Thursday, August 15, 2013

one of them

Rewind to Spring, 2012.

I had known for a year or more that I was "out" and there was no going back. I asked too many of the wrong questions. Those we fellowshipped with on the campus could ask all kinds of questions and have all kinds of varying opinions on things like justification, sanctification, TULIP and more - but as long as they agreed on the big things, they were "in."

What do I mean by the big things? I mean abortion. I mean homosexuality. I mean evolution.

A teacher dared to believe that Creation may (just MAY, not certain, just may) have not been a literal 6 days... and that was it. He was gone on his own accord, but we all knew that wasn't really the truth.

Seminarians would teach and blog and write and expound on Calvinistic principles, would revere the Young, Restless and Reformed teachers - all of which are antithetical to Lutheran views on TULIP - and even though those doctrines were the core of the faith, they were still "in" and revered and respected.

Boards made decisions to bring in spiritually abusive teachers whose views on sanctification and justification were opposite of Lutheran theology because they taught "gender roles and differences" and that was "more valuable."

If I taught young girls that the purity of men's minds depended on them? In!
If I taught young girls that if they filled their hearts with boyfriends and magazines then Jesus couldn't get in? Totally IN!
If I shared with the women that men who didn't find husbands for their daughters were sinning? Ding-ding-ding, you guessed it - IN!
If I believed that God ultimately cared about His glory? IN!
Conversely, if I believed that God ultimately was concerned with loving His children? Also IN!
If I believed that children of divorcees were fundamentally flawed and lacking and damaged, irreparably? IN!
If I held to arminianism? Still IN!
If I combined lutheranism with arminianism? Totes FINE!
If I held to mostly Calvinist beliefs? Well, that's a LEGIT way to read Scripture!
If I mutilated Lutheranism and Calvinism together? Awesome. You get to be a cool Lutheran AND get some YRR street cred. Still... IN!

But if I had the audacity to question gender roles? I was out.
Questioning why hell was essential for faith? Out. 
I told someone I thought that gay marriage should be legal? Way, way out.

It was so, so tribal - but the delegitimization of those they disagreed with was NOT based on theology and doctrine, not consistently. It WAS consistently based on the political Religious Right.

When I read this article today, by Zach Hoag, it all came flooding back. 

"The catalyzing force behind what appears to be the rise of a new religious right from among the neo-reformed ranks is, of course, marriage equality legislation. Like abortion legislation before it, this will, as the aforementioned pastor likes to put it, “separate the men from the boys” among those who claim conservative (true) Christian faith. Who will be willing to continue standing against gay marriage – in the pulpit and in the polls? This will reveal who is “with us” and who is “against us.”

I might have been "out" of the tribe for questioning, but more than anything else I knew the determining factor was my beliefs on homosexuality. If I practiced an egalitarian marriage and didn't parade my feminism about? Eh, I was shunned and gossiped about, but no one was going to stop me from ministry. If I questioned why hell was an essential doctrine? Well, the Seminarians told my husband I was a heretic, but they left me alone.

Hearing the rage over our egalitarian marriage was one thing. Sam being told that he needed to get me under control and tell me what to do was one thing. Friends, upon hearing that I supported marriage equality, telling me "If you ever turn gay we can't be friends" was horrifying, but it was one thing.

The animus unleashed on those whose views differed on the sinfulness of homosexuality? 

That. Is. Frightening.

I don't think policing your group's boundaries in such a zero-sum, us vs them kind of way is ever right, or ever promotes growth or learning or anything good - but what really gets me is the inconsistency. Pick and choose, pick and choose.

Disagree on essential scriptures? Disagree in love!!

Disagree on ONE VERSE? You're bringing down the world, destroying this country and Christianity. 

You're one of them.

As Fred Clark said in the article I already linked to above, "The belief that anyone who does not believe in “the big four” is an “outsider” and cannot be allowed to call themselves Christian is inaccurate. It is untrue — just as each component piece of the big four is untrue.
Embracing untruth as the very definition of one’s faith and the core of one’s identity is not a recipe for peace of mind."  
This is how I lost my confidence in Christianity. I was sold an untruth, in a community where any search for truth was shunned. I was given a packaged lie that only certain things can be true and can be believed if you are actually a real, true, Christian. 
Fred Clark is right. This Christian tribalism is NOT a "recipe for peace of mind" and if any of the defenses so carefully constructed to keep your mind safe from those evil librul not-really-true-christians is breached, then you find the foundation you built your life upon crumbling to dust.
The very things that are clung to SO tightly are the things that bring the end.

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