Spirituality vs. Religion: OEC Interview #7

We are almost three months into the Our Emptying Church blog series and I couldn’t be more grateful for the dialog that has occurred both here and on my facebook page. It’s not too late to join in if you are reading for the first time.

Tonight I’m honored to be sharing with you another interview with a Millennial. Because of the personal questions I’ve asked, I’m keeping all the interviewees anonymous. This interview comes from a 23 year old Digital Artist in the Gaming Industry; he is as kind as he is intelligent. I welcome his opinion on many things, but am honored that he agreed to do this interview. His answers were extremely characteristic of the Millennial generation, which is one of the primary purposes of this blog series. I hope you enjoy his perspective as much as I did.

–Did you grow up regularly attending a church?

Somewhat. I would go for a while, then stop for a while, go for a while, and so on. My father isn’t very religious or spiritual, but my mother is. However, I was raised on a farm; so, there was always work to be done, including Sundays. So, as a result my mother didn’t attend “regularly”. Therefore, I didn’t either. Faith, and religion, in general were common topics between my mother and I, though. So, I grew up in a very “faithful” manner and always felt I have had very strong faith, even though I didn’t regularly attend church.

–Are you currently actively attending a church?

No. I haven’t actively attended a church in quite some time.

–What is your motivation for attending/ not attending?

I have a lot of reasons for not attending. Ultimately, I just don’t feel that it’s necessary for me right now. But, also, partially because I disagree with the “weight” of church. I tend to feel like it’s something I’m supposed to do because others think it’s necessary, while I don’t personally always feel that it is. Now don’t get me wrong, in general I think church is great. The concept is wonderful. But, I don’t feel like I’m any more faithful just because I go to church. I feel like I attend mostly because others want me to, and not because I FEEL like I should or that I should for my relationship with God to be any stronger. And, ultimately I feel that is all that it should be about: your relationship with God, not everyone else. Also, the general judgment I feel emanating from many religious people is a major turn-off to me. I still remember hearing a lady talking negatively about a boy who went to church wearing shorts, and she made it sound like it was the worst thing he could have done. And, I was sitting right beside her and hadn’t been to church at all that week. But, she didn’t think anything about me not going, just that this other kid had went wearing shorts. I feel like there is simply too much focus on the material things and not enough on what is truly important and what I would consider “Godly”. And, lastly, is the general close-mindedness I have come to associate with church and the judgment I feel is bestowed on those that do not share similar beliefs. Now, don’t get me wrong, close-mindedness isn’t exclusive to church of course; it’s just one place that I tend to feel it in. I want to be very clear that I don’t think negatively of the people that go to church. I simply have an open-mind, and I feel like that isn’t always viewed well inside the average church. I like to form my own thoughts and ideas based on my own conclusions, and oftentimes those don’t align with what others think. Ultimately, that leads my views to align somewhere outside of the common denominations I’m familiar with. So, I don’t feel like I really fit-in.

–If you have one, tell me about your church experience (the good, bad, and neutral).

Overall, my experiences have all been fine. My feelings toward church aren’t really negative or positive. I just don’t feel like I belong with any particular church. Like I said, I didn’t attend regularly, though. So, I mostly went when I felt like I needed it. And, in those instances I always got out of it what I needed.

–What is the purpose of the church?

In general, I like to think of it as a place to educate in the ways of the religion/denomination and to bring those who believe similarly, closer together, while also giving them the chance to worship and be part of something greater than themselves. So, by that definition it sounds like a wonderful place. And, I honestly think it is… If it is what is right for you.

–Feel pressure to attend church?

Definitely. I think, those who attend church regularly tend to feel very sorrowful for those who don’t, which as a result creates pressure. However, just because someone doesn’t attend church doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less spiritual. On the flip-side though, I do understand the reasoning behind them feeling that way. A metaphor could be that someone who isn’t going to school, typically isn’t expected to be “learning” on a regular basis. So, in that line of thought it makes sense to feel like someone who isn’t going to church isn’t spiritual. That line of thought is flawed though because there are so many other variables that are unknown to others, and ultimately that leads back to the general close-mindedness I feel from the group as a whole.

