My Biggest Problem

It may or may not be a mystery that I grew up in a super conservative Christian environment.  Not like rapture evangelicals, more like Mennonites.  No was a big thing for us.  No caffeine, no cigarettes, no meat, no dancing, no jewelry, no makeup, no premarital sex…  It was a long time ago.

I’m not a Christian any more, but I have a friend who is attending a Christian university and is struggling through a class on “the Christian worldview.”  I offered to help thinking that somehow having been immersed in the language and concepts for so long, I might be able to translate or something.  Instead, it would seem I end up saying “one of my biggest problems with Christianity is…” a lot.  Last night, he pointed this out as I was going into another of my frustrations with … well, really any religion that starts with the creation account and the fall of man.

Okay, so we’re made in God’s image.  Do we really think this means that God has a nose and requires oxygen to survive?  If He’s omnipresent and omnipotent and omniscient, doesn’t that kind of preclude having a body that is tied to time and place?  Probably.  So if we don’t look like God, what does that leave us?  What about Humans is different from all the other animals?  The only thing I can come up with is our ability to create.  To look at the world and imagine it as other than what it is.  To ask questions.  To ask why.

So if our ability to ask why and to create intentional change in the world is how God has created us like him, why would the first test of humanity be whether or not we can not ask questions and just obey because we’ve been asked to.  Have you ever met a three year old?  Seriously, God must not have known us at all if He thought  that we’d manage an eternity without ever asking “why not this tree?”  It was a question of time.

Already, you’ve got a conflict between the trust God has given us with the ability to think critically and imagine the world as other than what it is and the demand for unquestioning obedience.

We know that, given a choice between the two, Religion is always going to focus on the obedience.  The crew I grew up with certainly didn’t like questions.  They didn’t like people who thought out of the box.  They didn’t want to have to apply logic.

My conclusion? Trust nothing that gets between you and your responsibility to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

That covers the first of equal problems I have with the business.   That’s probably enough for one day.

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My Biggest Problem

5 thoughts on “My Biggest Problem

  1. I think there must be other ways of looking at Christianity, although I don’t really know what they are. It’s just that some sensible people I know who are Christians don’t seem to be overly into the obedience thing. I’m not interested enough or patient enough to figure it out. But I think it’s there.

    My “biggest problem” with Christianity is that I actually don’t see the point of sending a Messiah to die for us. I mean, why not just offer forgiveness if that was the whole idea, and was there some problem with forgiveness before? I mean, did everyone just rot in hell before that? That seems a bit cruel. I can see sending a Messiah. I can’t see why it involved anyone dying. I also don’t understand the whole “chosen people” idea. It implies God played favorites. And if the favoritism was there only because no one else believed in the “correct” God, then why didn’t God make it a bit more obvious who to worship? He had to know we aren’t all that bright and could use some extra help. Why wait so long to start including gentiles in his whole plan? It just doesn’t add up to me.

    Incidentally, many people who leave the group I grew up in will claim that that group is not, in fact, Christian. It would be interesting to know whether ex-members of the group you grew up in think the same way.

    Oh, and I’d say the difference between us and animals is how profoundly social we are. Other mammals are social. We are so social we grew specialized vocal chords just so we could communicate better. But I do think we are an expression of God’s joy in creating. (Totally a non-Christian viewpoint, there.)

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  2. A lot of the ex-members I know of either venture off into a new age replacement for the gap left from the original social group or the end up like me: avoiding labels and happy to be rational – or at least as rational as we can be.

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  3. Just curious.

    Ex-members from what I grew up in often become other kinds of more mainstream Christians (or atheists). They seem to find more mainstream Christianity very liberating and remark that what we had completely missed the point–we forgot Jesus. Or something like that.

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  4. Well, my next biggest complaint is the whole Jesus thing. 1) How many Christians do you know who actually live up to the Beatitudes. 2) It’s just awfully complicated. God sets us up to fail, punishes us for failing (particularly the xy’s of the species with the whole childbirth thing), then makes it “right” by killing someone else all so we can do whatever we want so long as we get foxhole religion right at the end? Doesn’t make sense to me. I believe in consequences and learning from them. I think salvation is making a tentative peace with the imperfections and showing up every day to move beyond them, if only an inch at a time, knowing that you’ll fail, and trying anyway.

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  5. Honestly, I don’t really try to make sense of it anymore. It speaks to some people, and I just don’t get it at a fundamental level. On the other hand, I really like black licorice. A lot of people don’t get that either.

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