Who I am and what I’m not.

Yes, I am a Christian.  For a long time I didn’t self-identify as a Christian because I hated the fact that people would always make certain assumptions about me.  One instance stands out particularly in my mind.  I saw a table that said “Friends of the GLBT” at the associations, groups, and clubs event my first week in college.  Something prompted me to go over and strike up a conversation with the handful of students sitting there.  At first the conversation was great, but then someone made a disparaging comment about the Evangelical group.  Even though I wasn’t sure about what I believed, I felt a chill.  I wanted to say “not every Christian is like that,” but I was worried that the moment I did I would paint myself as sleeping with the enemy.

That moment is iconic of the choice I’ve had to make every day since I came back to my faith.  Do I say I’m a Christian, and allow people to make false assumptions about what I believe?  Do I say I’m a Christian and try to create a new paradigm?  One in which someone who acts evangelical (as opposed to Is An Evangelical) isn’t a gay-bashing anti-choice gun-totin’ Bible-bangin’ war-lovin’ conservative-votin’ unimaginative non-intellectually-inquisitive probably secretly scared-of-everything uh…  you get the point.  The assumptions people make about someone who is vocally Christian aren’t always the kindest.  And in many ways, I’m the opposite of many of the stereotypes.  So, for the record, let me be clear about what I am and am not:

  • I don’t think gay people are the enemy of society.  I like my gay and lesbian friends, and only want them to change if they want to.  Honestly, the complexity of this one is way too much to fit into a single bullet point, so suffice it to say this:  I don’t think gay people are the problem, I think judgmental and legalistic attitudes are.
  • I’m politically pro-choice.  Personally, I’m pro-life.  I could never imagine a circumstance in which I would have an abortion.  But that doesn’t mean that I want to tell other women what to do with their bodies and their lives- there is no ethical argument to keep an unborn child that doesn’t rely on faith in God, so a secular society should allow women to have choice.
  • I’m a registered Democrat, mostly because I wanted to vote in the last Presidential Primaries.  In my time as a registered voter, I’ve actually voted for both Republicans and Democrats.  I believe in voting based off of who you’re voting for and what their record shows, not based off of party.  Just do not tell me I’m a Republican who’s afraid of change.  I will end you.
  • Guns scare me.
  • I don’t believe the Bible should be used as a weapon. It is for worship, for exhortation, for meditation, for the strengthening of the body…  not for destruction.
  • I don’t believe in quoting the Bible to people who don’t read it. Which is why I so rarely quote it on my blog, and why fellow Christians sometimes assume I don’t read it.  I do, I just think that Christians should be able to make logical arguments without spraying Bible verses into the fray like bird shot.
  • I’m a pacifist. I was raised in the Anabaptist tradition, which means I was raised with a keen awareness of the multitude of people who were martyred for the Faith.  Martyred, that is, at the hands of the Catholic church, which leads to:
  • I believe that people should be able to worship God as they wish- no matter how much you disagree with them.  Not everyone agrees on all the tenants of faith.  I don’t think I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m more likely to believbe that we are all wrong. 
  • I actually do have an imagination, really I do. In my other lives I am a novelist and a jewelry designer.  I have no fear of thinking creatively.
  • I have no fear of other religions.  In fact, I study Buddhism and live out some of it’s practices.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Dalhi Lama.  I respect anyone who practices their faith with compassion for others, regardless of what their faith is.  I think Christianity could learn an awful lot from other religions.
  • I have no fear of being questioned. Don’t believe me?  Question me.  Debate me.  If I can’t argue my faith rationally, I don’t want to have it.
  • I have no fear of being wrong. I’ve done it before and it didn’t hurt too badly.  If I am forced to examine a belief and find it lacking, so be it.  Better that I know now than go through my entire life mistaken.

My name is Lindsey.  I am a Christian.

And I may be a pacifist, but if I ever met Fred Phelps, I’d probably have to drop kick him in the balls.

Just so we’re clear on things.

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6 thoughts on “Who I am and what I’m not.

  1. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written here…I’ve struggled a lot lately with my faith due to family circumstances that you know about from reading my posts.

    Nothing makes me more angry than to be associated with fanatical ultra right wing conservatives just because I call myself a Christian, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Having been raised Southern Baptist it has taken me YEARS to shake off the closed-mindedness that I was inundated with as a child growing up. (To the dismay of my parents..)

    My own stepfather many times to my own face has called me a liberal tree hugging baby killer… Some of that I take as a compliment, but obviously not the Baby Killer part..

    I have tried many times to explain my beliefs to him only to be ridiculed and judged for them…and he calls himself a Christian?? Because if that’s the way “Christians” act I want no part of it..

    This is generally why when people ask me if I am a Christian I reply with something to the effect of.. Yes I believe in God, and I am Saved but I am not overly religious, I do not have a “home” church, I worship as I see fit,and where I see fit.

    This usually results in an eyeroll from some people and I’ve even had some say that God spits the lukewarm out of his mouth..which generally leads to me walking away shaking my head..

    Thanks for writing this..it’s wonderful!

    • I really hate it when people throw out “baby killer”. It’s not like I *want* girls to have abortions, I just don’t feel that it’s loving to force their hand.

      Ugh.

      I really get the struggle you’re going through. I’ve been there, and it isn’t fun. The thing is- a relationship with God doesn’t have to mean a relationship with the church. If you’re passionate about God and noncommittal with the church you aren’t lukewarm.

      God gets it. Forget everyone else.

  2. Your post really started me thinking on what people assume they think of me when I say Catholic. Maybe it’s because I went to Catholic school for ten years or maybe it’s because my nature refuses to accept negative impressions; I never thought about those impressions. I do know that it immediately says I’m a pro-lifer though I’m like you. It should tell people I don’t believe in the death penality, which I used to agree with until I had my boys. (Now I know the police better get to anyone who hurts my kids before I do.) But I know it makes a lot of Protestants weird because of the saints and Mary and the Pope. But I wonder what that actually means to them. I’ve been hanging out with such liberal Christians for so long I’ve forgotten what it was to hang out with the more conservative brand.

  3. You and I probably disagree on a few points here and there, but what I encourage you to do is make a copy of this post. Put it somewhere safe. Then, in five or ten years, read it again. See if you have changed a little here and there.

    I am not insinuating that you will end up being like me, you probably won’t. But I do guarantee this: you will soften and change. You see, judgmental and legalistic Christians are not the enemy either. We are all in this Body together whether we like it or not.

    Our enemy is a common foe: Satan.

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