My Crisis of Christianity

I spent a long time angry at God because I was angry with other Christians.  I couldn’t understand how, if they spoke to God as they seemed to, and heard from God as they claimed to, they couldn’t understand God’s heart for other people.  How could God let Christians get away with the kind of cruelty they espoused towards others?  Towards me, my friends, strangers whose stories I’d heard?  Christianity seemed, to me, to be a big farce.  A way of slapping an “I’m okay” sticker on people’s most virulent behaviors.  It was okay to gossip in the name of God, judge in the name of God, castigate in the name of God.  It was okay to torment people as long as you were doing it to save them!

There had been a time that I had embraced the Evangelical lifestyle.  Handing out “Jesus Pamphlets” at the park, demanding that my friends recognize and leave their sins, burning all my non-Christian music and trying to read the right things.  The thing was, it made me miserable.  I had gone from a suicidal depression into a grudging last-resort relationship from God.  And that depression had deeply colored the way I viewed God.  I had seen God as wanting my life, but wanting it because he was the possessive Jealous God of the Old Testament.  I didn’t truly understand God’s love for me.  And the Christian lifestyle I’d adopted seemed to reinforce the idea that God didn’t particularly care for me.  Living without all of the things I loved- my fantasy novels, my music, my pride, my inert sense of what was and wasn’t appropriate behavior at the park…  These things all were impossible for me to deal with.

I took to forcing myself to live with Christianity with the same kind of zeal I attacked everything in my life.  I viewed my distaste for the lifestyle I was living as a challenge, a test of faith.  Sarcastically saying “Jesus is my boyfriend” as a way to justify my inability to have a relationship with the opposite sex was supposed to fulfil me.  I didn’t confront the fact that I ran away from relationships because I was terrified- I justified it with my faith.  Burning all of my old music and devoting myself to only pursuing what was “good and holy” was supposed to reinforce my devotion to God.  So burn the fact that it was leaving me bored, that all I had to listen to was what I saw as falsely cheerful tripe.  It was supposed to fulfill me, so it would.  I would “fake it till I made it” if it killed me.

And by the time I hit my late teens, it was certainly killing me.  I was back to listening to the music I liked.  So DMX and Staind and Nirvana weren’t on the approved list?  Oh well.  I was back to wearing the clothes I liked.  So tight tops and black lace skirts and leather knee high boots and pink hair weren’t a good Christian look?  (Not to mention the huge tattoo on my lower back…)  Oh well.  So being depressed and angry at God and thinking “Jesus will never fill this emotional hole in my gut” wasn’t the right attitude towards God?  Screw it.  So refusing to Evangelize and telling the people I was hanging out with that I didn’t care how they felt about Jesus, that was their business, is shirking my Christian duty?  By the time I started wrestling with that one, my attitude was to reply, “F***  IT.  I want to be able to be friends with my friends, get out of my faith.  I don’t want to talk about it!”

And for several years, I confused the above with having a crisis of Faith.  But, in the end, it wasn’t really a crisis of faith I was having.  It was a crisis of Christianity.  There is a famous Buddha quote that reads:  “Believe nothing merely because you have been told it.  Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings — that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.”  That quote affected me profoundly.  So many of the tenats of faith I’d been raised with simply went contrary to my internal compass.  And who gave me that compass?  Who gave me my conscience?  Would God have created me to react so adversely to Christianity if he wanted me to be a Christian?  What in the world was going on here?

Then I realized something else.  The Bible has this to say:  (Romans 2:14-15)- Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. This verse has been used, for some time, to demonstrate that God guides man’s law by guiding his heart.  That written inside of each one of us is a code that can guide us to God’s heart for our lives.  And I, by trying to be what other people percieved as a Good Christian, was denying that code.  I was denying who God made me to be by trying to be who other people wanted me to be.

What I needed to do was seek after God’s heart for me, to leave behind the trappings of the Lindsey of Old and just try to be the best disciple I could.  But not a disciple of the church- a disciple of God himself, of Jesus.

(to be continued…)

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7 thoughts on “My Crisis of Christianity

  1. This is a great post. People have become convinced that they need to profess one faith or another in order to have a relationship with God–even if their hearts tell them that that relationship can’t be found in any satisfactory way, or can even be hindered, by following a narrow, set of beliefs that others have crafted. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s necessarily wrong to affiliate oneself with one religion or another, if it allows one to have that fulfilling relationship with God. It becomes a problem when, as you so beautifully put it, one can as a result no longer “understand God’s heart for other people”. Whatever works, works, as long as we fulfill God’s will of love.

    (And I never even THOUGHT of giving up Nirvana and Staind! 🙂 )

    Sara
    http://saradode.wordpress.com

  2. I should have ended that next-to-last sentence with two really important words, so that it read “…fulfill God’s will of love for all.”

    Sara

  3. “It was a crisis of Christianity.”

    Um. WOW. WOW. I can’t even express the wowness that I feel about this right now. Please please please finish this story. I will be waiting with my heart in my throat.

    WOW.

  4. Wonderful post! Just amazing. It always amazes me that there is a “right” way of being Christian. Remember when we applied that to science? Yeah, that didn’t do well either.
    Lindsey, thank you for shaing all this.

  5. One of the interesting things I’ve noticed in Holy Scripture is that there is not a single example of someone becoming a disciple of the Savior all on their own or even them with God. There is always someone discipling them.

  6. @ Saradode: Thanks for your comment, and I agree with your editorial mark- God’s will of love for ALL.

    @ Hayden: Thanks. I’ll try to finish the story out later today!

    @ faemom: I think that there is a right way and a wrong way. The right way is love and devotion. The wrong way is hatred and fear. Simple, no?

    @ MSSC54: I agree with you, to a point. I do believe it is possible to pursue God on your own. At some points, even necessary. After all, we do have the Bible as a guidebook of sorts- we can get to know and experience God through it, and through his creation, and through our own hearts. Is it best to hunt for him in a vacuum? No. But in cases like mine where attempting to find him through being discipled by people who marginalized and don’t accept one becomes a hindrance and even a stumbling block to loving him fully, what other choice is there? As you’ll see when I finish my story (and you obviously ought to know from reading my blog) my rancor against the church did eventually subside and I am now being actively discipled and actively discipling others from within the church walls.

    But I had to come back to that place on my own. If someone had tried to force me while I was still in the state I am talking about in this post, I probably would have turned my back on Christianity altogether. (Especially if they had tried to force me into the churches that were around me at the time- places like one where I had been attending regularly for over a year and had weekly meetings with the pastor, only to have another member of the church leadership come up to me one morning and ask if I was a visitor. There was a lot of pain and disappointment there, and being dragged back again and again only made it worse. The harder I tried to have good relations with the church, the more discouraged I got.)

  7. Dear Lindsey,
    Hi I read your blog it normally hapend. Becuse of that many conflict in your mind about Christianity. I wish if you read about Islam or see many videos for people spoken about their self in YouTube just write convert to Islam and take an idea.
    Wish the best for you where ever you be.

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