(The courtyard of the Freer Museum in Washington, D.C.)
I grew up with Evangelical Southern Baptist parents and spent a solid amount of time attending church, youth groups, AWANA, vacation bible schools, and youth camps. When I was 18, shortly after I graduated high school, I became disenchanted with church – with the Evangelical Southern Baptist denomination in particular. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I switched to a non-denominational church a few months after turning 18. Six months later, the church I was attending offered a 10-month-long “internship” that was a cross between listening to a billion speakers every week (on topics like counseling, money management, and self-improvement in addition to biblical teachings) and being a full-time church volunteer. It was a wonderful experience that grew me tremendously and taught me a lot. I completed the internship and then did not go to church for about 6 months straight. I moved to Europe and attended an international church with non-denominational teachings for 2 years that was a plant through the C3 church organization. I moved back to Texas and did not go to church for 6 months. I got married and moved to Tennessee and tried church again off and on for 6 months. About this time last year, S and I stopped going to church.
I have changed my mind a lot. I have had one idea of God followed by a different one. I have had a thousand beliefs and will have thousands more; I am okay with this.
I am a thinking individual. I do not think it is right to believe in something just because someone tells me to. I do not believe in disregarding facts merely because they are inconvenient.
Because of all of this, I have found myself in an interesting place on the landscape of spiritual and religious beliefs.
In a way, it is hard for me to write about this. I have heard and seen only too often how ugly and harsh supposedly ‘loving’ Christians are to people who share 99% of their same beliefs. I have kept a tight lid on most of this because I was not ready to for the response from those who will certainly disagree. I do not desire to be told I am wrong – I am already aware that I could be. I have been wrong many times before, after all. I have no desire to start a debate, or for someone to ‘question’ me, or to tell me I do not align with what they think Christians should be or what the bible says.
To be quite frank, I give zero craps what you think.
I believe that the search for understanding and ‘truth’ (regardless of your religious affiliation) should be unending.
I believe that it’s okay to find that you have been wrong, to offer yourself grace, and to change your mind on serious issues.
I believe in love and acceptance of people and of incredible grace.
I believe in evolution – micro and macro.
I believe in gender equality, in feminism and in the righting the ways that treating women as second-rate citizens affects women and men negatively.
I believe in homosexual rights, and in not being a close-minded bigot who shames others.
I believe in God, and I am most familiar with the biblical portrayal of God but I don’t think God is limited. In other words, I don’t think Christians are 100% correct about what they believe about God, and I don’t think Christians are the only ones with correct ideas of God.
I believe that the bible was inspired by God, but I probably use the word ‘inspired’ differently than you do if you happen to be a strict Christian.
I believe in keeping things in context.
I believe that theology does not trump science and/or history; I value them equally.
There will probably be two reactions to this:
1) shock and disappointment
2) happiness and pride
Whatever you feel about my ‘coming out’ of my beliefs, I hope you will keep any negativity to yourself. You are certainly allowed to disagree, to think whatever you want of me, but I have no interest in hearing about it. My goal in writing this post was honesty, not to put a target on myself; please keep your mean-spirited, out-of-context bible verses to yourself (looking at you, Facebook Guy).
On the other hand, if you have something nice to say, I would definitely like to hear it. I know there are a lot of like-minded individuals out there and I would be glad to read about your perspective in the comments.