am delighted for you! Unfortunately the word Christian has been so corrupted. I no longer call myself a Christian, I am a Christ Follower. I pray that The Holy Spirit moves through these words and hearts will be softened and eyes will be lifted to focus on Jesus. God bless you!
Great post. When James said (paraphrasing)
that religion is visiting widows and caring for orphans – and when Jesus said (again paraphrasing) that the two greatest tenants
are the Golden Rule and there is no other god but God, I took those very simple but deep truths and searched for churches that
that made those things central to their focus.
There are more open minded, live and let live
religious communities out there, though I know they’re hard to find.
My sense is that these people who I feel uncomfortable calling Christians, but rather conservatives using religion to promote their beliefs, would be extremely awkward meeting Jesus today. I love my faith, but I am embarrassed by such ignorance . ‘Biblical” interpretation is just that. We bring our whole 21st century dualistic American life story to our perception of what truth is. Many spiritual traditions and cultures do not have a divide and conquer mentality and are more unified in their perspective on fellow humans. Personally I think these churches would be very different if they had to pay taxes just like everyone else . They are big cons and deep down , I think they know it. Most of these pastors , without a tax deductible gig , would be salesman in another field who would find other ways to manipulate vulnerable people and rip them off. They all seem so smarmy to me.
I have become so disillusioned that I walked away from church and all those “good Christians”. We used to attend a small town, Assembly of God church in the diamond-encrusted buckle of the Bible belt. Every Sunday… EVERY Sunday I left the morning service feeling like I had been kicked in the teeth. I walked in the door my usual confident and happy self, and I left an unlovable sinner who was destined for hell… and I was doing nothing wrong. I was faithfully and happily married, raising our children, being of service by teaching in public school, saying my prayers, giving thanks, paying my tithes, and putting God first… I wasn’t breaking any commandments… but I was never good enough. I finally realized that if something that should make me feel better (by giving me hope, lifting my spirits, and reassuring me that I was loved) was making me sad, depressed, and tormented, something was wrong. It has taken me years to understand what was eating me alive… nothing about church or the congregation was Jesus-like. I feel it even more strongly now that Christians have chosen such a crude character to be our leader. Thank you for sharing your insight.
Evelyn, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story. You are not alone, we are not alone. I am honored to be traveling this journey of faith with folks like you. Let’s be brave together!
Reading your post Evelyn made me realize you went through exactly what Martin Luther went through as a monk. He never felt good enough no matter how much he did. It was only when he read the verse “we are saved by faith” did he realize that he was already forgiven through the cross, and in his translation he added the word “alone”. And thus began the Protestant revolution.
It is a difficult idea that we do not earn our salvation. Some construed that to mean you could just do as you pleased. But then the term “cheap grace” was developed to explain that attitude was also wrong. The point is that if you have faith, if you truly love God, you will automatically accept his commands to love your neighbour , you will forgive those who sin against you etc. You will fail of course, but forgiveness will be there for the asking. Martin Luther said he “crawled back to his baptism every day.” It may be obvious I am a Lutheran and I’ve oversimplified, but I rejoice in seeing how many have turned away from that belief that you have to somehow earn your salvation.
Even the phrase “You must be born again ” has been mistranslated because of the difficulties of the original Aramaic. Apparently the word used had two meanings “again” and “from on high or above.” Nichodemus misunderstood until Jesus corrected him and clarified by using a different word that clearly meant o
“from above” or “by the spirit”. We teach our students in their catechism that if someone asks them if they are saved, they say “yes, about two thousand years ago.” A student of mine reported a conversation in which an evangelical was trying to convince her she was not saved, my student replied..”Being saved is not something you do, it is something you are.” I thought that was brilliant.
Everything that you expressed in your article resonates so deeply with me, a lifelong Christian. I have been struggling deeply with these issues since observing the far right’s support of the anti-Christ(like) occupant of the oval office. It breaks my heart to see our country in this position. When will conservative Christians stand up and admit that man at the helm of our ship seems to be on a mission to destroy everything that Christ advocated? What ARE we supposed to do?
Kathy, it’s a powerful question we must all answer. For me, standing in solidarity with the religiously oppressed is a starting point.
Glad to see this post. Poor Jesus. He kept telling his disciples to love one another and they struggled. If Jesus can’t get humans to do what he calls them to do when he’s standing right there, how much more difficult it is to be flailing around like this 2000 years later. How bizarre it is that anyone tries at all.
Rachel, interesting point for sure, but I still hold onto hope for change, beginning with myself. Thanks for reading and commenting.
