Hypocrites, phonies, social climbers, or why I stopped going to church

Discussion in 'Religion' started by OldFashionedMama, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. OldFashionedMama

    OldFashionedMama Partyin' like it's 1699

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    ***This is not meant to insult or offend anyone. It's just my own personal reflection on current events in my life.***

    I did at one point identify as a Christian, and to some degree I still do-in the sense that I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe he was a holy man, I believe in his teachings-I just don't believe that the Christian Bible is the only true "word". Regardless, I have many devout Christian friends and acquaintances. Only one of them routinely evangelizes to us, and he's DH's coworker so I don't have to hear it very often (unless he calls us at 11pm at night shrieking into the telephone that his 3yo son is acting "sinful" because he plays with his pee pee like all 3yo boys do-Yes this was a real phone call :rolleyes: )

    There is one group of people that really gets to me, and oddly enough it is a group of professors at my music school! They all go to the same church, they even have a weekly bible study at school (this is a public university-not a religious, private one. No one has a problem with it though, which is nice. I'm glad they can have their meetings.)
    My problem with them is the fakery. One of the professors can be downright nasty to everyone-he'll actually stick his nose up and look over your head when he's talking to you. All of them are rather clique-y, which is not good when our school has been struggling to keep new professors. The turnover has been high in recent years. We lost an amazing music history professor, had a PhD from Berkeley and played the harpsichord better than, like, anyone. He told us when he made the decision to leave that he "didn't feel welcome here." Okay-enough about them. They drive me nuts..

    Any time my husband and I have had financial problems, my mother in law tells us we should go to church. :confused: She goes to church every Sunday, just as she always has, but even her actions don't seem to reflect her supposed religious devotion. She's practically admitted the only reason she attends is for the social benefits. I forget the name of it, but she attends the big Episcopal church in downtown Miami, Florida. We went with her once for their Christmas service....BIG money in this church. Then she was on a rant about us getting the children baptised. My husband and I do not believe in the practice and don't really see the point in it, as we do not adhere to any particular religion. She also cannot accept that her son no longer follows the religion he was raised in and hasn't for many years. (My father in law is a retired Episcopal priest.) So perhaps this has something to do with it...

    To make a LONG story short, I don't go to church anymore. I've had so many bad experiences, most of the worst ones I did not mention here. I am not happy with this, and I wish I could find a place where I felt comfortable. We have a Unitarian church here, but again I dont know... I'm afraid to go anywhere now! I'm not completely Christian, I'm not completely Pagan either, I just believe what I believe-but it seems like you have to follow "their" beliefs if you decide to join a church or other group.

    Anyway.... I'm not :nuts: really. I've been kind of down about the whole situation for too long, and I guess I'm just looking for advice or commiseration. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.
     
  2. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

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    OldFashionedMama - I am so glad that you posted this. I had exactly the same feeling a number of years ago. At least if I am reading your post right. You at least remind me of what I was feeling when my wife and I were first married and trying to find a church that we both liked. She was raised catholic and I was raised Protestant so we spent a few years checking out different churches. Your post matches exactly what I found in some of them.

    What I read in your post is that you have had to deal with imperfect people. I found that there are rotten people that go to church, and rotten people that don't. No body is perfect. Not even the best pastor on earth is perfect. My sister was a minister for awhile. She was really good at it. She was still my sister who pulled my hair when we were little. She wasn't perfect. Even though she was a pastor, she was still the same sister. She has sins. I do too. Sometimes we are prideful. Sometimes we gossip. Some folks are really good in some areas of life - others fall short in different areas. We will never find a perfect church because churches are made up of people - weak human people. But don't think that God is the same as 'church' They are waaaay different. People are not always kind, but God loves all of us. And He is perfect. He is loving. He never treats you bad or looks down on you. And He forgives even those rotten folks when they realize that they have done wrong - like when they treat people bad.

    Seems to me the reason that you are so disappointed in church is that you expect (or hoped?) that church going folks would behave better than non-church going folks. They should! - you are right! But that doesn't really make sense, because at present you are a non-church going person - and you are good people. You can't expect somebody else to be better than you are just because they go to church. That would mean that if you showed up at church every week, you would be a better person than you are now. Kind of silly to think that where you sit for an hour makes you better or worse in your heart of hearts. It's what is on the inside that matters.

    Some churches (and the people in them) lose track of what they are supposed to be doing - and get all wrapped up in the social thing. Jesus himself in the book of Revelations rebukes churches for this! It's only because those folks have forgotten what church is for and why they are there. It’s not about what the neighbors or the people sitting next to you think. You don't go to church for what you or they get out of it. You go because it is a personal thing between you and God. It wouldn't matter to you or God if the rest of the church was empty.

