The Dangers and Beauty of Christianity (As Well As Other Religions)

I was not a half-hearted, Sunday morning,

going-through-the-motions-of-religion Christian.

Christianity was my LIFE, my purpose, my identity.

I accepted Jesus when I was 4, was raised in a variety of denominations within the Christian church, attended a Christian college where I obtained a degree in music and in Biblical Studies, and became a leader in Evangelical churches in my adult years.

Christianity wasn’t just my religion.

It was my everything: My connection to God, my community, my culture, my personal faith – my struggle, my passion, and my joy.

I wasn’t just one of those Christians who attended church on Sundays and went to Wednesday night Bible study and had crushes on the cute boys.
I have never done anything half-way. I threw myself into this faith with EVERY CELL of my being since I was a little girl.

When I was first old enough to fully comprehend the gospel message, at age 8, I immediately took to the streets to evangelize. I started with my best friend, who was Mormon. I told her earnestly and passionately that she was going to hell if she didn’t convert to Christianity. I loved her and I wanted to save her. When I told another friend on the street that the Easter bunny wasn’t real, but Jesus WAS, her mom forbade me from talking to her daughter ever again.

The next year, when I was 9, I recruited my 7-year-old  brother, and we went out on the country road in front of our house in Iowa with Christian tracts, standing for hours waiting for someone to walk by so I could tell them that they needed to accept Jesus.  I couldn’t bear the thought that someone would go to hell if I didn’t reach them with the gospel message.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much foot traffic on that lone Iowa country road that day, so John and I were only able to reach one old man for Christ. But I didn’t give up.

My teenage journals from high school are filled with my earnest struggle and passion to follow Jesus with every breath of my life, with every beat of my heart. I was not the typical 15-year-old. I was against dating, I was passionate about reaching out to my fellow teenagers in my public high school. I shamed myself for my worldly desires that often pulled at me, such as TV, dating, secular music, or just wanting to fit in more with my peers.

I was zealous and lonely, yet constantly committed to my cause. At 16, I even saw myself as a missionary TO the churches I attended, because I didn’t see my fellow Christians following God fully and completely with their lives. I saw hypocrisy and indifference. I saw conformity. I was full of love and passion for my fellow non-Christians and Christians alike, to inspire them to rise to a new level of following God.

So this brings us to 2 major dangers of Christianity:

1) You think Your Way Is The ONLY Way, which can make you judgmental and blind to the beauty, wisdom, and love that is inherent in every human being

I had no other lens with which to view the world, except that if you were a true Christian, accepted Jesus into your heart, and believed that He was your savior, you would be saved from hell. This obviously caused me to put people into 2 very distinct categories:

heavenandhell

  • Christian, the right way – the only way to heaven.
  •  Everyone else – going to hell, unless they converted to my religion and belief system.

This left NO openness for learning from others’ viewpoints, and it caused me to have an agenda with every relationship I had with a non-Christian. Even though my intentions were beautiful and loving, I couldn’t help but have the secret agenda of eventually converting my secular friends to Christianity.

This meant I wasn’t open to receive anything from them. It’s a one-sided, condescending, inauthentic, lonely relationship.

My religion caused a HUGE disconnect in my relationship with others.  And it didn’t end there.  It also caused a divide deep within me, which leads us to danger #2:

2) You Believe You are Inherently Sinful, which causes a Disconnect Within Yourself

My journals are filled with this struggle. I was taught I was born in sin and couldn’t trust any of my feelings or desires. I could only trust in the Word of God, the Bible. It was a constant battle between my sinful, shameful desires, and the goodness in my religion. I was bad. God was good. This caused me to not trust myself, and my life was filled with back and forth decisions – a constant roller coaster. It was not fun.

So far I’ve talked about the negative side, but there is

so much beauty

in Christianity and in other religions as well.

There are many, many Christians and people of other religions

who are open-minded,

non-judgmental,

don’t have an agenda, and view others with respect and openness and trust – and this is BEAUTIFUL!!

If you are in a religion and you find God there and you have authentic community, and you don’t judge the rest of the world as being ‘wrong’ because they don’t belong to your religion – I applaud you! That is truly life-giving and this type of religious experience is wonderful.

Any religion can be a beautiful path to God.

After my awakening in 2008, that’s what Christianity was for me. I found only the good in it, and when I was ready, I moved on from it. But I’m so grateful for how the Christian faith has shaped me and led me to where I am today.

Perhaps religion is the playground – the school –  the place where we grow and ask questions and learn – we find safety and comfort and are allowed to explore within the limits of the schoolyard.

But I think as humans, we’re getting ready for the next step in our development.

We’re getting ready to let go of the limits of religion.

To honor it for what it gave us, what it taught us, where it’s led us.

And we’re getting ready to take the scary, yet excitingly adventurous steps outside the limits of our religious beliefs.

Maybe we’re getting ready to explore and create a world where all people can join together, regardless of religious affiliations, and find God together.

To find God – LOVE – who has always been bigger than religion,

bigger than beliefs,

greater than any limits in our minds.

Perhaps God is closer,

more accessible,

more universal,

more all-encompassing than we ever imagined.

Dear reader, I honor you today – whatever your beliefs, whatever your religion – you are a precious, glorious, magnificent child of God, and I love you with all my heart.

Let’s go on this journey together.

Who knows what beauty we will find within each other?

P.S. To see me talk and sing about more details of my life, from childhood sexual abuse, to addictions, to divorce, to my miraculous transformation, go to my YouTube channel and watch my 7-video series:

Noelle Remembers: My Incredible Life Story.

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One thought on “The Dangers and Beauty of Christianity (As Well As Other Religions)

  1. I love to see your long and full journey in print…I think it was easier for me to move past organized religion since I had much less of a history with the church. You Rock!!

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