Not all Christians make atheists

I’ve done some shitty things in my life. I’m not guilty of any of the things required by Hedy Lamarr to be in his posse (except being a Methodist), but I’ve had my moments.

But, I’ve done some bad things. I am, in many ways, what some Christians would say makes a person unworthy for heaven. And that condemnation’s a big turnoff. According to this article from a guy named John Pavlovitz, the reason the Christian church is declining in the West is because of, well, Christians.

I’ve done it. If you’re Christian, you’ve probably done it, too. Hell, Jesus even did it. He made a whip and drove the dirty pagan bastards out of the Temple. But Jesus wasn’t typically angry and judgemental.

When it came to people we would consider sinners (the condemned woman, the woman at the well, even a dirty stinking tax collector), Jesus was remarkably approachable.

In reality, my journey to real redemption started when I realized that I was, in my own special way, just as bad as the people I thought were bad.

The truth is, if I want to condemn the gays, I condemn myself, too. Sexual sin included looking at a woman and watching her yoga-pants sheathed legs or wonder at some length what it’s like to be with her.

The truth is, and it’s right in the Big Book of Myths, that when I call someone a fool, I’m subjecting myself to the same risk of wrath as them. When I gossip or backstab or get irrationally angry at someone, I’m Biblically qualified to be damned.

Just like the dirty God-less heathens.

In truth, because I’ve done the same thing, if I damn them, I damn myself to be in the line to eternal toastiness directly in front of them.

It’s right in the Bible.

But God loved me. He said that stuff doesn’t matter. He said his love conquers my self-focused stupid stuff.

Yeah so you can do whatever you want and it’s okay with God–you’ve got a license to be an asshole.

Actually, I’ve got a license to try to be to my brothers and sisters what God is to me. There’s no one on earth who has acted against me the way I’ve acted against God. The Bible is clear that I’m to forgive them because I’ve been forgiven much more.

The good news is that for every loud-mouthed televangelist with a diamond ring, there are two people living the life, serving as missionaries to the poor, hurting, and imprisoned. The good news is that there’s a growing movement toward love and away from judgement in a lot of churches.

The good news is that Pope Francis sees what Jerry Falwell didn’t, that mystics like Richard Rohr and Mirabai Starr are spreading a very different Gospel. (Rohr is fond of saying that he believes hell exists, and it’s empty.)

The point of this article isn’t to reduce the harm done by those who use the Bible as a bludgeon. It’s to say that they aren’t Christianity. A lot of us understand that we fall just as far short–and then do their best to extend the overwhelming love we’ve gotten to others.

Are we perfect at it? Oh, hell, no. But we’re trying and we really want to do our best to love our brothers and sisters.

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Chris Hamilton

Chris Hamilton is a writer trying to make the next step, to go from pretty good to freaking outstanding. He's devoting himself to doing the work and immersing himself in writery pursuit. He also hasn't quite mastered this whole Powerball thing, and still has a pesky addiction to food, clothing, and shelter, so he has to work, too. Blech.

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