–In 1-3 sentences, how do you perceive Christians? (i.e. loving, generous, anti-gay, fundamentalists, too political, etc.)

In general I perceive Christians to be righteous. However, I think that can also be the problem. The fact that morality is subjective means that someone can be righteous and feel their actions are morally correct, while in other eyes they may not be.

–In October 2012, a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life revealed that thirty percent of Millennials (age 18-31) identify as having no religious affiliation. Does this surprise you?

Unfortunately, it does not. The business world is a very fast moving and diverse place. To succeed I feel like you have to be very open-minded and learn to adapt to constant change. But when I attend church, I feel like I’m forced to step back a bit. As a result I think it creates the feeling of not fitting-in. Also, the media could have some effect on that. Typically the media focus purely on the “bad”. So, the religions (and Christians) you typically hear about through the media are the ones that create very negative impressions for the group as a whole.

I can think of countless other reasons why this also may be the case, but I’ll just leave it there.

I do however wonder if those same people would consider themselves to be at all “spiritual”, even though they don’t necessarily consider themselves to have religious affiliation. I think of the two terms differently, and I wonder if others do.

–Fifty years down the road, do you anticipate significant growth in the church or significant decline? Why?

It’s hard to say. Right now I’m leaning more toward decline, just based on the fact that it seems to have declined significantly in the last 50 years already. As of late, I simply haven’t seen anything favoring growth.

–Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your experience?

I want to say one last time that just because I don’t attend church, doesn’t mean that I think negatively or any less of anyone that does. It also doesn’t mean that I think people should not attend church. Again, I think church can be great. The most important thing is simply that each of us is doing what is “right” for ourselves.


As always, I welcome graceful dialogue in the comment section. If you are a Millennial, I would especially love for you to affirm some of these sentiments? Do you feel that morality is subjective? And how do you personally differentiate between spirituality and religion?

This post is the tenth in a succession of the series Our Emptying Church. The purpose of this series is to explore why millions of Millennials are leaving the church. Check out these recent posts: Our Emptying Church, When Christianity Sometimes Looks UnChristian, Fake Smiles and Judging Eyes: OEC Interview with Millennial #1, Prioritizing Sin: OEC Interview #2, You’re Losing Us: OEC Interview #3, OEC Interview #4: One Last Chance, Our Beloved, Overly Political Church, Heroes in Disguise: OEC Interview #5, Good Church Folk: OEC Interview #6, OEC Guest Post: Mark and Tammy Edwards

OEC Guest Post: Mark & Tammy Edwards

As part of the Our Emptying Church series, I’m very happy to welcome Mark and Tammy Edwards as guest-posters to the Our Emptying Church series. If you are from the Hermitage area and are high school or college-aged, you likely know these two as they have dedicated their lives to loving this diverse, often eccentric group of Millennials.


From being on staff, to volunteering, to starting college worship services, to hosting multiple Bible studies in their home, to being pushed into a swimming pool fully clothed, to chaperoning crazy teenagers at youth camp, to teaching students, to praying for students, to meeting students for ice cream or coffee or sometimes both, these two have consistently loved Millennials. I’m not entirely sure where they get all their energy, but somehow, they seem to always have it and share it selflessly. Just barely qualifying as Baby Boomers, Mark and Tammy have been married for 25 years and have two very cool kids. I’m grateful for the many hours, days, and years that they’ve loved on Millennials, that they loved on me. I hope you’ll enjoy their perspective as much as I did. I asked them to shed some light on generational differences between Boomers and Millennials and how we can love each other in spite of those differences. You can catch up with Mark and Tammy on Facebook or through their ministry Slic Skate Church.

