I Quit!

Those words speak of frustration, anger, defeat and a decision that one can’t continue with the status quo.  It can be an immature response like the child who doesn’t get his way and takes his marbles and goes home, or, it can be a mature response that indicates one has determined their effectiveness in a situation has come to an end and it’s time to move on.  Author Ann Rice recently made this decision concerning Christianity.  You can read an article about it here.

The author of such well-known novels as “Interview with the Vampire,” Rice reported a conversion to Christianity from atheism some twelve years ago, returning to her roots of Catholicism.  What has precipitated her departure from Christianity?  She cites her disgust and horror at the “quarrelsome, hostile,” and “disputatious” attitudes of Christians.  She wrote, “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian.  Amen.”

What is my reaction?  I am saddened and affirmed all at the same time.

I am saddened that in the realm of “Christianity” Ann was so overwhelmed by all that she saw as negative that it drove her away from the church.  This is essentially what she is doing…walking away from the church (especially the Catholic church).  Some would say that’s a good thing.  However, regardless of the sect, the truth remains that God ordained and established only two institutions:  the family and the church.  As flawed as it has become over the centuries, it is still the church through which Christ has determined to establish His kingdom here on earth (Matthew 16:16-18).  The universal church is thriving.  Not every local church is succeeding.  It is the extreme, culturalized, Americanized, misconstruing of the gospel by local churches that sends the messages that drive people like Ann Rice away.  This saddens me.

It is true that when the church stands for truth, purity and holiness, there will be those who choose to leave.  The world system will not tolerate the teachings of Christ and His Word which contradict self-centered, destructive, immoral choices.  Jesus said, “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).  So we (Christianity) should not get too upset when the world expresses hatred toward us.  The problem is…in our stand for holiness we have a problem with attitude.  Somehow many have come to believe that Christians hate them because we stand in opposition to their choices, policies, lifestyles, behavior, or agendas.  We must return to the idea of tolerance that says, “I do not agree with or condone your beliefs and practices, but I can still love you as we discuss our differences.”  It is interesting that Jesus showed wrathful confrontation only to the religious pharisees and exploiters of His day.  However, to those who were living an “unreligious” life of sin, He confronted in love, desiring to offer forgiveness and call them to turn from their sin.  It was a confrontation nonetheless, but in love.  We must follow that example.

Secondly, Ann Rice’s statement is in some way an affirmation of a feeling I have had for some time.  I seldom refer to myself as a “Christian” anymore.  As she has pointed out, the history of Christianity and the current cultural impact of misguided and (should I say it) unregenerate among the church have given the term a bad taste.  I prefer to call myself (when there is a need to do so) a Christ Follower.  This is what Ann is getting at.  She and I will disagree about the acceptance of certain behaviors within the realm of the Kingdom.  But I understand her disillusionment.

Honestly, I think if Ann Rice were to get connected in the right place of worship and service in the Kingdom, she would perhaps reconsider her exodus from Christianity.  It is possible to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ and confront the immoral and relativistic values of our society in a way that pleases God and influences culture.  We can be salt and light without hating (or appearing to) those we are called to love.  There will always be those who respond to a Christ Follower with hatred and hostility, but may it never be the Christian who initiates the hostility.

What do you think?  Is the church to blame for driving people from Christ rather than drawing them to Him?

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