Category Archives: Religion

Why I’m *Really* Going to Hell (Or So I’m Told)

(I’m re-publishing this because I added an item. Hope you like it.)

Last year, I wrote a post joking about going to Hell based on a discussion thread I posted on Beliefnet.com. It was meant to lighten the mood on a normally-heavy debate board. It was mostly successful, but there were several people who didn’t appreciate my sense of humor and implied that God wouldn’t either; I *am* in the Bible Belt, after all. After reading a few responses, I figured I’d better write a something a bit more serious. According to some people, here are the reasons I’m going to Hell.

Having the wrong political views.

But Here’s 5 Reasons Why American Evangelicalism Completely Lost Me

I’m citing this post by Benjamin Corey because item #1 speaks directly to what I’ve experienced. The person I dated before my husband was a deeply conservative Christian. It ended for a lot of reasons, but I’m mentioning this because being with him got me sucked into the Evangelical culture and politics Corey mentions. It’s very disturbing how some people would judge your faith by whether or not you supported the Bush administration and/or the Republican party. It wasn’t as creepy as the movie Jesus Camp, but it still felt weird. As a then-Democrat, I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut lest I be accused of “helping the Devil” or something like that. I can’t explain it any better than Corey does, but what got to me the most was that there really was a time when I thought God had abandoned me because of my beliefs. Before you scoff, consider that few things make you feel farther from God than the depression that comes along with untreated bipolar disorder. Why was it untreated, you ask? Well….

Seeing secular medical treatment. It wasn’t getting medical treatment that was the problem so much as the “lack of faith” that prompted me to seek said treatment instead of relying on God to heal me. In “Prosperity Gospel” circles (more on why it’s BS in another post), that can mean anything from having somehow lost my way to (gasp!) not being a Real Christian at all. The fact that I had gone back on medication after having tried the “supernatural healing” approach made it even worse because it was thought that I got sick again because I lost faith and God had taken away the healing. How this made sense to anyone I’ll never know, but it’s thoughts like this that can make someone already suffering from depression or something like it feel even worse. If even God doesn’t love you, you must be a piece of crap, right? I actually began to wonder if the “diagnoses” of me having an unclean spirit that needed to be cast out were true after all. Again, scoff all you want; When you feel like something else is inside of you controlling your thoughts and actions the way you would in “mixed state”, you’d believe it too.

Strangely enough, I never *did* lose faith. I still believed and sought God throughout all of this. Take that!

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Despite the fact that it comes right from the source , I haven’t heard this one as often as the others. The only reason I’m mentioning it is because no one can tell me what this actually *means*. Was it laughing when I saw, “I found Jesus-He was behind the couch” on a T-shirt? Was it playing Cards Against Humanity and giggling at some of the less-disrespectful cards? Some of them *do* mention God or Jesus. When I see a really rude one I’ll say “that’s just wrong” or “that’s sacrilegious”, but I don’t bow out of the game. Was it when I used to play with Ouija boards as a teenager? I won’t touch the damned things now; they creep me out. Was it when a boyfriend started exploring Paganism in college? When a Catholic one stopped going to confession? He said he’d been made to do the “church thing” growing up and was enjoying the freedom. Was it when my friend told God to “shove it” when her husband died shortly after their son was born?

The definition that makes the most sense to me is, strangely again, not the one I hear most often. The way my former Southern Baptist church explained it to me was that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an ongoing, willful rejection of God. It’s not something you do out of anger or youthful ignorance, nor is it related to your choice of entertainment; that’s another matter altogether. It was also said that it’s not something a Christian can do because, if someone is willing to completely deny Jesus, they probably weren’t saved to begin with. If you’re asking this question, you probably haven’t committed this sin because if you had, you wouldn’t care.

As for the aforementioned Catholic, he never left the church; as much as he liked sleeping in on Sunday, he realized pretty quickly that nothing can take the place of Jesus. I wonder if this minor “straying” was a way of showing him that.

I’m happy for my brother. Before you say “huh?”, let me explain. My brother and his now-husband live in a state (Hawaii) that, after years of debate, finally allows same-sex marriage. They have been together for nearly 35 years but, because of their genders, somehow their relationship is less “real” and worthy of celebration than celebrities who ask for divorce via text message or leave after six months because the “honeymoon phase” is over and it’s not fun anymore.

