Over the course of the last weekend I went to a music festival. During that time one of the bands went on a bit of a tirade about serving god.
The main point of this individuals speech was that it was an “easy” thing to leave one’s faith behind. The second point was that it is a rebellious and hard thing to stay within the Christian faith.
It was enough to make me uncomfortable, and at that point I left to check out a different band. I can hear the sarcastic baptist at the back of my head. Mocking me for running from “conviction.”
In reality however it had nothing to do with “conviction” and everything to do with the crass and uncaring attitude of the band member. He had his point of view, and then projected onto a group of people he clearly knew nothing about.
He spoke of how many Christian bands have let their faith go and have abandoned god. According to the singer those particular band members were just taking the easy way out. Walking away from a hard life of service to god.
I think that was what hurt the most. The implication that the reason they left was because “following Christ” was too hard. That they reached a tough time in their faith or couldn’t handle the moral restrictions and just gave up.
But for a lot of people, leaving behind their faith community has been anything but easy. Often these people are shunned or looked down on by their their family and friends. Confronting everything they were taught, alone.
I’ve heard the Christian tirade about those that “leave the faith” before, but only really from when I was a part of the church. From the outside now I can see that it’s extremely uninformed and really misses anything close to the actual truth.
If the church every really wants to know why people leave then they should stop and listen to those that have left. Truly listening to the faults and criticism pointed out. Even within my own experience, I’ve found very few willing to listen.
The conversations I’ve had with evangelicals regarding faults and failures of the church are often deflected. “That wouldn’t happen at this church.” “That’s just one person. That isn’t reflective of the whole church.”
Many of those who have left the church as a whole have done so because of their treatment at the hands of those within the church community. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but abuse (all types) is rampant within many churches. Victims have had to watch as their abusers never face justice. Often because church leaders refuse to believe the victims; instead many times supporting and believing the abusers.
My point is it’s not just as simple as, “They left because that was the easy way out.” Nor was it often an easy choice for many of these individuals. For those raised within the church, leaving it often means leaving behind your friends and community.
Leaving the comfort of having a black and white worldview. The idea that one always has an answer or a response for any question. That wasn’t easy.
My anxiety does not like the unknown, or not having a direct answer for every existential question. But this is where I am. And I’m learning to find peace in the chaos and complexity of life, instead of leaning on my simple memorized fundamentalist response.
Why am I here, instead of in the churches I grew up in? Because of harm done to myself and my family, and the way the church has shown that it is unwilling to protect their members from abuse. I don’t want that type of institution to be a part of my life, nor in the lives of my family.
Leaving was far from easy. But it is also something that I do not regret.