Tag Archives: rachel held evans

Is It Worth It?

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..my question for those evangelicals is this: Is it worth it? Is a “victory” against gay marriage really worth leaving thousands of needy children without financial support? Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth losing more young people to cynicism regarding the church? Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with LGBT people?

            -Rachel Held Evans

I’m exhausted.

Every day, through news and through people I know, I see a divide growing between “Christian love” and actually daring to love. It’s become an act of rebellion against fellow Christians to stand up for LGBT, for pro-choice, for strangers in this strange land, and even for the poor.

The title of the article Rachel wrote (from which the above quote is from) is called “How evangelicals won a culture war and lost a generation.” This is what Christianity in America has become. A war. Love looks like a sword, but instead of destroying powers and principalities that oppress, that sword is slicing through people and then the wielder dares to say “I love you.” It’s become more important to “make a stand” than to serve the needy. World Vision did not reverse its decision to hire married homosexuals because it had a change of heart. Thousands of Christians were “making a stand” and threatening to abandon their sponsorships. Pastors exhorted their congregations to “make a stand” and stop financing World Vision. Sure, there are other organizations that do similar work, but isn’t that more about how you feel than anything else? You abandon one child to just pick up another? So everything is fine? WV admitted that the reason they backed away from their revolutionary decision was because they had not considered/consulted their partners and their supporters. They had not expected that kind of fury to rise up from the ranks of kind, selfless Christians and actually threaten the state of their organization.

This is the biggest news in the culture war as of late, but there are others. I have seen the film “Noah” simultaneously mocked, and from others shunned as demonic. None of them have considered that perhaps this movie was not intended for them. Perhaps it was intended for an audience that is sick and tired of white-bearded and (frankly) boring Sunday School stories, and is more accustomed to action heroes who cut instead of pray their way through evil and do things that most of us would regret later. Russell Crowe’s Noah is more than a little rough around the edges and the religion of his cinematic world looks like more like Wicca than Christianity, but what the hell, is this surprising? This is a world that is further from the Ten Commandments than the number of years the US of A has existed, and it’s a world where there is little to no divide between the spiritual and physical realms. Is Noah supposed to just fold his hands and sadly shake his head while outside his door humanity is raping and murdering itself into oblivion? This generation is moving farther and farther away from traditional Christianity and as my family has said, perhaps this movie will at least get their attention again.

The war rages on. Discussions on abortion are littered with words like “murder,” a clear attempt to consciously or unconsciously shame those struggling with the decision. Behind closed doors, I have seen discussions where the abortion topic is saturated with unveiled death wishes upon pro-choice women, name-calling like “bitch,” “slut, ‘whore, and “c–t.” There is no distinction between women who voluntarily have abortions with those who have to choose between preserving their own lives, or inflicting both their death and the death of their child upon their grief-dizzied families. To these people, anyone who has an abortion is a murdering whore, or at the very least, an ignorant, selfish victim of politically-liberal ideals.

My convictions continue to separate me from supporters of “traditional” evangelicalism. I have had my Christianity questioned in ways as direct as being told I am “straying from the straight and narrow,” to micro-aggressions such as vague questioning of how anyone could be a Christian and believe what I believe. I am terrified of attempting to go to a church because I have no idea what kind of opposition I might face when my beliefs inevitably come out. I am not alone in this increasingly bitter pulling away from evangelicalism and instead of looking inwardly, I find that Christians are blaming the generation they are losing, claiming we are losing our morals, becoming infatuated with “political correctness” and “liberal propaganda,” or are just plain stupid.

Maybe we’re just fed up with being told we have to rally against our neighbors in order to be a good Christian. 

 

 

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Take A Look At What I’m Reading: “Evolving in Monkey Town”

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Rachel Held Evans is my spiritual soul mate. I first heard of her when “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” was released and she was on the morning talk shows trying to explain to confused journalists how and why she spent a full 12 months living every biblical instruction for women as literally as possible. Some called her a fundamental nut. Others said she was making a mockery of the Bible. It’s pretty rare for a person to be accused of being two polar opposites. It was clear that she was courting controversy and I love that.

My mom gave me Rachel’s first book “Evolving in Monkey Town after she read “Womanhood” upon my recommendation. “Monkey Town” is resonating with me on a frighteningly deep level. Rachel went to William Jenning Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, home of the famous Scopes trial. As befits a college named after the man who tried to defend creationism in the Scopes courtroom and fought secularism his whole life, Bryan College taught Rachel a “biblical worldview.” Everything – from economics to literature – can be learned with a Biblical base and she was taught to question every non-Christian belief before she even personally encountered them. She is essentially describing my high school. She even mentions my textbooks and talks about performing skits mocking the New Age movement. It is EERIE. Most significant to me however, is that she describes a crisis of faith that I have begun to experience in the past few years. Why does a “Biblical worldview” bear such strange parallel to a “Republican worldview?” When having a conversation with an actual human person, does saying “So you are saying there is absolute right and wrong? Where do you think that comes from?” when they bring up the injustice of a rape/murder case ever not stop a conversation dead in its tracks? When looking at the world in terms of black and white absolutes, where does that leave mercy, grace, or compassion of any kind?

One section in this book especially struck me. After watching the execution of a Muslim woman, Rachel finds herself wrestling with the question of salvation. Zarmina was accused of murdering her abusive husband and despite the lack of evidence, was shot in the head by the Taliban. According to everything Rachel (and I) have been taught, this woman should be burning in hell right now. After a lifetime of punishment by a cruel world, she now faces the wrath of God.

“That’s not fair. How was she supposed to know any different? All her life she was taught that Islam is the one true religion, just like we were taught all our lives that Christianity is the only true religion? God didn’t really give her a chance.”

“Isn’t that why missionaries are so important,” Sarah (Rachel’s roommate) asked.

“Yes, but missionaries can’t get to everyone in time. There are millions of people, past and present, who have had no exposure to Christianity at all. Are we supposed to believe that five seconds after Jesus rose from the dead, everyone on earth was responsible for that information? How is a guy living in, I don’t know, Outer Mongolia in 15 AD supposed to figure out that Jesus died on the cross for his sins, was buried, and rose again on the first day. It’s impossible.”

It is impossible. I’ve asked this question and people always point to that line that Paul wrote that says that people are without excuse because of how beautiful the world is, or something like that. But that isn’t really talking about Jesus, specifically. It’s more about the existence of a God who created the universe. Well, other religions are kind of all about that. There isn’t a culture that is founded on atheism. So then are we saying that it isn’t the right God, so it doesn’t count? Native Americans who worshiped a Great Spirit while Paul preached in Greece are all just doomed because they weren’t born in the right place? Or the right time?

I think about another incident with Paul, where he saw a monument made “To A God Unknown.” He looks at his audience and says, “This is the same God I worship. You’ve been worshiping Him all along, you just didn’t know His name.”

Jesus never said we were supposed to have all the answers. That isn’t how Christians are supposed to be defined. Let them know us by our love. In my experience, the people who always have an answer, who feel the need to “fight the culture,” and “spread the truth,” are some of the least loving people around.