Some in the more conservative circles would say that homosexuality is an “abomination” and that, by being happy for my brother, I’m somehow “condoning sin” or, worse, participating in it. I think this is ridiculous because even if I did believe homosexuality was a “choice”-and the hell my gay friends went through in trying to “make themselves straight” tells me it’s not-, I’m happy that someone I care about is happy. Period. It would be one thing if this happiness hurt someone else, but it doesn’t. It’s just there for him, his husband and everyone they love to share in. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

I’m a feminist of sorts. I think women are equal to men and should be treated as such. I don’t see why this is a big deal.

Not trying to convert everyone I meet. I’ve had friends of other faiths (or none at all) for a long time. This isn’t a problem for most Evangelicals, but I heard some pretty nasty comments about how I needed to “convert” certain people so they won’t go to Hell. I see two things wrong with this view: 1) I was under the impression that it was the Holy Spirit who converted people, I was just the messenger, and b) I know from experience that the harder you push something on someone, the more likely they are to push back. Harder. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your faith; in fact, I do it all the time. I’m not aggressive about it or bring it up in every conversation, but I love learning and talking about Jesus and religion in general. I wasn’t raised a Christian, so this is a big change. I just don’t know why I would need to be aggressive about it when the people who showed me to Jesus were anything but. They didn’t just talk about the Gospel-they lived it. Even if they didn’t say word one about God, you could see Him written all over their faces and in their lives. That is how I want to be. I want to bring people to God the way they did for me. Like I said, though, He’s the one who does the “saving”. I just want to lead people to the door. I suck at that, but that’s another post.

These are just a few of the reasons I’ve been told I’m going to Hell. I’m not saying that doing the right things isn’t important because it is, but I’m not sure if that’s really the “point” of Christianity. I don’t know; I just want to be like Jesus. Perhaps I need to be thinking more about *that* than what other people say. One day at a time.


What if they’re right?

This post was inspired by one from my friend Steve:

http://newwhine.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-if-i-am-wrong.html?showComment=1413422547445#c3372567103006826529

I’m afraid I don’t have any wise words for him since he’s been at this whole “Christian thing” a lot longer than I have. I presume so, anyway. The only thing I can think of to say is that I ask a lot of the same questions. For instance-

I’ve heard a lot of talk in my time as a Christian about ‘standing up for God’. Specifically, speaking up for Him and publicly denouncing sin. Lately I have been part of a lot of discussions about things such as sexual orientation and tolerance where I spoke and acted against the stance presented by many conservative evangelicals that these things are ‘sin’ or ‘wrong’. That I and those like me who say that sexual orientation is not chosen and present arguments that the Bible is not inerrant and that people should tolerate homosexuals are ‘lukewarm’ or ‘compromising God’s truth so that the world will like us’, ‘ashamed of the truth,’ etc. I usually pass it off, but last night I had a thought*:

What if they’re right?

What if the stance the fundamentalists’ or conservative evangelicals’ take on this subject are right, and that I really am ashamed, afraid to stand up for God, or pandering? On other things, what if the Bible really is inerrant? What if I really am ‘lukewarm’, whatever that means? What if Christianity really is the only way? I know what Jesus said about no one coming to the Father except by Him, but I’ve wondered whether or not it’s possible for someone to know Jesus but call Him something else. I remember when I first came to Him, it felt like I finally had a name for something I’d known was there all along.

What if I really am doing wrong by not talking about my faith or trying to ‘witness’ to non-Christians? I don’t have a problem with telling others what I believe, but I don’t always go out of my way to discuss those things with people I know aren’t interested. I talk about those things a lot online and in church, but those are places specifically dedicated to those subjects; as much as I admire those who do, I’m a bit shy to go up to strangers in a parking lot and hand out fliers the way a very nice Jehovah’s Witness once did for me. I like to think that I’d be able to do that if I were so led, but I don’t find myself in such situations very often-only when around other religious people. What if I really should be trying to convert them, though, rather than agreeing to disagree and accepting their having another religion, or not having one at all? I love learning and talking about other people’s beliefs, but I don’t usually find myself wanting to try to convince them to turn from their way onto mine.

What if my choices in entertainment and things like my continually indulging in sins like my bad language and lusting really will put my soul in jeopardy?

What if I really do believe the wrong things, and it is believing the right things that makes the difference in salvation? What if my study of other religions and the intricacies of our faith and the Bible (like meanings of particular words or context or how it came to be) is distracting me from my faith and just believing? What if I really am being overly critical and judgmental to my former coreligionists, or if I talk badly about them too much? I wonder if I really have lost my salvation, or am in jeopardy of that, from my ‘straying’ or worldly views?

I would never suggest to another person that their salvation may have been lost because of changes in thinking, so I wonder why I am doing that to myself?

