I live in a constant state of varying degrees of angst, anger, and mourning over the condition of the American church and the lives it destroys.
What I mean by that is simple - the more "deep thinking" people I meet, the more atheists I meet. Atheists who were once church-going people. And I've not met ONE who had nothing to say about being judged by those in the church - either for something they'd done, a struggle they were having, or a question they'd asked.
Whatever became of "No one comes to the Father but by Me (Christ)"? In other words, who are you to condemn someone for their flaws? It is only Christ who can save, not works. Whatever became of "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing"? In other words, the most important thing you can do as a Christian is to love the people around you, not judge them.
Yes, I have selfish motives too. I'm single. I'd rather NOT be. But the kind of man in whose company I long to be is a thinking man. A wise man. An intellectual, if you will. People of this kind are few to begin with, so it's exciting when I find one... until I discover he's just another who couldn't bear up under the burdens of the pharisees.
Maybe it saved my soul after all - not to be too involved in my church and relationships therein, as I was growing up.
C.S. Lewis is one of the most widely read Christian authors, right? (I've never heard that stated statistically, but it just about has to be true, so we're going with it.) He's AMAZING. If so many have read his works, so many of which deal directly with the dangers of tradition without meaning and the need to integrate active love into every fiber of your being, why hasn't the church caught on?
It's never JUST the treatment from church, of course. They start thinking independently and their conclusions conflict with what they've heard growing up, so they eventually abandon it completely for the life that makes more sense, logically. The problem there is that it's so absolute. Which makes SENSE because the church tends to present itself as absolute, starting with "Jesus is the only way to salvation" (true) and going to such extremes as "gays deserve to be persecuted" (untrue). In fact, in some churches, you can get in trouble or at the very least shunned if you start challenging what's said, but if you can't bring yourself to shake the underlying message that everything they present is absolute, then you MUST reject it entirely. And therein lies the problem. Because guess what? Every church is full of flawed, sinful, foolish people. Sometimes out of hate, sometimes out of ignorance, a message is taught that is either inherently or subliminally wrong and becomes a stumbling block.
All it takes is, "Of course evolution isn't true. The Bible says otherwise. Stop asking questions." Do you REALLY know that God didn't use evolutionary properties in the process of creation? Were you there? After all, "A thousand years are like a day." Or perhaps, "Stop doing that. You're a disappointment to your family and to God." How horrifying. Christ DIED out of love for that person. LOVE. An awareness of sin that inspires growth is one thing; paralyzing guilt is something else entirely. The former builds up; the latter drives the person either to weakness and numbness or rebellion.
And so they go their own way. They say, "I can do a better job of living than this. I can be happier because I won't be guilt-ridden, I'll actually love people - unlike all those judgmental Christians, and I'm going to start enjoying life." When in fact, if they'd taken the flaws of the church with a grain of salt and studied the Scriptures for themselves and come to their own conclusions about what was said rather than accepting what was said from the pulpit as absolute, they might just have seen that debilitating guilt has no place in the life of a Christian, our second greatest commandment IS to love people (and we have better reasons for it than anyone else in the world), and "it is for freedom we have been set free."
"Go and sin no more" might not mean "If you sin again, you're going straight to hell" so much as it probably means "Go live life to the fullest. That means not letting this foolishness bog you down any more. A full life requires the use of wisdom, and she's knocking... but letting her lead you requires an alert mind and open heart."