I keep up on all the embarrassing things happening in the Christian world these days. I see how entire organizations exist to frustrate the attempts of women to live their lives normally, to deny civil rights to various minority groups, or to stigmatize any person not of the Christian faith. All of this is done in the name of God. I see people making claims about scientific facts that stretch incredulity. I shudder. That was me once. I understand how these folks can get themselves so tied up in what they believe that it is possible to lose what is important to you.
I sometimes wonder if, when I was a Christian, I ever caused someone pain due to my participation in that culture. Did I throw an off-hand remark about how it’s bad to be gay to a friend who wasn’t out yet? Did I scare someone who wasn’t a Christian by talking about hell or God’s punishment? Did anyone feel unfairly judged by me? I worry about this a lot.
I hope none of these things happened, but the truth is I don’t know. It was long enough ago that a pained expression, a hung head, or a friend who simply faded away is lost to the passage of time. No on has ever come to me to tell me that I hurt them, but, I ask myself, would I go to somebody for an apology for something like this? Probably not. But not asking for an apology is very different than not being hurt. I tell myself that I wasn’t one of those Christians, that I never felt comfortable with the church’s stance on non-heteronormative people or on hell. But I also know that it kind of doesn’t matter, as I happily remained part of an organization that did support those beliefs.
So, I’m sorry. I am very sorry that I was so caught up in what I believed that I often couldn’t see the harm it caused. If I was judgmental or insensitive to you, bullied you or frightened you with talk of God’s punishment, or simply categorized you away, I am sorry. I have a bigger picture of the world now. I am no longer scared of people being different from me.
I don’t want to suggest that all Christians need to make an apology; many Christians are open, loving, and non-judgemental. But the strain of Christianity that I glommed onto plus being a teenager almost certainly equals some hurt feelings.
Have you ever hurt somebody because of your religion? Has someone hurt you because of theirs? What did you do about it?