The Chain-Reaction Transformation of My Faith
Today, I’d just like to share the personal transformation my faith has undergone in the last several months. It started with something little. Tiny even. Back about mid-December 2012, a friend of mine, who at the time was a waitress at Outback Steakhouse, shared a link to a blog post about the bad reputation churchgoers have among servers at restaurants. I clicked the link out of random curiosity, just because it had piqued my interest.
That click changed my life.
The blog I had stumbled across was Crumbs from the Communion Table, a blog authored by a man named Justin Lee who had dedicated his life to building bridges between the LGBT and Christian communities. As I began reading through his blog, I was extremely wary at first. After all, I was a fundamentalist, and this man was saying that it was okay with God if you were gay. But I was receptive to him, I think because I’ve always had a heart for the marginalized, and there is no doubt that gay people are extremely marginalized in today’s society. Anyway, as I read, my wariness morphed into discomfort, and my discomfort morphed into…a broken heart. I was horrified that I had carried around all these misconceptions about gays for so many years—that they’re all promiscuous, confused, screwed up, and/or socially awkward. I had stereotyped them, and I didn’t even know it!
So I became determined to break the stereotype, at least for myself. I knew the best way to do that would be to talk to and become friends with a gay person, but that seemed rather presumptuous (“Hey, can I be your friend because I used to believe all these rotten things about you and I want to see who you are as a person so all my stereotypes can be proved wrong?!”), and I haven’t really kept in touch with any gay people I’ve known in my life, not because they came out, but because I moved, or they moved, or we grew apart, or we were never close to begin with, or whatever. So instead, I threw myself into research. I read Justin’s interpretation of scripture, and how he came to believe it supports Christ-centered same-sex relationships. And I read the opposite argument. Basically, I read a lot.
Here’s where I get to the chain-reaction part. In studying these various ways that people reconcile Christianity and homosexuality, I found that I had begun, subtly and without really noticing it, to question the inerrancy of Scripture. I began wondering if these people were onto something, that the Bible does not exist in a vacuum, but instead should be read with its historical, cultural, and religious context in mind. I began to realize that humans wrote it, and that humans’ perceptions of the world around them can be wrong, and can be recorded incorrectly, translated incorrectly, and interpreted incorrectly.
So all of that, of course, led me down another rabbit trail that for me, was far, far more terrifying than asking questions about homosexuality. Instead, I found that the ground was shaking under me, my stability was crumbling, everything I’d known with an ignorant certainty was evaporating into dust, leaving me grasping at air, lost, alone, and afraid in a vast, empty wilderness that used to be full of terms like fundamentalism, and systematic theology, and Biblical inerrancy.
Then, something happened.
I realized I was free.
Not free of the Bible, which I could never learn not to love. Not free of my religion, which I am and will be faithful to until the day that I die. But…I was free of the responsibility to have every single answer laid out for me. I was free to embrace “wiggle room” in my faith. I was free to dare…free to wonder: maybe, just maybe, my religious tradition has made a few errors along the walk of history.
Maybe same-sex relations can be wholesome, fruitful, and selfless expressions of love.
Maybe men, women, and children of different religions can experience Yahweh, even if they give him a different name.
Maybe the unevangelized can be welcomed into the open arms of the Father when they reach Judgment Day.
Maybe the errors in scripture are a gift, because they make the stories in the Bible relatable and understandable, human, in a sense.
Maybe all those scientists out there who have studied this world diligently and suggested theories like evolution can offer a small picture of the enormity of my Lord’s power.
That’s a lot of maybes. But I want to cry out as I think of all the long years that I’ve spent ignoring these “maybes”, thrusting them to the back of my mind, dismissing them because they didn’t have a “Biblical foundation”, because they didn’t adhere to the religious tradition I grew up in.
But here’s the thing. God is bigger than the maybes. Bigger than the questions, bigger than all the theological convictions I’ve always carried that weren’t really mine to begin with. God is enormous. He can’t be limited to a theological system, or a set of books, or a certain tradition. God is God. He is, and always will be, incomprehensible.
So I think, at this point, I’ve come to realize that God can handle my questions and my fears and this giant wilderness I’m wandering in. And as I wander, I find that from time to time I’m kneeling down, planting seeds, cultivating these tender little shoots that, for the first time in my life, are growing from ME and not from what I’ve been taught.
I just pray that God is the one guiding my hands, choosing my little seeds, and watering the plants as they begin to develop roots and start to fuse with the ground.