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My Mid-Faith Crisis: Why I don’t believe in Christianity Anymore

30 Jan

The title of this post is very provocative and I hope people take the time to read what I have to say rather than simply rejecting me because they believe I’ve turned heathen.

Because I haven’t turned heathen.

The fact that many Christian people will judge me as a heathen based on the title of this post is one reason I don’t believe in Christianity anymore.

Christianity has turned into a political agenda, a social class, a set of rules and regulations that frankly, don’t make much sense to the average Joe who hasn’t been schooled on the issue.

My personal understanding of Christianity has evolved throughout my life. My first understanding of Christianity was “God is right and everybody else is wrong.” Then it was, “We are right and everybody else is wrong.” Then it was “The Republican, Pro-Life, Homeschool, ‘Sweet 36, Never Been Kissed’, Pop Out 17 Babies crowd is right and everybody else is wrong.” After that, it was “My church is right and my friends are maybe right, but everybody else is wrong.”

Then I had what I like to refer to as my Mid-Faith Crisis.

And at that point, I began to question if anything about Christianity — especially church, pastors and people who call themselves Christians — is right at all.

*****

It’s been over 4 years since this all went down.

During the past 4 years, I went to church every Sunday. I went to every Bible study I could. I hung out with Christian people. I prayed. I read my Bible. I talked to people about Jesus. I wrote about Jesus. I taught small children about Jesus.

And tonight, even though I have officially stepped away from the line in the sand marked “Christianity,” I am going to church. I’m going to worship Jesus, pray, read the Bible and probably listen to a sermon. I’m going to hug my friends and kiss my friends’ sweet preschoolers on the way out the door.

Because, my experience has shown me that the further you run from religious labels, the closer you get to Jesus.

*****

Several years ago, I got caught up in the idea of ministry and discipleship. I put forth great effort to love the people the church wanted me to love. They did a great job showing me how to love. It was a really great experience. It transformed my life.

Six years ago, a guest minister at my church told the congregation that I would be an example to them of how to truly give up your life for the sake of the gospel. He told them that I would be a challenge to them, not because I had a challenging attitude, but because I would do something and they would have to decide if they were going to embrace me and what I was doing.

Just over a year later, it happened. Individuals in the church chose to ostracize me. Other churches in town started rumors about me and the ministries I was working with began to disclude me. Finally, I told my pastor that I wanted to move. He said, “I believe your time in this community has come to an end.”

That little paragraph doesn’t even begin to explain the hurt and frustration. By the time I left, I wasn’t sure if I even believed in God anymore. The only thing I knew was that I hated church and “Christian” people were the biggest crowd of back-stabbing, evil people there were.

But, I kept going to church. Church was normal. So I went. I read my Bible. I sorta prayed. Sorta.

*****

This past Sunday, my pastor spoke about discipleship and challenged the church to do discipleship relationships with people. He urged us to find someone to mentor and find someone to mentor us.

I love that idea.

But the problem is that my personal way of discipling people typically isn’t a method that Christian people can make peace with.

My way of discipling people is to get to know them and figure out what they need. I like to meet them where they are, talk to them, serve them, pray for and with them and just be a friend as much as I can.

Even if the person in question is a lesbian.

Or a prostitute.

Or a single mom.

*****

I don’t believe in Christianity anymore because the meaning of Christianity has morphed into a political and social concept that is void of reality, depth and life.

Jesus didn’t come to bring political agendas and social class.

Jesus came so that we can have LIFE (John 10:10) and because this is the case, everything we do in the name of Jesus ought to be something that brings life. If we are truly followers of Jesus (which I strive to be!!), then we should be doing the things Jesus did. We should be hanging out with the outcasts (how about those who are gender-confused?), the needy (single moms, anybody?) and the broken (what about the abused spouse?). We should be looking for ways to love and serve those who need it the most.

*****

When my personal Mid-Faith Crisis began, it was because I saw someone who had a need, and I felt compelled to stand by them through their crisis.

The church failed that day.

Christianity failed.

But Jesus didn’t. That is why I follow Jesus. And that is why I don’t put much faith in the concept of “Christianity” anymore.

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12 Comments

Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Current Events, My Story

 

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12 responses to “My Mid-Faith Crisis: Why I don’t believe in Christianity Anymore

  1. reaching4hishem

    January 30, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    WONDERFUL! This is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog. I feel exactly what you are saying and love your heart here. You are on the right path….

     
    • marismuses

      January 30, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      Thank you. Welcome to my blog. 🙂 I’m glad you are here.

