Do you blame the prisoners for beating you, or the guards for keeping you locked up?
I’ve been put into a rough situation. I was forced to move under threat of losing my kids, only to live with my wife’s parents who hate me for being disabled. The situation has improved because my wife has apologized for putting me in this situation, but she still refuses to leave. I am trapped because I could never remove my kids from their mother, nor could I leave my wife. This isn’t a pity party, but this has really gotten me to think about my ordeal and how it applies to faith.
In my life, something consistently weird happens to me everywhere I go. People I have never met feel safe to just start talking to me. I have never understood why that is. I’m an introvert, love isolation, and have a mile wide personal bubble. At some point in conversation the topic of faith comes up. I’m a fairly outspoken Christian, but I rarely ever bring it up. The general point that nonbelievers relate is that they don’t want to choose Christianity because they feel it would be a jail cell, when I believe it to be the exact opposite.
One big point of Christianity is that we all have a sin nature, and anything but complete moral perfection is a death sentence. Have you ever lied (Little white lies count!)? Have you ever hated anyone? Minor “innocent” things that we don’t consider evil, are worthy of death in the eyes of God. If God is real, that is (quite literally) hell of a situation to be in. But doesn’t that mean that there should be an even better reason to choose Christianity? To nonbelievers, not so much! The reason for that is legalism. Let me make this incredibly clear… CHRISTIANS ARE THE PROBLEM!
We have made Christianity look like a perpetual jail cell! That’s not what Christ died for. Christ was killed, in part, because the religious leaders of the day made the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and whatnot) a jail cell instead of a path to freedom. There were hundreds of laws, but the Jewish leaders of the time took those and added even more laws. The Apostle Paul roughly said that God gave us the law so that we would know what sin really was. What this adds up to is that the law is there to show us that we need a savior, and that the legalistic Jewish leaders had no want for a savior. They had no desire to give up the jail cell they had created, because doctrine is comfortable and religious nuance is something to be wary of. So what does this look like in Christianity today?
Let’s say that we’ve given up Mosaic law, and all we have is the New Testament. Since around 70 A.D. there has been no new scripture given, so where do all these rules come from since there’s only two “laws” given in the New Testament? The truth is we made new rules, and misrepresented scripture to make even more rules on top of that. These rules come from Roman culture (as it was a Roman emperor who made Christianity a nationally accepted religion), and Roman social standards being included into Christian doctrine and theology. So what modern Christians have done is make an ancient culture’s social norms part of our moral framework. From that we have made even more rules on top of that, and made scripture fit that (eisegesis). To question if homosexuality is acceptable is heresy to most evangelical denominations. Same applies to plural marriage and sex before marriage. These are just a few big “hot buttons” today, but to many people these are the jail cells we’re trying to get people to commit to. And that is an incredibly painful thought if you can think for just a second that doctrine isn’t what we thought it was.
We’re supposed to be bringing peace, but instead we bring hate. Christ taught a message of unconditional love, but we have perverted his message to be isolation. This doesn’t have to be our future. To many I am a perverted heretic who is trampling the name of Christ, and from their perspective they are right. However, from my perspective that’s exactly what they are doing. That’s exactly what I have been guilty of in the past when I shared their perspective. Today I am doing everything I can to make up for that. I hope you read this and can see that I’m tired of Christianity being presented as a jail cell. I sincerely hope that you can help me change the message of the church to be unconditional love.