I grew up in a Christian household(s). My parents divorced when I was a baby, but each were influential in my upbringing.
My mother taught us the principles of the Bible. She taught us to love others as ourselves. She told us of Jesus’s teachings. Turn the other cheek. Judging others is an unkind and unproductive approach to life. Forgiveness. Acceptance. My father taught me to fear God. If I did not believe adequately, I was to face certain fire and damnation. Being of free spirit and free will, I leaned toward my mother’s approach to Christianity.
And then…in 2004, I found myself in the last church service I would ever attend. In that service I was told that homosexuality was a sin (I knew too many amazing, lovely gay people to buy into that), and that if I was a true follower of God, I should strongly consider voting for George Bush that year. I left that day with more conviction than I had ever felt. I would never again be associated with their version.
Cut to 2019.
I determined long ago that my faith and my spirituality require no definition, and no doctrine. I never abandoned my relationship with love, faith, hope, and a connection that I cannot define, nor deny. I see no value in definitions. I see no value in following a doctrine, especially one that claims higher ground based on their savior, but so often contradicts His teachings in their actions. Ironic. Baffling. Upsetting.
Factions are out of control today. Maybe it’s no different than any other time in history, but I exist in this time in history, and it’s in this moment that I ponder. How did ugliness so effectively harness the followers of Jesus Christ himself? How do those who often open the Bible skip right over the parts that leap out to me? How does a practicing and devout Christian open his/her Bible and read scripture about kindness and love and acceptance, but simultaneously lash out against others on Facebook or Twitter, publicly insulting other humans and their rights? Why do Christians rally behind hatred and bigotry and obvious lies? How do they reconcile this? The Bible warns of following a voice that is not God himself. You’d think they’d pay more attention, as their souls depend on it.
Are you their God, or do they follow something else entirely?