My HomoErotic Relationship with Jesus

July 12, 2007 at 12:57 pm 49 comments

Your lips, O my spouse, Drip as the honeycomb; Honey and milk are under your tongue; And the fragrance of your garments Is like the fragrance of Lebanon. – Song of Songs 4:11

Popular Christianity places an emphasis on believers having a Personal Relationship with Jesus. As a Christian, I proudly proclaimed that I did not follow a religion, but that I had a relationship – a personal one-on-one with the Messiah. Looking back, I have no idea how to Biblically justify the idea of a personal relationship. I am pretty certain it is nothing more than modern Christian pop culture. And on a more practical level, I don’t think Jesus wants a relationship with any of us anyway. As a Christian, I talked to Jesus for years, but never heard a word back from him. That is in no way a relationship, despite all the effort I put into it.

As unsupported as I think this idea of a personal relationship is, there are times when Christians seem to think that a mere relationship is not enough. If it were not so grotesque, I think many Christians would want to change the cliché from personal relationship to intimate relationship. The relationship between the Christian and the Christ becomes so close that Jesus becomes a surrogate lover to the faithful Christian. To be a disciple and even a slave to Jesus means, to some of the most devoted, that the relationship with the Savior Jesus must be the closest relationship that the Christian is to hold. As a proud heterosexual male, this gooey GodTalk gave me the hives.

Solely His

Take a look at this photo that I took last weekend of a banner hanging from a local nondenominational church. What is the first thing this banner reminds you of? I saw it and immediately thought ‘eharmony.com’. Any dating service will use a very similar ad, featuring an attractive and smiling woman to charm all the lonely single men out there. “Looking for that certain… special….somebody?” But instead of helping to find your perfect human match, this church would have you believe you should have the perfect Divine Match. You should meet, not just someone, but ‘someONE – and be solely HIS’.

Real Men Love JesusAm I the only one who got creeped out with stuff like this? Maybe so – I must have been the odd Christian out. Men voluntarily show off their Real Men Love Jesus bumper stickers as if the homo-erotic overtones were the most natural thing in the world. Was I the only Christian who could not avoid the sexual nature inherent in phrases like this? Was I the only Christian man who cringed at the thought of a little personal one-on-one with my man Jesus? I could not have been the only man who admitted loving Jesus to unbelievers to be an awkward experience. Honor? Yes. Obey? You bet. Trust? Surrender to? Absolutely. But telling somebody that I loved Jesus? Yick.

Jesus was my secret, backdoor lover. I could witness the Gospel to unbelievers until I was blue in the face, but I always stopped short of declaring my Love for Jesus. Cut me some slack! I am a man – Jesus is a man. I could not admit love for any man the way I felt I was to love Jesus. I could even admit loving an amorphous, asexual God. But the man Jesus? I loved this man because I felt it was an obligation to love Jesus. I did not know him – I never felt him, touched him, saw him, felt his breath on my ear – how could I possibly love him? But I had to. It was easier to share my love to Jesus when I was alone. I could admit to Jesus that I loved him when I had my quiet time with him every morning. During my daily devotionals, I constantly told him of my devotion and love for him. I always made a point of worshiping my Divine Lover, by whispering words to him like,

“…I love you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus. Oh, How I love you. I love you more than all. I forsake all for you, my sweet Jesus. Praise your name. I love you, Jesus. My precious Lord, my precious Jesus. I praise you. I worship you. I adore you. I love to sing your praises…”

C’mon men, fess up. If you have not spoken this way to Jesus, you have certainly heard praise and worship leaders talk this way. After all, I was just parroting lines that I’ve heard in many contemporary worship songs. Jesus was my one and only. I felt that Jesus had love for me that I could never hope to match, so I strove to make him the top priority of my life. I was a member of the Bride of Christ, and I would join him someday for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I would be reunited with him as a pure and unblemished bride, justified by his Blood, and our marriage would be consummated in the New Jerusalem. I owed everything to him, even my undying affection, even though I often felt like a faithless and selfish bride. I immediately felt the guilt of a cheating boyfriend when I occasionally sinned by glancing at a centerfold or pretty woman walking down the street. No sin made me feel guiltier than when I occasionally succumbed to my fleshly lusts and masturbated. I always felt the invisible but disapproving eyes of my Jesus staring down at me during my act of adultery. I always cursed myself when I finished, and would ask my jilted Lover for forgiveness as I zipped up my pants.

