Faith deconstruction isn’t something that happens overnight, and it most certainly isn’t something you want to start.
You don’t wake up one day and say, “Hey, how about I question everything I once thought was certain? Everything that makes me feel like an insider? That gives me a sense of belonging in this crazy world we live in?”
Yeah, no. No one wants to deconstruct their faith.
Deconstruction is, instead, the natural outcome of a series of events and circumstances in your life, the inevitable next right thing in a long line of beliefs that no longer make sense, the build up of many experiences and yes, often pain.
The cognitive dissonance finally becomes so great, you can no longer ignore it.
So you throw up your hands and give in to all the questions that have been swirling around your mind for weeks and months – consciously or subconsciously.
Like the waves of the sea, the questions eventually win.
You finally surrender, and faith deconstruction begins.
Rejecting Spanking Triggered My Deconstruction. Six Years Later.
Several years ago, I confronted what would be – and still is – my biggest disagreement with evangelical church teachings: the belief that God commands parents to spank children when they disobey.
And if you chose not to spank, you were disobeying God.
I know now in the depths of my soul, in every fiber of my being, that this teaching is flat out wrong. And I personally believe it’s far more harmful than parents realize, the ramifications felt long after the spanking years are over.
Whether or not you choose to spank your child is between you and God, but nope, God is NOT commanding you to hit (and it is hitting, don’t let terminology fool you) your child whenever they make a mistake or say, “No”.
Four years into motherhood, a few months after the birth of my third child, I stopped spanking. I quit cold turkey.
I did the research and found all the evidence I needed to support the fact that the Bible had been misinterpreted on this issue, verses molded and twisted to fit one specific, larger worldview I don’t think I support anymore.
I finally had peace that I wasn’t disobeying God if I didn’t spank my kids.
So I walked away. I rejected spanking theology.
How could I possibly have suspected then that six years later this one decision would eventually trigger deconstruction?
If you had told me then that I would be where I am today, I would have laughed.
No, scratch that. I most likely would have straight up sobbed and pleaded with myself for my own soul (because I almost certainly would have thought it was at stake).
But how could it not trigger deconstruction?
How could it not?
Related: Tell Me What You Think About Children, And I’ll Tell You What You Think About God.
Fast Forward to 2020: When The Evangelical Church Officially Goes Off the Rails
Six years later, 2020 happened.
(Side Note: I should tell you that just a few months before my father died of a heart attack unexpectedly. Perhaps that’s a bigger part of my deconstruction story than I care to admit.)
I watched in disbelief as the church made the pandemic about THEM, not about the thousands of people dying of an illness we didn’t know how to treat.
As I heard pastors compare mask mandates and social distancing orders to Nazi Germany.
As I saw respected name after respected name defy government orders and reopen churches…and believe God was calling them to do it.
As I watched Christian after Christian enthusiastically – not just apologetically – pledge support for Donald Trump.
A SECOND TIME. My God, the horror.
As I heard Christians tell me that the Bible gives you no other option than to vote for Trump in 2020.
As I was bullied by a missionary, trying to coerce me to change my vote. Because, and I quote, “The Bible is clear and gives us no other option.”
It was too much. Or was it just enough?
I’m not sure what the tipping point was exactly, but after the election, I was never the same.
I knew I definitely wasn’t going back to church anytime soon.
And I finally gave myself the space to ask the question, “If they were wrong about spanking (and about Trump and about the pandemic and…), what else were they wrong about?”
When You Let Yourself Ask The Question, There’s Always Just.One.More
When you finally let yourself ask questions, one question triggers another, triggers another, triggers another.
Especially in a religious culture where questions are not allowed.
They are taboo.
They are discouraged.
They are silenced.
They are pitied.
They are frowned upon and shamed and demonized.
(I should know: I was used to be one of the silencers, the shushers, the pitiers.)
And when you pull at the one dangling thread of the metaphorical sweater, it all starts to unravel.
Because your theology is all so much more interconnected than you think, a tower carefully built, brick by brick. And just like Jenga, when you pull one brick…
What If Deconstruction Is A Gift? Not a Curse?
So, if you find yourself asking the same question over and over again. And it won’t let you go, refuses to be ignored one.more.minute.
Stop ignoring it. Stop pushing it away.
Embrace the process.
The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish…although I’m starting to accept that you’re quite possibly never really “done” with faith deconstruction.
A year into it, I’m starting to see that deconstruction is a gift, not the curse churches and every evangelical organization wants you to believe it is.
It does feel dangerous, sometimes, like walking along the edge of a cliff or like taking the “red pill” in the Matrix. And it is a LOT like that.
Have I seen people walk away from their faith completely? Yes. They might come back…or they might not.
Have I seen people rejoin a church (not necessarily the denomination they grew up in)? Also yes. These stories give me hope…I think.
It’s a crazy wild ride.
But if you can no longer ignore the questions, maybe it’s time to stop fighting and start deconstructing. Because for some, it is the healthiest thing you can possibly do.
P.S. And if you do, welcome to the deconstruction. You’re so very far from alone.
Read Next: No, Matt Chandler, Deconstruction Isn’t Sexy. It’s Downright Traumatic.