I was not raised in a traditionally Black Christian household, basically church was something we went to every few years, would have been even less than that if it were not for my Pops. My Mom was raised by her Dad who was an atheist and my Pops was a lapsed Southern Baptist. However when I was 17, Pops was diagnosed with throat cancer and given less than 6 months to live, on what he thought was his deathbed, he had a mid-life conversion and long story short he didn’t die and went to seminary and ended up becoming a minister and pastor much to my Mom’s dismay.
By the time he became a preacher and got his own church, I was already married with my own family, however I started coming to his church and ended up becoming a born again Christian. Its been many years and while I still have a deep and personal relationship with Christ, the truth is Christians scare me. I find Christians to be some of the most insincere and hypocritical folks around, I know that is a rather blanket and possibly offensive statement but after years of faithful church attendance and bible reading I decided a year ago to skip church and set out to gain a better understanding of the word of God sans a preacher, admittedly I have occasionally used my Pops as a reference since he is a rather unorthodox preacher.
In the year since I stopped attending church regularly and stopped searching for a church home, I have immersed myself in the works of folks like Marcus Borg and many others and honestly I feel cheated. Like most faithful church goers who never go beyond what their preacher says, I never understood the foundation of how the Christian church really came to be, how Christianity stole from Paganism to create holidays that we revere such as Christmas. While I still believe that the Bible is God’s word, I am now aware that the words were written by men and also reflect the value system of the times in which the books were written. A point that never seems to get mentioned in many traditional churches, this is why we have Paul offering rules on women in the church, yet upon deeper reflection and research is it practical to say these teachings and advice should be applied in current times? After all how many women especially in the Black community are the true workers at the church holding it down while the preacher reaps all the glory. My Granny died giving all her money to a church that did nothing for her, when she needed a furnace, medications, where was the church? I suspect she was not the only faithful attendee who gave yet when she needed her community it was not there for her.
I also have come to face that the Bible has been misused to keep down and oppress others and as a Black woman, I grapple with that daily. Don’t get me wrong I have always known the bible was used as a tool of oppression but I guess it really hit home when I set my heart to truly grow closer to God and yet studying the bible have really thought how the biblical truths have been used to justify many wrongs.
Right now I am praying for clarity, there are moments when I think perhaps this Christianity thing is not real but there are too many things I have seen and experienced in life that lead me to know its real.
What’s not real though is how people use the bible and God to create a false truth for their own purposes, be it to sucker people into their congregation or keep people feeling bad about themselves. In an election season we don’t have to look any further than the highly regarded Evangelical Christian vote to see folks who misuse God to create their own truth. These same folks get up in arms about abortion but I ask where is the compassion that Jesus showed on earth? Instead of getting up in arms about so-called liberal issues, if Evangelicals took that same energy and used it with a spirit of compassion maybe there would be less hungry and homeless folks in America.
Right now I am pondering my own journey which may lead me to seminary (talk about irony, another family mid-life journey) but I wonder am I the only one who ponders the issue of truth every day and wonders whose truth to follow?