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Am I A Christian?
Trigger warnings: rape, suicide

Am I a Christian? What is a Christian anyway?

According to Google a Christian is:

adjective

1:

relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings.

"the Christian Church"

noun

2:

a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.

I was raised Pentecostal. I was baptized, but no longer believe in any of the specific claims of my church. According to Google I am a Christian. Well, technically anyway... I say technically because in my heart I know that the church I grew up in wouldn't consider me one.

Also, when I say I don’t believe in the specific teachings of my church that isn’t quite true. As long as we limit the conversation to being like Jesus, that is. Do unto others, be charitable, forgive, don’t lie…. I am right here with you. Is that what a Christian is though?  

Most people don’t honestly to seem to do that. Everyone seems so angry and unhappy. Maybe it’s just media, but Christians seem super angry about everything all the time.  They seem incensed about everything. Gay marriage, that kids aren’t forced to pray in school, that coffee cups aren’t festive enough.

Every year the war on the war on Christmas starts earlier. I even had a company sensitivity training about how we shouldn't make people feel uncomfortable if we hear them say Merry Christmas. It was September. If that is what a Christian is most certainly count me out.

I grew up around Amish, Catholics, Lutherans, and even Jehovah's Witnesses. My dad's family is southern Baptist and they seemed to think my mom's religion was okay, but not many others counted as real. Catholics particularly were idol-worshipping heathens.

Several of my cousins are preachers. My family was really rather strict in its interpretation of what a Christian is. (I am sure you have the type in your family.) They share hateful, offensive, racist memes for Jesus. When I was young I remember them as decent and kind people. Now though, they most often honestly come off as deranged psychopaths. It’s really not something I say lightly. It’s actually quite sad. Where did all this hate and anger come from?

For my family that answer is sad: sex abuse and suicides - subjects I will most certainly talk about in the future. It has left my family hating each other with one Baptist minister cousin in prison for life and another being accused of jealousy. It has left me scratching my head at how my once sweet aunts and uncles could defend the rape of a 7-year-old as not such a big deal, and kicking me out of the family the week my little brother kills himself after everyone pretty much said "we don’t care he raped you."  

The hole left in my heart will never heal. All I can do is fight to not let that hole fill with anger, pain, and resentment. It’s a battle; it really is. To see them put on this show of love and goodness, but hate me because they assume one day I will tell everyone what happened, hurts.

Do I owe them silence? No I don’t. For if I don’t acknowledge evil and condemn it I enable it.  This word is important to me. I want it. It’s mine. I am the Christian.

 Not many in my churches believed Catholics are really Christian.  I sure liked them and they seemed nice.  I liked my Amish friend when we chatted. She seemed ok with my religion. I always wondered though: who was the real Christian? Is there one? How can I tell?

I think I do my best to live in the manner Jesus did.  I am certainly not perfect, but I am trying to be better. Pain makes it very difficult to be a good person. Mental illness compounds that difficulty. So often I fly into sadness or anger. I lash out. I become the opposite of what I want to be: good person, a Christian. It makes me so sad that I fail so utterly so consistently. I am not much better than my crazy family, if I am better at all.

Outside of family I think the big division between those who think I wouldn’t count as Christian is my rejection of several principals.  One is eternal conscious torment, a.k.a. hell.

The concept of hell was terrifying as a kid. Every night I would pray "Please Jesus, don’t return tonight. I so want to watch Return of the Jedi in assembly tomorrow." Or "Please, please don’t send me to be set on fire and raped and tortured by demons." For years this was my nightly routine, until I decided to stop, and to consciously deprogram myself from this idea, as it felt destructive and just has no ring of truth in my mind.

Many think hell is important thought, and that if hell is not real then somehow God is mocked. That there is no justice if the righteous can’t look down from heaven and see the suffering of the wicked; that then they are robbed.

This idea that suffering for making wrong choices fuels many of the opinions that we all fight over today. Who is deserving of kindness, charity, justice. Some people deserve good things and some people don’t. You have to be an “elect.”

Another concept I just don’t believe in is the magical or supernatural aspects or religion.  I don’t take the Bible as literal, meaning I don’t read it as a history or science book.  I think the earth and universe are billions and not thousands of years old, that the sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics are true, hat there was no worldwide flood 4000 years ago etc.

So much of modern Christianity is caught up in open distain for academic achievement - that knowledge is evil. I have had people quote to me God uses the foolish to confound the wise. I never once got what they thought they saying. No, God doesn’t love ignorance on purpose, in my humble opinion.

Lastly are the social issues. I am against the death penalty, pro-choice, think gay marriage should remain legal, and think that the moral panic over transgender people is hysteria. To listen to many we are on the verge of a moral a societal collapse if we can’t get back to some good old days of pure Christian America. I have absolutely no idea when that was.

I certainly accept the morality I learned that Jesus taught . Love, charity, forgiveness. To have strength of character even in the face of death. I want to be like that person. I will answer my original question. Yes, I am most certainly a Christian.

I will end with this. I want to live like Jesus, not like other Christians. I love you. Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t loved. Jesus loves you. Yeah, He sure does.

 

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