When I talk about leaving Christianity, I realize, it’s not that I have left Christianity, it’s that Christianity has left me. A big “AHA” moment came to me today when I knew with certainty that while I do view myself as a Christian, I am surrounded by those who cry “No, you’re not!” I admit, I read Bishop Spong’s book this summer, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and its message has affected me profoundly. The stories of my faith are part of my DNA – the parables of Jesus point me in the direction I wish to go. However, I do not accept the official line as the only path to salvation.
First, I struggle from minute to minute trying to figure out what salvation means. Who is saved? If I was a true Calvinist, I would know the answer to that question instantly. I find those answers always lead to a faith of exclusion as we spend our time trying to figure out who is left out. Why is it so important to know who is saved? And from what are we saved? That question leads to the idea of original sin and how can that be a point of belief if we read God’s words in Genesis after all that is created and God says, “and it was good”?
As we all struggle this week to face our complicity in the suicide of a fourteen year old boy in the greater Buffalo community, these questions are unavoidable. “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Those who are bullied and commit suicide have come to believe that they are the problem – that everything their bullies say about them is true. That is who they are. We can’t separate the sin from the sinner. And who gets to decide on what sin is? The church cannot stop pointing the finger at those in the GLBT community as the sin. We must work at keeping them out. How is that loving someone?
Where do we draw the line? Who is in? Who is out? And why on God’s earth, do we think that we know the answer to those questions?
We sang the old Christian hymn as an anthem yesterday in church, “They shall know we are Christian by our love.” We sing those words and perhaps tears come to our eyes. If we listened to what we were singing, how could we go out into the world each Sunday afternoon and treat others as something less than worthy of our love?
God knew us in the womb. God delivered the Israelites from slavery and gave them manna and water in the wilderness. I am a Christian because I have faith in that God – and I know about that God from the parables of Jesus who talked about oppression and injustice. What kind of Christian are you?