Oh – That’s Right, Sunday is Hypocrite Day Out

* Disclaimer: This is a bit of a rant. I may or may not start to sound hypocritical myself. Or go off on a tangent. Or become a raving lunatic. This is an emotive issue for me which I just needed to purge from my mind and life. Please be aware this is not how I see every Christian or church attendee.

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Yesterday, as I got out of my car and to go into the shopping center, I happened to walk past a family I once attended the same church as. I had a little giggle to myself as they busied themselves looking anywhere but at me, because, you know, they might catch evil if they made eye contact.

But, then, I got angry.

Not for me, so much as I was an angsty teen at that point and making friends or being friendly wasn’t my thing. I didn’t make ties with this family or the people I knew were up at Donut King waiting to meet them (as they shop in a group on a Sunday afternoon) and so, their rejection of myself doesn’t phase me. My anger comes from that place within me which strives to protect my family at all costs. My mum, dad and two youngest brothers did make ties and spent much more time with people who they thought were their friends.

And, this is why you will not find me in a church.

You may or may not know that I am, indeed, a Christian. I come from a long line of ministers – on both sides and I spent every Sunday of my childhood sitting in a congregation. But, as I’ve grown up I’ve some to realise that my beliefs are somewhat different to those I have attended church with. What I take from the Bible and the stories of Jesus make me question a lot of things my family and I have been through at the hands of other ‘Christians’.

Exclusion because I wasn’t a ‘fun’ teen; when I was, in fact, depressed. Being used, abused and run into the ground. Take advantage of. Gossiped about. And now, judged because of the end of my parent’s marriage.

Given that my parents are not the only couple who have split from there and I can’t help but wonder if they really think they have the right to judge us. Any or all of us. Does sitting in a building for a few hours every Sunday morning give you the right to pretend you don’t know someone you were once friends with. Do those hours absolve you of the previous week’s worth of judgement, intolerance, exclusion, narrow mindedness and so many other things that are the complete opposite of what is required of Christians?

That’s what really gets me. We are told to love everyone, accept and to help those who need it. Judgement is not for us to hand out and while it can be hard to not judge from time to time, it’s something so many people are working on. And yet, I have come across so many people in my church life that feel righteous in their judgement, they feel vindicated in their nastiness.They come to my door, wake my baby and lecture me about ‘the gays’.

I do not wonder for a moment why so many people are anti-religion.

You know, we were given free will, told to love and not judge. This is where I base my beliefs. Someone elses’s choices are theirs to make and not ours to change, judge or petition against. In my mind, love is absolutely love. I am pro gay marriage and while I understand others are not on religious grounds, it’s still not our place to stand in the way. Otherwise, what’s the point of having this free will stuff?

Intolerance is my top pet peeve and I have seen it most within the walls of God’s House.

As you can tell, this gets me a tad riled up.

Hurting my family, with your averted eyes and raised noses does not make you holier than thou. And the end of an unhappy marriage sometimes just has to be, for all involved. And when your friend is in a hard place, at the end of 20-something years marriage turning your back is not the Godly thing to do. Not ever. Even if you disagree with divorce.

And that’s my two cents. Rant over.

10 Comments

  1. oh I really don’t like those types of “Christians”. If you believe in judgement day and all that, then I’m pretty sure I know which side they would fall on.

  2. oh hon – nail on the head as to why I left ‘the church’ and have not been back for the better part of a decade. If they, of all communities cannot practice what they preach, what hope is there!

  3. agree with you… I cannot stand the hypocrisy that is found sometimes within religion… like you said intolerance, judgement, racism… bah the list goes on.

  4. Oh Becky, sending you huge hugs hun! Averting eyes etc is just plain wrong. Especially over a divorce, don’t they know how hard that is without judging as well?! I know a few people who have called an end to their marraige, and you know what? I’m proud of them. Sometimes it is the best thing to do, and usually the hardest too. God shows us unconditional love and forgiveness, who are we to do anything less?!
    xox

  5. I’ve thought about this a bit before, and heard a bit from people who’ve thought similar things too.

    Not about the judging part – there’s plenty to say about that, it’s endemic in most churches, but I always kept my head down enough not to cop it (or, if I did, not to know about it). So other people are better placed to say something insightful about that (eg. you, in this post).

    But about something else you only mentioned a little – fitting in at church. It’s a massive shortcoming of church that only some people really fit in. Kids fit in well – church is a great place to be a kid. So do old people, on the whole, and families with parents in their late 30s and 40s. Young parents seem to either not fit in at all, or actually fit in very well, if the church has made a special effort for them (which some do). Teenagers rarely fit in, unless the other teenagers at church happen to be the same sort of people as their own friends. Single young adults usually find it even harder than teenagers, since Christians tend to marry off early, and also because there are so few people there of the same age (census data shows that church attendance is lowest among people in their 20s and 30s – http://www.ncls.org.au/images%5Cdocimages%5Cau%5Cdec%20Enews6.png), and just because the structured activities in church don’t match up very well to the way people that age usually like to spend their time.

    Then on top of that, there’s personality. Church is sort of a supercharged social event, and it’s not greatly suited to introverts. All the singing, and coffee drinking after church, and worst of all, the expectation of evangelising. Then there’s the whole overtone of joy, and the expectation of joy, at being saved, and giving thanks to God, and all that. It suits some people very well, if it gels with their natural emotions and state of mind. If not, you’re left feeling like you’re doing something wrong, and other people don’t really know what to say to you.

