Thursday, January 31, 2013


maybe i sound a tad bitter.

am i bitter? i don't think so. i just might be wary, and cynical. just a tad.

maybe i sound vengeful.

am i vengeful? i don't think so.  but i am tired of knowing other people are hurt by the same things i was.

maybe i sound like a hater.

am i  a hater? do i hate christians, christianity, religion of all kinds?

i'm married to a christian. a christian whose entire life was wrapped up in ministry.
and we love each other like there is no tomorrow.

i have no bitter angry feelings toward him. i am not vengeful toward him. i do not paint his faith with the same wide brush you may think i paint everything. we have disagreed on numerous things in the past and we will continue to disagree for the rest of our lives.

but i do not feel the need to stop him from believing what he believes.
he does not feel the need to stop me from believing what i believe.

my husband has a good friend who does not understand what i'm going through.
i respect him and his viewpoints and i trust he respects mine.
he cares and he knows i care, whether or not he understands.
he doesn't try to tell me what i should be thinking or feeling, so the relationship stands.

my husband has a good friend who does not understand what i'm going through.
this friend told my husband to do his leaderly duty and make me believe truth.
my husband said "do you not realize that's what made her run in the first place?"
i am nothing but a heretic to this friend, so the relationship can not stand.

some christians can respect that others may not ever believe the way they do.
some christians can't respect that, and can't imagine there are good reasons for it.

i respect, and totally understand, where christians are coming from.
i haven't forgotten what it's like to be immersed in that community.
i haven't forgotten what it's like to need doctrine to make sense so your life does.
i haven't forgotten why christians act like jerks - it wasn't that long ago i blamed my jerkiness on jesus.

but maybe, just maybe, i need time.
maybe i need healing from christians.
maybe i need healing from doctrine.
maybe i need healing from god.

maybe i am all the bad things people have said about me.

maybe that's okay.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

an abusive faith

i know, before i even begin to write this, that not everyone has this experience with christianity. for me, what i am about to write is very, very true. you can explain it away all you want, by saying it's not jesus and the people who perpetrated these ideas aren't really christians (no true scotsman, anyone?) and that it's just this one sect or type of christians that make me draw this comparison.

maybe.  just maybe.

but growing up in a conservative evangelical faith tradition, i found that their claim to having the "truth" encompassed these things. they still preach (in fact, this very week) that they have the right answers and the right interpretation. it's very difficult, after a lifetime of that, to see real-true-christianity in any other light.

unfortunately there are liberal-basically-agnostic people who have felt this same thing from their churches, communities and versions of christianity. so make of it what you will - take it or leave it.

i feel this way.

The Warning Signs of Abuse - from

[insert church/christians/doctrine/god in place of partner]

Do you feel nervous around your partner?

Hell yes. The reasons will become apparent as we go through the checklist.

Do you have to be careful to control your behavior to avoid your partner’s anger?

Yes. Even when I was dealing with people/ideas of god that didn't blatantly say he would punish or reward specific behavior there was always the idea of "put god first" if you want the good stuff. If nothing else you needed to control your behavior to avoid the anger and scorn of fellow believers. If they were progressive enough to believe that God wasn't going to punish you (or "withhold blessings") then at the very least they saw their concern or frustration with you as righteous, and something they did on God's behalf.

Do you feel pressured by your partner when it comes to sex?

In this context "sex" could stand for evangelism or staying pure or whatever you wanted - and YES i felt pressured in all kinds of things. But I also felt pressured by christian doctrine to put out for my husband whenever he wanted because my "body is not my own."

Are you scared of disagreeing with your partner?

I was scared of disagreeing with god. That would make me a "fool" or "disobedient" or most likely rebellious, which is as bad as witchcraft. We all know that a truly surrendered Christian does not disagree with God. That is the slippery slope to hell. God is GOD, you know. And on top of that, I was scared to disagree with the powers that be, and fellow Christians. Shame, shunning and gossip was the least of the things to be scared of, with future job positions being taken away and being sent away from the church community being absolute possibilities.

