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5 Dangerous Christian Myths

Throughout my Christian journey, I’ve encountered many wonderful teachings about Jesus & His church, but I’ve also encountered some dangerous myths about our faith that are on my heart to address today. Here goes a summation:

  1. The holiest people are the loneliest.
  2. Marriage is meant to make you holy, not happy.
  3. Divorce is the unpardonable sin.
  4. The most fervent Christians pray radical, masochistic prayers (with one very famous worship song leading the charge today!).
  5. To be holy, you must avoid non-Christians — especially {whispering} the gays. 

Guys, some of these sound innocuous, but as you build your life around these false Christian ideals, your walk will no longer mirror the New Testament church & Jesus’s life.

Through reading this, I hope you’ll see that the common thread in ALL of these myths is religious rules, legalism, and pride.

The Holiest People are the Loneliest

Do you agree with this sentiment — that Christianity is largely walking alone with God? I personally used to, and you know what happened? Life became very hard. I struggled to do “this Christian thing” for years & years as a “holy, set apart” Christian, thinking that my path was lonely because I was one of the special ones (lol)!

Much of this misconception began through hanging out with a religious group of folks who seemed to think that the more they suffered financially & in other ways, the more they honored God. {Suffering is another topic for another day, & I know it has biblical roots, but it has been blown WAY out of proportion in the Christian-verse!}

Then I read a (terrible, in my opinion) book that hit on all these religious ideas, detailing the concept of “righteous loneliness” so-to-speak (nevermind that these were inconsistent with much of scripture!). The Holy Spirit warned me repeatedly about buying it before I (unwisely) did, and the damage to my heart & mentality was HUGE. It’s taken many years to unravel the lies put forth in that book!!

God doesn’t want us to be alone! But I didn’t begin to discover this truth until I got married at age 27 🙂

As a newlywed, I moved to be with my husband in Austin, Texas (his hometown) and became invested in an awesome new church plant, One Chapel. I am SO grateful we did. Throughout our first few years of marriage, the prayer God kept laying on my heart was that He’d build the FOUNDATION of our marriage {not us}! How amazing that He led us into intense service & even leadership within this beautiful church family as a core part of our newlywed years!!

During our 5 years of investing in these people (& being invested in), our Pastor Ross frequently preached about the importance of community as Christians, using the New Testament as our example.

Pastor Ross said Jesus Himself brought a group of men with Him almost everywhere He went, to both teach & demonstrate the faith He lived out {& show them how to follow His lead}. This was how Jesus showed people His Father’s heart and love — through living His life alongside them, not in some weird, isolated religious experience.

Pastor Ross mentioned that it’s very en vogue for today’s Christians to say they “Don’t need to go to church on Sundays to experience God” (which at times may be true). These people never attend, however, and they seek God on their own, with a “just God & me” mentality.

The problem is that this isn’t Jesus’s brand of Christianity!! Sure, He had times when He got by Himself to pray & commune with God, but these were moments, not a lifestyle! The bulk of His time on earth, as Scripture teaches us, reveals that Jesus invested in people regularly. You may have a season of solitude with God, but please believe, He does not intend you to live that way permanently.

This is a hard teaching & certainly anathema to our western world’s ‘holy’ view of “personal faith”. Yet what does the famous proverb say?

“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

— Proverbs 18:1

When did the early church experience its greatest revival? After meeting together DAILY & “being the church” — communing with one another — and caring for every member’s needs! 

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Acts 2 {emphases mine}

This is one incredible passage of scripture! Here is another passage about this same period of time in church history:

“The full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

Acts 4 [emphases mine]

WHAT! In today’s world, this sounds more like a cult (or a fake utopian society). How is it possible that everyone had everything in common? Only by His Spirit! Getting believers to meet DAILY is quite a feat, too, don’t you think? Imagine this scenario in today’s 21st century, independent, “what’s mine is mine” society?

Yet the early church was increasing in numbers rapidly during this time because everyone’s needs were being met by the church! People weren’t living in lonely clots inside their own homes; they were meeting together every single day! They were giving up their belongings so that others within the church could have their needs met.

Early church Christians were living life in very close proximity to each other, and as a result, experiencing signs & wonders & true unity! The church exploded in size at this time.

They were in perfect unity… and the church was never more brilliant! Isolated Christians weren’t part of this equation, and neither were they in Jesus’s.

Marriage is Meant to Make You HOLY [not HAPPY]

Our next Christian myth is about marriage. The above sentiment is a terrible encouragement towards this union, don’t you think? Who would wanna get — or stay — married after learning that their happiness doesn’t matter in this relationship?