Awaiting His Return

I cannot have been the only Christian who suffered this anxiety. I recently received a devotional chain email that contained several nauseating pictures that reflected popular Christianitiy’s desire for a more intimate relationship with Jesus. Included was a picture of a forlorn woman alone on a porchswing. On one side of the swing was a pillow with ‘Awaiting Christ’s Return’ embroidered on the side. Deep in her thoughts is the ghostly image of her Heavenly Lover – the feathered, blowdried and neatly trimmed Jesus, who looks more like Kenny Rogers than a Jewish carpenter. This was sent to me as an inspirational devotion to Jesus, but could easily have been ripped off a Harlequin romance cover. Christian or non-Christian, this stuff is really disturbing to me. How is a man supposed to relate to this kind of stuff?

When Christians receive messages like these, from their pastors, their devotionals, from their popular culture, and from their environment, is it any wonder why they feel obligated to make Jesus into a husband, and why men get overwhelmed with neurosis when he is worshipped and adored in the likeness of a Divine Lover?

I continued telling Jesus I loved him for years, and I am confessing it all to you here, safe in my anonomity. But when I got married, I realized that I had all these loving phrases that I wanted to pass on to my wife but were already reserved for Jesus! I could not tell my wife that she was my one and only, then turn around and tell Jesus that HE was my one and only!! I the lovey-mushy talk of love for Jesus abruptly ceased. I realized that if I were to be a faithful husband, I must have only one lover in my life. My marriage his given me a real relationship, and the anxiety of Loving Jesus has finally disappeared.

…and don’t get me started on how my old Calvary Chapel pastor interpreted the Song of Songs….

-HeIsSailing

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I’m not religious, I’m a Christian! On The Edge

49 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Slapdash  |  July 12, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Gosh, I had never really thought how awkward this concept must be for men. It was strange enough for me, as a woman, to get my head around Jesus as my lover. I wanted to comment on this:

    “The relationship between the Christian and the Christ becomes so close that Jesus becomes a surrogate lover to the faithful Christian.”

    I saw this EXACT thing happen to a high school friend. Her husband served in Iraq for almost two years (now back safely), and during his absence my friend claimed that she had fallen more in love with Jesus than she had ever experienced before in her life; that she might be more in love with him than with her own husband! Jesus had indeed become her surrogate lover while hubby was away.

    She almost got teary-eyed as she described it too; I remember feeling really uncomfortable and pretty much disbelieving that this was actually true. I have to imagine that this was her coping mechanism for facing the possible loss of her husband – she transferred her loving feelings to Jesus the Divine to cushion the blow should H die in combat. I don’t know. It was weird, for sure.

  • 2. pj11  |  July 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    HlS – Hysterical! Thanks for the laugh this morning … I needed it. You are one neurotic dude!

    I admit that I share some of your discomfort with the language used by some pastors and worship leaders today. It’s an unfortunate part of the sappy, candy-cane religiosity that is so present in the church culture today. It’s typical American culture … church growth, marketing, money, etc. It sickens me (and I’m an evangelical pastor). I can only hope and pray that someday the church will reverse some of the trends of the past 30 years and get back to serious study and application of the hard truths of Scripture.

    Thanks again for the laugh …

  • 3. Stephen  |  July 12, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Frankly, I think you’re homophobic. What’s wrong with the sentiment, “Real men love Jesus”? It doesn’t mean, “Jesus, I give you permission to peg me”! You’ve perverted it into something that is not its intent.

    I think the meaning of the “I love you, Jesus” talk is perfectly clear. Our ultimate allegiance is to Christ: not to George Dubya Bush’s America, not to our pastor, not even to our spouse, but to Jesus. Would Jesus be comfortable with that sentiment? I guess so:

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

    Before people jump all over me — “hate” is a provocative way of saying precisely what I have said above, that our primary allegiance is to Jesus. If you reject that principle, that’s OK. But don’t twist it into Brokeback Mountain.

