I’ve been surprised and touched by the comments I got on my post last week, here on the blog itself and on my Facebook fan page, http://www.facebook.com/MagicCarpetDanceArtsJourney, and on my personal Facebook site. I knew I would stir up some controversy, but I didn’t expect that a number of old friends who have been walking similar paths who would suddenly resurface. Thanks for all the words of encouragement! I’m going to continue to write about my spiritual journey, although I’ve decided I’m only going to post here once a week. So check back in each weekend for more.
Last week I promised to tell the story of, “When I Dared to Admit I Didn’t Think Everything In the Bible Was True.” I was going to write about a moment from about 4 or 5 years ago, when I first dared to question my understanding of certain things in the Bible. But as I’ve been mulling it over for the past week, I realized that first I needed to write about when I decided to believe the Bible WAS infallible, and that happened many, many years ago.
When I was seventeen and a freshman at college, I had a roommate who was a Christian, who took me to some Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship meetings. I fell in love with Jesus, with God, with worship, with being part of a group of people who had also met Jesus. I started reading the Bible, beginning with the four gospels. I loved those stories of a beautiful man who was so full of love and so in touch with God.
Then I got to some stuff written by Paul. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like a lot of it. I remember especially that I came across something about women holding a lesser role than men in the church and in marriage, and I was furious. Who put that s#*t in the Bible? I remember telling one of my new Christian friends that I didn’t buy it. I said pretty strongly that I loved a lot of what I had read in the gospels, but I didn’t like the crap that Paul was saying.
I will never forget what happened. I received a long explanation about the culture back in the Bible times, and why it all actually made sense that women should have a lesser role in marriage and in the church. Then I was told why it was actually still that way in the present. And along with the explanation, I was given a message that came through loud and clear: in order to be a good Christian and to be accepted by the group, I had to believe that Paul was right, because the whole Bible, every last word of it, came from God. Inspired. Infallible.
So for the first time, I did a certain kind of soul gymnastics that I would later do many, many times throughout my Christian years. Instead of starting with what I felt in my knower, or to put it another way, instead of asking my gut what was true, and weighing what I read in the Bible from that perspective, I did the opposite. I started with what I had been told the Bible meant, and I demanded that my gut accept it as truth.
I’m getting teary-eyed right now, remembering sitting on the floor of that freshman year dorm room, consciously choosing to accept something I didn’t believe so that I could be part of the group. Why? Because there was so much goodness there. There was beauty. There was friendship and love. There was this amazing man named Jesus who challenged and fascinated me. There was connection with God. I wanted all that so badly that I chose to believe that God must have a good reason, even if I couldn’t understand it, for women to have a lesser role in marriage and in the church.
And my knower got squashed just a little.
Over the years of being part of the evangelical Christian world, I came to learn many similar explanations for things in the Bible that I didn’t like. And the gymnastics of mind and soul were always the same: start with the fact that the Bible HAD to be true, and then find a way to force myself to accept what I didn’t like.
And then one day, it didn’t work anymore. And that brings me to what I planned to write under this title, but that story will have to wait until next weekend. I’m pacing myself, giving myself to process the emotions that my stories are bringing up for me, and giving myself the space to deal with the reactions of others. But the next installment will come because I need to do this for me.
See you next weekend.