Those who remember me from church may not know this, but I currently consider myself to be agnostic. Yes, this person who used to sing in the church choir and with smaller worship teams no longer gives herself over mind, body, and soul to the belief that there is an omniscient being called God.
The Day I “Got It”
I remember clearly the day I “got it” while reading the Bible.It was a powerful feeling. It was something about the Holy Spirit living in all who believe and have faith.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ~Romans 5:5
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, ~Ephesians 1:13
I thought, “Wow!” It was almost an electric kind of feeling to think that Jesus, though crucified, continues to live in spiritual form in all who believe. It was sort of like that feeling when you lift your hands in worship. Powerful. Not a lot of people are comfortable lifting their hands in worship. Why? Because it makes you feel vulnerable.
Try it! Raise your arms with your hands in a position as if you were about to catch a giant beach ball and just stand (or sit) there for a bit. Feel that? Kind of like you’re receiving some energy flow or something? Is it God touching you or your subconscious mind telling you it feels a little weird? It’s not a position most people normally hold during the course of a day. So when you raise your hands in worship and hold them there for several moments, you’re going to feel something different. That’s it – just different. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re feeling something supernatural.
It’s all in what you believe. If you believe what you feel is supernatural … is God’s love pouring into your soul … that’s great (for you)! I would never take that away from anyone. I’m just stating what I believe it is.
Then I started experiencing something contradictory in the church. People weren’t practicing what was being preached. Sin exists everywhere, even in those who believe in God. I get that.
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. ~Romans 13:8-10
Though your neighbor sins, love them anyway! I saw the church refuse to allow someone to continue to lead a music ministry when they learned this person was gay. How is this “sin” greater than anyone else’s in ministry? There’s this…
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~Hebrews 10:26-31
Don’t even get me started on DNA, chromosomes, and the amount of the human brain that no one understands! Suffice it to say that I’m a firm believer that being gay is NOT A CHOICE!
Judging and Condemning
People lie (big and small lies) and continue to lie. People look at others lustfully and continue to do so. People are greedy and envious and continue to be so. If we turned away all sinners, there would be no church! But again and again, people confess these sins they continue to commit (deliberately or not), and they are supposedly forgiven. This god that Christians believe in will judge “his people”. It’s not up to us to judge people according to their sins, it’s up to the god they believe in. The people are given discernment, but they are not given the right to condemn. Rather, they are commanded to love.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” ~Matthew 7:1-5
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
Someone told me that we are called to rebuke others. OK. I can understand this … to their faces; not behind their backs. So much conflict. Better to walk away.
Jesus: A Cool Dude
A man named Jesus probably really did exist, and he was probably a really cool dude – good for the most part, but perhaps not completely free of sin himself. As a man, he too had free will. I believe he was a compassionate man who loved every living creature on earth just as they were. I believe there may be logical explanations for the “miracles” and other incredible tales of the Bible.
I believe that showing the same kind of compassion and love that Jesus was said to have shown others is an awesome way to live, but I don’t believe that you have to profess faith in a supernatural being to do so.
It seems like people forfeit accountability when they say they leave it all in the hands of the god they believe in. “God’s will be done.” Whatever happens is according to some master plan … as if all of our goals and aspirations mean nothing and planning for the future is futile. I wonder … why make plans in the first place if this is true?
If you want something to happen, DO SOMETHING! If it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, accept it or try harder. God’s will, free will, our own will … by whatever label, it’s either going to happen or it isn’t. Call it whatever gives you the most comfort, but do take accountability.
Prayer? If, as the Bible states, our days are already planned, how can prayer change things. How do you know what happens is a result of your prayers being answered? When things you pray for don’t happen, those are apparently also answered prayers in the form of a “no”.
I just don’t understand it. They say there’s no right or wrong way to pray, but people usually begin with “Heavenly Father…” then repeat “Father” or “Father God” and “Lord” many times throughout. They also say things like “I would ask that you watch over…” Why not just say “I ask that you watch over…”? Or… Just “Please watch over…” (Keep it simple.) Praying out loud with all the extra words makes me uncomfortable, like there’s some formula to praying.
When Christians pray, they are really just putting concentrated effort into thinking about certain things (needs, praises, gratitude, etc.) Isn’t it enough to just mindfully think of these things? If the Holy Spirit knows our thoughts before we do, why are formulated prayers necessary?
The only prayer “prescribed” (taught) in the Bible is the Lord’s Prayer. Where did the creeds come from that people chant together in church? The Bible also states that people are to pray in private, not “on street corners like pagans”.
I stopped “praying” a while ago and instead think about things with a more concentrated effort. When I keep people and situations in my thoughts, it means I’m showing compassion, concern, and love (there’s that greatest commandment again). When I tell people that I’ll keep them in my thoughts or am thinking of them, they can take that any way they want. If the people I’m thinking of believe in God, then they also believe that the Holy Spirit hears our thoughts. Different method, same outcome.
Being an agnostic doesn’t mean I don’t believe in anything. It just means that I don’t believe anything can be proven one way or the other, and I’m OK with that. It also doesn’t mean that I’m living a life of debauchery and crime. You don’t have to go to church to be a good person. I have love and compassion for my fellow mankind, and for animals, and for nature (maybe not so much for bugs that invade my personal space 🙂 ). I’ve seen church goers show less compassion for others (gossip, ridicule, condemnation). That breaks my heart.
Church is a great place for like-minded people to gather for fellowship. I know the Universal Unitarian church accepts agnostics if anyone is looking for a place to gather and share interests. I’ve never been to one myself but would check it out if there were one near us. For now, I’m happy to be who I am where I am.