Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How a pro-choice rally might (eventually) inspire me to go to church again

Here is a picture of a fuzzy caterpillar I found on my house. It has nothing to do with anything in this post. He's so fluffy, I'm gonna die!

For the most part, as I'm going about my life, things happen that tend to make me think: Ah, this. This is exactly why I don't go to church. Stuff like Christian politicians claiming that the DOMA ruling by the SCOTUS makes the baby Jesus cry (ahem, Mike Huckabee). Or stuff like Southern Baptists condemning the Boy Scouts for not being gigantic jerk-faces (that is not my first choice descriptor, btw) to innocent children because WWJD?! Or a Christian politician from another state, coming here to Texas to argue against abortion, even though his own wife's life would have been in danger if abortion had not been an option for her. Stuff like that.

But then weirdly enough, it was a pro-choice rally that gave me my first glimmer of hope that I might find a church close by that I could feel really good about going to. A minister from a church in Austin came to speak out against the legislation. And I was like, wait what? A church leader? Who is pro-choice? A church leader who had also volunteered in a rape crisis center? Who was also passionate about social justice issues? And doesn't mind if you don't believe in God?

Then, a few days later, Rachel Held Evans did a "Ask a..." series and this particular one interviewed a universalist (I highly recommend it, if you haven't watched it already). I already figured his answers would really resonate with me but I didn't figure that they'd sort of floor me the way they did. I didn't come from a universalist background, rather a sinners in the hands of an angry God/eternal damnation one. So even though I strongly support the universalist view point, I'm still very much a product of the eternal conscious torment view point. And nothing drove this home more than this question
...the question I get asked most as a universalist (and one that you did address in your book to some extent) is this: if everyone will ultimately be saved, why bother being a Christian? I'm not even entirely sure how to process this question, because my first inclination is to respond that, if the removal of the threat of hell eliminates all motivation for following Jesus, then we have a serious problem. At the same time, though, I don't really have an answer for folks who say, "Well then why not just be a good person, even try to live like Jesus, but not bother with Christianity?" Quite frankly, as an LGBT person in the church, I'm beginning to see the appeal of this approach. Why not just be a Jesus follower, and leave all the craziness in the church behind? I'm not sure this is exactly a question, but any thoughts on this would be great.
Because, um. Yes. That is exactly how I feel: "Why not just be a Jesus follower, and leave all the craziness in the church behind?" And his answer sort of floored me. And this part of it made me laugh out loud: "That obviously presupposes that any reason for being a Christian is that you don't go to hell when you die. Surely nobody who is actually a Christian would consider that as remotely an attractive view point. If you're really a Christian, is it only about getting out of hell? I mean, crap on a stick is all I can think to say to that." Because, um. That seemed like the whole point of being a Christian growing up. Not going to hell and/via not having premarital sex. Right? But regarding church, he says God's purpose is to build community; so being a Christian and not being part of a church community is sort of meaningless. And I was like, what? I thought going to church was like a punishment, not the point, of Christianity? Like a form of atonement. Like fasting. It sucks but you have to do it sometimes to be a part of the not-going-to-hell club. I had never considered it as, instead of a condition of Christianity, kinda the whole point of it. Huh? Weird.

Anyway, this church is way across town from my house. But I might just have to give it a try.



  1. I work at a Christian college but I haven't been to church in quite a while (multiple reasons too numerous to mention here) but if/when I go back, it will definitely be to either a Friends Church (Quakers) or to a Unitiarian Universalist church. My third choice would be a UCC.

    I like to think I follow (albiet doggedly and sometimes with difficulty) Jesus and I accept many of the Christian tenets - but one thing I have never, EVER been able to wrap my head around is the idea of an eternally merificul God and Hell. Those two ideas simply cannot exist in the same sentence in my brain - never has, never will.

    The Unies have it right, in my opinion, at least as right as it is possible to be on this side of whereever it is we go when our bodies die. ;-)

    1. I've always wanted to try a Quaker church.

      Yeah, same here with the merciful God and hell. I liked that in one of the videos of the universalist he talked about how much he hated to juxtaposition of the loving God with the holy and just God. and I was like, YES, that was my youth group growing up. And I hated it too!

    2. It always warms my heart to hear the stories of folks who manage to escape the Fundagelical world. ;-)

      *Especially* women.

    3. "fundagelical" = awesome

    4. I cannot take credit for the term, alas....I saw it used on a forum I used to read several years ago.

      But I must say I use it a lot!