I would rather be surrounded by genuine Pagans and authentic atheists than by pharisaic Christians.
In my circles, I have friends from many different faiths and belief systems. Sure, most of them are fellow Christ-followers, and all of them are genuine, compassionate, loving people. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be my friends. But it’s not just the Christ-followers who act this way. In fact, I’ve found that my Pagan friends tend to be the most accepting and genuine of all my friends. One – a soap bud and colleague of several years – says, “You can pray for me if I can dance naked in the woods for you.” Hey, no problem. After all, if she’s lifting me up to her deities in the way that’s most meaningful to her, then it also means she’s thinking of me and wants good things to happen for me. At the same time, by praying to YHWH God for her, aren’t I doing the same thing?
So many of my Christian contacts are exactly as they appear. If they love you, they tell you. If they think you’re lacking in some way, they’ll point it out (in tactful, respectful ways, of course). If they don’t like you, they’ll leave you alone. This is how it should be. We don’t always like or get along with everyone, and even the first century apostles faced this issue. As long as we act in love towards all, this is OK.
And yet, in every circle, a Pharisee must appear. I won’t say “hypocrite,” because we’re all hypocrites to some degree, including the woman I see in the mirror each morning. I won’t mention the Pharisee in my life by name, but I’ve known him for nearly two decades. We don’t speak or see each other often, which is the way I personally like it. We just don’t groove well together, though it’d seem we would. I found out he told someone close to me that he regrets that he and I didn’t get off on a better foot. Then I later found out, in that same weekend, he recommended to my husband than he divorce me for being “controlling and manipulative.” And five years ago, he’d also suggested my husband should divorce me for being “opinionated and outspoken.” This guy is a leader in his Christian church and facilitates weekly small group Bible studies in their home.
You see my point? On the outside, he’s holy and pure, a “model” Christ-follower, husband and father. He’s involved with his community and active within his church. And he’ll tell everyone who’ll listen how great he is. He’s a modern-day pharisee, a white-washed tomb – clean, pristine and lovely on the outside, full of decay and rot on the inside.
So, is he right? Am I controlling and manipulative? No one in my life has ever said that I am, and my people are brutally honest. They’ll ascribe such adjectives to me as “bossy” and “high maintenance” (because I know what I want). And anyone who knows me will tell you I’m opinionated and outspoken, but for a woman CEO who’s raising two strong girls, those are attributes, not faults.
That’s probably his problem with me, though. I am opinionated, meaning I have thoughts and opinions of my own, not those which parrot the thoughts and opinions of men in my life. I am outspoken; someone has to be willing to speak out against hate, bigotry, misogyny and injustice while speaking out for love, justice and the right treatment of God’s beloved children. I am a CEO, smart enough, ambitious enough and hardworking enough to start, run and grow my own business. And I am raising two strong girls, girls who are bright, compassionate, beautiful and who even now are ambitious and smart enough to grow within my business or strike out on their own.
Yeah, all I am and all I do is definitely his problem, because it’s these things that make me the amazing woman God created me to be. Give me my “real” pagan, atheist and agnostic friends any day over someone who has no more substance than a Hollywood sound stage.