Guys, this is just religion plain & simple. Religion loves to steal the joy out of God’s biggest & best blessings, making sacrifice & hardship the focal point. Religion is rooted in pride, making us feel superior to others due to all our sacrifices & rituals. Religion tells us that pain is God’s favorite lesson to teach us, a far cry from the loving Father shown in the Bible. Our pain is not God’s goal; it’s heart transformation [which is sometimes painful]. His end goal is not that we’d be hurting, but that we’d be HEALED.

Contrary to this “holiness focus” in marriage, Scripture says this:

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” — James 1

And this lovely & encouraging proverb!

“The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.” 

— Proverbs 10:22

He adds NO SORROW to His perfect gifts! Marriage is not here to hurt you; it’s here to satisfy many of the longings of your heart! I loved this article below on this subject:

The Purpose of Marriage is Not to Make You Holy

A popular Christian book, which I read in my early 20’s, claimed that marriage was meant more for our holiness [instead of our happiness]. After reading this, my desire to get hitched — which was a very good thing — turned into an aversion to commitment for several years. Yet what does Scripture say about this matter?

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.”

— Proverbs 18:22

Marriage was God’s idea from the get-go. When man was alone, He declared that it was NOT GOOD, so He created a partner equal to man: Woman! 🙂 Adam was more than pleased with his Eve, and this was all before the Fall, people! Marriage was always in the Plan, not a footnote or consequence of sin.

If holiness was the intent, then why was marriage created when we were all perfect?

The Apostle Paul reminds us that marriage can be hard at times (keep in mind, this is coming from an unmarried man), and it surely chisels better character into our lives, but have you read the raciest book of the Bible (Song of Solomon)? It’s very wonderful & fun & sexual, gushing with innuendo and romance and lovey-dovey poetry about this most sacred of relationships!

God is obviously not a prude, and He intended marriage to be a blessing to both parties — full of intimacy, joy, delight, pleasure, and even creating new life {one of its greatest blessings}!!

Holiness is by no means the primary goal of marriage, so please don’t let this Christian myth steal your joy and make you lose sight of this wonderful blessing from your Father (like it did with me). This “good & perfect gift” comes from Him, and “He adds no sorrow with it” 🙂 Enjoy marriage!

Divorce is the Unpardonable Sin

Marriage is a wonderful blessing, but we would be remiss to not discuss the sometimes unfortunate ending to it: the big D (divorce).

The Bible says, God hates divorce. But you know what else He hates? Abuse & infidelity.

I read a POWERFUL article last year that truly reframed my thinking on this: “Dear Church: It’s Time to Stop Enabling Abusive Men by Gary Thomas (ironically, the same author of the book on marriage & holiness!). After walking NUMEROUS good friends through painful separations & divorces, receiving revelation from the Lord, and reading this article, my understanding of scripture on this topic shifted.

One day, I got a word of understanding from the Lord on this topic, based on Matthew 19:

Pharisees came up to Him and tested Him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

He answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Whoa. Jesus was schooling the Pharisees yet again on their religious thinking.

After wrestling with the divorce question in my mind for awhile, one day I had a major epiphany out of the blue, based on this passage of scripture. This was the revelation:

The hardness of heart Jesus talked about may be one-sided (one person’s) in a marriage! That means you can experience divorce & be completely innocent of wrongdoing in God’s eyes. 100%!

Just because you get a divorce doesn’t mean YOU were in the wrong! Many times, one spouse develops a hard heart towards the other spouse, who is perfectly innocent in the matter.

For a plethora of reasons beyond our control, one part of a marital union refuses to live peaceably with the other or remain faithful to their covenant.

I’ve watched people I love dearly get mistreated, cheated on, abused & lied to, and after praying (initially) for unity & restoration to come to these marriages — I felt the Holy Spirit persistently redirect my prayers. In one particular instance, He spoke to my heart that the offending spouse had ‘made their decision’ and unity wasn’t going to happen… so my prayers shifted to ones of protection and comfort, among other things, and for God to heal hearts.

For many months, my heart grieved this broken marriage & what could’ve been. The collateral damage was intense for all parties, and (unfairly) especially to the betrayed spouse. It hurt to even think about them for the longest time, which I believe was the Lord sharing His heart with me on the situation.

I still love these people, yet they’re now living separate lives. God’s will was certainly not betrayal & “the big D” — no doubt! — but one spouse made the poor decision to repeatedly betray their vows, cheat, & live a lie — so eventually the other spouse kicked them out!

Was this response unholy? No way. On the contrary, I believe it was the best thing to do to no longer enable their spouse’s poor behavior. When we quit enabling abuse and sinful lifestyles, consequences catch up with the offender quickly.

