Cruelty in Christ

February 25, 2019 0 Comments

I’ve long defend­ed evan­gel­i­cals and fun­da­men­tal­ists alike, insist­ing that if they could only under­stand the harm they’re per­pet­u­at­ing, they would change.

But I can’t con­tin­ue, in good con­science, telling my non-Chris­t­ian, queer, non-white, dis­abled, and trans friends to give evan­gel­i­cals in their lives anoth­er chance.

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Consideration — For the Well-Meaning Christian

October 18, 2017 1 Comment

I’ve said over and over again in this series: I know you mean well. But you have got to think about your words. Think about what you’re say­ing when you say, “It’s only through the grace of God that I’m heal­ing.” Think about the impli­ca­tions of your words to peo­ple who aren’t like you. Think about how what brings you com­fort has been used as a base­ball bat against oth­ers.

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Great expectations: basic human decency.

October 5, 2015 11 Comments

In short: the low­est com­mon denom­i­na­tor in all rela­tion­ships ought to be basic human decen­cy.

When Chris­tians tell me that it’s not fair for me to expect them not to tram­ple on my bound­aries or treat me with dis­re­spect for my auton­o­my as a human being, all I can hear is, “You can’t expect basic human decen­cy from me or my peo­ple.” More than that, I hear, “You don’t even qual­i­fy as human enough for us to con­sid­er treat­ing you dif­fer­ent­ly.”

Chris­tians? This is a prob­lem.

How will the world know you as lov­ing if you refuse to act lov­ing­ly? How can you say you pos­sess the love of Jesus Christ when this is how you treat unbe­liev­ers? You claim that you’re no bet­ter than us, yet treat us like you’re the Des­ig­nat­ed Adult and we’re the naughty chil­dren you must put back in our places. You insist that for me and oth­er unbe­liev­ers (or even lib­er­al believ­ers!) to write and live and share our authen­tic selves is a direct attack on you, and so you try to con­trol us through silenc­ing tac­tics and what you must think are counter-attacks. You can’t see the dif­fer­ence between some­one being hon­est about who they are and some­one exert­ing con­trol over a per­son? How can you not see the dis­re­spect of that? How can you not see the con­de­scen­sion? How can you pre­tend to be shar­ing Christ’s love when you refuse to see the image of God in any­one but those who look and think and act like you?

Despite being an athe­ist, I do think the Bible has a few nuggets of wis­dom here and there. And one of those nuggets is this: “Let us not love in word…but in deed and in truth.” In oth­er words, don’t tell me that you love me while show­ing me that you don’t.

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Observations about relationships in Christianity.

May 8, 2015 2 Comments

What kind of foun­da­tion forms a last­ing friend­ship, then? I mean, friend­ships are a pret­ty per­son­al thing. There’s lots of aspects that are dif­fi­cult to pin down, usu­al­ly includ­ing com­pat­i­ble per­son­al­i­ties, shared expe­ri­ences, out­looks on life, mutu­al­ly enjoy­able activ­i­ties, etc. I think those things are a giv­en, no mat­ter whether you’re a con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian or not. But in my expe­ri­ence, the ingre­di­ents that point to longevi­ty seem to be a pret­ty equal mix­ture of mutu­al admi­ra­tion, respect, and trust. The Chris­t­ian friends I have now who have been friends of mine for years weren’t my friends just because of our once-shared faith. We became friends through dis­cov­er­ing and indulging in shared inter­ests, sure, but we did it while demon­strat­ing respect for each other’s indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and per­son­hood. Our per­son­al­i­ties do click, but we also work hard to be empa­thet­ic, trust­wor­thy, respect­ful peo­ple. We care about each oth­er, what demon­stra­bly makes each other’s lives more mean­ing­ful and ful­fill­ing, no ulte­ri­or motives.

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For the well-meaning Christian: the rightly divided word.

May 1, 2015 0 Comments

Con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian men approach what I say in the exact same way they approach what the Bible says.

I know that’s quite a claim to make, but the more I reflect on how I was taught to approach the Bible and observe how these men approach my words, the more pro­nounced the par­al­lel becomes. What do I mean, exact­ly?

  1. They iso­late our words from the con­text in which they were writ­ten.
  2. Then they insist that nei­ther con­text nor autho­r­i­al intent can mean­ing­ful­ly affect a “plain read­ing.”
  3. Final­ly, they assert that any oth­er inter­pre­ta­tion is intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­hon­est.
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For the well-meaning Christian: humility in listening.

March 18, 2015 8 Comments

You’ll approach me with why you think I real­ly stopped being a Chris­t­ian, as if it’s a huge secret that, if you can just crack the code, you could make sure no one would leave the team ever again. And usu­al­ly, much like this per­son said, you assume I just didn’t pick the right fla­vor of Chris­tian­i­ty. Or I just didn’t real­ly know Jesus. Or as a recent read­er sug­gest­ed, I just left the bad Chris­tians behind but not Jesus.

You’re tak­ing own­er­ship of my sto­ry, man­gling it beyond recog­ni­tion, then insist­ing I accept your ver­sion rather than my own. You’re say­ing you’re a bet­ter judge of my expe­ri­ences and life than I am. And when you sup­pose these things about my life and my beliefs, you are being incred­i­bly dis­re­spect­ful and unlov­ing. Like Cas­sidy said. it’s like you grew up in a home where smack­ing some­one upside the head was con­sid­ered lov­ing, and you’re now indig­nant that you can’t smack me, too.

I get it. I do. I did the same thing. I believed rather strong­ly that any­one who left the faith was nev­er a Chris­t­ian to begin with but had been deceived into think­ing they were. And I wasn’t shy about this belief, nor did I fal­ter in said belief.

Until it hap­pened to me.

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For the well-meaning Christian: credit to whom credit is due.

March 11, 2015 2 Comments

I think we real­ly do a dis­ser­vice to our­selves and the peo­ple around us when we attribute the good or bad things actu­al­ly done by peo­ple to the super­nat­ur­al, or even to some sort of intrin­sic good­ness like hard work. I don’t begrudge peo­ple the com­fort they take in believ­ing a divine cre­ator has orches­trat­ed their life to their ben­e­fit, or even want­i­ng to believe that bad things have hap­pened due to an invis­i­ble malev­o­lent force. I just can’t help but notice how this ten­den­cy to cred­it the super­nat­ur­al with what man or chance has wrought often serves to cre­ate a dis­con­nect between us and our com­mu­ni­ties.

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For the well-meaning Christian: on showing basic empathy and respect.

March 2, 2015 15 Comments

I real­ly hope you can hear me out about what I am say­ing and what I’m not say­ing here, because I absolute­ly don’t expect any of you to stop talk­ing about your faith in gen­er­al. It’s such a huge part of your lives, and it’d be real­ly unfair of me to expect you to keep such an impor­tant part of your life to your­self and nev­er speak of it. That’s cru­el and dis­re­spect­ful, and would mean that I don’t real­ly care about you in the first place. To bor­row the spir­it of the words of a friend, “It’s part of your life — and I like your life.”

This is where it could do you some good to learn a lit­tle empa­thy, learn to put your­self in my shoes for a lit­tle bit, so maybe you can learn what treat­ing me with respect actu­al­ly looks like.

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