Before you start reading, I realize this is a provocative post. It’s not one I offer lightly but as a way to declare and distance myself from what no longer serves me. And while you may or may not agree or care, I hope it gives you cause for pause. Are there aspects of your religion, your party, that provoke cognitive dissonance within you? Don’t allow them to rest unchallenged. Wrestle with them. Don’t allow others to define you. You be you.
Last night in a dream the Professor left me. Initially I was terrified, desperate to hang on, consumed with the desire to return our relationship to the status quo. But just before I awoke I wondered, could separating from a relationship that no longer serves be a good thing? It is.
First, my dream’s interpretation is not literal. There’s no separation or divorce planned in my household. My dream was not about us but about me, or rather about two sides of me. One side sees with clarity that all is not as it seems and urges me to step away. The other clings to the way I’ve always done life, fearful of change. Each side struggles for control. The fear of the consequences of change have kept me in the status quo camp. No longer. I’m leaving what have been important identities in my life.
I can no longer be considered a Christian or a Republican as they are defined today.
First, leaving Christianity (and the church). I’ve been questioning the practice of my faith for years. Many years of membership in Baptist (American and Southern) and nondenominational churches, evangelistic and charismatic manifestations, traditional and seeker churches, the organized church, homechurches, and even a hobby-centered horse church have not brought me closer to God. And that’s made me feel exceedingly guilty. After all, I’ve been inside that system most of my life.
I’ve spent countless hours studying extrascriptural laws and regulations. I’ve watched so-called shepherds behaving badly, exalting themselves, and sheep that would (and are required to) fall backwards on command or follow them over a cliff. These and now over twenty years of watching from outside the church have convinced me that the practice of Christianity is flawed.
Much of what’s taught in church these days reflects unwritten commandments developed over many years. The church indirectly teaches worship of man and tradition in place of observing the Greatest Commandment. There’s a head table where the exalted sit to have supper, the front row and obsequious honors are afforded those in the top of church hierarchy and “distinguished” guests. We’re supposed to belong to a local church, teach Sunday School, support staff and programs, and only leave the local church when and if leadership believes we should or can. God is overlaid by so much extra-biblical nonsense that it’s hard to find Him underneath it all.
In the face of that, as Doug Hooley writes in his book Leaving the Church to Find Jesus, the Bible says salvation boils down to just three things:
- Hope in Christ
- Faith in Christ
From these three Biblical requirements have sprung hundreds of denominations, each with its unique set of additional rules and requirements for salvation. You must or mustn’t speak in tongues. You must be baptised – dunked or dripped as an adult or infant. You must have faith in what you want, spit it and git it. Nevermind that Jesus’ actions are sufficient. You must also be under the covering of a husband, pastor, or apostle. Women must know their place and certainly never ever preach to men. You must give sacrificially to be blessed. And most recently, you must accept that the church and its messengers are the abiters of Christianity, patriotism, and liberty.
I believe in faith, hope, and love. The organized church has jumped the track. If fulfilling all of their unBiblical requirements is necessary, I no longer am a Christian.
And no longer am I a Republican. My former party has occupied the political field in a similar manner. Originally founded on certain principles, both Republican and Democratic parties have added to them a host of other requirements. Frankly, so many of them that I no longer recognize the party that I affiliated with as an 18-year old first time voter.
I signed on for this:
- Fiscally prudent representative governance (with citizen participation)
- The rule of law, justice
- Low (not zero) taxation
- Free markets
- Personal freedom and responsibility (tempered by common sense and compassion to those in need)
I still believe in these, I just don’t believe in the party.
The Republican Party in Idaho (and elsewhere) has jumped its track. It wants to enter the voting booth with us and make us follow the party line. Some would also now choose the Republican candidates for their members. Freedom? Liberty? Hardly.
The party is no longer recognizable as the one I joined almost 50 years ago. It’s preoccupied with purity tests and exclusionary moves to retain or regain dominance. It waves a blood red flag of Christianity while acting like a devil. It’s now purely about loyalty to the party. Kinda like the church.
So in 2023, I’m leaving both. I aim to find out what it means to be a follower of Christ without being in the church or being a Christian. To be committed to the principles I still believe in as a citizen of these United States without being a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t need to belong to either.
You may not understand, you may not support my decisions, but don’t doubt my intent. I’m not leaving my faith and I’m not leaving my patriotism. I’m leaving people and organizations who’ve added to those things I believe and know to be true. I’m declaring my loyalty to common sense and clear-headed thinking. I’m resolving cognitive dissonance. I will no longer argue with myself. Or you.
It’s 2023, Baby. I’m getting back to basics.
Preach it Sister!! I love this post-I feel exactly the same way. Happy New Year Teri-sounds like you’re starting it off right.❤️
Yes!!! Happy New Year, Miss Junie!
Well written and you are not alone I’m sure. We have veered off course in many aspects. Stay well and hope to see you soon. Happy New Year.
Thank you, my dear friend! I’m counting on seeing you very soon!
Oh how I love you! I am so glad our paths crossed this year. I fully support your authenticity and integrity. I agree; it’s frustrating when ego and self-righteousness act as poisons through the institutions of religion and politics and obscure the good principles each was originally based on. We have to be so careful not to let others dictate how we “should” be thinking and behaving or voting. Democracy needs independent thinkers in order to survive. Spirituality needs kindness in order to be expressed. Sending you much hope for a joyful, inspiring, 2023!
Thank you, my friend! It was a very good day when we met in Corte Madera. I especially like “democracy needs independent thinkers to survive”. Both faith and politics are improved by those who aren’t afraid to ask questions (and learn answers that may or may not be what they expected). Happy New Year and I love you back!
I think the vast majority of republicans are right of center, not far right. The far right, just like the far left, are just louder than those that are closer to the center..
Fred, you’re probably right. At least one would hope so, but they don’t either have the ability or the will to coalesce and take back the ground that’s been lost. They keep electing these guys. When it first came to my attention there were a lot more in the middle. Fewer now. And the ones on the far right, at least here in Idaho, seem to be taking ground in the PR wars.
I departed from political party 30 years ago, the church more recently. Like you, I’m still a believer. I grew weary of the rules that restricted me. Restrictions based on earthly rules designed to tell me how I was to respond to the challenges God placed in my path. I finally realized the church was hindering rather than helping where and when I needed it most. Now I just rely on the Divine.
There are more of us out here than we realize. Faith, hope, love. Bottom line!