Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting it off my chest!

I have a feeling this post is going to be less of a theological /cultural comment, than it is just personal rant.  Sorry in advance for this - but there's some stuff I just need to get off my chest.

I'm going through a divorce (yes, it's definite).  It's necessary.  It's a relief.  But the process sucks.  Big time.  There are times when it feels like surviving a death.  What makes it worse, is that I am a CHRISTIAN going through divorce.   OH. MY.

Can you tell that I'm feeling angry?  I've long been an outspoken critic of "Christian culture".  We have created religious shackles for ourselves and others that Jesus never intended.  In fact, I firmly believe that if he were walking around in sandals today, he'd be doing a lot more table-tipping than
most of us realise.  I doubt much of the Church would even recognise Him - but I'm getting off track...

A friend commented to me early in this process, that when you are getting out of a "big hole", the further out you climb, the deeper you realise the hole has been... or something along those lines.  Wise friend!  Part of my realisation of how deep the "hole" has been for me, is that I am beginning to see the role that Christian Culture has played, in the depth and length of my own marital misery.   There's a lot more to the story than I'm prepared to air here - but those who know us as a family, know it has been a lot more than just difficult.  Friends outside the Church have expressed relief that it is finally ending.  Apart from a couple of notable (and lifesaving) exceptions who have said the same, I have had to justify my decision to all my close friends and family who are "Churched".  They just can't get their heads around it.  And the truth is - neither could I, for such a long time - which is a big part of why it went on for so unhealthily long. 

The truth is, "no divorce" is not just the default position for Churchy people - it's the ONLY position.  Unless he's actually beating you within an inch of your life or doing something sexually immoral.  And then you should seek counselling and try to heal the relationship and start again.  JEEESSSUSSS!!!
Blind Freddie could see I was caught in something damaging.  Only clearly he wasn't a Christian!! How is this sanely possible??

Yep.  I'm angry.  And here's the irony.  For all our Christian talk about family values and the sanctity of marriage - we have a HIGHER divorce rate than most other social/cultural groups.  On top of this, when "Christians" are broken down into more specific denominational groupings, "non-denominational" (or "born again") Christians score way and above all the other groups.  Something is very wrong with this picture, people!!  Yet another piece of evidence that the culture of Christianity does not match the reality of living connected to a loving and gracious God. (or indeed, any reality at all!!)

For a  thought provoking perspective, and the stats in question, see the article here. (it's American, but I imagine the Australian stats would not be all that different)

I know I sound harsh.  I'm angry.  But wear what fits.  We have a lot to answer for!

15 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, many Christians do not live by the teachings of Christ...or they think it's Ok to pick and choose which teachings matter. I went through a similar experience and can honestly say that, in my situation, the hurt and betrayal of my 'church family' cut far deeper than anything my (now) ex-husband attempted or did. Apparently, I lived in a community full of people who were 'without sin' because few neglected to cast stones. On the brightside, I did heal..as will you in time. Just try not to lose faith in what matters. :)

    Lanette Tyner

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  2. What is also sad and wrong is that you feel it necessary to explain or justify what is happening - you don't have to. This is only 2 people's business, and the only people entitled to, or deserving of any type of reason are your kids...There is no faith of any kind that entitles people to judge others.

    So, don't explain any more. Know that the people who love you, will love you anyway, in fact they will love all 4 of you.

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  3. When I was going through a painful divorce which was the outcome of my whistleblowing on significant financial corruption at my work, I got more support on all the hassles from my atheist, animist, Wicca, Hindu, Muslim and agnostic friends.... They behaved as decent friends, work colleagues, and people of integrity should.

    However, many of my persecutors and non-supportive "friends" or acquaintances were "cultural Christians", "Social Status Quo Christians" or maybe "Respectable (don't rock the boat) Christians"...

    In that they were largely part of the cultural and social system that also supported the corrupt conduct of the executives of the large organisation we worked for.

    There is something wrong with the system, when people inside the Church do not act as real followers of Christ, and people who are not "Christians" do behave like followers of Christ!!!!

    CS Lewis in the allegorical stories in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" dealt with this in "The Horse and His Boy" when he said words to the effect - that those that do good in the name of Tash, were doing the work of Aslan, and those that did bad in the name of Aslan were servants of Tash.

