Unacceptable: What it’s like to be a Liberal Christian in a Sea of Conservativism

People think I moved left because I wanted to compromise with the world, because I wanted to fit in better.

People think I moved left because I was deceived by the devil.

People think I moved left because I’ve been reading the Bible without the help of the Holy Spirit.

People think I moved left because I just stopped reading the Bible.

I accidentally go to conservative churches sometimes and find books by Ken Ham that say I’ve compromised – with the world, the devil, whatever.

My dad sees me as a disappointment and is glad I’m still alive. He doesn’t say it, but I’m pretty sure he thinks that if I died today I’d be in hell. He holds out hope that God will show me the light because I’m still alive.

My Grandma calls me and says she’s heard rumors that I don’t believe in the Bible anymore.

My aunt sends me a Facebook message that her kids, my very young cousins, are praying for me. They’re worried about my soul.

When my conservative Christian friends and family ask me questions, it’s not to find out why I believe what I believe. It’s to fix me or help me realize that I’ve gone off the rails and am wrong.

Other folks have very real concerns that because I don’t share their view of the atonement, I’m not a real Christian.

I’ve gotten tired of arguing about stuff, because it’s always the same argument. It may be new to you, but I’ve had it a hundred times and it always ends the same sad way. Seriously, let’s pass on it. It’s not worth it.

No, seriously. It’s not.

I hear the same tired arguments and Bible verses over and over again. I know them all, I promise. And I have responses to all of them, but you probably won’t like or agree with my responses, so can we please pass on the high-stakes debate? I’d be happy to have a conversation with you about why I believe what I believe if you’re curious, but I don’t want to fight about it.

I’ve fought enough already.

The churches I go to are small, because evangelicalism and rock bands and the feeling that there’s something “real” going on attract more people my age than silence and liturgy and ambiguity.

People think that because I don’t think that the Bible’s “inerrancy” is a fundamental doctrine, I’m not a Christian, or at least I’m on the road toward apostasy. We’re Christians, not Biblians.

When I visit big churches, I consider myself lucky to get a phone call that “might be important” to get me out of a worship service with stifling, repetitive, boring, and theologically dumb (at best) songs.

When I visit big churches, I’m always the compromiser the pastor’s talking about.

When I visit big churches, things that inspire other people’s faith scare me to death and make me wonder why I’m in this whole Christianity thing anyway.

My dad warns me that I’m deceiving people and reminds me that God’s going to have a stricter judgment for me.

Sometimes I try to keep my political posts down so as not to aggravate my conservative friends who share clips about why Obama is the anti-Christ every five minutes. I promise you guys, you only have to put up with him for two more years. Plus, I’m not a big fan anyway – but my reasons have nothing to do with Obamacare, except that I think it didn’t go far enough.

When I comment on pro-Israel posts to mention that Gaza has a higher death count, everybody thinks I wish Gaza would just bomb Israel off the map, or that I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, or that I don’t believe in the Bible, or that I’m just deceived by the devil. It’s kind of a theme.

I see posts from Christians that are against illegal immigration and I get so confused how Christians who are supposed to love our neighbors can stand at the border and tell little children from war-torn countries that Jesus wants them to go away.

I go to a church in a denomination that other churches are leaving because they can’t stand the idea of being in the same denomination as churches that are allowed to perform same-sex marriage. The PCUSA has space for both sides, and while the liberal churches are okay with worshipping alongside those who disagree, the conservative churches have no space for that sort of disagreement about fundamental issues like the resurrection. …Oh wait, that was about gay marriage. Never mind. Like I said, it makes me sad.

I mention that I’m in favor of marriage equality and people think I’m not a Christian.

I mention that I attend a Presbyterian church and everyone wonders how I can go to a church whose denomination allows (not supports) same-sex marriage.

Friends and family members who once respected me and had high hopes for my future are now praying for my eternal salvation.

I have space for my conservative brothers and sisters in Christ, but far too often for my happiness, they don’t have space for me.

I didn’t shift left because it made my life easier. I shifted left because I went to college and learned that the world doesn’t work in the simple logical way that conservative talk-show hosts and evangelical / fundamentalist pastors think it does. It’s complicated. Rush Limbaugh’s logic is missing large chunks of data that anyone who’d taken Sociology 101 would know.

Shifting left has made my life harder. My life would be easier if I suddenly realized that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck were right about Jesus, and John Dominic Crossan wasn’t.

I can’t even imagine how many of my friends and relatives would breathe a sigh of relief if I threw away everything I’ve learned and suddenly “realized” that being gay is a sin, or that the Bible was absolutely true about literally everything it said and had no disagreements within it (a relatively modern view).

But that ain’t how I was raised.

I was raised to stand for truth and justice even if you stand alone, and even if you look like a fool while you’re doing it.

I was raised to speak up when the world around me is cheering for injustice and evil. I was raised to disagree. I was raised to misbehave and stand against the current.

Veggietales taught me to stand up for what I believe in.

Patch the Pirate taught me to do right until the stars fall down.

I even wrote a little song about how “you gotta to dare to be different” that was so bad that nobody but Andrew will ever hear it. Ever.

But I also do it because it helps. I do it because every now and then, I get a message from someone saying that they read my blog all the time and feel encouraged and not-alone. I do it because sometimes I get messages saying “Hey, I read your blog and it got me thinking.”

I do it because I know people who’ve been beaten over the head with the Bible and don’t like God very much right now, and I want to give them hope that maybe they can be whatever they are and God will still love them and maybe they can still be Christians.

I do it because sometimes I’m one of those people.

I do it because I want people who are on the margins of Christianity and think the whole thing might just be nuts to know that things they think is crazy, I think are crazy too, and if I can be a Christian, maybe they can too.

One thing more.

I don’t have it nearly as hard as my LGBT brothers and sisters, or as hard as my Palestinian brothers and sisters, or my immigrant brothers and sisters, or my brothers and sisters anywhere who also feel the ire of conservative Christianity. So I speak up for them.

Because I believe it’s the right thing to do.

 

David M Schell About David M Schell
David M. Schell is a doubter, a believer, and a skeptic. He writes about God and stuff. He is happily married to Kristen, and that's why his posts don't come out as often or as angry.

  • Greg

    Outstanding. You have accurately encapsulated the same journey of faith I have been on for the past few years. However, I am still in the closet. I haven’t publicly “come out” as a left-leaning follower of Christ quite yet. Someday I will. When I feel the time is right.

    Thank you for this.

    • Yeah, the coming-out process isn’t easy… and for those reasons.

    • Pastortom52

      This is what it was like when I was a United Methodist pastor assigned to the thumb of Michigan. It was lke I moved to the 1950s and this was in the 1990s. We had a huge contingent of Michigan Militia in the thumb (the Commander of the Militia was a baptist pastor who parked his M-16 next to the pulpit when he peached) and we lived fairly close to the brother of one of the Oklahoma bombers, Terry Nickles brother.

  • I’ve basically had a less-extreme version of your life. Thanks for writing this; it was resoundingly encouraging to know I’m not alone.

  • I can relate to this so much. Thank you for writing it – sometimes you can feel so small when the Christians around you don’t understand your beliefs. Often, I feel the blogosphere provides comraderie that is lacking among most of my Christian friends/acquaintances.

  • christiehoos

    So needed to hear this. We left evangelicalism in the new year, but just this afternoon I met someone who hadn’t heard (strange when I know the rumours have been flying). All over again I have to explain… she wasn’t that curious, so the knot in my stomach and the flight-or-fight reflex I was wrestling with were totally unnecessary.

    For so many years it was drilled into me that I HAD to defend my views and NEEDED to convert others to my way of thinking. I think I’m still holding onto that. I feel like this was the permission I needed not to have another debate. Not the pointless ones where we go round and round. And why do I need permission from some random stranger on the internet for anything – more authority/guilt/shame crap I also need to deal with.

    Thanks for sharing – this has been our experience too.

    • Don Lowery

      I was just like you. I went to a small fundamentalist college 30 years ago…before the power-hungry megalomaniacs got full control of that denomination. While going to church one day…had a former jazz musician who’d worked in nightclubs for 40+ years tell me I was sending people to hell for working part-time at a classic rock radio station. Having left that situation…attended another church who forced a good friend to shun me or he’d be thrown out from his family and homeless. After many years of being unchurched…I started going back to a more moderate denomination and started reading/studying anything I could get my hands on. Little did I know until about four months ago…I was being led into the Anabaptist (Mennonite/Church of the Brethren) fold. When I saw people start carrying loaded pistols into church and the pastor defending this practice…even after I went to him and told him what I understood about the Beatitudes about being a people of peace. The only thing he kept saying is what if someone bursts into the church and starts shooting…we need to have some defense. This was the last straw and left them for good in May.

      As for my relatives…left them for good over 20 years ago after getting sick and tired of putting up with the racism/bigotry from some of them being in the Klan and other right-wing hate groups. When I bought a friend of mine who was Native American to a reunion and they threw a royal fit about his skin color…that was the last time.

      Now…my family isn’t anyone related by blood…but those who are the ones who actually act like my family according to my study of the Bible. They can’t accept this…they may end up hearing “I never knew you” at the wrong time.

      • rebmoma

        My grandfather who labeled conservative Christians as funnymentalists was pastor in the Church of the Brethren. His family emigrated from Germany to Pennsylvania in 1720. Thought you’d like to know that this is tradition to some of us.

        • Don Lowery

          My ancestors came over from Switzerland to South Carolina in 1629. Within two generations…they were slave owners. Come forward to the current couple of generations…I believe after about 400 years…I’m coming back to what the ancestors left to fit in in the South.

    • Caroline Moreschi

      Exactly – permission. I can “debate” with atheists just fine. What I can’t do is answer questions like “do you believe that the Bible is innerent?” I was still laboribg under the impression that I had to answer those gotcha questions but no. I don’t.

  • Davida Brown

    Wow. Thank you so much for this.

  • Shelby Spencer

    I didn’t come out as liberal exactly, I just came out as egalitarian evangelical (e.g. not complementarian or believing in patriarchal male-headship). And basically in response to that my husband and I were immediately exiled from my family. ‘Do not contact us again under any circumstances’ actually was the verbatim order issued among many other insane condemnations. Which was shocking. Though in retrospect I realize that I actually made them very uncomfortable for many years as a professional scientist and executive (long accused of emasculating men and eschewing my obligation to be a stay at home mom). And then the whole World Vision fiasco occurred, and my belief in conservativism shattered into a million pieces. I had disagreed with many tenets of extra-biblical traditionalism and anti-science positions for a very long time… but I didn’t realize how far from the religious right I really was until I was kicked out of my family for believing in equality in marriage and that care for orphans is sacrosanct. Since then, the experience you have articulated here is my daily existence. So thanks for writing this.

    • Alexis

      Your story is my story too! My uncle called me Satan because just like Satan I was too prideful and didn’t submit to my husband like Satan didn’t submit to God. (Despite how uncomfortable that would make my newly feminist husband… who about choked when he realized he was God in that example.) Forget coming out “left” I can’t come out center or anything short of extreme right!

      • Shelby Spencer

        Seriously! Neofundamentalism at its finest. They have elevated female submission to a core tenant of faith and are determined that marriage reenforces legalism. If you can call your niece, Satan because she and her husband love one another mutually… and believe you can justify that with the Bible, then you quiet simply… do not know the Christ I know. As I would certainly say is true for my family. That I am viewed to be so fundamentally dangerous to their faith as to preclude living peacefully in community together… then I would suggest they get a bigger and better and stronger God lest one woman undo the “God ordained order of the world” (as per my father).

    • Clay99

      So sorry to hear that Shelby. That is the dangers of Fundamentalism. Christians do not understand how closely related it is to Islamic extremism. The only thing that keeps America from a Christian Taliban is that fact that we have embraced Natural Law and Secularism. Without it we would have a Christian Isis running around in our nation right now.

  • The Ubiquitous

    If conservative means Ken Ham and Rush Limbaugh, it’s no wonder you shifted left. That’s been clear for a while, at least by following your blog. Still, if you can stop thinking in these categories, you’ll realize the third option, which is really the first option, which is really the only option — a community that transcends easy categories of left and right, which is berated by the Obama Administration for being pro-life and Ann Coulter for being pro-immigrant-children-at-our-border.

    When you think in categories of left and right, it is no surprise to lean one way or the other, but leaning in these directions — either way! — is capitulation to worldliness. Glenn Beck is not a spiritual leader, and Bill O’Reilly is not a theologian, and burning incense at those altars may be political, and may be respectable, but it is not Christian.

    Therefore, insofar as your leaning left is a rejection of the Right, a veto against state-sanctioned idols, it is a good thing. When you realize you should veto the Left, and I hope against hope that prayers to God will soon cause that in you, you have found one route to rejecting the worldly Protestant model entirely. Come home, come home, come home!

    • themostbrian

      I think your issue may be just be semantics, Ubiquitous.

      I, for instance, would consider myself a leftist Christian NOT because of the Democratic party (blech) but because the modern-day ideals of the left more closely (not even close to completely) align with Christianity. If the right begins to live out those values, then I will GLADLY drop the ‘leftist’ label. So it is not that I’m attached to the left – it’s that I’m attached to Christianity and the left is doing a far better job of supporting that core vision at this time.

      And I’m not referring to the institutional left here – President Obama has been a new GWB in terms of drones and the War on Terror. The Democratic Party is full of millionaires, career politicians, and folks who rarely stand on any kind of principle. I’m more referring to the ideals of the left – consider the Green Party platform as a starting place.

      And I would add that myself and others like me do find that those on both sides of the aisle are frustrated with aspects of our beliefs – I do find forms of abortion morally objectionable. But I also hold to a consistent vision of ‘pro-life’ that applies to foreign policy, expanded healthcare coverage, a strong safety-net for the poor, and so much else. That confounds both sides.

      So if what you’re saying is ‘don’t be in thrall to either institutional side of the spectrum’ and ‘hold to principles over parties’ and ‘confound both sides on some issues’ then I think we’re in total agreement. It’s just the semantics that differ.

      • Word, man.

        For context, The Ubiquitous is Catholic. He keeps trying to pry me over haha. I like him. He keeps me thinking.

        • Alan Christensen

          I think Ubiquitous has a good point insofar as Jesus and the Gospel are not yoked to any one worldly political point of view. If you think you have Jesus nailed down, he’s not going to stay that way. Just discovered your blog and I think I’ll keep reading it!

