Tag Archives: christianity

Losing my religion (part 1)

I’ve been reliably informed that “losing my religion” means something else entirely, but it should be taken literally here. And if I lose my mind along the way, consider it a tribute to R.E.M.’s intended meaning.

Also: tribes are great. I don’t have anything against tribes. I’m just looking for a new one is all.

Last month, I came to the realisation that after 3 decades of committed involvement in Christian churches–my entire adult life and most of my childhood–it was time to leave the tribe.

Over the years, I’ve preached, been on music teams, done beach missions, led youth groups, attended conferences, and done heaps of other Jesus-related stuff, so this is no small thing. Reaching the point where I no longer consider myself a Christian represents a pretty major transition. (An “epic fall from grace,” you might say, if you’re a Christian.)

I’m not writing about my “unconversion” with a particular agenda. Many others have shared similar stories, and I’m not delusional enough to believe I have an Edgy New Angle on quitting the church that definitely deserves to go viral. I’m simply trying to straighten out my thoughts. I’d also like to avoid explaining myself hundreds of times.

So, what does it mean to “leave the tribe”? Some of my Christian friends have tried to comfort themselves with the notion that this is only about taxonomy–that I’ll be calling myself something different but carrying on as I always have. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to be rebranding myself as a “Jesus-follower” and living up to anyone’s expectations of such a person.

What I believe (or don’t) about spiritual things will be between me and a handful of others. Although I currently consider this to be more “identity crisis” than “crisis of faith,” I won’t be keeping you posted on how I’m tracking in the faith department. This is partly because I expect my spirituality to be a moving target (the more I learn, the less certain I am), and partly because I can’t see a good reason for you to know.

I’ll simply be another person trying to live a compassionate, wholesome, and balanced life. Please don’t assume that I’m an atheist, an off-brand Christian, or something in-between–I have no interest in the expectations or baggage of any religious (or irreligious) monicker.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to continue many friendships with people of faith, but I realise that some friendships won’t be the same anymore, and others won’t survive this change at all. There will no doubt be moments of grief as the reality of this hits home, but I’m sure the pain will pass.

Becoming progressive

Over the last 10 years, I’ve slowly but surely transitioned from “conservative straight white Christian male” to “progressive pro-diversity anti-patriarchy straight white Christian male.”

At first it was only my politics that changed, but my faith was gradually overhauled too. Although my theology remained conservative (mostly), I became less dogmatic and accepted the legitimacy of alternative views in many areas.

There were several critical moments at which I consciously chose to remain among conservative Christians. I believed it was important to challenge the idea that conservative morality could only be expressed through conservative politics, so I resigned myself to bringing that challenge from within. It was uncomfortable and multiple friendships evaporated, but I pressed on anyway.

Late last year, I become increasingly discouraged with the collective resistance of my fellow Christians to critical thinking, genuine compassion, and real-world action.

I was constantly locking horns with Christians, mostly online but also offline. The battle for Just A Little Bit Of Progress was unrelenting and mostly unrewarded (despite quiet encouragement from a few like-minded friends). My patience was waning, my ability to engage respectfully with bigots was slipping, and my mental health was suffering.

At first I thought it might just be my local church, so I disconnected for a few months and sporadically tried a few others. None of them felt right, all of them would have struggled to have an open conversation about issues that I consider important, and honestly, the weeks I stayed home were more beneficial.

Eventually, I accepted the reality of the situation: I just don’t belong in the Christian tribe anymore. That’s not to say there aren’t Christian individuals with whom I share common views / hopes / dreams. But, ironically perhaps, I’ve lost confidence in institutional Christianity as a vehicle for outcomes that align with the words of Jesus.

You might be wondering if I’m still “following Jesus”. My answer is no, because it’s a phrase that comes with baggage. All I can confirm is that my “Christian worldview” hasn’t been discarded. (But it’s under ongoing review.)

To my Christian friends: I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not sorry to have made this change. I already feel more authentic, more healthy, and more useful.

Welcome to Luke 2.0. The old has gone, the new has come.

Essential listening for evangelical Christians: The Liturgists on LGBTQ

Essential listening for evangelical Christians: The Liturgists on LGBTQ

Maybe you don’t really do the podcast thing. That’s OK. Listen to this episode anyway. You don’t need to install a podcast player on your smartphone. You don’t even need a smartphone. Just follow the link.

What’s missing from so much of the evangelical response to same-sex marriage (and gay rights in general) is genuine empathy with LGBTQ people. We insist that we love gay people, but we don’t take the time to hear their stories, to understand their points of view, and to learn from their experiences. It’s easier to hide behind careful theology and theoretical care.

This episode of The Liturgists artfully and respectfully interviews gay and transexual Christians, along with several pastors and commentators, with a diverse range of views on sexuality and faithful Christian practice.

It’s a 1.5-hour antidote to ignorance, and I think all Christians (especially evangelicals) should listen to it.

Life before birth, according to the Bible

Life before birth, according to the Bible

Click through for what is presumably a typical defence of abortion from Christians on the “left” of this issue.

I don’t endorse it, but I’m not in a position to post a rebuttal, either. (That’s code for “I’m still figuring out what to think about this.”) Feel free to help enlighten me if this is something you’ve studied with an open mind.

For now, I remain opposed to abortion, but unconvinced that making it illegal is an effective/useful response to the various forces that make it a reality in our society.

Fear and creativity for Christian educators

Fear and creativity for Christian educators

This post on The Christian School Journal is pretty inspiring. If you’re a Christian involved in education, I predict it will help you feel less worried about the road ahead, and more enthusiastic about putting your creativity to work as an innovator in your area.

Here’s an excerpt, but it’s worth reading in full:

How should we respond as Christian educators? With courage not fear, with optimism not pessimism, with excitement, not dread; with a vision for the future, not with a nostalgic longing for the past. We should respond with creativity, vigor and innovation, not with the mechanical and routinized habits that have become so comfortable but are increasingly arcane and irrelevant for our students.