Where is the Love?

Much of the New Testament focuses on the concept that Jesus is love. In all the accounts written about him he was exemplifying love and mercy to those around him (perhaps with the exception of chasing out the money changers in the temple). Jesus’ ministry focused on healing the sick, blessing children, and befriending the outcasts. If Christians are followers of Christ, then Christianity at it’s most basic level = doing what Jesus did… right? Why, then do so many of my friends and even family who claim to follow Christ live lives so opposite of how Christ lived?

My Facebook feed is filled with stories and posts about the evils of public assistance and how most people are just out to milk the system. The loudest refrain I hear is that people must work, work, work – if you are on public assistance you must not be working hard enough. The assumption seems to be that poor people are lazy and should simply work harder. Those Americans fortunate enough to not be in that position should not have to help out those less fortunate than themselves. Given that a large percentage of people who hold to those ideas claim Christianity, I question their understanding of the Bible. What about this attitude is Christian? Where in the Bible did Jesus tell people to work harder and stop looking for help? How many beggars did Jesus use as an example of what happens to lazy people? How many sick people did Jesus turn away because they couldn’t pay for his services? Can you envision Jesus turning away children or leaving them to go hungry? Would he have prided himself in making lots of money and living in luxury while those around him suffered, struggled, and starved? No. Those are all current American ways of thinking and living. Jesus wasn’t American. Granted, there are more than just Americans who think and act this way. I suppose what I mean more specifically is that many people who claim Christianity have confused what it means to be Christian with what it means (to some) to be American.

The story that really got me thinking about this was how some Americans have responded to the immigrant children that have recently flooded our borders. These children have risked life and limb to reach America, because they believed that they would have a chance at happy, hopeful lives here. These children are fleeing violence, rape, enslavement, and abject poverty in their homelands. Why is this a crime? Why are children spat upon as if they were criminals intent on destroying America? This is America – we have a statue who stands as an emblem of hope in New York, and upon that statue are these words:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

~ Emma Lazarus

 I find it ironic that many people I know who are so staunchly opposed to immigrants and programs that provide aid to people sing a song in church that talks about Lady Liberty and how proud they are to be Americans. I guess they’re so stuck on the “liberty for you and me” part that they’ve forgotten about everyone else, particularly the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Lady Liberty’s poem seems like it should be a mantra Christians would be happy to live by. Indeed, there are many who do… but rarely do they carry the title Fundamentalist or Baptist.

If you are a Christian, please take away this: don’t be so busy squabbling over who’s right and who’s wrong that you neglect to behave as followers of Christ. Jesus set a beautiful example for all of humanity, and the core of his ministry was showing love to people. If you don’t want to love others, stop using Christ’s name to describe yourselves.

Further reading:

The One About God, the Church, and Modern Religion

Here’s How You Can Help Unaccompanied Border Kids Without Giving to Glenn Beck

Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

 Matthew 18:1-6, 19:14,21 6:24; Luke 14: 13-14, 18:16-17; Acts 2: 44-45, 4:32-37; Romans 13:1-7 and pretty much everything Jesus said or did

A Three Year Old, David & Goliath, & God’s People

My three year old stepson was recently exposed to a lot of Bible stories and has been recounting them to us with great flourish. One story in particular has really stuck with him and he loves to tell it to us over and over again: David and Goliath. I take issue with the violent nature of that story, now that I’m a mom, and wonder why on earth it’s a favorite for teaching to young children. I’ve had to repeatedly explain to my stepson that the point of the story is not how exciting it is to kill a giant, but that sometimes people have to do very brave things to protect themselves and the people they love. My stepson was pretending that everything was a giant to be killed; as he whipped his sling around (usually a sock) he would shout that he was killing ____ in God’s name (!!!!). We naturally put a stop to that. How can anyone expect a three year old to respond differently, though? Tell a child that story and all he’ll remember is the excitement of whirling a sling around and killing something. The child has no understanding of killing and death, of course, but that is what he will latch onto. After a lot of discussion I’ve noticed my stepson has begun to alter his version of the story to better match up with what I’ve taught him, which is encouraging.

