Although we have been attending our church for almost two years, Honey and I are not officially members. We participate in church functions, put money in the offering plate, and volunteer for various activities, but we’ve never taken the steps to become actual members of the congregation. There are two reasons that I haven’t joined yet.
I want to join the church as a couple.
When we started attending services, I wasn’t entirely sure of what I believed, but I knew that I believed in God and that I had to find a church where homosexuals weren’t being actively discriminated against. Honey’s views on religion were quite negative, mainly because of his unpleasant experiences with it as a child and because he didn’t really put much stock in the guy upstairs.
What we’ve found over the last couple of years is that our views have switched. He has become more of a believer, while I’ve become more of a questioner. This is rather inconvenient in my quest to become members, because we really need to be in similar places spiritually in order to join. That’s because joining requires answering specific questions related to faith.
I want to answer the questions honestly.
When someone joins our church, they stand in front of the congregation and reply to specific statements. These include professing a belief in God, claiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, promising to shun the forces of evil to the best of one’s ability, and promising to support the other members of the congregation.
The pledges to shun evil and support the congregation don’t give me pause, but given my present (and somewhat agnostic) views, I’m not sure how to answer the first couple of questions.
While many people may offer their answers with no more conviction than they would feel while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, I believe they are to be regarded with the utmost respect. In my mind, this is no less important than exchanging marriage vows, as I am basically “marrying” the congregation and Christ. If I can’t answer these questions in full faith and with complete honesty, then they are nothing more than idle words.
Karen and I had a long and comprehensive discussion yesterday afternoon about my hesitancy. She explained that what I’m going through is very common for students who enter the seminary. Apparently, as they start learning new ways of looking at things that they’ve taken for granted their entire lives, their belief systems start to unravel. She believes that I have outgrown many of the notions that I held as truth and that I’m in the process of rebuilding my faith. Something about that makes me feel so much better.
So, maybe my partner and I can join our loving church some day soon. In the meantime, I’m going to keep challenging my faith and learning as much as I possibly can, so that when I do make those statements they will come from the bottom of my heart.