    My advice is to go to your Bible. Get a modern translation like "The Way" or the "NIV" (New International Version) that puts the message of God in common English and read the new testament. Maybe start with the Gospel of John - it's short and tells the whole life of Jesus including his teachings to us. There are free Bibles online if you don't have one. Heck if you want a printed one PM me and I'll mail you one.

    Forget what other people tell you about God, and meet Him for yourself on a personal one to one level. Don't think that God is like people. He is so far above humanity that we aren't even on the same scale. But He does love us and will speak to us individually, one on one.

    After you meet him for yourself and get to know Him through the Bible, THEN you can see what the Bible teaches a church SHOULD be like and if you are so inclined look for a church that you like. If you find perfect one let me know! But I suspect that you will find a group of people trying to be like they should and some of them doing a better job than others. Chances are good that there are folks even in the church you have already gone to who feel the same way you do. They just aren’t the noisy ones.

    I'm not trying to say that you should go back to that church or any particular one. I sure aint selling anything, but if I can help in any way - give me a shout. I'm happy to talk or listen - any time. But the most important thing you can do is get a Bible and read it. The new testament is shorter than most best sellers. The first 4 books of the New testament tell Jesus life story 4 times (as written by Mathew Mark Luke and John) so there is no need to read all of them right away. Read one (I like John’s version best) and then the next book (Acts) describing how the first churches were formed. Then if you are interested in what a church SHOULD be like go on to the writing of the apostles – then men who walked with Jesus. Their “epistles” are letters of advice they wrote to the new churches. I bet (and hope) that you will be pleasantly surprised.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010

  3. saintsfanbrian

    saintsfanbrian Liberty or Death!!!!

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    Here is something I found very touching when I was a teenager. I still feel this way:

    This was written by Curt Cloninger:

    The Square Root of Nothing

    My God is a slam-dancer on a floor with spectral,
    psychedelic lights;
    and people; and noises; and bumps --
    (He keeps His eyes closed)
    My God moves like nobody can;
    and breaks, and turns, and lunges
    like some gorgeous blue fluid
    at zero gravity.
    If the music had life and a body,
    it would mirror the moves my God makes,
    and it does.

    My God is an oak tree in the desert,
    alone for 12,000 miles around;
    with roots so deep and strong they hold the earth in orbit;
    and a trunk so sure and constant to hold up the sky,
    that it makes Atlas
    look like Pee Wee Herman
    in Ethiopia.
    (Still, one time I carved "Curt loves God"
    with my finger into his trunk, and the sky moved.)
    His branches are too wide for infinity to imagine,
    And I've climbed all over every one.

    My God is the random savagery of a storm's eye.
    My God is a terrified butterfly,
    crushed under the heel of the boot
    of a seventeen year-old axe-murderer
    on Good Friday.
    My God is tenderness incarnate.
    He hugs everybody constantly, and He loves quiche;
    but man, he could whip your *** like standing still.
    My God's not hip to religion, never has been;
    too many laws and doctrines and subdivided
    denominations to keep up with. My God is love.

    He makes the cloth for the lilies of the field.
    He can do more with a mustard seed
    than Julia Child has ever done with prime rib.
    He's the reason strangers smile back.

    My God is Your God too (take it or leave it),
    and what I know and can tell of him is still only
    the square root of nothing.

    Jesus Christ is risen,
    May the sky forever move.


    Word Dream 89
     
  4. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

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    Yep, oldfashionedmama, that's pretty much what I went through.

    Plus I got tired of watching these people sit in Bible study, all knowledgeable about the bible and answering the quesions, finding the verses, agreeing on how they should be living as Christians, blah blah bah.

    Then they'd go out the door and in their daily lives they'd gossip, lie, steal, cheat on their spouses, etc.

    groovymike, you talk about being disappointed with "imperfect people", and yeah there's a verse in the bible that says "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". But...

    It seems reasonable to expect a bit higher standards from people who study, know, and teach/preach this stuff. That doesn't mean expecting perfection. We teach our children things such as manners, honesty, diligence (chores), etc. hoping to raise them with good morals and a good work ethic...when they act other than how they have been taught, do we just blow it off because they are "imperfect people"? We actually expect certain behaviors of them.

    My unchurched Christian friends are much easier to fellowship with, and it's usually in casual settings where we're all comfortable.

    As for the Bible, I believe it to be an "imperfect" book, tainted by man. I won't elaborate on that right now.

    No where in the Bible that I'VE found, anyway, does it say to attend church. Someone told me once that it says "forsake not the fellowship" (I've never seen it in there, but it might be), but fellowship can be spending time with fellow believers. It doesn't have to be a church.

    Churches are mostly political in structure, have many rules and requirements that are not in the Bible, and are based on needing large sums of money to keep nice carpeting in the foyer and new cars for the pastor, etc. Way out here in the boonies our pastor has a salary package 3 times what the average person makes here...and the church spent a couple years finding a pastor that would even take the job because he could make so much more in a real town. Very sad.

