There’s been a lot of talk recently around this idea of deconstruction inside the Christian faith. I think for many people, the idea of deconstruction can hold a variety of different meanings. Leaving many scratching their heads wondering, Is that me?
If you find yourself questioning what you’ve always believed or what you were always “taught” to believe about God, the Bible or Jesus or your church or denomination or what have you –then you are probably somewhere inside the deconstruction category.
Some of you may already know this, but for others it may completely freak you out.
The ironic thing is, anyone on a spiritual journey has most likely been deconstructing and reconstructing anyway – otherwise it wouldn’t be a journey; it would just be a place of permanency.
Permanency is stagnant and lifeless; it doesn’t include growth.
What you believed about God 20 years ago probably looks different now. Equally, what you swore to be true about certain theologies and doctrines even 10 years ago has probably evolved also.
Growth is part of the human experience and more importantly plays a significant role in the spiritual journey of faith.
One of my favorite things about Jesus is how he was constantly surprising people.
Questioning what they had always believed, turning theologies upside down and constantly challenging their beliefs about God. This made him famous and what ultimately got him killed. It’s what made him different, radical and scandalous. It’s what so many loved.
You could say, Jesus was the first to introduce the idea of deconstruction; at least in a way that shifted the culture of religion and set it on a different path. But, he certainly wasn’t the last.
Deconstruction inside American Christianity is not a new thing.
In our nation’s early history, our preachers taught the God-ordained sanctity of slavery from their pulpits. Even after the civil war, pamphlets and brochures were given to soldiers encouraging them to continue to fight to own slaves, quoting the many scriptures that endorsed it and loudly referencing the book of Joshua for encouragement to keep fighting. But, other voices continued to rise.
A much needed deconstruction inside American Christianity was shaking our nation and our churches….
Later in our nation’s history, we were faced with racial tension in the civil rights movement; the women’s equal rights movement shortly followed. Preachers were adamantly preaching against the “mixing of races” and also against women having equal rights. Again, using the Bible to hold tightly to their beliefs and to oppose change. It became an ugly fight, but change did happen.
Again, a needed deconstruction was quaking inside the walls of American Christianity.
When I look at the deconstruction happening currently, I have a wide range of emotion. I am thankful, sad and excited all at once.
I am thankful because again, we are being forced to face the cracks inside our system. I have listened to countless stories of people who “grew up” in the church where the one-size-fits-all trajectory was taught to them but as they grew into adulthood, it simply didn’t work.
This led to countless issues inside their emotional, physical and spiritual health; many have thrown away their faith altogether because of these issues.
We cannot hide from the reality of our broken system any longer; whether we like it or not, we have arrived at another fork in our nation’s history where change inside the Christian faith HAS to happen.
But, this also leads to an awakening of sadness.
For many of us, we are coming face to face with the grim truth that not all of this has worked for us or for the well-being of society. No matter how much we want to cling to certain “beliefs” or “standards”, we can’t ignore the parts that simply don’t connect and ultimately crumble, leaving many hurt and on the outside.
I myself have had to walk this road – and it has been brutal.
This last year I not only went through a marital divorce, but felt like I went through a spiritual divorce also. One that was ugly, hard and raw – I faced much that had been deeply ingrained in me, but had produced horrible fruit. I had to somehow manage to disconnect from the junk of man-made religion and hold onto the purity of my faith.
In Christian America, this isn’t easy – it still isn’t easy.
So, much of this has grieved me – because honestly?
I like the certainty.
I like the 3 steps to heaven method.
I like the do-this-and-your-marriage-will-be-cured answers.
I like the black and white boundaries that leave no room for doubt or questioning.
I LIKE THAT.
I wanted my certainty, damn it. I wanted my God to be predictable and I wanted to “prove” that my faith was enough to GET THE JOB DONE. But, even though I did everything the text book (eh, Bible thumping) way (and at times even put in a ton of extra credit) the outcomes didn’t pan out as promised.
In fact, rarely any of them did.
So, I was at an impasse. A scary impasse. Do I get mad and blame God for not holding up his end of the deal? Or do I blame myself for not doing enough? Or do I toss the whole thing out the window? Or do I step back and re-evaluate what this system is….
For me, I didn’t have a choice.
I had to re-evaluate my faith. I HAD TO. Because it simply couldn’t stay the way it always had; that way wasn’t working – and hadn’t worked for me or my neighbors that I am called to love. I had to go inward and go to the ONLY thing that had consistently worked: my personal connection with the Divine inside my soul.
THAT was something that had never failed me.
Through all of life’s grief, heartache, disappointments and pain, that small inner voice had remained steady. I trusted that inner voice to guide me as I walked through scripture and as I walked through the difficult challenges inside this life.
That inner voice is the only thing that has held me together.
A lot of us kids (and adults who raised kids) of the evangelical movement are facing many of these same dilemmas, which gives me courage to know that it isn’t just me.
Things are moving and shaking and it’s a good thing. We are on the forefront of another deconstruction in our nation’s Christian history and that leaves me with excitement. I am excited about the time we are living in and the movement that is rattling inside churches and in conversations outside church walls.
Many of you are on this same journey – maybe just at the beginning stages or are already on the other side.
Wherever you are, know that you are not alone. That change means growth (which is a good thing!) and take comfort that this is nothing new. History tells us that this has happened in our nation over and over again – and every time, we look back and say the change brought freedom and it was good.
PS: To listen in on my brother and I discussing the “me too” movement and how it is affecting the status quo of mainstream Christianity, click on my recent podcast episode here