I’ve been asking myself that a lot in the last year. Born and raised in the evangelical church, onward to a Christian university, fully indoctrinated to believe in certain things in a certain way. That’s certainly who I was. But who am I now?
Honestly, I haven’t believed that homosexuality is sinful or deserving of condemnation for a long time. I probably shed that belief sometime in 2006 after a close friend came out of the closet to me, and I had to decided how I felt pretty quickly. As that friend’s perspective evolved, he very quickly began slamming the “love the sinner, hate the sin” response. After all, it’s hard to be close friends with someone who condemns a very large part of your life, even to the point of believing your marriage is illegitimate. If someone believed that way about my life, I wouldn’t keep them very close – even if they were nice to me.
And then there’s abortion. I was anti-abortion for most of my life simply because I did not have a full understanding of all the complex circumstances and issues surrounding it. I still don’t think abortion is a wise choice in all circumstances BUT I now see that it is not may place to pass judgment. I also see the harm that making abortion illegal would do to women and women’s health care in this country. Do I think it should be restricted in some ways? Absolutely. But I cannot support any action that would endanger the life of the mother or take away her right to a safe, legal reasonably early term abortion. I also can’t stomach legislation that would cause clinics to shut their doors for no legitimate reason.
Oh, and then there’s science. My favorite project in the second grade was creating this large poster that showed the evolutionary timeline. I’ve always been pro-science, and I did not even know there was such a thing as a creationist movement in the church until I was in my 30’s. One day, a pastor who I had enormous respect for stopped me to talk about a lesson he was working on discussing how dinosaurs and humans lived together in Genesis. I was so dumbfounded, I don’t even think I was able to muster an intelligent response. Really? People take those stories literally? I’m still processing this one.
This leads naturally into what I think of scripture and ultimately God. My view of God and scripture has only shifted in the last two years as I began to independently explore and honestly question my faith through the writings and arguments of Sam Harris, James Radi, and many others. First, let’s discuss the Bible. It was written in a completely different time and place than the world we live in now. It condones slavery, puts women in a place of subjugation, and even directs us to kill people for minor offenses of the religious law. It’s filled with contradictions. It speaks of a God who created us, loves us, and yet would condemn us to Hell if we cannot accept the barbaric human sacrifice of his son. Yes, there are good lessons in the Bible, and there is scripture that can be leaned on for comfort and encouragement…. But if you are a person that believes the Bible is the true and holy word of God himself…. Good luck. You have to view the whole thing in its full context, and chances are, there’s something you should be stoned over.
So I don’t believe that the Bible is the true and holy word of God. I believe that it is book
written by men trying to understand who God is/was in their time, in the context of their morality. So who is God to me now? I’m not 100% sure, and I’m comfortable with that. I’m not quite ready to abandon him entirely, but I now choose to view religion through the evolving moral lens of humanism. Call me agnostic. Call me a cultural Christian. I’m not fussed. Just please don’t lump me in with the evangelicals anymore. I might vomit.
Now that I’ve said all of this, I must confess that I have spent the last ten years or so of my life working in a form of Christian ministry. The majority of my professional experience is with Christian organizations and churches. I’ve signed agreements to statements of faith and position papers that I do not agree with now. My friends and professional colleagues are all Christians or are in the ministry. Yeah. I’m stuck and I’m surrounded!
But I am trying to get unstuck. I’ve left the evangelical church that was associated with so many stifling beliefs mentioned above, and I’ve been slightly more vocal about my views at work. This has raised eyebrows and questions. I’ll keep the blog updated as things are moving forward. Regardless, I’ll leave in a few weeks to months… I would just like to have something in place before joining the ranks of the unemployed.
So that’s me in a nutshell. I am the voice of the closeted liberal screaming at the closed door in the hope that someday, I will be able to shout from the mountaintops.