I meet a lot of women who are getting pushback about the questions they’re asking as they deconstruct their faith.
It breaks their hearts to find criticism and judgement where they usually find acceptance. However, it’s totally normal that your friends, family, and even your local church get a little nervous when you start pushing boundaries, questioning traditions, and charging into grey areas.
Friends and family tend to want us to stay safe, but falling in line with toxic religious culture isn’t safe and it definitely isn’t the freedom from oppression that God promises.
Deconstructing is important because it moves us away from idolizing the church and points us back to God.
If we truly believe that God has all the answers and welcomes our questions, then asking messy questions that challenge the norm is an exercise in faith, not rebellion.
So what is deconstruction and what does deconstructing our faith look like?
Mirriam Webster gives this definition:
1: a philosophical or critical method which asserts that meanings, metaphysical constructs, and hierarchical oppositions (as between key terms in a philosophical or literary work) are always rendered unstable by their dependence on ultimately arbitrary signifiers
also : an instance of the use of this method
a deconstruction of the nature–culture opposition in Rousseau’s work
2: the analytic examination of something (such as a theory) often in order to reveal its inadequacy
What does all that mean?
Deconstructing one’s faith is simply breaking down all the components that make up our faith. It’s taking a really deep look at what is truly from God, and releasing ourselves from what isn’t from God.
Basically we are weeding out the falsehoods and creating more room for the Truth to flourish. It’s desperately needed by just about anyone who has grown up in or around the church.
Deconstruction helps us find God’s Truth, not the truth that humans twist up in our own bias and fears.
Contrary to what some patriarchal conservative groups say (ahem…The Gospel Coalition, I’m looking at you) deconstructing our faith is not the same as abandoning it for a life with no moral compass. It’s also not the same as making up some new idolatrous faith that is contrary to God’s Word and puts ourselves in the very center.
People who choose to deconstruct their faith typically work very hard not to abandon our Creator.
God they love. What they want to abandon is the patriarchy and toxic religious culture that tries to twist Christianity into a religion that protects the power of the white, affluent, fundamentalist, mostly male majority at the cost of everyone else. (Just ask the indigenous people of the US who faced genocide and cultural obliteration at the hands of the church.)
Those of us who have chosen to deconstruct know that it would have been much easier to put our heads down and pretend the church was fine as it is.
It would also have been easier to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and assume God does want the church to be patriarchal, nationalistic, and judgmental.
Anything would be easier than falling down the rabbit hole of deconstruction. This process requires one to examine every single belief about God. Because examining is only the first step.
Deconstruction also requires us to wrestle with our own bias, privilege, and flaws in very uncomfortable ways.
We have to take off our masks, rip open all the old wounds. and stand in front of the mirror naked before we can actually see God (and ourselves) without the trappings of toxic religious culture.
It’s not easy.
It’s not a cowardly move for those who don’t want to be sanctified by God’s Holy Fire.
Deconstructing is sanctification.
It’s what happens when we give up the idolatry of worshipping toxic religions. When we exchange it for an intimate connection with the Holy Spirit that moves us in real time.
Deconstructing our faith is a radically courageous step towards becoming the pre-fall children of God that we were always meant to be.
So no, it’s not heretical, or cowardly, or selfish to say “ENOUGH!” to patriarchy and toxic religious culture and head for the wilderness to find God.
It’s exactly what Jesus did.
So shut out the voice telling you not to deconstruct.
Unfollow the “All Lives Matter” crew. Stop listening to those who simultaneously post “Love your neighbor” memes and call refugees at our borders “murders and rapists”.
Read a few books by church outcasts who never stopped loving Jesus.
Start asking hard questions about things that are OK with most Christians, but seem to contradict Jesus’ teachings. (Hint: They usually contradict Jesus because they’re man-made constructs, not God’s design.)
I hope you, like me, will 100% reject the judgement of people who say women who choose to deconstruct our faith are lost.
Because we are not.
We are more ‘found’ than our tightly bound pre-deconstruction self.
Wrestling through the weeds of our own limiting beliefs about God is actually the holiest pilgrimage one can make. It always ends up at the feet of Jesus.
After all, isn’t that where we are all supposed to be heading?
If you’re looking for a safe space and a guide for your deconstruction process. Check out at WildSacredHoly.com my community dedicated to providing soul care for the deconstructing woman, and check out The Christian Feminists on Facebook!
Angela J Herrington, MA, LSCC is a Life and Leadership Coach for Christian Women at AngelaJHerrington.com , founder of Broken Beautiful BOLD online women’s ministry, and Christian feminist activator at WildSacredHoly.com.
Angela is a spunky Gen Xer who creates sacred spaces for vulnerable exploration. Her specialty is helping Christian women untangle themselves from limiting beliefs, toxic religious culture, and all the ways the enemy tries to keep them small. She holds a BA from Indiana Wesleyan and a Masters in Leadership from Wesley Seminary. Her graduate research project focused on leadership development and opportunities for Gen X women in the US church.
Angela and her unique online ministry were featured in Lyz Lenz’s 2019 book God Land: Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America. She also has been published in Hope for Women and HOPE is Now magazines.
Angela is also a Lark’s Song Certified Life Coach who reaches hundreds of thousands of women in 40+ countries each month on Facebook, IG, Twitter, Pinterest, and two blogs. She is Director of Communications for Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy, a women-led organization dedicated to engaging, empowering, and equipping women to lead in the church.
Angela is also a wife, mom to 6, and proud resident of Marion, Indiana with her family when they’re not traveling the US in their RV.