I have made a decision. It is one that I should have made a while ago, but didn’t because I kept talking myself out of it, kept listing reasons for why it was a wrong choice and I shouldn’t do it.
But I can’t deny it anymore, and it is a choice I must make.
I’m leaving my church.
I’ve been going there for two years now, but I have reached a point in my spiritual life where I am yearning for more than the same old recycled talk. After the retreat I went to a month ago, I decided I needed a break, and went on a hiatus of sorts from my home church. I attended another local church a few times, and a few other Sundays just sat on my front porch and soaked in scripture and the morning. Mostly I was just really aimless and ambivalent about it all, and I think on a subconscious level I was already letting go of the community I’ve been a part of for the last few years.
But this past Sunday, I went back to my regular church, and as I sat through a discussion on 2 Kings 17, and as we talked about how God is holy and can’t abide sin and therefore must send ferocious lions into the mist of the Israelites and the Assyrians who conquered them in order to teach them a lesson, I realized I didn’t belong there anymore (seriously, look it up: verse 25).
And then we took that same passage, and talked about a modern application of yoga. We talked about how just as when the Israelites so subtly allowed pagan worship into their lives, so we today let the Hindu religion seep into our lives unknowingly when we practice yoga.
And I know my leader was just trying to get us to think. She even said that she and her husband practiced yoga when he had a bad back, and that she wasn’t definitively denouncing it as all evil. She just wondered if we shouldn’t be more careful and thoughtful about practicing it.
But I guess, for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was that everyone took that passage as an accurate representation of God, and applied that idea of God to our lives today. That passage was violent, and barbaric, and archaic. It reflected an ancient view of the divine that had not yet come to fruition in the person of Jesus Christ.
And I realized I’m tired of trying to work up the courage to say these things in church when we talk about God being so holy he must send lions to attack us when we sin. My mind and my heart have expanded so far beyond this conception of God, and I’ve gotten to the point where walking into Bible study on Sunday mornings feels like re-fastening chains that I have long since shed.
I need an environment where I feel safe to talk about the incredible transformation my faith has gone through over the last year. I need an environment where I can talk about this blog series, which has opened my eyes to this incredible new way of reading scripture.
The church I’ve been attending for the last two years is not that environment.
And right now I’m just trying to come to terms with my decision, because it is so hard to quiet that voice in my head that tells me I’m being selfish, that I’m rejecting my church because I’m too focused on my wants and my desires when I should be focused on the body of Christ around me.
But I just can’t go on anymore. There is something wrong when I feel free and alive and excited to talk about God and Christianity with my friends and even my mom, but I feel stifled and reserved in church, like I must censure my words very carefully for the sake of being respectful of more traditional doctrines and ways of belief in my church.
I crave authentic community. I crave a place where I can lay myself out, with all my demons and all my joys and all my struggles and all my not-so-conservative opinions. And I recognize that this kind of environment is really rare, and that I may spend a long time searching for it. And in some ways, I realize that it is an environment that I must create myself, by being honest about where my spiritual journey has taken me.
I just don’t think I can create it at my current church. And so I am moving on.