I don’t know if I am just being paranoid, over-thinking, etc, or if this is God telling me to adjust my ways. I know I am a work in progress, and that there are things in my life that I need to get rid of and repent of. I’m just confused sometimes, and I get so many different ideas. I am very offended a lot of times by the actions of some of my fellow Christians and beliefs about things like homosexuality being sinful or that I am thinking the wrong way…I just wonder sometimes if perhaps I wandered too far from my evangelical/fundamentalist past and unknowingly threw the baby out with the bathwater. I haven’t really changed my belief about the major things such as who Christ is and the Cross. That’s probably the important thing, but I don’t know.

I’ll stop babbling now. I am a master worrier, and this might just be an example of my mind over-wandering.

 

 

*Yes, I do have ideas. No, hell hasn’t frozen over.


A Different Look At Being ‘Born Again’

John 3:3-[to Nicodemus] Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (New King James Version)

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (also NKJV)

Hi, I’m [river in Ireland], and I’m not an addict. I’m not an alcoholic either, although such things run in my family. I’m not a sex addict, since it’s kind of hard to be one of those when you’ve only been with one person. I’m not a criminal, have never been homeless and had a pretty good childhood. And yet, I am what you could call a born-again Christian. In a sense, anyway.

When I first came to know God, I was part of a very small Independent Baptist church. I was fifteen. For most of the [censored] years since then, I’ve traveled in various Baptist and Pentecostal/non-denominational circles. If you’ve been there, you know that those churches tend to be full of ‘born-again’ Christians. One of the biggest things I’ve heard them say is how God brought them up out of the pit of Hell in the form of addiction, sex, abuse, crime, etc. I’m not discounting their conversions at all-in fact, I admire them. I can’t even begin to imagine what their lives were like or how difficult it has been to change. If this describes you, bravo-you are a better woman than I, my friend. Or man. Or whatever.

One thing I also saw, though, was how these were thought of as the only “real” conversions. It seemed that, the more dramatic the change, the more “legitimate” your faith. I heard it said that people who grew up in traditional churches or always lived on the straight-and-narrow couldn’t be really Christians because they couldn’t be “born again”. We weren’t ‘new creations’ because we have always lived the “Christian” life, even if we didn’t call it that. I wasn’t raised a Christian so technically my conversion “took”, but I had always lived like one. Leaving one denomination for another as many of my sorority sisters did counted because their previous churches were “dead” and they needed to go somewhere else for an “authentic” experience of God. I’m not saying that every new Christian I met felt this way or that this is the Evangelical “party line”, but it was something I hadn’t heard before and it made an impression. Some were downright rude about it, but others just spoke from their own experience. I see their point, but I think they’re missing something.

A big part of being “born again” is recognizing your need for God; that you can’t do it all by yourself. People being brought up from the depths of whatever usually acknowledge that a change is needed, that they are on a path that only leads to destruction. The “good kids”, however, usually think they’re doing just fine. That’s how I was, anyway. They might not see their need for God because, to them, He’s always been there; they’ve never known what it’s like not to have Him in their lives. They never “look for” Him because they don’t think they need to.

Then, enter college. I say college because this is a time that many people are away from home for the first time, but it can happen anytime a big change comes. At some point in our lives we will sit back, take stock of what we’ve believed so far and decide where to go from there. We’ll decide which pill to take and whether or not to walk through the door we’ve been guided to.*

For instance, take my friend D. He was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school the whole way and was pretty devout until he went away to college at 18. The first thing he thought when he got there was, “yay, freedom! I can stay up as long as I want, watch dirty movies and sleep late on Sunday because no one will make me go to church! Yay!” He thought he didn’t need to go to church or keep up a relationship with God because He was always going to be there no matter what.

He was partly right. God was there, just as He always is. However, it wasn’t long before he felt that something was missing in his life. Am I homesick? Not really. Friends? That’s what email is for. Is it a girlfriend? Maybe. When all those needs were fulfilled, though, something was still lacking. Then, he came across a Catholic campus ministry, found a church and resumed the observances that he’d been ignoring. The “hole” he’d felt was filled and he went back to the way of life he’d gotten “freedom” from before.

My point is that, despite his upbringing, he still had to make an active decision whether or not he still needed or wanted God in his life, which is the same thing I did when I “got saved” and my hard-living sister did when she found God and got onto a better path. It wasn’t a dramatic change and it didn’t look like the “brought up from the pit of Hell” things we often see, but he was still “born again” because he had analyzed his circumstances and decided that He still wanted to follow Jesus. However, a lot of people I’ve known would say that his experience isn’t “valid” because he didn’t “get saved” and make the 180° turnabout that many think is required. Even so, he still had to make that commitment, he still had to renew his focus on God and accept the charge that is given to all Christians to do God’s work on earth.

