We Need to Talk About Christian Deconstruction
It was during high school in the 1990s that my doubts about the Christian message I’d grown up hearing crumbled. My parents let me leave the church I had grown up in to find my path, but the one rule was that I had to attend a church of some kind. My friends and I didn’t really like church, though. We liked hiding warm beer in a hollowed-out section of my friend’s bathroom cabinet. Then we’d pour it over ice and drive our trucks into the woods and party. We also enjoyed attending concerts, where we would raise our hands in the sign of the horns as we moshed to music. We dated different girls and tried to get lucky in the beds of our trucks.
So while we called ourselves Christians, because that was all we’d known, we didn’t care about living it. Plus, no one we knew cared to live their faith either, except for the weird effeminate ones at our school who made Jesus into their boyfriend.
My friends and I just weren’t into singing songs about wanting to climb up into Jesus’s lap and nuzzle Him. That was weird. Plus, none of us could tell you why we believed in the faith, except for the fact that we’d repeated some weird incantation where we asked Jesus to live in our hearts. It was fire insurance more than anything, and since everyone claimed to be a Christian, that’s what you told everyone you were. I think most of us somewhat bought into the faith we were being marketed because if you were a good person and had enough faith, God might give you a Maserati and a sweet life.
The church I started attending — when I wasn’t lying about attending or too hungover to attend — was led by a charismatic young preacher who’d been popular in Christian television circuits. His charisma and charm attracted a lot of new people, and the church rapidly expanded. When this happens, there’s always a capital campaign to build a bigger building costing millions.
I never put two and two together when he talked about the swanky home and new Chevy Camaro God gave him, but as an adult, I realized these goodies came from the offerings each week. I legitimately thought God magically dropped a car on his doorstep through a generous donor or some supernatural means.