          • Oh, I agree. A “kingdom of this world” like the United States will infallibly have priorities different than the Kingdom of God, and even the best American policy positions will still be kingdom of this world policies. Kingdom of God policies would probably destroy a Kingdom of this World.

      • The Ubiquitous

        I’m glad to hear it’s an issue of framing, then — though now this is the question: If it’s just semantics, then why aren’t you Catholic? :p

        • themostbrian

          To be honest, I’ve considered becoming Catholic. But I think some of the dogma is too rigid for me – the church I’m in does a lot of liturgical and church season programming, so those aspects are certainly something I appreciate. Who knows, perhaps I’ll join you someday…

          • Lori Brown

            Ok, gentlemen, don’t lose track of how Catholicism infantilizes women and criminalizes living in a female sexual body. And also as the great Gerda Lerner said, the question of who can be a priest or minister in a religion is that religion’s answer to the question “who talks to God?”.” So according to Catholicism, it’s never gonna be a woman. Is there a greater and more pervasive expression of hostility to another person than to tell them that in order to access the divine, they need a person with a different set of genitals to talk for them?

          • What do you mean when you say that Catholicism criminalizes living in a female sexual body? I haven’t heard that before.

          • Lori Brown

            Catholicism is hostile to non-procreative sex, and this hostility turns the female body into a battleground where fights rage over questions of sexual morality, responsibility, etc. Any non-procreative heterosexual sex is a woman committing a grave sin, according to Catholicism. So that’s what I mean.

      • The Ubiquitous

        And, by the way, hurrah to the opposition against abortion! If only the Greens weren’t in favor of that, and all manner of that kind of issue! They are very close to the environment as a matter of principle — and that, though their not their reasoning, is good — and they are a whisper away from realizing subsidiarity as a principle of government.

        • Greens are in favor of birth control, which will reduce abortion, so I’m with them that far, but not “LET’S MAKE SURE EVERYONE CAN HAVE AN ABORTION ALL THE TIME!” While I personally think it would be wrong for me, I’m not a woman and I understand there are some circumstances where women have to make very difficult decisions.

          • The Ubiquitous

            I’m at the point where, bless me, but I conflate abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception, eugenics and even euthanasia into a modern clockwork hydra. Greens do admire that monster, and so does most of the Left — and so does most of the Right, if you catch them off the record. There’s a lot of evangelization to be done. “Come, Holy Spirit.”

          • DebofAmber

            wow. Who have you been talking to that eugenics and euthanasia are left? I think that may be some residual Rush Limbaugh talking points still there.

          • The Ubiquitous

            Euthanasia: Oregon? Amsterdam?

            Eugenics: (G.K. Chesterton. Yes, dated, but these things come back. It’s only been gone less than a century.)

            I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.

          • muzjik

            Eugenics: every time an AFP test indicates possible Down Syndrome and the child is aborted.

          • Lori Brown

            Why? Why? Using contraception is a radical expression of responsibility, married to honest realism about human sexuality, which is never allowed into the room in many religious conversations. Religious folks claim to care about responsibility, but when they oppose contraception, that claim is shown for the baloney it is.

          • I actually blogged about this some time ago. @the_ubiquitous:disqus, I’m not sure if you saw that or not, but I’d be interested in your thoughts as well. “Is Barack Obama Secretly Pro-Life?

          • Lori Brown

            “Pro-life” is a woman-hating weasel term. How about being pro-responsibility? How about being pro- respecting the moral autonomy of women? How about being opposed to coercion?

            I care more about making women more free and sane and respected in their presumption of freedom than I care about 16 cell organisms. I have never heard a formulation of opposition to bodily integrity for women that didn’t wind up smacking of condescension and a weird kind of fear that some woman somewhere is going to retroactively abort you if you don’t treat her like the Whore of Babylon for choosing not to bear a child.

            I don’t care what theological backflips are performed by any politician contemplating reproductive rights policy choices. I want them to experience an icy unyielding terror that voting against women’s freedom will cost them their job, and to act accordingly.

          • I feel vaguely concerned by your use of the phrase “woman-hating weasel term” because I’m not sure if you’re referring to me as a woman-hating weasel for using it. The Baptists, I think you’ll find, initially decided that Roe v. Wade was a good decision. I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at with your second paragraph, or what exactly you mean about theological backflips performed by politicians (though I think if you read the original article you would find that I don’t mean what you may think I mean. When I say “Pro-Life” I mean a person with a distaste for abortions, and I flip the roles and consider Hobby Lobby as “Pro-abortion” because of their stance against birth control. I’m all about empowerment. I don’t like abortions, but I don’t anticipate that I will ever be in a position to decide whether one should be performed on my body.

            With the “moral majority” in the United States, or at least the loud preachers against abortion, the odds are right now many politicians “experience an icy unyielding terror that voting” against the so-called “Pro-life” position will cost them their job.

            Speaking of pro-life, my friend Benjamin Corey has written a lovely little post about pro-life, and it has little to do with abortion or women’s rights.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/pro-life-or-pro-birth/

          • EthanAllen

            “Hobby Lobby as “Pro-abortion” because of their stance against birth control. ”

            They already provide birth control in their health policy.

            The objection they had was in 4 of the many types available, and those 4 worked AFTER conception, rather than before.

            You could say that they are not against contraception at all. But once there’s conception, they don’t want to participate in terminating it.

          • One other thing I’d like to add: I’m rather on the fence on this issue. I believe in freedom of conscience, but I’m still nervous about the idea that a woman has the “choice” to take the life of another human being at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason. I’m not staunchly “pro-life,” but I’m also not entirely sold on “ABORTIONS ALL THE TIME NO MATTER WHAT!”

            You’ll find that I’ve blogged further about that topic here: http://davidmschell.com/6-problems-to-end-abortion/

            I felt that your comment was filled with all sorts of charged language, including remarking that a term that I and other commenters had used was “a woman-hating weasel term,” stopping short of referring to us as woman-hating weasels. Your comment did not make me more likely to come to your viewpoint; in fact, reading your comment made me think that maybe I had made a mistake in going to far left. I’m open to logic and arguments and stories, but not dogma. Please be more respectful of those who disagree with you in the future.

          • Lori Brown

            I said what I meant about terminology. “Pro-life” strongly suggests that any other position is “pro-death” which is inflammatory and false.

          • Thank you for clarifying what you meant. I was making dinner in the other room and I kept thinking, “Why in the world would she say that “Pro-Life is a woman-hating weasel term”? Thank you for explaining that 🙂

            I am curious about something though: Isn’t the opposite of the so-called “Pro-life” position being pro-having-the-death-of-the-fetus-as-an-option? I always heard the dichotomy as pro-life vs pro-choice, where pro-choice had the connotation of THESE PEOPLE WANNA KILL ALL THE BABIES ALL THE TIME!!! I’ve since come to realize that was a dreadful (and inaccurate) caricature.

          • Lori Brown

            Yes it is. There is no other viable position that doesn’t carry with it paternalistic rejection of the bodily autonomy of women, and turn us into wards of the state for as long as we can get pregnant.

            If you were the only person in the world who could give me a teaspoonful of biological material that would save my life, it would not be legal to coerce you into giving it to me, if you didn’t want to. I couldn’t even have that teaspoonful of cells after you died if you specified that you didn’t want your tissue harvested for transplant. Our culture is that committed to bodily integrity, in law.

            But not if you are female! If I am female, in the eyes of many, the merest scrap of impregnated cells almost instantly trumps my otherwise sacrosanct right to control my body.

            Do you think nearly anyone has late term abortions for frivolous reasons? Do you think the child, the world, or the woman are benefited by coercing childbirth even if the reason to choose not to have a baby is one you would deem frivolous? Do you plan on giving up the rest of your Friday nights for the rest of your life to care for and feed the children that you would like to guilt us into having, just because there was a hole in the condom?

            There really isn’t any middle ground, unless you are planning to try to set up some kind of kangaroo council that we have to sit down in front of and make our case to not be pregnant to. This is in a society where people lose their shit over having to get a background check to own a gun!

          • I agree with you regarding the background check hypocrisy. I also agree that 16 cells doth not a baby make. At some point, though, it’s a baby, and as the supreme court said, when that happens is for theologians and philosophers to debate. I am indeed weirded out by the idea that 16 cells are considered a person.

            Please do not assume that I am a rabid pro-lifer who thinks no woman should ever have an abortion for any reason, or that sixteen cells are a human being, or that early-term abortions are always sinful. I’m Presbyterian. I’m pretty much in agreement with the denomination’s position on abortion. I don’t feel like copy-pasting it here, so I would greatly appreciate it if you would read it carefully and then respond.

            Here’s a sample of the PCUSA’s position on abortion:

            “When an individual woman faces the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy, the issue is intensely personal, and may manifest itself in ways that do not reflect public rhetoric, or do not fit neatly into medical, legal, or policy guidelines. Humans are empowered by the spirit prayerfully to make significant moral choices, including the choice to continue or end a pregnancy. Human choices should not be made in a moral vacuum, but must be based on Scripture, faith, and Christian ethics. For any choice, we are accountable to God; however, even when we err, God offers to forgive us.”

            http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/101/abortion-issues/

            Please read it. I’m willing to have a discussion, but not with someone who makes assumptions about me based on a failure or refusal to read relevant links that I shared that would provide critical context, as I assume you did with my earlier links, based on your responses.

          • Lori Brown

            If you or anyone is deeply concerned with the willingness of women to bring pregnancies to term, I would seriously ask you if you are as actively concerned about the well-being of very young children who have been born, but whose parents aren’t being picketed to take better care of them. I would ask what you personally have done to make the terms of bearing children less scary, onerous, and burdensome. It is very hard for me to believe that those who cannot get past the remarkably small number of abortions that happen after about 14 weeks are as bothered about the wellbeing of other equally vulnerable beings.

            Do you want to place limits on first trimester abortions?

          • It seems clear that you didn’t read either of the links I provided. If you had, your comment might make sense.

          • The Ubiquitous

            Do you really want to know? Or are you being sarcastic, rhetorical, and glib?

          • dlhhorth

            Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

          • The Ubiquitous

            It’s called the Judgment, and it will come. All I can do is try to warn folks.

    • I might be interested, but I think birth control is a great way to prevent abortions… and Rome strongly disagrees. I think gay marriage is a great way to prevent gay promiscuity… and Rome strongly disagrees.

      And I’m not into top-down hierarchies.

      I’m not beholden to the democrats. I lean more Green. 🙂

      • themostbrian

        If we didn’t have a first-past-the-post electoral system then I’d vote Green Party so hard that I’d probably break my finger pushing the button.

      • The Ubiquitous

        Not into top-down hierarchies, eh? Well, that’s the American in you talking, not the Christian in you. (And it isn’t all about top-down hierarchies, not all the time. It’s as much about infusion of grace, and theosis, and a body of Christ as it is looking toward the Head or His vicar. Love thy neighbor is the second-greatest commandment, after all.)

  • Thanks David. I look forward to your weekly blog that keeps me thinking about my faith and that there is still hope that it is worth keeping. As an ex-fundamentalist charismatic song writing worship leader….I need to engage with people like you as I believe in a living God but I do not believe in the current state of the church! So what do you do? Keep on writing and do it more! Thanks again.

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  • I certainly relate to what you say. Some of my relatives and old friends are certain that I am a reprobate. Sometimes they want to set me straight, but I am not interested in arguing with someone who is not open to dialog.

    I really like what you said: “I’d be happy to have a conversation with you about why I believe what I believe if you’re curious, but I don’t want to fight about it.”

    On the other hand, I am very interested in what people think who disagree with me, but so often their answers are lists of proof texts (this happens in comments on blogs) without any comment on their part as though the proof texts alone are a sufficient answer. Occasionally they just list the Bible references without the words. This tells me nothing; this is no longer my mindset.

    By the way, I am also PCUSA, and I am proud of the recent developments regarding gay marriage and the divestiture of anti-Palestinian investments.

    • By the way, I am also PCUSA, and I am proud of the recent developments regarding gay marriage and the divestiture of anti-Palestinian investments.

      So. Am. I.

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  • Michael E. East

    I was sad to read your post about religious harassment.
    I’m glad t’s not like that in Australia.
    Although we hear about it from America.
    As a gay Christian I appreciate your support and blessing.
    I pray that you will be strong and patient with your family and friends.
    You have nothing to fear from God.
    It takes courage to stand apart under such pressure.
    But be encouraged that there are more and more people questioning the Bible and subscribing to progressive beliefs.
    It makes sense.

    • Jane

      Michael, I am so glad you feel supported. That makes me genuinely happy. I am an Aussie living overseas. I guess I went left since I got here. I cannot tell my church for many complicated reasons. But one day I hope to go home and do it in person. I fear they will not be so supportive of me as an ally, or egalitarian

  • osusanna

    Thank you so much for this articulate post. I live in north Texas. I am also Presbyterian, a lifelong one. Your statement, “When my conservative Christian friends and family ask me questions, it’s not to find out why I believe what I believe. It’s to fix me or help me realize that I’ve gone off the rails and am wrong,” is super great! I am either with them or against them. I’m either right or wrong. No one listens to hear what you are saying except to come back in rebuttal. So I thank you so much for this post. Definitely sharing this on Facebook. That’ll really tick some people off.

  • Candace Datz

    Thank you so much. This is so much of what my life has been the past couple of years.

  • Right there with you, David. Thanks for all you do.

  • Amen.

  • An incredible piece, something to which I can so relate.

    I walk a tightrope not just between conservative and/or fundamentalist family and friends (exactly what you describe, only add my being gay to the mix), but also between those who knew me in my wilder days when I was younger, who I would say that most are humanist/social-justice in their predispositions, yet cringe at anything resembling faith that I write or post. I am celibate – mainly because I haven’t dated anyone in a few years – and for that I’m deemed not to be “acting on my sin” and given a reprieve. I pray that I have your fortitude of spirit when I bring home the one who’ll help put up the picket fence to meet them all. 🙂

    Thanks for such a great piece!

    • Thank you for sharing your story as well. Sounds like you’re getting it from both sides. I hope you have a network of friends who support you or at least accept you. That’s made my story much easier to live.

      • Yes, thankfully I do. Many actually are bloggers/friends whom I’ve met via social media, but there are close family members and affirming friends in faith as well – I’m. It’s just the segmented larger Body of Christ, and trying to find that spot in the middle to meet at the table, that’s so troublesome. You hit the nail on the head with this one. Thank you again!