    But then this pastor came to our church fresh from Bible college with a $60,000 school loan debt! For a Christian College!!!

    It's not a "calling" any more. It's a career. And you can see the lack of sincerity in this man.
     
  5. Genevieve

    Genevieve I'm done - gone

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    This right here is where I think you should start. If you don't want to find a church right now, thats fine. Theres nothing wrong IMO with having a time set aside for God in your home.
    MY relationship with the Lord is MY business.Its private. And how I choose to talk to the Lord is nobody elses business. Sorry, but thats how I feel.
    If you want just an hour with your hubby and the Lord on Sunday mornings or evenings or whatever, then do that. Or you could have the time as just a few minutes of bible reading in the mornings before you start your day. Or even a few minutes in the evening before bed. The choice is up to you. Just because you don't go to one central location, doesn't mean you can't have a relationship with God.
    I think if you ask HIM to lead you to a church, HE would be happy to oblige maybe;)
    Good Luck:)
     
  6. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

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    Well, OFM, you're certainly not alone in your rejection of the "church." GM had some very good points in his response. I'd like to bring up some other things to think about.

    Logically speaking, according to the law of non-contradiction, if you have two or more contradictory statements, one can be true and the others false or all can be false, but they cannot all be true. Differing concepts of God fall under the same rule of logic.

    Ever since the fall in the garden of Eden Satan has used the same tactic to destroy our relationship with God. First, he asked Eve, "Did God really say... ." Next, he said, "Okay, God said it but he didn't really mean it." (My paraphrase of Genesis 3:1-5)

    In our skeptical, "enlightened" generation we've been taught that there is no "absolute" truth (or if there is such a thing we can't "know" it) so any claims to absolute truth are dismissed. It is a great ploy and feeds the natural tendancy Satan exploited in the Garden of Eden, namely, that we would be like God! So we spend our time creating God in the image we would have Him be. If God says something we find unappealing we reject that teaching and substitue our own version, thereby rejecting God in the process.

    If a person sincerely seeks God, He will reveal Himself (Hebrews 11:6). But the key here is a sincere or earnest seeking of God. The kind of followers God desires are defined in John 4:21-26.

    Regarding the church ... Christians are in different stages of growth. Would you be judgmental about a child who didn't do things "right?" What about a teen who thought they knew everything? Have any of us ever been at that stage in life? These same things apply to people in their spiritual growth. Some remain teens for a long time, thinking they "know" things when they really don't. We all need to find Christians who are mature to emulate. (Want to define mature? Look up Galatians 5:16-26.) If you (not meant as you the individual but as anyone who would judge/condemn the behavior of another) know so much about what a Christian should be then by all means, harshly confront those who do not exhibit Christian attributes. Just remember, the way you judge others will be the way you are judged. Confrontation of sin should happen among believers but it should happen in a loving manner hoping for repentance while realizing that we all live in glass houses and need to be careful about throwing stones ... at anyone!

    The truth of the matter is that I'm not even close to being perfect (just ask my wife!). But God isn't finished with me yet either. I've still got a lot of those teenage issues to overcome. We are each in a different stage of growth and sometimes it takes some pretty serious stuff to shock us into the knowledge that we didn't know as much as we thought we did.

    The key to our spritual health depends upon our submission to God. As long as we think we know more than God our growth is going to be very slow. We may even be on the wrong path and need to backtrack a bit to choose the right path.

    One thing I can assure you is that God is not schizophrenic. The "gods" we hear about are subject to the rule of non-contradiction. One can be true and the others false, all can be false, but all cannot be true. Our calling is to know the Truth.
     
  7. jungatheart

    jungatheart Beginner's Mind

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    I joined a Unitarian Church for the same reasons you cited but found it much too liberal for my taste. I doubt a full blown prepper would be welcome there.
     
  8. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

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    MMM...you may be my husband but you're full of it. (Amazingly enough, we don't have fights about our disagreement on religion/Christianity).

    I have very sincerely, and I mean VERY sincerely talked to God and asked what was right, what to believe and do, at times in my life when I was very humble and REALLY wanted to know.

    But...just as the Bible isn't clear and is full of double-meanings and parables and hints and read-between-the-lines stuff, nothing was "clear" from God either.

    I've watched your trite blow-offs for years, of people who question or are dismayed with church, that they just aren't "mature". I disagree. You can't roll everyone into that one assessment. You, of all people, after what we've seen at our church and what we've been through, should know that.
     
  9. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    We are in church every day. It is a blue house with my mail box across the road. Our alter is our dinner table which has been sacred from day one -- and it still is.
     
  10. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I also used to be a regular at church, bible-studies, etc. I too found that the people that showed up at the building kept trying to drive me away, because I didn't fit in the clique.

