Why I am unChristian

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I find myself at theological odds with almost every Christian I know. So much, in fact, that I question whether or not I should continue to refer to myself as such. In our culture, there is very little similarity to what I believe and to the cultural baggage that the word carries.

Here are some beliefs that seem to make me unChristian in today’s world:

    Violence is wrong under any circumstances. Jesus didn’t fight the oppressor Rome. Rather, he continued to try to open everyone’s eyes until they killed him — a death to which he submitted peacefully, forgiving his killers. Until Constantine legitimized (Romanized) the Christian religion, all Christ followers believed in non-violence. This is so far from the truth today, where we are perfectly comfortable supporting war in the name of our religion.

    Pointing out other’s moral failings is not the way of Christ. The only people who Jesus condemned were the folks who were criticizing others. Calling gay people “unrepentant sinners,” criticizing the movie Noah for not being Christian enough and looking down on others in any way is a distraction from the love and peace that is present in Christ. Culture wars — yuk.

    Many of the writings in the Old Testament are not literally true. Christ shows us what the spirit of God is actually like. I don’t believe, in the story of Noah, that God is a regretful killer who exterminates mankind. That is not the God I know. I think that story, and many like it, consist of layers of historical, cultural and philosophical meaning, some of which are obscured due to lack of context. For example, perhaps the story of Noah is about the death of the ego. Who knows. On the other hand, when the prophets cry out against injustice against the poor, I do indeed hear the actual voice of God speaking through them. How do I pick and choose what I think is true in the Old Testament? It’s simple. If it matches up with Jesus’s words, then I believe it. I am a Christ follower, not Jewish or a hybrid of Jew and Christian.

    Religion holds us captive. Jesus came to set the captives free, but religion puts chains on our minds. Why is it so scary to contemplate that our sacred writings might not be the actual words of God? Because we’ve been taught that to question is to be condemned. This is not freedom. Jesus continually referred to the Jewish canon as “your scriptures.” He didn’t call them “my word” or anything like that. He wanted people to open their eyes and be free.

    I’m not really worried about anything Paul said. I like the apostle Paul, especially what he says about the fruits of the spirit. But I don’t fret anymore over trying to figure out his writings. I don’t think he ever fully released the bonds of his culture, and this is reflected in his writings. Whenever there is a conflict between something he wrote and the freedom I find in the words of Jesus, I choose Jesus.

    I think sin is a lack of love. For example, promiscuity is wrong not because of the act, but because it’s not loving to sleep around. Not to the resulting child who will then likely grow up without two parents or to the broken-hearted partners that one leaves in one’s wake. Selfishness is a sin because it ignores the needs of another. The only cure for a lack of love is to show love, not to point it out in a self-righteous manner.

    I’m sure there’s plenty more things that disqualify me for Christianity in many people’s books, such as the fact that I can’t stomach attending a church that doesn’t believe in female clergy, for example. I am definitely at odds with American Christianity.

    I am content to not label myself at all, but if someone asks, I suppose I’ll keep saying that I’m a Christ-follower and leave it at that.

19 Thoughts.

  1. And I as well! You have summarized my last phase of awakening so well, and only in the last few months have I come to terms with a similar view of scripture itself. Especially Paul. You wrote, “I don’t think he ever fully released the bonds of his culture, and this is reflected in his writings.” – I have come to believe this very much. When I think how long it has and is taking for the legalism I spent most of my life in to work out of my system and thinking, we can’t expect any more out of Paul, a fellow human like ourselves. He didn’t know he was writing what would be considered scripture 2000 years later. We can take or leave counsel from what Christians have written for the entire scope of Christian history. In fact it’s seen as wrong to follow any man without question. Why is Paul different? I must follow Jesus, and realize that we as His followers, both then and now, are on a journey to continually see and hear him more clearly, not just from the words on a page, but from the voice that lives in us, and all of Creation. I appreciate you writing this out.

  2. As a side note, I love Paul (a faulty human like myself) and appreciate that because of him, it is shown that following Christ should not express as a sub-sect of Judaism, although it usually still does (hence the term “Judeo Christian). :)

    • Oh gosh, I never really thought about that Judeo Christian” label. Good point. I also agree one should not blindly follow any other person, which sounds like common sense, but apparently isn’t.