  • Throw in “constantly worried that my Christian employer will decide that I’m too liberal and I’ll lose my job,” and you’ll have my experience pretty much wrapped up.

    • I’m sorry that’s a part of your experience. Right now I have a zombie job where I work for a crowdsourcing company and they don’t really care at all what I believe as long as I do my job.

      Also, my job has nothing to do with zombies.

  • Thank you, David. I understand where you are coming from and share many of the sentiments expressed in this piece. If it’s any consolation, I think it will get better as time goes on. As people realize you are on solid ground, morally and emotionally, they will begin– increasingly –to give you the benefit of the doubt, Spiritually. And as you begin to realize that, you will be less defensive (if you are) and project fewer of your fears and insecurities on them (if you do). Of course, I’m speculating somewhat, based mostly on my own experience–pardon me if I am assuming too much… Peace!

    http://jwayneferguson.wordpress.com/christian-visions/a-sympathetic-critique-of-fundamentalism/

    • It has started to change… but the change started when I told people I had shifted left, and that’s when it peaked. Plus I’m getting better at telling my dad that the debate he wants to have would probably be pointless.

      • Oh, I didn’t quite catch that part… I heard Dallas Willard say (something very similar to) the following (which I was able to google and find quoted on someone’s blog) :

        “Debates aren’t about conversation, but about winning. Is the winner automatically proven to be speaking truth? I don’t debate, but I am glad to enter into a joint inquiry. We will seek the truth together. I do not want to debate another.”

        Perhaps in time, your dad will be up for that… In the meantime, laughter and love works wonders! 🙂

  • On the last day at Princeton seminary we took a class picture, as we had three years earlier. As we were waiting for the photographer to get ready, someone commented: “I think I’m standing in the same spot I was 3 years ago!”

    “I think I’ve moved a few steps to the left,” I said, to a smattering of laughter by those who got the joke. A classmate, who prided himself on his Baptist heritage almost as much as his southern accent, loudly announced, “Not me! I’m standing _exactly_ where I was before!”

    To me, it sounded as if he was bragging about having been unchanged my the whole experience. How sad, I thought. Not that he needed to change the way I had, but to pride yourself on being unaffected seemed like such a wasted opportunity.

    I’m not who I was when I started. I don’t think God has changed, just my understanding, which is still incomplete and inadequate, I’m sure. But I don’t miss who I was, nor do I miss that understanding of God.

    I, too, am tired of being treated like a non-Christian by the more conservative branch of the family. I am tired of the refusal to understand anything beyond the most superficial reading of the Bible and the most simplistic interpretation of God as one who supports all one’s preconceived notions and political stances. I am tired of the claim that the Bible is simple to read, simple to understand, and simple to live by because of the willingness to ignore the command to love your enemies in exchange for the right to judge and condemn and wag your finger.

    I am tired of it all, and none of it reminds me of Jesus.

    • JenMcDaniel

      Well said; I so easily relate to this, especially the last three sections.

  • Thank you.

  • Eric Adamcik

    This is amazing and very much in tune with where I am in my faith right now. Raised as a Presbyterian and growing in my faith, I am wondering why there is such an exclusivist animosity toward those who disagree, not just among many parts of the Christian right, but in a lot of other religions, and new Atheism. I am sick of it, and frankly, I wish certain denominations would be more open to dialogue, and not at the risk of their own faith!

  • Audra Grace

    I wrote this. With the exception of Veggie Tales (which I love, but I got the “stand even when you are standing alone” piece from an inspirational character poster in elementary school somewhere…), and I may have a bit more flex on the salvation of my soul…but the death penalty? Guns? sex education? medicare? military action? Penitentiary system? Immigration? And especially LGBTQ and Isreal/Palestine?

    Write me off as naive at best, uninformed or stupid at worst… I have different levels of “outness”; my family who are facebook friends see more of “me” than they do in person, though it is seldom that they comment, and it is awkward interacting (infrequently though we do) in person. I’ve not even tried “coming out” in person to anybody but my parents, and even that I awkwardly struggled with. Mom, Dad *bracing for judgment*: “I’m… different.” (Liberal? but not all the negative things you associate with that? What does that word even mean? for you? or for me?)

    Thank you for writing David, this resonatedly deeply with me; this is my first read of your blog but I shall be back. All peace and grace to you!

  • Audra Grace

    I wrote this. With the exception of Veggie Tales (which I love, but I got the “stand even when you are standing alone” piece from an inspirational character poster in elementary school somewhere…), and I may have a bit more flex on the salvation of my soul…but the death penalty? Guns? sex education? medicare? military action? Penitentiary system? Immigration? And especially LGBTQ and Isreal/Palestine?

    Write me off as naive at best, uninformed or stupid at worst… I have different levels of “outness”; my family who are facebook friends see more of “me” than they do in person, though it is seldom that they comment, and it is awkward interacting (infrequently though we do) in person. I’ve not even tried “coming out” in person to anybody but my parents, and even that I awkwardly struggled with. Mom, Dad *bracing for judgment*: “I’m… different.” (Liberal? but not all the negative things you associate with that? What does that word even mean? for you? or for me?)

    Thank you for writing David, this resonatedly deeply with me; this is my first read of your blog but I shall be back. All peace and grace to you!

  • This is the first post I have seen here. I can relate to almost everything David has said. I’m now 78 and walked away from a traditional Anglican church in the UK over 40 years ago. I have never had any formal theological training. I created my first web site in 2000 and I’ve been very involved with the emerging / emergent / house church scene since 2003 and I’ve learned so much about why people believe what they believe, often as a result of divisive, denominational theology.

    It was in 1995 as a member of a Sabbath-keeping church that I was forced into reconsidering just about everything I had ever believed (and that’s a VERY long story). I’m still in the process of redeveloping my blog – telling my story – of why I am not an evangelical – and trying to encourage people to recognise that there are many STAGES of FAITH and that WE ARE WHAT WE THINK!

    Although the religious scene in the UK is very different to that in America I do find myself very much out on a limb – with almost no face-to-face contact or really meaningful conversations.

  • I can relate, David. I just keep asking one question over and over: “What if you’re wrong?” Most of them look at me like I just grew another eye. The concept of being wrong is just foreign to them. It’s sad.

  • Jennifer Ellen

    From “But that ain’t how I was raised…” I had tears coming to my eyes.

    That’s the ironic thing…it was conservatives who taught me to believe and follow the Bible *on it’s own terms* no matter what anyone else says, and to follow Jesus no matter what they or anybody else think.

  • Beegowl

    Raised in the conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, I strongly identify with your journey. My mother and father encouraged my siblings and me to think for ourselves, seek the truth (don’t lie to others or yourself), and do what’s right while focusing on the God is Love part. They were church goers and believers, just like their German and Swedish ancestors, until dementia robbed them of awareness. I used to ask God (maybe I should have addressed my prayers to Jesus or the Holy Spirit?) in my prayers to lead me to truth. You tell me. God led me to Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Russell, Sagan, Tyson, and others whose clear thinking and objective analysis brought me to reality. Objectively, the entire religious infrastructure is an authoritarian deception propping up a corrupt, powerful and controlling fully human institution. Christianity is a well honed form of cultural indoctrination perfected over the last two millennia. Your good will is commendable.

    • I’m hopeful that religion in general and Christianity in particular can be better than the way you described it. I look at Martin Luther King, Jr., that Baptist pastor who spoke in the name of God to push to end discrimination, and Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop who fought apartheid, and I think that religion might just be worth saving yet.

  • ricciardelii

    Love this!

  • Jane

    This makes me just want to breathe out a long-held sigh, and let go. I am tired of fighting. Thank you.

  • This is really, really good. Wish I’d run across something like this 6 months or more ago…it’s an important piece, and I’m sharing it right and left (uh, no pun intended). Thank you.

    • Thanks! Let me know how the right-side reactions are… I’m curious.

    • Let me know how the right sharing goes. I’d be interested to hear reactions from the right. So far I’ve only gotten one and I think it included words like “pompous” and “pious.” I don’t think he really wanted to engage with it.

      • I think my conservative friends have started ignoring all my shares that aren’t super offensive to them. So no reactions, I’m afraid. Ah well…I hope lots of folks read and engage with this because, as I said before, this is important, and really good. Go you!

  • Feel like I could have written this. Liberal, conservative, what do those labels even mean anymore? So much about God can be known, but there’s also much that we DON’T know, and I’m leery of people who seem to have Him all figured out.

  • Gordon McAlpin

    This… “I’ve gotten tired of arguing about stuff, because it’s always the same argument. It may be new to you, but I’ve had it a hundred times and it always ends the same sad way. Seriously, let’s pass on it. It’s not worth it.” … accurately describes formative years as an atheist in a predominantly religious small town.

  • mattmcgraw

    Thank you. Glad I’m not the only one.

  • Leslie Duchscherer

    Thank you so much! sometimes I feel very alone and you have captured my thoughts and I will pass this on and remember it!

  • Patricia Hebel

    Amen! I totally agree with you!

  • nimue

    Thank you.

  • Lynne

    Thank you so much for so eloquently encapsulating my feelings. I have been a Christian for 60 years and have never been ashamed of it and feel I have been so blessed in my life. In all that time I’ve been a member of evangelical churches – over 40 years at my present denomination which is Nazarene. It’s very difficult to show my true feelings as a progressive in a sea of hard line conservative Republicans. I am so disheartened and discouraged by the hatred shown to gays, immigrants, and poor people by the Republican party and truly don’t understand how you can say you’re a Christian and be a Republican. But – my husband and I have been members of this local church for over 40 years and many of our friends and social activities are because of these ties. So – I try to keep my mouth shut and once in awhile “like” or “share” something on Facebook that shows my true feelings. That’s as brave as I can be right now although I have never lied about how I feel when asked and many people know I am a registered Democrat (and that I hate Walmart – hee hee). I so appreciate finding others who share my feelings – it’s a great comfort to me.

    • Sweetladymusic

      I do the same thing. 🙂

  • Cristina Gill

    Thank you for the amazing morning reading! Being a liberal, living in the South, being part of a military community and being a foreigner on the top of it hasn’t been easy lately. Whenever I open my mouth people think I know nothing because I wasn’t born here. I feel refreshed now and motived to keep trying to find a church that will not think I’m a sinner just because I refuse to be part of their mean world.

    • I would recommend a mainline church. Depending on how far left you lean, the United Church of Christ is officially open and affirming. Some PCUSA churches lean left, and Episcopal churches largely do as well. They’ve got some heavy liturgy, but it might work as a home for you. Liturgy is an acquired taste. Good luck.

  • Kevin

    Great thoughts! I totally get it and I’m right there with you!

  • Aubrey Turner

    I am a liberal christian who moved from the safety of home, which is really the comfort of everyone knowing I am a liberal whackadoodle, to Dallas Texas. It is been a long road of finding liberal Christian folk here. People are one or the other, it seems. Even my partner has turned away from religion. It is a lonely experience.

    Thank you for writing this. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking that you are my people and I am not alone.

  • Todd Ringling

    I was raised Protestant, I was lucky to have a minister who focused more on the New Testament than the Old. As time went by, growing up in smaller towns as I got older, and even when I went back to my original congregation 18 years after I left, I was sad to see that my church had moved further and further to the right. I even found my parents had moved toward the right despite having gone to college and always encouraged reading as a way to expand the mind.

    I’ve never hidden the fact that I felt voting for a republican President my first time was a mistake. As I watch them wrap themselves further and further in the Old Testament and claim to be Christians; trying to ram their belief down my throat, I find myself less enthused. Watching the news w/ those same people trying to terrify small children, etc. I can’t help but be saddened, and when I see news items like that about a minister who was highly active in the civil rights movement in TX in the 60s made the decision to immolate himself because of the hatred in his neighbours, I am further saddened.

  • McQueenz

    As a Christian, your understanding, behavior, and beliefs toward and about the world are informed by your understanding, behavior, and beliefs toward and about God and the Bible, not the other way around. What you believe is much less important than why you believe it. Political ties aside, if other believers have reason to believe you are not in line with clear biblical doctrines and truths, then they likely have reason to do as you say they have been doing. Sometimes obstinacy can be disguised as nobility.

    Being a Christian, one must realize the clear condemnation and danger of homosexuality and all sins alike. Being in favor of marriage equality, you are by association condoning a sinful distortion of God’s original design for a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. That is the simple truth, whether you want to believe it or not. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a Christian, but it does indicate potentially skewed beliefs.

    “I want to give them hope that maybe they can be whatever they are and God will still love them and maybe they can still be Christians.” — This is an extremely dangerous method of reasoning to employ. Hope is great if it is founded in the truth, vain if otherwise. If I am a murdering psychopathic serial killer, do you think God loves me? I hope not, because the answer is no. Rationalizing sin is not only foolish but dangerous.

    I neither identify as conservative or liberal. I think modern day politics in America is a means in which to polarize the masses and defer attention away from what is truly important. However, that doesn’t mean I think the issues are insignificant. You made some good points in this article, although often generalized, exaggerated, or not well supported. At the same time, you made some very poor and questionable points. I would pose the question: If so many friends, family, and other believers are concerned, then one has to wonder… is there any validity to said concerns? If so, shouldn’t it be addressed?

    Food for thought. Have a nice day.

    • Thank you for your comment, and thank you especially for adhering to the comment policy and disagreeing respectfully.

      I want to push back on what you said about “What you believe is much less important than why you believe it.” I don’t think that’s true. You can believe horrible things for wonderful reasons. Westboro Baptist Church, for example, has wonderful reasons for believing that God hates gays – and those reasons would likely resonate deeply with many conservative Christians.

      As a Christian, I don’t recognize condemnation on anyone. Christians often say “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” but I think Tony Campolo had a more Christlike response, which was “Love the sinner, and hate your own sin.” I disagree that same-sex marriage is a sinful distortion of God’s original design for a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. The Bible speaks often of polygamy and bigamy and all sorts of other marriages, so I think “The Bible is very clear about marriage” isn’t the most factually accurate statement (and I recognize that you didn’t make it).

      Obviously you and I will disagree on whether or not I am “rationalizing sin.” I think many Christians often rationalize the sin of hating their neighbors because they are gay or Muslim or whatever, and they often do it in the name of loving their neighbor but hating their neighbor’s sin when their neighbor’s “sin” is an integral part of who their neighbor is.

