A Battle Weary Man

Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day reading “Leaving the Fold.” I couldn’t put the book down. It has been an eye opening emotional roller coaster. I didn’t realize just how much Fundamentalism RUINED my life and squelched my true self. More importantly, it destroyed my relationship with God.

Castelluccio, la pineta "Italia"

This post is authored by John Wood. John is a survivor of fundamentalism and now runs the community “Homeless Faith.” This is a good community for those who still feel connected to a Higher Power but don’t have a structured home to practice. You can find his online community at https://www.facebook.com/homelessfaithhomepage.

In Christian society, your “testimony” is like a spiritual resume: telling those in your fold of your conversion experience, allowing them the chance to critique you, and to decide if you were really a “true” Christian. My testimony is different. It is the story of how Fundamentalism almost destroyed my soul. Most of these details I have never shared with anyone before, only those in my Facebook group “I Survived Fundamentalism.” I have agonized for almost a week about posting it publicly. But, I have to. There may be one of you going through this same turmoil and I want you to know you aren’t alone.

Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day reading “Leaving the Fold.” I couldn’t put the book down. It has been an eye opening emotional roller coaster. I didn’t realize just how much Fundamentalism RUINED my life and squelched my true self. More importantly, it destroyed my relationship with God.

I realized just how much of my life was wasted trying to conform to a standard that was impossible to measure up to. I realized just how contradictory the Bible is. I realized that I was both created in the image of God and an abomination in His eyes for who he created me to be. I realized that this loving God was capable of killing us all in an instant, if we weren’t satisfactory in His eyes.

I so desperately spent my youth trying to fit in. Trying to fit into mainstream society as a homosexual, only to be shunned, made fun of, tormented and cast aside. Trying to fit in to “Christian Society” as a sinner with a secret to hide, only to believe that I would NEVER get into heaven. Time and again, I walked down the aisle, “Just As I Am,” desperate to secure my place in Heaven, only to fail once again.

I want that 8 year old boy back. The one who had the shit scared out of him at Bible Summer Camp by a red-faced screaming man, telling me my 8 year old Matchbox car playing sinning soul was headed straight to hell. Yet, the next day, the “counselor” who was there to save our souls, drove me to the beach in his brown Pontiac Bonneville only to molest me on the sands, telling me how much God loved me and how much he loved me.

I want the 16 year old boy back. The one who desperately sought someone to love, someone to talk to, someone who he could be himself with. The one who threw himself into church to make himself worthy of God, yet always fell short. The one who hid his secret from the world, terrified of exposure.

I want the 24 year old man back. The one who was told by his mother that he would be considered dead if he “chose” this life. The one who had no self-esteem and sought approval by sleeping with anyone that would have him. The one who felt he was so unworthy that he had to buy love. The one who felt so guilty after every sexual encounter that he would strip the bed sheets and bleach the sin out of them. The one who lost 40 lbs from colitis from the stress of life.

I want the 32 year old man back. The man whose sin had enveloped him into a life from where redemption was not possible. The man who still sought approval through his sexual currency. The man from who love always escaped.

I want the 40 year old man back. The one who bargained with God to save his mother, the good Christian lady who did all the right things, only to be shit upon by life. The lady who’s husband was taken from her at age 33. The lady who felt her back problems were caused by God punishing her for keeping a clean house The lady who was convinced her death was because she didn’t live right and that God was once again punishing her. The 40 year old man was desperate to save the good Christian lady, so once again he became a weak and laughable character, diving in to Christian culture in a desperate attempt to be good enough to ask for a favor from God. All semblance of self reliance gone, the prayers were sent up daily, the donations sent to Joyce Meyer and the like, the library filling up with books such as “Battlefield of the Mind” and “Being Christian.” Obviously, this didn’t work since she died.

As the 40 year old man plodded along, he was punished for not being Christian enough. Panic attacks set in… you know, those attacks from the enemy. To him, fear meant you weren’t strong enough in your faith.

So, now, here stands the nearly 48 year old man. He is battle weary. He may have some cracks in his soul, but he is not broken. He is wiser. He wants the 8 year old boy, the 16 year old boy, the 24 year old man, the 32 year old man and the 40 year old man to know that they are loved by him. The 48 year old man will take care of them. He will protect them. And he promises them that they will never be subjected to that kind of a god again. He isn’t really sure where he is going at this time but, in another 8 years when we check in with the 56 year old man, he will be a much better adjusted person, with a deep connection to the God that loves us all, the God that rises above all doctrine and dogma.

I’m Coming OUT!

Today was Spirit Day in memory of several gay students who committed suicide from homophobic abuse they experienced.

