The one interesting thing about having people over is that you get a chance to glimpse how different things can be outside of what you’re used to. I was thinking that as every now than our conversation with our guests turned to the subject of churches. Our guests started off at the same church, but over time lost interest. They missed out on the conservative takeover, complementarianism, young earth creationism, and many of the other issues the church has been responsible for over the last decade.
But that also means that if/when they chose to go back to church, it will be a whole other world to them that is unfamiliar in so very many ways. Not only that, these things that have changed will either stand out as being contrary to the church they used to know or so cleverly disguised that they’re extremely easy to accept as being true. It really depends on how whichever church they go to teaches it.
It also showed us how close we had been to the front lines of these issues in church. After all, we live a hop, skip, and jump away from the seminaries that teach these things as if they are orthodox and central to the faith right up there with the Trinity. We had forgotten how odd they are to those who haven’t been caught up in them. That may very well be what saves something of Christianity, a group of people who recognize that these odd teachings are a stumbling block, bordering on heresy, and just wrong in it’s teaching and application. Then again, given the contagious nature of these teachings, odds are just as well that these outsiders will catch it and buy into it just as much as the insider do – especially when they’re unprepared to counter them because they’re unable to recognize them as being that dangerous.
It’s just – for those of us who have been there and done that, trying to inform newer brothers and sisters about the dark-side that causes Christianity to hurt people is sort of like trying to convince a true fan that her or his favorite player cheated. With all of the evidence in the world – some people will still believe that their favorite player would never do such a thing. Not only that, but cautioning somebody against something tends to backfire when they dive deeply into it just to find out for themselves if it is so.
If I could travel back in time and tell myself that over the next few decades, I was going to see Christians forbid girls from leading prayer, separate women from men, dis-fellowship moderates and liberals, write a version of their own Bible to support their teachings while protesting any other translation that does not, selling their Bible and related study materials in their own shops while hiding abuses of trust and violation of Scripture in a convoluted authority structure which they defined from their Bible version as Biblical resulting in the people at the top getting extremely wealthy at the expense of everyone else – I wouldn’t have thought of it to be in the realm of possibility and dismissed it out of hand.
I’m afraid that’s what happens all too often when Christians who have been through it all try to warn others of what they’re in for. There is a massive gap between the two groups – inexperienced and experienced believers where the right information tends to get blocked by various attempts to poison the well. “Oh, so some Christian told you that? Sounds like they’re just bitter because of a personal bad experience. You should take that advice with a grain of salt because not all of us are like that.”
Does that logic really fly? “You can’t believe what Sojourner Truth says because she’s just bitter about her personal bad experience with slavery. It’s actually a good thing because as slaves, these men, women, and children are clothed and fed. Without slavery they would be worse off.” “You can’t believe what was said about Nazis because of a few bitter people and their personal bad experiences. They actually managed to end unemployment and create unprecedented opportunities for wealth when the rest of the world was on the brink of economic ruin.”
Feeling bitter about a bad experience about anything does not invalidate or lesson the severity of the experience that caused the bitterness. In fact, it’s a part of the healing process. Most people have to feel bitter once they realize the truth that their favorite player cheated or their favorite teaching has a dark-side. They fell for the charm and protests of innocence. Once that is accepted, they can move onto the next step and continue to heal so that they become a better person for it.
Maybe that’s why I write so much about Christianity. For all of the terrible consequences of it’s dark-side, there’s nothing quite like it’s light-side and the force for good that the church has the power to wield – that is, if they chose selflessness over selfishness.