Reflective Essay: Shame In The Church Of Nazarne

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Introduction:
Shame in the church has long been a pronounced interest to me. We want the church to be a place of hope and inspiration, but some of us have experienced a tremendous amount of shame, also. Growing up within a very conservative Holiness church taught me some life-giving valuable faith lessons. Yet, some of these lessons include, what not to do as a pastor or church member. Shame stops a person and/or the organization from growing into the person/group God has called him/her/them to be. I have named shame in the church as a huge part of my faith development. Though, I love the church and have dedicated my life to serving within the church, I also hate parts of the church. Shame is something I hate, and shame became something
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I learned the Bible in the way they wanted it taught leaving me very little space to even question what I was taught. Because of this limited space of learning, I thought it must be wrong to question God. I had to memorize most of the Bible, now I see that as such a blessing and a gift. If these solid sanctified Christians were okay with Jesus or God being the simple answer to every question, then it must be wrong to think anything else. When I became a teenager, I began to be much louder about my questions. My questioning the many “No’s” of our church was my rebellion: NO drinking, smoking, sex, or many of the other experiences that were taught were strictly forbidden. Questioning the church was my rebellion. If I might have rebelled in the way most teenagers do, then my parents and pastors might have known what to do with me. But I asked questions, “How did God create this Earth in such a perfect way, but still need to send God’s son to be killed?” Or “How is it that these sanctified people think they are better than anyone else?” or “Isn’t it a sin if Earl spits on my car for parking in his parking spot?” I was always given the strong Holiness answers that just did not make sense to a teenager. We all have free will. Jesus came to die for our sins. Yet, I have observed some sins carried more of a penalty than others. It seemed okay to overeat and be guilty of gluttony, but not divorce. Even the Bible has allowances for divorce. I asked about sin being forgiven, “All sins? Even divorce? Didn’t Jesus cover that with His blood, too?” Divorce seemed to be the branding the sin that always stayed with a person. The obvious extra pounds a person carried was just a part of being human, not a “scarlet letter.” In honest reflection on these inconsistencies I experienced in my church community, it is a wonder I continued to attend every time the

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