       
  2. sacredstruggler

    January 30, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    I’m with you girl! I have struggled with that label because of these same ideas. I’ve since decided like Micheal Moore at the end of Capitalism a Love Story: “I refuse to worship a religion like this; and I’m not leaving.” Blessings on your journey.

     
    • marismuses

      January 30, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      The quote you shared totally reflects my heart on the matter. Jesus is the real deal. But the agenda of “Christianity” takes away from the beauty and the simplicity of Jesus.

       
  3. Matthew Hoffman

    January 31, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    I know that you will receive kudos from many people for writing this, because the reasoning has a superficial appeal, and anti-institutionalism is popular today because it seems like a simple and easy solution to what is, in reality, a much more difficult problem.

    You had a bad experience, which I am certainly sorry to hear. You then blamed the institution associated with the bad behavior. Your conclusion is that we shouldn’t have an institution. However, I would submit to you that there are two problems with your reasoning: 1) if an specific institution is flawed, that doesn’t reflect on all institutions (if all A are B, it does not follow that all B are A), and 2) you’re not considering the benefits that institutions afford.

    When people organize in some way, and work together, especially in large groups (which is often good and beneficial) they need to create rules and systems for resolving disputes, a hierarchy, etc. Getting rid of this just because some people abuse it isn’t the answer, any more than anarchism is the answer to the problems inherent in civil government.

    Moreover, man is a social animal, as Aristotle rightly taught, and we need to live in society with others, including and especially in our spiritual lives. For that, we need institutions — there is no escaping it.

    It is popular today to claim that “Christianity” is somehow bad, because it is a deviation from Christ’s real teachings. The older but also still very popular variant of this is that “religion” is bad for the same reason. However, if it really represents a deviation from Christ’s teachings, then it isn’t Christianity at all. “Religion” is a body of doctrines and practices, which is something Christ definitely left us (check out all of the rituals and system of church governance he created and that the inspired writers accepted). Christ, being God, knew that man is social, and so he left us a Church. He didn’t say: “avoid institutions and have a one-on-one individualistic relationship with me.”

    Finally, people often claim today that somehow, traditional Christianity (whatever you take that to mean — it’s such a broad term and I’m a Catholic so I have a more narrow idea of what that is) is mean and cruel because it condemns sin. Members of organized churches are therefore seen as somehow un-Christ-like because Christ never condemned anyone or anything. This just isn’t true. We can and should condemn behavior without judging the soul of the person. How we handle sinful people is a sticky problem, and sometimes it does require simply patience and kindness. Perhaps these individuals in your church group were shallow, hypocritical and judgmental people, and if so there is no justifying that. At the same time though there really are limits to tolerating misbehavior, so the answer isn’t to go to some other extreme and say we can never condemn anything. One extreme doesn’t justify another.

    But Mari I would submit to you that you are missing something else here as well. You are yourself judging those others who behaved in ways you disagreed with, and you are really on the road to making yet another religion and another Christianity, the religion and Christianity of Mari. Just because your church has only one member doesn’t mean it doesn’t have all the flaws of any church, because you yourself are flawed, whether you recognize it or not (and I know you do, because you are not an arrogant person). So is that the solution?

    I would submit that it really isn’t. I would also submit that institutions try us in various ways, because we always must work with people who are not in total agreement with ourselves and each other. We must bear their flaws, as they bear ours. That can be painful and awkward, but it produces real spiritual fruit and makes us deeper and better people in the long run, bringing us closer to God.

    If you were kicked out of a group for some unjust reason, it’s time to find another group, but not to create the Church of Mari, because there you won’t be held accountable in the same way, and you won’t be challenged to grow.

    As a Catholic I would urge you to seek out the original Church Christ founded, which does still exist today. Even there, you will find terrible corruption sometimes. However, you will also find a certain assurance of truth, the sacraments, and a historic link to Christ himself. In any case, though, I certainly hope you won’t retreat into anti-institutionalism. That, I would submit to you, is a road to isolation and confusion.

     
    • marismuses

      January 31, 2013 at 7:28 AM

      I think you thought a lot more about your response to this than I did about the post. 🙂 I just want to say that I was in no way trying to say that Christianity should go away, nor was I trying to say that people should follow me or my religion.

      My point is this: Christianity has become an organization that promotes political and social agendas. That was not Jesus’ purpose. Jesus was about relationships. Everything He did was out of love. This is not what we see when we look at things that are considered “Christian” today. We see judgement, hypocrisy and hatred. This severely deviates from the teachings of Jesus.

      Finally, when given a choice between following “Big Christianity” or following Jesus, which is the better choice? Which would Jesus want you to choose?