Another point I’ve had to discuss with him is bravery. In the version of the story he learned, God blessed David and made him brave enough to fight Goliath. I’m trying to instill into my stepson that people can be brave even without being blessed from above. People can certainly ask for help through prayer etc., but we each have a lot of strength within ourselves and can do brave things on our own. So far my explanations have been met with adamant replies that things have to be like the story said they are, but that’s okay. So long as he’s hearing more than one side of things on regular basis, then I am content. I realize that he thinks everything in the world is either black or white, right now, and if some people say one thing is true while other people say something else is true… that’s confusing.

The remaining part of the story I have yet to address is the part where Goliath is attacking “God’s people.” Even in a book written for tiny children, the concept of Israel as being extra special to God is worked in as fact. This bothers me. The whole concept of one group of people being “God’s people” bothers me a lot. Continue reading

Spiritual Experiences

When I discuss religion and faith with other people, I find myself most interested in why they chose their particular path. For some their decision was greatly impacted by their family and heritage. For others, it was a spiritual experience that led them to choose a particular religion and/or deity. Spiritual experiences fascinate me.

While I was a Christian I had very few spiritual experiences, perhaps because the IFB world I was raised in downplayed personal experiences and the Holy Spirit. I suppose that’s why we were fundamentalists, though, because we stuck to what we perceived to be the fundamental teachings of the Bible – people of the Book and all that jazz. I had a friend in school who was a member of a Pentecostal church, where the Holy Spirit and personal experience was emphasized more heavily. I never attended any of their services, but the stories I heard were certainly interesting! I imagine the ecstatic fervor that is a hallmark of Pentecostal services would have been scary because it was so far from what I thought was normal. I’ve been to several church services (of varying denominations) over the years that made me very uncomfortable because the church members felt comfortable enough to show honest emotions while worshiping. I’m secretly jealous of how genuine they allow themselves to be while in public.

After I left Christianity I began to study other religions more in-depth than I had previously.
I began to recognize that spirituality and spiritual experiences were universal things… and that the non-Christian forms were not evil and Satanic. Fundamentalist Christianity tends to make the horrible claim that all forms of spirituality that aren’t Christian stem from Satan and his demons. Even as a Christian, I was puzzled by such claims, because plenty of people in other religions had lovely experiences and did wonderful things. They weren’t evil and certainly didn’t act like they were being mislead by a demon! It’s very liberating to no longer feel obligated to label people’s faiths in such judgmental ways. Instead, I am coming to respect the variety that exists in the world – different doesn’t mean wrong or right, just different.

I’ve had several spiritual experiences since I left Christianity, and each has nourished my soul and made me a better person. When other people tell me of their spiritual experiences, I feel no need to discount them if they don’t line up with my brand of faith. I feel that the Divine works through all religions. My mother, who had a spiritual experience when she chose Christ and Christianity, is confident and happy in her faith. I have no desire to pull her out of her faith. I do desire that she is as accepting of my spirituality as I am of hers, though. Fundamental Christians are often quite loud about salvation experiences, because they feel that these experiences prove they have found THE path to the Divine. I take issue with that mentality, and think it’s a bit ridiculous given the fact that people all over the world have had spiritual experiences for thousands of years, regardless of their chosen faith.

So… what are my beliefs these days? I rather like Unitarian Universalism, because it embraces respectful recognition of all beliefs (including atheism and agnosticism). I believe there is a Divine presence in the universe, and that this presence manifests itself in many forms – male, female, both, genderless, etc. The Divine exists in all of us. I also believe the Divine can be reached through many paths – there is no right or wrong way. As many others before me, I too hope that interfaith love and peace will be achieved one day.

Article: Equality of Women in Early Christianity

An interesting perspective on women and the early church. Read the article here. A few years ago I learned how the current canon of the Bible came into being (see below), and was quite shocked. With this knowledge in mind, it would not surprise me to discover that pro-equality letters/books were cast aside and burnt by early church fathers.

http://freethought.mbdojo.com/canon.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_Christian_biblical_canon

http://foundationsforourfaith.com/Foundationsforourfaith/HolyBible.htm From a Christian perspective. Love how this caveat is added:

Before we discuss how the books in the Bible were chosen, we must first take a step back and realize that the decision was a divine decision.   Though it was men who made the decision on which books to include, ultimately it was God, working through the Holy Spirit in those men’s hearts, who selected these books.   For the Bible is the one and only foundational book to which all true Christians look for guidance in their lives.   God, who created the heavens and earth, as well as all of us, would not allow any corrupted document(s) to make their way into His Word, that is, the Holy Bible.

