Looking for hope(10 Posts)
Hi OP, just wanted to add that I think that there are lots of people like you (myself included!) who are drawn to the idea of religious faith, and the sense of community that comes with it, but who struggle with organised religion. I've dabbled in Christianity in the past (see the thread I've just started about evangelical Christianity) and found some Christians to be incredibly judgemental, but I'm really hoping that this is the specific branch of the church I've experienced, rather than Christianity as a whole.
I'm like you in that I hate the whole debate about homosexuality (surely there are far deeper spiritual issues to concern yourself with!) and find the church's preoccupation with sexuality in general to be pretty unhealthy. (I live with my long-term partner but we're not married, which is pretty shocking to some of my Christian friends!) I've also come across some misogynistic tendencies within the established church (female friends being expected to give up work after marrying; women not being allowed to preach/lead study groups etc) which has really put me off.
By no means do I have all (any!) of the answers, but I've recently been looking into Quakerism, which sounds pretty tolerant and all-encompassing. A Christian friend who has lost his faith recently began attending Quaker services and has found them very welcoming. It might also be worth looking into Unitarian churches, and other non-theistic religions such as Buddhism. Hope you find something that suits you and helps you to start feeling better about things.
Buddhism might appeal, or some philosophy maybe? Confucius is popular, Epicurus is another good one.
You don't need god to feel hope; it sounds like surrounding yourself with positive thoughts and people is the thing that you most want from a religion and you can get that in a lot of places. Humanist meetings are a lot of fun if there's one near you.
And (I hope this isn't out of turn), if you feel that badly then maybe a trip to the GP would help?
Whichever route you take, I hope you manage to feel a bit more positive soon.
I am a christian and I believe that churches can come between people and God, I believe it is people who are judgemental and NOt God.
God Loves you are you are, whether Straight or celibate or not.
God accepts you as you are - His love is not dependant on you loving him, He loves you unconditionally without judgement.
The best way I find of seeing if god is real is to spend a time of quiet - talking and listening try and focus on God and not let your mind wander, and I believe that God will always make himself known to you 'seek and you will find' Its not up to us to judge ourselves or others. It is up to us to accept Gods love and listen to him and talk to him - He longs to hear from you
(I'm not a quaker but I know people who have had problems with the judgmental nature of established churches who have found them much easier)
Buddhism, seriously. No god, no hierarchy,no book. But wise teachings and an open mind.
I know what you mean about not feeling that you fit into any church as I feel the same but I don't think you have to go to a church to get support from God.
I agree that God is not an old man on a cloud but like to think of "him" as a loving source of positive energy. Knowing that he cares and is with me through everything is a support to me.
I believe that God looks on me, kind of, how I look on my children. They may not always do exactly what I expect them to but I love them totally regardless and will support them through anything.
Greenheart Great post
I don't feel like I could go to Church.
Rightly or wrongly, I associate churches with people who are just not like me. It is a natural reaction which I clearly need to get over!
Everything I hear about God and Christianity is judgemental, judgemental, judgemental. Last thing I need right now is to be judged! I think that's why I have a big barrier up, even though I would like to seek out some sort of guidance.
Thanks for your responses.
Sorry your having a hard time...greenheart makes some very good points -
but just to add responses to your problems with Christianity:
Problem 1: Part of the problem of saying whether you believe in God is how you define God – often people who don’t have a belief are thinking of God as a somewhat judgmental old man sitting on a cloud somewhere, issuing orders and sending down the occasional thunderbolt. Well, I’m a Christian but don’t believe in that version of God either. The God I know is less definable, and more intuitive, but if you come looking for God with an empty space in your heart, God will fill that space.
Problem 2: Many people can be quite judgemental and use out-of-context biblical passages to justify their prejudices - but being judgemental is not a Christian thing to do - only God can judge what is in people’s hearts. Christians are called to love their neighbours, and their enemies, not condemn them.
Can you find a liberal open friendly Church near you, where you could go and explore?
Christians have hope because we believe in Jesus. The whole 'this is God's plan' is something that you find in parts of Christianity but not all of it - the technical term is predestination and it is debated hotly. What you find in more mainstream liberal Christianity is the idea that God is with us in the rubbish of life which is different from saying that he decided to give us the rubbish. To find out more about Christianity try www.rejesus.co.uk.
To your questions:
1. You don't have to believe in God to explore Christianity or go to church. Faith is more relationship then set of propositions to be believed so it takes time and is often described as a journey that needs to start somewhere.
2. I agree the gay debate is poisonous. On the ground it is very mixed with some churches were to be gay is totally accepted and there are gay men and women in leadership and others where it is not accepted.
3. One of the reasons getting drunk and having sex with people you are not in relationship with is frowned upon in Christianity is that the Bible was written at a time when patriarchy and knowing who had fathered your children was important. But it sounds like very risky behaviour to me and is maybe tied up with lack of hope. One of the things Christians believe is that God loves them unconditionally and one of the responses to that love is to value yourself because God values you.
I tried to name change for this but can't remember my password. argh!
I am going through a bit of a tough time at the minute. I've been totally thrown out of my comfort zone. I can't envision a time when I won't feel this uncertainty bearing down on me. I know it will come, I just can't seem to really believe in it.
I have been drawn to christianity in the past because of the sense of community, and the fact christians seem to be able to get through anything with the thought of "this is God's plan! all will be well in the end!"
BUT I have a few problems with Christianity.
- I don't think I even believe in God.
- I hate, hate, hate the whole 'gay debate' within christianity. Look, being gay is no more wrong or right to being straight!
- I don't mind getting drunk and sleeping with people I'm not in a relationship with. I don't know much about religion, but I'm sure that's forbidden in all the books.
So I am pretty sure I can't join the exclusive club.
But I just want some hope.
And christians seem to have loads of it.
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