The Word “Offended”

I’ve been told I’m “hurt and offended” so many times since I started this blog.

I can’t even explain to you how “over” those words I am.

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being hurt. Remember the first time your son or daughter came home from school and said to you, “Bobby pushed me down on the playground,” or “Susie made fun of the ribbon you made me?” You were offended, right? And your little daughter or son was hurt after falling on the playground. Maybe even bleeding.

Spiritual abuse causes wounds. They might be bruises, cuts, or deep oozing gashes. But, they’re still wounds. And wounds hurt.

Second of all, there’s this thing–this sickness—that’s only in the Christian community that takes a line like, “You’re hurt and offended. You need to get over it and move on. Stop dwelling on the past,” and makes it a curse; a condescending line to tell you they’re sick and tired of listening to you (or in fact, that they dismissed you after just a few seconds of listening), and that you’re a bad person.

In reality, the bad person isn’t YOU.

If you’re hurt, most likely, someone caused you deep pain, lied to you, and betrayed your trust. The human-to-human bond is broken, bruised or injured.

If you’re offended, it’s most likely that someone was out of line in the way they treated you. Perhaps they belittled you, bullied you, etc.

In most cases, the pastor or someone in direct authority has used their power to throw their weight around, figuratively slapping around a few people. They don’t give a damn who they hurt or how badly they hurt them. They won’t care unless that person starts detracting from their power and money (perhaps by detracting their followers).

I was sixteen years old when I was taught to look down upon those who were offended in church. My pastor taught me that. I believe he was wrong.

I also think grief comes and goes in waves. It may wreck your life for years, or altogether. Pain is sometimes so unbearable for people that they’re not able to move on from it. For someone in power to purposefully cause you pain and maliciously belittle you is wrong.

 

Questions:

Have you ever been dismissed by someone by being called “offended?”

Do you think being hurt and offended can be constructive for someone?

No Dating is a Higher Calling: Master’s Commission and Westboro Baptist Church Members Agree

Master’s Commission has a “No Dating” policy for First Year students, which in many groups extends to Second Year Students and Staff Members (at the discretion of the pastor’s in charge). I’ve had current and former Master’s Commission students argue with me about this “No Dating” policy, which I see as controlling and cult-like.

Master’s Commission sees the “No Dating” policy as a way of a young person putting away distractions to fulfill a higher calling. They argue that you can’t fully focus on God if you’re focusing on fulfilling your Earthly desires, or better yet, ‘How can you get to know God if you’re selfishly getting to know someone else at the same time?’

Dating is a distraction–in their eyes.

Sound familiar, former MC’s (and others who’ve been recovering from cults)?

What’s eerily familiar is watching this video, where WBC members allowed a reporter an inside look at their compound. Take a particularly close look at the young women, who engage with the reporter about whether or not they have boyfriends. They state that they don’t and when asked, they say that “that’s not what we’re about in this life…we’re not about serving ourself” and “it’s a temptation that’s not needed and takes up time that we just don’t have.”

Sound familiar Master’s Commission? A horrific comparison, I know. Sadly, it’s true from my experience that many Master’s Commission students and Master’s Commission Directors speak just like these young women regarding dating.

Inside Westboro Baptist Church

Gender Stereotypes in Church and Why Women Should Avoid Them

This morning I was getting ready for work and the phrase “strong men” echoed in my head. For years in my cult, Master’s Commission (with subsequent time at Our Savior’s Church, another destructive force in my life) I was told that I should only date and marry a ‘strong man.’

What does this mean, exactly?

The overall message is this: Conform to gender stereotypes and “biblical” messages. The man should be the head of the household and the woman should be his subordinate. If you’re a man, there’s only one way to be a man–by being the boss of your wife, unafraid of anything, and making every decision related to your wife and family. If you’re a woman, you must submit to everything your husband says, even (and sometimes if) your husband abuses you or is disrespectful to you, you must sacrifice all your dreams for childbearing, and you must not depart from these things.

As many times as I’ve written about this subject, I don’t think that it has ever left my mind because it’s so unnerving especially now that I’m out of that group, and have separated myself from all of those people’s influence in my life. I’m living happily in sunny California and listening to birds chirping outside my window right now. My cat is lounging on my bed next to me.

I love my life; however, there was a time when I prayed for a “strong man” to marry because I thought that was what I needed and wanted in life. What was I thinking?!

Here are some advice of my own–to women–contrary to the Marry a Strong Man mantra:

Become a Strong Woman

My own philosophy is not to make a man responsible for being your boss, your leader, or your guru but to be able to be those things to yourself. This will only make him feel pressured with added responsibility and might even make you seem pretty co-dependent.

