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Practice What You Preach, by Lindsay Maddox (Unsent Letters Religion Theme)

Dear God,

No. That’s not right.

Dear Christianity,

Ah, much better.

You see, God and I are cool with each other, so it would be quite unfair to address this letter to Him, when it is, in fact, you that I have issues with.

Let me start by saying that I consider myself a Christian and a big fan of God and all His greatness. I pray daily. Scratch that, several times a day. I pray because I have witnessed firsthand the miracle of answered prayers. And really, when they go unanswered (and they often do), it soon becomes apparent why.

I believe in Heaven and in God with all my being. If I wasn’t a believer before, I surely would have been the first moment I saw my son’s fluttering heart on the ultrasound monitor, or the first time I heard his newborn cry. The very idea that another life, created in love, was carried and protected within my body is enough for me to know there is a God.

But while Christianity is founded on the teachings of God, it isn’t God Himself. Instead, it is run by people; people interpreting God’s teachings. Sometimes people make mistakes, and I think that is very much the reason why you have gone astray.

Having grown up singing Bible songs, memorizing verses, and sitting in the choir I am more than familiar with the workings of the church. On the outset, it is amazing. Church is this wonderful place where we can all gather together, worship God, and enjoy fellowship with other Christians. Yet, when I look deeper, my problem with you becomes strikingly clear.
Church is a clique.

Not always, mind you. After searching far and wide for a church I felt comfortable in, I finally found one. The moment I walked in the door and saw people in jeans, hair wet from just taking a shower, I knew I was home. This wasn’t a place where I had to worry about impressing other churchgoers or putting on airs. I belonged the moment I stepped in the door.

This is how everyone should feel at every single church.

So many places I have been, I have been ignored and never welcomed. I have been lectured about how I am not a true Christian if I don’t regularly attend church. Through sermons I am constantly told how awful of a person I am and how sinful we all are. That isn’t uplifting and inspirational, as I believe church should be. Still, I sit and listen because I know there are uplifting aspects to the message of God. But, I have seen nonbelievers, intimidated by the very idea of church, not welcomed simply for the fact that they didn’t yet believe and never return because of these messages of unworthiness.

That is just wrong.

Yet, it gets worse.

How about the larger scale beyond individual churches? Our religion claims to be welcoming and touts forgiveness and understanding. So many Christians walk around with a pious, “better than you because I believe” attitude. We claim to be accepting of others, yet, we are the same religion that shuns others for abortion, gay marriage, and simply not fitting into the “Christian mold.”

That bothers me.

More so, it makes me wonder if I want to be associated with such a religion.

What a sad life I would have if I refused to associate myself with these “tainted” individuals. Some of the most kindhearted, selfless people I know also happen to be gay. Homosexuality is far from a choice, and the mere suggestion of that by you, Christianity, is a sin, in my opinion. And preaching to them, trying to change their minds is, quite frankly, insulting.

You look down on nonbelievers, or feel they are lost souls in need of repentance. Let me tell you, there are amazing people who walk the Earth and are not Christian. At the same time, there are other individuals who are saintly on Sunday morning and completely distasteful the rest of the week. Are those individuals better in your eyes, simply for the fact that they claim to follow your ways?
Don’t even get me started on abortion.

Very few women take the idea of ending the life inside them lightly. Oftentimes, there is a medical reason behind it or some other serious issue that makes the abortion necessary. Sometimes, there isn’t. Regardless, it all comes down to one thing: These women are hurting. They are in need of love, not judgment. How dare you turn your back on a woman who is suffering with every ounce of her being? Yet, instead of helping her through her grief and giving her a place to feel loved and comforted, you make her feel like a sinner, a whore.
Shame on you.

Christianity, do you realize how much you can learn from all people, not just fellow Christians? So many of the teachings in all religions are intertwined: Love, compassion, peace, acceptance. They are all there. Honestly (and if you’re so blind you can’t see it, that makes me sad), some other religions do the whole “acceptance” thing much better than you do.

And, Christianity, for the record, sending people out to sporting events with bullhorns, large signs reading ‘Repent!’ and pamphlets on becoming a Christian is probably going to turn more people off than intrigue them. You can’t yell at people or try to scare them. They’ll only respond by thinking you have lost your touch with reality.

Still, there are some spectacular things about you. The power of prayer and healing is phenomenal, so long as prayer requests are used for their intended purpose and not as fodder for gossip. Caring for your community, raising money for worthy causes, looking out for one another is all wonderful and commendable. Inspiring people to look beyond themselves and reach out to others in need is world-changing. I’d simply like to see a little more of that, and a little less preaching about why you are the best.

It would be great if there was more practice, less preach. After all, actions do speak louder than words.

Sincerely,
Your fellow God-lover

~~~

Lindsay Maddox is a freelance writer, humorist, and Mommy extraordinaire. She mainly produces nonfiction articles on parenting, but recently found her true love in fiction writing. Lindsay will be published in Elements of the Soul, a Short Story Anthology in 2009. Please visit her author’s website at: http://site.lindsaymaddox.com/

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5 Responses to “Practice What You Preach, by Lindsay Maddox (Unsent Letters Religion Theme)”

  1. Cathy Doheny says:

    Great letter, Lindsay! I agree – churches are businesses and are unnecessary for a relationship with God. The lack of acceptance and hypocrisy are what really turned me away from churches and Christianity in general.

  2. Cindy says:

    Nicely done, Lindsay.
    If more churches and people of God held tgo his actual message, the world would be a better place, but they don’t.
    I applaud your letter and everything it stands for. I hope some churches listen and become the refuge people need.

  3. Linda St.Cyr says:

    I understand this letter a little too well… I loved how it started out, had me hooked from start to finish!

  4. Thank you, ladies. It is a relief to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  5. Gillian says:

    Excellent letter Lindsay. I think you very clearly expressed what many people feel about the state of Christianity (in general) today.

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