I Stopped Attending Church
When we were younger, my wife and I took our children to church. We were all in - Sunday School, bible classes, worship services almost every Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and almost all other church events. And I held various unpaid positions, including Elder.
We felt that we were doing what was best for our children. They were learning the difference between right and wrong and learning about God, at least the Christian view of who God was, and particularly the Lutheran Christian view.
I converted to Christianity. I was raised a Hindu and married a Muslim, against the wishes of my parents, especially my father. I also took Christian studies in high school. Therefore, I had a broader, dare I say, more enlightened view of religions and God. This led to some interesting debates and discussions at church meetings, and bible classes. At times I felt unloved and unappreciated by the holy people at church.
We attended faithfully for about twenty years and I did my best to go along with the teachings of the church. I had many questions for which there were no answers, or for which the answer given made no sense to me. I could not follow blindly or turn a blind eye to what troubled me. After all, it was a Lutheran denomination, and Martin Luther questioned the church of his day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am most definitely not comparing myself to Martin Luther.
What Troubled Me
A few of the things which troubled me were:
- women could not hold office in the church except for office in the women’s groups
- Lutherans from other denominations were not permitted to participate in communion
- the belief that this particular denomination was absolutely right about its view of God and what he wants, and everyone else was wrong
- the inability of the pastors to answer my questions in a rational manner
I remember asking the pastor who introduced me to the church if the billion plus people in China who don’t believe in Jesus were all going to hell. He got red in the face and told me that that’s what the bible said.
Later, I had an email exchange with a new pastor, fresh out of the seminary and still wet behind the ears, in which he said, “we are the spiritual authorities.” In my reply I told him that “if you are the spiritual authorities then I am the king of Siam.”
I was eventually “released” from membership, in other words, excommunicated, by registered mail. Now that was cold. I refused to accept delivery of the registered letter, and haven’t returned to church since.
It’s The Lutherans
The story is told of Pablo, a very devout Catholic, who at a very advanced age passed from this world and arrived in heaven. On his second day there, he noticed a one hundred foot high wall which surrounded a large area. There were no openings so no could go in or see in, and no one behind the wall could look out or leave. Pablo was curious about this wall.
“Sister Agnes, what is behind that high wall?” Pablo asked one of the other residents in heaven.
“Ah, brother Pablo, it’s very sad. It’s the Lutherans, and they think they’re the only ones here.”