I believe the natural consequences of that spouse breaking the marriage covenant was distance from her husband. You can’t have your cake & eat it, too! Hearts were broken in this situation, but I believe that after a time of repentance is given {& not taken}, marriages can be broken forever. Yes, God can work a miracle in these situations, and we’ve even seen Him restore once-divorced couples back into a healthy, thriving marriage, but that doesn’t always happen.

I would’ve NEVER agreed with these sentiments 5 years ago. I always thought you should “save the marriage” and that reconciliation was possible, and I’d always heard that “God hates divorce.”

And you know what? I believe God STILL hated divorce in this situation (& in others!). But I also sincerely believe God never intends for His children to be disrespected continuously through adultery, abuse, manipulation & deceit, and that if we (or our spouse) persists in this way, there will be natural consequences to not loving our spouses (or them not loving us) the way we’re each supposed to be loved.

I also believe that we, as fellow Christians, need to take more seriously the cries of the abused & mistreated spouses — instead of always vying to save the marriage against all odds! I believe God cares more for the lives of His children than for them to hold together a broken union forever.

Yes, God hates divorce, but I believe it’s possible — at times — for Him to work more through the death of a marriage than He ever could’ve through people remaining in a broken, abusive relationship.

When one member of a marriage has a hard heart, there isn’t much the other spouse can do to change this. Sure, they can fast, pray, speak scripture over their marriage, join with others to pray and the like, but at the end of the day, we cannot control or change someone else. If they refuse to repent of their ungodly ways, I believe God releases the other party from the relationship. I’ve watched it happen numerous times over the last few years, and it shocked me!

I’m also grateful that God has grace and mercy on the devoted & abused spouse. Thank You Lord that Your love for them and their broken hearts is greater than You clinging to some ideal of a relationship that just isn’t there.

The two became one flesh through marriage, so divorce is painful. I’ve seen too many friends walk this path, and it is heart-breaking and evident how DEEP the hurt goes.

Truthfully, MANY things in life are heart-wrenching and NEVER God’s intended path for us, but if we’re the unfortunate spouse on the other side of a hard-hearted person, nothing we do will change that. Free will is free… but its consequences can be expensive!!

Loving someone doesn’t guarantee that your marriage will last forever. Isn’t that hard to accept — that our marriage isn’t always within our control? We can only control our part of the equation, yet there are no certainties.

If loving someone guaranteed 100% success in the relationship, there would be no “wayward Christians” because God is the perfect embodiment of LOVE & has never failed any of us, yet some believers still choose to walk away. I know I have at times. How much MORE can we expect marriages to struggle when they involve 2 imperfect people?!

I hope this isn’t discouraging to you! I absolutely agree that fighting for your marriage, your spouse’s heart, & your family is godly!! I can assure you in every instance I’m talking about here, the offended spouse did just that! Yet their spouse still chose the wayward path, despite the love of their husband/wife.

I KNOW God can do miracles, but He is also a gentleman & will not override our freedom to choose. His goal is always love and unity, but we live in an imperfect world and we are imperfect people. Brokenness happens. Just remember He is always always always there to pick up the pieces of your shattered dreams, and He can redeem your life in ways unimaginable if you’ll only trust Him with it.

In every single one of my friends’ lives who has endured divorce in these scenarios, I’ve watched Him bring them INCREDIBLE blessings for their faithfulness to their initial marriages & their covenant with Him. He even made their lives BETTER than before. They suffered righteously and remained faithful, and God honored them for it.

As believers, let’s treat divorcees differently — with loving compassion, wisdom & love. Even if they WERE wrong for divorcing, God gives much grace. We have ALL made poor choices in our lives and lived God’s “Plan B” because of it, so let’s not forget that. No one can change their past, but they can move forward and lead a better life.

Love other imperfect people as you would hope they would love you for your foolishness, too 🙂 We all need that kind of love in this world. Jesus’s kindness leads us to repentance, and I believe our kindness towards those who’ve walked through poor choices & heartbreak can lead them to the same.

The Best Christians Pray Radical, Masochistic Prayers

“Lord, purge me of everything bad. Ruin me for Your kingdom. Break my heart…”

These sound kinda godly, don’t they? Except God doesn’t want to “break” and “ruin” you. His intent is to purify us to make us like His Son, but we don’t need to pray for Him to “wreck us”. Jesus came to give us abundant life, not a ruined one — that’s the work of the enemy to steal, kill & destroy our lives.

A famous worship song perpetuates this concept of “painful prayers”. Sound familiar?

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

— “Oceans”, Hillsong United

And this song, also by Hillsong United (who I love, might I add!):

“Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity”

— “Hosanna”, Hillsong United

These kinds of prayers border on calling down curses on ourselves, something God never asks us to do! “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander”… do you know what you’re asking for here? Yikes. Every time this beautiful song comes on, I don’t sing these words. I love some of the other lyrics, but it’s unfortunate that this kind of masochistic prayer seeped its way into an otherwise great song.

