Guest Post: lover’s faith journey

My husband wrote the following to his parents.  I share it with permission.

______________________________________________________

God has in no way “let me down”. I have not “turned my back on God”. I
am not hurt by God or someone in the church. These are common
presumptions many people have when someone transitions away from the
evangelical church. And they are not true.

The reality is, it is because of the strength of my continued belief
in God, the values I have been taught, and detailed study of the
Bible, that I have made transitions away from evangelicalism. It is my
continued belief in a kind, loving, caring, truth-telling God of
wonder that I must conclude the Bible is not, as a whole, an accurate
representation of the God I have always believed in. And many
teachings in the church I cannot accept as promoted by the God I
believe in, for they contradict what I believe God stands for. My
belief in God has not changed. I am only questioning the claimed
authority some feel they have to promote their own ideas on behalf of
God. Ideas that contradict the nature of the God I believe in. Ideas
that contradict what the Bible actually says. The God I always have,
and still, believe in. Things I feel the God I believe in would not
approve of.

I know you feel I have been deceived, but the complete opposite is
true. I have discovered that I have been deceived. Not about
everything I’ve been taught, just some things. I have discovered that
the Bible is being abused and misused. You point out that no church,
no church authority, is perfect. Of course. I’ll add the Bible to this
list. It is not perfect. How can the Bible, written by imperfect
humans, be perfect and without error? To think otherwise requires a
strong level of cognitive dissonance. How can any document written by
humans be perfect and without error?

No church, no church authority, is perfect.  But there is a difference
between failing to live up to promoted ideals and promoting harmful or
false ideals, under the guise of them being “good”. My standards of
“goodness” have not changed. I now question the goodness of some
ideals some churches are promoting. That some parts of the Bible
promote. In finding release from these harmful ideals, I have found a
much stronger sense of purpose, love, joy, peace, fulfillment,
kindness and even spiritual connection with God and the world around
me.

I think I have already stated which ideals I have found to bring the
opposite effects to my life. Ideals which have at times lead to
unhealthy and unnecessary guilt, judgement, prejudice, cognitive
dissonance, hatred (of myself and others), anger, sadness, depression
and bitterness. I don’t have a place for teachings that lead to
harmful behaviour or thoughts. I am not so much hurt by people who
teach these things, but from the ideals themselves. I am acknowledging
that in and of themselves, some of these ideals, when followed, cause
hurt. After struggling through this transition for years and the
negative impacts on my life, how could I wish the same on my children?

If it helps, I’ll try to nail down the root issue of some of these
harmful ideals from my perspective. Essentially to me it boils down to
churches using the Bible, out of context and in misleading ways, to
promote deep seated cultural prejudices, more or less. I understand
why this practice persists and why it is so vehemently defended. It is
a human tendency we all have. I am trying my best to work against this
human tendency.

A cultural prejudice that attempts to create narrow definitions and
requirements for what it means to be human. A narrowness that attempts
to limit God and manipulate the Bible and people. The God I believe
in, have always believed in, is bigger and better than this narrowness
and manipulation.

Can I prove God exists? No. Can someone prove God does not exist? No.
I choose to continue my belief in God. But I respect those who chose
not to believe in something I can’t prove, but still hold to the same
values I do. Most humans do hold the same values. In the end, this is
what matters to me. Not so much what someone thinks or doesn’t think
about God.

The sad thing is, there is great confusion as to how to apply these
values due to culture prejudices that have developed over time and for
various reasons. Am I any less confused? I feel that I am making
progress in that direction. Cognitive dissonance is clearly a form of
confusion, much of which I now find freedom from and I feel I can
illustrate to those willing to listen.

6 thoughts on “Guest Post: lover’s faith journey

  1. The Wise Fool says:

    Well said! You’ve got a keeper, prairienymph!

  2. This is a pretty insightful declaration – I find myself in agreement on many (if not all) fronts – I am grateful that I have people in my life who are willing to take a chance on maintaining a faith while disputing the system. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Kirstin says:

    Your questions and ponderings and insights and frustrations have spurred and continue to spur on our own, my friends. I love and appreciate you. 🙂

  4. D'Ma says:

    What a courageous letter to his family. I admire the strength it must have taken to do this. 🙂

  5. Beautiful. Crazy how such loving honesty sometimes splits families apart. No God I could ever believe in would do that.

  6. prairienymph says:

    WF: I agree!

    Thanks, Steph and Kirstin. I appreciate both of you very much too.

    D’Ma and CD, I’m hoping this will eventually bring the family closer together. But, it may be a long journey. I’m not holding my breath 🙂

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