I am an exvangelical. I used to be what is known as an evangelical Christian of an annoying but earnest variety. I wasn’t brought up in it. I chose it when I was 12 going on 13. Life at home was getting harder and puberty was just complicating things. Looking back, I just wanted to be apart of something anything that loved me back. A friend at school had invited me to go to church with her and when some boys started asking her really hard questions about the Bible and she had the balls to say, “ I don’t know but I’ll find out what I can and get back to you..” I thought that was a pretty fair and reasonable answer.
I fell for church hard and fast. I was there three times a week or more, Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday nights as well. I went on summer mission trips and taught vacation Bible school too little kids in the summer. Looking back, I wish I had been a member of other things I could have put on a university application but I really think it provided, as best it could, the emotional support I needed at the time. I once tried being on the basketball team and that was much more of a cult than my church ever was.
Then I went off to university and joined all kinds of church groups where I learned all kinds of things like: I am disabled because I don’t have enough faith. I am disabled because I was chosen to carry this burden for God and if I were ever to be healed, it would mean that a demon possessed my body. Most churches were never comfortable with my mild cerebral palsy. Then again, most churches undervalue the women in their church and smother their talent and self-worth. I think way too many women take to heart sermons that are directed at men, but that is for another post.
It was in university when I started to see the cracks in a lot of the theology. There was the time when a Bible study leader tried to scare us into preaching the gospel to more and more people because if we didn’t, they would go to hell and it would be our fault. He was red in the face and shouting at us. That’s a lot of responsibility to put on a 19 year-old’s shoulders. I was terrified of going to hell for years and years and one day I was just too tired of being scared so I stopped.
I thought to myself, “Maybe I am just too close to this. Maybe I am listening to people that are also too close to this and live in a culture and community where they have to do this to thrive.”
I am still a Christian. I just think I have little less faith in the institution of church, especially as someone who does a lot of public speaking. I can tell when the preacher has padded his message to fill the time. It’s too bad more pastors and preachers don’t have a background in street performing. Fire-eating is a much more engaging and effective way to fill in extra time at a funeral.