When I first learned about God, I was taught that our past wasn’t of concern to Him so much as our present and future. We often take that to mean that He can redeem even the worst of sinners because they are the ones most in need of it. This is true, but perhaps it’s the not the only “right” way of looking at it. Perhaps the past God doesn’t care about also includes our past of thinking we could earn “brownie points” by being good and of not thinking we need Him at all. Like I said before, the people who know they are on a destructive path usually know something needs to change and will do what they have to to make it happen. They’ll turn to God because they will learn that there’s really no other way. Those of us who think we’re okay without God might not see it this way. However, I still think you could say that we’re even *more* in need of being “born again” because then we will come to the realization that it’s Him that saves, not our good works. It’s not about what we do, but what He already did.

Each person has his/her own path to follow. Whether it starts at age four in Children’s Chapel, age 18 when entering a transitory period or age 40 after decades of hard living, each person experiences God and the message of Christianity in their own way. No one else can tell us whether or not our walk started in a “valid” way; it’s following Jesus and giving Him our whole hearts that matters most. I’m not the best at this, but I guess that’s part of the process that is the Christian life.

My cat Toby agrees, which I guess is as much of an ‘endorsement’ as I can expect. 🙂 He probably just wants me to feed him. Typical cat.

*Please forgive me the Matrix references. It was a big franchise when I was younger, back in the dark ages.


A Good-And Long Overdue-Change Of Mind

It’s not *my* change of mind I’m talking about here, although I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Don’t worry, I’ve got the fire extinguishers handy in case anything starts burning. 🙂

My friend J posted this on Facebook today, and I just felt the need to share it. It’s “old”, but it’s an interesting viewpoint on an issue that has been breaking my heart.

http://www.salon.com/2011/03/27/presbyterian_minister_changes_mind_about_gays/

I for one am glad to see someone change their stance on Christianity and homosexuality. It breaks my heart how hateful I’ve heard some of my ‘co-religionists’ being. Actually, I should probably say, ‘former co-religionists’, because I no longer belong to a church or denomination that would condemn someone for something they can’t control. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed to ‘claim’ some of the people this pastor says he used to be and that he mentioned being in his church. I’m including myself here too, since I used to be one of them.  There are even some people I used to know who I simply *can’t* claim. Here is a quote from the article that says a lot of what I feel:

The truth is, I was put out that this was an issue. Feeding the hungry, preaching the gospel, comforting the afflicted, standing up to racial intolerance — these were the struggles I signed up for, not determining the morality of what adults did in their bedrooms.

I don’t really understand why it’s an issue either. Aren’t there a lot more important things we should be thinking about as Christians trying to figure out how to best live our lives in service to Christ? I’m not saying that sexual sins shouldn’t be thought of because a lot of them should-things like adultery that can destroy marriages, pedophilia, etc. I just don’t see why this *particular* issue-the issue of which gender a person sleeps with-is really all that important, or even interesting. I’m not saying that all people who hold to the “traditional” view that homosexuality is a sin are somehow knuckle-dragging bigots; if I did that, I’d have to include some people very dear to me. It just bothers me that so much more attention is paid to this issue at the expense of others.

Continue reading


“Unworthily”? What Does That Mean?

I’ve always found myself with more questions than answers…
So I invite my readers-all five of you-to help me find the answers.

The Bible Gateway devotional focused on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. It’s talking about proper conduct during the Lord’s Supper, but one part popped out at me:

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. -1 Cor 11:27

The context of this passage is saying that a person should “examine himself” before they take the body and blood of Christ. If not, judgement will come. I get that these acts are sacred, but what I don’t understand is what makes someone unworthy of taking them?

For instance, what if you made a promise before God that was broken later. Would that make you unworthy?

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was getting a divorce. It wasn’t because his wife had been unfaithful (although she was) so much as that they hadn’t been happy for a very long time and simply couldn’t take it anymore. Even though he knew it would happen, he was still really torn up inside about the idea that he might have sinned against God by going through with the divorce. He, like me, believes that marriage is a sacred institution that should last a lifetime-“what God has joined, let no man put asunder.” His concern was that, by going through with the divorce, he was breaking his promise that he’d be with her “as long as [they] both shall live”. Even though he tried like hell to make things work but nothing helped, he felt that he needed to stay in the marriage because that what what he told God (and everyone in that church) he would do when he took his vows. Even when I told him that he technically had what Jesus said was the only acceptable reason for divorce (I was grasping for straws at this point), he was afraid that all of it meant that he lied and, as a result, had been taking communion (the body and the blood) unworthily the entire time.

