From the moment I was born, I was immersed in Fundamental Christianity, pointed toward Jesus. I had no choice in the matter, nor did I have any other reality to perceive. Jesus loves me, he died for me, and I have to earnestly ask him to come into my heart, and if I don’t, I will go to hell after I die. Hell was explained in very literal terms where it was an actual physical place where the fire would burn me FOREVER and “not even one drop of water” will be given to me to relieve me from my eternal agony.
As a little girl, this scared the shit out of me. This belief that I must be saved to escape eternal hell fire was reinforced over and over through 3 weekly sermons from my Grandfather, Sunday school class, church community, parents, and little religious pamphlets called “tracts” that I would read waiting for my parents to get done talking, or in true fundie language, “having fellowship” after church.
Obviously, there wasn’t a choice to make. Asking Jesus to come into my heart was the only option. I remember the first time I said the magic words on a Sunday afternoon. I was 6 years old and made a decision to follow a “God” I didn’t know or understand. The decision was made to love this God, even though the only reason I did was so that He wouldn’t destroy me. I was so afraid to die. I was so afraid of God.
And so, my life from there on out sent me on a journey to study “the Word”, “get to know Christ”, and get other people to say the magic words too so that they wouldn’t be tormented with burning in fire forever. The words of Jesus were to be studied, followed, and regarded as ultimate truth with no debate.
Naturally, during my abusive marriage, I was brought to my knees in surrender. The only answer I had was to follow God’s word. Pray more, study more, and go to church more. Surely, if I was sincere enough and fervent enough, God would transform my husband. It was a sin to get divorced. It was adultery to be divorced and move on to a different man. I had no other resource for truth other than following a religion that tells me time and time again that all of life’s problems can be solved using the Bible.
So I began to study. Specifically, the words in red, Jesus’ words. I was transformed by them… Teachings of love, forgiveness, grace, non-violence, healing, and repentance. I became very liberal politically and began to get extremely angry at the hypocrisy of Christianity and the GOP. They and their policies were in complete contradiction to the words of Jesus, which they so adamantly claim to follow and believe in.
It wasn’t until I stumbled across a doctrine of Jesus that I disagreed with before I understood how and why Christianity seems to be on such a different path than what He taught, specifically, the Sermon on the Mount. They disagree too, but too arrogant in their ego and pride to admit it, and too scared to debate Him. There are so many beautiful, engaging truths that Jesus said I agree with. But there is one thing he said that I cannot and will not agree with.
I disagree with his doctrine of divorce.
If he were here sitting at my table today, I would tell him that I disagree. And I am fairly certain that he would say “Me, too” after he heard my reasoning and plea. After all, I may not have known why I was inviting him into my heart at six years old, or what that even meant other than a ticket out of hell, but now, as an adult, I know what that meant, and what it means to me now.
I invited him into my life. The same way we invite friends or teachers in. I invited him to commune with me, in conversation and in friendship, a two-way street where an authentic exchange of ideas exist.