And asking God to “break our heart” sounds noble enough, but breaking hearts isn’t His business. Healing them is. He restores our brokenness and puts us back together again.

Surely He can give us a heart to help hurting people, which I’m sure is the intention of Hosanna, but I recommend that we are careful not to pray religious prayers that make us feel spiritual but are actually cursing us. Death & life are in the power of our tongues, and we will eat their fruit. We don’t always know what we’re praying for, and we are wise to add the Jesus clause to our prayers: Yet not my will, but Yours be done.

Remember, Jesus answered the holy-sounding but masochistic prayer of two of His disciples in Mark 10:

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”

And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

They said to Him, “We are able.”

So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”

James went on to be martyred like Jesus did, and John allegedly escaped death twice (curiously, once after drinking a poisoned cup and surviving!) according to the Bible/historical documents or legend. Yikes. They didn’t know what they were praying for, and Jesus warned them when they asked — You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink…? 

I’ve personally had a conviction about singing the chorus to Oceans ever since I first heard this song (& felt compelled to warn others, too)!

I wonder how many well-meaning believers have experienced great hardship because they keep praying, over & over through this song, for God to take them into overwhelming waters!! They’re literally asking Him for trouble, and this world has enough of its own!

To Be Holy, You Must Avoid Non-Christians — Especially the Gays

Jesus was a friend of sinners. It says it in scripture, yet in many religious circles, befriending gay people is treated like getting chummy with the anti-Christ.

Gay people struggle with sin, like every one else. I know Christians who struggle with this particular perversion, yet in today’s sexualized culture, most people have been touched by immorality — whether hetero- or homosexual.

Both are wrong. God makes no bones about the gay lifestyle and tells us not to be deceived {meaning many may be!}. But struggling with LGBT temptation doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, just as with heterosexual lust, porn, the “m” word, & many other sexual deviances.

The answer to all sexual issues lies within good, holy, pure relationships with God & other believers. Yet when we back away from those struggling with gay feelings, we ostracize these people from the very thing they need most: Godly fellowship.

Many gay-identifying people run away from the church because they don’t feel welcomed by us. We act holier-than-thou and expect our shame & condemnation to transform their lives {Has judgment ever changed someone’s heart sincerely?}

Jesus — the greatest example of Love — didn’t condemn people. He (as we all know) was harshest on the self-righteous religious people who “cleaned the outside of the cup” but inside were full of all kinds of evil! Yet the gay community openly shares their struggle with the world, not hiding it away in a corner, and we shun them for it. They’re the broken “sick” people Jesus said He came to heal, and we condemn them for it!

Do we want the truth from people — to hear their real struggles with deep issues & ugly sins — or do we want to play pretend til we reach heaven? No person gets healed by shoving down their issues. Jesus said He came to heal the sick, not those who think they are well.

This isn’t always easy to live, though. Honesty with such struggles requires courage on their end and grace on ours. Let’s begin to walk this bridge carefully, lovingly, and not worry so much what the “religious” people of our day will do to us should we love the “unlovely” people in the world.

What if we loved people in the midst of their issues — not knowing how things will “turn out” & not having an agenda — instead of heaping shame on their hurting hearts & broken backs?

What if — instead of rejecting gay-identified people — we sought to know them better, understand them, and build a relationship with them? Perhaps a healthy relationship will help them more than any ‘immoral’ relationship in their life ever could, and our pure friendship & love will change their hearts? Maybe our presence in their lives, our love, and our prayers will heal them in ways harsh religious dogma never could!

It will take time. Building relationships and trust always does. But the impact could change a life {or many!}.

For inspiration on this subject, I recommend listening to two godly men who I’ve had the immense privilege of hearing speak in person on this subject, based on their personal stories: Sy Rogers and Michael Haley.

“[God] did not say, ‘Stop being gay.’ He said, ‘Stop resisting Me… If you’ll just stop resisting Me, I’ll give you My best, but if you insist on your own path, you’ll destroy yourself…”

“Men showed me… that I don’t have to be sexual with them to get what I’ve always wanted from them, which was not sex. It was love, affection, identification & acceptance.

My hunger was satisfied the right way, says Psalm 107! And so folks, as I began to grow beyond my fixation on men, I discovered girls.”

Sy Rogers

My Hope…

My hope in writing about these “Christian myths” is that minds may be changed and hearts softened.

I hope that we can get over these manmade religious ideas to instead embrace the true gospel — of community, joy in God’s blessings, grace & love! And I hope that, instead of religious rules, believers in Jesus would embrace the imperfections of our world and be a “friend to sinners”, too.

After all, that’s what we all once were but for the grace of God.

Blessings,
Summer

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