It was really interesting looking at the #thingsonlychristianwomenhear discussions on Twitter today. Why was I reading that in the first place?
a) Because I was procrastinating and
b) Because even though I don’t go to church anymore and am probably a godless heathen in the eyes of several people who care about me–I’m still a voyeur. I like to check in with Matthew Paul Turner and Rachel Held Evans. I also read National Review and Christianity Today so that I can at least try to understand some things.
A lot of the experiences that women shared in that thread were funny/sad. Some were horrifying. There was a lot of kindness and support in many of the feeds.
I also saw a lot of the following types of responses from both men and women:
“Look at these evil liberals attacking Christianity” and
“Wow, the way you’re focusing on negativity is really divisive. We’re called to unify” and
“Well then you were in a bad church, my church would never do anything like that, that’s not widespread, it was your church and only your church.”
There are a lot of reasons why I left. Those are some of them. Did every single Christian I’ve ever met act like that? No! Certainly not. But those are attitudes I encountered again and again. The idea that anything critical is an attack, and the idea that by speaking out about a problem, YOU’RE the problem, and the idea that anything bad that happened to you is an isolated incident.
There’s an experience that I was repeatedly advised not to be open about. Why? Because it might have backed up negative things people already thought about Christianity. Because it might have influenced somebody who was on their way to getting saved and then because of me, they didn’t. Because that was focusing on negativity. Because I needed to be better at forgiveness. Because it’s not a widespread problem. Because sure, it’s really unfortunate that this happened, but remember, #NotAllChurches.
Please let me be clear, this is not an attack on your faith if you’re a Christian. If you’re still reading, it means you’re probably someone who’ s take would be of value to me. d I don’t think you’re The Enemy and I’m also not in, like, an Athiest Coven. Primarily because I’m not an Athiest and also because that’s not a thing. Why am I still talking? Because for some reason, I really want Christians to Understand.
I can’t speak for everyone who leaves or falls away, but I can assure you that I didn’t wake up one morning and say “I hate Jesus. I’m not a Christian anymore.” That’s not true at all. And I didn’t get lured away by something evil and shiny. I did not think, “You know what I want to do instead of going to church? DRUGS!”
I got really tired. I got really worn down. Maybe I allowed myself to feel that way because my faith wasn’t strong enough, or was never real in the first place. It was the seed that fell on the stony ground and made a good showing for a while, but not long. Those attitudes I mention were not in the hearts of the people closest to me. They were just…so big. They were All Around. I couldn’t remember a time without them.
Those ideas can exist anywhere, and everywhere, and they do. It’s not unique to Christianity: “any criticism is an attack” and “just stop talking about it and it won’t be a problem.”
I guess what keeps me up at night is that sometimes, I feel like I take a step back in the direction I came from, and peer in, because I am hoping it will have changed and it will be different.
I keep doing this.
I have been doing it for years.
That probably won’t change.