ByzantinExit: My Non-Shame Related Reasons for Withdrawing from the Eastern Orthodox Church (Shamefessional #14)

leave-churchThis past week a dude who calls himself “The Bible Answer Man,” a lifelong Protestant joined the Orthodox Church, which led me to want to share something I’ve said recently to a friend publically about my no longer claiming to be an Orthodox Christian so far as membership goes i.e. my own reasons for leaving of the Orthodox Church. I do want to nuance it to say not all Orthodox folks nor all of the Tradition is like what I describe below. However, it was simply prevalent enough for me that it was never gonna work for me to remain Orthodox and be faithful to it. Orthodox values and beliefs, for the most part, aren’t reconcilable to my convictions, beliefs, values, and principles on which I stand sure.

I once wished, when I was a self-professing Orthodox Christian, which I’m not any longer, that the Orthodox Church did annulments; it was purely for the fact if they did, and I was able to accept all the issues (listed below) as unresolved then an annulment would look better far as becoming a priest one day was concerned. That was all rubbish based on a lot of silliness and misguided thinking/feeling about becoming a priest to begin with, which is something that’s not meant to be. Priests aren’t made they’re born and I wasn’t born to be one.

That was all tied up in my misguided thinking about my vocation. Some may inappropriately place weight of my leaving Orthodoxy on my divorce, which is way off because there’s a simple solution if I truly was meant to be a priest: I’d stay Orthodox and be celibate and see what happened. That implies there were no other issues for me, which there were and there are, to name just a few outside of the shame issues I’ve written several times about, and they are as follows:

-Modernistic/Foundationalistic Dogmatic Certainty
-Insistence upon believing it all or nothing
-Closed Communion
-Exclusivity in general
-Exclusive ecclesiology
-Pridefulness
-Ethnocentrism
-Fundamentalism/”Hyperdoxy”
-Sola-Patristica
-Anti-ecumenism
-Mistreatment of non-Orthodox
-Judgmental attitudes
-Hatred of the RCC
-Lack of focus on social justice
-Separating social justice from the Gospel
-Anti-LGBTQI beliefs
-Anti-scientific attitudes
-Anti-Progressive politics
-Aligning conservative politics with the Gospel
-Symphonia
-Staunch pro-life ideology
-Hatred of anything remotely Western, Modern/Post-Modern
-Disrespectful attitudes towards those who believe differently
-Zealous evangelism and argumentative witnessing

 

These all go beyond my divorce and are irreconcilable. Getting divorced was reconcilable with Orthodoxy and still is; I received Eucharist a few times while going through the whole separation and divorce process.

When my mom died I tried again to get pass all those issues and more listed above but my conscious and heart simply wouldn’t permit me. I simply cannot accept those things and can’t look pass them in order to belong in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Orthodoxy follows this method, like most churches, when it comes to fellowship and community; one must:

-Behave
-Believe
-Belong

I want community that one must:

-Belong
-Believe
-Behave

And a community that allows belonging independent of whether or not the other two follow…

I worship and believe like a high church Anglo-Catholic/Anglo-Orthodox, to some degree varying on what belief we’re talking about here, but I’m 1) What C.S. Lewis called the Hallway of Christianity as a spiritual vagabond and wanderer; I’m okay with that really, and 2) Like St. Thomas Merton who had a love and affinity for Eastern religions and the mysticism between Christianity and said religions while affirming credal Christianity.

In addition to that all, I do find myself affirming a more Progressive Christianity these days.

“We have to appreciate that truth can be received from outside of – not only within – our own group. If we do not believe that, then entering into dialogue would be a waste of time.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk

 

NOTE:

These blogs explain more how my reasons for becoming Orthodox were really wrong and more shame-driven than about my finding a home there:

One thought on “ByzantinExit: My Non-Shame Related Reasons for Withdrawing from the Eastern Orthodox Church (Shamefessional #14)

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