      My point in posting this wasn’t to start a disagreement about the rightness and wrongness of same-sex marriage. I have discussed that in another post titled “How Jesus Breaking the Sabbath Proves Gay Marriage Is Okay,“, on which you’re welcome to comment and disagree respectfully as vigorously as you would like.

      Regarding people being concerned about me, I know in my heart and my mind the reasons I believe what I do and the reasons I can no longer believe what they do. I have definitely considered those concerns, but in the end, I have dismissed them. I know what I know, and I can’t unknow it.

  • Kelly Godfrey

    I felt like I really tasted reality when a fellow Session member this month decided we needed to each have copies of our Presbytery’s guidelines for a congregation’s leaving the denomination.

    I’d only recently come to terms with the fact that the congregation won’t consider calling a woman to the pulpit. I am a fish quite out of water even here, but I love my denomination.

    • That’s really sad. I was at a PCUSA church recently where the first thing the pastor said was to check your mail for information about ECO, which they were prayerfully considering switching to. I was depressed for pretty much the rest of the service.

  • Daniel Rooney

    Thank You

  • disqus_CwkmKlN8Tq

    Bravo! That was a great post. I stopped going to church 50 years ago. I still have my faith just not in organized religion. I’m now an agnostic. I think there might be something beyond this life, just not a heaven or hell.

  • TheKurgan

    I’m highly devout. I’m also a High-Church Episcopalian with a great fondness of the traditional liturgy. I also get a great kick out of singing canticles in four-part harmony. I love a skilled thurifer who can dispense the incense with aplomb. I really dig ringing the changes on the bells. I still say “it is meet and right so to do.” instead of “it is right to give him thanks and praise.” I also agree with you about the REAL false Christians. You know the type … hateful, bigoted, unwilling to accept anything other than their own view. You know, just like fundamentalists of ANY religion?

    When they go on about that, I point them to Psalm 95. In that psalm, God is proclaimed to be a great king above all gods. Note that it doesn’t say other gods don’t exist. It just says God is ABOVE them. Note also that Psalm 95 doesn’t say anything about killing off the other guys, which implies RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE.

    A lot of these so-called Christians could benefit from a huge dose of that. In fact, I’d welcome them to come to our High-Church parish. Oh, please remember … There’s real wine in the chalice!

    • EthanAllen

      I believe religious tolerance is also built into:
      Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)

      36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

      37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

  • Terra Fitzpatrick Gouge

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is 100% I feel and believe. It is so hard to describe “why” I believe in Jesus Christ, but I do. I have all of my life. But yet, I’m still “different”.
    Again, thank you! I’m nearly in tears reading this feeling like “hey, maybe I’m NOT alone!”

  • americanwoman343

    Oh, gosh, I wish you lived near our church. You’d like it. We’d like you.

    • I’m currently pretty happy at the church we’re part of. It’s PCUSA, and they’re not on their way out of the denomination. Tell me about your church 🙂

      • americanwoman343

        Then I’m very happy for you!
        We’re a small Evangelical Covenant Church on the East Coast.

        • I’ve heard of them! Whenever our pastor has been out of town, a woman ordained in the ECC will often be a guest pastor. We like her a lot.

  • Sandy Rogers

    As a lesbian Baptist (raised Southern, now Alliance) who was forced by her parents to resign her ordination when she came out, I resonate with so very much of this. I was liberal before I realized I was a lesbian, which made my own (already difficult) internal journey easier, but I lost a lot of friends and the relationship with my family can still sometimes be difficult.

  • PAULA K. SCHMIDT

    THANK YOU~!! For putting into words what apparently so many of us are suffering. It is so hard for my xtian friends and family to not believe all that you said, and that I still love them and believe in God. Bless you my friend.

  • Deb Martindale

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Tears in my eyes as I read this. Those could be my words, if I wrote like you. This is what I escaped from and am thankful for it everyday. Yes, I have friends that I have lost because of my newfound beliefs. It hurts, but not as much as living a lie…

  • Shelby Gail Allen

    I’m a conservative Christian and I agree with much of what is written here. Theologically I disagree on a few items, but I only wonder do you know you are saved and going to heaven? I feel doubt from your words. It’s between you and God, if you have worked out your own salvation before God and you are not grieved in your spirit, then you have more peace than many Christians. It’s truly non of my business. Your family and friends on the other hand are probably wondering the same thing I am. It’s a rhetorical question from me, but your loved ones maybe you need to sit with your elder family members and listen. This college thing is not all it’s cracked up to be and Satan is having a great time with it. God’s blessings.

  • Richard

    You can lean left, and even very far left, and still be a Christian. The two are not mutually exclusive, despite everything the “ultra-right-(pseudo)-Christians” tell you. These pseudo-Christians don’t even hold the basic compassionate tenets of Christianity! Who are they to preach to the real Christians, who are compassionate, caring, and SHARING?

  • angelinalittrell

    Thank you. There are not words deep enough to encompass how my heart feels when I read this. Thank you. I really really needed to know that someone feels exactly like I do. And it’s okay. There are days when I feel so much shame and I begin to re question. And ask myself if I am completely wrong. And if I actually am going to hell. It is so hard to be on the outskirts of evangelical Christianity knowing that you can no longer subscribe to it but you feel so lonely.

    • I’m sure you’ve read the other comments by now and know that it’s not just someone. It’s a lot of someones. And that makes me feel really good too.

  • Tom Zunder

    Big Hugs from this secular humanist. I used to be an atheist but I am agnostic about that nowadays. It won’t help, but the left can be a bit like the right as well sometimes. Reactionary views, intolerance and demands for uniformity seem to emerge within strong social power structures. I say embrace the tolerance, the doubt, the perpetual questioning and know there are places where the people who oppress you would be very much the minority. I may not be a believer but I recognise the message of hope and tolerance in Jesus and embrace it. There is such a place in Jesus’ teachings for peace and tolerance, why has the US religous right lost that message so badly?

  • Neil

    I walked away from anything resembling religious years ago, but this liberal christianity has me identifying with it.

  • Dalek1963

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  • Robert Little

    My spiritual journey began, for me, in the various evangelical churches found throughout the South. When I was fifteen, at the behest of my new stepfather, I began CCD and became a Catholic. For me, as a teen in the late 1970’s northeast Florida, I felt like the liberal. The fact that some of my evangelical and fundamentalist friends all felt that I was going to hell because I was a Catholic confirmed my faith.
    I married a Mormon, and studied that religion during my fifteen years with her, but sadly things didn’t work out between us, and after out divorce I began to drift back towards Catholicism.
    But the church had changed. There was an over emphasis on abortion, in my opinion. The church had drifted far right, and in fact many of those conservative evangelical and fundamentalist who had once scorned me now looked upon the Roman Catholic Church as kindred.
    I chose to investigate the Episcopal Church, and haven’t gone back.
    Great piece.

    • I have much respect for the Episcopal church. I met two of my favorite former college professors at an Episcopal church and greatly enjoyed their post-service Bible study. It was much nicer than waking up at 9am for the actual service. College, yo.

  • Andrea_Videographer

    I really identified with how you explained that you were raised to go against the tide and stand for what is right, even if it’s counter culture. To my family, that means starting prayer chains for the Sudanese woman who was threatened and imprisoned for her faith, but not for Palestinian infant who was born out of her dying mother’s body. It means adopting little children from overseas so they can make them little Christian Americans, but meeting refugee children at our US border with guns and hateful signs. It means insisting that Christians are allowed to pray and worship anywhere they please, but allowing other religions to do the same is “Un American.” My family doesn’t realize that if they didn’t raise me the way that they did, I might not be so insistent on supporting the ignored, the hungry and the stranger.

    • Your family is among those standing at the border with hateful signs? Or they think it’s right? Either way, I’m sorry, and I hope they come to see the light of Christ.

  • John Riley

    Well said. I have gotten to a similar place via the Catholic route. May I recommend to you and your readers the book: The Transcended Christian: What Do You Do When You Outgrow Your Religion by Daniel A. Helminiak. This is the most articulate and sensible explanation of the situation that I have found.

  • PhilliesPhan1975

    come to a quaker meeting

    • You know, I took the beliefnet religion survey and it diagnosed me as a liberal quaker. I may just look into that.

  • IvanRider

    If you identify with freaks on a subway who assault little children with indecent exposure in revealing bee costumes, and call those your “brothers” as they sing about a “party” in the pants they’re not even wearing, then you are one sick fraud.

    If you identify more with Arab Nazis (what Hamas is,) then you are a fraud.

    • I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I didn’t say any of those things in this post. I didn’t even imply them.

    • Ivan, I am confused. I don’t understand the context of your accusations.

  • Eric Allen

    Keep the faith, you’re doing God’s work.

  • Marilyn Dallman Seymour

    Thank you for writing my thoughts and feelings.

  • David Reynolds

    Go you good thing! I resonate 100% with what you have written here. Thanks for sharing it and keep standing where you know you should. You’re not alone.

  • LadyJessB

    Really related to this post, and I feel a lot of others do too, although I am a young adult, too often I notice that Christianity becomes more about platonic dualism and a moral compass as opposed to actually living out Christ like lives. Its ironic because in conservatively doing what is considered “right” by some institutional churches, we pass judgement on brothers and sisters who we could actually learn a lot from. I wish theological conversation was a lot more about growing one another, as opposed to dominating and asserting opinions.

  • BrotherRog

    Good stuff! Here’s my “coming out” story as a progressive Christian. We aren’t alone and there’s more of us than many suspect. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/07/70799/
    blessings!
    – Roger Wolsey, author, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

    • Thank you for sharing! I follow Kissing Fish on Facebook but had not yet read your story 🙂

  • Merydith Johnson Wilson

    Thank you for saying what I’ve believed for so long!!!!!

  • So much of this is my story, David. Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened because I am so tired of the assumptions from and fights with my loved ones. But I am more grateful for the people who came into my life 15+ years ago who were asking the same questions or who were ahead of me on the journey and showed me it was possible for Christianity to look different from the way I was raised.

  • Jennifer Wilson-Pines

    I had the reverse of your life – raised by liberal agnostics and slowly called to became a liberal Christian. My dad was an anthropologist and scientist, so unlike the vast majority of Christians I understand and study the social and historical context within which Christianity and the bible came in to being. Short answer – if anyone is preaching hate and discrimination against the poor, the other they are not Christian because they have totally abrogated the great commands; Love thy god AND thy neighbor…there were no codicils to those laws. Cherry picking the old testament to uphold your own bigotry is the devil’s work writ large.

    • Don Lowery

      Believe you will find some truth in this: What’s the difference between ‘Christian’ fundamentalists & Satanists? They worship the same entity but Satanists are honest about it.

      Actually use this as my email signature. 😉

      • That’s terrible.

      • EthanAllen

        I’m not convinced that what we see as ‘Christian’ fundamentalists are real Christian fundamentalists at all.
        Jennifer is spot on with “Love thy God and Love thy neighbor”. A religious guy at the time (a Pharisee) asked Jesus what was the greatest of the Laws (ordinances). Jesus replied with the two greatest of God’s laws (moral). Cherry picking the old testament is what they do.
        But so many don’t realize that they’re running the Church just like the money lenders and going around pointing out others’ “sins” like the Pharisees.
        True “fundamentalists” would focus on those two greatest of God’s laws.

  • TulsaTerry

    The only thing i’d add to that is that sometimes when you speak up for other people, it’s because that hard-core right refuses to listen when they speak for themselves. It’s only not a continuation of white male power if you amplify their voices rather than inserting your own.

  • Bill Velto

    People are sadly confused all too often when I tell them I support LGBT rights because of my Christian faith. People in the US are woefully ignorant and intolerant of the history and breadth of Christianity in this country.

  • TinyDancer51510

    Just wanted to be another one of the people to encourage you with thanks for writing this. I am fortunate that my church and most of my social circle either feel the same as I do or at least respect me enough that they don’t attack me if they do disagree. The ones who don’t agree and just want to “fix” me are slowly falling out of contact. (By their own choice. I actually prefer to have people of opposing views in my life but not everyone does.)

    • I prefer to keep people who disagree (or strongly disagree) in my life as well. It prevents my world and facebook feed from becoming an echo chamber, as much as I might like an echo chamber. As long as they disagree agreeably, they help me learn and grow. I learn nothing from those who say things that mostly just make me angry. Intelligent discourse = good.

  • jwallyr

    1) So nobody has read this article and had anything critical to say? Or, are you just deleting non-complimentary comments?

    2) Per my concerns above, I’m not going to write the book that I feel *could* be written about how poor your reasoning is (or at least how bad your examples are) concerning what’s supposedly wrong with conservative Christian politics. A few tidbits:

    Gaza’s higher death count is *completely irrelevant* to the question of who is in the right or wrong. Additionally, the terrorist tactics of suicide bombing (including strapping bombs to children, etc.) can be expected to take a bigger toll of friendly fire than the highly disciplined, targeted efforts of the Israeli defense force. So when you bring up the Gaza death count you are bringing up a logically irrelevant fact which only has emotional impact on the argument, i.e. distracting from the actual logic of who is right and wrong.
    I’ve heard not one single person say that “Jesus wants [the illegal immigrant children/refugees] to go away”. You’re setting up an easy straw man to knock down. The issue is one of lawlessness, and how *in aggregate* it’s America’s responsibility to ignore her own law and encourage lawbreaking by throwing all process out the window and taking care of these people. That’s an entirely different question from each of our *individual* obligations to love our neighbors as ourselves. Trying to confuse the issue speaks poorly of your intellectual integrity.
    With respect to “marriage equality”: you’re so wrong on every facet of this issue that I don’t have any idea where to start. The only one I’m really going to comment on is going to church with “people you disagree with”. I guess if you think all disagreements are harmless, then great. On the other hand, if you genuinely believe that a given activity is harmful to one’s spiritual health, and therefore should not be “tolerated” but discouraged, how could you ignore that belief? That’s like having a coworker who regularly gets smashed and goes for joy rides, but not saying anything because “we just disagree” on the topic.

    Poorly written article. About 3/4 of it is “Look how persecuted I am by the fundamentalist Christian community” (ignoring the fact that you are as a consequence of these same beliefs being welcomed with open arms and lauded by the “progressive” community… the struggle is real?) to build emotional rapport, followed by logically incoherent arguments against beliefs that you either clearly don’t understand, or you understand but choose to ignore because they don’t fit with your non-biblical belief system.