If only every judgmental Evangelical could read and understand your words and adopt your approach to life they would be so much happier and much less afraid. I feel for anyone who lives a life circumscribed by any religion. Spirituality should lift a person up, give them hope and make them and the world around them a better place. From the outside looking in, Conservative Evangelical Christianity does not seem to do any of that. It makes people angry, afraid and submissive. I vacillate between feeling sorry for them and being angry at their gullibility. Bless you if you help even one person move into a happier place.
Very well said Sue, I appreciate your encouragement and wisdom! Thanks for reading and taking the time to add to the conversation.
I am a member of the United Methodist Queer Clergy, and one of the accused causes of the potential schism. The folks declaring clobber phrases to scriptural text regarding homosexuality as not compatible with Christian living have slammed the doors shut to any vital and Holy conferencing. Then wonder and point a finger at those more liberal and desiring a discussion as the people being disruptive and inappropriate at the General Conferences. Yes Conferences, because it has been 20 plus years of refusal to speak to one another in a loving manner. People need to disrupt as Jesus did in the Temple, to call attention to the injustice. Hold a Holy Communion as a mode of disruption is a very loving and communal act of grace in times of turmoil. What i see is a group of people stating gender preference and their (allies) a very peaceful approach. Slamming the door shut to conversation is the true disruption. The UMC does have a team discussing a Way Forward. initially it was comprised mostly of people with a heterosexual identity discussing an issue. This is not an issue, we are people, not issues that have struggled with the scripture personally long before those rejecting us had a mind to consider the possibilities. From my perspective it is a difficult thing to admit there is a possibility of wrong thinking or belief. What is overlooked by the conservative evangelical is accountability.
A teenager comes out announcing a homosexual gender identity and these right minded Christians kick their child out of their “loving” home” to the cruel streets. These parents now can justify and quell the harm to their children by going on a midnight run or simple feeding homeless people. Their child is now a prostitute (male or female) to provide basics for themselves.
What is worse their lives are in constant danger.
As a teen kicked to the curb because of who and what they are is the true essence of their being. Ignoring this fact is beyond cruel. The teen already confused even if they are straight has a tough time during adolescence. Compound that with bullies both in and outside their home, a place to feel safe and loved what is being said to this teen. Our unconditional love has conditions? Gender preference is part of all of us as human beings, just because a person can comfortably declare themselves normal by conventional standard is a God given right to judge others. Calling a person an abomination because of their sexual preference is beyond my ability to be seen as anything but cruel, hateful and completely dismissive.
At the risk of this next statement taken out of context and yoked with predatory practices which doesn’t include homosexuality. A sick mind preys on vulnerable people, children both men and women and animal. What makes these violent acts a Mental illness is the predatory aspect and not an act of love but and act of violence. Homosexuality is an attraction to someone with compatible attraction and love. While the homosexual world can have the same bad actors found in a heterosexual relationship. That can be predatory and an attraction to children or violent acts of rape.
People are simply tethered to their sexual nature and able to manage the potential of abusing their sexual gift. People their gift is their gift and when we are uniting these gifts with love and attraction we being our authentic selves. To cause people to deny or remove rights and privileges to a larger than most realize is the sin, the abomination, and the harm it causes individuals. Their is no cure, we all are who we are and the harm comes when we all become prejudice in our ability to act with god’s love to see people as God sees the creation of life formed by our Creator God. It is such a waste, and loss to others by depriving folks of the potential gifts and graces received by and through God to those that might benefit from those gifts and graces
While i believe their is a time for obedience, I stand in obedience to the biblical text with understanding of the culture and and proper interpretations of the text using the definitions of words in the time they were written. I believe in biblical obedience and the love of Christ before i ever would worship the United Methodist Book of Disciple. Once we believed the world was flat and discovery taught us this isn’t true. Many discoveries have been made since in this world of technology, medicine and there is more to discover. To accept and believe what is unseen is a gift of faith. Complete obedience to anything other than God is just obedience. Living out your life as an example and expression of an authentic self is the living of faith a faith we are called to live.
Remaining accountable for our thoughts and behaviors is difficult enough but to be truthful to yourself and others is a challenge many won’t accept or slip away. There when building character we know hope. Faith isn’t built on obedience and adherence alone. It is boldly acting in faith looking and hearing things as Jesus would. Trusting we are doing the next right thing. Fear of being uncomfortable will cause withering and death unless we face things with a bold courage with love we build faith, character and hope. Paul said these things. To adhere to a covenant with a few trusted people take faith and courage to look within, and it takes courage to hold someone accountable for there difficulties and listen with love to their confessions with a sober mind and support and pray for each other’s soul, that is faith. To openly call someone out is a diversion tactic to avoid self examination, repentance and reconciliation.
