A Southern Pastor: Why Christianity Must Change

I was looking back over my last few posts and I saw a trend: I have been posting fluff. To be honest, I have had a rough few weeks, and it has been hard to write from my genuine self. As a defense mechanism, I think, I retreat into silence, as many of us are apt to do.

This morning, I keep thinking about where we, as a society, are spiritually right now. The obvious answer is that we are in a sad place. Those who seek leadership claim Christianity as a source of strength and power, and quote our sacred text to support racism, sexism, xenophobia, militarism, and Social Darwinism. Many who are constantly in the media flaunt Christianity as proof of their superiority and claim it as a power to judge and punish others. In a bastardization of my holy faith, they openly spread hate and intolerance.

We must ask ourselves how we have allowed this to happen. At what point did those who speak with hate drown out those who speak with love?

There is not a single easy answer. But I believe there is a solution. Christianity must change.

  1. There must be more education on the history of Christianity and the understanding of the Bible.
  2. There must be more education on the understanding of other religions, cultures, and sacred texts.
  3. Fear must be removed from the religious sector.
  4. There must be open discussion of spirituality and what that means individually to each person. I am finding that many of us share evolving beliefs about the sacred text we honor and the faith we embrace, but we are afraid to voice those beliefs for fear of being shunned by our religious organizations. That simply must end and that critical discussion must take place if Christianity is to survive.
  5. The portion of our faith who are truly striving to follow Christ’s example must begin to speak out. It is against our core nature to be confrontational, but we are going to have to be more aggressive if we are to take back the sacredness of our beliefs. We have, in our attempt to be tolerant and accepting, allowed false teachers to take over our sacred text and our beliefs. At some point, doing nothing is compliance. If we are to stop the hate, we will have to speak out as Jesus did, when it was necessary.
  6. And while it is necessary for us to get out in the world and embrace new ways to worship and mediums through which to worship, I do not believe we should completely abandon the traditional church in doing that. There is great purpose and meaning in traditional forms of worship, and they should be reclaimed, not recycled. The church as a place of worship and fellowship can provide a crucial foundation for the organization, fellowship, sharing, worship, and service which Christianity must have if we are to survive. But to do that, the church must focus outward rather than inward, and open it’s doors to all.

There has never been a time when spirituality was more needed than it is today. But if we are to embrace spirituality in the modern world, we must approach it from a modern stance. We are not the church of the Middle Ages, nor do I think any of us would want to be. So how do we follow and share the teachings of Jesus Christ in a 21st century world? I believe it starts with reclaiming what Jesus actually taught. It begins with open discussion and loud defense, if necessary, of what those teachings actually mean. And it means loving God, and because we love God, loving all of creation. We can do this. And when Christianity changes to meet the 21st century where it is needed, I think we will find that, in reality, it was not so much Christianity which needed to change, but the Christians who claim it.

Melanie Tubbs is a professor, pastor, mother, Mimi, and true Arkansas woman. She lives with nine cats and one dog on a quiet hill in a rural county where she pastors a church and teaches history at the local university. Her slightly addictive personality comes out in shameful Netflix binges and a massive collection of books. Vegetarian cooking, reading mountains of books for her seminary classes, and crocheting for the churches prayer shawl ministry take up most of her free time, and sharing the love of Christ forms the direction of her life. May the Peace of Christ be with You.