So, is there a denomination/faith/r
eligion that fits?
Please bear with me here, it may be long and a bit rambling... I became a Christian 6 years ago through a fairly typical path of: young children, toddler group at very active local (Anglican) church, made Christian friends, attended a parenting course at the church, attended an alpha course, became a member of the church and a 'committed' Christian. There were always a few key issues I struggled with: the view of homosexuality as a sin (I'm very pro gay marriage), the literalist approach to the bible (I studied anthropology and have an unshakable belief in evolution/ scientific explanations of how the world began), abortion (I'm pro choice) and other religions ( deep down I think I believe all faiths are equal). The church I am now very much a part of is a fairly conservative, bible led, evangelical one - I think their 'model' would be the Holy Trinity Brompton one. Their view on homosexuality for example is 'hate the sin, love the sinner'. Over the last 2 years the niggling issues that I struggled with at the beginning have become more and more important to me and I'm feeling less and less comfortable with this particular church and with the Christian faith in general. I do believe in God, but I'm not sure it's in a particularly 'Christian' way - I feel like I want to be able to pray to him, to be guided by him as a moral compass but that is about as far as it goes. No longer totally sure where I stand on Jesus as the son or God or the bible as 'God breathed'.
What do I do? I feel like every time I go to church, or speak to my Christian friends, or attend a prayer group etc I am living a lie. Also the kids are settled in their Sunday groups ( although DH isn't a Christian and doesn't come to church, and as a result the kids and I have only ever gone to church twice a month at the most). The kids also attend a C of E school and I'm a governor there. I do also like that feeling of shared worship that going to church brings and find the familiarity of it all quite comforting.
Not sure if I'm at the wrong church / wrong denomination or wrong faith altogether. Also not sure what to do about it ! Have tried praying but have never really heard God's voice anyway, let alone on this issue . Any ideas or am I just over-thinking things?!
Sorry for such a long post, thanks if you made it this far [ blush]
Not really religious values headinhands, things like giving generously, thinking of others, respecting themselves etc. the stuff that they're happy to learn from me, DH and wider family now, but may be less inclined to when they're older. Maybe I just need to trust that our parenting now, and the behaviour we're (mostly!) modelling, will stick with them.
Once again, thanks to everyone for the great advice and comments, it's so helpful to hear other views on this.
I don't know much about Quakerism - apart from that my MIL was one for a while, which I have to admit puts me off a bit!
Tuo, I think that's it, I had always assumed that the churches that appeared more traditional would hold the more traditional, 'biblical' views - and vice versa. This whole thing has shown me just how little I know about it all and, as I said earlier, how quickly I rushed into it. I can almost hear DH saying 'I told you so' as that was exactly his argument right at the beginning (he didn't take my 'conversion' very well at all). I have some serious thinking to do.
Keep talking on here and in real life, pinkpip. My dh isn't a Christian either, and that has been (and periodically is) quite difficult. I was raised Christian, but only returned after a long agnostic period about 3 years ago. I was put off returning for a long time by the fact that my local (Anglican) church didn't match with those things that were important to me. But eventually I got brave enough to look further afield and the right place was out there for me... I am sure it will be for you too.
Do you know [[ http://www.achurchnearyou.com/ A Church Near You]]? If you put in your postcode you can locate churches near you (it does what it says on the tin!). You may not get a clear sense of what they would be like from here, but you can often find links from here to the church's own website, and that can be quite revealing.
Second recommendation here for Quakers.
I'm no longer a Christian myself, but am still involved in all aspects of church life as my family are all believers (age appropriately). I value the communtiy aspect of church, which is why I stick it out. If I were in your position, and seeking stuff that was a little less evangelical, I'd perhaps seek out an evening service at a more liberal church.
I also always assumed 'traditional' Churches held traditional views and the more evangelical modern Churches would be more liberal. I've actually found quite the opposite.
Ime the most evangelical churches tend to also be the most socially conservative. I have never heard a sermon about family values, sexuality or life issues at any church I've been to. They mostly talk about Jesus and God, tbh (commenting on the readings for that day and trying to explain them) and Jesus never really said anything about people being gay, taking the pill or shagging around so there isn't that much material.
I'd call our church open evangelical, which I believe someone mentioned upthread. There's no gay bashing, which I value, and much talk (and action) on poverty and social justice. They know my atheist position and still love and accept me. In fact as far as I'm aware, one of our main youth workers is gay and it's never been an issue.
Of course there are conservative evangelicals there who hold to more conservative views, but you're always going to get a mix in any church.
