Rethinking Christianity seemed to be the best, least click bait type of title I could think of. I almost wondered if Christianity Ruined My Life would have been an appropriate title since I was wanting to marry a believer and somehow became blind to the control/abuse my husband was dishing out in the guise of Christianity. Jesus Isn’t Toxic would have perhaps been a good title also. Perichoresis Is Relationship NOT a Hierarchy would have been a title to appeal to all my thinking friends.
Say it better, say the Gospel better, let your life and attitude bear witness of the gospel, blessed are the feet of them that bring good news, that good news is Jesus, not the current or historical crazianity, historical since there is nothing new under the sun. If it seems new it’s simply repackaged. My Experience With Crazianity would have been an appropriate title for sure.
I’ve been taking a hard look at Christianity for over a year. My perspective and world view have changed. Changed back, turned about and worked back around to the beginning to what I believed at the first, to start again with more wisdom and clarity. A heightened awareness of what is the gospel and what isn’t seems to have overtaken my senses. The gospel isn’t a set of controlling ideas, or even helpful rules, but a person. The circumcision that Paul addresses in Galatians was a controlling idea, practice, they thought they were saved by it and made a saving idol out of it; not merely an idol, but one that saved them. Today it’s a bit tricky this idea or unbendable truth that we put up in place of Jesus doesn’t save oh no who would go that far as to say that, although some do, but it proves our salvation and it makes us better. We are better if we have this or that idea or practice in our belief. It can be any number of things. A lot of those things can be flipped to an opposite stance, we are better or real Christians because we believe and practice such in such or don’t; it is a sort of Gnosticism that history repeats. We are better or real Christians because we are not centered or balanced, extremes are held in high regard in Christendom not freedom.
For almost two decades I thought at least ninty-five percent of divorce was preventable and caused by mere selfishness of both parties. When I came to the realization that my husband was emotionally/spiritually abusive and that this is far too common in Christian circles, perhaps more common than the circles of the world; I fell down the rabbit hole of research on all things religion uses as a cover for abuse. I felt completely uprooted. The only reason my husband agreed to go to marriage counseling was because he thought that since our counselor was Presbyterian, PCA to be exact, that he would think I was demon posessed and be my exorcist. Of course the counselor had none of it and saw my husband as spiritually/emotionally abusive. The counselor had me back for individual counseling by the forth visit. My husband forbid me to go back and accused the counselor of “liking” me. I went and clarity of the abuse I was enduring came. No wonder Mark Driscoll makes me flinch. Demon trials anyone! I conclude if some of these popular teachers were my counselor how would that have turned out since I thought, even hoped I was doing something wrong because if it was me I could do my best to fix it once I knew, once a counselor made it clear to me. Finding that my husband was abusive caused my whole house of cards to be knocked down. What I thought was stable and sure proved to be sand; quicksand and deadly if I would have stayed. Where is God, why couldn’t God fix this, is my faith strong enough or is God able to keep me in spite of my wrecked faith?
God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
It was and is grief to be sure but the grief of a lost marriage is different and perhaps more complicated than the death of a spouse. My husband was serious in his claims, at least serious in order to control me, that I was demon posessed and that if I didn’t agree God was going to give me over to a reprobate mind and God himself would make me gay. God was also punishing me every time I was tired or sick or having anxiety. The anxiety was caused by living in that toxic environment and went round in circles. The whole relationship from the beginning only after a couple months of dating spun into mostly being able to only connect with religious matters and especially only able to connect by agreement with him on those matters. The other ways to connect always spun back to religion or were overshadowed by religion. It was all dramatic and rather addictive. Now when I see a teaching that resembles control or sensationalism, I notice it with overwhelming clarity.
With every bit of retrospective thought I can muster, I’m seeing it comes down to I didn’t see the abuse because of words, phrases, and avoidance by that person to have the empathy and emotional connection of an image bearer of God, as we humans are apt to have. One would think of one married a believer one would have the connection of a fellow Spirit led believer. Mis-used Christian words muddy our clarity. Words that can be spun to have either negative or encouraging meanings depending on the character of the person interpreting them. Mis-use of words by a few as it trickles down to the masses can in some people’s lives mean little since good people mostly don’t think of it much. They are interested in fair play and loving connection with others, but hand those words to a potential sociopath and what do you get a lot of cards he can use. “Sin” covers all the mis-used words because if you don’t agree with his interpretation that is “sin” and his interpretation is what “God says” so you are now “sinning against God”. “Sin” can be anything when someone is bent on controlling others.
I also didn’t see it because I was never properly warned, the church is so full of teaching that is not gospel focused, nor living in light of what scripture actually teaches, but full of sensationalism, fear and rules. Rules that are like the Galatians beliefs on the necessity of circumcision, repackaged, but just as much a saving idol. I had the notion that rules were always dress and music and entertainment related, nope, rules can be a subtle “If you constantly speak in Christian platitudes, never have questions about what you believe or worse yet what this church or a person in ‘authority’ teaches, if you are a woman you must remember your place and stay in it because our doctrine about women is more important than women, then you are more acceptable to God,you are safe with us and we can be your family, if not, well that’s another story. We are not legalistic because ‘blue jeans’ and ‘we have drums’. We are not controlling because ‘if you don’t like it there’s the door’.”
