I am someone who likes to sit back and observe. I like to feel comfortable with people before I really open up and let loose and talk about my full socio-political beliefs. Don’t worry, I won’t be writing a diatribe about why you should be a liberal or conservative… or any other version of a political stance. I honestly don’t give a crap what others believe… wait, hold up… that sounds harsh. It’s not that I don’t care about the person’s beliefs… I just don’t see how they matter to me in my life. It does not upset me one iota if someone happens to be of a different mind than me about something, and I would just hope for the same courtesy back.
Acting like a know it all, and putting down other people’s political and religious beliefs is not attractive and makes you look like an ass. There are always at least two opposing viewpoints on a topic and there are always people on both sides that are intolerant of the other. It drives me nuts.
Anyway, before this really does turn into a diatribe, let me get back to what I came here to say. Last week I went to dinner with a friend and she commented on something I had posted on my wall regarding the stuff going on in the US where homosexuals are being denied service at various establishments – not just by conscientious objectors that don’t want to participate in the actual marriage part of the new federal law (i.e pastors not performing ceremonies or county clerks not granting marriage certificates), but also by other businesses that it does not otherwise directly affect… pizza places… hardware stores.
I noted that I found it ridiculous. I say fair enough if you believe the act of homosexual sex is a sin, but that does not give anyone the right to judge said sin and refuse service. I am a Christian, and I believe all people are sinners. Myself included. I believe if you are going to shut your doors and refuse service to one sin, then you should shut your doors completely because every single person that walks into that establishment would be a sinner.
At the end of my little rant, I said “Civil Law is not God’s law. Snap out of it.” Even in the Bible it says civil laws are separate from God’s laws. It says “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and it talks about subjugation under kings and that they are the law of the land.****
I didn’t even come here to talk about gay rights… but I just don’t see how a civil law allowing two people to have civil benefits… to be able to be considered next-of-kin for a dying partner… any of those things that come along with being a spouse, has any affect on the religious beliefs of others. Hetero people are not being forced to marry in same-sex arrangements, so why do they care that much?
Circling back, my friend saw this post I put up – a rare thing for me because I don’t like to engage in much of that, especially on Facebook. So we started discussing politics and religion over our steaks and wine… and she said “You are so much more progressive than you give yourself credit for!”
Ah… Ummm…. Thanks?
I think really it’s more that she was surprised at how progressive I am given that I don’t shout out my views like so many others – and she knows me from an Evangelical women’s Bible study I had been attending before I started working. She’s Catholic and I’m Lutheran and somehow we ended up at this Evangelical church on Thursday mornings. I have also been attending there on the occasional Sunday mostly for the kids programs… but I still consider myself a member of a conservative Lutheran synod in the US – WELS.
We discussed a bit about disillusionment and some issues with church going friends. She told me about some of her issues, I told her about some of mine – including a disagreement I could not stay out of when someone called Allah a false god. I got to that breaking point where I was tired of pussy footing around. I schooled them on basic religious history and then pointedly informed them that I took offense to the statement because if they call the god of Islam a “false god,” then they are calling MY God a false god. I told them that when it comes to the major monotheistic religions (Judaism, Islam, Catholicism/Christianity) that we all branched from the same source – the same God, and therefore it is a matter of theological differences rather than in a difference in omnipotent entity. There were also other things from that conversation that really irked me, but I won’t detail them here.
I explained to her about WELS and how conservative it really is… and the difference between them and the more liberal Lutheran synods. One thing being that women can’t vote in congregational meetings and women can’t be pastors. That part is what usually surprises people. She asked me if I was actually okay with that. I mean, yeah… the theology makes sense to me if the woman is in a full family unit… but in my case I couldn’t/can’t vote, but neither can my husband because he’s not a member…. and what about the single ladies? That’s what bothers me about that situation. Dane was single so I would usually attend meetings with him, and we tended to be of the same mind about issues raised so he ended up being my figurehead so to speak in that church. That’s what it felt like anyway. Even now, he is who I look to if I need clarification on doctrine.
I loved that church, and I loved my pastors – such smart, scholarly men that had such good heads on their shoulders. Yes, we were conservative. But no, we never would turn people away. I also felt wanted there… every Sunday that I wasn’t there the head pastor would notice I wasn’t there out of the 350 average attendance. I’d never experienced that before. The feeling of being wanted at a church, really wanted.
I also didn’t feel judged there – even when I broke down sobbing in the pastor’s office and told him about the night with David.
All that being said, yes it was/is a wonderful church in my opinion. But why did I end up in a conservative church where women can’t even vote? I wasn’t raised that way.
I think it all goes back to Wyatt. Everything always goes back to him. The way I have felt in every single relationship since has been directly on associations with the relationship with him. The fear to speak up was a big one…and feeling intimidated in new situations with guys. I wrote before that I felt lost at 15 when I wasn’t under his direct control anymore. So in a way I think it’s ingrained in me to feel theologically I should be somehow lesser than the man in the church – even though that is NOT what WELS teaches, by the way.
I have this low self esteem when it comes to male counterparts that I have battled for a long time. So even though I am cool with the whole not getting to vote in my synod, I still also fight tooth and nail if anyone tries to make me feel as though I am not or should not be in control of myself.
To be honest, I feel like I’m in a bit of a religious crisis at the moment. I really did not want to attend church this morning, but my daughter really wanted to go… and I hadn’t taken her in several weeks. So I took her and my son. As my own little form of rebellion, I took along my Catholic Bible. I got there and started to try to worship, but started crying instead… so I stopped. After awhile I found that they weren’t going to have the children’s Sunday school, so I made that my reason to go ahead and leave. I didn’t really ever have these feelings while going to my Lutheran church… but various times over the years I have felt distanced from church-people and have had a hard time feeling like I fit in. Like I’m being judged or going to be judged on my opinions or lifestyle.
As a teen I was thoroughly and viciously judged for my “promiscuous” nature – though no one knew my story – by friends and their families. People that went to our church and youth group in Ethiopia. I witnessed other friends get ostracized by friends and family at our church in Sweden – one girl telling me I was the only one left of “the church people” that would talk to her.
Here, I am not feeling that I myself am being judged. That’s a change. I personally feel welcome… there are some awesome people that go to that church… yet I also increasingly feel the pressure that if I do speak up in a different voice that I will be judged silently or openly. I sit back, I observe, and I don’t like what I see sometimes.
Not that it’s likely to ever happen, but I’d like to know that if either of my lesbian step-sisters wanted to come visit; I could take them to church or to meet church friends and I wouldn’t have to worry about the silent judgement for them or myself.
I’d like the freedom to eat Halal or Kosher foods if I so choose without someone thinking I am putting my soul in mortal danger because I am eating something that was blessed in the name of “false gods.” I’m damn near close to converting to Judaism just to eat Kosher all the time, I tell you what.
In WELS churches we only take communion with other WELS members. I moved to a country where WELS doesn’t exist, so I set that rule aside because I’d never otherwise be able to do it. But you know… I feel uncomfortable taking communion nowadays.
****Bible verses referenced: