Monday, June 19, 2006

Go To This Church

church sign
Now that's a church that would be fun to attend! The picture was actually generated here. You can have a lot of fun putting wickedly inappropriate things on church signs. I know I had a lot run through my mind that I eventually decided to let fall by the wayside. It probably wouldn't do me too much good to offend the religious subset of the few people that stop by every now and then.

Playing around with church signs did get me thinking about church, however, and how little it really appeals to me. Sure, it's nice to get together to offer up praise with the people you know and to later catch up with them after the service (or before if you're one of the people who get there early), but more often than not I find the church--be it Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, whatever--to be more of a source of frustration than anything.

As the years have moved along and I've actually questioned the tenants of my Christian beliefs, I see that so many feel like they are wrong, misguided, or tools used to judge and segregate. That last point is really one of the main things that keeps me from relating to church and churchgoers. There have been altogether too many sermons and speeches that talk about homosexuality and abortion and divorce and many other topics to use them as a tool to point out how those people are wrong. Sure, some churches, pastors, and priests also tell us that we need to love them, but more often than not it is accompanied by the addendum that those same people need to change.

Is the church doing itself any good by pointing out that they think homosexuality is wrong, based on some loosely interpreted passages in the Bible? On top of that, are they really doing what Jesus would do by calling them out and preaching against them? What happened to accepting people no matter what they've done and how they've lived? We're all sinners, so what makes homosexuality so much greater of a sin that it needs to constantly be pointed out and derided? Last time I checked homosexuality didn't actually hurt anyone. As opposed to stealing, murder, or any other number of sins, homosexuality doesn't do anyone any harm... well, except maybe the ultra-conservative because they have to be around all that "icky gay crap".

Also, what about the division lines drawn between all of the different sects of Christianity? Missouri Synod Lutherans shouldn't give communion to ELCA Lutherans and some Catholic churches aren't very accepting of other Christian sects. I mean, come on, all Christians are worshiping Jesus Christ, honoring God, and praising what he has done. Why do they need to argue over all of the little things? Seriously, is it that big of a deal if one Christian religion allows their preachers to get married and the other doesn't?

This leads me to another source of head scratching. Why can't women hold the same roles as men in the church? I believe the ELCA Lutheran church allows women pastors, but for the vast majority of Christian religions women are relegated to background roles. Would God really support inequality? I somehow have a hard time believing that God thinks men are more important and that women are incompetent. More than likely the historically male dominated nature of the religion has shaped it and the current leadership are opposed to the threat to their stanglehold on the religion's leadership and structure. It's pretty ridiculous if you ask me.

Yet, despite all of these things, there are people by the truckload that blindly subscribe to all of the preceding tenants. That's fine. Everyone can do what they so choose, but I can't openly accept so many of the blatant hypocrisies that are present into today's modern Christian religions. I believe in Jesus. I believe in heaven. I know I'm a sinner. But on top of those things, I know I can't be a part of an organization that openly judges people, supports unequal gender roles, and divides people more than it unifies.

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