Kayharker, it's great that you are able to be involved in all those positive things your church are doing without actually worshipping there. Although my church is involved with social action, I worrry that it's driven primarily by the need to bring others to Jesus, rather than a real sense of injustice at the poverty/abuse etc that they face, but I fear I may just be becoming more and more cynical .
Well I heard something quite cool from someone at church the other week - 'I don't run [such and such a programme] to turn people into Christians, I run it because I am a Christian'.
Now obviously, I don't have that same motivation, but it was a lot healthier than using everything as an evangelistic exercise, which has been the case in churches I attended when I was a believer.
Sorry for bad link in my previous post (dodgy keyboard). The site is here.
This is rather simplistic but gave me pause for thought
There are loads of Anglican churches that are pro gay marriage, even some evangelical ones. 'Traditional' Anglican churches with smells and bells are actually a bit more likely to be gay-friendly - it's pretty camp! Lots of female clergy in those churches too. Where are you based, OP? I might know churches in your area.
There are well-known gay Anglican priests even, like Richard Coles. My own church is Anglo-Catholic but pro gay marriage and female clergy.
The Quakers and Unitarians are very very different and I don't think they would suit you. Non-Anglican churches that might suit you would be the Methodists and the URC (United Reformed Church) - they will be quite 'low church' and there wouldn't be any smells and bells or even vestments, but the URC especially is very gay friendly. I have a friend who is gay and trans and training to be a URC minister and the church is fine with this.
You really don't need religion to be a good person and live a good, happy, meaningful life. At the root of all the superstition and mythology are some good things: valuing kindness, fairness, honesty etc because these are the qualities human beings need to live with and around one another. These exist, and have always existed, quite outside of any imaginary superior beings.
Unfortunately, also at the root of all this crap is are two very negative things. One is the designing of a tool for social control, to advantage the self-appointed 'superior' group over everyone else by means of insisting that there's this imaginary being who will punish and reward according to
the needs of the self-appointed superiors its own rules; the other is the desire of men-as-a-class to make reproduction something controlled by men rather than by women.
All the good things that you have/need/seek/already do are human things. You can keep them all without the intervention of other people's imaginary friends.
Solid my own personal faith contains neither negative thing you've just mentioned. I don't give a fuck that you don't believe in a deity so why care so much that others do? Just live and let live.
solid I agree with much of your post.
Op you sound very kind and really engaged with your children's lives and in the community which is to be utterly commended. You sound very much guided by the here and now: what is important to to human brings at this moment in time; kindness to people who choose a different path; rationalist inclination to believe in evolution and science; yet a yearning for some meaning and a belief in 'someone out there'.
My nn probably gives it away but I'm a secular western buddhist. Buddhism is very much a non-theistic 'religion'. Ie no personal god. A philosophy of compassion and loving kindness. There are many buddhist groups in the uk.
I just wanted to contribute to this thread to put out there that, as pp's have mentioned, morals and doing good by people come in all groups and beliefs and practices. You have the best intentions. You have a community spirit. Sadly, I suspect there are many many people out there who feel much like you do. Wrong fit with the established church. Or with Christianity generally? Yet you may be feeling a little shame or worried about criticism if you voice your views with your colleagues in the church.
No solutions here really. But perhaps Quakers or Buddhists are avenues you can look at to see where you feel comfortable.
Thanks all. I think I'm fairly resolute now that, whatever happens faith-wise, i need to make a move away from my current church. Now all I have to do is figure out how to do it without offending people or creating too much awkwardness. I'm not great at confrontation so this is the sort of thing I'll worry about for weeks before I actually do anything.
In the meantime my plan is to look into whether there are any more liberal churches locally (Anglican or otherwise) that I could check out, whilst also mulling over whether I am, at heart, a Christian - or whether I should be looking into other faiths (Quakerism, Buddhism, Unitarianism) or simply no faith (at least not in the organised sense). I don't want to come across as though I'm treating this all too casually, or planning on flitting in and out of religions until I find the perfect fit. I just feel so out of step with the church/beliefs that I'm supposed to be a part of and have been pretending everything is ok for far too long.
At the risk of sounding twee, you need to be true to what you yourself believe, and if that means finding somewhere that actually fits with what you believe, then that seems eminently sensible and not something that you should feel bad about.
I attack superstition, not out of a wish to hurt the feelings of the many perfectly nice and well-intentioned people who just happen to believe in some supernatural pal or other, but because of the damage done by privileging superstition ie allowing not-nice people to harm and oppress others on behalf of their own imaginary friend.
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