    …and I ended up writing a book anyway. Oh well.

    • I believe you’ll find that IvanRider has indeed already unleashed his critique, though as best I can tell, it doesn’t seem to apply to anything I actually wrote. Thus far, all the comments have been in keeping with my comment policy. I don’t delete comments that disagree with me; I delete comments that are rude. So far, there have only been a few of the former (The Ubiquitous has written a few) and none of the latter – at least none that were strong enough to start a fight.

      Regarding Gaza, the last body count that I saw from the “reserved” Israeli military said that Hamas had killed 25 soldiers killed 2 civilians, while the Israeli military had at least a 70% civilian kill rate. For people who claim to be so dang precise, they really suck at targeting.

      Regarding the children, though you won’t find anyone saying precisely that, you’ll find them saying very similar things. You almost said it yourself.

      With respect to marriage equality, kindly refer to the comment policy section 5, “Please share your views graciously.” “You’re wrong” is a poor choice of words here. “I disagree” is better, or even “I think you’re wrong.”

      I do think some activities are harmful to one’s spiritual health, but I don’t think gay marriage is one of them. I also think that some activities are harmful to others’ spiritual health, and I think that telling someone that the birth orientation toward persons of the same sex that cannot be proven to harm anybody is sinful… is harmful to others’ spiritual health. This post isn’t really about gay marriage, though. If you’d like to participate in a conversation about that, I have another post about gay marriage.

      I think I understand the nature of your concern about the joy rider. My concern is that it isn’t as clear-cut as joyriding. Drunk joyriding involves a high risk of harm to self and others. There are clear statistics and facts supporting this claim. Whether God exists or gay marriage is harmful is, like it or not, a matter of opinion. There are indeed facts, but it doesn’t change the fact that neither can be positively proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. I believe in absolute truth; I just don’t believe that any of us has it.

      I understand why you would find this article poorly written; probably because you don’t identify it. I carefully avoided using the word “persecuted,” and your critique reflects some of my own concerns. I feared it might come across as whining. And yes, the struggle is real. You can probably walk into most large evangelical churches in the United States and nod your head in agreement with 99% of what is said. We progressives? There may be many comments, but most of these people don’t live within driving distance of me, or of each other.

      I don’t appreciate you referring to my belief system as non-Biblical. “Biblical” belief systems encompass all sorts of things. Mennonites and Amish would call your belief system unbiblical because your women probably don’t wear head coverings. Westboro Baptist would probably call your belief system unbiblical because you don’t protest at soldiers’ funerals and know for sure that God hates America. You don’t stone gays, though scripture very clearly commands it in Leviticus 20:13. It’s very Biblical, but I hope that you would find it wrong. I don’t think “unbiblical” is a fair critique. I’ve written other posts about this as well, including “I’m Not Prejudiced; God is Prejudiced on my Behalf” and “Which Bible do you read?

      Thank you for your comment, and I look forward to more respectful and enlightening conversations for both of us. Also, welcome. I wouldn’t wish to have to remove anyone’s comments. I should note though, that If I do, it won’t be for disagreeing. It will be for the way you disagree, so please mind the comment policy more carefully in future posts.

  • WhatTheHDude

    Good on ya! 🙂 I have long believed that Christ didn’t get it wrong, the American version of the “Christian” church has it wrong. The hate I’ve heard spewed from some pulpits is just embarrassing. If God didn’t intend for us to learn, evolve, and question, then why are we hard coded to do just that? I share your experience and I question things too (hence the handle) and I believe there’s room for all discovery on this exciting journey!

  • Robert Kortus

    Well said, friend, well said. Your journey sounds very similar to my own. Thanks for speaking out.

  • Tia

    I cannot tell you how incredibly happy (and sad) it has made me to read this. Happy because for the first time ever, seriously, I don’t feel so damn alone (yeah, I’m a Jesus-type that cusses…). And sad because it shouldn’t be this way. I am, quite literally, in tears after reading this.

    Living in ultra-conservative Indiana, and feeling exactly the same way as you’ve articulated here, has always left me thinking I have to be nuts or stupid or both. I’m working on a BA in Interpersonal Communication with a double minor in Religious Studies & Peace and Conflict Studies. My heart is so heavy right now for Palestine that I have to avoid the news in public for fear of openly weeping. When I am at home and I hear about my LGBT brothers and sisters being mocked and persecuted by people in Christ’s name – I am so angry and so bewildered that I don’t know what to say anymore. And when I heard about the Christians who are so venomously opposing the entrance of children (CHILDREN!!) into our country as they run from disease and war, I wanted to quit. I wanted to rip the word Christian away from myself as fast as I could and never claim to be affiliated again.

    I try. I really do. I try to talk to my friends and family about the breakdown I witness in their faith. I try to explain (with love!) that the Jesus guy we all claim to adore wanted us to adore others the same way. I try to be heard when I argue that HE never turned away a human in need, never begrudged an iota of his time or resources to those who asked. But I’m just told that I don’t understand what I’ve read or I haven’t learned to “interpret” those passages the RIGHT way.
    And all I can come up with is… How can hate ever be the right way?

    Sheesh. I feel like I’ve written a book here, but I am just so desperate to know someone who wouldn’t look at me like the devil incarnate because my heart is so sure that loving others is the only way to live.

    My husband (an agnostic/atheist – he’s not sure yet, but I’d probably call him a humanist! :)) said it best, I think. “Hate is a disease we get to choose to have or not.” I think there are enough diseases that threaten humanity already; I’m not interested in perpetuating one that I can choose to not have.

    • Can I echo your compliment by saying that this is beautiful?

      • Tia

        Seriously, that’s very sweet and thank you. It’s not really awesome to feel so alone all the time in this. Reading the comments on here has given me a weird new hope. Now I just have to find all these people in the real world and move ’em all to the same town as me and then we can hang out and go to church together and organize activism to change the world!

        • You can’t have them. I’m moving them all to my town.

        • dart

          Only as long as we don’t forget to invite Bryan Berghoef, because having Pub Theology would make it even more awesome.

    • Jeff Seiler

      I’ve felt for a LONG time that most folks take religion and just fu** it all up! Just trust your heart.

    • EthanAllen

      “And when I heard about the Christians who are so venomously opposing the entrance of children (CHILDREN!!) into our country as they run from disease and war, I wanted to quit. ”

      If they were the only ones coming across the border freely, I’d be right with you.

  • Jeff Seiler

    A couple of quotes I find apply to this discussion(’cause these folks are WAY smarter than I!): “You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not
    based on any evidence, its based on a deep-seated need to believe”. –
    Carl Sagan. And: “Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how
    you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God,
    show me how much you love all His children. Before you preach to me of
    your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion
    for all your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you
    have to tell and sell, as in how you choose to live and give”. – Cory
    Booker, U.S. Senator, New Jersey.

    • I like that quote by Booker.

      • Jeff Seiler

        I love Senator Booker’s quote also. For me however, Carl Sagan’s quote hit home with the most truth. We desperately want to believe. It colors our judgement when we look at reality and facts…just sayin’.

  • Jeff Seiler
  • Amen.

  • David

    David (my name too- how awesome is that?!?), your wife must be 1.) a saint, 2). really , REALLY hot to put up w/ you! lol As John Lennon once said, “behind every idiot, there’s a good woman!” I love what you write, how you write it! Keep the faith brother, just keep it, let your little light shine, let it shine, let it shine! This isn’t sarcasm either, well it is, but it’s not disparaging sarcasm! And, to be honest, I must disagree, thought not with what you said, but the implication. One need not be educated to offer reasonable counter-arguments to conservatism. Joseph Goebbels held a Phd, and look at the depths he (and his wife) subjected themselves, much less their children, to in order to “uphold” their beliefs, beliefs which sanctified mass murder, among other crimes! As for you, neither the depths of murderous fascism (the extreme end of fundamentalism), nor the heights of hubristic condescension in the name of “progressivism” can separate us from the love of God, the Kingdom of Justice, in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39)! Keep on keepin’ on my brother!

  • dbee

    I’m with you David, almost all the way. Of course the one thing I’m not really with you on, is a political one, and not religious. Palestine has a higher death toll, yes. But do you know why? It is not because Israel is aiming for a higher number of civilians, but rather that Hamas, and the Palestinians use their own people as both shields and propaganda material. Do a little bit of research on why this doesn’t happen when Israel is bombed, and you’ll see a huge difference in strategic planning.

  • Robin Wahl

    Thanks for this. Me too.

  • rebmoma

    My Great Grandfather referred to Evangelicals as funnymentalists. I’m guessing he wasn’t too comfortable with the narrow mindedness in the 1940s and 1950s. But he kept his sense of humor, and preached the Good Book as he read it.

  • Meridith Styer

    Thank you so much for this. I’m blown away. I also plan to use this post as my explanation for all the people who really want to get in a fight. You have explained everything I’ve been trying to say for about a year now. Thank you for helping give me a path to follow, I’m not sure I could do it alone.

  • Lisa

    Thank you! Refreshing!

  • Being a Christian has nothing to do with politics.

    Our church is about 50% liberals…and 50% conservatives.

    That’s because our pastor does not confuse politics and the gospel.

    The only time he brings up politics is to put a pox on both (all) their houses.

    How much time did Jesus devote to political causes? And he was dealing with the Jews AND the Romans.

  • Wow! This is my first time reading your blog (Thanks Rachel Held Evans for the intro). I’m right there with you and so is my husband. We often feel ‘itchy’ at church like a sweater you like, but makes you feel uncomfortable at the same time. Your quote about your conservative family/friends asking you questions to try to fix you, has happened to us on more than one occasion, especially with the topic of creation. One such time was when my brother in-law went nuts over the fact that we believe in evolution and an old earth. It not only ruined our family’s vacation but has caused a distinct tear in my husband and I’s ability to speak honestly about faith, politics…heck life! Because of our jobs however (I’m a Christian school teacher and my husband is a youth pastor), we have to be creative in how we speak and interact with our larger Christian community. When I teach my middlers about Earth’s changing landscape I don’t shy away from speaking about an old earth while at the same time acknowledging the spectrum of belief in the Christian faith. This has led to more than one angry parent asking me why I don’t teach students the “Christian way.” But my honesty stops there; I don’t feel I can step out of the closet more than that. If i could I would say that I don’t think (and never have) that the Bible is to be taken literally, that it was written by humans with our limited vocabulary trying as hard as possible to grasp/communicate something unlimited in power/greatness/complexity. I would finally be able to stand up for my LGBTQ friends on social media sites and share inspiring stories of their faith and life’s work. I would be able to communicate my emerging thoughts on Open Theism, and how that idea has begun to rock my world. I would tell my conservative Father that I don’t like hell is what his church preaching about. Oh the things I could finally get off my chest… But for now, I’m here stuck somewhere between honesty and dishonesty. Avoiding questions and theology conversations at work, church, and family. Longing for a community of women that want to engage in these topics no matter what ‘side’ they find themselves on. But most importantly I want to teach my kids about the God I know is out there, and give them the freedom to explore Him, not a set of rules and expectable things to believe.

    So, thank you David! I needed to read this tonight, and I will read it again and again when faced with rolling of eyes, blanks stares, or my Mother’s “I’m praying for you” emails.

    PS: Check out my husbands blog @ geoff.kullman.com

    • Sorry, typo in the link…
      geoffkullman.com

    • Yeah, that’s tricky. When I was applying for teaching jobs a while ago, I kept seeing super-restrictive statements of faith that every staff member absolutely had to sign on to, and I couldn’t do it. Sorry you’re in such a tough spot.

  • Alexis

    You won’t stand alone. I’m here too.

  • Robert Crisp

    Wow, I needed to hear this today. I share your sentiments 100 percent, and even though I’m a writer, I haven’t been able to write about my left-leaning faith as well as you have. As someone in the process of coming out of the closet to my in-laws (my parents already know and despair), I want to encourage others that the process is difficult, but it’s worth it. Living a lie doesn’t help anyone, though it can certainly keep the peace, so to speak. When strangers ask about my faith, I describe myself as an “agnostic theist/liberal Christian most days with a dash of Buddhism.” Some people ask how on Earth I could be all of these things at the same time, and I say, “Well, it depends on what day you ask me.” My faith is a process, and while holding different thoughts in tension (cognitive dissonance undoes me some days) isn’t easy, it’s better than saying I believe everything I was raised to belief as stark, black and white, inerrant truth.

    • Vanessa Benoit

      i say agnostic theist liberal christian too! 🙂 hello from Hawaii. Im surrounded by conservatism in Maui churches 😛

      • I have relatives who are spreading the gospel of fundamentalism there 🙂

        • Vanessa Benoit

          oh boy 😛

  • Sarah Dunn

    I am 37, and spent the latter part of my teens and all of my 20 as a Christian, Womens Ministry leader, Youth Leader, and attended Bible College for 3 years to be a pastor. I learned too much to stay in my church, so I left. Took 5 years to regain my sense of faith, but knew I could never call myself a Christian because of what others think it means. I’m bisexual, monogamous, liberal, do not believe in the Trinity or Eternal Salvation, believe in reincarnation, that hell is just separation from our higher selves (aka ‘god’), Heaven is the return to our higher selves, and none of religion is what Jesus had in mind. Not so sure Jesus even existed at all, but if he did I’m positive his mom had sex to make him. I miss the church in some ways, missed learning what Jesus stood for and what we can do if we put Love first, but can’t imagine going back to that environment of mixed beliefs, week after week. Is it even worth it to find a church that accepts me??

    • You might find a place with Unitarian Universalists. I resonate with some of your disbeliefs, but not all. The United Church of Christ might also be a safe and healthy place for you as well. They’re quite comfortable with doubt, but I’m not sure doubt is where you are. I’m really not sure. Also, you should find Jim Palmer on Facebook and like his page.

  • Pingback: Misc for July 28, 2014 | Misc()

  • Don Lowery

    If it wasn’t for Rachel H. Evans…I would’ve never come over here today. Even though I knew in my heart there were others like myself…it gets to the point where everything you wrote is the reality…rather than than a bad piece of fiction. Myself…when I left the Baptist fold and chose the Mennonite/Church of the Brethren/Anabaptist way…people thought I was crazy. Just like your experiences…friends and relatives also thought I was crazy because “we’ve never believed that or did it like that before”.

