Why Didn’t The Church Tell Me These Things?

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“We were taught half-truths coated with easy-sounding, cookie-cutter, black-and-white ideas I’ve had to sift through in order to get to the complex, grey-shaded, beautiful mosaic of truth… Now I am free, and I am finally alive.”

This is a wonderful article by Teryn O’Brien. I am excited to share it with you today.  Enjoy…

Growing up in the church, I wish they would’ve told me a lot of things.

I wish they would’ve told me that other denominations were truly part of the church. I wish they would’ve told me that They were Christians, too, not just Us.

I wish I would have been encouraged to make friends among Catholics and the Orthodox and charismatics. (For the record, I wish I would’ve been encouraged to make Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim friends, too.)

I wish I hadn’t been told that the world was the enemy, that I had to be afraid, that everything in the world was to be mistrusted and avoided.

I wish they would’ve told me that my worth as a woman is NOT simply in being attached to a man or having babies or remaining silent or in being “pure”. That women have a valid voice in the church as daughters of God, and that they bring valuable insight to the church apart from simply being wives and mothers and virgins when not married.

I wish they would’ve told me that men and women should work together to further the kingdom instead of fighting gender wars.

I wish they would’ve told me that my body was beautiful and cherished by God, and that it isn’t just a stumbling block to men, so that I have to be ashamed and terrified of my body and sexuality. Why didn’t they tell me I can embrace my self, my body, and love who I am as a woman?

I wish they would’ve told me that the narrow theological interpretation of the Bible I was taught is not just “what the Bible says,” but a human interpretation. In fact, why didn’t they mention that numerous people through the centuries made wildly different and often conflicting interpretations, all the while feeling confident that they were teaching just what the Bible says? That for centuries, people have debated theology, and that’s okay—and actually healthy—to do.

I wish I had been told to have humility about my personal convictions, because the core tenants of the Christian faith (AKA Jesus’s teachings and the creeds) are what’s truly important.

I wish they would’ve told me that there is more that unites us than divides us. That Catholics and Protestants and Anglicans and charismatics (etc., etc., etc.) can disagree on issues, but still love each other and serve Jesus wholeheartedly in the unity Christ commanded. Unity does not mean conformity, but working together in the midst of diversity.

I wish they would’ve told me that political commitments and alliances don’t determine whether someone is saved or not. Jesus wasn’t red, nor was he blue. Christianity doesn’t easily fit into liberal or conservative, and we should be careful to listen to people with differing opinions.

I wish they would’ve told me that if I’m depressed or sad, there are reasons for it. It’s not just because I don’t love Jesus enough. That seeking help, counseling, and avenues toward healing are not shameful, but  beautiful, freeing, and life-giving.

I wish they would’ve told me that it’s okay to cry, to question, to wrestle through my brokenness in front of my fellow Christians, instead of being shamed into hiding.

I wish they would’ve told me there is a place in the church for artists, people in business, people who have their own unique callings. That I didn’t have to just be a missionary or pastor’s wife in order to be “radical for Jesus.”

I wish they would’ve told me that faith is best lived out when we are embracing who we are in Christ and following his plans for our lives, which can mean so many things for so many different people.

I wish they would’ve told me more about grace and love, not just legalistic rules. That there is freedom in Christ to live and worship and thrive in so many beautiful ways.

But I wasn’t told these things in the church. Or if I was, I don’t remember them and they didn’t shape who I was. These things weren’t central to the lessons I learned growing up in the Christian subculture, and so if someone somewhere did try to emphasize a more healthy outlook, it was quickly drowned by the prevailing mentalities.

The same is true for most of the Christians I knew and loved. We were taught half-truths coated with easy-sounding, cookie-cutter, black-and-white ideas I’ve had to sift through in order to get to the complex, grey-shaded, beautiful mosaic of truth.

Still, by the grace of God, I’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot by following God, sincerely praying, and seeking counsel. Now I am free, and I am finally alive.

Someday, when I have children, I hope I can teach them all the things I had to learn later, as an adult, on my own. I hope they can live in freedom, too.

I hope we can seek to better teach our children about the complicated, beautiful, diverse, freeing faith of Christianity.

The original article can be seen here.

15 thoughts on “Why Didn’t The Church Tell Me These Things?