Not to mention, it’s nice to dream something up and be able to do it yourself. Not that we don’t need mentors, teachers and guides–but Christian fundamentalism makes those people our gods instead of our guides.

Work on being a wholesome fully capable person because you want to be the best version of yourself you CAN be; not because some pastor told you that in order to find a “strong man” you have to be a “strong woman.” Because that’s just bullsh*t.

Never be Anyone’s Subordinate

There’s just no reason (except for archaic & sexist thinking; which hopefully you have discarded) to be someone’s subordinate. If you’re a woman, you don’t belong UNDER a man–whether it’s your father, your pastor or leader’s authority, or your husband. I’m not writing to little girls here. I’m writing to women (young and old) who’ve had an oppressive pastor, father, or husband.

You’re not below anyone. You’re not less than anyone.

Success is also for women

Years into Master’s Commission and Our Savior’s Church Staff, I was dreaming big things for my life. I wanted to help all kinds of people and really actively live out my faith (faith that I had at the time). I had plans and dreams of what I could accomplish.

Yet, I was told that women didn’t do those kinds of things. My future husband might and I could help him. But, women didn’t do that. Women didn’t go oversees to run missionary movements. They didn’t start humanitarian efforts to help provide food, clothing and water to AIDS patients in Africa.

Men did.

Well, contrary to what I was taught is what is true–success is for women, too. If you are a Christian, as I once was, or a non-Christian success is not something that is determined by your gender nor is success something that is measured in dollar signs.

Follow YOUR dreams

If you’re alive, you have some kind of ideal or dreams about your life. Something you want to accomplish with your life. Something YOU want to do that would make you happy.

Don’t spend your entire life living your husbands dreams, or your pastors dreams. Take a moment to evaluate what you’d like to do with your own life–what are your dreams and hopes?

Now go get them. It’s not wrong. 🙂

Don’t forsake your dreams and desires to your mans

Marry a Partner, not a Leader

I was always taught to marry a leader because those who taught me thought a man must be a leader and a woman could not be a leader.

Since then, I’ve discovered that marrying a leader would put things grossly out of balance. Women aren’t to be led. We’re not horses. We’re human beings who happen to have tits. That doesn’t make us an animal.

Normal Men are Best

Men who are normal are best. They’re better than STRONG men. Designating a man as strong or weak, in fundamentalist terms is simply a way to belittle men and women who don’t fall under antiquated gender standards.

The point is: be yourself and toss out the garbage your pastor is teaching about gender stereotypes.

It’s not the 50’s.

There exist in our world hyper-masculine men and feminine men, and everything in between. Whether it’s a product of our culture, family upbringing, or social conformity, men are who they are. I don’t believe they should have to change into becoming what a pastor tells them they should.

The same for women. Some women are tomboys, some are feminine, some a little bit in between.

But so what?

Don’t let your church define what type of man or woman you should BE or what type of man or woman you should MARRY.

Glee

Tonight’s episode of

Glee

was awesome.

 

I actually used to dislike Glee.

Tonight I watched it, and loved it.

 

Gwyneth Paltrow was great.

 

They have a Celibacy Club, with members who make celebacy  pledges and wear celibacy charms.

And they talked about sex. Straight sex, gay sex, lesbian sex.

Why is sex such a hard thing to talk about? And why is

it a problem for two men or two women to have sex?

Thirty and Not Married!

I took this weird, winding road to where I am now.

I’m thirty years old.

I’m unmarried.

I don’t have children.

Ending up in Master’s Commission for seven years threw a kink in the “normal” life, if you will. A lot of people end up attending college after high school, falling in love with someone, getting to work on a career and having some kids.

Not me.

I took this weird, winding road to where I am now.

I’m thirty years old.

I’m unmarried.

I don’t have children.

I’m two classes away from a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

What really got to me for years?

I wasn’t married! All my friends were getting married except for me. I’d been a bridesmaid about five times (or more…I have enough crappy dresses to prove it). Now, going on 3-0, it’s actually not as huge of a deal to me as it was when I was 24. (Though my current boyfriend might argue with me here. =P Love you, babe)

Why?

My dating life has gone through a radical change.

 

Grief and Other Hideous Effects

Every morning I go to the French doors at the back of my house and I look upon the wide expanse of desert that surrounds me. I look down at the patio, and I don’t see Ella so my gaze runs out to the East, where my mom and I set a cat trap with salmon. I lost my cat two weeks ago, and although I know her likely destiny was prey to a California desert predator, I keep looking for her to show up.

