Apologies if you saw this already on my personal facebook page earlier today. –b.
I find myself in the most awkward position of realizing that it appears to be better to go full apostate than it is to have left and subsequently raise significant and important criticism of the particular brand of church in which I was raised.
You see, backsliders can be loved back into the church and kingdom; sinners can always ‘come home.’ That said, there can be no doubt in the mind of the true believer: when it comes to doctrine, though, particularly with aforementioned brand, one either accepts all of it or none of it. (Oddly enough, most credential-holding ministers I know will sign their annual renewal/affirmation of the doctrine holding their nose, seeing it as means to an end, rather than an embrace of it.) Open questioning or push-back is a sign of rebellion or bitterness than it ever is faith seeking understanding.
In a lot of ways, I can’t come home. And that’s fine, I’m in a place where I and all my questions and intellectual capacities are welcomed and utilized rather than shunned and deemed counter to the mission; where I’m embraced and not shamed for being a victim of spiritual abuse or for honestly asking too many questions. There are those within that camp who still believe in me, though they do not, have not and never would publicly say so.
Then there are those who I still regard and consider valuable parts of my spiritual tapestry, who seem to have decided that this malcontent and gadfly just isn’t worth having on their radar. I don’t know if I’m to them a traitor or a false prophet–either way, my punishment is worse than death, the prescriptions in Torah gentler. It’s worse to be willfully ignored than it is to be executed.
And there are thousands of us who are. My story does not compare to some others, there are those whose tales are both tragic and atrocious. But that’s the kicker: my story won’t be a sexy testimony or one that will at least result in a lasting peace, but any efforts like that would be tantamount to an admission of guilt. The ignored, forgotten and neglected form a kind of lost tribe. I don’t believe most of us want vengeance; I, for one, would just like to hear someone say that they may have made a mistake and that they’re working to make things better.
I don’t expect to hear that, though. I don’t expect to hear anything. After all, I’m not damned but I’m sure as hell not saved, either. The Bible doesn’t speak to that and, as a result, the Church doesn’t know what to do with that.
Neither do I.
This is awkward.