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We began working with Millennials through a former church we attended, mainly because our son was entering college. At that time, there were not many churches in our area that had a College/Career Ministry. You went straight from the Youth Group to the Singles Ministry.

Baby Boomers need to not see church as a place only for perfect people. A great majority of Millennials have tattoos, ear gauges/piercings, and come from broken homes. Baby Boomers tend to look down on this group of people, based on how they look. Millennials are a more caring group not only about the people in their lives, but the lives of people suffering from injustice in foreign lands. For Baby Boomers, it’s often all about the money, status, materialism, etc. Millennials are not really concerned about these things. They tend to have a heart for all people, not just people who look like them, have the same color skin, and go to their church. Being a part of a religion is not important to Millennials. They feel they can have a faith and not be a part of a church body. Sometimes I feel this is a cop out to the hypocrisy they claim is why they do not attend church. Millennials could learn from Boomers the importance of corporate worship and serving in local churches.

I think a big reason Millennials do not see importance in attending church is because Christians do not show the love of Jesus in such a way to make them want to attend church. Sometimes my non-Christian friends are kinder to me than my Christian friends! If there is no true life change shown by people who claim to know Jesus, what is the point??

Boomers also are not open to all walks of life. Absolutely will not open their hearts to the gay community whatsoever. This generation even will abandon their own children that claim this lifestyle (which blows my mind!). Millennials are more tolerant of the LGBTQ community and don’t judge them for it. Boomers are very closed minded about this issue. They do not embrace any opportunity to just befriend the LGBTQ community. They want nothing to do with the community. Period.

Baby Boomers tend to have a faith that has been handed down by past generations. They often don’t really know why they believe, they just walked an aisle when they were 5 or 8 and wha-la that’s it. Millennials are more inquisitive; they want to know why having a faith is beneficial… they want to see it, experience it firsthand. Don’t just tell them, prove it!

If churches don’t wake up and see that there is a hurting world out there and do whatever they have to do to meet the needs of their community, their doors will close. Millennials are not interested in mega churches. They are also not interested in churches who serve themselves. They want to be a part of something that is going to truly make a difference here and around the world.

As always, I welcome graceful dialogue in the comment section. What are some generational differences you perceive between Baby Boomers and Millennials? How can we love each other through those?

This post is the ninth in a succession of the series Our Emptying Church. The purpose of this series is to explore why millions of Millennials are leaving the church. Check out these recent posts: Our Emptying Church, When Christianity Sometimes Looks UnChristian, Fake Smiles and Judging Eyes: OEC Interview with Millennial #1, Prioritizing Sin: OEC Interview #2, You’re Losing Us: OEC Interview #3, OEC Interview #4: One Last Chance, Our Beloved, Overly Political Church, Heroes in Disguise: OEC Interview #5, Good Church Folk: OEC Interview #6

One Last Chance: OEC Millennial Interview #4

I hope you are enjoying this series, Our Emptying Church, as much as I am! On a personal note, I have been completely humbled by the stories I’ve heard in doing OEC interviews. I am indebted to these beautiful and brave men and women for their vulnerability. In the days leading up to the presidential election, I’ll be continuing to post about why Millennials are leaving the church. Stay on this journey with me.

Today I’m honored to be sharing with you another interview with a Millennial. Because of the personal questions I’ve asked, I’m keeping all the interviewees anonymous. This interview comes from a 27 year old man who has dedicated his life to helping folks. I’m so grateful to be able to see his story unfolding.

–Did you grow up regularly attending a church?

Yes—Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and most Wednesday nights

–Are you currently actively attending a church?

Yes

–What is your motivation for attending/ not attending?

Connection to other people who are searching for the same things that I am—meaning, love, hope, & community.

–If you have one, tell me about your church experience (the good, bad, and neutral).

