My Great Divorce: Leaving Behind the Evangelical Church

Deconstruction Grief Secondary Losses

Calvin* and I began experiencing strains in our relationship prior to my first experience with grief. The exclusivity, intensity, and pride that characterized our interactions had begun to weigh on my heart. I was playing a part; whitewashing my tomb. I said all the right things, behaved in all the right ways, but behind closed doors I was suffocating.


I knew our divorce was inevitable the day my step dad died. Our pastor sat me down and explained to me how God was glorified by sending my loved one to hell. I nodded my head, thanked him for his insight, and walked out of his office knowing it was over.


I continued to play the part for over a year. I argued for exclusion of women from the pulpit, I begged my sister not to have an abortion, I voted conservative. I led a missions trip, organized worship nights, and even participated in prayer meetings. All the while, I was dying under my female submission to the man. 


Internally I would argue with Calvin, I didn’t agree with anything he said, but outwardly I’d slap on the label and praise his name. I was a hypocrite. 


How could an all loving God be glorified in sending a loved one to hell? How could this God who so loved the world be so exclusive and so intentional in choosing some to be his and some not? Doesn’t seem so loving does it?


How come women had to silently suffer under submission? Why couldn’t they preach or teach or lead from the pulpit? Why couldn’t they question authority? Why was it always our fault for making men stumble? I was taught to hate my body; destroy the flesh. Everything about me was cringeworthy, because I was a woman.


I was tired of the “God’s ways are above ours” answers, I was tired of the “I am chosen” and “God loves you... but maybe he doesn’t” jokes. I was tired of it all. 


I finally served Calvin the divorce papers and I walked away. I walked away, moved cities, and ran into the arms of the Charismatic Movement.


I became a tongue-speaking, dream-seeking, prophecy chaser. I was entranced and enfolded into the world of the Holy Spirit. I lived amongst refugees, I delivered words of knowledge, I finally felt free. Until I didn’t. 


You see, I had divorced Calvin, but his evangelical roots had become so intertwined in my life I didn’t know how to shake free from it. I didn’t know how to love the simplicity of Jesus and leave evangelicalism behind.


And then I birthed my dead baby. 


I birthed my baby at 20 weeks, and three weeks later I was told my grief was an evil spirit that needed to be cast out of me. 


What? But I thought Jesus wept? Jesus wept, so why can’t I? Jesus cried when his friend died, so why can’t I cry when my baby dies? Why does it mean I need a spirit cast out of me, that I need deliverance? 


Never in my life have I been so deeply grieved by those who label themselves ‘Christian’.


I divorced evangelicalism for good when I was told I shouldn’t cry over my dead baby. I divorced the god who predestines my babies to die, and dishes out cancer like it’s a consolation prize. I left behind the theology that suffocates women, and excludes those on the margins. I left behind the toxic theology that teaches God breaks us, in order to put us back together. I divorced it all. 


I divorced it all so that I can finally discover myself for the very first time. The real me. Not the one tied down by bad theology or weird charisma or others’ expectations of who I should or should not be. I’m searching for the one buried beneath years of pain and heartbreak and religious trauma; the one who’s quietly been there all along. The one who’s held my hand and gripped my heart through it all. I’m hoping to find her, and reclaim her, once the dust of my divorce finally settles. 


*Calvin is in reference to Calvinism. If you know, you know.

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