  • cindi

    Wow, I just left my church for these very reasons. haven’t said a word to anyone. I really thought I was the only one 🙂 how refreshing to know that I’m not. Thanks for the great post

  • Nancy Morris

    I’ve been a liberal as long as I have been politically aware, but having grown up in a Southern Baptist family, I still outgrew the entire Christianity thing pretty quickly. I’ve been an atheist for most of my life, and now make no effort to keep it quiet. I’ve never been happier or more comfortable with my life. This is the only life we get, and I intend to make the most of mine. No more delusions for me, thanks.

    • I’ve come to believe that, if used properly, religion can enrich one’s life and the world – even if it’s not “true” in a wooden sense of truth, but from my own experience I think I can understand and respect your reluctance to participate in it.

  • Thai fighter

    A question if you don’t mind. Are you saying you became “Liberal” soley based on your LGBT, Palastine/Israeli conflict and immigration views?

    • Mostly it’s the way I read the Bible, which led to those other beliefs. I don’t think I’m technically liberal in that sense. I’m probably more moderate, to be honest, but when I took the World’s Smallest Political Quiz I rate between liberal and libertarian. Politically I lean left, but theologically I’m probably more moderate. I affirm the creeds, a historic Jesus, and a bodily resurrection, which puts me right of some of my (even more) liberal brethren, but I don’t believe in Biblical inerrancy (in the sense of the Bible as a textbook), which puts me far left of fundamentalist and evangelical friends and family members.

      • Thai fighter

        Would you really consider yourself “Liberal” then? Why tout yourself and put yourself in a box? Why not just express views without using a label? I understand you want people to view your blog and I assume using the term “Liberal” helps you achieve just that, I just wonder what your motivation is for claiming to “lean left.” What do you mean by “politically you lean left?” Are you speaking specifically with social issues (i.e. LGBT, gay marriage) or overall? What about abortion? What about fiscally? Would you agree there is a lot to someone’s belief system other than “left?” If you’ll pardon me, what are your views on Palastine? Why would you reference your “Palistinian brothers” and not your Israeli brothers? Thanks for answering my questions, I am very curious about the Christian Left and don’t know nearly enough of them to be able to ask questions.

        • I refer to myself as liberal because that’s the label that’s been stuck on me by my more conservative family and friends. Where I come from, Liberal is a byword. It doesn’t mean anything good.

          Social issues-wise, I’m definitely liberal. I’m for free health care for all, less war, more social safety nets, and I’d really like it if we could spend the money that we spend on war on paying off student debt instead. I reference my Palestinian brothers and sisters because I think Jesus identified more with the oppressed than with the oppressors; more with people who had their homeland occupied than with those who were occupying it. Jesus would’ve identified more with the people group in which some radical members (zealots) were trying to eradicate the occupiers (Romans). I just don’t think the Israelis are in that much danger. Hamas killed two civilians in the past few days. More people than that die of medical malpractice in a few minutes. I don’t think the Israelis are living in terror in the same way the Palestinians are, even though they’re the ones with the “terrorists.”

          Of course I am horrified by the acts of Hamas, but also the acts of the IDF – and many Israelis and American Jews are protesting their military’s actions as we speak.

          The facebook page The Christian Left sometimes speaks for those of us who are so oriented, so their positions and posts might help you understand what I mean.

          Fiscally, I’m in favor of less taxes, less war, less military, and more social safety nets and better funding for education and less government meddling in it, or at least more useful government meddling. I want the government meddling in businesses’ business because they have way too much money and power, but to be honest, nowadays the government is owned by business anyway. Gosh. That’s depressing.

          I hope that helps, or at least is interesting reading.

        • I refer to myself as liberal because that’s the label that’s been stuck on me by my more conservative family and friends. Where I come from, Liberal is a byword. It doesn’t mean anything good.

          Social issues-wise, I’m definitely liberal. I’m for free health care for all, less war, more social safety nets, and I’d really like it if we could spend the money that we spend on war on paying off student debt instead. I reference my Palestinian brothers and sisters because I think Jesus identified more with the oppressed than with the oppressors; more with people who had their homeland occupied than with those who were occupying it. Jesus would’ve identified more with the people group in which some radical members (zealots) were trying to eradicate the occupiers (Romans). I just don’t think the Israelis are in that much danger. Hamas killed two civilians in the past few days. More people than that die of medical malpractice in a few minutes. I don’t think the Israelis are living in terror in the same way the Palestinians are, even though they’re the ones with the “terrorists.”

          Of course I am horrified by the acts of Hamas, but also the acts of the IDF – and many Israelis and American Jews are protesting their military’s actions as we speak.

          The facebook page The Christian Left sometimes speaks for those of us who are so oriented, so their positions and posts might help you understand what I mean.

          Fiscally, I’m in favor of less taxes, less war, less military, and more social safety nets and better funding for education and less government meddling in it, or at least more useful government meddling. I want the government meddling in businesses’ business because they have way too much money and power, but to be honest, nowadays the government is owned by business anyway. Gosh. That’s depressing.

          I hope that helps, or at least is interesting reading.

          • David, you said: “I reference my Palestinian brothers and sisters because I think Jesus identified more with the oppressed than with the oppressors; more with people who had their homeland occupied than with those who were occupying it.”

            The vocal Christian Right in America makes it seem that the position of American Christians is that God is for Israel and against Palestinians, and if we don’t support Israel the same way we are working against God.

            I don’t think God takes sides in human conflicts. In wartime, he doesn’t choose sides. But Jesus was definitely for the marginalized and the oppressed.
            Jesus gives us a little idea about how he feels about Palestinians in his discussion with the Palestinian Woman at the well, and his favorable parable about the Palestinian who helped an Israeli that had been beaten, robbed, and left to die on a lonely road outside Jericho.

          • Thai fighter

            Thanks so much for responding, particularly in such detail. I appreciated your candidness and your firmness in your beliefs. If you’ll pardon me, I’d like to ask a few more questions. Regarding “Social issues,” you mentioned free health care for all, less war, social safety nets and using money to pay off student debts. With the exception of “less war (totally agree with you there, btw),” how do you propose each of the aforementioned are paid for? I’d love to see everyone get health care as well and student debt paid off (as I did after graduating college). Thanks again for responding and my apologies for my delayed response.

          • I would propose free health care be paid for with the money that’s already (somehow?!) being spent by the government on healthcare per capita. Seriously. The US gov’t spends more money per capita on health care than Canada. I have no idea why they have a single-payer healthcare system and we’re still paying this ridiculous amount of money.

            Social safety nets are already being paid for.

            Free education could be paid for easily with what we spend on the military. Student debt was 1.2 trillion in 2013; in 2013 alone we spent almost half of the complete student loan debt (530 billion) on the military. I’m thinking “Smarter Americans, Not Dead Pakistanis” would make a nice slogan.

            Then when education’s taken care of, with a much smaller military, we could lower taxes. We spend half our current income on military spending.

            And no problem 🙂

  • muzjik

    I was with you until this: “I shifted left because I went to college and learned that the world
    doesn’t work in the simple logical way that conservative talk-show hosts
    and evangelical / fundamentalist pastors think it does. It’s
    complicated.”

    That statement sounds more than a little condescending. Because lots of people have gone to college, learned that the world is complicated, examined their faith, and have not “shifted left”.

    • That’s what caused my shift, but I tried to be careful not to say that people are conservative because of ignorance. I occasionally think that if my conservative brothers and sisters knew what I know then they would be where I am, but then of course I don’t know that. I just know that I shifted left because *I* know what I know. I tried to avoid being condescending… but apparently that didn’t turn out so well.

    • dart

      As another reader’s perspective on that: it’s interesting because that didn’t cross my mind as being condescending when I read it. I didn’t interpret it as a blanket statement of what should happen to people when they learn. Rather his individual journey from a view point he was raised in to a different worldview. As he mentions in some other posts, experiences weigh heavy on one’s approach to Christianity.

    • That’s what caused my shift, but I tried to be careful not to say that people are conservative because of ignorance. I occasionally think that if my conservative brothers and sisters knew what I know then they would be where I am, but then of course I don’t know that. I just know that I shifted left because *I* know what I know. I tried to avoid being condescending… but apparently that didn’t turn out so well.

      Sorry this reply came so late. I posted it yesterday using the normal facebook comment system, but apparently disqus doesn’t take posts from there.

  • Andy

    Sociology 101 may be the underlying problem here, brother.

    • I’m thinking that what I learned in college (from a Christian Sociology professor at a Christian college) is more likely to be accurate than conservative talk radio hosts’ ignorance. Plus the stuff in those textbooks is backed up with all sorts of research and evidence, whereas Talk Radio Logic is backed up only with “Knowing what I know (and not what sociology professors know), it makes sense that X would be true.” Not saying that everyone who takes Soc is liberal, just that they know things that many conservative talk show hosts prefer to ignore.

      • Andy

        Comparing a college class to a talk show isn’t a fair dichotomy.

        • It really isn’t. One spews loud (and often barely-informed) opinions, the other spews information that helps folks come to reasonable, intelligent, and well-thought-out opinions of their own.

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  • Terry Major-Holliday

    I have never been a conservative, and as far back as I remember I always felt more connected with liberal ways of thinking. Just within the last year, I have had a very conservative person rail at me because I posted on FB that I don’t believe that corporal punishment of children is a good thing, basically telling me I am going to hell for that belief. My father-in-law was a Methodist minister who preached love from his pulpit, and when I told this “person” that my FIL also did not agree with hitting children, I was told, “He was lying from the pulpit.” So sad that this belief system is so ingrained in people.

  • suz113

    I am a Christian and I am an Independent. I have views that favor right, and views that favor the left. God is the foundation on which I base my choices. I appreciate your willingness to express your thoughts and I highly respect the bravery it takes to speak of hurt. However, I don’t appreciate your obvious exaggerations (utilized to prove your point, not accurately tell your story) and I do not respect your openness to stereotyping conservatives and Christians.
    You too, sir, need to practice what you preach.
    The entirety of your article is purposed to paint you as a victim and others as the bully. You are putting down others simply because they put down you- do not fight fire with fire. Instead of focusing on what others are doing “wrong”, focus on what more you can do right. Your words have shown the world that you are more like the opposition than you may believe. Stop wasting your time on proving yourself and your beliefs– begin to focus how you can grow, and help others grow, because of those beliefs. Focus on love. Focus on understanding. Others may not always practice those two things, but they are still worthy of God’s love. Spread no more fire- spread God’s love.

    • Thank you for your appreciation 🙂 I wonder which part of my story you think I exaggerated. I was also raised to be honest. I recently learned about Poe’s Law, which says that a parody of extremism is indistinguishable from actual extremism.

      It’s not my intent to stereotype conservative Christians, and I do not respect your assumption that I am stereotyping all Christians, because in the title I claim to be a Christian myself.

      I’m sorry that it came across to you as painting me as a victim and others as bullies. It wasn’t my intent. I simply wished to tell my story. I don’t think that I put anyone down; I just told what they did.

      I am definitely open to the criticism that I am like those with whom I strongly disagree. However, if you read many of the other comments here, you may see that what I wrote helped others grow and feel loved and accepted for who and where they are, when quite often, conservatives try to fix us. It’s not bullying. It’s just unpleasant. Of course conservatives are worthy of God’s love, and ours. My point was to express my feeling that sometimes conservatives act as though us liberal Christians aren’t worthy of God’s love – and if you’d like, I could probably find a conservative who would be willing to go on record as saying something quite similar to that.

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  • Caroline Moreschi

    This is so right. A big reason I dropped facebook was because I couldn’t take the constant fighting among people I love who have different beliefs. It was painful enough when my mom and I were arguing about theology and I said, “but hey, at least we are both Christians and will be in heaven together.” She said “I’m not so sure about that.” That’s the stuff you don’t forget.

  • Gareth

    Good post – it’s hard enough to appreciate ambiguity and questions, mystery and grace without falling into the trap of victimhood that ‘fundagelicals’ seem to operate from……by the end of your post i was reminded of Niemoller’s quote:

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–

    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

    While we may not be LGBT, Palestinian, Jew nor Greek, while we may be white privileged middle-class males (females too) We all need each other to oppose injustice of any kind!

  • Skip Moreland

    I became a progressive because in spit of all the hate that my family taught me, my parents taught me to think for myself. Which led to me being exiled from my family because I didn’t accept the abusive alcoholic life or the hate. I was raised in a conservative church and couldn’t stand the hypocrisy of it all, so I rebelled. Another thing my parents didn’t like, my coming out as an atheist.
    As I have aged and learned I have become more of a progressive and leftist. And you are right, it’s like announcing to the world that satan is my best friend (which as an atheist doesn’t make much sense, since I don’t believe in the devil either.).
    Keep speaking up for those who can’t or won’t be heard. It’s important that we keep fighting for what is right.

  • jrod3737

    David, thank you so much for this. It definitely gets the dialogue going in a very positive way. The only, and I mean only, thing I would challenge you on is your picture of “big churches.” Not all big churches are like your picture. There are plenty of big churches where you will see and hear the Gospel of Christ crucified for your brokenness and sin and raised as your promise and bridge to eternal life. You’ll hear the promise about how God’s intention for creation is wholeness, oneness with the Creator, and communion with a loving God who loved you enough to take the bullet for you. These big churches will offer you everything from Adrenaline Junkie Jesus to Silent Reflective Jesus, whatever meets your faith. These churches are concerned with building up your faith and giving you tools to live it out, not repressing your expression of faith because it doesn’t fit. Yes, there are a lot of churches doing it wrong. But there are a lot of churches doing it right. I’d be happy to take you along some Sunday in my 9,000 member mega church some day. The expression of the Gospel that you will see is profound!

    • Jrod, you make an excellent point. There are several megachurches that I wish I could be part of, including Woodland Hills church in Minnesota, Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO, and Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Those are the only ones I know of that I really like. I’ve visited quite a few megachurches where I live in Colorado Springs, and sadly, for the most part they fit into the categories I described.

      I love megachurches, but my relationship with them is a bit like a lactose-intolerant-person’s relationship with dairy products: I like them, but they don’t like me 😉

      • jrod3737

        You can add St. Andrew’s Lutheran in Mahtomedi, MN to your list. Next time you’re in town you should check it out.

        • There’s a Lutheran megachurch? Now I’ve seen everything.