I apologize for my rant, but i did need this catharsis
I’m in tears because this resonates so much with me growing both in Baptist and Evangelical churches. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Renee, you are not alone!
Grace and peace,
Thank you for sharing what so many of us are feeling and expressing in other mediums. Like you, I hope the evangelical church recognizes it’s “fall from grace” and can begin again to look and act like followers of Christ. Of course, this is my prayer for all of us.
Well said Brian, I join you in that prayer!
I’m with you! AMEN.
I’m still working in the system to reform it at a local, congregational level, but it is so hard. This gives me encouragement to be faithful to what God has asked me to do. Thanks, Chris.
Thank you. My realization came when I was doing a Revelation study. I came to realize how hateful I had become to others who didn’t fit the prescribed mold.
Thank you for your courage. Your words are always inspiring and ring with truth. I am 69 years old and was indentured to evangelicalism most of my life. Leaving that belief system and lifestyle was a process that actually began during childhood, but took many, many years. Two experiences (among many along the way) helped uproot my spirit from bondage. First, many years ago, I, like you, realized that my burden was not easy or light. It was heavy and wearisome and left me feeling constantly defeated, no matter how hard I tried to fulfill my responsibilities as a believer. And I could finally dare to say, “Something’s wrong with this picture,” and face the fact that what I was trying to do was not working and was, in fact, impossible. Then, years later I had a moment–just a moment–when I asked myself, “What if it’s true? What if God really DOES love me?” In that moment, I experienced a genuine joy and hope that I had never had in all my years attending church services, studying the Bible, praying, and serving in every possible way. And that’s when I knew that his love is real and true and that his grace grows from that love and expands outward from us to others. I’ve learned that what I was taught about scripture and theology was narrow and empty, and every new lesson has broadened my freedom. But I have been afraid to share my beliefs publically because I don’t want to face judgment from former acquaintances or “Christian” internet trolls. Fundamentalist evangelicals are among the most vicious in attacking those who do not believe as they do, but you manage to persist sharing your journey. I admire your honesty and courage, and hope I can become brave as well!
The problem with most “Christian” churches is that they mix the gospel with their own agenda. The gospel is simply 1Cor 15 that Christ died, was buried and God raised him from the dead. Your salvation rests on your belief is the gospel. Trying to win salvation through works will not work…
I hang on to this, knowing that there is nothing I can do to be “more saved” other than my faith. That doesn’t give me license to just do what I want, but it gives me the reassurance that when I fail, Christ is my advocate. These so called evangelicals have their own reasons for supporting that maniac Trump, but I don’t support him and never will.
God bless you brother. I think you are in a good place for God never wanted us to be conservative, evangelical Christians. That is an identity that has nothing to do with it! He tells us to follow Him. Keep your eyes on Him, not on others & find some others that also have had their eyes opened. You might even want to check out a few of yhose old, “dead” mainline denominational churches. I think you’d be surprised by the sincerity & authenticity. You answer your own question throughout your post. Be free in Christ!
Your brother in Christ,
I believe that this control of thinking and propaganda began when the relics of written prose about God and what he was doing for others was shoved aside and formalized into what we call the Bible. Many documents that were controversial at the time were destroyed. Some were saved by the courageous and thoughtfulness of someone hiding the texts but many more were not. The Bible as we know it was formed together by political sanction in order to control the movement of God through others. Once formed it was looked down upon to have any other writings, musings, poems, thoughtful considerations be a part of any religious event. If you disagreed with the authoritative structure then you were likely to be outcast and perhaps even stoned. Jesus himself was a thinker and wanted others who followed his teachings to think and not just recite a prayer or a verse from a Bible. I applaud your outcry in this post and say a hearty Amen to what you’ve exclaimed.
Earnie, thanks so much! Appreciate your wisdom and encouragement!
I am with your basic premise. People must be careful not to become what we hate or dislike. Just one question. What is the sound biblical scholarship that oks homosexuality? There are a lot of sins. What they all have in common is the harm it does to ones humanity. I am curious to know how sex with the same sex is not harmful to our understanding and sense of sexuality.
Eddie, thanks for sharing your perspective. I have articles on the issues of LGBTQ and the Bible on my blog. Perhaps those will be helpful in answering your questions.