I have had good, bad, and neutral, and I might add crazy, too… several times.
I grew up in a very traditional Baptist church where it seemed, as I grew up, that most of the people there were fighting any kind of modernity. Looking back, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that the church was HUGE from the 1950’s to the early 90’s and then the membership roll dropped off drastically. I think a lot of the generation that saw the “hay-day” and then experienced the drop off blamed it on modern thought—everything from the adoption of Contemporary Christian Music to people not wearing 3 piece suits on Sunday mornings. So, as the side that wanted tradition and the side that wanted church to be relevant got more entrenched, the situation got meaner and meaner and more and more people got hurt. I was 13 when my family left the church, and, while it was a real wake up call for me about the amazing things that the church could be, it was also an immensely hurtful and damaging experience. For quite a while I was turned off completely by anything that had to do with church tradition, history, or doctrine.
I’ve also had several good experiences—life altering experiences—with the church. I’ve also had more let downs and some straight crazy stuff.

–What is the purpose of the church?

The purpose of the church is to carry on the work that Jesus started—to reap what he sowed. Our job is to recklessly love all people and be a safe place where literally everyone is welcome. We are to be Christ’s body on earth—feeding the poor, caring for the widow and the orphan, celebrating with those who celebrate and mourning with those who mourn. The church exists to lead people from being the prodigal son, through being the bitter son who stayed at home, and ultimately on to becoming like the father who puts his own dignity down and runs to embrace those outside its walls.

–Feel pressure to attend church?

I did for a long, long time, but quite frankly I don’t care enough anymore about other people’s opinions on the matter to make me feel guilty about attending or not.

–In 1-3 sentences, how do you perceive Christians? (i.e. loving, generous, anti-gay, fundamentalists, too political, etc.)

Many (I hesitate to say most at this point in my life) of the Christians I’ve known know everything and are rarely if ever wrong about anything. I’ve known many Christians who are far too political (and I know that I’ve been guilty of this myself) and judgmental (I put myself in this category as well) and are focused on defending their personal beliefs at the expense of others. I have also known many Christians who would give you the shirt off their back without hesitation. Some Christians that I know are the most loving, the most humble, and the most generous people I’ve ever met.

–In October 2012, a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life revealed that thirty percent of Millennials (age 18-31) identify as having no religious affiliation. Does this surprise you?

Not one bit. I don’t think necessarily has as much to do with people being out-and-out atheists as it does with the fact that a lot of Millennials don’t want to be associated with one organized religion, because often they don’t want to be associated with the people who practice it. In many ways I would put myself in that category as well. I am completely comfortable calling myself a Christ-follower, because I want to be known for what Jesus stood for, but I certainly don’t want to be known as a Baptist, Protestant, Catholic, or whatever, because I don’t want to be immediately branded with the negative connotations that many of those labels carry.

–Fifty years down the road, do you anticipate significant growth in the church or significant decline? Why?

For much the same reason, I think we’ll see a decline in the number of people who want to identify themselves with a particular religion, but as the church learns to love better I think we’ll see an increase in the actual population of the church (which may not be quantifiable).

-Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your experience?

The church, like almost every other gift that God gave us, has tremendous potential for either good or bad. I think the reason I haven’t given up on the church altogether is that I still believe in what God promised the church could be if we would just check ourselves at the door. I believe that the church is in many cases, and can continue to be the strongest force for good on planet earth. I can’t completely quit on the church because I believe too strongly in God’s intention to make it a place of healing, deliverance, and true community. Ultimately, I continue to hope in the church because I continue to hope in him.

 

Do you have a similar story about nearly leaving the church?

