Friday, April 2, 2010

Non-Religious Christianity

Religion, denomination, the Bible, and Jesus Christ are all very important and extremely divisive issues to literally billions of people all over the planet. What you are about to read is me very carefully dismantling this issue and, in all likelihood, angering the extremely low number of you that take the time to read it.

I consider myself to be a Christian but I often find that my political and moral views conflict with what are supposed to be my religious views. This is a large cause of anxiety for me because I sincerely want to believe and I do believe but I feel as though I'm excluded from the community and culture that comes with Christianity because I can't 100% commit myself to it.

By "it" I don't mean "God" by any means. I'm referring to the community and I believe that having those friends and family members that share that culture with you is important. I can never just dive in and let go in that culture because I feel like I can't be the right kind of person for it. I believe that God will accept me for what I am and who I am... it's religious people that I fear the judgment of. Maybe that's wrong of me... or maybe I do need to change but as of right now here is who I am:

I cuss more than I'd care to admit, particularly when I'm stressed out or tired. I drink, not excessively, but on occasion. I am extremely liberal in my beliefs. I believe in evolution. I am pro-choice. I am against the death penalty. I'm anti war. I think that the health care in the country is appalling. I believe that homosexuals are born the way that they are and God loves them as they are. I believe that marriage is a legal institution that grants civil rights to individuals and refusing that right to people based on their sexual preference is abhorrent. I believe that forcing your religion onto other people is wrong and that everyone has the right to believe what they want. I believe that if God is as just and loving as I believe he is then entrance to heaven is granted based on the life the person led, NOT what they chose to believe or how many rosaries hung from their rear-view mirror.

If you are are one of those people who are comfortable in a Christian community, then you probably disagree with one, if not all of those view points and can probably understand what I'm trying to say. I do want to find that community that I can feel like I'm not sticking out like a sore thumb... I do. I want to feel at home among other people that believe in God... I've just lost hope that it will ever happen.


Dave Flowers said...

You were right. It did interest me. I actually agreed with quite a bit of what you said. Which is kind of what I don't get, in a way.

Ultimately all of us are wrong about a lot of things, Travis. It seems so many people are seeking a church where everyone agrees with their views, but I think the only thing to do in light of the fact that we are all surely wrong about a great deal is just to find a group of people one can love, and then love them.

No question this is hard to do. It's uncomfortable being around people with different views, and it feels safe and wonderful when those around us agree with us. But I think being in a church where people have different views is really good for us and builds humility and love.

Also, it is difficult to discern to what extent one is expecting the church to conform to one's own views rather than actually allowing the church to be part of the process of forming those views to begin with. For surely the purpose of any community of faith is not just to affirm whatever its people already think, but to challenge them to think and live in certain ways. When the church is no longer doing this, it has, in Jesus words, "lost its saltiness."

Just some thoughts...

Travis Valentine said...

I really appreciate your thoughts, Dave. It's not that I have a problem with being around people I disagree with. I have quite a few friends who have extremely opposing beliefs to me and it's sometimes fun to spar on those issues as long as a mutual respect is maintained. Mostly we just don't talk about it because we know we disagree. There's a lot... See More more to people than there politics.

It's more the idea of CHURCH (that's CHURCH in a deeps, scary, booming voice) that carries with it almost everything I don't believe in. Do you know what I mean? It's difficult to deny that when people think of the CHURCH they associate a certain set of political and moral views that are quite different from mine.

It's the reason that I liked Wildwind because, and I know you've expressed a distaste for this expression in the past but "it didn't feel like CHURCH" No one was in a suit, the music wasn't all from the hymnal, and when I talked to someone I honestly had no idea what they believed politically and I loved that about it.

buckart1007 said...

Travis, I've often felt the way you're describing while actively participating in a church community. What I've found to be true for me is similar to what you've stated here, there are some aspects of faith that I don't discuss with certain people in that community. I've found that, when I engage people that I knowingly disagree with on some things, I still build friendships. I think everyone benefits by this. In the end both sides are more open minded.

It might surprise you to hear (and it might not), about the only thing in the section where you list out your beliefs that I'd "disagree" with would be the last bit about entrance into Heaven. I don't think disagree is even the right word. I think there are a lot of things that aren't as black and white as any of us would like them to be. I guess you could say personally I'm not pro-choice either, but I'm also not willing to really fight that battle in any arena other than my own life.

I don't think you stated anything in your post that should disqualify you from anything. Nothing made me pause or think, "Wow. That's a deal breaker." There are always going to be hot button issues with people on both sides of the fence with scripture, research, and translations to back up their position. The Judeo-Christian faith has kind of always been this way. Some would argue that it's supposed to be this way.

It's either Rollins or Campolo, they tell this story about two Rabbis arguing for twenty years about one line of scripture. They both think it means something different. God gets tired of hearing them argue, so he comes down to explain to them what it actually means. The rabbis turn to God and say, "Who asked you?" There are lots of things we can argue about, but usually those things aren't the point anyway.

Peace, Love and Joy My Brother

Travis Valentine said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Brian, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time.

To be honest it was a little hard for me to throw my beliefs out there like that, just because I'm not a very political person. I'm a very nervous person by my nature and I suffer from some metal illnesses that cause me to get upset more easily than most people so I typically avoid the subject because it usually involves heavy confrontation and hard feelings.

I've been doing a lot of reading and soul searching with regards to my beliefs recently and I've been struggling pretty hard with whether or not I even consider myself a christian. I don't want to go with "agnostic" because usually that just means an atheist that doesn't want to make waves.

But I've read a lot of the Bible and I just don't agree with some of it. I think that it's taught me a lot and it helps me live my life better. I think it's a great tool for teaching love and peace and tolerance because that's all in there.

I just can not and will not believe in a God that would damn good hearted, hard working people to hell for having the wrong beliefs.

The majority of people who don't believe Jesus was the messiah were just raised that way, and if you have something like that taught to you before you have the ability to create your own opinions, having someone come along and tell you the "truth" isn't going to make you jump sides.

I think that every religion be it Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or what have you are all living their lives the way that they feel is right and if they're being good people. If they're being heroes, doctors, bankers, firefighters, cops, politicians, file clerks, or anything then they're worshiping God.

You're welcome to disagree with me but I have read books on every religion. I've studied it a lot, unlike most Christians who don't feel that reading the Koran or the Torah is a pre-requisite to disagreeing with it and I feel like there is one God and however you choose to worship him is just semantics.

Unknown said...

You are not alone, there are others out there.
I am one of many who feel and believe as you do.
For years I thought I was alone, eventually I started to discover others like me.
Do not give up looking, let GOD lead you, he has never failed me yet.