Evangelical Christianity promotes spiritual growth to a certain point, but no farther. This seems to have been true of the Church for quite some time. The Russian Church is the only one that has recognized and institutionalized a solution, as far as I know. When someone reaches the stage of spiritual growth where the church’s methods stop working, they go off alone to a cave somewhere, or sometimes a monastery that will allow them a lot of solitude. After a period of time – usually a few years – they come back to church and community, and become recognized as spiritual advisors – startsi (singular starets or staretz).
That stage the staretz goes through in solitude is scary to the person and to just about anyone who hasn’t been there already. It’s what Fowler calls “the wall.” And churches are good at taking people from infancy to the stage just before the wall, but then they tend to pull people back from the wall and further growth.
Perhaps what’s remarkable about this generation is that Western churches – in America this means especially Evangelical churches – have lost their ability to pull back many thousands of people ready to make that next spiritual step. In fact, instead of pulling these people back, they are pushing them away because the things that are not working have become so thin and transparent. Many of these are our LGBTQ siblings in Christ, but at least as many are not.
But thin places are holy places. Even the thin places in a once-beautiful curtain that has now become threadbare. Remember that as Jesus died, an earthquake tore the ancient curtain of the temple in half. That wasn’t the end, but a new beginning.
Thanks Susan, appreciate your thoughts!
What are you supposed to do?
Have you forgotten about repenting?
Because that’s what you are supposed to do.
I think you missed the point. A little.
I got the point. But I think a bigger point was missed.
I love this. Though I joined the Episcopal Church when I first returned to Christianity, I spent a number of years listening to conservative Christian talk radio, following Christian music, reading Christian books, and attending Christian women’s conferences. I found a lot of sheer commercialism. The conservative Christian radio host that would promote quack medicine because the company that made it were advertisers. Going to conferences where it was all about selling books and CDs of the speakers and musicians who appeared there. At some point, I started thinking for myself and saying, Wait a minute. According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and spirit, and love your neighbor as yourself. All the laws and commandments hang on this. So shouldn’t we let God sort out everything else? This freed me to love people and realize that much of what appears in Leviticus and other books in the Bible was not God inspired. What did it matter whether the earth was created in 6000 years or 6 billion if we didn’t love our neighbor? Why do we have to prove that there was a young earth if we didn’t take care of the people on that earth and the earth itself? Why should we spend our lives studying eschatology when Christ is far more interested that you are engaged in helping others when he returns? Why would God be so concerned over who someone slept with as long as they treated other people well? When I started examining what truly mattered to God, it all came down to treating others as you would like to be treated and loving God because He first loved us. That’s it. That’s is all that matters. That’s when I stopped listening, reading, or watching anything conservative Christianity felt it had to teach me. And I found that the church I belonged to was THE church where I felt people actually cared about other people.
Janine, well said!
Love the jesus……evolve the followers
There is a fellowship of faith for you and others of us who have made similar journeys. My congregation in Louisville, Kentucky – Crescent Hill Baptist Church — take Scripture much too seriously to take it literally. We have read it together in communion with each other and with openness to the Spirit. We find we must be always open to the refugee and stranger in our midst. We affirm full inclusion under the Governance of G-d all genders at all levels of service and calling. We bless all committed adult marriages. We hear scripture tell us that G-d is as much mother (Psalm 132) as G-d is father.
Quinn, refreshing and encouraging to hear!
Well said. I hit this point when I feel in love with a woman at the age 20.
Broad strokes. Christianity is made up of sinners. Constantly failing Christ. While this person was overwhelmed with his encounters with Christians, he should have sought to change what he saw, by engaging in righting the wrongs. For instance loving the LGBT community, etc… Maybe this would have made him feel more engaged in Christ himself, and not the religion of Christianity. Also, find a church that subscribes to biblical teaching, maybe expository preaching. I think he painted himself into a corner, with his wide brush.
Rose, your response is a perfect example of the “spiritual prescriptions” the author was talking about. How ironic…
Rose, how do you know that I have not engaged in righting the wrongs? Who gets to decide what constitutes as “biblical” teaching? You, me, John Calvin? With over 30,000 different denominations that read the same bible and come to drastically different conclusions, who is “biblical” and who is not, and who gets to make that call? Apparently, you do? I wonder if your comments reflect the typical desire to deflect the truth of this article with “broad strokes” claims and other criticisms. By the way, Christianity is not made up of sinners.
Christianity is NOT a relationship with other Christians-
It is by very definition, a personal relationship with Christ Himself.
I generally agree with your concerns with respect to the commercial, consumerist, manipulative, and exclusive elements which are manifested within (certain) conservative circles.
I think we must be careful not to bifurcate the church into two sides, however. (I do think you are not opposed to this idea either.) It seems that genuine and honest Christians can read scripture and arrive at different conclusions – when these conclusions are politicized, radicalized and become a source for division, then this contravenes Jesus’s own prayer in John 17:20-23: that we be one.