What’s great is that there has been a rally of support for gays and lesbians all over the place by people today wearing purple to show their love and respect for them. Things will get better. One day, we will live in a world where it won’t matter what your sexuality is. There won’t be someone telling you you’re a sinner or a “fag” or a queer. There’s hope for humanity.

In the same spirit, I’m coming OUT today.

I’m not coming out in the, “I’m a lesbian” kind of way. I’m not a lesbian. I’m straight. I’m a straight woman who has a lot of gay and lesbian friends, and supports their right to fall in love, get married, hold hands, kiss, have sex, etc. without enduring intolerance or judgment.

I also have a lot of gay and lesbian friends who love God, who love Jesus and don’t have a place in the Church. But more on that later…

Back to me coming OUT:

I’m pretty sure a lot of people already know this, but I’m not a Christian Fundamentalist anymore. I once was. I sort of fell into it as a teenager and young adult. I walked away from it around the age 24.

Now it’s time to come out and be proud.

I’m standing with Anne Rice and those others who just can’t side with a religion (in this blog, Christianity, but any religion or group) that calls itself loving, but is hateful and judgmental. I can’t stand with a belief system that denies science, evolution, and the promotion of contraceptives, when I so believe in all those things–not because they are trends but because I have worked hard to find answers of my own. I can’t be feminist, intellectually evolving, and growing and listen to those who will call me wrong for thinking the way I do, simply because I’m using my own God-given brain. My brain isn’t smaller because it’s in a female body. I can be a woman and teach, preach, run a church, business, corporation, country as well as a man. It’s not a sin “equal to pedophilia” to ordain a woman as priest (to quote the Pope). I’m not anti-Christian, baby-hating, or a child-killer because I believe in abortion as a woman’s right to choose. I’m not even anti-Christian because I believe in all of the above.

I’m simply responding finding that after years of being a “Christian,” there isn’t a place for me after I changed.

The woman I am today isn’t welcome in the church I once attended because the church I once attended didn’t allow me to think for myself.

Why I Don’t Believe in Sin

If you read here often, you know Anne Rice is one of my favorite women. She recently posted this question to her Facebook fans:

What do you think about the word, sin? I think it’s a bad word, a confusing word. It doesn’t help us to meet the challenges we face. What do you think? Do you believe in “sin?” What is it? Can you define it for me and others?

My reply was quite simple: “I don’t believe in sin. I think what people really mean when they talk about sin is becoming a better person. Growing and working on yourself is something we should all aspire to do, but to call our shortcomings “sin” is damaging. Some of the “sin” I used to think I had in the past was actually my personality and some of it was depression.”

Quite simply, the idea of sin is made up by preachers and people who want to perpetuate religion. Is the idea of sin really necessary as a driving force to be a better person? Is guilt necessary to cause us to “confess” our shortcomings? I don’t think so. Before you disagree and point out the Boston bombers or some other example, of course, I agree with you: there are people who do bad things, who hurt other people, etc. But the complexity surrounding these people is much greater than just “He’s a monster,” or “She’s evil.” Rarely is there a moment where things are so simple.

All dark deeds aside, many of us have had religious-induced guilt pounded into our psyche for far too long. So much that we find it easy to “admit we’re a sinner” and ask for forgiveness. Look, I’m fine asking someone for forgiveness that I’ve hurt, but I don’t believe that I should admit I’m a sinner. I’m not a sinner. I’m a good person, but I have emotions. I get angry, sad, glad, upset, depressed, and on occasion  I have a moment of rage. I think that makes me human, not a sinner.

If you want to sell the “sinner” path, great. I hope someone buys your bullshit. As for me, I’ll be over here in “enjoying life” land.

Interested in hearing more of why I left Christianity? Read this piece of work (I say that sarcastically) by John Piper talking about sin: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/04/we_re_all_broken_what_then What complete and total bullshit. I can’t be a part of a religion that teaches this nonsense.

[Thanks to my friend Suzi for the John Piper article link.]

People talkin shit…

To watch the video that speaks volumes to the current situation (and to people who passively aggressively CONDEMN ME, while sitting around doing NOTHING to fix the situation…AND to people who send me veiled insults via text/email/etc…YOU CAN ALL KISS MY ASS), click here:

Cage the Elephant–In one ear

Some of the lyrics I like best:

“Now I know I’m not a saint,
I been a sinner all my life,
I ain’t tryin to have no buds,
I’d rather keep them in the line,
They wanna criticize you now,
Cast another stone,
Burn me at the stake and see them watch it from the dome,
They say the devil is my pal…
They think they know my thoughts,
But they don’t know the least,
If they listened to the words they’d find the message that’s beneath

People talkin’ shit,
They can kiss the back of my hand”