Christian Buddhist Chronicles: Episode 1

Before we get started, some definitions:

Repent: that is to turn 180 degrees from your current action

About 6 years ago I left the church.

Not exactly like that. I didn’t walk away. I left my hometown community for a grand adventure I thought would only last a year. Instead it changed me. I was transformed.

I used to be Christian. Like, a really dedicated, bible-believing, bible studying, 4 years of christian bible college, a minor in youth ministry and involved in cross cultural missions and evangelism Christian.

The most common response I’ve seen when someone steps away from the faith is to say that they were never really a Christian to begin with, or that your faith experience wasn’t a true one etc. But I was a real Christian.

My friend Robbie can tell you better than anyone. He was a lost soul. He was always the most loyal friend to me. And I tried to save his soul and win him to Jesus on so many occasions. We always debated, and he was always gracious with me and now we laugh about it. He’s seen my transition in life. From super conservative, to wandering, to re-committed Christian, to lover of people and missional, to, now, buddhist. He can tell you that I was committed. That I was a true believer.

For me, my story started the closer I got to God. It started when I wanted to understand God more. When I became more missional, my faith in organized Christianity faltered. Something shifted inside me. Then people got sick. People died. Shit got real.

And I didn’t see a merciful God. I didn’t see a God that made sense.

Then I tuned in to the oppressed. And I didn’t see a merciful God.

And I tuned in to the Sexism rampant in the patriarchal system. In the church. The rape, the molestation, the sexual abuse. The abuse of children. And I didn’t see a good God. One who would stop suffering if he could.

Then I thought of what my understanding of the bible actually meant for others. What the doctrine of salvation says about the unsaved.

I pictured an invisible wall.

The wall of who can “get in”. The wall of who is allowed to worship and fellowship in freedom. Who can be seen as blameless and saved. Not because of their actions, but because of who they are, of how they have been their whole lives.

And I saw myself going through that invisible barrier, and others being stopped. Others like Robbie. Robbie is my best friend. He has been the most loyal and consistent person to me in my life, and I’m so incredibly grateful for him.

When I was super Christian, Robbie was my friend. When I was doing something crazy, and leaving my community, Robbie was right there with me. When I shared my new views and my understanding of the world, Robbie listened and understood. And he’s not welcome at the table.

Also anyone who is gay.

To be honest, they’re the ones I struggled with the most. Robbie can always “be saved”, but how does my gay friend “be straight”?

I’m sure if they could pray to make themselves straight, they would’ve done so already (indeed they have).

They pray,

“Take this thorn from my side, Lord Jesus. Please make me whole. Fix this affliction in me so that I might be seen as worthy the love of God and the people in my life.”

They’ve prayed that prayer. And God failed to answer. He left them as they were. To be celibate in order to remain holy, or to be condemned to hell for the desire to have what we all desire.

To love, and be loved.

And my heart broke for those left behind. I found I could no longer be comfortable with being on the inside when they were on the out. Out of God’s love, out of salvation. And I found I would rather stand out with them, then be accepted when they are not. I would rather stay with them on the outside.

And that is it. Most Christians (and nearly all evangelical Christians) believe that homosexuality is a sin against God. And according to most interpretations, unreconciled (unconfessed and unrepentant) Sin is a problem between you and God. It’s a problem because there’s like this invisible wall between you and God, and if you sin, God can’t see through it, or hear you properly (see Isaiah 59:2-15). And so if you don’t repent, you will forever be in damnation and separated from God’s salvation and presence (His Presence is not allowed near you — you are in solid box and he can’t get to you – that’s the idea).

ASIDE: I’m pretty sure this is why people have a problem with the “gay agenda”. It’s that they fear someone is leading people astray into eternal judgement. It’s not just hate and fear. Though most of it is. So when you can’t understand why your buddy Phil is a Christian even though Christians are so hateful to gays — understand that Phil is a well-meaning person who thinks that somehow God can intervene and make something good. He’s just misunderstood about the whole thing. He probably thinks it’s a choice. Or a perversion…or an affliction. And everything is in God’s control. That also could be me just wanting to believe the best in people.

But let’s not get too far from the point.

Salvation is available for me. Salvation is easy for me. All I have to do is be ok with others not being allowed to the table…then to nod along like everything is ok here and the house isn’t burning down. But I’m not ok with that. I don’t think everything is OK, and I DO think the house is burning down.

Enter Donald Mother Flippin Trump.

I don’t think anyone would argue or disagree…even his supporters…that Donald Trump is an Errogant, Bombastic, Flamboyant, Morally Ambiguous Business Man who will do anything to get what he wants, even if he has to lie, cheat, and sometimes steal to get it. This man, ladies and gentlemen, is the widely supported candidate by people who call themselves Christ Followers.

I know we know this…but let me share from my side.

When I was in the church, out of my own income, I spent thousands of dollars a month in support of the church, missional organizations, or missionaries themselves. I still support some of them, because I do believe they’re doing good work and are good people whose purposes make the world better.

But I believed in this faith. I was true believer. I remember a conversation I had with my coworker who grew up a nearly identical cultural makeup to me about some mormons who I had befriended and how I got so frustrated about their belief because unless they followed steps A, B and C, they be damned. I was audibly working through it in my head, as I do. And after an awkard silences she goes,

“Wow. Sucks they gotta go to hell.”

That was probably the pebble in my shoe.

Support of Donald Trump was the nail in the coffin for preserving my faith in this organization. With “organized” religion in general. One group of people, or a spokesperson representing them can not and will not speak for me.

“Let Israel Bomb Palestine!”

– the Christians

This does not speak for me. And when Donald Trump motivated the evangelical community it was like the deatheaters came out of nowhere and organized inside. He called, they responded.

DID YOU KNOW?: The reason Christians seem to support Israel regardless of their atrocities is largely scriptural. There are other texts that zealots cite, but I don’t have the proof text to reference here right now. Maybe you can do a google search and go down that rabbit hole. Or maybe one day I’ll look it up and study, but I’m not that interested in the topic.

Around this time, I left home and started this travel thing. The timing couldn’t have been better for me. For my anxiety and my overall health, it was a good thing for me. At this point we’ve traveled the country for the last 6 years, and it’s been the most liberating thing for me. I’ve learned about the world, myself and my family in ways that I never would have otherwise. We’ve had time to bond, to get to know each other, to get to know what we want to be…how we want to be without anyone else’s “instruction manuals” in front of us. It was just us, being parents…raising kids. We went to the desert. Just like Jesus and his disciples. We learned about other cultures and communities. We met new people. Some of them traveled with us for months. Some stopped traveling, others swear they’ll never stop. We’re all different. Politically, religiously, socially…we have different views, but everybody accepts everybody.

Those are the rules in the wilderness.

All who come are welcome. They’re welcome by default. You don’t survive out here if you aren’t like that. You’ll be alone.

And it’s not good for man to be alone. (Gen 2:18).