The Infallible Word of Jill

Since I was 5 years old, I was going to church and reading the bible or having the bible read to me. When I was around 6 years old, my family and I went into a christian bookstore and I stole for the first time. I saw this mini bible that fit in my hands and I had to have it. So I buried it in my pocket. I’m not a good thief. We walked out of the store and by the time we reached the car, I was crying and confessing to my dad that I took that little book. We headed right back in and returned it to its rightful owner.

During this time, my parents were leaders at Christian Faith Center. One of the church’s main messages for all of its members was to evangelize. They started us young. I was 7 years old. Training us in a classroom setting how to tell people about Jesus and then follow-up and help them say the sinners prayer.   In this congregation, there was an adult church and a children’s church. In the children’s church, when there was an “altar call”, if any children raised their hand to receive Jesus, they would have to go to leave their seat and walk to the front of the room and stand. Then us kids who had already professed Jesus and had gone through the training to pray with others, we were invited to come stand behind them. Once everyone was in their place at the end of the “altar call”, a side door would open and both “sinners” and “saved” would be led out to another room to pray. Not only were we taught how to pray Hebrews 10:9-10 with them, but we were also schooled on informing this new convert that they must accept the holy spirit and find their prayer language (speak in tongues). It was these two actions that made them a “real christian”. At the end of the private prayer session in the side room, the sinner was now saved, going to heaven and hopefully, just hopefully they were able to speak in tongues. This system occurred each Sunday.

Today, sitting here writing this, it sounds so crazy to me that we were pressured into receiving Jesus. It didn’t feel like I had a choice at a young age to receive Jesus. It didn’t feel like I had a choice to follow the Bible, as the infallible word of God. Everyone around me had accepted him. Everyone around me had a Bible. Everyone around me was talking about Jesus. Everyone around me was quoting the Bible. Everyone around me raised their hands in worship. Everyone around me spoke in tongues. Everyone was trying to perform their best for other church goers and for God. It was all I knew.

Sadly, I am one of  millions of children who are indoctrinated into the church at a young age without a choice. Was it all bad? No. But I want to point out that as a little girl, I wasn’t taught to think critically about my faith, or think critically about MY LIFE in general. There was no free-thinking. The church doctrine and culture was my whole world. I was immersed in a system of beliefs and I was supposed to believe the same in order to be accepted and loved by my fellow christians, but also by God.

My entire adult life that I was in the church, there was something that didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put my finger on this unsettledness. I went through a period of time where I was sick ALOT. I had migraines. I would leave church activities confused. I would spend time in my room, door closed, crying because the love I felt in my heart was not what I experienced in my christian circle. I have nearly 20 journals filled with deep agonizing over how this whole christian life. I was always working on how to be more spiritual.  I rarely felt light and free.

At 34 years old I walked away. For the first time, I chose to unplug my umbilical cord from christian dogma. I turned on my mind. I made a conscious decision to think for myself about what I believe and how I want to live.

So, back to that little bible I stole at 6 years old. The book I have read beginning to end over 10 times. The book who’s verses I have memorized. The book that I was taught to live by and not question. There are lots of things to question about the bible. How can this book be the infallible word of God when it was written by man. Men chose what to put in it and what to leave out. Paul, the author of 8 or 14 books (letters) in the New Testament, chose to write that “all scripture is inspired by God.” Well, I can just as easily write my own scriptures and affirm that God inspired me to write it. Any of us can speak or write and say God inspired our words. That doesn’t make our words inerrant and infallible.

Of course, women back then weren’t valued much, so they wouldn’t have had a place to write the holy scripture. No women actually wrote any part of the bible. Only men. No wonder, men are the exalted creatures in so much of the bible and in the church culture today. Women were lesser. Women were told to keep quiet. Women were told to be submissive to men. Suppression. Oppression. Not love.

By the way, using my mind and taking time to think about my beliefs is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever experienced. To stay open-minded and seeking for truth wherever it may be, this is freedom. This is the gift of free will. Each of us has been given it. God is not scared that we actually use the gift he’s given us. I feel love deeper and more abundantly as I engage my mind and body and heart in living authentically. The more I do this, the more fear dispels and love expands in my soul.