Sunday Morning Musings

Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest for Christians, but for most of my 20 some years as a Christian, Sunday was far from restful. The day started out with my family scrambling to all get showered, dressed, and out the door in time for Sunday School (at 9:45). Three out of four of us were not morning people. My mom tried to have a special breakfast for us on Sunday mornings plus she needed to prepare the lunch we would eat after church, so she had added burdens that required more time and less sleep. Getting out the door was incredibly stressful and hardly helped at least me to be in the right frame of mind for spiritual things. The Sunday events at my home church consisted of 9:45am Sunday School, an 11am service, 4pm teen meeting (for the few years we had that), 5pm choir practice, and a 6 pm evening service. The 11 service often ran until 12:20pm or later, but we didn’t get home until close to 1pm because we socialized with friends. By the time lunch was made and eaten, there really wasn’t much time left in the afternoon. We made the best of it, though, by taking walks, playing games, or watching something together. As we kids got older we discovered the joys of Sunday afternoon naps. Some families didn’t allow any activities on Sunday (based on Old Testament principles); I was very thankful my family wasn’t that hardcore. When I reached college I did begin to question spending time on non-spiritual things on the Lord’s day, but quickly abandoned my questions.

My Sundays in college were rarely restful. I chose to attend churches that were at least an hour away all four of my semesters. The first two of those semesters were spent at a church where I did what I could to help the pastor by teaching a Sunday School class, knocking on doors (even in the snow), and working on whatever odd projects came up. The next two semesters I attended a different church, largely so I could be with some new friends that I had made. We spent our afternoons crashed at the pastor’s house, at a nearby mall, or otherwise having adventures together. It was during this time that I began to question how conducive to a day of rest the model of church I was used to actually was. My friends brought this up and I found myself in agreement; if one of us was sick or just feeling wiped out we chose to come back early or, rarely, skip church altogether. The college would have never approved of what we did, but to an over-tired (and very ill, as I was experiencing a mystery illness that would turn out to be fibromyalgia) college student, it hardly seemed important. My body, mind, and spirit needed rest; God had commanded that we observe a day of rest, so I rested.

After I left college I returned home to be with my family. My illness kept me miserable 24/7, so I missed a lot of church, particularly Sunday mornings (mornings are the worst). My parents couldn’t understand and gave me a very hard time about how much church I missed. It became a source of stress and pain in my life and put a kink in our relationship. I spent the time sleeping (I suffered from killer insomnia at the time), doing personal devotions, or listening to the church service being broadcasted online. I discovered that I felt more spiritually refreshed when I had the time by myself than if I attended the Sunday morning services. One Sunday morning in particular stands out to me. By that point in time I preferred to use the ESV translation (my background was militant KJV only). I sat outside in the sunshine with my Bible, a journal, and a cat to keep me company. I read the beautiful words from my ESV Bible and then wrote in my journal. I encountered the Divine that day in ways I’ve rarely felt in a church setting. It was so perfect and healing to my soul. I tried to tell my father about it, but he did not share in my excitement because he felt I should be in church on Sundays. A few months after this experience I left my Baptist beliefs and Christianity as I knew it.

I still attended church as I was able, at least for awhile. I grew up in that church and its school, so it was a huge part of my life. I remember the Sunday my father told me I needed to leave the choir because it was hypocritical to be up there when I didn’t believe what I was singing about. I knew he was right, but I hated to leave because singing in the choir brought me such great joy. Church services became fuel for what I wrote on this blog; what I heard brought me to anger and disgust. The awkwardness of being an unbeliever amongst fervent believers also made it hard to enjoy church. Very few people knew my lack of belief at that point, and I was deathly afraid of how they would react to me if they did know, so did my best to smile and nod and maintain my secret.

When I moved away from home and was no longer pressured to attend church, I found great relief in spending my Sundays as I saw fit. There was no rush or bustle, no need to dress up, no shouting preacher… it was nice. I did try to keep the principle of a day of rest because I thought it necessary for maintaining good health. I toyed with the idea of a low-tech or no-tech day. I spent time outside when I could; Nature has always felt like a spiritual place to me. I also spent time exploring new ways of viewing spirituality through a variety of books. I never wanted to attend church again – I was tired of oppression and embracing my freedom wholeheartedly. I discovered and claimed the title spiritual but not religious; I was definitely still spiritual but wanted nothing to do with organized religion and churches. Things went south with my then-husband, I moved back home for a time, and I was again thrust into the world of busy, Baptist Sundays.

