that I’ve been invited “back to church”.
Well, technically, one wasn’t so much inviting me back to church as it was a strong suggestion that my son needed to be in that particular “church” school. The words “kiss my (deleted)” may have been uttered. Yes, I’m surprisingly eloquent in person! 😉
The other was by a well-meaning and good friend, who is, I’m sure, baffled as to our exodus from “The Church”.
Both of those things have had me mulling over a blog post, so I took a few hours to build this site and now I’m posting.
Depending on my audience, you’ll either know exactly what I mean by “The Church” or “The Truth” – or you’ll be left scratching your head at all the insider-speak. Let’s just say that “The Church” and “The Truth” are, in my experience, defined exactly as the current pastor of the local assembly of a particular bent chooses to define them.
I’ve had some *wonderful* pastors over the years, and made lifelong friends through church attendance, so I’m certainly not church-bashing. But – there’s always that but – right now, I’m just not a part of it.
I’m in a place I never thought I would be, frankly. Back when the most pressing issues of the day were “does God care if I wear my hair up or down?” and “will Pastor let me attend church if I wear a wedding band?” and “is it ok for a woman to speak in church if the pastor is seated so that he’s taller than her so everyone knows she’s submitted to a man?”…there just was no room in my life for any other questions. And that, I think, is the way it’s designed to be.
(Side note – no, my husband and I were not allowed to use wedding bands in our ceremony. Any jewelry, even the sign of a lifelong commitment, was forbidden. That was also the ‘church’ that had all sorts of lovely rules, down to dictating that women wear a girdle and high heels at all times or
the pastor Jesus wouldn’t love them. It’s also the ‘church’ that spurred me into studying all the ways theology has been perverted to be misogynistic, so I guess I do owe them a thanks for something.)
Anyway…at a conservative estimate, at the age of 34, I’ve attended church services almost 6000 times. That’s more than some priests/ministers attend in an entire career! I’m pretty much versed in what the Bible says and what one Protestant sub-sect thinks about it.
Except…it didn’t take. Somewhere along the way, I stopped worrying about the color of the shoes I wore, and started asking questions like “does God really NOT care that we’re killing innocent children just because their parents follow another religion and live in the Middle East?” and “why can’t we skip church and go serve dinner at the homeless shelter?” and “really? Did I *really* just sit through another service that says that because I lack male genitalia, I’m less qualified to be a Christian?” and “what do you MEAN that if I just had ‘enough faith’ then I wouldn’t be sick?” and “did you truly just say that if a woman wears jeans she’s going to hell?”
I had my son – my miraculous, God-given son – and I began to question even more. Things like “is it right for me to let him be raised in this by default?” and “wow, wait, WHAT? the official curriculum for his Sunday School just told him that if he doesn’t clean his room and smile about it, Jesus doesn’t live in his heart?!” and “I wonder what God thinks of me stifling my son’s love for God by exposing him to this?”
Right now, I don’t have the answers. I wish I did, because I never once, not in almost 6000 church services, imagined I’d be in limbo without a home church and without raising my son with mandatory church attendance. There’s part of me that looks nervously over my shoulder for a stray lightning bolt during “church time(s)” each week.
What I do have – I’ve found community, online and in real life, with others who are disenchanted with the way things are. I’ve found a fellowship of other believers – some not only *not* Pentecostal, but even people who are Baptists and Catholics and other assorted denominations, people that I grew up hearing I had to convert. I’ve also gained friends who are happy in their church homes and confident they are where God has placed them. I have people in my son’s life who aren’t going to preach hellfire and brimstone to him, but rather, are encouraging him to grow in his love for and relationship with God.
I have a lot of questions still, and I don’t see God ever leading my family back to the faith that we came from. But I know that even though asking questions and waiting for answers is *so* much scarier than thinking I have “The Truth” all figured out…even then, I’m still God’s child.