This post is the sixth in a succession of the series Our Emptying Church. The purpose of this series is to explore why millions of Millennials are leaving or will leave the church. Check out these recent posts: Our Emptying Church, When Christianity Sometimes Looks UnChristian, Interview with a Millennial #1, Interview with a Millennial #2, OEC Interview #3: You’re Losing Us

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You’re Losing Us: OEC Interview #3

Last week, The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a study which revealed that a third of Millennials (18-29) say they have no religious affiliation. For all ages, the percentage of the religiously unaffiliated grew from 15% to 20% over the last five years. Those hit hardest by this loss were evangelical Protestants. Kevin Ezell, the president of the North American Mission Board, a missional branch of the theologically conservative Southern Baptist Convention, responded to the research saying:

Southern Baptists shouldn’t need any more evidence to convince us that we must increase our efforts to penetrate lostness in North America… I believe that only a church planting movement will reverse this trend.

As I was reading President Ezell’s response, I threw the newspaper across the room. I couldn’t help but think, you are missing it. Don’t you see? Another mega church is not the answer. We do not need yet another building campaign. We do not need to be on the roll of yet another Sunday School class. Don’t you get it?! You’re losing us. Millennials need dialogue. We need help with the messiness of life. We need intentional community. We need Jesus.

Stepping off the soapbox, I’d like continue this post by sharing with you another interview with a Millennial. My prayer is that we will benefit from hearing other stories and that we’ll begin realizing that we really aren’t all that different. This interview comes from a 22 year old student. He is as generous as he is kind, and also incredibly intelligent; I am sure that I am a much better woman for knowing him.

–Did you grow up regularly attending a church?


Yes. I was a regular attendant of the Methodist Church up until my late teen years.

–Are you currently actively attending a church?

No I’m not. And, as of this time, I’m not looking for one.

–What is your motivation for attending/ not attending?

In all honesty, a lot of my motivations for not attending are internally created. I’ve never had a bad experience within my own church that would cause me to leave it. I suppose my biggest reason for leaving is that I began to feel wrong there, like I didn’t truly belong. For the first time I began to realize just how much hatred and cruelty there was in the world, especially from those of the Christian faith. These Christians seemed to take special care to direct their negativity towards the people I identified with: those who don’t see the world in black and white, those whose sexuality doesn’t adhere to what is considered the social norm, those who believe that all faiths should be respected, etc. I suppose I let all that negativity influence me and, while I did not face such hatred directly, I stopped attending church because I felt there was no place for me there anymore.

–If you have one, tell me about your church experience (the good, bad, and neutral).

As I stated earlier, I truly didn’t experience any problems from my church community when I did attend. Everyone always treated me cordially and I never had an issue. However, I should note that, although I attended church regularly growing up, I never felt I got anything substantial out of it. People around me would discuss how they could feel everyone’s prayers bolstering their strength during times of struggle and how God would fill them with a sense of peace. I had never felt any of that. I had prayed my whole life through good times and bad but had never felt like anyone was listening. For some reason, I had been deemed unworthy of these great transcendental experiences. I figured it was because I didn’t match what God or the church wanted. That hurt for a little while. However, I still pray regularly. Hope is notoriously difficult to kill.


–What is the purpose of the church?

That’s a loaded question. I’m sure each individual church would tell you something different due to their varying values and such. In my opinion, I always thought that the church was meant to be a place of belonging and acceptance, a place where you could go when no one else would have you. I’m sure some are that way, but they seem to be few and far between.

–Feel pressure to attend church?

Not at all. I feel absolutely no attraction to church in any way.

–In 1-3 sentences, how do you perceive Christians? (i.e. loving, generous, anti-gay, fundamentalists, too political, etc.)

Wow! That’s kind of like asking how do I perceive humanity. There are kind, loving people and there are cruel, hateful people. I think it’s the same with Christianity and every other religion as well. They are as varied as the human race because they are all part of it.

–In October 2012, a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life revealed that thirty percent of Millennials (age 18-31) identify as having no religious affiliation. Does this surprise you?

No, it doesn’t surprise me. The world is changing and I feel like the church doesn’t want or know how to keep up. I’m sure there are many like me who left for reasons similar to mine as well as countless others who left for their own reasons. In addition, I’m sure there are many who never had a religion and feel no reason to acquire one now. Some churches’ attitudes probably don’t help draw in the crowds either.