We must engender a posture of embracing the marginalized (for we are no different), but we must also strive to embrace our brothers and sisters with whom we disagree. It is somehow ironic that inter-faith dialogue appears to be easier than genuine and vulnerable intra-faith dialogue.
“Not because I’m better than you, but because Jesus is so much better than this.”
Sharing the LOVE of Jesus. That’s the answer I have found.
We’re actually all broken. When we in the Kairos Prison Ministry minister to prisoners, We go in with our own brokenness. “Not because I’m better than you”
One of the things I learnt about my “old” life. And I needed to go to prison to find this. I was ashamed of my own brokenness and imperfections, And by pointing fingers at others, it somehow covered my imperfections.
The devil loves turmoil. Prescription: relax. Jesus said “my peace I leave with you”. Get it?
Hmmm. Not always. Jesus was not being very peaceful when he drove the money lenders out of the temple. Did the devil love that turmoil? I doubt it.
You nailed it! I read with a grieving heart and tear-filled eyes. Shared it inviting feedback and getting it! A thousand thanks for such caringand courage!
Alice, thank you so much for your encouraging words. Keep me posted, would love to hear a follow-up on the feedback you receive.
I saw this article on my Facebook feed. I’m afraid I must supply a dissenting opinion.
First, it’s difficult to know who your article is addressed to. “Conservative Evangelical Christians” are a large group with divergent beliefs — I don’t think it’s helpful to gather them all together and say they are “faking it”. Is this group really so monochromatic? I don’t think so. My entire extended family is very conservative — some of them possibly fundamentalist. They wear long jeans skirts and their hair in buns. Two of them are missionaries in Budapest, and spend their time bringing food, water, clothing, and medical supplies to migrants trying to escape Serbia. I have never heard a single hateful word pass their lips. Likewise, my grandfather was a circuit preacher in the 1900s — very conservative, but one of the most gracious men I’ve ever known. He guarded German POWs during WWI, and routinely put down his weapon to do farming work on their behalf if they were ill.
How about my aunt? She’s almost 90, and pretty conservative. She’s against Sunday shopping and probably gay marriage. But she’s as kind as any human I’ve ever met. Seven years running, she ran the kitchen at a summer camp for free, feeding three meals each day to hundreds of kids. She still likes to help when she can — she simply loves to serve other people. She’s not perfect, but she not the “judging, condemning, pretentious” person you might be imagining.
I also have family in Florida. Very, very conservative — trust me. But when a hurricane hits, they rent a bunch of buses and take them straight into the devastated areas, and help people rebuild. Again — I have known them my whole life, and I have never heard a hateful statement from any of them.
I am sure there are many Conservative Evangelical Christians that are as you describe — I am not here to say your accusations are false. I am here to say that they are too broad. Evangelicals do not think, act, or believe in unison, and they are not hateful simply because they are Evangelical. I attend an Evangelical church that welcomes guest speakers like Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo (hardly advocates of hate) but also spoke against Franklin Graham rally at another church our city.
I’ve attended Evangelical churches for most of my life, and I’ve never once experienced or witness what you describe here. The people I worship with would probably be described as theologically conservative, but also intelligent, sincere, thoughtful, and gracious. They preach against divorce, but I’m a divorced guy and I have never felt hammered there. Being an Evangelical doesn’t require you to be a jerk.
Thanks for this. We all need to be reminded that the essence of prejudice is ascribing certain characteristics to a whole group.
But I also must dissent, good Lutheran that I am, given our beliefs about “ good works”. While good works are wonderful and loving, there are actions and beliefs of fundamentalists that are truly harmful and unloving. Jimmy Carter is well known for his good works with Habitat for Humanity, but he finally had to renounce his Southern Baptist church for its position on women. Their requirement for women to “submit graciously to their husbands”, for women not to be able to teach males above a certain age or to be ordained etc. etc. was something he finally could not accept.
I live in an area where there are a lot of Mennonites who do great and wonderful work for their neighbours, but require their girls to quit school at age 16 no matter how brilliant they may be. I think those are enough examples without getting into the harm of making young people believe they are “lost souls” if they are gay and the result for some is suicide. No amount of “good works” can change that.
Chris, I think you miss the point. The fact that you identify groups of people that your conservatism frowns upon is the reason for this post. If we stop to look at the person as being worthy to be associated with without giving them an earful of our criticism to their lifestyle then we are not being a citizen of the kingdom for which God wants us to be. We must then disassociate ourselves from those who are doing this disservice to humanity as a whole. Yes there are good within those who are conservative, that isn’t in question, what is in question are those who do not get recognized by the conservative movement as a whole as ones worthy of the love of Christ.