          • jrod3737

            I guess it depends on how you define a megachurch. In my definition over 9,000 members and regularly worshipping between 2,800-3,500 and 7 pastors would be a megachurch. There are a lot of them in the Upper Midwest, you know, where all the Lutherans settled.

          • I would definitely consider that a megachurch. I’d go so far as to say any place with seating for more than 500 (if it’s usually full) is probably a megachurch. That’s like… a massive megachurch.

        • I have read in a variety of places that the definition of a megachurch is 2000 or more, but I don’t know if that is the number of worshipers or membership.

  • David, I found this post from a Facebook share of the re-blog by Bryan Berghoef. Your post spoke to me in a fundamental way (no pun intended). Over the past 15 or so years, I have come to see that fundamentalism, when wrapped up with politics, is uncaring at best, and can be cruel. In the process, I have moved from Christian and right-leaning to left and mostly non-religious. I despair at the complete lack of questioning of “facts” that are meant to tear down and destroy those on the left, by the right, often using Christianity as a weapon. I don’t see the same sort of venom generated on the left back at the right, or the same level of passion for the various issues that those on the right seem to sustain. Like you, living in Oklahoma, I swim in a sea of conservatives, and the freethinkers, lefties, and the like gather quietly. There are more of us than I think sometimes. I do wish it were easier to speak up, but in many cases, we have fundies in our supervisory structure, and I know it’s easy to worry about retaliation.

    Peace,

    Cheers, Bill
    http://billhensley.wordpress.com/

    • EthanAllen

      “I don’t see the same sort of venom generated on the left back at the right, or the same level of passion for the various issues that those on the right seem to sustain.”

      I do. I see plenty of it, because I like to read what’s out there. Venom is coming from both sides, equally hateful and equally exaggerating their misconceptions of the other. I’m beginning to sense that truth is more found in the middle somewhere, but everyone gets so stuck on their “position” that they can’t be open or don’t even realize the other position may have merit. People internalize their convictions (or they wouldn’t be convictions) and it’s quite normal for people to feel threatened when someone doesn’t agree with them. (agreeing is validation in their minds) They definitely take it personally as they feel their core is being attacked. That, again, is what I see coming from both “sides”, which can explain a lot.

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  • cajaquarius

    Very well written. Encapsulated my own process of going from right to left. My family still thinks of me as lost, I think. I am saving the being gay part of the equation to share with them if I find someone I want to spend my life with. I worry I won’t have a family for long if I reveal that much of it to them.

    • I’m sorry to hear that. It’s hard, but I’ve heard that some people change when they find out that a loved one is gay. Of course, some don’t. I wish you the former.

  • Jesus H. Christ

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “Brethren, I’ve heard it said that I am to be a human sacrifice for your sins. May I asketh, who in the goddamn hell came up with that Neanderthal bullshit!!!???

    Blood sacrifice!!!???? Are you all fucking insane!!!!????

    Brethren, listen carefully as I tell you something of great importance.

    The idea that the blood of a savage human sacrifice will drift up to the heavens and unleash magical powers of atonement from the invisible deity living there is, without a doubt, the most absurd, preposterous, revolting, sickening, evil and idiotic pile of Cro-Magnon donkey shit that the human mind has ever concocted in our entire history on planet Earth!!

    Blood sacrifice!!!!! Do you hear what you’re fucking saying!!!????

    Brethren, thou can all take your dying for sins lunacy and shove it straight up thy fucking asses!!!!!”

    And Jesus’ disciples said, “Well shit, man!! Maybe we can get Billy Ray to die for our sins.

    Otherwise, I guess we’re fucked.”

    —-Jesus Christ, The lost Gospel of Sane Rational Thought

    —-The disciples, as told to Kirk Cameron

  • Just keep loving them and thank them for praying for you; Works for me and I’ve been calling myself post-evangelical since the days of George W. Bush. Being true to the faith you’re called to is what it’s all about. That being said, I lived in Colorado Springs for eight years and couldn’t find a church where my liberal leanings and my husband’s conservative leanings were both welcome. Seems he and I can love each other as we are for the past 24 years but the church can’t love us both.

  • Just keep loving them and thank them for praying for you; Works for me and I’ve been calling myself post-evangelical since the days of George W. Bush. Being true to the faith you’re called to is what it’s all about. That being said, I lived in Colorado Springs for eight years and couldn’t find a church where my liberal leanings and my husband’s conservative leanings were both welcome. Seems he and I can love each other as we are for the past 24 years but the church can’t love us both.

    • I’m not sure where you both are on your faith journey, but my wife and I attend Faith Presbyterian Church, and it has worked out well for us so far. My wife was more conservative when we moved here, so it might work for you. It also might not because the PCUSA recently decided to allow same-sex marriages in states where it’s legal and when pastors and churches want to do it.

      • Thanks, David. It means a lot to me to be invited to your church, but we moved to Philadelphia a year ago. One thing we learned in our churchless years in the Springs was to make our home a place of worship. (We even ended up buying a house with stained glass windows!) But we’re still looking for community; visiting Broad Street Ministries in Philly next week. God bless the PCUSA and every other gaggle of humans trying to get it right!

  • Ian Laird

    This is a very interesting blog post. I think that you are terribly wrong and could have been more logical but I appreciate that you are willing to be laughed at for your beliefs.

  • Nate Mayville

    Its nice to hear a different view than the fundamentalist bible-thumpers.

    • Ian Laird

      Nice post Nate.

  • Chiarabear

    Okay, I hate to be pedantic, because your post really touched me and I can relate to a lot of what you said, but…
    “I see posts from Christians that are against illegal immigration and I get so confused how Christians who are supposed to love our neighbors can stand at the border and tell little children from war-torn countries that Jesus wants them to go away.”
    If they’re “little children from war-torn countries” they aren’t illegal immigrants – they’re asylum seekers, and I haven’t met a single person who is against letting asylum seekers into the country. Illegal immigrants enter the country for other, unlawful, reasons. Anyway…
    This is the first post I’ve read from your blog, and I’m going to bookmark your site right away because this is just… I don’t know, but I needed this. One of my friends recently left the church and stopped being a Christian because it was ruining her self-confidence and breaking her heart to be told everyday that there was something wrong with her because she was bisexual, and that she could never be in a relationship with the person she loved (her parents made sure of this).
    And I can totally relate to people asking for your opinion on issues, not because they actually want to listen, but because they want to tell you exactly why you’re wrong. I suspect that a lot of it is to do with the fact that conservative beliefs are the mainstream and what they’re church is telling them, and “the church can’t be wrong”. How dare I have independent thoughts and different opinions.

    • I put off reading your comment for four days because you used the word pedantic and I didn’t have time for a pedantic comment. I wish I hadn’t haha.

      That being said, I fear people actually *are* responding that way. This story on NPR seems to indicate that, though I would love to be proven wrong.

      Thanks for the bookmark, and welcome! 🙂

  • Liberal_Party_USA

    How I stop Fundamentalists in my facein any religion. “I have a God Rock it will do anything your god can do.”

    • I think the fundamentalist deity has a power to create guilt and/or loyalty for fundamentalists in a way your God Rock never can for you.

  • ibnt

    What about your LGBT brothers and sisters who live *in* Palestine? There’s only country in the Middle East I’d want to live in as a gay person …

    • I wouldn’t want to live in Palestine at all. The Israeli occupation has made things quite nasty over there.

  • Hannah

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m just going to copy and paste it and send it to all my family and friends, and say “what he said.”

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  • Guy

    I’m very happy to have found this blog. Although I was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist home, and now as a Catholic, I still consider myself to be somewhat conservative.

    For the past year, however, I’ve been a church musician at an Episcopal Church where I’ve learned a lot about the various nuances and levels of life, relationships, and how theology can fit into all of that. I’ve come to enjoy and see the importance of the various levels of conversation going on within Christianity about human sexuality and more progressive topics. And I’ve learned that living with the tension of those with whom we disagree and still being able to worship together and see the face of Christ in each other can be a very powerful thing to witness and share!

    I would say that right now I’m still pretty conservative in my Catholic Christianity, but I’m now much slower to judge a person or a situation, and I’m more willing to enter into a person’s journey and story and begin loving them right there.

    Thank you, David, for your openness and honesty in this post. As I get to know you, this community, and your site, I’ll probably ask questions about various things. I’ll do my best to frame those questions in the least offensive way possible though.

    God bless you,

    Guy

  • JenMcDaniel

    I don’t really know where to start. I have been reading through some of your posts today after linking here through a simple, desperate Google search for “liberal Christians,” wondering where the heck I fit in. It seems like there are not many places where I do. Most of my friends and family are conservative Christians (some align strongly with Ken Ham and I long ago silently unfollowed them), and opening my mouth to share a different opinion will likely result in gales of hate and ignorance blowing my way. It’s overwhelming. I choose my battles, speaking against injustice when I feel it’s necessary, and could make a difference. In certain situations, I know it’s a waste of breath (but I’ll sometimes still choose to speak up). I’m not trying to start fights with anyone, I’m just trying to live faithfully for the God I love, extending that love to everyone and (hopefully) raise my three year old son to do the same.

    My husband and I have been out of church for three and a half years, and are unsure if we even want to go back. It seems like we aren’t welcome if we don’t wholeheartedly agree with every doctrinal belief listed on the website, as well as the many unspoken ones. It’s dumb. I don’t want to surround myself with people who agree with me on every little thing (where is the challenge in that?), but I do want to be around people who accept and love as Christ does, including LGBTQ. Sadly, I’m in the minority among Christians in my area (TN).

    I just wanted to say “thank you!!!” for making me feel less alone. It’s a huge comfort and boost to the (sometimes) desert-dry landscape of my Jesus-seeking heart.

  • Clay99

    Good post and very well said. I too am a liberal Christian. What that means is up to the viewpoint of anyone who researches about liberal Christianity. When I say liberal, I do not mean politically liberal, rather I mean that I don’t believe that the Bible is an inerrant Word of God. In fact, this is not just a belief that I have, because it can be demonstrated that it is not inerrant, not only with science by also historically. Critical scholars have proved over and over again that much of the Bible is based on previous myths that were borrowed from Egypt and Sumeria. This is demonstrable. Anyone who reads “Rejection of Pascal’s Wager” online will also have to come to the conclusion that the Bible is not inerrant and not an inspired work.
    After discovering this myself I decided that Christianity must be a lie and not true. I left the church, and abandoned my faith. However, Jesus didn’t abandon me, and in fact pursued me and captured my heart. I believe he is real, but that does not mean that I have to deny the evidence that proves that the Bible is not an inerrant work. To deny this fact would be lying to myself, and every one else. So I will pick the true road which is liberal Christianity. As time goes by the church will be forced to embrace liberal Christianity more and more because fundamentalism will become an isolated, lonely island as it more and more is exposed for what it really is, a façade.
    And let it be know for those of you that fear liberal Christianity; it has nothing to do with Communism or Socialism. All one has to do is study Capitalism vs Socialism to find that Free Markets work and Communism does not. So when we talk about liberal Christianity, we are not talking about being a left-wing socialist. In fact, most liberal Christians are moderates, espousing certain viewpoints on the left, and certain viewpoints on the right.

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  • Bellelayne

    Thank you. Lately I feel like I’m an outcast. Friday nite at a women’s supper nite for church one gal made a comment that she watched the democrate debate because she wanted to see what the “other side” was talking about. Then at bible study group Sunday nite I got to hear about “gays” being on tv and how conservative is the way to go. UGH.
    I’m feeling so out of sorts. It goes deeper than my political views but that is the biggest reason. I do love my church, I’ve spent about 5 years there and I don’t want to leave but if I have to I will. I don’t need to feel like a lesser Christian, if they even consider me one at all. I don’t say much because where I am, central Minnesota, if you don’t have a conceal and carry permit, watch Duck Dynasty and vote republican you don’t belong. I’ve actually gotten shouted down before. My husband is republican but thankfully doesn’t get too in my face about it. There are heated arguments but we understand eachother. Also there is SO much racism here. I TRY to have discussions but all I hear is stereotypes and whining that it isn’t fair for white folks.
    God grant me the strength to be a better Christian. For standing up when I hear racist comments, when I hear slander against liberals, hear the greed of people saying “those @#*(& people on government assistance” and so forth.

  • Matt

    You basically just said that people need to take sociology 101 to be a real christian. What about poor people who cant be correctly educated and cultured to be able to understand all the complexities of Biblical application to our modern life, as you say? You have an exclusionist ideology, indoctrinated in you when you went to college, as you said yourself, in your young, impressionable years. You are choosing to filter reality through your textbooks and lectures told by secularists rather than by through the Bible and pastors, some of which who go to school to study it. Stop your pride and your leading people astray. If everyone around you is committed to the Bible and is telling you something bc they genuinely care about you, you should listen. You seem very annoyed by them – they just keep going on with the same stupid, neanderthal narrow minded banter, why don’t they read a book to become intelligent like me? (See Acts 17) But they are not idiots. The Bible is very straight forward about whats right and wrong concerning issues like homisexuality, abortion, and people who worship other gods (like palestinians, who have always oppressed the jews). The problem that people have with these truths is that they want to please people rather than God and so compromise on the Word in order to be ‘nice’. People like nice people, that is the incentive. Its pride.
    How do I know youre off track?
    You get bored during worship songs you dont like- that would be relevant if worship was about you, but its not, its about God. You should enjoy all worship to God.
    The bible isnt inerrent- if one word of the Bible is wrong then why wouldnt all of it be wrong? God comes right out in the beginning of the whole book and says He is the Word. If part of the word is wrong than God isnt who He says he is which makes the rest of the Bible worthless. But we know this isnt true bc God tells us to look out the window and see His creation. You are alive. Is that not enough proof?
    Palestinian brothers? – you should read the Bible to see what the Palestinians have done to Gods people. Theyve always been at odds bc palestine worships other gods and so has oppressed the jews. Yes they are people and our fellow man, but not brothers as you imply, we shouldnt be sympathetic to their beliefs and say theyre going to heaven as we are.
    Homosexuality is an abomination. Its mentioned 6 times in the Bible. Its really straightforward. Having homosexual feelings is a vice, like how some people can’t stop drinking. Just because you feel like it doesn’t mean you should.
    Stop compromising and leading others astray or your judgement will be greater as your dad told you.
    Ill be praying for you.
    -Matt

    • Dear Matt,

      You may have misread the post. I did not go to college in my “young, impressionable years.” I got my worldview pretty deeply ingrained, and it wasn’t until I started college at 24 that the truth was able to dig out the nonsense.