    I found a new church that is perfect for me. There are no walls. There is no ceiling. There are no windows. The floor is only dirt. There is no fancy air-conditioning system. Pictured below is my new church that I am very happy with.
     

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  11. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

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    I'll be in church as you described tomorrow afternoon and the following week.:D The reverend German brown trout will be giving the sermon. And brother eagle will be making me look upwards towards heaven.
    I will be back online next weekend, ah! no computer for a whole week...
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  12. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

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    Off topic: Have a great time! And a safe trip!
     
  13. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    Have a great trip!! See ya next week. :wave:
     
  14. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    That's my kinda church.

    28 years ago, when I moved to this area, I went to the Catholic Church in town because that's what I was raised. 12 years of nuns and priests as teachers. Mass every morning before school.
    I filled out all the forms and as I finished up I was told the only thing left was to bring in a copy of my W-2's. :eek: For you folks outside the US, this is the wage statement you send to the government so they can tax you properly. :rolleyes: I never went back. My mom stills prays for my lost soul.

    Some years later I joined a non-denominational church. A little cliquish as others have said but within reason. About 6 months after joining, the pastor retired and was replaced by a much younger man. All he ever preached about was the joy and benefit of giving to the church. As if that wasn't bad enough, he made trips to peoples homes that couldn't get out and solicited from them as well. I know this for a fact because he went to a woman's home whose property I took care of. (grass, shrubbery, odds and ends)
    I went into her house one night to see if she needed anything else done (she was 88 and wheelchair bound) and she asked me to sit for a few minutes. The young pastor had been to see her earlier that day and asked her if the church was in her will. OF ALL THE NERVE! And if that wasn't bad enough, when she said yes, he asked her to set up a trust fund in the name of the church to make sure no one else would have any claim to it if it got into a court fight. She was livid! She changed her will that week. Serves the greedy ******* right.
    I ended my relationship with man-made religion that day.
     
  15. OldCootHillbilly

    OldCootHillbilly Reverend Coot

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    Well I ain't never been much of a church goer. The preacher what married us was my favorite. He'd stop by the place an jaw fer awhile, never preach, just wanna know how things were goin. Really liked that feller. Well the big shots at the church didn't, seems he wasn't cliq'y enough fer them, so they fired him. Ain't been there since.

    I sometimes feel church has gotton to much like Christmas, commercialized an lost it's meanin. I don't think ya need a special buildin ta talk with yer god, I beleive he can hear ya anywhere ya be.

    I ain't anyone one certain religion, was pressed one time to name one, so I said "Buddist", he's my kind a god, fat, bald an poor!:D

    I think the life ya leed, the things ya do an what ya belive er the most important. Not who ya fit in with er how much money ya put in the plate.

    Just my two coppers worth.
     
  16. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    It's a shame they aren't copper anymore. :rolleyes:
     
  17. OldFashionedMama

    OldFashionedMama Partyin' like it's 1699

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    If your location didn't say Iowa I'd think you were typin' in broad Yorkshire. And thank Heavens I read The Secret Garden as a kid and learned to understand it! LOL!!!!
     
  18. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

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    amen, oldcoothillbilly.

    My sentiments exactly.
     
  19. OldFashionedMama

    OldFashionedMama Partyin' like it's 1699

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    I think I'm going to join NaeKid's church :)
     
  20. Aemilia

    Aemilia Zookeeper

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    Interesting thread.

    #1 - This is a great excuse to avoid any group. Shall we use these reasons to avoid gyms? Colleges/schools (I've attended a clique-ish school, but that didn't cause my parents to excuse me, they taught me to deal with it)? Sports? Community service organizations?
    #2 - Since when does the behavior of people at a "church" decide what one believes? I'm curious. I agree with GroovyMike - each person should grab a Bible (or whatever book/authority) and decide what/if you believe. Then if you decide to join a church, you will be firm in what you believe. And really, the basics of Christianity are pretty simple.
    #3 - Maybe you should try to help the others in the church. Tell your friend all 3 year olds have a healthy curiosity about their bodies, and that his son is fine. Maybe he has been misinformed. Look for the good things, and try to overlook minor faults. Any relationship is work, and church's are no different. When I'm feeling upset at the idiocy of others, I'm usually reminded of all the stupid things I have done, and it leaves me humbler (and hopefully it does this before I open my mouth :ignore: !)

    Their are plenty of good people to fellowship with. I don't think the Bible means we need to attend a brick and mortor church every Sunday at 10am. Fellowship can certainly be an informal Bible reading / prayer / community outreach / encouragement amongst friends. Building each other up is the important part.

    And yes, I've been hurt by church people and Christians. But you know what? That's between them and God. My job is to follow Jesus. The person I'm responsible for is the one in the mirror.