I am a preachers kid, grew up in the Methodist church, experienced the birth of what became the United Methodist Church and know that my father never preached politics. He even refused to proclaim his political agenda in form of advertisements on his personal property. This doesn’t occur with most conservatives and in fact I’ve seen in the Baptist church tables of advertisement supporting whatever candidate was the most conservative. I became associated with the Southern Baptist Church after leaving home for college. I stepped away from the business of worship because of other reasons that what this post represents but that caused me to reflect on my life as a Christian and events that occurred within the churches I had been associated with.
My point of view as far as christianity is concerned is that there is one purpose for Jesus and worshiping him. Anything beyond that one purpose is just fluff that doesn’t concern me. The purpose of worshiping Jesus is one of loving others as you would want to be loved by others. Regardless of where you are in life, regardless of your beliefs, regardless of what you think about me, just love me without giving judgement. My judgement belongs only to God and we should not be judging but loving. Since conservative christianity is one of being a judge on matters of life then we distance ourselves from the business of conservative religion. Instead we embrace each other with the love we so desire and we are better for it.
Chris, I challenge you to look at yourself and examine your conservatism and decide if you can just reach out to someone you see as opposite of your beliefs and just learn about them. Talk to them without being a judge of their life. Learn to love them without preaching to them about your conservative ideals. Shed the cloak of conservatism just for a moment and then come back to this post after you have done so. I think you would then understand it.
Hi Earnie. I appreciate your reply to my comment. Thank you.
I know that many Christians in certain areas of the world have experienced a lot of hurt from the judgement and persecution coming from Evangelicals. What I am trying to explain is that this represents only *some* — not all — Evangelical Christians. In fact, I would certainly agree that many Evangelicals have adopted a superior and finger-pointing tone, by cherry-picking certain bits of Scripture while ignoring others. Perhaps because do this in order to give themselves a feeling of belonging or comfort among other superior-minded people.
My main point is this: being conservative or Evangelical does not automatically mean that you must mean you must also be superior, finger-pointing, and judgmental. I don’t think it’s helpful to gather such a large group of people into one category, presume they all think and act in the same way, and then vilify them. The truth is much more complicated than that.
I also don’t really think that being loving must also mean we can’t hold moral views. As I explained earlier, I am a divorced person. I am deeply grateful that I belong to a church that embraces and accepts me, and loves me unconditionally. I have never experienced finger-pointing, judgmentalism, or discrimination. (Thank God!) But I would feel very uncomfortable if the pastor took the stage one Sunday and said, “You know, there’s nothing wrong with divorce. People get divorced all the time, and we have to start accepting that people were never intended to be married for the rest of their lives.”
So, yes, I suppose my church has very high moral beliefs, but at the same time they strongly believe that no one can brag or boast, because everyone has fallen short. We’re all broken, lost, injured, and basically incapable of saving ourselves. Being Evangelical doesn’t give us permission to view ourselves as superior — in fact, it’s the opposite. We are compelled to remember, as Jesus so often reminded us: if I start to look down our nose at someone else, I should never forget that I’m no better.
Let’s make sure we understand that conservative does not equal evangelical. Evangelical when taken back to its origin word simply means “good news”. While conservative is defined as someone adverse to change and holds on to traditional values. The evangelical movement began at sometime around 1738 with a Protestant movement. This movement wasn’t really an organized event but roots of every transdenominational Protest Christian are traced to it. As you might know a Protestant is one who perceives there to be errors in the Catholic beliefs. The word protestant is related to a letter of protest against those who had banned Martin Luther from his teachings written in 1529. The history lesson is being stated to point out that Evangelical Protestantism of which I am a part had nothing to do with conservatism. The ironical phrase Conservative Evangelical Protestant just doesn’t make much sense in the context of the history of the Evangelical Protestant that went against the established religion. The conservativists wish to keep the status quo of what they have become comfortable with. They tend to point out the flaws of others within their own groups because they do not match the comfortable feelings they’ve grown accustom to. To be conservative means that you are subscribing to a particular set of ideals and refuse to accept anything different. It is the preach of these ideals to others that is being refuted in this exposé much in the same way that our Protestant forefathers refuted the teachings and control of the Roman Catholic Church.