When I left home the next time, I remained content with church-less Sundays for several months. I didn’t spend much time looking for the Divine at that point, but eventually found myself on the path of searching once again. I found spiritual connections in discussions with other people, time spent outside, books and the internet, and within myself. I found the Divine in everything if I took the time to look for it. I also found spiritual healing. With healing I found I was ready to give church another try and began looking for an acceptable church. I became familiar with Unitarian Universalism (UU) many months ago, but never had the courage to attend; I was also afraid of the concept of church and what it might entail. A few weeks ago I found a local UU congregation that fit what I was looking for and found the courage to attend. It was wonderful! I’ll have to dedicate another post to tell you about it. Anyway. I was missing the community that comes with church, the experience of group singing, and hearing words of inspiration. I have found these things again, but they are better than they were in my Baptist church back home because there is no judgement present. There is no pressure, no negativity, no guilt-tripping about lost souls going to Hell. There is support, love, and acceptance. I didn’t attend the service this morning because I needed the rest, and that’s totally fine – nobody will get on my case. My spirituality is my own, and the UU church respects that. I am pleased to be reclaiming my Sundays, church and all.

Interview with an Ex-Fundie: Meet Ashlee

Meet Ashlee, a young woman who is an ex-fundie, happily married, and a Christian. Thank you for sharing your story, Ashlee!
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What do you consider your current worldview/religious beliefs to be?

Christian – Having a relationship with God and not the church. Politically, I would consider myself moderate.

How did you become involved with Christian Fundamentalism?

I was born into it. Until I moved out of my parent’s house I had no choice with what I wanted to do. My parent’s controlled everything.

What sort of church(es) did you attend while in fundamentalism?

IFB – very conservative

How did Christian Fundamentalism affect your home life (relationship between parents, relationship between parents and children, relationship between siblings, discipline methods, lifestyle choices, etc.)?

I think it caused tension between my parents and me because I was always afraid of getting in trouble. Being a PK I always had to play the part of being the good Christian girl. I didn’t have the same thinking as my parents. I felt like I couldn’t be true to myself. I felt more like a fraud. Moving out of their house I feel like now I can be authentic. With the control they had over me I couldn’t think for myself. It was either the Bible way or the highway with them.
Was patriarchy (male headship) present in your home, church, or relationships with other people? If so, how did it make you feel at the time? How do you feel about patriarchy now?

My dad was head of the home and also the church, so I got strictness in both the home and church. I do not agree with males feeling like they can dominate the female. Being brought up in the IFB the men teach you that they have control over you. 

What were you taught about sex before marriage or sex in general? How has that affected your relationships (dating, marriage, or otherwise)? How have the teachings affected your opinion of your own body?

Growing up in a strict conservative Christian home the topic of sex was not brought up. I know in some Christian homes it was an open topic, and in others it was a very closed never talked about topic. I grew up with the subject never being brought into conversation. Why my parents chose that option is beyond me. Maybe they hoped if they kept their children “innocent” and naïve they would never have to worry about one of their daughters becoming pregnant. Being much younger than my oldest sisters I don’t know if my parents at some point had the intimate “sex talk” with them. Perhaps my mother was the one who gave that talk, and maybe waited until their wedding day, assuming they were both virgins. I learned from looking at porn and reading about sex and talking to certain friends. I think you should be allowed to do whatever you are comfortable with doing with your body. 
My mother was a funny individual who didn’t even give me the talk about girls getting their period. The first time not having a clue what was going on with my body I felt as if something seriously wrong was happening to my body.

Do you have any memories that stand out in regards to your experience with fundamentalism (you can share as many as you’d like)?

I remember always being scared talking to friends. Even about dumb stuff just being afraid of getting in trouble with my parents. The control my parents had over me was just wrong. A parent and child relationship should be based on love and not using an intimidation tactic.

When did you start to question Christian Fundamentalism? What led up to this?

When my parents told me I was going to a strict Baptist college without me having a say in the process because they didn’t approve of a guy. Although before that I always knew my parents were strict and the way they disciplined wasn’t right.
Do you notice areas of your life where fundamentalism is still impacting you?

Not really. I’ve kind of changed.

Did you ever feel abused* by any aspect of or adherent to Christian Fundamentalism?

I believe there was a lot of emotional and psychological abuse. My dad always told us to keep stuff to ourselves and not tell anybody stuff that was said. Which kind of screws with your head. Like why so much secrecy? Also, there were a couple of times he took physical discipline too far, and caused severe bruising.

What do you think Christian Fundamentalism gets wrong? What do you think it gets right?

It gets a lot wrong. Music, dress, rules, and much more. I really don’t think they get anything right. They lack in teaching God’s agape love, and focus too much on rules. The Baptist church seems too similar to the catholic church… both are focused on works.
How do you think fundamentalism has impacted the world’s view of Christianity? Should Christians be trying to change that view? If so, how do you think they can?

I believe the Baptist church has caused people to turn away from church because of their corrupt teaching. I believe God shows His love to His children. Baptists should turn away from looking the part of the good Christian.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining Christian fundamentalism?

I would advise them not to join. It’s more of a cult/religion.
What would you say to someone who is considering leaving Christian fundamentalism?

I would try to help them as much as I can. Especially if they were having issues with the pastor giving them problems and pressuring them to stay.

* “Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone” (source: The National Domestic Violence Hotline ). Abuse may have taken place in the home, church, religious school, etc. or could have stemmed from specific teachings and self-imposed adherence to such teachings. 

Josh Harris, Sexual Abuse, & My Opinion of Courtship (5-27-13)

Kudos to Josh Harris (of I Kissed Dating Goodbye famedom) for taking a stand on sexual abuse in the church. Read the story here. Really appreciate what he has publicly said, particularly this part:

My hope is that a person would hear me and think, “Okay, if the pastor can admit that in front of the church then I can call the police and tell someone what is happening to me. I can get counseling. I can tell my story, too.” It’s very difficult because it feels like such a shameful thing, but we need to learn how to talk about sexual abuse in the church. We need to teach people who have been abused that it’s not their fault.

I respect Josh Harris for making this stand; I know what a huge issue this is in churches, and what he has done will hopefully make a difference. i I think this is a deplorable turn of events for all involved. Allow me to explain why.

I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a teenager. It was one of two books my mother provided me with on relationships and sex. Well, they weren’t really about sex so much as avoiding it like the plague until you’ve said your marriage vows, but anyway. Even as a fundie teen who cared deeply about staying pure and someday having a godly relationship, I thought the message of Harris’ book was off. It’s been so long since I read it that I can’t remember what in particular it was that bugged me, but it was enough that I put the book on a shelf and never picked it up again. I think part of my issue was the premise for the book – dating is bad. I like(d) old fashioned things, but falling back to courtship in the way prescribed didn’t seem healthy. Fast forward a few years to when I’m reading Created to be His Help Meet and other Quiverfull literature. Even then I took issue with the concept of true courtship. Despite my feminist thoughts, many notions about courtship, marriage, and relationships in general were poisoned by the ideology I’d read about and even heard from teachers and pastors over the years. I consider the teachings poison because they lead to unhealthy relationships. I speak from personal experience.

The notion that the only real relationships are the ones that lead to marriage is prevalent amongst people who propose courtship over dating. Marriage is the assumed end result of courtship, after all; dating focuses on creating a relationship and then maybe marrying that person. To enter into courtship is like becoming engaged, whereas dating someone has far less strings attached. When I entered my first serious romantic relationship, I still had the courtship model stuck in my head. I wasn’t overly concerned about the parental aspect of things, but how I viewed the relationship was clearly impacted by my past. Once I got started into the relationship, I didn’t feel like I had the option to end it. If I truly loved him, I would stick with him, no matter what. I felt like anything short of marriage was a failure on my part. He was my first love, after all, and having no practice, I didn’t know many important things that could have saved me from much heartbreak. Saving your heart for your spouse was widely pushed onto young people, and it stuck with me. I saved my heart very well. I prided myself in the fact that I had never actually dated anyone, because I was just waiting for the right guy to along and marry me. So that’s exactly what I did, except he wasn’t the right guy and I was too inexperienced to realize it. Well, I take that back. I realized I had made a mistake a few times before actually tying the knot, but still felt I had no other option but to marry him anyway. Another common teaching amongst those who praise courtship over dating is to advocate that women stick with their men regardless of any abuse or mistreatment (read Created to be His Help Meet for a clear picture of this teaching). That teaching also influenced my reasons for sticking with the relationship for as long as I did (which was not long in measurements of time, perhaps, but eons in measurements of the soul).

My marriage was not a healthy one because my relationship wasn’t healthy enough to support marriage. He had initially asked that we live together first, but my need to have the “real” thing led me to refuse. I told him I didn’t want a trial marriage. I thought I was doing the right thing and was darn proud of myself for it too. Now I know how foolish I was to think and act as I did. Dating is sometimes knocked because it can take on the likeness of a trial marriage. Why on earth that is a bad thing, I will never actually understand. Sending people to vows of eternal commitment without any prior experience is crazy. In my opinion, courtship is a far too sheltered approach at building relationships. It is male-led, parentally controlled, highly restrictive, and is focused so much on the end goal of marriage that actual compatibility can’t be explored well enough.You must KNOW the person you want to be partnered to, and you must know him/her in ways that can’t come to light unless you’re living together. Anyone can play charades long enough to “get the girl”; it’s what happens behind closed doors at odd hours of the day that composes the true nature of a person. You can’t know those things until you’re behind those closed doors together.

I am now a strong advocate for dating and living together as a couple before making anything legally permanent. I also strongly advocate against courtship and all that it brings to the table. In my case, there were many negative factors that ultimately contributed to the ending of the relationship/marriage, but I place a large amount of blame at the feet of courtship teachings, because without them I honestly don’t think I would have been in that relationship in the first place.

A Letter That Made Me Sad & Angry (3-26-13)

This letter is flying about on facebook amongst my IFB friends. I read it and was appalled. The woman who wrote it has chosen to believe that a fundamental aspect of her biological make-up – her sexuality – is a grievous sin.

IFB’s and those who are similar to them are notorious for making sex and sexuality out to be a great evil (unless you’re a man). I myself was affected by that teaching. But the woman who wrote this letter has to deal with more than “just” sex. She is a lesbian. A homosexual. As most IFB’s I know would say, she is a “pervert.” Such ideology makes me sick. This woman is expected to ignore her sexuality and never find pleasure in sex (because to have sex with another woman would be an abomination!). She will probably be expected to find a way to “fix” herself and rewire her brain to find men arousing, not women. She will be expected to either never find a companion to spend her life with, or to choose a man and marry him. For a lesbian (not a bisexual), being with a man, even if she loves him, can be unsatisfying, scary, and possibly feel more like rape than making love. And for that husband, how will he feel? What awkward, possibly awful place will he be put into? Both partners in a relationship deserve to find happiness and satisfaction in their sex life – it is a basic human need and one of the reasons we form such relationships.

Why is this woman having to write this letter in the first place? Why is her sexual orientation a sin? Because the writings of ancient Middle-Eastern men say so. Of course, these same writing talk about stoning witches, forcing rape victims to marry their rapists, and killing massive amounts of people because the Israelites “needed” their land. I’m speaking of the Bible, but you knew that already. Many, in fact most (in my experience), Christians are quick to pick and choose passages of Scripture to promote and preach on whilst conveniently ignoring the icky stuff. If you claim the entire Bible is perfect and inspired, why ignore any of it? Why aren’t you still calling for witches to be stoned? Why aren’t you preaching against clothing made of mixed fabrics? Why aren’t you segregating the menstruating women? Why aren’t you telling all women they cannot teach or be in any positions of leadership? Why aren’t you telling your women to stay silent during church? They can always just ask their husbands when they get home, like Paul said they should do. Ugh. The churches who hold to these ideas are few and far between, relatively speaking, and are considered crazy. As they should be.

Anything that demonizes something as basic and normal as sex needs to be reassessed. And anything that tells someone, “Nope, your body got it wrong. You can’t be attracted to that gender because that would be evil. You love them? Doesn’t matter. Why? Because an ancient text told us so. Get over it and get your heart right!” is the true evil here. If you don’t understand or like homosexuality, fine. I don’t see why you must proclaim it loudly and do what you can to make homosexuals (or their friends and family) feel dirty and like lesser people.

Again… Really? (5-22-2012)

Here we go again! North Carolina has yet again made it into the public eye through the actions of a Baptist pastor. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC spoke out rather forcefully about the Biblical wrongness of homosexuality and has warranted the attention of national media. Here are two links to the story: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/21/pastors-anti-gay-anti-obama-sermon/?hpt=ac_bn2 and http://www.wtsp.com/news/national/article/256113/81/Pastor-wants-to-isolate-gays-until-they-die-out 

After reading the lengthy quotes from this pastor’s sermon, I am appalled at his ideology.
I am also appalled because I used to be a part of churches who took similar stands on issues like homosexuality. Not all Christians or even Baptists would endorse putting homosexuals into concentration camp settings just to prove that homosexuals cannot reproduce, or if you take it to the logical end, to watch the so-called blot of homosexuality die out. Sadly, I know several people who would probably be fine with that scenario playing out. The Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, does refer to homosexuality as a gross sin, and labels it as a stoning offence (Leviticus 20:13). The Bible also says that Christians are to love their neighbors and be peaceful people (mostly in the New Testament). Christians have a hard time balancing out those two ideas, often being on one extreme side or the other. It’s issues like this that have led me to make the observation that the God of the OT is not the same God of the NT, despite Biblical claims to that end. The OT is full of harsh, brutal, intolerant and unloving acts that were commanded or committed because of what God supposedly said. The NT, particularly the teachings of Jesus, speak of love, equality (or close to it compared to the OT) and peaceful living. When I was a Christian, I read my Bible and became confused at the apparent contradictions I saw. I understood that it was the NT I was supposed to follow, since Jesus had essentially nullified the former requirement of following the law, but I also read that Jesus and God were the same person and did not “change.” Looking at the change in the message of the OT and NT from a historic perspective, it certainly shows that ideologies can progress towards tolerance and love over time, as humanity becomes more “civilized.” Modern Christianity seems to be proof of that, as it tends to focus on the message of love and peace that Christ did preach, while often ignoring other messages in the Bible that disagree. Those who try to embrace the ENTIRE Bible all at once, and not only follow it to the letter but also force their beliefs on everyone else – they are the ones who end up making the news. 

The pastor may have been trying to prove something when he mentioned that homosexuals don’t reproduce, but his logic is faulty. There are many heterosexual couples who cannot or do not reproduce either. Sex is pleasurable, for both the heterosexual and the homosexual. It seems that the Bible’s biggest beef with homosexuality is the inability to reproduce, and of course the idea that one of the men has to take “the role of the woman.” Oh wait, then how does this apply to lesbians too? Why is it not such a big issue if it’s women with women? I can only recall one passage in the Bible that specifically references lesbians, whereas several come to mind that specifically refer to gay men. The root issue here is not the pleasure of sex without reproduction so much as it is an issue with women and men being equal. It’s no secret that inequality was the norm during Biblical times, particularly the OT. “Leaving the natural use of the woman” is a phrase used in reference to men choosing to sexually love other men rather than women (Romans 1:27). I am a woman, and I do not see my womanhood as being a “natural use” for a man to please himself sexually. That phrasing seems to take the female side of things rather lightly, placing the importance on the male. If this is a translation issue, great, but most people who still hold to this view of sex and women are stuck on the KJV translation as being “God-breathed.” 

This Is What Fundamentalism Looks And Sounds Like

A KJV-only pastor bashing men who don’t stand up to pee. Why? Because real men stand up, and God wants you to be a real man. The funny/sad things is, this man could have been any number of men I heard preaching at my school, church, or in other Baptist churches I attended.
His blog can be found here: Steven L. Anderson. His wife blogs at http://stevenandersonfamily.blogspot.com/ . I show the entire link because I think it does a good job of illustrating the way the husband dominates his family. I suppose it could just be because the husband is more famous or something, but after reading through their blogs I sincerely believe they want their identity to be dominated by the husband. This family is very Quiverfull, patriarchal, the whole shebang. The wife, Zsuszanna, is quite passionately devoted to the patriarchal ideals that dominate her world – this is clearly seen in her writing. From what I’ve gathered she is originally from Germany and was raised as a Catholic. Steven witnessed to her while visiting in Germany when he was eighteen, she eventually converted to Baptist beliefs, and they were married very shortly after that. Baptist fundamentalism appealed to her so she dived right in and marrying a loud-spoken, KJV-only (1611 version, baby!), hyper-conservative guy and the rest is history. They are against voting, against any form of family planning/contraception, and a long list of other things that only make sense in the world of religious fundamentalism.
I’m so glad I left this world before marrying into it and being further entrapped in its hold.