–Fifty years down the road, do you anticipate significant growth in the church or significant decline? Why?

You never know. It may continue to decrease or something may change and the church’s growth skyrockets. I guess time will tell.

–Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your experience?

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m an atheist, though I see nothing wrong with that. I do have beliefs in place and I do believe in basic and, what I feel to be, Christian concepts such as love, respect, and acceptance. It is my own fault for letting the negativity of a few infiltrate my heart the way it has but I’m trying to let it go. Who knows, maybe someone upstairs is helping me. There will always be those who attempt to break all of us down but hopefully we can overcome it with the strength we draw from those we love. I really want people to know that no matter how alone you feel, and trust me I’ve been there, you’re not. There is always someone somewhere who gets it and who understands you and if you’re lucky you may get to call them a friend one day. Hold on to that. It got me through a lot.


As always, I welcome graceful dialogue only in the comment section. Can you identify with this man’s story?

This post is the fifth in a succession of the series Our Emptying Church. The purpose of this series is to explore why millions of Millennials are leaving or will leave the church. Check out these recent posts: Our Emptying Church, When Christianity Sometimes Looks UnChristian, Interview with a Millennial #1, Interview with a Millennial #2

Fake Smiles & Judging Eyes: OEC Interview with a Millennial #1

If this is your first time tuning into the series, welcome! You may want to check out Our Emptying Church and When Christianity Sometimes Looks UnChristian. The purpose of this series is to explore why millions of Millennials are leaving or will leave the church.

This week, The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a study that is eerily similar to David Kinnaman’s research. You can check out the data here. The research showed that a third of Millennials (18-29) say they have no religious affiliation.

The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans – sometimes called the rise of the “nones” – is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%). And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

A blind eye can no longer be turned to the decline of the American evangelical church. It is a reality. I am interested in finding out the motive(s) behind these statistics and I am not afraid to ask hard questions. Honest dialogue is the critical component here.

Stories are important for Millennials. It is often much more socially acceptable to ask a Millennial about his/her story instead of what job position or highest degree he/she holds. A story encompasses someone’s life in the whole rather than simply focusing on a career, which is one aspect of a story. I am a sucker for a good story. Some of my best friendships began with an invitation to get coffee and to trade life stories. I am most grateful for those friends who keep looking me into the eyes and encouraging me to grow and ask questions.

In the next few days, I’m excited to be posting multiple interviews with Millennials here on the blog. My prayer is that by reading other stories, we’ll gain a better perspective of our own and that we’ll embrace each other as brothers and sisters instead of enemies. Because I asked very personal questions about church experiences, I’ve decided to keep the interviewees fairly anonymous; I hope you’ll be as blessed from these interviews as I have been.

Today I’m happy to start off the interview series with a 23 year old woman and a dear friend of mine.

–Did you grow up regularly attending a church? No.
–Are you currently actively attending a church? No.
–What is your motivation for attending/ not attending?

I do not feel accepted in the church anymore. I feel like as soon as I walk in, there are judging eyes. I worked in the church daycare a long time ago and moved in with my fiancé. The church told me I needed to not live with him anymore and they would let me keep my job. They also said I could not get married there if I was living with him. I understand not getting married in the church, but I do not understand what the purpose of me losing my job was. My personal life had no interference with my job. I felt the church was very hypocritical. Because they said I was not living the life of a Christian? That is circumstantial, every sin is the same. They also fired a girl who got pregnant out of wedlock. The one time they could have shown the love Christ showed, they fired her, but told her she could come back once the baby was born. It disgusted me.

–If you have one, tell me about your church experience (the good, bad, and neutral).

Most of my experiences are listed above. I started really attending church when I was in middle school. I love the youth trips. But I feel like once highschool is over we are left to fend for ourselves. There really isn’t that much for my age group where I feel they have experienced what I have. And where I could give my testimony without judging eyes.