      I still go to church. I have no desire to start a new religion. I simply want people to see that being a “Christian” and following Jesus are two very different things.

       
      • Matthew Hoffman

        January 31, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Yes, I understand that you were not trying to create a new religion with your own followers. In part that was my point, though: we all are tempted to secede from “organized religion” to just have a “personal (private) relationship” with Jesus, which in effect is really creating a new church with one flawed member: one’s self. But I can see that that is not your intention.

        Regarding “big Christianity” — I don’t know what that means exactly. If you mean large organizations, I don’t know why the size would be a problem, in and of itself.

        Regarding social and political agendas: you are coming at this whole thing from your personal perspective, which is that you were victimized by a cold and unloving interpretation of Christianity, which was associated with a sort of “conservatism” or rigorism. I am very sorry that you experienced this. However, I think that there’s a danger of coming to false conclusions if you reject the whole package.

        Christians in the United States are involved in social and political causes because they are reacting to very aggressive movements to permit the killing of the unborn and the elderly (abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide) and legitimize and legally sanction immoral and self-destructive sexual behavior (particularly homosexuality), all of which is condemned explicitly by Christ and the apostles and is incompatible with love.

        It’s one thing to say that we should not be judgmental (quick to judge, harsh in our judgments, or judging the soul), but it’s another thing to then conclude that we shouldn’t be involved in our society as Christians, fighting to protect values that are truly for the benefit of all. Cain was wrong. We are our brother’s keeper, and real charity, real love, means that we must oppose those things that are harmful to ourselves and our brothers, although we should always do it in a charitable way.

        You have seen one side of the coin: unforgiving, harsh, and even cruel people treating you and others unkindly in the name of Christ. This is a false Christianity to be sure. However there is also another side of this sad coin, and that is those who create a Christianity in which there is no sin and no repentance, where everything is acceptable and affirmed. This is a false charity, and its own form of cruelty. It is really a form of hatred, because hatred is not fundamentally an emotion, as many assume, like an intense form of anger. Hatred, fundamentally, is a refusal to love, which can take the form of merely of indifference and inaction, or a false diplomacy that compromises the truth. I have seen many lives destroyed by it as well.

        I think our vocation as Christians in this world is to walk a narrow path between these extremes.

         
      • marismuses

        January 31, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        I think we are trying to say the same thing, just in different ways.

         
  4. Tan Wu Huei

    May 12, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    Hi, Marismuses. I think I could understand what you are going through when you had posted this post. I am really sorry for hearing this, but I can only say that we should put our faith in Jesus Christ and not any human organizations or humans themselves, because humans are the by product of sin. You will never find a perfect church or perfect human on this earth, however you can find the perfected faith in Jesus. Human can only be perfected through faith in Christ Jesus and not in their own actions. I hope that you will ponder over my words. Here are also some hard questions you might face, but how would you respond to it is the most important.
    1) What if a pastor ran away with someone else wife?
    2) What if you are betrayed by your Christians friend in bad times who seem to be very supporting and encouraging to you in good times?

    I do hope that if any of such situation really occurred in your life, you can still firmly say that my faith is built on Christ the solid rock and not on great man of faith. God bless you.

     
    • marismuses

      May 12, 2014 at 11:22 PM

      This post was written from a place of deep pain that I experienced after the church I had served faithfully for many years kicked me out. I had not done anything immoral or illegal. I had simply decided that I was going to love people like Jesus does. I still struggle and I hate it. I want church to be a safe place and I want to believe in Christianity. But I can’t. I take comfort in Jesus and in knowing that He didn’t come for the church, nor did he come for the concept of Christianity. He came for me. He came for us. He came out of love. Jesus is what I believe in and what I follow. I am a child of the One True King, not a child of the church or a child of Christian ideology. He is the only one who gets to tell me how to live. Amen and so be it.

       
  5. tony

    July 1, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    Good post marismuses – follow Jesus!

    ” The church needs more fornicators, drinkers, addicts, thugs and thieves! The church needs more people who know (and confess) they are sinners and are sold out for Jesus because their very lives depend on HIM! Jesus said; “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17)”

    http://walkingwithtony.blogspot.ca/2012/12/church-growth-modest-proposal.html

     
  6. LaTanya Davis

    August 3, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    I can relate to your post because I’ve been in the middle of a “mid-faith crisis” myself for the last six months, although I didn’t know what to call it until I read this post. I too think there is a huge divide between “Christianity” and the teachings of Jesus/the Bible. (In my opinion, too much is focused on the individual Of course, most people don’t want to hear this; it’s too much like going against the grain of organized religion. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

     

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