Does your partner criticize you, or humiliate you in front of other people?

Does God do this? Well... I could maybe make a case. (His word humiliates enough people in it's pages.) But enough of His People do it in His name that it doesn't matter if He does it. Public confessions and repentance requirements can often be humiliating. Public criticism in the name of God is just par for the course.

Is your partner always checking up on you or questioning you about what you do without your partner?

Hahahaha! I just have to laugh. It's amazing how accurately this describes the Bible College campus where I spent six years of my life. And then, of course, there is the "God is always watching! God knows everything you do!" stock christianese.

Does your partner repeatedly and wrongly accuse you of seeing or flirting with other people?

It's amazing how just a small departure from the prescribed script will bring about accusations of wrong doctrine, even if you have expressly stated you agree with the person accusing you. Repeatedly and wrongly - absolutely. If you head down a path not explicitly laid out as okay, get ready for accusations and gossip. Lots and lots of gossip.

Does your partner tell you that if you changed, he or she wouldn’t treat you like this?

As I was told, time and again: "Following God's laws means you will be blessed! If you would just obey him then you wouldn't have all these bad things in your life!"  And, of course, you hear the same thing from church leadership. Stop living together, THEN I will marry you. Become a Christian and THEN I will baptize your child. Start obeying Jesus and I will stop telling you that your very life is wrong.

Does your partner’s jealousy stop you from seeing friends or family?

In more extreme cases, yes. When friends and family are not "good influences" or are the ones who are "leading you away from Jesus."

Does your partner make you feel like you are wrong, stupid, crazy, or inadequate?

Hahahah! YES! Both God and Christians! 

Has your partner ever scared you with violence or threatening behavior?

I can't even tell you how many times I heard "if you are not where God wants you to be then ANYTHING can happen to you." Also see: The ENTIRE old testament.

Does your partner say, “I will kill myself if you break up with me” or “I will hurt/kill you if you break up with me”?

How about "I'll send you to hell for all of eternity if you leave me?" Does that qualify? SUre, you could say that Jesus said "I will die so we can be together." which is all fine and good, but completely loses all goodness once it adds "And if you refuse me, then eternal suffering and torment for you!"

Does your partner make excuses for the abusive behavior? For example: saying, “It’s because of alcohol or drugs,” or “I can’t control my temper,” or “I was just joking”?

"it's because I love you" would be the one.

To be honest, I just don't know how to get past this. I can't find solace in any doctrines - anything but universalism seems cruel and abusive. For a time I found a home in a very strict lutheran interpretation of law and gospel, but there was just still such an emphasis on hell and punishment/reward (even if it wasn't directly salvation related) that I quickly tired of trying to make that work. I could possibly embrace universalism but I am wary now of everything. Everything.

I suppose that's about how I would feel if I had been with an abusive partner.

I would be wary of every potential partner.

[disclaimer: i do not intend this post to diminish in any way the physical, emotional, verbal abuse that many people endure every single day. for me, to acknowledge abuse in a spiritual sense does not take away from the reality of other kinds of abuse, and i hope that i am not an idiot for thinking so.]

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

the same

the tribal aspect of christianity lends itself to many strange delusions.

like the idea that agnostics, atheists and liberals are some kind of strange beast. who knows what they talk about or plot in their living rooms at night. they probably watch colbert and hate on christians and smoke pot and watch porn and tear pages out of priceless bibles, if they even own one.

whatever they are, it isn't normal.

they don't pray over their meals or obsess about having their *devos* and they don't spend time "in the word" and time "with god" and they are probably being constantly attacked by demons - except maybe demons attack gods people because they want to get those active in the faith! - and they live in fear of things like demons, having an empty life that means nothing and going to HELL when they die.

these people are in rebellion to god and his word and they are reaping the fruits of their sinful, disobedient and godless lives. therefore they are miserable, on anti-depressants, probably coke heads or hippies.

