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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

She Got Religion

My views, thoughts, and opinions have changed over the years and since I became a Christian. This is, of course, normal and natural. However, it is sometimes too facile to explain it that way. It isn't that I changed my mind because I am a Christian, but that being a Christian has changed my mind.

I've been thinking about this for a long time. There are many people who use my faith as a way to dismiss my opinion. "Of course you think that, it's part of your religion," as though this particular topic or that one were not something that all people have to wrestle with and come to a conclusion based on their knowledge, experience, understanding, and beliefs. It is too easy to write off a view in the west by acknowledging religion as its source or, at least, a contributing factor to it. I even had a friend challenge me with the statement that I wasn't always a Christian and didn't always think this way. Of course not. The change, though, wasn't a forgetting of what I used to believe, but an education and shift to what I know now.

It can be frustrating, because the reality is that while my faith does inform my thoughts and views, I didn't simply swallow those ideas without first grappling with them myself - or considering alternate perspectives. There are things that are still difficult for me to submit to, and things that I understand now in a way I never did before my conversion. That is the way of these things. It seems that the underlying assumption in the statements about religion and points of view is that they are blindly accepted. This is not the case. It was, in fact, because of learning more or studying more that I came to most of these conclusions. It was in reading and thinking and looking to logical ends of arguments that I formulated my own position. And, yes, I do strive to form myself into the mind of the Church, but this is not an unthinking obedience, but a striving to both understand and to submit to proper authority and truth.

I have come to the point where I look at the places where I have a hard time accepting what my religion teaches, and realizing that it is because I haven't fully grasped it yet. I don't understand. So, I will submit to it, while I attempt to learn more and truly accept it. This isn't being a blind follower, it is acknowledging that I don't know everything, and that the voice and experience of the faith over the millennia may just have something to trump my smug disagreement.

When Rich and I moved from our previous church to our new one, it wasn't because of many of the superficial reasons that some who saw us leave thought. It was because there were core things we couldn't accept or teach to our children. We knew that if we stayed, the chance of real danger to our souls was slim, but the damage we could do to our children and their faith was great. We would have to contemplate telling them on the way home that what they heard in the sermon or in their Christian ed. wasn't really what we believed. And when they were older, and trying to determine what they really believed and what they would accept and reject from their faith and upbringing, we didn't want to have to explain to them why it was okay for their parents to say we believed only some of what our church taught, but it wasn't okay for them to reject any of it. We did not want to undermine their understanding of truth, or the authority of the Church. So, we had to go to a church where we could submit. To all of it. That doesn't mean it was always easy, or that we did so without any growing pains. But, we believe in the truth of Christianity, which is a religion founded on a particular Tradition and authority. A Church, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth, that has a certain hierarchy. If that is true, then we must submit to it, not expect it to conform to us.

So, yes, I got religion. And yes, it changed my views. But it was every bit a growing and learning and reevaluating and not simply a new set of ideas that were put on like a new outfit. There is a set of reasoning behind it, and a history and tradition that are far greater than my own intellect or experience.

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