Christianity Doesn’t Bring Shame. It Removes It.

“Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.”

This individual* could be speaking for much of society.

14517262115_0b7dc7b411_oOur entertainment culture is embroiled in a race to paint Christianity as evil. And it’s got ammunition.

From Carrie to The Shape of Water, from Handmaid’s Tale to Family Guy, Christian faith is portrayed in modern media as a heartless and oppressive force in people’s lives, gone wild to the point of ostracizing, dehumanizing, handcuffing, and even killing in the name of God. Such excesses are so normative in TV and film, in fact, that I can’t remember the last time Hollywood filmed a church as a positive force, or even as a neutral one.

Yet there’s no doubt that such tragic systems have existed, and still do.

Some people have gone through it and escaped. Their testimonies poison our reputation. Christianity is seen as an agent of guilt, an imposer of shame that can only be removed by – I don’t know, what do they claim that churches are selling as a solution? Submitting to the system? Staying in church? Ceasing to dance or have fun? Accepting doctrine? It’s never really made clear.

Doctrine.

That horrifying, cringe-inducing, hateful, joy-sucking, monolithic wrecking ball of a word that so many have come to fear, that evokes structure and hate and frowny-faced elders in suspenders beating you upside the head with a Bible.

Doctrine actually tells a different story entirely.

Christianity is not a faith of guilt and fear, but of forgiveness, freedom and joy…and it is doctrine that tells us that.

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:1-2 HCSB)

Meaning that though Christians must avoid sin, the penalty for it – shame and death – can be escaped through Christ.

True and Biblical doctrine is nothing like the cliched armchair stuff choking the airwaves. It reveals a faith that isn’t excited about hellfire, but trying to spare people from it…not to preserve its own institutional strength, but out of care for people. Christianity is here to remove all guilt and shame – not through works, but through faith.

Do Christians distort this? Mess it up embarrassingly?

Yes.

And all that does is prove Christianity true.

Indulge me here. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that nobody is perfect. We all agree on that. Doctrine agrees that all men are hopelessly flawed. We’re living in an era that’s bearing that out, despite our technological advances.

Bring medicine into society and institutions only rarify it for profit.

Bring money into society and it only converts the crime from blue-collar to white-collar.

Bring power into society and you get Harvey Weinsteins and Roy Moores. Everything is twisted.

So why should it be such a shock when men, whom we agree are evil, mishandle religion as well?

Christianity was never going to produce perfect churches. Jesus didn’t expect it to. Paul didn’t expect it to. That is not an excuse for the appalling abuses seen in Westboro Baptist Church, religious cults, or their avatars in modern entertainment. It is simply acknowledging that people are flawed, that flawed people infect churches without ever understanding its message. That’s why I would say that this Nan has not left Christianity, for you cannot leave something you were never in.

As the saying goes,

True Christianity is here to remove guilt and fear. It removes them by placing them on Jesus, who willingly bore the penalty for our sins.

Good churches do exist. Churches that teach freedom, whose members look to their own sins first before identifying others’, who love fiercely and deeply. Yes, they’re rare. Find one anyway.

Yes, there’s a cost to following Jesus. Yes, sin must be avoided. But it’s a much lesser cost than the alternative – and the rewards are much, much greater. We do not avoid sin to earn forgiveness – we do it out of gratitude for the forgiveness already given.

Trust me. I’ve actually been in the church. Quit relying on the word of filmmakers who were never in it, or who only saw its corrupt perversion. Jesus Christ is life and forgiveness. And he offers it to you.

 

To my believing blog-followers…this post is obviously intended for those who don’t yet believe in Jesus. Please comment accordingly.

Link credit to Nan’s Notebook

23 thoughts on “Christianity Doesn’t Bring Shame. It Removes It.

  1. I wasn’t aware of the story line in “The Shape of Water” but I saw that it got nominated for a lot of awards. so good to know. Excellent post Brandon, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Overall I like the message of this post. Completely agree the faith gets blamed from those who exploit or abuse it. That said, I’m not quite on board with “their testimonies poison our reputation.” I’m more inclined to say the individuals who do the exploiting or abusing poison our reputation, not the people who call them out for it. I believe we have to not minimize the fodder we have provided “the media,” even as we counter its stereotyping of Christians. As always, your post shows much good thinking and deliberation. Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said! I have been thinking this over myself due to some unbelieving friends who have turned their back on everything. I’ve been inundated with life/work lately and haven’t had time to blog or read, but I’m glad I stopped to read this. Reposting with a prayer whoever needs to read it will.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Running the Race and commented:
    “If being hurt by the church causes you to lose faith in God, than your faith was in people – not God.” Some excellent thoughts here from Brandon Adams about why there are messes in church… and how it supports the tenents of Christianity rather than denying them.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I think a lot of Paul’s writings was to churches who got it wrong. Often times he was writing to correct something they were doing wrong. Today’s society (Even in the church) doesn’t like correction. They can start off on the right path, loving others, helping people, then perversion comes in and they get off on the wrong path. Then they get mad if someone tries’s to show them their error in love. My family has been in the ministry for years and we can admit we haven’t always got things right and have had other ministers show us where we were wrong and we were better for it. We have seen young ministers often times, start off good but someone comes along and starts leading them down another path. Great post really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A lot of people I know who have been “church hurt” have left the church building and seemingly left the Jesus by the way side-not of them, but some-and they seem the hardest to reach. Sometimes I don’t know what to say and I find myself just listening to their pain. Maybe “this kind” I should be praying AND fasting for. Thank you for your post my brother. It shed some light on quite a few areas for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The difference between people who throw doctrine at me and my God who cares about me is a good thing to remember, even for church-goers. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s