with eyes open wide
I’ve wanted to write a series of Christianity posts for a while because it’s something I’ve personally been struggling with for about a year (actually I have no idea when the “struggle” began, could be up to 2 years ago). But my problems with Christianity are so overwhelming to me that I quickly drop the subject every time I start.
Well, I’ve built this blog. It’s my place in the world to speak my opinion to whoever cares to lend an ear. So I guess it’s high time that I deal with my demons.
What really pushed me over the ledge was Rachel Held Evans’ post on CNN’s Religion Blog on July 27 titled “Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church“. The title immediately struck me. I am a Millennial. I left the church.
The article was ok. It was a good introduction to the topic and as you can see from the hundreds of comments generated in just a week, it spoke to a lot of my generation.
But I want to dive a little further.
The problem is, as with all Religion discussions, we all have very different backgrounds and stories and pains with Religion. Every single person will have a different opinion, a different view of the Bible, of the church (when speaking specifically about Christianity). So what do we do with that?
Hell if I know… 😉
I’m going to break my Christianity series into 4 parts to start with. A blog entry is not a book (for a reason, people), so my 4 topics will be:
1. My Personal Views (this article that you are currently reading)
2. Following Jesus vs. Following the Church
3. Christianity in the 21st Century
4. Hypocrisy in the Church
Maybe I’ll keep it going if I have enough energy left (and if I’m still alive after all the backlash I’m going to get).
First, let’s start with a nice bold disclaimer (probably won’t do much good):
I SUCK AT LIFE. YOU HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO READ MY PERSONAL OPINIONS. I AM PROBABLY GOING TO HELL.
Ok, glad that we got that out of the way. But seriously, I KNOW Religion is a touchy subject so please please let’s act like adults here. We are not monkeys; we should not throw shit at each other.
None of ya’ll know me personally. In my opinion, it’s impossible to discuss Religion if you do not know the background of the person you are discussing with. Since we’re getting ready to jump in head first, let me give you a fine introduction.
I did not grow up in the church. My family started consistently attending a non-denominational church when I was 14 years old. However, my parents were both evangelists and strong believers in college. They seemed to have dropped off somewhere in the 8 years they were married before they had kids (me first!).
My closest grandmother (paternal) was Catholic and was always sad to see that we were not brought up Catholic. The rest of my grandparents were not particularly religious. Nor were my aunts and uncles. Though my extended family seems to have “caught the spark” in their older age.
All of my family is from North Carolina. We moved to Georgia when I was 10 and my parents and brother are still there. I went to college in Atlanta and worked in Atlanta for 2 years after graduating. I moved to Panamá 3 years ago and haven’t looked back.
The churches that I attended in Atlanta were non-denominational (12 Stone Church for 3 years and off-and-on in college, Buckhead Church for 3 years). In Panamá, I studied the Bible personally and through some Christian studies (like Beth Moore’s books) for about a year. Then I started learning about the Jehovah’s Witnesses for about 9 months. For about 6 months now, I haven’t been attending any church services or doing any personal religious/spiritual study.
Where have these 26 years on this beautiful Earth led me? To utter confusion.
Let me tell you why I am staying away from the church right now.
First and foremost, I am struggling with FALSE Christianity. I really feel like we have lost the definition of what it means to follow Jesus. Our churches are ever-more teaching feel-good Christianity, hip and modern Christianity, self-centered Christianity. Sure, they “base” their talks on some Bible verses. They encourage members to dive into their Bibles every day, join small groups to support one another (“accountability”), become engaged with church activities to build a community of believers.
It all sounds nice and holy, but is it really Jesus’ vision for the church?
And don’t even get me started about the problems with the Catholic Church.
Sure, there are probably many churches trying to do it right (for example, Paul Washer seems to have his head on straight). It would not be fair to lash out against the entire Christian community. But from my experience in Atlanta, Georgia and doing Bible Studies produced from a very popular woman in Texas, this is the new Christian reality being spread all over the United States.
I know what it means to be a Christian, to follow Jesus. It means being a radical, fighting for what’s not popular, denouncing the world, fighting demons daily.
I know this, but I’m just not ready to commit yet.