Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What if God thinks I "fell away"?

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9" Image source.
Every Wednesday, Dianna Anderson hosts "Ask Away Wednesday" on her tumblr, fielding questions mostly about sexuality and religion. There was one last week that really resonated with me:
Anonymous asked:

I've never been so confused about my religion and what I've been taught. I have different views I know many Christians would hate me for, like believing in gay marriage, premarital sex, etc. I believe these things but I'm afraid I'll go to hell for it. I love God but Im scared of Him because of what my religion taught me. How do you get over the fear of "what if this is wrong?"What if this is me "conforming to the world" and unknowingly sinning when I think I'm doing the right thing? Please help
YOU GUYS. I could have totally written that. This is how I feel (except that I've never been scared of going to hell). Because of therapy, I'm way less worried and depressed about it now than I was a year or so ago, but I still think "what if God agrees with that stuff I used to believe?"

What if God is like all those evangelical Christians who refuse to listen? What if God thinks "here is the right answer, and the only reason anyone would disagree is that they've been led astray by the world, they've been deceived, they just want to follow their own emotions instead of absolute truth, they love their sin and aren't willing to take up their cross"? What if God is like those Christians who could never imagine there could be a real reason behind someone's change in beliefs- no, it must be driven by sin. Sin- and therefore, separation from God.

What if that God is right? What if I'm not thinking for myself, I'm just under the influence of such overwhelmingly massive temptation, that makes me think all these new beliefs are reasonable when they're so obviously not? "What if this is me 'conforming to the world' and unknowingly sinning when I think I'm doing the right thing?"

What if no human is able to think clearly, and we're just helplessly sucked into the currents of various spiritual forces? Like the bible says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" and "The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so." I was fortunate enough to be taught the right answers, and now I must hold to them, no matter what challenges come. That's faith, right? That's what pleases God, right?

Maybe if I was just some random person, I would have an excuse for believing the obviously heretical things I do. But no, I was the most real of Real True Christians. I really really really knew the truth, and it was my entire life and my entire identity, and now I'm rejecting it.

"Suppose we've chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder!" - Homer Simpson Image source.

In Anderson's answer to this ask, she described the God of evangelicalism as "the angry, wrathful, hateful God" but that's not the one I believed in. God and I were so close, and I was so incredibly certain about which things God wanted me to do or not do. I prayed so hard- so so so hard- for God to help me do evangelism, help me start bible studies, make my friends believe in God. I was so close to God, and I knew he agreed that those would totally be things we want to happen. I prayed so so so hard about boys, about every crush, every feeling of "lust", because God and I both agreed that I should "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" and that God had destined exactly one boy for me.

I knew, I knew, I knew that's what God believed, and that's what God wanted. I worked so hard for God, and it hurt, but I knew God was supporting me. I knew God understood.

And then, my beliefs started to change- I started to believe God didn't actually believe those things. I started to think maybe one of religion's biggest problems is that people assume God agrees with them.

But... I can't bring myself to actually believe God isn't like that. All I feel is farther and farther away from God- that version of God, who believes all those Real True Christian things... and he's waiting, like the prodigal son's father, waiting for me to repent and come back and believe the right things again.

And I just can't get God to believe, no it's not like that. I'm TRYING to follow Jesus MORE. And God, the things you believe... that can't be what it means to love people.

It's not an "angry" or "hateful" God. I'm not scared of God punishing me. It's a God who loves me so much that he just wants me to come back and believe the right things- otherwise I'm so far off of "God's plan" that God can't even do anything for me at all. It's a God who's so sad at the way I've "strayed" and "fallen away."

What if God is like all those evangelical Christians who just don't get it?

"If you could repent of your sins and turn to God, that'd be great." Image source.
But Anderson's response makes me want to read the bible again.

She says,
Go back to Scripture and look not for the God of the Evangelicals - the God of wrath and fear and war. Instead, look with new eyes upon the God of Love, the God who is Love, who drives out fear with perfect Love. Look at the person of Jesus, the one who took it upon himself to serve others, to be kind to all he came across, and who declared love even as the state persecuted and killed him.
Well. Now that I think about it, the Jesus in the bible doesn't seem at all compatible with the "you already know the right answers, I'm so sad to hear that you've strayed from them by following human reason" version of God.


Yeah I better check that again.

Don't know if I'll ever be able to believe it though.



  1. A year ago I was having a lot of anxiety about the possibility that evangelical Christians are right about God and that I'm doing it all wrong. I don't have a lot of those feelings now, and I think part of it is that I've met a bunch of people who are fiercely committed to God and to serving other people and also have a view of God that aligns more closely with mine. It seems pretty clear to me that God's spirit is present in them, so how can they be doing it all wrong? And I feel energized and inspired and whole when we're doing church together, so it would be more surprising to find out that we're totally off base.

  2. Good post, and good points! It does seem to me that a God who doesn't or can't understand the minds of the human beings God created-- a God who thinks so shallowly about the minds and hearts of people as blanket-judge their motives with, "you can't possibly be sincere or be reasoning in good faith about this, you have to be in sin," just isn't omniscient enough to BE God at all. John 3:21: "Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God."