What an amazing post: I am a graduate of a Pentecostal Bible College, and now pastor of a small LGBTS inclusive church. Since being a part of this church, and yes I am gay, God has been clarifying my vision and changing my theology. I was always quite liberal in my outlook but was taught to be conservative in my understanding: Well that has changed dramatically. I love the worship style of an evangelical church, but I have always contended that if the Christian Church would stop focusing on “Thou Shalt Nots” and change to a Christianity that centers on a positive relationship with a living Christ, then we would start seeing a revival of what Jesus is all about. Evangelical is about the “Good News”, and Christianity is good news. Tragically it has become about judgement and condemnation when Christ has already taken that judgement and condemnation on Himself. When will we do as He said, and “Love, Love, Love.”
Jim, well said!
I have never been able to word how I felt and why I ultimately broke away from my evangelical faith – the church I was confirmed at, took communion at, spent my teen age years at, the same church that took me to bible camp for one week a year, the same church I had met some of my childhood best friends at, the same church that helped me through my first suicide attempt. I was conviced that I was too far from God, and that I shouldn’t try to play by their rules because they would not work for me and I already missed my opportunity to be with passed loved ones in heaven. Because I thought that I was broken and wrong, not because of how the church was broken and wrong. I’m still struggling to get comfortable going back to church bc I am terrified of feeling like that again. Thank you for sharing this amazingly tender and REAL post. This article has reminded me at a dark time in my young life that God is always on my side and it’s never too late for me to find my faith again.
Thanks so much Carly for reaching out and sharing a bit of your story, you are not alone!
Thank you, thank you for sharing your heart in this matter. I needed to read this. Sometimes I feel so torn about this that I feel my head will explode. This is how I feel, but couldn’t put into words like you have done. I want to ask the parents (who have been friends of ours in the Evangelical world for years) what am I supposed to do when your daughter says she is gay and you tell her “NO You’re Not!” so she feels no support, unless you consider “love the sinner, hate the sin” as support, so she comes to me and asks if she can have a place to stay? This is the stuff you’re talking about, Chris, and it’s tough, I must confess to know what to do, knowing you’re being judged so harshly for doing exactly what you think Jesus would want you to do.
Carla, thank you so much for “getting it” and for taking the time to write such words of encouragement. If we aren’t connected on fb already, let’s do so! Hope we can stay in touch!
Just “friended” you on fb. 🙂
Carla I feel your pain even though I don’t have any of that situation. I’ve noted long ago the attitudes of if you don’t fit our mold for a christian then your not wanted. I have a niece who has had some social issues while growing through her teen years. The churches (yes multiple) were she and her mother attended asked them to leave. The members of the church did not know how to deal with the difficult situation. They did not know how to love her. Clearly the conditions placed on being a christian by conservativists are not what God and Jesus wants from us. Jesus accepted those who were sinners, he even accepted their sin, he dyed because of those sins and then rose again to show that sin does not place a condition on his love and the life he wants for us.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my desciple.”
Hi Chris, I have been praying for you almost everyday since I left. Lately, I’ve been reading a book called “The Spiritual Man” by a Chinese man in the early 1900’s named Watchman Nee. I have learned so much about living by the spirit by dying to self. I thought that Christianity was supposed to clean up my flesh and soul but I didn’t understand that Jesus commanded christians to completely die to themselves. I love you man, be blessed.
“Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Jeff, you cite verse fragments from a larger topic of material. Doing so is applying meaning to the fragment without the context from which the fragment came. You cannot examine for instance Romans 8:8 without also examining the context of the chapter and even the book. And to even understand chapter 8 you must read the chapters before it because the first sentence of chapter 8 begins with “There is therefore” which implies a reference to the previous chapters.
Your reference from Luke that states I should hate my family. Isn’t that how you read the verse you’ve stated? Out of context of the rest of the chapter one can make the Bible say whatever one wants it to say. I also think the word antipathy is a better word in today’s understanding of words.
The point here is that quoting scripture phrases can be misleading out of the context of the whole picture. You’re misleading someone into thinking that God wants us to hate and that God wants us to harm ourselves or others. None of that is true even though you think you meant to exclaim the goodness of God, you simply sent the wrong message. Instead of quoting scripture state what God is doing for you right now. Tell of the miraculous wonders he is doing because of your communion with him. Do not quote mear phrases from the Bible, taking them out of context, and trying to apply some meaning to them that they really do not have.
I am not expounding on this subject to cause you to get angry but I hope to open your eyes to God. I’m trying to knock the conservative blinders off that you still have on. You’ve been fed a few phrases of the Bible and haven’t considered God in prayerful meditation in how God can use you. What good words of what God is doing for you can you give from your own life? Consider the phrases of the Bible in context of the story and how the meaning changes when you have that context. Don’t blind yourself from considering that God might have a different plan for you than what you are hearing from those around you. Consider to “hate” those around you and follow God’s soft voice in your mind’s ear. Follow God yourself guided by His Spirit that you’ve declared to now have. Don’t let others dictate as to how you should live for God.