    And all of that is a bit of a vicious circle – the people who you might have felt more at home with have already left, because they didn’t feel at home.

    I think Christianity, and religion in general, suits some types of people more than others as well – people who get comfort from knowing the answers to at least some of life’s big questions, people who like to have a basis for considering themselves correct and others mistaken, and also people who like to do good things and think of themselves as good people. I’m not bagging on religion or saying those things are what it’s for, or that all Christians have those traits. But it does give you those things, and if you want them, you’ll be more keen to be religious than someone who doesn’t want them so much. Which explains the judging a bit, too. Religion is a handy psychological tool for bolstering up the conviction that you are correct and others are mistaken, so people who have that flaw tend to become worse when they become religious. Again, I’m not bagging religion. I think religion makes some bad personality traits worse, and helps people organise to more effectively do bad things, but it also makes some good personality traits even better, and helps people organise to more effectively do good things as well.

    I don’t really have any suggestions to ‘fix’ the fact that churches tend to only suit some people, but I think it’s comforting to know that the problem (if you can call it that) is in the social dynamic. You can’t blame the person who goes there and doesn’t feel at home, and really, you can’t blame the people who do feel at home there either for not making you feel at home. It’s just a fact that we all feel more at home with some people than with others, and churches for whatever reason don’t usually have all the different kinds of people in them, or at least not many of all the different kinds.

    I didn’t fit in very well at church. I always felt that I’d rather read a book, or drink beer with my friends (almost none of whom were Christian) than go to Youth Group and participate in activities that didn’t interest me much with people I had little in common with. I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault, and I was never annoyed by it. They didn’t talk much to me for the same reason I didn’t talk much to them. We just didn’t have much to say to each other.

    Of course, there are always exceptions. I didn’t see a lot of you when you were a teenager because you’d moved away, but you were one of a few people I knew in the context of church who I got along well with and liked spending time with. Even as a teenager, and probably at least in part because we are both people for whom being at church feels like being stuck in an elevator with a bunch of over-excited people to whom we simply have nothing to say.

  6. I wonder if we went to the same ‘church’ to be honest!

    I too, left a ‘church’ upbringing. I was raised in a Christian church and while I still consider myself Christian and hold the same values, I did not agree with many of the isolating and ways in which they conducted it.

    So many at the chruch I attended would be either bully you for not being as ‘holy’ as they, it was like a competition to reach their standard of faith as such or on the other hand, others would ‘act’ in a faithful manner and outside the church lived an entire seperate, contradictory life.

    It was rather extreame in many ways.

    There are of course lovely devotees with a strong faith that do not push or jusge, but it seemed to be overwhealmed by those that took it quite literally as a lifestyle.

    If you did not like speaking in public or at doors, you were shunned. In my experiance anyway.

    I was around 15 when I left and while it was devistating to my family, at least they understood.

    A fantastic post, I really appreciate reading others perspectives on this topic. I’ve never known anyone else to have gone through similar circumstances 🙂

  7. I think you are saying what many many people are thinking but not saying. My non Catholic (but still Christian) mother married my staunch Catholic father. Religion ended up playing a big part in their break up. I went to Catholic schools, our kids are in Catholic schools. My mother in law is very strong in her faith & teaches scripture in the non Catholic schools. I try to attend church 2-3 Sundays a month, it really depends on my work commitments. My hubby doesn’t go and 2 of our 3 kids are hitting the age of not wanting to go. I do see the hypocrisy in some people there, people that have been there since I moved here 32 years ago. Sitting their backside in church does not make someone a good person. How you treat and respect others is what makes you a good person. I always say that I live my religion on my terms. I would never let it take over my life but I personally think it’s important to have some form of religious influence in life. I don’t know life any differently. To not acknowledge someone because they don’t go to church is not very nice. I respect that others have different beliefs to mine (I have friends who don’t believe at all). I think everyone should be allowed to believe what they want. And life is so much nicer when people are friendly to each other!
    Vent all you like – it makes good conversation!
    Karen xx

  8. I hear you completely! We have experienced something very similar – even to the extent of ‘friend’ saying we were the best friends they had had, wanted our children to grow old together – and then when we stopped going to church – they stopped making any effort or contact with us. Heartbroken. But it had to happen – to let us get closer to God and know that people suck! hehe! xx

  9. It’s true that there are many people in all sorts of churches who have said and done awful and judgemental things, but ultimately, they don’t matter. What matters most is that Jesus died on the cross to ensure that we have the opportunity for life with him. It is awful that people get find themselves unable to connect with this reality because of things that church goers do.

  10. Sadly, many church goers seem to be so intent on pointing out what others should and should not be doing that they forget that the most meaningful Way to share their beliefs is to live a life that values others.

    I attend church regularly with m family, but I am constantly disappointed by the behavior of many Christians. So much judgement and intolerance when we as Christians should be the first to be accepting and inclusive.

    I’m sorry that your experience today was so difficult for you. I hope that you are able to focus on the wonderful people in your life who do support and encourage you and let go of the hurt caused by a group of small-minded people who can’t see beyond their own prejudices and insecurities.

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