The other day, I had the unfortunate encounter with a blogger who interprets the scriptures much differently than I do. We butted heads on the issue of church. Her post went out of the way to shame people who didn’t go to church. So I commented that she was victim blaming and that I took issue with her idea that going to church equals salvation. Her response to me was this:
Elle- Your argument is not with me, but with Scripture. If your argument were biblical, you’d be able to back it up with chapter and verse Scripture. There’s nowhere in the Bible that says it’s OK to reject the church because you’ve been hurt by it. You are judging me by making the assumption that I’ve never been hurt by the church and am therefore heartless to those who have. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. My family has been hurt deeply by more than one church. But your experiences and mine still don’t serve as an excuse to rebel against God’s word. People who are genuinely born again obey God’s word despite their experiences and feelings.
I would strongly encourage you to examine your heart against the measuring stick of Scripture not your feelings, experiences, and opinions, to discover whether or not you’re actually born again, because the fruit you’ve exhibited in your comments here and previously indicates that you do not understand the gospel and are not saved (1 Corinthians 2:14, John 14:23-24, 1 John 2:4-6). I’m not saying that to be mean, but because I’m concerned for your eternity. Simply saying or feeling that you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you are one.
Please, repent of your sin and place your faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to save you and set you free from the things that have hurt you. You don’t have to live life as a victim any more.
The thing was that I had been on her blog before and I had given her scriptural reasons as to why we shouldn’t put a church building up on a pedestal. We are not to hide away from other Christians or neglect getting together to talk about Christ, eating together, or just enjoying each other as we have a common bond, but that to me doesn’t mean sitting in a church pew and staring at the back of one’s head.
I hate to admit it, but her comment got under my skin this weekend. It wasn’t “her comment” exactly that bothered me. It was something deeper. It triggered past experiences and hurts and judgments that were made against me in the name of Christianity…in the name of “speaking the truth in love”. This is a typical cop-out for having to be held accountable for things you say: “I’m not saying that to be mean, but because I’m concerned for your eternity.” If you have to preface something with “I’m not saying this to be mean…” guess what? You already crossed a line.
The Judgmental Church
How easy it is for one to make judgments about another’s faith based on a simple fact: I don’t go to a church building. There have been judgments about me in other ways in the past. I’ve been judged by a statement on facebook. I’ve been judged because I don’t spank my kids. I’ve been judged because I question. I’ve been judged because I’m a woman. I’ve been judged for working. I’ve been judged because I don’t fit into the “perfect wife” scenario. Judging someone without really getting to know them and then telling them they are hell-bound is damaging. Especially when I’ve fought so hard to break down lies that prevent me from experiencing the joy of having a relationship with Christ. To be brought back to the point where I question my salvation and God’s love for me is destructive.
Honestly, this is what the church produces though. This is why I’ve left the church and will not return. I did question my salvation after reading this post. I questioned if Jesus wants me in the church. I questioned if I was wrong. I wondered if I was making a good decision by staying away.
She’s right. I’m not saved. Not in the way she wants me to be. I’m not saved by church attendance, rituals, traditions, and man made rules. I’m not saved by what people think of me or lacking belief in God that says He is for me and loves me. I’m not saved by pot lucks, passion plays, and phony interactions on a Sunday morning. That’s fine if you find comfort in those things, but I do not. I have outgrown the need for such things. I see things differently now.
Telling me my experiences and feelings don’t matter is yet another form of invalidation. If I didn’t feel things, I wouldn’t love God. If I didn’t look at my experiences and see how God was using them in my life, I’d be stuck in bad patterns and lost. Yes, the Bible is the Word of God that guides us into truth, but it is not a weapon to use to smack another human being over the head with nor is it a device to silence them when you don’t like what they have to say. It’s a gift you give to others to share the grace, forgiveness, and love in the person of Jesus Christ. If you can’t offer that, you aren’t offering the gospel.
The institutional church experience promotes fear and shaming. It is a weapon of invalidation, which says you aren’t allowed to think, act, speak, or be different and if you question that, we’ll make you sorry. It uses dysfunctional forms of communication and tactics to spread it’s message which it calls the gospel, but it is nothing like the gospel at all. It’s message is to scare people into coming to church so the church system can thrive. Without people, it will die. Which it should, if you ask me. But the institutional church needs money, volunteers, and “yes men” to keep itself going so it spews these words from the pulpit and the attendees in turn regurgitate it to anyone who would dare question the system. Instead of producing peaceful Christians, you end up with a bunch of fear-mongering cowards.
The art of leadership… consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention.
This thing will always anger me until I die. If you serve a God of fear, I suggest you fire him.