News Flash for the Faithful: God is Not a Fence Builder or the Thought Police
What does it mean to "be a disciple?"
For some of my friends who are marginally faithful (or, perhaps, "faithful on the margins?"), their discontent with the Christian religion stems from the idea that religion is mostly about behavioral control.
And they have good reason to have this impression, of course.
In college I was invited on a retreat sponsored by a Greek InterVarsity chapter where we were told (in harrowing detail, mind you) about the god-forsaken dangers that certain behaviors would have on our souls and our futures. Curbing behavioral impulses, especially when it came to topics like sexuality and chemical consumption, was God's primary desire, and our seemingly singular mission in life, if the leaders of these retreats were to be trusted.
Spoiler alert for all parents who think that religion and church involvement will give their children "good morals" (whatever that means): it won't. You have to do that. We can help, but if you reduce "being faithful" to "being good" you do them no good.
Religion as method of behavioral control will always, always, fail.
Others I know have left the faith because they find it all unbelievable. Or, to be more precise, the faith seems to decree that certain beliefs are to be held, and others to be ditched. That to "be Christian" you can believe these things, and only these things. A scientist friend left the faith long ago because the creation story in Genesis was too big of a pill to swallow, and the Noah story was too much fantasy for her faith.
Well of course it is! These are not accounts of biology but of theology. If we must believe those things literally happened to be considered faithful, well, then count me out...