“Where do you go now?”
“The thought of walking into a church makes me cringe. It just isn’t for me.”
I had said it. The words I had been stuffing in my cheeks for two years. Church isn’t for me. When I say “church”, I am not speaking of Christ’s church as mentioned in Matthew 16:18: … upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. No, the church that makes me cringe? That westernized, Americanized, patriarchal, racist-rooted, whiteness indoctrinated, non-profit organization. That monstrosity on it’s best day is like a gate to hell and on it’s worst, it is a hate mongering, abusive, genocidal maniac.
How did I get away?
To be honest, I have been on a path to unyoking from America’s perverted, manipulative concept of church and Christianity. The part that used to puzzle me was that every turn led me through another sanctuary or Bible curriculum. To the point, I assumed God was hinting I work on a church staff. God shattered that lie by revealing the cracks, debris, and chaos strewn across altars. Mistreatment and abuse explained away by scripture taken out-of-context. People wounded and burnt out, left as collateral damage in the wake of growth and expansion plans. The still, small voice we learned about in Sunday school started telling me, “Something is off here.”
In 2019, the cringey feeling led me to try out a different church with a black pastor. While it felt more relatable, the cringe lingered. I kept telling myself I should go to church for my son and I need to be amongst other believers. You, too, have heard these rationales from clergy. In this case, no one was actually saying it to me. I beat myself over the head with it in spite of how I felt. So, I avoided the sanctuary and chose to watch the worship service from the coffee area. Christ and coffee. Can’t go wrong there, right? Wrong. Well, in this case, I was wrong.
By this stage, I felt uncomfortable even being in the building. Not long after, I felt disgusted when thinking of going to church.
My spiritual conundrum weighed on me. Convinced, I must be who is off, I began to pray and ask God for clarity, understanding, and direction. Why was I feeling this way? Am I missing the mark, if so, how? Then, 2020, COVID-19, and shelter-in-place. A horrific excuse to stop attending church, but I was glad for it. My energy and time no longer had capacity for wondering if I should or should not be in church. I needed to survive a pandemic.
Yet alas, the vaccines rolled out, the state opened back up, including churches. I could not go back, no, I would not go back. With 2020, I saw the aggregation of America’s sins surface from behind cloak and shadow and pile itself into pulpits and pews. This was not the church that Christ built, nor the one he spoke of to the disciples.
Before Christ talks about his church with Peter and the other disciples, he warned them about taking in and applying the teaching and theology of the Pharisees and the Sadducees (Matt. 16:1-12). Christ called the Pharisees pretenders and described them as hurtful, evil, and ungodly. Thus would their teachings be. When I see the American Church, I see those Pharisees of whom Christ warned his disciples. I hear that warning. I gave myself permission to heed that warning. For the salvation of my own soul and my liberty in Christ, I refuse to subject to that tyrannical entity anymore.