The poetic, playful and prophetic musings of quintessential voices trying to keep up with life

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Questioning Christianity

I call myself a questioning Christian.

I call myself a questioning Christian because I don’t know what else to call myself. I don’t have a label that fits. I’m not, “spiritual but not religious.” I’m not an atheist. I’m not agnostic. I believe in God most of the time. I think Jesus was a righteous dude (please hear this in the secretary’s voice from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”).

I don’t believe Christianity is the only way to what we call, “heaven.” I don’t know what happens to us when we die, though I am confident that it is good. I don’t believe in hell. I don’t believe that religion is what makes people good (or bad). I believe religion is imperfect because people are imperfect.

I love going to traditional services at church. I love going to Catholic and Lutheran services because they are grand and romantic and beautiful. I love that I will generally know what to say and when to say it. I love the repetition. I love being a part of something greater than myself. I love having a community.


The reason I call myself a questioning Christian is because other Christians drive me crazy.

It drives me crazy when Christians spout hate in the name of, “loving the sinner, hating the sin.” It drives me crazy when Christians ban people from coming to church or when they make people feel unwelcome. It drives me crazy when Christians claim homosexuality is a sin, but fail to acknowledge that Leviticus 20:9 says that whoever cusses at their parents deserves death; that these Christians decide that one line in the Old Testament is enough proof to discriminate, but the rest of that chapter doesn’t apply.

It drives me crazy that Christians claim anti-Islamic hate, but conveniently forget about all the damage and death we have caused over the years. It drives me crazy when Christians are manipulative; when they pretend to be nice to get you to come to church with them, or to give them enough “bonus points” to get into heaven. It drives me crazy that even though the Bible tells us not to be judgmental, Christians are - without a doubt - the most judgmental people I know.

It drives me crazy when I hear about churches who brainwash their congregants; who tell them that the answers to their difficult life questions are easy, who give answers out like candy on Halloween and get angry or dismissive when students in Sunday school ask questions. When churches tell their members who to vote for, or what “issues” are important or not. When churches spread fear instead of love, or say that a neighbor church is too liberal or conservative.

When Christians pressure their friends to come to church with them and ostracize them if they chose not to. When Christians claim to be pro-life while ignoring everyone suffering outside of the womb, starving or unwanted. When Christians judge their own brothers and sisters in Christ for who they date, how they date, or how modest their clothes are. 

When Christians claim that their particular way is the only way. When Christians claim that Jesus said condoms are bad. When Christians cite Bible verses like rain drops in a storm, yet haven’t learned about the social context of the text and have no desire to. When I’m told that I am sinful for being educated on religious matters instead of rejoicing in ignorance.

I’ve been told that I’m not a Christian because I don’t believe the Bible is the literal Word of God, but a book written by human men who were inspired by God. I’ve been told I’m not a Christian because I don’t believe in Hell.

I have never told anyone that they were not a Christian.

Sometimes it seems like I agree with atheists and agnostics more than other Christians. Sometimes when Jake and I have religious discussions, he will say something negative about the Christian church, look over at me, and apologize. I tell him there’s no need to apologize. Whatever he’s said, I’ve thought about or said myself.

Through all of this, I don’t want to stop calling myself a Christian.

It’s not that I care what people will say or think if I said I was agnostic. My mom would be upset, but I have already forever disappointed her for loving pixie cuts better than long hair, so I’m sure she would get over it. I have a lot of Christian friends, but I also have a lot of friends who don’t believe in God at all.. I just really, really love The Church.

I love what The Church does for the poor. I love that The Church advocates for people who have nothing, who go hungry, who feel alone. I love reading the Old and New Testaments and finding something new each time I pick up the pages. I loved being a religion major and thinking critically about these things, not just accepting them as Truth and moving on. I love that the core of Christianity is radical love!

I love that the ELCA church embraces doubt and questioning, because without them, faith would be flimsy and weak. This church is the reason that I don’t worry about questioning my faith, because I know that every time I come back to it and say, “Yes, I am a Christian after all!” my faith has just become that must stronger than someone who has never doubted.

