The Fight for Unfundamentalist Christianity
May 3, 2016
Real talk: sometimes I don’t know why I’m writing a Christian book.
Engaging in the Christian conversation publicly gets exhausting, especially because it has become so wrapped up in political culture wars. Ugly. Divisive. Draining.
It has become extremely tempting to simply walk away. I feel done reading and writing the same old arguments, explaining why such and such theology is racist, homophobic, and sexist. I don’t want to be a Christian deconstructing my faith anymore, I just want to be human, as Robin R. Meyers says, “to ask questions, to solve problems, to make art, and ultimately to discover the most sublime gift of all—love.”
I want to join hands with those who are enlightened, my fellow unfundamentalists, and turn my back on those intent on bigotry and hate. I want to hide all the posts from conservative evangelicals who promote judgment over mercy, who glorify their own uppity moral superiority and fail to seize our Lord’s Greatest Commandment. I want to breathe the sweet air of freedom from dogmatism, from outdated religiosity, from institutions with too tall of walls and too narrow of doors.
But this is the talk of the privileged. For those who do not find their own woundedness in the church and therefore do not need to seek healing there. For those whose survival do not depend upon the religious systems which bred the families who feed and clothe them. For those who are independent adults, who can, of their own volition, walk away.
I don’t feel like I possess such privileges. The language, Scripture, and theology of Christianity has shaped my identity, and one does not shed a faith identity as easily as taking off an item of clothing. It is a beautiful, rich, tradition passed on by a cloud of holy witnesses. In as many ways as it has been co-opted to conduct evil and violence against people, it has the capacity to heal and liberate both the oppressors and the victims.
I stay engaged in the Christian conversation out of necessity, as one who was brought up in-house, to find my own deliverance in the same tradition which has harmed me and my family. (And trust me this is not an overstatement, my brother is trans, and the latest wave of aggression against the tran community is doing irreparable harm to our community). I do it to offer my small, humble gift of words to give voice to those who suffer the indignities of spiritual abuse. I do it because there is good inside and it’s worth fighting for.
I am no longer an evangelist for the Christian faith. One look at these stunning videos of our vast, complex universe is enough to convince me to repent of my previous evangelical arrogance, that we may have the monopoly on Truth and who God is as revealed in the Bible that we have interpreted with our evangelical lens.
Exclusivity is obnoxious. Lording your experience of God as normative and prescriptive for all of humanity is arrogant, perpetuates violence, and erases the identity of large swaths of fellow humankind. But just because I no longer believe my path is the only path doesn’t mean I cease to walk in it. Just because I celebrate the beautiful diversity and plurality of faiths and cultures doesn’t mean I don’t revel in the particularity of my own tradition. I believe in the story of Jesus and the narrative of the Christian scriptures to bring wholeness, liberation, and dignity to all.
So I keep writing. To expose the false religiosity of those who condone abuse in the name of Jesus. To reach out across the internet and offer a word of love for those who need it. To rescue the name of Christianity from those hell-bent on dragging it through the mud.
My altar call is to these letters on my keyboard. And I show up, weak, tired, and drained, waiting for the Spirit to fill me with power.
~ I’ve created an unfundamentalist parenting manifesto, an alternative to the Four Spiritual Laws. Download the one page print-quality PDF for free HERE. ~