as i said before, when i called myself a "hopeful agnostic" i really didn't see it as a complete derivation from the faith. i didn't imagine that i was a godless hippie. it wasn't until i truly began to realize how others who were IN the fold saw me that i understood. i had become the "fool who says in his heart, there is no god."

suddenly i know, from intimate experience, why and how everyone is flipping out and why this is such a big deal. i'm not ME anymore. i'm not whole. i'm not safe. i'm not a christian.

i am the cautionary tale.

but the truth, from my perspective, is completely different.

i'm still absolutely the same.

dropping a title of faith has not changed what i believe to be right or wrong. my political and faith switch from conservative to liberal was pushed forward and encouraged by my faith, by the things i was learning and by the bible - by jesus.

my moral and ethical beliefs haven't changed. i still don't spank my kids, as much as i want to. i still don't cheat on my husband - but to be fair, ian somerhalder hasn't approached me yet. i still teach my children to be kind and generous and i hope some of it sticks. i'm not watching porn tonight, i'm watching the biggest loser. but that's kind of a false comparison for me, since i gave up my crusade against porn a long time before i gave up my crusade against women pastors and those who pervert law and gospel.

i spend my time doing the same things i enjoyed before my fall. studying theology and psychology and sociology. taking photographs and making my own little bits of art.  writing. i finally want to write again. i even finally enjoy digging through my crap and finding who i am, who i really am, deep down.

the anti-depressants went the way of faith. instead of being that faithless person who can't live without them, i was a stronger person who found life bearable again.

this whole process has been one of finding so many things that were presented to me as undeniable truths fall apart.

maybe it was the idea that christianity (minus the evil libruls) is a cohesive and united bunch.

maybe it was the idea that "the bible clearly says" anything. take your pick of your pet theology.

maybe it was that atheists are amoral or immoral people.

most likely it was that christianity is a force for good in the world, as i watched and heard person after person testify to the hurt caused in their lives by christianity and read historical story after story of christians oppressing and hurting others.

for me, my personal experience held more weight than often conflicting abstracts that others were using to shame me into being someone i'm not.

and i'm a happier, healthier person now.

Monday, January 14, 2013


The first time I told someone I wasn't the christian they thought I was, I used the phrase "hopeful agnostic."

I chose the word hopeful because I still had hope that christians could be kind, wonderful, people. I had hope that some things in the Bible may be true and even more I hoped that some things were false. I had not yet given up on people or truth - even if my ideas of people and truth were not what I had been taught they should be.

I chose agnostic because I didn't know. I don't know. I don't know if god is there, or if he is what kind of god he may be or what name he may use or what he may or may not ask of me.

To me, hopeful agnostic is a very honest and hope-filled phrase. It means I'm searching and learning and that I can't restrict myself to beliefs that no longer ring true. It means growth and questions.

All good things.

I continued to use my preferred, helpful phrase while we moved from seminary to shunned status.

It took a long time for me to realize how others were seeing that phrase, and consequently, seeing me.

It seemed to scare people. It wasn't a phrase of hope, as I imagined it, but one of self-condemnation and, often, self-illusion. It didn't mean questions and learning - it meant demons were deceiving me, or I had fallen prey to "the world" and most of all (worst of all) it meant I was going to hell.

I don't think I even realized how far I had fallen from grace until the moment I realized how much my very existence scared the people who used to welcome me as their own.

I was already so far from being one of them that I couldn't even comprehend their fears, I couldn't even grasp the reasoning that led to their fears. That I should be afraid for me, or concerned for me did not even cross my mind.

In my mind I was not condemned. I was hopeful.

They saw me as if in a dark, needy place.

And for me it was different. For me it was the first time in a long time I was overcome by light. By peace. By hope.

You can't fight that feeling with circular biblical reasoning. Say all you want that it is because my heart has hardened or my eyes have been clouded or I am a fool or possessed by demons or have been enticed away by the lust of the eyes and the foolishness of my human heart.

But to finally have peace and some measure of joy? You can't fight that with doctrine.