I’ve been part of some groups lately full of both ex-Christians and questioning Christians and people who are generally fed up with Christian culture and/or Christian faith. A big theme as of late has been how many of these people lost so many of their close Christian friends once they started asking “too many questions.” What I’m not sure Christians realize is how bad this really makes them look. I imagine from the Christian perspective, some of them feel betrayed by people who leave the faith. Others probably take the “unequally yoked” thing to heart and decide it’s best to gain some distance from those people. Others probably just don’t know what to do, so they don’t do anything at all.
There’s nothing in the Bible that speaks to how you should treat people who have really honestly considered the veracity of Scripture, lived it for a while, and for some reason or another found that it probably isn’t true. Those of us who have been on this journey have come by our non-belief honestly. I don’t hate God. I don’t insist on not believing in God. I simply don’t know how to believe in God at this point. I do wonder how there could be a God who would have just watched me on my honest journey and didn’t think it necessary to guide me toward him. Perhaps believing in God isn’t all that important to God after all?
When I try to explain all of this to some Christians, they really can’t get it. I get a lot of blank looks. Preachers tell them from the pulpit that every single person is depraved and rebellious to God, so this is the only way they know how to see me. I can tell them that I am being honest and that I am not rebelling from what I think is true, and they really just can’t get that. For this reason, a lot of Christians don’t talk to me anymore. Honestly, I don’t even know how to talk to many of them either. What do I say to someone who is convinced that love is solidly founded in God, and I’ve recently come to my own realization that this is not actually true? There’s just kind of this inevitable divide. I can reach out to these friends, and we can mutually say we care about each other still. However, we can’t go to the levels we did before, and I’ve always been such a deep conversationalist that it would just be weird of me not to talk about consequential things with them.
I lost my faith because I took it so seriously. How do I tell that to a good Christian friend? How can that possibly not sound offensive and/or concerning to this friend? My loss of faith has been a celebration of freedom for me, but it is a mourning for these friends. It makes sense why we can’t talk anymore, and it makes sense why some actually refuse to talk.
Jesus never told his followers to rejoice with those who lose their faith. I’m looking for those who can love and embrace my discoveries. Those people are not Christians.
I sent my dad the link to this video:
He responded very positively. Here is what I told him:
“I’m so glad you’re open to hearing what the liberal Christians have to say. One thing that made me hate calling myself a Christian throughout college was how closed off Christians were to each other. Liberals are deemed wrong by conservatives and vice versa. I know that’s how it works in politics, but I hate seeing that same attitude reflected in something as mysterious and supposedly unifying as faith. I think Peter Rollins definitely says stuff that you’d disagree with, but I think it’s really special when people coming from such different perspectives on Scripture can find a deep commonality. This is all I hoped for as a Christian–a place where I could express my truest doubts. Instead I felt like I had to hide it to preserve everyone else’s faith. I tried dealing with my doubts with some of my closest Christian friends, and it ended up scaring them and hurting them to try and go there with me. They refused to let themselves go to that vulnerable place, and I’m not sure if it’s because they’re that terrified of doubt or because they simply didn’t think those were the types of burdens they were supposed to help me carry as Christians. I’m still perplexed by it.”