–What is the purpose of the church?

That’s a great question. I feel like the purpose of the church has gotten lost in money and how big the church can get. I feel like the purpose of the church is to gather with people who believe Christ died on the cross for our sins. A place to worship, learn, and pray together. A place you can find shelter and comfort in.

–Feel pressure to attend church?

Yes and No. Because my generation is not the church going generation because there is too much hypocrisy in the church

–In 1-3 sentences, how do you perceive Christians? (I.e.: loving, generous, anti-gay, fundamentalists, too political, etc.)

All of the above. I feel like Christians are very closed minded and most of them usually are. I feel like Christians are scared of what is different from what they have grown up with. You cannot expect someone who was not raised in church to know Christ the way you do. You have to bring it to their level, and most Christians are not willing to get out of their comfort zones.

–In October 2012, a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life revealed that thirty percent of Millennials (age 18-31) identify as having no religious affiliation. Does this surprise you?

Doesn’t Surprise me at all.

–Fifty years down the road, do you anticipate significant growth in the church or significant decline? Why?

I feel like there will be a huge decline if churches do not do something that will allow EVERYONE to feel like they are welcome. And no fake smiles… I get that A LOT when I visit places.

-Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your experience?

Things I would like to see in the church: More diverse cultures in the pews and more woman behind the pulpit

 

As always, I welcome graceful dialogue in the comment section. Can you identify with this woman’s story?

The Stoning of Soraya M.

A few nights ago, I went with some dear friends to a movie in an independent-movie hub in my city. I am thankful for such a theater, who is willing to show films that are hard to watch, ones which the viewers do not leave with the go-lucky-Saturday-night-movie mentality. Movies which are done with the motive, not of money, but rather, an expose of sorts. I salute the filmmakers for their bravery.

The Stoning of Soraya M, was just that. A stoning. It took place in Iran, and was completely in Farci, the beautiful Iranian language. In quick summation, Soraya was married to an evil man, who one day, all the sudden, “tired” of her. He had his sights set on another woman. However, in the Arab culture, even he had to jump through some hoops before he could get what he wanted.

After he forced her to take a job doing chores for another man, he then accused her of sleeping with the other man…a crime punishable by death by stoning in this rural Iranian, Islamic culture. She was, of course, innocent. She was a beautiful woman, a strong woman, who loved her children very much. He accused her… and in correlation with the law, she had to prove her innocence, rather than he prove her guilt. The male elders did not believe her story, when put up against a mans. And thus, sentenced her to die, by perhaps one of the most painful deaths imaginable.

The filmmakers did not spare their viewers any mercy. They showed everything. Every gruesome detail. The men came to get her, they buried her up to her waist. Then they let her father cast the first stone. He missed.

It is at this point, where I started weeping. Why? Because inside, I was BEGGING for someone to come save her. Her female friends were trying to save her. They couldn’t. No one would listen. I ached for someone, a foreigner or villager, to realize the evil that was happening, and step in to save her.

At this moment, I was reminded of the Christ. When a crowd was gathered to STONE a woman caught in adultery, he stepped in front of her. And wrote in the dust. Then said…”you who are without sin, cast the first stone.” Her accusers dissipated. They had no foundation on which to stay and carry out that hell.
Then Jesus said one of the most beautiful things in the New Testament to this woman. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

He saved her life by stepping in front of her. This means SO MUCH MORE, now that I’ve seen The Stoning of Soraya M. Nobody stepped in for Soraya. She was, in every way, brutally murdered. This movie is a true story.

God forgive us, for our evil actions. For we do not have the power over life.

May we begin to see what Jesus really did for us. I think if we really knew, if we really knew what it was like to literally be murdered by large slabs of rock being catapulted at our heads over and over again, till we bled out… if we really knew this… perhaps we would not be so reluctant to emulate Christ’s love.