So. Here we are a few months later. I’ve grown comfortable telling people I’m Christian. And I’ve certainly got a lot of meaning out of being Christian. But part of me still doubts that I’m truly Christian and that part recently got a bit of food for thought.
The first challenge to my view of myself as Christian came from re-reading portions of Thea Sabin’s book Wicca for Beginners. The most important section here was Chapter Two, common principles and ethics. In it, Thea Sabin makes a list of what Wicca is not, then lists seven common principles, and two common ethics. They are as follows
Satanic or Anti-Christian
A way to get power over others
Only about magic
An edgy trend with great clothes
An excuse for sexual abuse
Deity Becomes a Polarity
Deity is Immanent
The Earth Is Divine
Sex Is Sacred
The Wiccan Rede
The Want and The Will
The Threefold Law
Now, why would reading this cause me to question whether or not I’m Christian? Quite simply, because reading all of that reminded me of just how much I agree with of Wicca, which is to say everything. No matter how many times Paul says “Don’t judge lest you be judged” and “We are freed by grace”, he still comes down harsh on what he considers sexual immorality. And that’s a big problem. The King James version doesn’t actually have the word homosexual anywhere in it (it wasn’t in the English language yet) but that’s almost worst because if you so much as had anal sex you were considered lost in Paul’s books–though only if you were Christian. What I don’t get is how he can say that everybody is freed by grace and not controlled by law, and then be so intolerant of people’s expressions of love. Wicca takes care of that with the seventh principle: sex is sacred. It doesn’t specify the type of sex. As long as you treat sex with respect, it’s perfectly fine. And that’s something I agree with much more than a strict doctrine of men and women as husband and wife, and no sex outside of that. Looking at the list of “nots” I’m also pretty much against everything on that. I’m against dualistic theology, exclusiveness, sexual abuse, judgement based on appearance, exercising power over others, Satanism, Anti-Christianism, and proselytizing.
Looking at the other Wiccan principles, I believe in deity becoming polarity (indeed I think that Christians have historically been too focused on the male aspect of God), deity being immanent, earth being divine, psychic power, magic, and sex is sacred. The only one I’ve got a slight problem with is reincarnation because I don’t know what happens after death, but I like to believe there is life after death (though I don’t believe in mortal reincarnation) so in a narrow sense I believe in reincarnation. The ethics are the main problem, since I think harm is sometimes necessary (ie. self-defense), and truly harming no one is an impossible task, but I do agree with Thea Sabin’s interpretation that the important thing is the spirit of the Wiccan Rede, with the key part being “do as ye will”, and the difference between will and want. Combined with the Threefold Law which I agree with completely, the ethic is basically summed up as: minimize harm and accept responsibility for the harm you do cause, and by doing so you’ll attract the positive. And that I agree with fully.
Contrast this with Christianity, where the Old Testament is filled with problems and the New Testament has its fair share of them both in the Gospels and in the Pauline letters (and don’t even get me started on the Book of Revelations). So you can understand why I’m having a bit of trouble with my whole identity as Christian vs. Wiccan.
If it were just a matter of the written word of the Bible vs. my life experiences and beliefs, I’d probably be proudly declaring myself Wiccan. The problem is it’s not that simple. One thing Wicca did teach me to do quite well, and which I improved upon in GCM was listening to God’s guidance by quieting my conscious self. And that’s where the problem is introduced. Because when I’ve quieted myself the past couple years, I’ve been consistently guided to the Christian path. Even as a child, I felt the draw of Christianity, and I enjoyed learning all I could about it in high school. And I truly do believe Jesus Christ lived, was God come to Earth in human form, and that his life and death demonstrated the perfect example of good overcoming evil not through force but through love.
So that’s where the quandary reaches it’s conclusion for now. What makes a Christian? If it is a belief in Jesus Christ combined with doing my best to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit then I am surely Christian. If it also requires believing in the entirety of what is preached in the New Testament, then I am surely not. From my reading of the Bible, and a few other books, I am mostly convinced that it is belief in Jesus Christ and the following of guidance from the Holy Spirit that makes one Christian which would in turn make me Christian. But sometimes I wonder whether I’m right about that conclusion, and so I end up doubting my Christianity. I guess I can only continue to trust my feelings…