I’ve been binge-listening to atheist and progressive Christian content on YouTube for the past few weeks. I listen with no intention of defending my five-year-old faith or leaving the church. I listen to reflect. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Matt Dillahunty is by far the most rational person I’ve seen in my life. Jimmy Snow’s clap backs to cringey and dangerous Christian fundamentalist ideas are entertaining and informative at the same time. Brenda Marie Davies has such compassionate heart for an evangelical. But I find myself connecting the most to Jo Luehmann because of the way her heart bleeds for the marginalized in her worship. I can say with conviction that doing so – binge-listening to non-believers and progressives – did not diminish my love for Jesus Christ a bit, in fact I realized that I do love Jesus. Yet, inasmuch as I love Him, mainstream Jesus is not the same Jesus I met and fell in love with in the pages of Fr. Nolan’s book. Inside his Church I feel alone, alienated. It’s as if all that I am, all that give me reason for being – animal rights, feminism, equal distribution of wealth – have no place in worship. I bleed everytime I have to shut up on things that I vehemently oppose, like the idea that divorce destroys families, or that women who seek divorce are selfish, or that contraception is abortion, or that being non-binary is a sin, or that animals do not go to heaven. You have no idea how many times I almost walked out of service. But I didn’t. Couldn’t. Because of shame. Because I’m scared of being ostracized, which I know is a wrong reason to be in Church. It crushes me that I have to discard my identity to adhere to the tradition. I admit that I pretend to be like them, to think like everyone else. But I am not everyone else. I don’t believe in forcing purity culture. I don’t believe that being LGBTQ+ automatically brings a person to hell. I don’t believe that women who opt out of abusive marriages do not think about their children. I don’t believe that God created the whole world for humans. I don’t believe that Jesus is white. In our Christianity, man has become the center of God’s entire existence. I believe God is God, regardless of humans. I, on the other hand, am human, and must be so, accepting and embracing everything I am designed to be.
I don’t ask to be forgiven. I ask to be heard.