What do Christians do when they don’t agree with Christianity?
This question stems from a lot of thoughts I’ve been having since last year. The most recent being an interview with Michaela Coel I watched over the weekend. I started watching her new HBO show I May Destroy You, and brilliant is not even enough to describe how insanely good it is. It might be triggering for a lot of people, but it’s definitely a worthwhile watch. It centers sexual assault and it goes through different spectrums of sexual assualt in such a lighthearted way. It’s crazy how they lay so many heavy topics on you so gently you wouldn’t feel it until it’s landed.
As every normal person does after they watch a show they like, I googled all my faves from the show to see what they’ve been up to. I eventually stumbled on a YouTube interview titled “Michaela Coel on falling out of love with Christianity, Chewing Gum and avoiding stardom”, I really wanted to know what her journey was like and why that happened so I watched. It was a very great interview, I love her story and how it all came together.
A very rough summary:
She was deeply in love with God, loved her life as a Christian (Interestingly, her life as a creative began because she became a Christian). However, her belief in God started to crumble as she began to realize while she loved God and the Church, a lot of things about the Church (and Bible) just didn’t sit right with her, especially as it concerned other people she cared about. To oversimplify, she just couldn’t agree on a number of things relating to Christianity.
In this post, I won’t itemize her reasons although she mentioned a couple in the interview. I think everyone has different things they don’t agree with when it comes to Christianity, and instead of focusing on the individual things (an inexhaustive list that this post cannot cover), I’d rather ask the question on a broad spectrum. What do Christians do when they don’t agree on some things with Christianity?
The interview stayed on my mind all day because while I’d love to call myself a Christian, I also feel like my Chrisitianity has been hanging on a very thin thread lately. I try to do all the basics as much as I can: the 30 seconds prayers, a little Bible reading, tithe, love for my neighbors and haters, you know the drill, but it’s all been feeling a little too forced lately. It feels like when you’re in a relationship where some things aren’t working and you’re just going through the process, coasting, and maybe praying (literally) it magically gets better. Just like any relationship, when feelings like this come up, it’s never a good solution to coast and hope, but rather address the root of the feeling, but what if you know the root of the feeling and you just don’t want to deal with it because you don’t want to face the reality of the resolution?
Situations like this are very precarious and maybe it’s one the Church should take seriously. It’s also very important because feelings like this aren’t mutually exclusive to loving God. For most people, they love God, they love their relationship with God, BUT there are just some other parts of Christianity they can’t seem to shake off: some ‘requirements’, beliefs & their stance on many issues. Speaking of these beliefs, let’s classify them in two:
- The not so clear ones. Lack of clarity with these always cause discomfort
- The very ‘clear’ ones from the Church & Bible that one cannot just agree with
For a lot of people, it starts as the former and ends with the latter.
In Michaela’s interview she talked about how she was at the former initially, tried to get clarity but instead of the Church helping her with it, they literally ghosted her (yeah, triffling).
With regards clarity, one of the most painful parts of getting clarity on things you don’t agree with is the plethora of interepretations of the Bible today. While it should be more comforting to have a Pastor that interpretes the Bible in a way you want to agree with, sometimes it isn’t. If you’ve been hearing the Bible doesn’t roll with A all your life, even if you hear it rolls with A now it’s just not that easy to get back in line. In most cases it creates more confusion that apathy would seem like the best solution to move forward.
I understand if the above doesn’t make sense to a Pastor because one would argue the best way to fight misinformation is new information but what if the new information (one the user wants to agree with) is so deeply conflicting with all they know that it’s hard to absorb? I think that’s a valid problem. So what should people do then?
My friend, Prince and I joked about how we wished the bible was left in greek/hebrew so we could just read stuff at face value and not have to be confused by the numerous interpretations out there, but the Bible is seemingly not a book to be read at face value either. It’s a book to be read with the help of the Holy Spirit, so now it feels like a chicken and egg situation. Sigh.
I think there are three possible paths people take when they’re confronted with how to move forward with this in today’s world:
- Accept the things you don’t agree with and forget you ever had doubts.
- Continue but numb your mind to the things you don’t agree with (I don’t know if this really sticks)
- Walk away completely because it doesn’t add up
The first two aren’t necessarily easy routes but they’re borderline impossible when the things you don’t agree with affect you personally. It’s easier to “remove your mind” from something if it doesn’t affect you personally, in that scenario some compartmentalize. I’ve always had an issue with compartmentalization of Christianity because I believe the sense of your relationship with God being inauthentic or incomplete will always loom over your mind, hence, causing more discomfort. So back to square one.
One question I really loved from the interviewer: “So what has filled that space [Christianity & God] in your life now ?”
That’s indeed a really big hole to fill. Even the idea of leaving “Christianity” is overwhelming because for most Christians, Christianity and God is a huge part of their identity. Michaela’s answer was so honest, she said “Uncertainty”, I felt that. It’s very real when you realize uncertainity is the foundation of one’s disagreement and it simply just consumes the other part of Christianity that the person was so sure of (I can bet someone will make a darkness consuming light joke about this).
I believe for a lot of people that end up abandoning their faith, it stems from this question, and the Church being able to guide people through this might be a good starting point to winning more souls back to Christ — helping people be more certain about things. Everyone has the different things they don’t agree with and the resolution will be different for everyone. I know personally, I’m praying and coasting, or just avoiding, but I don’t know how long I’d be able to do it.