This article originally appeared on January 5, 2021 at Baptist News Global.
The day I walked out of church, I had just finished assisting our children’s church lesson about how God created the world in six literal days. God had put the first two humans in a garden with one rule, and then sent them into exile, the entire cosmos into decay and all of future humanity into total depravity because Adam and Eve broke that one rule against eating a piece of fruit.
My stomach was in knots. I knew that within two weeks, these 5-year-olds would hear that God had gotten so angry that he drowned everyone on the planet who didn’t get on a boat.
But I had come to understand that none of that was literal. God never did any of that. These were stories told by an ancient tribe of hurting people who had been exiled from their homeland and were processing their wonders and wounds against the wonders and wounds of the much larger empire that had hurt them.
There is beauty to explore in these stories when we read them in a way that connects our wonders and wounds back to the wonders and wounds of this ancient tribe. But when told through the lens of the modern evangelical gospel of a God demanding perfection and threatening eternal torture just for being born a descendant of those two people, these stories perpetuate wounds in kids that I no longer could take part in forming, let alone pass on to my children — despite how evangelicals try to point the story to the supposed good news of God eventually getting his anger out by killing Jesus in exchange for a few of us.
I walked across the creaking hardwood floor of the church lobby and heard the joyful sounds of voices raised in singing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below.”
In the six seconds it took me to walk toward the heavy wooden door, something within me knew this was the last sound of live worship I would hear for a long time because I was leaving my Eden. As my hands pressed against the door, and my face felt the breeze of the cool fall air, I walked out into my exile.