by Kenneth Justice
~At coffee the other day a friend and I were discussing the many people who have been wounded (emotionally and spirituality) by over-zealous and overbearing churches…. when all-of-a-sudden the 30-something man sitting near us interjected, “I’m one of those causalities”.
Apparently the man grew up in a particular denomination and married a fellow parishioner from the church. Life was good, they had two children, he had a solid job, but one day he began to question the teachings of his church. He began to feel that the leadership was too controlling. Eventually, he could no longer attend the church in good conscience….and this led to some of the most devastating consequences.
Because he no longer believed in the church his wife demanded a divorce…..which he hesitantly gave into; “I still loved my wife but since I wasn’t going to be a part of the church she didn’t want anything to do with me. I even lied for her; the only way the church would allow her to remarry one day is if I lied to the church and told them I had an affair…..so I lied and said I slept with another woman; even though I never really did….I created a fake affair so my wife could move on with her life”
His parents and all his relatives are still members of the church and they refuse to talk to him or have any contact with him whatsoever; they have ex-communicated him from their lives for leaving the church.
Now he is divorced and only gets to see his two teenage children every other weekend…….Last month the teens informed him that when they turn eighteen, since he will no longer be their legal guardian; their church has ordered them to cut off all contact with their father…the teens believe in the church and told their father they are going to obey the orders.
The story was heartbreaking;
—) A husband who still loved his wife but a church that got in the way
—) A father who loves his children but will no longer get to see them after they turn eighteen
—) A man who simply questioned the teachings of his church….and who got ramrodded by an authoritarian religious system
It’s stories like this that I hear about all the time which really tug at my heart……it makes me tear up. For someone like myself who has such a strong faith in God, I can’t tell you how mad I am that so many expressions of Christianity tend to churn out stories such as the one that the man at the café shared. Unfortunately, these kind of stories aren’t limited to only one particular denomination…sadly I’ve heard these kind of stories from many different Christian denominations.
Too many Christian churches become obsessed with doctrines or bible scriptures and entirely forget the simple concept of love. Why would anyone want anything to do with a religion or religious belief system if it produces stories such as the one the man shared with me at coffee? Haven’t we gotten far enough away from the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the other ‘black marks’ in the Church’s history? Why do churches insist on continuing a course set toward nastiness?
Read through old articles of mine and you’ll find thousands of comments from fundamentalist Christians who hurl isolated bible verses at me in order to ‘argue’ or ‘convince me that I’m wrong’ about whatever I was writing about. Too many Christians are obsessed with arguing, debating, and hurling nastiness at others (and each other) and not enough Christians are obsessed with demonstrating love toward others.
I’m not about to encourage people to lie….and I should mention that the man at coffee said he regrets making up a fake affair in order to help his ex-wife out…but when I think about it; that man demonstrated a tremendous amount of love toward his ex-wife; he created a fake affair, he walks around with the realization that the people at his old church believe he had an affair……all because he loved the woman with whom he used to be married.
It’s fascinating to me; here we have the man’s ex-church claiming to be the source of ‘true love’ and claiming to know the source of true love….yet the only one demonstrating any type of real love was the man who is losing everything that matters to him in life, the man who has lost his family, his wife, and is now losing his children….
Besides the comments you see publicly, I get a lot of emails from Christian readers who want to debate me on bible verses…..it makes my eye twitch that my fellow Christians would rather spend hours upon hours debating bible verses than spend that time working towards solutions to solve poverty, malnutrition, helping single mothers out, and helping all the other people in our communities that have very real needs.
“But, Kenneth, the truth of the bible is the supreme matter of our faith” is generally what they say to me, “The most important thing that matters is that we convert people to Jesus” they say…..To which I ask; REALLY???
Is that what you people get out of the bible when you read it? Commands to spend your every waking moment memorizing bible verses and doctrines and trying to convert everyone you meet (via your bloody nasty debate tactics) to faith in Jesus?
Apparently, you and I have been reading a different bible. Because I saw true love living within that man who was excommunicated from his church and his family…..and I saw nothing but seething hatred coming from the church because the man dare question what they were teaching.
I really need a cup of coffee this morning,