  1. To you, the ladies whose gifts are being suppressed by your churches, I would remind you that God created you to be who you are. Those same ‘churches’, while being part of this great church universal, are merely political entities created by people (most probably men who were afraid that you would out-preach them). Your gifts are more important than your placement so perhaps you need to look at other churches and denominations who are more welcoming and affirming.

    • I have a problem having to join another church in order to preach God’s word. What if that church has different beliefs than what I do? Especially on baptism and taking communion. I would have to follow their beliefs in order to have them support me as a preacher. I could not do that. There has to be another way. I did order ordination papers on the internet. Legally I am an ordained minister. Now I just need to figure out how to do the next step and that is being a preacher of the word of God.

  2. I have a BA degree from a bible college. I have always and still do want to be a preacher. I want to travel the country as a public speaker sharing the message Jesus shared with his followers. The problem, I am a woman. The church I grew up in and encouraged my attending bible college, who allowed me to do several sunday services when the preacher was not there will not ordain me. Why? Because I am a woman.
    Jesus taught us that God loves each and every one of us as his children.That as his followers we are to teach and preach his message to all people. I do not believe God cares if it is a man or woman doing the teaching and preaching as long as His message is being shared with others. I just pray that some day that door will finally open for me. May God Bless your day

  3. I grew up in the Baptist church until I was 16. I then went to the Christian church. I did several sunday services over the years. With the encouragement of my preacher and church I went and graduated from bible college. I had a burning desire then as I do today(28yrs later)to be a preacher. But when I asked to be ordained my church said no because I was a woman. I felt like they shot me in the heart. All the years I did sunday services, taught classes, ran the youth program, I couldn’t be ordained because I was a woman. I was woman when I did all the teachings and there was no problem. Unbelievable
    I am a child of God with a message to share just like anyone else. I have an education and experience more than most men I have seen ordained. Why not me? Why can’t I preach God’s word to others?
    The bible teaches us that we are ALL gods children and we should share his message to others just as Jesus did.
    I would love to travel the country sharing God’s message at different venues, conventions, churches. It does not matter whether it is a man or woman speaking, it is the message being shared. Maybe one I will get to fulfill that dream.
    Always remember God loves each and every one of us. Even people like me, a woman who is gay, a christian, and just wants to share the message of god to others.
    Have a good day

    • One can look up which churches etc. allow women to preach and hold those positions in the church. The ELCA, Lutheran churches do, I know. You may have to change your religion to preach it. I grew up in the ELCA and we always, at different times in our church, had women Pastors. When I got older and attended a Baptist church with my husband, and acquired more friends who were Baptist, I then found out that they do not allow women to hold those positions. I was shocked. I had just never ask the question or honestly thought about it. The education of different religions can really be eye opening. The SBC seems to be one of the strictest I have come a crossed. ( almost debilitating and judgmental)
      Some of the Lutheran synods also allow LGBT folks to become Pastors, members, serve in all capacities of the church, marry, etc. etc. One has to look it up and call or email around. 🙂
      You may find another division in your religion that allows women to serve in that position. Good Luck, keep searching!!

    • I’m so sorry, bcteam. I was told the same thing when I was about 22 and I wanted to become a pastor. Really sad for you. It’s a misinterpretation of scripture, you know. How much have people quelled the Holy Spirit because they are more attentive to the law than the Spirit. Sigh. I hope so too, Sister. ❤

  4. I grew up in a stern Lutheran church (Missouri Synod) with an old school pastor who conducted 2 years of confirmation classes for us. I was so scared of him. I vividly remember the day he told us we were not to associated with Mormons. Thankfully I listened to my inner voice instead, as I knew innately that was just wrong.

  5. I think it depends on where one grows up and what denomination one is raised in? My mother basically raised us in the Lutheran church, and for the most part just had simple interpretations of what it meant to be a Christian. We went to church with our friends, of all denominations. My mom said we are all Christians just with little differences as to how we follow Christ. She talked to us about atheist and that we should talk about Jesus and tell others of him, yet not force the issue. It was all in due time, and that there was a time a place for every thing. She taught us to love and to have a great, well rounded, education about every thing. Debates were good and eye opening. She would say, to each his own, and that it was between God and that person, period. It challenged our faith and made us think and read more in to our faith. We developed our personal relationship with Christ over time, and I am still growing deeper in my faith as time goes by.
    I think the history of the Bible needs to be taught, and that many need about a year of seminary school. Really.

    Loved the story!!!!!!! Thanks. 🙂 🙂

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