04 May 2006

To Church or Not To Church

When I moved here, I promised myself I would start going to church. There was no big event that pushed me in that direction, it's just something I wanted to do for myself. Of course, once I actually moved, church got pushed further and further down on the "to do" list. Every now and then I would remember but one can't just google a church. One kind of needs to just find one.

Two weeks ago I thought I had. I was volunteering at RTNDA and while waiting for a task, I had a good conversation with two local ladies. We talked about housing prices, living in Las Vegas, customer service in town, higher education, etc. We were actually sitting for about three hours (the RTNDA did not have it's poop in a group) and touched on all sorts of stuff, including church. Two of us were not going, but wanted to start. We decided to go to the church to which the other belonged.

So at 8AM on Sunday, April 22, 2006, there I was at the Word of Life Christian Center. I know - the pastors are White but you couldn't tell if you closed your eyes. It's a predominantly Black church, which is important. It's just what I grew up around and where I feel comfortable. The service was good and I felt good for going. Afterwards I decided I could join.

I went to the 10:30 service the following Sunday (the 8AM was a one time scheduling fluke) but I've since decided not to go back. Before the sermon, they have these notes and updates. One of the notes was asking for everyone to sign and send postcards to Nevada Senators John Ensign and Harry Reid.

The postcards (in part) read:

Marriage has historically been the union of one man and one woman. Its benefits for children and for society are incalculable. Protecting traditional marriage is not rooted in discrimination- as some might try to convince you. It is rooted in common sense, for the common good. For marriage to flourish in our culture, it must be protected from redefinition.

Then Pastor Vicki stressed the importance of sending the postcards, saying if marriage is redefined homosexuals will be equal with heterosexuals. She also said there is other legislation pending that would give homosexuals so much equality, it will be illegal to speak out against them. The congregation was just appalled. And I was just disgusted.

At that point I sank into a real tough internal debate. Is this the new face of church? I'd like all agendas checked at the door please. On one hand, I disagree with their politics. On the other I went there to worship, and not to be enrolled in a war over civil rights. When I don't like something someone says, I enjoy challenging them to debate. On Sunday I didn't have that option. As dumb as it sounds, I did not go to church to be preached at.

I was angry for the whole service, and I don't think that's the intention. I tried to rationalize it, saying the pastors might be doing what they think it takes to be the best people they can be. But the intolerance and hypocrisy of it all bothers me. I doubt the Bible says "love your neighbor, unless your neighbor is queer." It's just don't think it's right.

After the service I bought a Bible. I'm going to read it and get my instructions for life that way. While I was standing in line, I noticed a DVD titled "Christians & Homosexuality." The lady behind me said she was so glad the church was doing something about homosexuality, because the devil is out there spreading it. I just looked at her and out of all the things I thought to say, the nicest was to say nothing.

So I've decided not to church.