Why progressive and conservative Christians don’t like me


It’s hard for a person with one foot in two spiritual worlds to find a place to call home. It’s harder still when your theology is such that it annoys both progressive and conservative Christians alike.

I say this not to look for pity, but just to state a fact: I don’t fit neatly in any one particular box. And I have my Jewish upbringing to thank for that. It’s frustrating some days, but on average, I consider it a unique part of my identity that I wouldn’t want to change. It allows me to relate to and befriend all different types of people.

Still, every now and then I have bad days. I hate being misunderstood and judged unfairly. Life would be easier if I could pick a paradigm – right or left, both in politics and in faith – and stick with it. But worldviews aren’t always black and white, even though we wish they were.


I personally doubt I could ever have an abortion (unless my life was endangered), but I vote pro-choice because I believe the policies of pro-choice politicians do more to lower abortion rates than those of pro-life ones. I believe abortion is a complex, nuanced topic that is more gray than black and white. I’m far more interested in working to create a society in which all children are welcomed and properly cared for than debating the ethics of abortion itself.

I believe sin is real, and that every human who has ever lived is a sinner. There are no “good people.” But I don’t believe being LGBT is a sin. I came to this conclusion not because of my feelings toward my LGBT friends, but after a period of studying the historical and cultural contexts of all the anti-gay “clobber verses.”

I believe that anyone who is in heaven is there because Jesus made it possible. But I don’t necessarily believe that one must “pray the prayer” in order to get there. Eternal separation is real – but whatever “hell” is, I reject the notion that it is eternal conscious torment.

I believe the notion of “biblical womanhood” is bullshit. As are gender roles. More on that here and here.

Also, I’m a feminist (though I have some concerns about projecting modern ideas of feminism onto Jesus).

I don’t believe in an inerrant Bible — it can’t, and shouldn’t, inform matters of science or medicine. But I believe it is a sacred collection of writings – the only source we have to learn about God’s history with his people, and about Jesus.

And even if it could somehow be proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus was just an ordinary man and not divine, I’d still believe there is merit in following the standards he set. The Sermon on the Mount will never stop being revolutionary.

I’m okay living with uncertainty and mystery about some things. I see this as a sign of spiritual maturity, not a weakness.

I believe that all the essential principles of the Christian faith are summed up in the Apostles’ Creed.

That said, I also believe “Lord, I believe — help my unbelief” is a valid approach to faith. Honestly, Christianity — the belief that an all-powerful God chose to be conceived in the womb of a virgin, was born into poverty, died for our sins, and came back from the dead — is a tall order. That’s why I love the statement “I will, with God’s help” in the Book of Common Prayer when asked if you uphold the doctrines of the Church.

I believe that God cares more about the heart than whether or not you have “correct” theology (which isn’t to say that theology doesn’t matter, but all of us will get things wrong from time to time).

It’s hard for people to believe sometimes, but I try my best to not let progressive or conservative modes of thinking define me. My faith evolves the more I study Scripture, the more I learn from people who have been walking with God a lot longer than me.

Even today, as an Episcopalian, I don’t want to fall into the mindset that I must believe everything my church believes. I’m bound to have my disagreements and reservations. But God is bigger than all of that.

Photo by RawFilm on Unsplash


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3 thoughts on “Why progressive and conservative Christians don’t like me”

  1. I’ve never found a dogma, religious or political, that I could fit myself into for longer than it took to uncover its unspoken assumptions, or the inconsistencies of its preachers. I guess that’s one of the reasons I like reading your work.

    Liked by 1 person

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