There is sensationalism that is addictive and exciting about toxic religion, being a creative person protected me from not falling for all of it. I never fell for “reading Harry Potter is evil” or “trick or treating is evil”. The Christian who doesn’t participate in the free candy day is better, more saved, less worldly type of nonsense. I didn’t fall for being a teetototaler for long, only a decade. Let me be clear it’s perfectly acceptable to obstain from alcohol, sometimes even necessary, but to think we are better by doing so, or not doing so is not the gospel but one’s own conviction and that should not be elevated at the exclusion of another’s. There are some who feel obstaining for them would make it more appealing and the way they don’t over indulge is by not making it forbidden. This seems to work well across the ocean where alcohol is viewed differently, but this is not where my post is headed. We have the Holy Spirit to work those things out in us. My appeal to Christians is, say it better, don’t purposefully obfuscate doctrines you have because they are unpalatable to most people who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid, at least they’ll know the problematic areas and make a quiet(or not so quiet) exit sooner rather than later, better a leaving church attender or a breakup of a date than the pain of a seperation/divorce or the leaving of a church member who has invested in many ways. If words are being misused clarify what they don’t mean and if you feel comfortable change to a more clarifying wording if applicable. Add explanations to make something more clear. Sometimes even when I know the phrase is meant in the best possible way it still brings discomfort or even a sense of panic because he would use the same phrase or verse in a harmful way.
Jesus was seen as less than in the Trinity; can ( certainly not always, it depends) be an indicator of problems, if it’s used in a certain way. I remember my ex going through a phase where he said Jesus was a created being. God created by God. He dropped that eventually, but yet God the father was always put on this pedestal of distance from Jesus. Jesus seemed to be this subservient victim, a whipping boy that God the angry father pours out his wrath on and not only on Jesus but on us if we don’t stay in line. Not staying in line causes the whole whipping boy thing not to work out for us. Unfortunately the line was my ex’s interpretations especially his interpretation regarding the Holy Spirit. All of that is explained in this post https://christianity9968.wordpress.com/2016/11/19/marriage-train-wreck-1/?preview=true and the defensive hope post. Of couse some people flip this to the other end of the spectrum and go into complete crazianity and the Holy Spirit is the one put on a pedestal above but that’s a whole other thing that I’m not covering here. These ideas make the trinity split. Where is the divine dance of relationship? The holy conspiracy of the Father and the Son to save the world. The Trinity is about relationship not hierarchy, marriage is also about relationship not hierarchy. My ex having no bias against female pastors, rather for them actually, was able to assert himself between me and God with the idea of hiarchy and control of the husband over the wife in marriage. He engaged a full on assault of my thinking by repeating the same ideas over and over, mind control almost. I detest the umbrella meme with the husband over. Don’t put my Jesus behind the veil of someone’s umbrella please. He rent the veil and there it stays. I seriously think I have a good point in strongly disliking the umbrella meme. The strongest point being that there is one mediator between God and humanity that is Jesus. Not to mention Bill Gothard penned it, that is also an excellent reason. I couldn’t see through his spiritual abuse of me since he was after all fine with women leading in a church setting or leading anywhere in the world. It provided a bit of a smoke screen for him. This is why I flinch at the new Calvanism idea of the eternal subordination of the Son and that being used as an agenda to keep women in a place, in a box, with men between them and God. I distrust when the Trinity is put in a different light than relationship, than perichoresis. Although I’m certainly fine with people who have kind hearts and think Jesus was an undergod of sorts, its when there’s a “keep women in their place” agenda that it becomes more problematic. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perichoresis
I’ve always seen a woman’s place to be in the midst of where God’s working. I always knew since a ten year old first reading Paul’s letters that those verses in Timothy and Corinthians were addressed to women who were teaching crazianity not you or I and could have been just as easily addressed to men. One doesn’t have to dig deep to prove the scripture is teaching against abusive control in those verses it’s self evident when lined up with the rest of scripture although I certainly encourage you to dig into the first century and into the freedom women and all humanity has in Christ.
When a prominent teacher says men must be careful and not learn too much from books by women, John Piper did a whole “ask pastor John”, I gag and think of all C.S. Lewis learned and enjoyed reading by Dorothy Sayers and all his correspondence in letters with women such as Sister Penelope and Ruth Pitter and the list goes on. Here is a man, a person for at least most of his life maybe all of it who did not believe women should be priests but that was not taken into a crazianity position. Not to mention his thoughts on pastors of say the Methodist were quite different he certainly wouldn’t be up in arms against women pastors of different denominations. He was Anglican and had a view of priest being male what the Methodist did was fine to him. I realize I have to agree to disagree with my Catholic and Orthodox and some branches of protestant friends on this matter of women priests/pastors and that is not what this article is about exactly, a little bit, but not exactly. To silence a woman’s voice, even her writing is an assault to her personhood. It’s wrong to silence people by refusing to learn too much from them.
For a teacher to invalidate a women’s voice as if she matters not stirs feelings and thoughts in me that say “I am not truly loved by half the Christian community simply because I am a woman. My ex invalidated me and now I’ve learned this invalidation of women is at an organized church level, this is disheartening.”
God created man and woman a living soul, our personhood matters. I trust no teachers who do not make a rabbit trail to explain what commonly mis-used scriptures mean in context of God’s love and character. Do l get triggered by this misuse of scripture yes, but thankfully some pastors have nuance and understanding. I’m not certain why some people have understanding and some don’t but one thing is certain more is needed. This next linked article moved me. Some of my feelings are the same yet for a large part I have found church healing and because of that I have to wonder how much knowledge of abuse and understanding about it this woman’s pastor had. Even so I struggle there are times I’ve showed up when it was the hardest thing to do. I admit a lot of those times I simply showed up because I wanted my kids to be in church that morning. I doubt that TGC in the states would publish this, I’m glad at least Australia is waking up. The author of the article does seem a little of a different theological view than mine regarding the roles of men and women, yet it certainly is a welcome piece of writing.
There is a difference that is noticeable between a Christianity that follows Jesus and the (c)hristianity that is rift with rules, roles, fear and sensationalism. Let us know the difference.