I stopped going to church somewhere around 2 1/2 to 3 years ago. The difference between what I believed to be true and the things my pastor was saying became too wide for me to ignore it any longer. The judgement and hypocrisy was too much to handle. I also didn't want my children, including my newborn, to grow up in a church where they thought hate statements and intolerance and not loving other people, despite what Jesus taught, is the right thing to do.
It started with the vague and general statements about politics. And a few homophobic comments thrown into the sermons. Added in were strong encouragements to help out a specific crisis pregnancy center so they could save more babies from being aborted. And then it got more and more and soon it seemed like everywhere I turned was one person or another talking about politics and sexual identity and surgical procedures. Except none of it was done in a way that was unbiased, or loving, or informative. It was judgmental and mean and not at all compassionate.
None of this fit with the God that I knew, and still know, in my heart. None of it fit with what I know of Jesus. The double message of "love your brother" and "these groups of people are horrible sinners" made me incredibly uncomfortable and sad. I felt like I couldn't even be myself or share my worldviews for fear of being ridiculed or taken out back for some re-education.
Here is what I believe: We are put on this Earth to love each other. It doesn't matter if I am straight and you are gay. It doesn't matter if I am blue and you are red, or maybe we're both purple, but different shades. It doesn't matter if you will spend every last dime you own trying to make abortion illegal while I will be staunch in supporting the rights of women to make that choice for themselves. We are people and we are called to love each other. Politics, sexual orientation and identity, and medical history have no place in church.
Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Their beliefs. Their thoughts. But when those opinions, beliefs, and thoughts make me feel physically uncomfortable, it's probably time for me to bail out of that church and find a new church home. Or no church at all, since I'm quite certain that this area of Texas doesn't have many liberal churches. It makes me sad to think that other people may have been pushed away from their church home because of outspoken opinions by the church leaders. Somewhere in that congregation of 5000 people, there are gay people. There are other liberals. There are women who have had surgical procedures to remove products of conception from their uterus. And you know what? Those people are just as deserving of God's love as the conservative, straight, never-had-sex-until-she-married woman in the front row every Sunday.
We all come to God broken, having made bad or questionable choices. Picking through the Old Testament to tell everyone why they're wrong is maybe not the best way to bring people to God. Let's gently meet people where they are. Let's love them as they are. Let's get to know them and see the beauty that is in all of us. Let's see God in each other. And then we can understand that it doesn't matter if you're straight or gay, or pro-life or pro-choice. or liberal or conservative or middle-of-the-road. Those labels have no bearing on our hearts.