Sitting in the pew four years ago I was shaking, literally shaking with anger. It was a combination of a lot of things, but at the time I thought it was 2 Chronicles 7:14 (if my people, who are called by my name,will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land). Not just that one verse, but the implications of it and tone with which it was delivered. It was used to subvert anyone who might be thinking of voting a particular way and help lead our country to devastation; under the guise of standing up for God’s truth and morality. But really it was just a hate speech…that’s what made me feel so intensely. It was hate directed at the LBGT community, hate directed at women who decided that they aren’t capable of becoming a mother (really it was hate directed at women), hate directed at people who don’t support God and country (aka-war), and hate directed at those who thought it important to stand up for issues in which they believed. It was hate directed at me.
I’ve come to realize that God has blessed me with a sense of compassion and justice that I’ve yet to learn how to adequately yield. When I discuss justice issues my ears get red, my pulse quickens, and I speak too personally. My voice scales up and chokes off toward the end. One day, I hope to have the wisdom and patience to effectively use these gifts without relationships being compromised. Four years ago, it was my relationship with God that suffered.
In 2008 I stopped believing in God. I’d like to blame it on that sermon, that ideology, or the hate supported by misrepresented Bible verses, but it’s not that simple. Something as intrinsic as faith is never that simple. No, it was an amalgamation of things that lead to the falter in my faith.
Did sitting week after week being told that I would likely go to Hell and having my very well thought out ideas and understandings being swept away with an out-of-context Old Testament verse help move things along? Sure. I was going to loose faith eventually; for me it was painful, beneficial, and necessary. What bothers me, though, is the method by which I lost my faith.
I didn’t slowly dwindle away, loosing interest like most fear that my generation does when it comes to God. I fought. I fought it like hell. I tried to be heard, to be civil, and to be understood. The refusal to entertain an actual conversation, whether overt or underlying, drove me to be bitter. Unfortunately bitterness consumed me for the better part of two years. I wasn’t an atheist for two years, I believed much sooner than I returned to religion. God is not quite so offensive when removed from some of his followers.
I was a spiritual causality of the last general presidential election. It wasn’t worth it. No one changed their opinions…we’re still fighting the same battles passive-aggressively on facebook that we did four years ago. I didn’t become a better person during those two years. Warfare (political, verbal, or physical) always has it’s causalities. Always, whether actual people, ideas, feelings, souls, or materials, and the cost is never worth it.