    Religion has always been a tool of the culture, civilisation, economics and the paradigm (or set of values & thoughts) of the dominant or ruling class.

    We need a revolution in all aspects of our totally non-sustainable civilisation, as none of the essential components are adequately dealing with the social and environmental challenges we are facing - climate change, food and water shortages, mass species extinction, and Peak Oil.

    So in short, (lol) we need a rethink, we need a practical Christianity based on the teachings of the risen Christ, updated with prayer and wisdom to be relevant to the very different time in history and informed with our greater knowledge of the world through science and technology. We need to walk and talk the Praxis* of Christianity with compassion and humility.

    (*praxis from the Greek 'koinos' the rolling improvement of theory and practice, each informing and improving the other!)
    regards amd blessings
    The Gardener

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  4. *the "essential components" of our civilisation that are failing us included the systems and organisations at all levels of
    government, religion, education, food production, energy production, transport ....
    so from the micro and personal level to the big and macro level of nations states, we need to rethink all our assumptions !
    The Gardener

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  5. Love you very much Kerry and I wholeheartedly agree with your decision. Shona xoxo

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  6. ooooh i just wanna say so much. I have always, and still do, think you are an amazing girl Kerry (even if that opinion comes mainly from the terrific gene pool you have come from). I know, and have supported, many who have had to deal with the devastation of divorce, and a large part of that is trying to deal with the stigma, the outside pressures, rather than the deeper issues - of offense, hurt & unforgiveness.
    I do believe your stats regarding divorce amongst Christians are untrue. I have heard them many times, been saddened by them, but never had them backed up with anything. I don't agree with divorce. Not because i have been brought up that way, cos i wasn't, but simply because Jesus hates it, and i also don't believe it's the only solution. What is wrong with separation? You may have been believing in faith for 20 years to see some change, to see your marriage healed, is God not in charge any longer and able to do that? I am not walking your path, i can't possibly know the extent of your situation, so there is no judgment from me, there can't be. I think Christians, not just because of culture, instinctively feel it's wrong, but don't always know why, or how to help anyone through it and THAT is why it seems like an empty 'Christian culture' pressuring you to stay in an unhappy marriage. Understandably, those outside of Church will be supportive in divorce - as if the devil wants anyone's marriage to succeed. I have seen the destruction of divorce and am over it. Obviously the evening for ranting tonight :)

    Ally

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  7. Wow! So much response! Thanks, everyone for all the loving an supportive comments - it really brought tears to my eyes.

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  8. Ally,
    I really am glad that someone had the courage to stick their neck out and disagree. & it fits with the integrity and character I know you have!! It's not easy to be the lone voice of dissent in an angry and emotional forum.

    I do believe the stats - and the reason I included that particular article, was that it was both balanced and very well referenced. The stats ARE backed up, and I think as Christians we need to take an honest look at their implications.

    Statistics can never tell the whole story. There are numerous other variables that contribute to the picture. For instance, the article notes that amongst Bible belt Christians in the US (where the highest divorce rates are), marriages tend to begin much younger, and education and SES are markedly lower. These are cultural factors, not religious - but known to correlate with higher rates of marriage breakdown. The statistics also deal only with formal, legal marriages. This means that de-facto relationships which fail are not included. I presume amongst many Atheist and Agnostic people, the covenant of marriage is not seen as particularly relevant and it is likely that the choice of legal marriage relationships is less common - though I have seen no statistics and am only guessing here. However, it fits with the ethos of a number of Atheists whom I count as friends. These are people of integrity who have logically concluded that a marriage covenant is not necessary for a committed relationship.

    One interesting tidbit from the same article:
    A 1997-AUG survey by Barna among 601 senior Protestant pastors revealed that the vast majority are married (95%). Only 13% have ever gone through a divorce. This is about half of the rate among the general population. "Just 3% of all current senior pastors are divorced and have not remarried." - Great news for you guys!!

    However... trying to get to the point here... I think the statistics ARE valid. We just have to ask ourselves "why?" There are some ameliorating factors - but nonetheless, if you survey "Christian Culture" (which, as you and I both know contains a mix of committed and nominal participants) you do NOT find a general trend towards healthier, more functional families, any less social problems, or any evidence that we are socially or culturally healthier than any other group - in fact, we often come off less than second best.

