*Originally posted June 1, 2013*
Spirituality has always been a huge grey area for me. My dad is a not practicing Catholic and my mom is a religious-mut of sorts. Her father’s side of the family is Buddhist, but it doesn’t extend much past her father’s generation. Growing up, I always assumed I was a Christian because I believed that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and I prayed to God all the time and believed in Heaven and Hell. My dad always told me that if Jesus Christ was my saviour and I lived a good life then I was a Christian, or “follower of Christ”. He didn’t take my brother or me to church, though, because he wanted us to create our own opinions and beliefs and, having grown up in the Catholic church, he did not want us to grow up fearing both the Devil and God.
As I got older and met people through school, work, dance, etc. I was repeatedly told that I am not a Christian. I do not attend a church, I don’t read my Bible regularly, I swear, I drank alcohol in high school, and had pre-marital sex. If I were truly a Christian I would do my best to live the way Christ did and I would not sin in all of the ways that I do. My first question was always, “Well, does God hear me when I pray to him? Or no, because I’m not a Christian now?” To be honest, I used to be quite terrified that he couldn’t hear me. But I’ve been told that, of course he can hear me, but I shouldn’t call myself a Christian because I’m not one. Another huge reason people don’t think I should call myself a Christian is because I believe in energies and ghosts. And as a Christian you should only have the one, Christian set of beliefs. This is what I’ve been told.
As a “not” Christian, I wondered what will happen to my soul when I die, in the event that the Christian God does exist. I believed in him, I spoke to him regularly, I tried to be a good person, but I don’t go to his house on Sundays with others and I’ve sinned quite a few times and felt it was okay. Do I really have to go to Hell alongside the child molesters and serial killers because I occasionally say “fuck” and “Oh my God,” and have enjoyed the feeling of being drunk and messy more than the few forgivable “accidental” times, like many of the good Christians I have come across in my time?
At some point, I just said, “Screw it,” and decided that I will still call myself a Christian but play it fast and loose and make an amalgamation of everything that I believe, with the Christian God being at the core. My boyfriend calls this belief system “Niki-ism”. I think that might be a more accurate title for it. I can’t deny that there is a Christian God based on my experiences in Christian churches. Sometimes you just feel his presence and it is a truly undeniable experience. You can’t tell me that I didn’t experience what I experienced or that my experience is wrong in any way. ‘Cause, well, I experienced it and you didn’t. But I fully support gay marriage, I believe in ghosts and I don’t think they are the work of the Devil (though sometimes they may be), I believe in energies and auras, and I don’t see anything wrong with other people believing in other gods. Really, truly, for all we know, Buddha exists right along side God. Nobody can say with 100% certainty that Buddha and God aren’t buddies. (This is where my Christian friends cringe and tell me I’m not a Christian). But I’m not putting Buddha above my God and I am not worshipping “false idols” (other than NSYNC when I was 10. I worshipped them like idols). I’m just saying, we don’t know for sure, and I don’t see anything wrong with others believing in whatever they want.
A pastor once told me that he believes that there is a good chance that non-Christians who are still good people will go to Heaven. Now, I’ve been told that is a VERY un-Christian belief and “who the heck is this pastor?!” But isn’t that the “wonderful” thing about Christianity? There are so many sects that there is room for a pastor to believe that, to perform gay marriages in his church, to have a few too many beers on the weekend, and it be okay because it is theirsect. What makes it legitimate and my faith apparently not legitimate is the amount of people who attend their church and how much money they were able to collect to open a church where they could preach their specific interpretation of the Bible. So, essentially, could I not get a bunch of money and a bunch of people and open my own Church of Niki-ism?
Another quick note: I thought that Protestant sects believed that the relationship between God and the individual was important. That each person could pray to God and be heard rather than having to speak to him through a mediator, like they do in Catholicism. If that is so, is my personal relationship with God not the important part? And not the fact that I say, “Oh my God,” and have a few gay friends?
I write about all of this today because I saw a friend this past week who was shocked that I no longer call myself a Christian. Her boyfriend has a master’s (? maybe just a degree. I’m not 100% sure. Don’t quote me on the official title) in Christian theology and she has met tons of people through him who identify as Christian and have even looser descriptions of “Christian” than I do. She said, “Who’s to say that you’re wrong?” I replied, “A lot of people who are good Christians.” And it all made me wonder, “Why are there so many rules?” Why can’t I be a more spiritual Christian and believe what I want to believe.
So here it is: I am a Spiritual Christian. I believe in the Christian God. I believe that if I am a good person, I will go to Heaven. I believe that the Devil tempts me every day and that I have to look to God to find the strength to resist him. I believe that God loves gay people just the same as straight people. I believe that ghosts inhabit the earth and walk around, just chillin’. I believe in reincarnation. I believe that Buddha and whoever else people pray to can exist out there, too. I believe everyone can learn something from religions other than their own. I believe spirituality can be whatever you want it to be because it is an insanely personal and intimate experience and part of who you are. And I believe that my spirituality and faith will grow and change a million times before I get to see what sort of afterlife awaits me.