I love my friends who are Christians, because they remind me every day that although Christians (aka people) are imperfect, there are many Christians out in the world who do their best to be understanding and loving. I love that Erin Broich wrote about why she loves the Catholic church even when she doesn’t always agree with its practices or teachings. I love that when Erin Guzman was trying to decide on a denomination, she made a giant pro-con list on our wall. I love that Hannah is joyful about her faith, but is okay with questioning it. I love that Kelsey is thoughtful and curious about her faith and doesn’t judge me when I’m confused. I love everyone who went to RLC Worship last year on Wednesday nights and made me feel at home when I was fully prepared not to. I love that we hugged during the passing of the peace. I love that people of all backgrounds and faiths came to worship, and that I didn’t always agree with them.

I call myself a questioning Christian because I don’t know what else to call myself.

Maybe what fits me better is a hopeful Christian; someone who sees how imperfect and awful Christians can be, but also sees a light at the end of a tunnel. Even while I see Christians who are judgmental, ignorant and cruel, I similarly see Christians who are gentle, kind and loving and give me hope for the future of Our Church. I have hope that I will want to associate myself, unapologetically and without shame, with Christians again.

For now, I’m holding on by faith.

xo Madie


  1. This is a beautiful post! Thank you for being so honest! :)

    LB (Erin's biffle at school)

    1. Well thank you for reading it! :)

      I follow your blog on bloglovin' and enjoy reading your posts!

      xo Madie

  2. What a great post. I love love loved "who tell them that the answers to their difficult life questions are easy." That might have been the part that broke my heart and made me move on. believe Jesus died for your sins? (I'm stumbling on that myself). That's all it takes to be a Christian, right?

    1. Thank you so much. My faith is complicated, if you couldn't tell, haha.

      I call myself a Christian because I believe that Jesus showed us the way that we should interact and treat others, which is with selfless love, respect, and acceptance (and sometimes huge hissy fits: RAGING IN THE TEMPLE, AMIRIGHT). Whether or not he was God's son isn't really important to me, but I think the symbolism alone of his sacrificial death is powerful and life-changing. I'm supportive of the idea that Jesus was God incarnate.

      Again, I'm not really concerned if other people would classify me as a Christian or not. I consider myself, regardless of my questioning, a follower of Jesus.

      I think most Christians today will say to be a Christian, you need to accept that Jesus Christ is your Lord and savior, or that you need to accept that Jesus died for your sins, or a belief in the Trinity... I don't know. There have been so many different sects of Christianity since Jesus' time and all of them felt very differently about doctrine and who Jesus was. I figure it's not my job to say who is and who isn't a Christian.

  3. I enjoyed your article Madie! I think when labeling ourselves as a Christian we still have to recognize that in the huge umbrella that is Christianity there are people who will interpret Scripture in ways that are oppressive and hurtful or who make stupid remarks...and to be honest it sucks. It sucks that you can't call yourself a Christian without being looped in with that group or having to explain yourself all the time. But despite all of this I believe that Christianity has room for the ignorant people too (even when you want to punch them in the face :)). Oh and to be clear I'm not saying that you weren't including them, just that I can relate to what you were saying.

    And you don't know how much I appreciate the fact that you explained why you loved the church! That you enjoy the liturgy and repetition! I was at a lecture at my church last weekend and the religious scholar basically said to throw tradition and liturgy out the window because that's not what young adults want to hear. So it makes me extremely happy to know that I'm not alone in actually liking a traditional worship service!

    Anywho I enjoy reading your blog and this blog and awesome job on always keeping them updated. I attempted to write a blog and I only have one lame post. haha Not sure I have the dedication or the audience to keep going. :)

    Hope you are doing well!

    ~ Mackey

    1. Haha if there's one thing I learned from taking Pluralism, it's that we don't get to choose who the other people in our religion are (much like we can't choose our family). It's just frustrating; I don't want to be lumped in with those Christians any more than mainstream Muslims want to be lumped in with extremist Muslims. It's embarassing, but (as you said) we have to make room for everyone, even the people we don't agree with.

      Oh my gosh, yes. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who doesn't like contemporary services! My old church once asked me to run or start up a contemporary service for the youth, and I was like, "... No." I loveloveLOVE traditional services. I love being part of something that's been going on for hundreds or thousands of years!

      Thanks for keeping up with me! It's not easy to post consistantly, trust me! I have to brainstorm every once in a while to figure out what I still have to talk about, haha. You're wonderful. <3

      xo Madie

    2. Dear Amanda,

      We are always open to guest bloggers here at her/story - sooo, hint*hint you should consider writing for us. We would LOVE to have you :)



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