      If by Acts 17 you’re referring to the Bereans, then you’re going to get my Berean lecture. The Bereans weren’t more noble than the others because they “searched the scriptures daily,” as if that were something the others weren’t doing. It’s the second part of the verse – “To see whether the things Paul said were true.” They did not immediately assume that they knew everything there was to know about God and then throw out this guy with new ideas on his ear, as so painfully many then and now did and do.

      You say the Bible is straightforward, but it is straightforward on a great many things – and on a great many things that we today (and I would venture to include you in that number) do not and would not believe. I can dredge up examples if you wish.

      I won’t even respond to your claim that my move was “compromise” because that’s what this whole post was rebutting. I didn’t “compromise with the world.” At the time I shifted left, my whole world was Christians, and I was blissfully unaware that there was a whole world out there beyond mine that thought being hateful was wrong. I took the lonely road to do the right thing, not the easy thing.

      Your claim that “worship is not about you” has nothing to do with why I don’t like them – that some songs are boring and theologically garbage is not my fault, and recognizing this truth does not make me a bad Christian or a backslidden one, just a discerning one.

      As for inerrancy, I did not intend to go into a defense against the doctrine of inerrancy here. I have written about it elsewhere at length here and here. This post was me venting about how hard it was (if I had been compromising, it would’ve been easy now, wouldn’t it?) to go progressive when everyone around me thought progressive Christians weren’t even Christians.

      Why I affirm my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ is a much longer conversation, but it stems for me from my view on inerrancy, which I would be happy to talk more about if the links I sent you to didn’t scare you away too badly.

      I’m bothered with your framing of my response as “You seem very annoyed by them – they just keep going on with the same stupid, neanderthal narrow minded banter, why don’t they read a book to become intelligent like me?” because their view isn’t neanderthal. It’s reasonable, given their worldview.

      The problem that I have is that my relatives don’t think like the Bereans. I don’t need them to read a textbook; I just need them to be logical and rational instead of clinging to modernist notions about the Bible that have nothing to do with what the Bible actually says – at some point culminating in claiming that the Bible is itself God! (Stick around; if you believe in inerrancy, I can probably get you there too.)

      They’re not open to hearing new ideas that disagree with what they already believe, and, like I fear you will, they do not search the scriptures to see whether the things I am saying are true; rather, they rely on what some pastor in church told them the Bible says, falling back on a few proof texts whose meaning bears no resemblance whatever to the meaning their pastor tried to stamp on it.

      If you would be a Berean, don’t just pray for me.

      Search the scriptures to see whether the things I am saying are true – and, like the Bereans, do it with a mind open to the possibility that they might be.

      Since you’re praying for me, I’d like to put in a few requests. Right now I’m wrestling with doubt a lot because I’m starting to think my theology is based on the belief that we can’t know the truth about God, and I’ve had to build that foundation because I want to believe that God exists, and I don’t want to believe that God is worse than an evil demon, as God would have to be if God damned people to conscious torment for all eternity – for any reason. I’d like to believe more in the God who isn’t evil. If you’re praying for me, send that one up.

      • Matt

        David,

        In your article, response, and links, Ive noticed that you don’t base your reason on scripture, as in, you don’t ever say, “the bible says here “quote” therefore I believe this… ”

        All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

        I wasn’t talking about the bereans but the athenians – about how they prided themselves on their intellect.

        “I do it because I want people who are on the margins of Christianity and think the whole thing might just be nuts to know that things they think is crazy, I think are crazy too, and if I can be a Christian, maybe they can too.”

        theres a place for apologetics, but the Bible also says in Matthew 5, “19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

        Christians shouldn’t speak in a way that lets homosexuals feel comfortably settled in God’s graces, they are living in unrepentant sin. They should be told they are loved, but then pointed to what the Bible says about those who practice homosexuality.

        Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

        Bible: Obey God or there will be consequences.

        Liberalism: I want to do whatever I want (bc I base my actions on emotion and not my mind) and don’t want consequences bc I reject any authority over me other than myself – i set the rules, I have control, I am king.

        Your article was written emotionally rather than factually, I would have pitied you if I didn’t catch it as humble-bragging.

        You can’t lure people in to wanting to know God by letting them think they can get off the hook from living under fundamental Christian principals be they sit uncomfortably against an individuals feelings. You attend a church that allows homosexual marriage. The Bible explains that God holds marriage very close to His heart and has set out what it actually is. To suggest it could be anything different is spitting in His face and calling Him wrong.

        and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

        For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
        -this passage also explains your inerrancy questions.

        There are Christian fundamentals and there are christian liberties, be careful to not get them confused.

        https://bible.org/seriespage/16-strong-and-weak-romans-14

        I believe that the things I am talking about to you are Christian fundamentals, not Christian liberties.

        Right now I’m wrestling with doubt a lot because I’m starting to think my theology is based on the belief that we can’t know the truth about God, and I’ve had to build that foundation because I want to believe that God exists, and I don’t want to believe that God is worse than an evil demon, as God would have to be if God damned people to conscious torment for all eternity – for any reason. I’d like to believe more in the God who isn’t evil.

        Being a Christian is living a life of faith. If we knew the road ahead, we wouldn’t need faith, we would already know whats there is and isn’t. 2 Cor 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

        God is omniscient, He has control over everything. http://www.gotquestions.org/why-does-God-send-people-to-hell.html

        “I don’t want to believe that God is worse”

        -You may be having trouble accepting that there are consequences for sin.

        But God is just, he won’t let the murderer get away without paying. Either the murderer will pay with his life in hell, or he will let Jesus pay for his life with his blood.

        There can be no love without choice to love. And so there must be a choice not to love. God is love. So broken down, this means, there is either choice for God or choice for no God. If God is life, then without God is death.

        Why have some people not really had a chance in their life to know God?

        I think there is generational sin

        but all of the time, things go the way they do just for the purpose of God’s glory

        john 9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

        I recently listened to almost the whole new testament on my Bible App on my phone and it was very eye opening, I highly suggest it. Ive got some prayers for you. God bless.
        Matt

        • That was a really long response that covered a lot of territory. I don’t want to respond specifically to everything because I suspect it would not be edifying for you or anyone else, and therefore a waste of time for me. However, I do want to respond to a few points:

          Biblicism: I don’t quote, “The Bible says X, therefore it is the case that X is true,” because that is an impossible worldview. For nearly everything the Bible says, the Bible can also be made to say its opposite. A quick example: Proverbs and Psalms argue that good things happen to good people, while Job and Ecclesiastes take up the other side: Good things do NOT happen to you just because you’re good. I do base my perspective on scripture, but I don’t base it on randomly selected highlighted passages that I pretend represent the whole of scripture.

          Matthew 5:17-20: I just wrote a 15-page exegesis paper on that very passage. Very very short version: It does not and cannot mean what you want it to mean. If you’d like a copy, I’d be happy to forward it to you. Just email and ask.

          Liberalism: You and Francis Chan should be friends, because you are both wrong about liberalism, and in the exact same way. (I saw a clip of him this morning and it got me pretty fired-up). Here’s the deal: Liberals don’t think there should be no consequences for sin. We just think you being tormented infinitely in hell for all eternity for sins that are clearly finite is unjust.

          Furthermore, I believe God forbids sins because sins are those things that harm ourselves and others, and marriage equality objectively harms no one, so it makes no sense that God would forbid it, and that it is forbidden in scripture is a reflection of the culture of the world of the Bible, not the eternal truth of God.

          Goodness vs Evilness of God: I realize in retrospect that I was not clear about whether or not I believe God is good. I wrote elsewhere that I want God good, or not at all. I believe that God is good. But it is obvious that the Bible represents God as both doing and commanding reprehensible things, like commanding genocide, and if you can’t agree that murdering babies is always wrong, you may want to hunt down a different religion.

          Your view: (I assume, based on your comment)
          1. God is always good.
          2. The Bible is inerrant.
          3. The Bible says God commanded genocide.
          4. Therefore, it was good for God to command genocide.

          My view:
          1. God is always good.
          2. Genocide is always wrong.
          3. The Bible says God commanded genocide.
          4. Therefore, the Bible is wrong about God commanding genocide.

          That’s what I see as the key difference here: I’m not willing to call evil good to save a doctrine of inerrancy – and the Bible itself says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”

          I think my openness to the possibility of the Bible being wrong if it speaks badly of God is probably going to be our biggest point of conflict, so I want to underline it:

          I do not think that God is evil. I think the Bible is wrong about God when it depicts God behaving in a way that is evil, and is representing, not God, but cultural expectations from the society that produced the Bible, about God and about gods and the way gods should behave.

          Recommendation to Read the Bible / listen to it: Thanks! I’m actually in seminary right now and I’m reading quite a bit of Bible. I don’t really have time to read a heck of a lot more than I already am – which often consists of whole books of the Bible – or more – every week, for multiple classes.

          • Matt

            The way that I see it is that God is good all the time, He is in control all the time, and He lets bad things happen for the sole purpose of His glory, for His Word to be fulfilled. Like the Lion Aslan, He isn’t safe (bc He’s powerful), but He is good. It does sound confusing to me that He would let such great evil happen, but then I remember what the Bible says and I just trust God that He and His word are perfect and that He is infinitely more everything than I. I am so small and don’t understand hardly anything compared to God. I understand as much of the time of my life compared to the time of eternity. A mere wisp of particles and air. When God is a mighty mountain upon mountains that never shakes or crumbles.

            As far as Biblical inerrancy, a man is only as good as His word, right? Well genesis comes right out and says that the Word IS God. The Bible is His word. Its His promise. If He cant keep that, meaning if its wrong, even once, then He’s a liar and no good. I cant live knowing my God is a liar. (If God is a liar, I cant trust Him, on anything, and I therefore have no hope, He is not really there for me, He is not Emmanuel (God with me) He doesn’t work for my best interests day and night even when I take breaks from righteousness, I have nothing to live for and should therefor just submit to all my passions of the flesh or just kill myself and get it over with. What would anything even mean?? Absolutely nothing. There would be zero point to live one day longer). Im not going to forfeit that belief just because I cant make sense of how His creation is supposed to fit together as far as I think with my little mind that its supposed to. Just because you don’t understand what the Bible says about something doesn’t mean that the Bible is wrong, it just means that you don’t understand. Thank God were not called to understand everything (Ecclesiastes) but to believe in Christ and live by faith.

            http://youtu.be/pJ82wVfO5qs Spot on. You gotta do whatever he says even if it doesnt make any sense to you.

          • You said you struggle to understand why God lets bad things happen, but I’m not talking about a thunderstorm. I’m talking about God explicitly commanding genocide and killing babies. Do you think it is ever right to kill babies? Would the God who is Jesus ever command people to kill babies?

            Now read this:

            “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (I Samuel 15:2-3)

            Are you willing to suspend morality and defend the Bible where it explicitly teaches that God commanded something that you know in your God-given conscience is among the worst kinds of wickedness humans can do? Or will you join with me and stand up for the character of God, agreeing with Abraham that “The judge of all the earth will do right,” even if it means that the authors of the Bible are wrong?

            Now, you say, “Well genesis comes right out and says that the Word IS God. The Bible is His word.”

            First, that’s John 1, not Genesis.

            Second, remember two comments ago where I said, “…at some point [debates with my relatives] culminat[e] in [them] claiming that the Bible is itself God! (Stick around; if you believe in inerrancy, I can probably get you there too.)”

            You just did that. If the Word is God, and the Bible is the word, then the Bible is itself God. (Standard logic: If A=B and B=C, then A=C). That is a terrifying descent into bibliolatry – an idolatry of worshiping the Bible as God. God is God. Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit is God. The Bible is not God.

            If you want to make the Bible God, you’re welcome to go create a new brand of Christianity that worships the Bible as God, but that religion is in no way related to the Bible itself, or to the Christian faith at any point in its history. God is God. The Bible is not God. If the Bible is the Word, and the Word is God, then the Bible is God.

            But the Bible nowhere teaches that the Bible is the word of God.

            “Thy word is truth.” That doesn’t say the Bible is the word.

            “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, etc.” Doesn’t say the Bible is the word.

            Read it. Read it very, very carefully and see if your preachers haven’t been lying to you.

            One thing more: I know from personal experience that it is utterly terrifying to consider the possibility that the Bible is not an infallibly accurate representation of who God is. When the Bible “broke” for me, I wanted to be an atheist for about a solid fifteen minutes because I didn’t know what else to do. If the Bible was wrong about that, it could be wrong about anything! Click here to read more about that, and I would encourage you to do so because that link is the story of how I lost faith in the Bible as the inerrant word of God but then found that I could still have faith in Jesus.

            I don’t agree with your last statement or your last clip. You have to do what you know in your God-given conscience is right, even if the people who wrote the Bible don’t agree with you.

  • exprudentiavirtus

    It was really great just to read through somebody else processing this too. I’m an “childhood Christian” who became an “extremely leftist agnostic” who became a “more moderately-leftist Christian.” I recently went through Teen Challenge which is run by the Assemblies of God, which is so far right that they’re knocking down walls so they have farther space right to go. It’s really frustrating trying to still want to be a Christian sometimes.

  • John Verber

    Amen…..hallelujah and all that stuff. This is the fight I have on a weekly basis with various members of my church on Facebook (as they are too polite to do it face to face). Usually it’s political and over the almighty dollar and how Obama sucks. But every now and again it ventures into things like Israel, immigration, etc. Your article was great….much appreciated.

  • EJAM

    Yeah, if you guys are wondering why “conservative” (honestly I hate using political terminology to refer to churches but since that’s the language you guys understand then I’m forced to use such words) churches are growing and are so much more compelling than “liberal” churches, you might want to consider reading this: http://majorsmatter.net/religion/Readings/RationalChoice.pdf
    It’s a long one, but the gist of it is that the stricter the church the better it is. Hence, the reason why “liberal” churches have been in perpetual decline since the 1960s. Of course, “conservative” churches have lost members too but not as much as the “liberal” churches. And members leaving “conservative” churches are leaving for churches that are basically the same. Even if the member who left the “conservative” church did so because he hated the doctrines and teachings of that church, it will only served to strengthen the “conservative” church because it lessens the number of what the author of the study calls the “free-rider” problem in religion.

    • Thank you! From what I understand there are a few progressive congregations that are growing, but I have heard about this kind of research and look forward to reading it!