Thanks for writing this. You are right about modern evangelical Christianity extinguishing hope. It’s certainly done that to me. I’m transgender, and have been told I’m an abomination, worse that innocent little trans children, 6 year olds who know Something is horribly wrong with their bodies are monsters and predators.
The pain I endured trying to be what they wanted me to be drove me ultimately to attempt suicide. Now? They can tell me I’m going to hell all they want, and they frequently do, but there is NOTHING they can scare me with that’s worse than what I went through. I life at them – they don’t know hell.
What they have made me realize is that there is no hope whatsoever for someone like me. I’m in a catch-22. I can’t “give up” being trans. Aside from the fact that I’d simply end my life because I can’t pretend to be something I’m not, I literally can’t go back. Medications and surgeries have transformed me, I can put on a suit, but at this point I’d just look like a butch lesbian. They wouldn’t like that much either.
I have zero expectations of anything but perdition for my own soul after my death. They offer me no view of an after life that is anything but torture. Heaven? Hell? Who cares and what difference does it make to one such as me? In either one I’m surrounded by people who hated what I am in life. Why would one be better than the other, how, other than superficial furnishing differences, would they even be different?
I spend my free time trying to help others. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve talked down from suicide, helped find medical care, tried to offer hope that they can lead an authentic life of truth. I’ve worked with more progressive churches to do some of this work, but unbeknownst to most I take no comfort in their teachings, friendly and well meaning as they are.
My life has been lived in hell. Hated, mocked, reviled. No afterlife I’ve ever been taught about sounds like anything other than eternal suffering for one such as me. I hope when I’m no longer able to be of service to others, for I believe this to be my purpose, that I die and that the atheists have it right and I experience nothing, oblivion.
But alas I know they aren’t right. So I despair. Damned no matter what choices I made in my life, damned in death. Surrounded by people who don’t and will never consider me to be a human being. (The notion of an eternity surrounded by such people is hell itself to me.) So I continue to serve others because I have no other choice – I can’t live with myself if I do not. But I expect NOTHING in return because I’ve been taught that I’m cursed.
Paula, I’m crying with empathy of your pain caused by the so called righteous that you had to live with. How dare they become God and judge you? They are not to be the judge, they are only to be the ones to tell you about God. They are not to tell you how to live but only that God will help you live your life to your fullest.
May I ask God show you his love by giving you someone to love. Someone who can listen to you and love you the way you love them. Someone who can support you and pray with you that God accept you as you are. He will, he does and may you know that God isn’t afraid of you being transgender.
You will not find damnation in your death if you just love God and what he can do for you in the life that you’ve chosen. Have hope, find those who love you, surround yourself in them and forget about those who are so high and mighty righteous. Your only command from God is to forgive them and love them as people of God.
Jesus came to take our sins upon himself. He did that and we now can live free of sin just because we know him and call upon his name. We do not need to worry any longer of the sin if we proclaim God and his love for us.
Go and live comfortable in knowing that you are not condemned to a forever life in Hell as long as that is what you want. Those of us who love you wrap our arms of prayer around you and ask that you find comfort in knowing there are those who care. Life is fragile and those who cause it to break with words of hate or disdain are guilty of a great sin. Playing God by being Judge is a dangerous game that may cause those who point fingers to be judged very harshly when they stand before God. It takes more than words to live a forever life, it takes the courage to love God, not to conform to some standard set by man.
I hope you find someone soon who can support you. Please do not consider the life altering suicide as an answer to the world’s issue of religious bigotry. Please consider embracing God and his love by saying this simple prayer. “God, I am here, alone, afraid and ready to hear what you have me do. I know I do not fit the mold of what others think I should be. I am different and want you to love me and I accept that love for my life. I accept you and I accept Jesus and his command to come unto me for forgiveness. I understand that you alone are Judge of my life and that others do not have the right to become Judge. I forgive those who have hurled hateful words at me and love them as you love all people.”
Paula, be well and live life for God. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you all day long. Best regards.
Maybe I’m an exception but I’ve not had the same experience. Yes, I’ve witnessed hypocrisy but haven’t allowed it to taint my relationship with Jesus. The church is full of imperfect people, just like me, who all need redemption and forgiveness. I won’t let their hypocrisy rob me of my relationship with Jesus.