The Unfundamental Conversion
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Did I Divorce the Church?

January 29th, 2014 | Posted by Lana Hope in Faith | Missions

Laura Parker is one of my favorite bloggers. Fact: her blog is one of the best Christian blogs around. Laura paints and tells stories in such convincing tones.

Her post today “Bride and Divoce” grasped my attention. Here’s an excerpt.

If the Church is really the Bride, I’ll admit I’ve wanted a divorce for a few years now. 

She isn’t who I thought she was 20 years ago when I said, “I do.”  She hasn’t been kind, either –to the people outside of her club, to those who question or doubt, to me.

And, so, I’ve essentially lived in an off-again-on-again state of separation from this dysfunctional being that is the American Church for a solid two years now. She tells me I don’t look or act or think or believe rightly. She sells me a promise of community, and then sits me in a pew facing forward. She takes my money, but hides the Jesus I adore. And every time I muster the hope to try again, she disappoints. So like a scorned spouse, I’ve walked away from her power, her manipulation, her legalism. Her abuse.

Laura has articulated exactly why I left the church. Chuch for me is like going to bed with an abusive husband who runs off with my money at the same time.

I’m not anti-church. I want to love the church again. I hope some day that I can. I hope some day I can experience it uplift me, and the worship can touch our spirits again. I know that’s possible because I have seen that kind of church in the remote places of Asia – the kind of church where I could bring the kids and let them run free in God’s earthly vessel.

Doi Inthanon 137

But this American church thing and me, we are done.

But maybe, like Laura, I have not signed the divorce papers yet. Somewhere, maybe if they have not kicked me off, my name is still on some church roll. We do not have a relationship anymore, but I just can’t bring myself to sign the divorce papers either.

What do you think? Did you divorce the church or stay?

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  • Divorced. Although there is a chance that I might eventually check out a Universalist church, so maybe I am still involved somehow? I feel like I would never really be able to get close to one though, so I just can’t see myself as anything but divorced.

    • I don’t think I’d like the UU, and it would still be a divorce for me. I’m glad it’s a source of healing for people though.

      • I’ve never been to one, but I think it’s probably the only place that I could feel remotely at home. Any church that teaches of Jesus as God, teaches about “sin” or anything remotely similar to any of that is out of the question. Yuck.

        Out of curiosity, what is it about UU that you wouldn’t like?

        • Lana Hope

          I want to be in a church that worships a maximally great being. Not a partially great being. Nor do I want to be apart of a social justice club or spiritual club. I would only go to church for the worship, and I do personally believe Jesus was god.

          All that said, I’m fine with others going to the UU. But Christian worship is just important to me.

          • Gotcha. I had thought you had identified yourself as a Universalist at some point, which is why I was confused. But if not, then it makes more sense. =P

            I also have no desire to be in a spiritual club (part of why I hate some progressive churches… they feel so much like exclusive fun little clubs). However, I wouldn’t go to church to worship either. I feel that, if “god” exists and he is ultimately good, then the highest form of worship would be to live my life in a way that helps others. Standing in a building and singing songs to stoke this being’s ego would feel contrary to the very idea of an ultimately-good being to me. It feels too much like an abusive, power-mad dictator move to me.

            That said, I can fully understand liking Christian worship for its own sake or your own sake, rather than just for God’s. I can fondly remember a lot of times that being at a worship service was really just what I needed at the time, or was a powerful and edifying experience for me. However, at this point in my life, I think I’d rather drink a bottle of drain cleaner than spend a half hour in a church stroking some god’s ego. Haha, that’s just where I am. Maybe I’m a bit bitter. Just maybe. A little.

            Okay, I’m bitter. =P

          • Lana Hope

            I believe everyone will end up in heaven, or at least everyone will be offered heaven. So yes, I’m a universalist. But that does not mean I don’t appreciate worship.

            Right, if I wanted to join a club, id join a club. I love atheists and Buddhists for who they are and see great value in learning to work together. But the role of church in my life is, or theoretically would be, something different.

            Yea I don’t think worship is for God so much as for us. It’s a response in our heart among else.

          • Yeah, that view of worship makes a lot more sense to me. Unfortunately, I’m still waaaaaaay too bitter and honestly hateful towards churchy stuff in general to engage in such things myself. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still understand and respect those who choose to engage in it. To each their own.

          • Lana Hope

            Yea same with me. I understand the UU. Just not for me.

  • What is the mission of the church according the Bible?

    • Do you want to answer that question?

  • Jonathan

    Hi Lana,
    I’ve read your blog for about a year now and this is my first comment. I just wanted to let you know how useful your writing has been to me during my own struggles with faith and doubt, and so you know what a difference you’re making.
    Anyway, in response to this post, I feel like I have separated with the Church but we still see each other occasionally. I think I would miss the social aspect of communal worship and the music, which I love. I read an interesting book recently on how the modern Church has distanced itself from the original message of Jesus; “Doubts and Loves: What is Left of Christianity” by one-time Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway. It’s definitely worth reading, I felt it bolstered my faith in a time when the legalism of the Church had weakened it.
    Thanks for all of your work, keep it up!

    • Lana Hope

      Hi, Jonathan, I always enjoy hearing from those who’ve read my blog a while. I’ll look up the book sometime. I *live* that tension Yes, the worship is what I miss most. I can’t say I miss sermons though. Too schoolish. *cheers*

  • Stayed, but I’ve found my church experience is very different from many American churches. In my church (found throughout the world, too) there is a definite sense of community and concern for others. Serving each other is such an integral part of the doctrine (which is Christ-like, right?!), and we have no paid clergy, Sunday school teachers, or anything! We are not belittled as we’re “preached at” (hard to do without a paid clergy), but rather encouraged to learn more about the Savior and emulate him. My church family is on the same path as me–striving to be better, to serve one another, and to get to know the Savior better. (p.s. We also believe nearly everyone will be in heaven–or as you said, at least offered the opportunity to be in Heaven!)

    • Lana Hope

      Huh, interesting. I did not realize your church clergy was not paid. Splended. Yes, I wish I was apart of a church with community – family, if you will. As a traveler, that is doubly appealing. Thanks for the encouragement. God bless.

      • Yup-no one is paid, and there is no pastor or bishop that stands up and preaches each week. Members from the congregation are asked individually if they would be willing to share a message on a topic. Those who are willing, do their own studying and then give a “talk” during the meeting where we partake of the sacrament. No platters or offerings are requested. Then we divide into Sunday School, and another class after that. A different format than most–but encourages all to give and participate, and stamps down possibilities of corruption and abuse of power, money, etc. It also encourages a greater community, as we realize we all have weaknesses and strengths, and we can learn from one another. The messages, however, are likely ones you’re very familiar with! If you were to attend a meeting at our church locally, you might be surprised by how much we have in common 🙂

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  • Jo

    I can’t say I “divorced” the church. I left traditional church and discovered the deeper truth that the church is the people, but not all who say they know God and follow him are truly the church. Even if they go to a “church building.”

    • Lana Hope

      yea that’s a good point. Just thought of you the other day, btw.

      • Jo

        I think of you often. 🙂 I read a lot of your posts, I just don’t comment on the internet nearly as much as I used to.

        • Lana Hope

          I understand. Internet is both draining and time consuming for me. I’m weeding out a lot now.

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