Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Once Was Found, But Now Am Lost

Yes, yes, I know, not lost lost because of eternal security and everything. He loseth none of his sheep, he holds them in his hand, and NO they can't jump out of his hand, quit asking all those questions and color your sheep picture.

Still ... lost.

I haven't the faintest clue what I believe any more, and it is surprisingly disconcerting. That's one of the issues with building your life around a framework like this -- when it gets mushy, there's not much left to hold things up.

I had yet another very, very bad day today. It appears that whiskey was a bit more of a coping mechanism than I thought, and the combination of several factors (including sobriety) crashing together in the last few weeks has made me cry more this month than I think I did in the whole year before. I really hate crying, so that is significant.

It started with marriage stuff, but drifted into spiritual stuff, and it's all so interrelated when your marriage and your life and your family is built on the foundation of your spirituality. When the foundation begins to crumble, it's not too surprising when the rest of it starts to go. (What DO unbelievers build on? It must be something, or they would all just be walking around crying all the time.)

I was so sure of everything I knew before, and everyone around me was so sure, and there was no reason to question it. There were lots of reasons not to, that's for sure. We were told so much about how wretchedly unhappy unbelievers were without the Lord as their Rock upon which to build their lives. The funny thing is, I'm not all that sure it's true.

Now that I actually know a few unbelievers as an adult, not just the kids I once knew in high school, I am realizing that I was sold a line of bullshit. They're not miserable! Some of them are pretty damn happy. They do not envy me and my holy lifestyle. They do not want to be just like me. They do not, deep down, wish that they had something more solid to hang onto. They do not appear to have a God-shaped hole in their hearts.

Instead, they look at Christians and the way we act, and they say "Um, thanks but no thanks." And it's not even just the really awful ones, who go blaring about sin and homosexuals and The American Way. Even the nice, normal ones who simply talk about Christian things the way they would in Sunday School end up being offensive just by virtue of what they say.

They say we are judgmental. Well, even if we aren't personally judgmental, our doctrine is by its very nature. It sets forth a standard that nobody meets, so of course people are going to feel like they're being judged -- they ARE. Of course we say it's GOD doing the judging, not us, but since He doesn't seem to talk very loudly and we are the ones saying the actual words, it sure as hell sounds like we're judging.

They say that our religion is exclusive and narrow-minded. It is. They are right. There is no arguing it. It excludes everyone who doesn't believe, because if they don't believe, they are wrong. It is narrow-minded because we walk a narrow path -- being less narrow dilutes the doctrine into something that no longer holds meaning. So they are right, and we have no real defense.

They say that our religion is barbaric. They are right. It is. We do believe that all who don't believe will spend an eternity suffering untold punishment, and (to add insult to severe injury) it's THEIR FAULT. We also believe that some are chosen and some are not, but even for the ones who are not chosen, it's still their fault. There really isn't a nice way to admit that yes, we do believe in a literal hell.

They say that our religion is irrational. They are right, and we have the nerve to take pride in it. We say, "Yes, you must have faith", with the stage-whispered subtext of "I am so wonderful, I have faith." But faith is by definition irrational, and to someone who has no faith, there is nothing to draw them to our belief, nothing to make them WANT to give up rational thought. What even slightly intelligent person would want to try to believe something absurd, an invisible silent God whose plan for your life somehow involves an historical figure who is supposed to have died, but then come back to life in defiance of the laws of physics and nature itself? Where is the appeal?

And I guess that's my question. Why would ANYONE want to become a Christian? From what we believe of election, the only reason people seek God out is that he draws them to him. So why are we so surprised when unbelievers look at us as if we have lost our last remaining marble? We make no sense, and we wave that fact as our battle flag! Why would they want to find out what we mean, what would motivate them to dig into the murky circles of logic by which we find comfort in spite of the various horrors of our belief system?

How, tell me, how is this love? How does this show the love of God, that he set up a system that would repel the curious even as it excludes them? Why is it so offensive? Why are we not angered that it is a stone that makes men stumble and a rock that makes them fall? Why build men's minds for logic, why drench them in sin from their first breath, and then make their only hope of salvation dependent on a faith that requires the abandonment of that logic? Why make them, if only to be destroyed?

Would we honor a mother who killed three of her four children and explained that it was their fault for being bad? Would we expect the surviving child to praise and love her because he was grateful at having been spared? Would he write poetry and sing songs in her honor, and declare her mercy at having not drowned him in the bathtub?

Or would we just arrest her?

I think the framework is real. I think it works for those who can avoid the world outside it. I just don't know if I can do that any more.

No comments: