SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND FAITH

When I was young, my religion and faith were nearly synonymous. The components of both seemed to overlap and, had I been interested in separating them, it would have been difficult to tell where one ended and the other began.

Though, to do that, I would have first needed to recognize that they could be separated, and for the first part of my life, I didn't. I don't think this is uncommon for others being raised in a religion that is also practiced by most everyone in the community.


Later, I began to sort things out, having no idea it was actually the beginning of anything. I settled on a sort of middle ground between the two. I chalked the disparities up to cultural quirks and my liberal mindset in a largely conservative state.              




I was more or less okay to stay in that place for a while, but then I had questions I hadn't considered before. I searched for answers, and in finding some, came away with more questions. My faith evolved, it grew and deepened, and in doing so, it pulled away from my religion. The middle ground I had found, where religion and faith met became smaller, but it was still there.




The past six six years or so, especially the last three, have whittled that middle ground down to this.


I feel like I'm in the middle, where I've always been, with a firm grip on each, holding tightly to both. Looking at it this way, it seems that if I pulled hard enough, I could bring them together, widening the space that I stand in.

But I know better. Just as the ring representing my faith evolves and moves, so does the ring representing my church.

Just this past week, videos were released of meetings between church leaders. Hurtful statements were made that are in stark contrast to what I strongly believe to be right and true. Those sharing my political affiliation were referred to as "miscreants," which was a low blow, considering my church leaders sent out a letter at least annually reminding members the church itself is not tied to, nor does it officially endorse, a single party.

Hearing what was said felt like finding out someone you've known for years, and who you believe cares about you, is saying horrible things about you when you're not around, just to benefit themselves. 

I'm not surprised, sadly, but I expected better. 

Or maybe I wanted to be able to expect better.

The rings are moving further apart. The space I have to stand on where they come together grows smaller with each announcement, interview, and policy change. My grasp is slipping and I know now that, whether I fall or let go, it doesn't matter. 

I'm collateral damage.

A loss that one side is willing to risk.

There are people in my church that care about others- dear friends who emulate Christ and would leave the ninety-nine to find the one. (And really, this isn't about asking to be brought back, it's about wanting to feel welcome as I am by those who claim I should be.)

But to the church as a whole, as an institution, that one is better off away from the other ninety-nine. That doubting, "wrongdoing" one is a casualty, yes, but it's minor in the grand scheme of things.

The grand scheme of things is an area where there's no longer as much of an overlap of my religion and faith. And so, while I'm hurt knowing what, and just how little, is thought of me, and I'm sad because I have spent a long time wanting to belong, I know where my faith is. I know who my faith is in.

I'm stretched thin holding onto both. I'm wonder sometimes, and especially now, if it wouldn't be easier to stop trying and to just hold firmly to one.


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