  3. I don’t know what I believe; I think I’m more of a deist. I most certainly don’t take much of the Bible literally, if one includes the Old Testament as part of it. I see many church goers who are wonderful, giving and caring, but WAY too many others(especially certain denominations) who are critical, judgmental and unkind/ungenerous.

    • And I see the same with secular people. I’d like to see more of a difference than I do. I don’t get why people say they believe in something and then don’t do it.

  4. Can I call myself a Christian? I have wrestled with the same question for years. I have chosen to keep the label because it is true for me not because I agree with any of them. The hardest thing is realizing how out of step we are and losing the “tribe”. It’s lonely sometimes…we are definitely a very small minority.

    • I absolutely agree about the loneliness. That is the most difficult and uncomfortable part of the whole thing for me. Thanks for your input, Brent.

  5. Well said,, my beautiful friend. Belief is a very personal thing between you and your God. I think it is different for each and everyone of us because it is such a personal relationship. Write on sister. And keep sharing the LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. That, I believe (not that it matters what I believe), is what it is all about. And that is what I believe Jesus is all about. Love to see it so well written in your words.

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement, Lynne. I get so scared sometimes when I click that “Publish” button.

  6. You say that you feel at odds with almost every Christian you know, but I pretty much agree with everything you said in this post. So perhaps you are not so alone as you feel.

    I rarely call my self a Christian because of bad associations with that term. I prefer ‘believer’ or ‘follower of Jesus’. I particularly like what you said about Jesus: “Jesus continually referred to the Jewish canon as “your scriptures.'” I had not considered that point before–it is a good one.

  7. You are my people! Your post hits home in SO many ways! I have been told that I wasn’t really a Christian several times and each time I hear it it bothers me less and less. Who cares what my label is anyhoo? I follow Christ and listen to God as He/She speaks to my heart. I believe God is Love and Love really is all that matters. Thank you for sharing your heart here… it is much more enjoyable to travel the spiritual journey with others!

    • Exactly! And thank you so very much for your kind words. I agree that sharing the journey with others is much better — this can be a lonely path.

  8. I use the term “Jesus’ Ethic” to distinguish my belief from the cultural cultic cabal known as “Christian” today…
    In it’s superstitious, supercillious superficial subjugation of the Jesus of Nazareth …the term “Christian” has always been cultic cabal sense the Emperor deemed his subjugates “Christian” by a wave of his hand and forced immersion as an act of a self serving empire….
    Any questions….?

  9. I’ve been in this position – away from traditional Christianity for a very long time.Have you ever considered that there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH? I’m reluctant to use the expression Christian because it is open to so many interpretations.

    As an aside have you been faced with the comment, “I don’t believe in God”. How about a response of “Tell me something about this God you don’t believe in. I may not believe in him either”!

    You might find the introduction to my blog interesting.

    • Such a great point. I just saw a quote by Brian Zhand that says, ““The god who does not exist for the angry atheist and the god who does exist for the angry fundamentalist is the same god.” So true. Definitely checking out your blog. :-)

  10. Good point re: criticism. And yes, nothing is perfect. But I don’t think American churches are even in the ballpark of perfection. I don’t see much that sets them apart from secular organizations, to be honest. At the risk of sounding incredibly arrogant, Jesus also criticized the religious establishment of His day. They were the ONLY people He was critical of. I keep thinking about how he says that religious folks can keep people from seeing the kingdom of God, and he is so angry when He says that. I guess what I’m saying is that I think my anger is righteous. The church has oppressed women, minorities and gay folks for hundreds of years, and it needs to stop. People need to read the words of Jesus and follow them if they are serious about their faith, in my opinion. It just doesn’t make sense to me to try reconcile the entire Bible with the truth that Jesus spoke. Doing so has left us with a watered down, confused religion. I’m not interested in the law, just grace.

    Totally not being critical of your church in particular. Pretty much everyone in town besides the Methodists believes the same way. I DID start thinking about it after I visited their website, but it’s only one very small piece of what I think is a very large problem. You know I love you girl! I admire how you love and enjoy people so very much. <3

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