Grief does funny things to people. It’s an emotion that I didn’t clearly recognize I was going through the years after leaving the cult I was involved in. Some people said they thought I felt rejected and that was why I became depressed. Of course there was rejection upon leaving.  Upon disagreeing with the senior pastor, he cut me off from communication (like he’d done to so many others in his past). Why?  He became disappointed in me because I was unwilling to come back to Louisiana and I was unwilling to live my life according to his rules. Fragments of conversation trickle down the chain of command there in Louisiana, where eavesdroppers at household conversations and bystanders at after-church discussions mix truth with lies with assumptions about why people leave the church. Eventually, the game of telephone dilutes any truth of why anyone left and people are left to their own assumptions mixed with he-said, she-said which is never generous to the person who leaves the “place of blessing” or “out of the anointing” or “House of God.” Negative assumptions breed rejection, and what I felt was rejection from people I’d grown close to for much of the history of my young adult life.

More powerfully than rejection, though, was the grief I experienced from an amalgamation of losing my friends, people I considered close (like family), and discarding and deconstructing the teachings I now disagreed with.

During a journey of grieving and depression, I allowed myself to be expressive, angry, searching and honest.

I began to grieve and mourn the loss of people I’d considered friends for many years of my life, and I began to grieve the loss of what I thought was my “faith” and what turned out to be a need for people’s approval. As I began to intersect the faith I’d been taught in the cult with the faith I’d felt in my heart was right my entire life, I began to see a great chasm that needed to be reconciled. So, I set out to find my own truth—the things I believed about love, people, dreams—without placing pressure on myself to meet someone else’s approval.

I felt that to become a blank slate was something that would help me ascertain what my own beliefs were, as opposed to what I was taught in the cult.

I deconstructed the idea of Christianity completely.

I took it all apart, piece-by-piece and was left with a sort of artists table with a clean canvas and materials to construct with. I had paints of all colors and tones, magazine cut-outs, fragments of books I’d read, pictures I’d seen, people I’d known, and experiences I’d had. With a clean slate in front of me, I took my old materials and examined them. I turned them to the right and the left and looked at them from the back, and the front with a critical eye. I read from experts in the field of religion, feminism, humanitarianism, literature. I compared them with human beings in history and the present time who were models of exceptional citizenship, who treated people fairly and respectfully.

Many of my old materials needed to be discarded. They came from a long line of historical violence, a present day close-minded manner and an anti-intellectual path that I no longer wanted to walk on.

As I felt more liberated, I acted more liberated.

The years of grief were mixed with years of feeling buoyant, vibrant.

There were years I’d sit at a writing desk and feel like a dried out old pen, because I was worried what the people from my past would think. How would they judge me? What gossip sessions would occur because of what I was about to write? What prayers of concern would go up to God from them on behalf of my soul, because I was now changed from the Lisa they knew? I had no voice to speak—only fear, yet I had words that were jamming up in my head and twisting like pretzels to get out. When I would begin to write, the nightmares would come. The mornings I’d wake up with fear that they were real. I was back there. The women were coming for me—ensuring I didn’t escape.

Grief isn’t something you navigate out of like short river boat ride. Grief is complex and misunderstood: the outer shell of humans experiencing it often not showing signs and other times causing people to fall apart, lose their ability to reason and calculate and concentrate.

Grief can also be like a painting:

grey,

black and hazy,

with a few strokes

of white

and blue

lighting up

the picture.

“Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to

be…Grief is different.

Grief has no difference.

Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden

apprehensions that weaken the knees

and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.”

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Do You Think It’s Easy?

To do what I’ve done?

To come against former friends, pastors, and people who I considered family and call them cult leaders and cult members is not easy. In fact, I questioned myself. I’ve had people call me crazy. I’ve had people unfriend me on facebook and in real life. I’ve been cussed out, harrassed, and belittled.

It’s EMBARRASSING for me to put all my personal business on the Internet. I’d much rather forget this ever happened and move on. Trust me.

The worst part about it, is I’ve felt alienated by literally everyone except my family and my best friend over the years. No one stood by my side and said, “Hey Lisa, we’ll give statements with you,” or “We agree with you.”

No.

In fact, when I’ve asked people their stories or to stand with me, they’ve doubted me, called me crazy, or told me I was wrong. They’ve questioned my motives, told me I was acting out of line, or just made me feel really stupid. And I am really stupid–the bottom line is, I can’t change any one and I certainly can’t change an entire ideology (cult or not). I can’t change a person who leads thousands of people and indoctrinates them week after week.