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  9. Sorry Al, my response was too long, so having to post it in two sections... here is the continuation:


    What are the reasons for this? I can think of several. If we are really reaching out to the downtrodden and hurting of the world, and embracing them as family - it stands to reason that many of our number are finding their way out of difficulties of one kind or another. This could make statistics like this less meaningful. BUT I suspect that "Bible Belt" Churches, like many here, are full of middle class folks who are not all that comfortable with those who don't fit. I don't think this accounts for the discrepancy.

    What about our attitudes to sexuality and marriage in the first place, and the culture in which Christian marriages take place? Pentecostal kids get married young! Unlike the culture of Jesus' day, these are Western "love matches", and often not based on sound mate selection criteria. I've also observed an alarming trend towards pushing couples into marriage, regardless of their real suitability, because of fear that they will fall into "sexual sin" if they do not marry quickly. When marriages are made between people who are not well suited, and then "supported" by an ideology that promotes submission and self-sacrifice (both of which can be powerful spiritual disciplines, but are oppressive lawmasters!!) It is no wonder that it can leave some people trapped in abusive and damaging relationships, feeling that if they could only "get it right" spiritually, their problems would magically disappear. In Christian circles, most of us have become so blinkered that we don't even see the realities of these situations.

    One more thing... I know how often it is bandied around, but I really think saying "the Devil wants to destroy marriages" is a cop-out. Logically, if you take that view, then that old Devil sure is getting the upper hand! I believe that if we are walking in relationship with God, He is able to get us through whatever it is we are facing. Thankfully, He is far less blinkered than a lot of his followers!!

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  10. One more comment, I thought I should add...
    Re-reading my original post, it sounds like my little group of Jesus followers have been giving me a hard time - actually they haven't. Those closest to me in my own church family have accepted me (and us) the way we are. For which I am incredibly grateful. My rant was directed more at the culture of Christianity that I have lived in, and which I believe needs to be disentangled from actual relationship with Jesus. Anyway, 'nuff said - just didn't want to leave it sounding as if my immediate faith community has let me down. They haven't - & I know they will not.

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  11. I think some Christians treat divorce as an unforgivable sin (there a few others that get the same treatment.). I don't know what the unforgivable sin is and it may be different for each of us, but I know it isn't divorce. Yes, God does hate divorce but if you read those words in context within the passage and in the cultural context of Pre-Roman Judea you realise that he hates divorce because of the consequences (women worse off than widows and children worse off than orphans). When you put Jesus' comments about divorce in the context of the religous arguments of the time you find that what he is saying is actually much kinder to the divorcees and really about criticising the Pharisees, Scribes etc. Who are we to judge about divorce? If we take the Sermon on the Mount seriously and apply it to divorce then any of us who has ever contemplated (for sinful reasons and/or poor attitudes) has done so in their hearts.
    Finally Kerry I was interested in what you said about being pushed into marriage to avoid sin - I think that could apply to you but I don't want to say any more about that here. I wish I could have a face to face chat about it sometime. I know that things mst be very difficult at the moment. I also know that if you rely on God he will be faithful. As I heard said today He is steadfast when everything is changeable. will be praying
    Rachel

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  12. Thanks, Rachel - I will look forward to that f2f conversation!! xxx

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  13. Here's fiesty with chilli peppers added. We are humans first, a religion a far distant second.

    Protect you and yours from any sort of harm Kerry.

    As far as I am concerned, those stats show that there are an awful lot of Christian liars and Hypocrites out there.

    Life is too short not to be real with each other.

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  14. Thank you, Mr Feisty ;) Glad you popped in! :D

    From my own experience, I don't believe Christians are deliberately lying about their reality. However there is a HUUUGE mismatch between their shared understanding and the truth. I think it points to unhealthy (and un-"God-ly") group dynamics and cultural memes. There is a BIG need to re-evaluate - and not just in this one area. I am convinced that GOD is a whole lot bigger than the religion we have made for Him (& thank Heaven for that!!)

    (& YES - life is FAR too short not to be real!!)

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Feel free to leave comments - I love discussion, & diverse opinions! So comment, add your own thoughts, disagree - you are welcome.

Its okay to comment anonymously if you are shy, but I'd much rather know who you are, & always appreciate it when people "own" their own opinions. Look forward to chatting with you :)