This isn’t an easy question for me to answer. At separate times in my life, I would have given a firm, “no” and a firm, “yes”. See, I was raised Catholic, but was extracted from that faith in my early teens. I free floated for about a decade while picking up a lot of so-called New Age philosophies, as well as Islamic teachings. During this time, however, I never donned an official title of any sort.
My Early Christian Roots
For about a decade, starting in my mid-twenties, I found myself immersed in and surrounded by Christianity. I joined a few churches and actively participated in the whole Christian culture. Eventually, though, I found it hard to ignore some things like the Sabbath being on a Saturday, Jesus’ name not really being Jesus, etc. I also found it hard to ignore the humanness I saw in Christian leaders. This isn’t to say that anyone ever asked me to ignore their humanness– usually, it was quite the opposite. But if I wasn’t going to ignore it, I also couldn’t ignore the fact that the whole churchianity scene wasn’t for me.
I’ll likely expand on that in future posts, but for now I’ll just say that I don’t intend for that title to be offensive, even though I know that it will be for some. When I use the word churchianity, I’m referring to what I believe is a man-made religion. One that says, among other things, that we don’t have to observe Sabbath, that all good Christians go to church on Sunday, and that every word written in the Bible is inspired by God and never to be questioned.
I question some of what is in the Bible. Not the red letter parts, which I accept as truth regardless of who wrote it and when, or even if they ever came face-to-face with the Messiah whom, by the way, most people call Jesus, but I refer to as Yahushua. While I don’t know for certain if His real name is Yahushua, I do know for certain that it isn’t Jesus since the letter J didn’t exist when He was born, but I digress.
As I was saying, I choose not to question anything ascribed to Yahushua, but I do wonder about some of the other stuff written in the text. For instance, did Lot’s daughters really come onto him or was it the other way around? If we’re to believe that the Bible’s authors were all inspired by God in their leadership, how do we account for Yahushua correcting what Moses allowed in terms of divorce (Matthew 19:8)? While questions like these aren’t faith-destroying, they do present a problem in subscribing to a religion that believes the text is the end-all-be-all of their faith; That to even question its contents grants immediate grounds for dismissal.
In My Book…
I also wrote a book comparing what the bible teaches about marriage to what most people, particularly Christians, believe about marriage in modern times. To say that I’ve discovered glaring contradictions would be describing that comparison lightly. Without going into a long dissertation about it, I’ll just say that it’s hard to go along with the status quo when you begin to see things in such a different light. (My book, Marriage Without a License, can be found here.)
I Adore the Messiah!
On the flip side, I not only believe in God and in His Son, Yahushua, but I seriously, seriously reverence Him. I also love Yahushua not just for His sacrifice, but I truly love His wisdom, His way of being…basically, His swag. He totally fascinates me. I even find myself feeling disappointed that more isn’t written about Him in terms of His daily life and social interactions in his teen and young adult years. Other Christians have admonished me for doing so, but I seriously wonder about where He was and what He was doing between the time He was 12 until His early-thirties which is the age theologians peg Him as being when He began selecting His disciples and teaching the masses. I also seriously wonder why He didn’t write a few books Himself. I mean, if all of these other people were inspired to write about God and even about His Son in order that we might have a sacred text to guide future generations, how come Yahushua didn’t pen a few verses?
Or did He?
What We Don’t Know
This brings me to another point that I often wonder about. Old Testament aside, the New Testament was assembled by a group of men who took it upon themselves to decide what should be passed down and what should be silenced. That’s a major red flag for me. Also, I have many questions about the men who assembled the book: Were they men of strong character? Did they have ulterior motives? I have similar questions for the book’s many authors: Were they sane? Truthful? Did they ever misinterpret messages from God? Was all of their inspiration even from God? How much of a role did ego play in their thoughts, beliefs and customs? How much of that spilled over into their teachings, prophecies or “revelations”? Bearing in mind that Yahushua corrected what Moses allowed…and what people mistakenly believed to be “OK’d by God” in terms of divorce, I find myself wondering what else were people misled about? What else was misinterpreted? What else was man saying under the deliberate or unintentional guise of God saying it?
Then there’s also that whole thing about the Bible being a translation of a translation of what man said God said. How much was lost in these translations? In my opinion, these facts leave tons of room for misunderstanding.
All of this, in my mind, has relevance in today’s world. For instance, is homosexuality really an abomination? Imagine if Eddie Long or Ted Haggard were the Bible authors of that little nugget. Once accusations (and evidence) about their same-sex preferences were made, wouldn’t it be natural to wonder how much of their own cultural and sexual struggles were reflected in their writings? We don’t know much of anything about the personal lives of the Bible’s authors and can’t really say for sure how much of what they wrote was personal and how much was really inspired by God.
Love Is My Religion
My faith in the Almighty is very strong and I choose love above everything.
It’s what Yahushua did.
I strive to shed my judgments and, regardless of what the Bible says and the Church interprets, leave that role up to God, instead.
It’s what Yahushua did.
I also rest on the Sabbath and occasionally hang out with the unchurched like Yahushua did. Am even thinking about volunteering with a local LGBT organization in my area, cuz I believe Yahushua wants us to love everyone everywhere.
And speaking of the LGBT community, I firmly believe they should have the right to civil marriage. You can read my book for an in-depth exploration of how I came to my conclusions, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the marriage that the government has created and recognizes is a completely separate thing from what is defined throughout the Bible. Tabling the question of whether homosexuality is right or wrong, the marriage that so many attempt to frame in a Biblical perspective is not the same as a civil marriage. It is, therefore, wrong to bar taxpaying American citizens from partaking of it.
Back To the Question at Hand
These thoughts are just the tip of my iceberg when it comes to answering the question of whether or not I’m a Christian. Ignoring the fact that the very word Christian originally had a negative connotation, which was adopted by early followers of Yahushua (or Paul, depending upon how deep you really wanna go with this convo) and turned around to mean something good (much like how some Blacks now embrace the word nigga)…ignoring all of this, can I– with a straight face– call myself a Christian? And am I misleading people if I do?
I believe in the birth, teachings, death, burial, resurrection, divinity and second-coming of Yahushua…I believe Him to be the only begotten Son of the Most High, but I’ve more than a few questions about other stuff in the Bible, about the Church and its culture, and what other Christians typically believe. In fact, I often find myself out of step with most Christians. This isn’t to say that I think everything is wrong, just that I can’t blindly believe in much of what is written and taught. Oh, and I’m completely the opposite of your average evangelical in terms of my politics.
And in a lot of people’s minds, my overall mindset disqualifies me from being a Christian.
And in my mind, I’m totally cool with that.
I’m also cool with those who think that, because of my core beliefs, I do still qualify.
Me personally? I don’t care what other people call me or how they choose to classify me (or declassify me). I shed the need to struggle with a label a long time ago and I don’t regret it.
Truth be told, I follow Christ’s teachings and am also attracted to a lot of Buddha’s philosophies, but I’m not a fan of any one organized religion…be it Christian or otherwise.
I believe…I love…I live. Period.