But, in the back of my mind, I see my high school teacher, John Kopp’s poster on the wall: “Stand up for what is right, even if you’re standing alone.”

See, in the words of one of my good friends, whom I’ll call “E”, no one was our advocate when we were there. No one told us that it was a cult. No one helped us see that it was wrong, or find a way out. No one spoke up for us. No one knew. It’s our responsibility to speak up now that we know what went on there–the amount of abuse and hurt we went through–so that young people after us and staff after us don’t have to suffer the mental and spiritual abuse we did. We need to give the silent a voice. They don’t know they need it yet, but one day they might.

I feel like I’m doing the right thing. You might not agree, but I ask that if you do, you please email me your personal statement at mycultlife@gmail.com.

Antimodernism: The Demonization of Dating

What is antimodernism?

There’s a phrase in the religious studies community: “antimodernism” that can help us describe some of what goes on in the fundamentalists mind. Antimodernism can be defined as the rejection of modern technology, ideals, etc. for a “purer” historical or pre-historical way of life. Antimodernism doesn’t just describe religious fundamentalists, but the term does apply in many ways.

In my experience, Master’s Commission held many antimodernist ideals:

  • The rejection of technology.
  • The rejection of dating.
  • The rejection of classical or “secular” education.
  • The rejection of the women’s movement.

I’ll explain each of these further.

The rejection of dating occurs in many Master’s Commission groups. Just google “Master’s Commission rules.” You’ll get a return search of several MC groups Information Packets that include amongst their rules “no secular music, no rated R movies, limited cell phone and internet usage.”

In my own Master’s Commission experience, we weren’t allowed to date as a first-year student. As a second-year or third-year “intern” or “support staff,” dating was rare and often forbidden, depending on a person’s choice of dating partner.

Eventually, dating was demonized and courtship was the appropriate way of meeting a partner.

What is courtship? Courtship is a way of meeting a marriage partner. Two people only enter into a courtship when and if they feel ready for marriage and they have “prayed” about their partner being the “one” who matches their “destiny” in life. The two must be sexually pure during the time of courtship, and often are mentored by pastors or church elders who hold them accountable to their purity.

Courtship usually entails rules of no kissing and even no hand-holding. Courtship can also mean group dates or dates that are with family or accountability partners only.

Alone time in a courtship relationship is strongly forbidden, as the couple may “stumble” and “submit to sexual temptation.”

For more information on courtship, see I Kissed Dating Good-bye by Joshua Harris and Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot.

I’m Not a Christian Anymore

In August, 2010, Anne Rice came out and said, “I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-science. I refurse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being a Christian. Amen.”

I couldn’t have agreed more with her decision. For quite a few years, I’ve spent time deconstructing my own faith and came up with a very similar conclusion.

I can no longer call myself a Christian.

Ironically, I think this is a very “Christ-like” decision, since I don’t think modern Christianity represents Christ and the teachings of modern preachers seem to me very unintellectual, simple, and money and power hungry. I think if “Christ came back” he’d say WTF?!

But, I don’t blame the state of the Church on preachers themselves. I think each individual who accepts the teachings of pastors also has some part in the state of the church. Accepting the state of the church as anti-gay, anti-science, anti-feminist is something I did for years. I became a reverend in that state. I didn’t question the under educated pastors who were passing on terminology and ideas that hadn’t been well-thought out or deconstructed. They hadn’t been doubted by them, or criticized. They just slopped it into my bowl and I drank from it.

I resigned from being a reverend in 2003. I still continued to do ministry until 2005, and there I started attending college. A secular college. The deconstruction of my faith came during my college years, but not necessarily because of them. Immediately after leaving my cult, the slop just tasted terrible. I started recognizing that most of it was b.s. and I’d questioned it BEFORE Master’s Commission, and needed to revert back to that time before I entered into a mind-control environment. It was hard to get in touch with who I was before Master’s and the ministry, but I did it. I found a girl who was guilt-free, lacked a constant condemnation, and thought a lot about everything. That girl was normal (for the most part), listened to secular music, watched Rated R movies, and read all kinds of different books. I resumed my life there.

I’m not a Christian anymore. I didn’t lose my faith. I decided to get rid of it.

My faith was cumbersome to my personal growth, to my well-being as a human being, and to my desire to be a compassionate person who loved the world as it is.

I was wrapped up in fundamentalism for years. Someone said:

“Fundamentalism is a form of organised anger in reaction to the unsettling consequences of rapid social and religious change.”

I don’t believe fundamentalism is representative of all Christianity or all Christians, but what I believe doesn’t coincide with either belief system.

