To the Church: From A Christian With Love
I must admit, I am the last person expected to every write this letter. After all, since I was child sitting on the pews I have been taught to never question you. You represented what was right in the world. You represented the path, the light, the direction. You represented God himself to me for many years. My relationship with God was so tied to your doors, that I barely felt him unless I was with you. Which is funny, since God is everywhere, right? You, after all, are the “Church”. The staple in the “Black Family”. The beginning, middle and end of who I was. I cried on your floors, was baptized in your pools, put my money in your plate, and everything you fed me I ate. But things have changed…
So, as I sit here and begin to compose the classic Dear John letter, you know the one that starts “Dear John…by the time you read this letter I’ll be gone” I am filled with great trepidation. I mean, who am I if I am not with you. You have been so entrenched in my identity, sometimes it hard to remember where you end and I begin. But a few years ago my life began to change and with it my outlook. And the more I looked, the more I saw…that that church without spot or wrinkle had become stained. Stained with judgment of others. Stained with hypocrisy. Stained with discord. Stained with greed. Stained with the same sins of the world that is condemned in its pulpit. The church no longer represented LOVE. It saddened me to see adultery running rampant, not only among the members, but in the leadership as well. It saddened me to see equally high divorce rates. It saddened me to see pettiness, evilness, and hatred in your eyes. And most of all, it saddened me to see how many people were turned away from our sweet Jesus and magnificent Lord, because to them (having no relationship with God) you were him. God was religion, and religion was you. And like I am… they were disgusted. This is not what I fell in love with. It couldn’t be.
And so, I began my divorce proceeding. But even as I begin to write this letter to inform you of my decision, I am reminded of how much I love you. I am reminded of what I saw in you to begin with. I remember the peace I felt when I walked in your doors. I remember the old church Mother hugging me and telling God told her it would be okay, and I wasn’t even sure how she knew I was down. I remember the hundred dollar bill someone slipped in my hand when I was $100 short on my rent and ashamed to tell anyone. I remember working 14 hour days to get turkey boxes ready for Thanksgiving to give needy families on the holiday. I remember. I remember that you were never God. That you are incapable of being perfect. That tying my relationship with God to you was never a smart idea. I remember that I love you. And so I pray. So I stay. Not out of fear of who I am not without you, but out of understanding of who I am with you. I no longer fear losing you, but I see that you are losing yourself. So I pray.
I pray that you begin to understand that true Christianity is about giving love that is free of judgment of a person’s sexuality, lifestyle or clothing. It is about leading people to heaven, not condemning them to hell. And I pray that you begin to understand that the wider gulf becomes between your understanding of this concept, the more sea there is to swim before you drown. And I stay, because if not in action, in principal you are my ship and at times I am your captain, guiding you through the darkness as you protect me from the cold waters. I stay, to be on every level that I am capable of, the only bible that many read. And as I stay, I pray for strength, because like you I am the most imperfect. Like you, at times I am unworthy. But I stay, because I love you. I hope you love me back…