But was he? That’s my question. Was he “breaking a promise” and, if so, would that make him unworthy?

In light of the verses I mentioned above, is divorce (no matter what the cause) something that makes one unworthy? That’s what the Catholic church thinks, which is why you’ll hear about a Catholic who divorces being denied the Eucharist. Does it matter if the person did all they could and it still didn’t work?

Does continuing to be affected by things in your past make you unworthy? For instance, a friend of mine’s father used to yell a lot when she was growing up. Twenty-something years later, she still gets scared when a man yells at her in anger. Does this mean she hasn’t forgiven her father? They have a decent relationship now.

Does telling “little white lies” make you unworthy? How about “big, black ones’?

Does gossiping make you unworthy?

Does having had sex outside of marriage make you unworthy, even if your spouse has forgiven you? What about premarital sex?

I’ve always felt guilty for thinking badly of people. Even if I there’s a reason to, I felt that this was a failure to love my neighbor as myself. Do these thoughts make me unworthy? After all, adultery and murder begin in the heart (Matt. 5:21-28).

Does greed make you unworthy? Wrath? Lust? Sloth (whatever that is)? Envy? Gluttony? Pride? Because if lust does, I’m screwed.

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for indulging me. Like I said, I have a lot more questions than answers and would greatly appreciate insight from others. What do you think?

 


 

 

 

 

 


God proved His Love…

Reblogged..

God proved His Love….

Say what you want about evangelists..I’m no longer a Southern Baptist, but I have nothing but respect for Rev. Graham.


A Rather Interesting Video, And An Example Of Ineffective ‘Evangelism’

A friend of mine posted a link to this video on Facebook today. Regardless of what you think about abortion, it’s definitely worth viewing.

Two Abortion Protesters Decided To Yell At This Guy’s Wife. They Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That.

http://www.upworthy.com/two-abortion-protesters-decided-to-yell-at-this-guys-wife-they-probably-shouldnt?c=bl3

I have to applaud this man for having the guts to call the protestors onto the carpet. I don’t like the idea of an abortion-I don’t know anyone who does-,but I understand that there might be situations like this man’s wife’s where it’s really ‘the lesser of the two evils’. I can’t imagine that these parents would do this if they didn’t feel they absolutely had to. I certainly wouldn’t. I’ve never been in this situation, and that is this man’s point-you just don’t *know*. There’s nothing wrong with demonstrating your beliefs in public, but it stands to show that we should be careful as to how we do so. Some people would liken tempering our methods to being ‘ashamed’ of the Gospel or not ‘standing up for God’, but it’s not a matter of trying to please others so much as trying to communicate in a way people are willing and likely to listen to.

I’ve seen protesters like this in front of Walmart ranting about gay people and abortion. They bore signs that said things like ‘I chose Jesus, you chose to be gay’ and waved a fishing pole with a red-painted baby doll tied to it. I suppose this was to represent an aborted fetus, but it was unnecessarily graphic and probably grossed more people out than it ‘reached’.

I assume that the ‘I chose Jesus’ sign was supposed to get people to come to Jesus, but what does it tell the person about Him? Nothing. What does it say about the person holding the sign? A lot. It says that that person thinks they are better than others, that they are somehow ‘more saved’, ‘more loved’ by God than someone else. They say they want people to be ‘saved’, but they’ve pretty much ensured that anyone who sees those signs or hears what they’re saying is going to keep on walking. In addition, some of the people they are supposedly trying to ‘help’ by their protests will probably run screaming from the very *mention* of Christianity, even if they would otherwise embrace it. I’ve seen it a million times.

Several of my non-Christian friends tell me that they see me as ‘the exception’ because I *don’t* get in people’s faces and act like I’m better than they are, I *don’t* preach hate as opposed to love and I *don’t* try to shove things down their throats. The fact is that I’m *not* the exception-it’s just that we’re not as loud as the screamers and ‘judges’. Maybe we *should* be. Maybe we *should* be like this man sometimes. Even if he didn’t mention Jesus outright, he makes the point that there are a lot more effective ways to help people than screaming at them and making them want to ignore you. To me, working to make sure our message is effective and shows the love we claim to preach *is* standing up for God-Hopefully I can figure out a way to be brave enough to do it.

 


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