December 17, 2017

Questions Raised by Church

Proctorville Baptist ChurchI woke up this morning to a gray sky and pouring rain, which is somewhat unusual for where I live this time of year. While looking out my window at the rain coming down, I noticed that there is far more traffic than I'd expect for this time of day. And then it hit me; today is Sunday, and my neighbors are driving to church. Regardless of how nasty the weather might be, they have to go to church because...Jesus.

As I take a moment to marvel at how good it feels not to be heading to church this morning, I think back to some of the things I never understood about the experience. If the Christian god is everywhere and knows everything, including what any individual human is thinking and feeling, why is it necessary to go to church at all? I remember being taught that this particular god wanted us to go to church and to worship it, but the reasons why this would be necessary were never clear. Why would such a powerful being care whether it was worshipped by us mere humans? Since this god knew that I hated the experience of going to church, why would it want me there?

When I think about my neighbors slogging through the puddles and flooded parking lots this morning as they cross the distance between their unecessarily large SUVs and the doors to their preferred Southern Baptist church, I can't help wondering why it is so important for them to dress up. Does their god care how they are dressed? Would their god mind, for example, if they dressed more comfortably or in a manner that was better suited to the weather? I vividly remember sitting in church as a child and wondering why the god in which I believed wanted me to wear uncomfortable clothing once a week when I came to visit. Why would it matter how I was dressed?

These are just a few of the questions that often buzzed about in my head when I was forced to attend church as a child. I asked them of my parents, Sunday school teachers, other adults, and friends, but I never received any satisfactory answers. Eventually, I was told to stop asking them. But while I stopped asking them of others, I did not stop asking them of myself.