What I believe now is that there is no heaven or hell. Those are scare tactics taught to us by pastors around the world to pressure us into a relationship with God. Sometimes this is for their own “number game.” Sometimes it’s so that they can say their church is growing and the Holy Spirit is moving. Sometimes it’s for the perpetuation of something they learned was “right” and just kept doing without questioning whether it was right or godly or not.

I believe the Bible is not inerrant. It’s complicated. It’s a historical document, filled with interesting stories and myths. Did God create Eve out of Adam’s rib? Probably not. In fact, that’s the exact type of thing I’m talking about. That myth perpetuates the idea that Eve is less than Adam. She also tempted Adam and caused them to get kicked out of the Garden. Those early Genesis teachings are anti-women and reinstate patriarchal power structures that are harmful to male and female alike.

The Bible is also filled with the promotion of slavery, more oppressive language toward women, gays, and it can be a dangerous tool in the hands of fundamentalist Christians inciting violence and war rhetoric (the “army of the Lord” fighting against the “ungodly”).

I don’t believe America is or should be a Christian nation. First, there are a lot of Christians who disagree on things such as abortion, gun control, the environment, etc. I believe the United States is a nation of Jews, Muslims, and multiple other religions, ideologies, and beliefs. America also contains a group of citizens who are anti-theist, atheist who are not “heathens” or “evil” or even wrong. They’re human beings. They’re not going to die and call out to God on their death bed. They’re satisfied with their lives.

I respect science and scientists. I believe evolution is more plausible than any of the other theories of why we exist today. I think it’s necessary to learn and educate ourselves about how we’ve evolved as a biological being and anthropologically.

I believe that women are not sub-human to men. We don’t need to submit. We are not superior, but equal to men. I disagree with men and women who oppress women using the Bible, political and cultural ideologies, etc. This use of the Bible to promote the “gentle-spirited” woman is harmful for women; it doesn’t consider us individuals capable of being wild; and it’s oppressive to men, promoting the idea of a “manly man” as the only ideal of a godly man. These teachings (explicit and implied) harm people’s confidence in themselves, pervert individual traits, and control sex and gender roles.

On that note, I’m strongly against patriarchal religion. I don’t believe that God or gods are a Father. I don’t think God is a Him, and this language and idea oppresses women and men.

I share all of this with you because I’m ready to come out as Anne Rice did. I’m tired of putting on pretenses that I am someone I’m not. I’m proud of how I’ve evolved into the woman I am today, the relationships I have with people who support me (and a pretty awesome family who loves me through all of this) and like me for who I am rather than what I believe or don’t believe. I’m also really excited about drafting the plans to my own life, following some and discarding others based on what I think is right, not what someone tells me is right (or God’s voice). My life has become a journey filled with heartache, and pain, growth and critical thinking, and embracing the wild and exciting part of myself.

I’m happy with my quirkiness, my ability to make people laugh, and the unique way I form a thought, feel things deeply, and care about people.

I like me.

Now, for blogging sake, these opinions don’t mean this is a non-Christian blog or that non-Christians aren’t welcome. To the contrary, actually. I was a Christian, and who I was then formed part of my history.  I understand that Christianity is very important to most of my readers and I hope to provide resources and educational materials for those who desire to grow as Christians after exiting a cultish or destructive group. However, those who are non-religious or atheist are welcome and I will provide resources for growth likewise.

Lastly, in the style of Reddit, please feel free to ASK ME ANYTHING.

Comments may be moderated if the comment policy is not followed.

 

Women: Go Get that Man!

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about women pursuing men and why it’s not wrong.

Well, I’m about to revisit the topic. If you’re a stuffy Christian, avert your eyes. If you’re under 18, get the hell of my page. If you’re my mom…come back later.

Sometimes I check out the “recent keywords” on my blog, aka what you people typed into Google.com to get here. There’s been a ton lately about “should women pursue men,” “is it okay for women to pursue men,” and “do shy guys pursue?”

I feel like so many people need love advice out there, so it’s okay…Lush-us Deelite is out tonight to help you.

Send me your love and relationship questions to lushisdeelite@gmail.com.

But for now, I’m going to answer the reader’s question:

Dear Lushis,

Do shy guys pursue?

Love,

Busted

Dear Busted,

Well first of all, I gotta congratulate you on really goin after a shy guy. See, shy guys don’t always pursue girls, but when you finally get em, they are good, girl (or gurrrrrrrrlll *snap!*). I think you should really jus go after dat man and see what you two could do wit each other. U jus never know!

<3 Always,

Lushis Dee-lite™

Cuz everyone needs a little Dee-lite in their lives. <3