  • 4. karen  |  July 12, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    On one side of the swing was a pillow with ‘Awaiting Christ’s Return’ embroidered on the side. Deep in her thoughts is the ghostly image of her Heavenly Lover – the feathered, blowdried and neatly trimmed Jesus, who looks more like Kenny Rogers than a Jewish carpenter. This was sent to me as an inspirational devotion to Jesus, but could easily have been ripped off a Harlequin romance cover.

    I was laughing out loud by this point, HIS. Too funny!

    I think you’ve nailed it – pun intended :-) – with this one. I’ve seen so many studies and articles and books about why there are so few men in churches, particularly in very “macho” countries like Latin America. My church got very involved a few years ago with the “Wild At Heart” movement, which tries to show Christian males how to get in touch with their inner He-Man. (It also can be very anti-feminist, of course. Typically, those books and studies blame the “controlling women” for driving men away from Christianity.)

    The discomfort you felt is probably much more likely to be the culprit. After all, how many straight men are looking forward gleefully to the day they will become “a bride”? It’s just weird, and the sexual and romantic overtones are all over the place in contemporary evangelicalism.

    It’s just that it’s not so uncomfortable when you’re a woman!

    …and don’t get me started on how my old Calvary Chapel pastor interpreted the Song of Songs….

    My college Christian group did some prison ministry that I participated in once or twice, though we weren’t very successful at making converts. We had a bible study planned in a large gym inside the fence with several dozen inmates. Before I could get started on the “path to salvation,” one of them took my bible, opened it to Song of Songs and asked me to read aloud! I started off, and a group of goons (they were pretty scary types) gathered around eagerly. It was clear most of them knew the bible and wanted to hear me read the “dirty parts!” I must have turned three shades of red, and that was my last prison visit. ;-)

  • 5. Intergalactic Hussy  |  July 12, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    I don’t know about you but I’m not getting on my knees for some dude who owned slaves, approved of murder and maiming, and equated women to dirt.

    I admit, it is a little gay. NOT that that’s a bad thing AT ALL… but when Christians often assert that homosexuality is wrong but then say such things…well maybe they’re the homophobic ones.

  • 6. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    **This was sent to me as an inspirational devotion to Jesus, but could easily have been ripped off a Harlequin romance cover. Christian or non-Christian, this stuff is really disturbing to me. How is a man supposed to relate to this kind of stuff?**

    I wonder if this is why the conservative movement has made homosexuality the Worst Sin Ever — because of the potential homoerotic tendencies lurking beneath the “Jesus as your best love.’

  • 7. superhappyjen  |  July 12, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Hillarious. Love the cowboy pic.

  • 8. Steelman  |  July 12, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    “No sin made me feel guiltier than when I occassionally succumbed…”

    Whoa, way TMI! :)

    Seriously, that part about autoerotic guilt is interesting. I attended a Pentecostal church for awhile (AOG). The dual prohibitions against premarital sex and masturbation seemed a no win situation. It led not just to the suppression of desire, but an unhealthy repression of sexuality. Young men would testify about how God had delivered them from masturbation. The Paulist ideal of the unmarried devotee, following after their “first love.” These folks wore their non-sexuality like a Jesus bestowed badge of honor, while everyone else just felt guilty and wondered why God wasn’t blessing them.

    For a single guy, just thinking about sex was a sin of lust. And purchasing a pack of condoms was equivalent to premeditated fornication. That explains why I saw so many in my young adult church group, compared to my non-believing friends, end up at a military wedding (well, there were shotguns there, if you know what I mean). Me? I bought the rubbers and felt guilty later. I figured anybody could cause a car accident, and, though others would be disappointed in them for their careless driving, nobody would have scolded them for wearing a seatbelt. :)

  • 9. Top Posts « WordPress.com  |  July 12, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    [...] My HomoErotic Relationship with Jesus [...]

  • 10. karen  |  July 12, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Seriously, that part about autoerotic guilt is interesting. I attended a Pentecostal church for awhile (AOG). The dual prohibitions against premarital sex and masturbation seemed a no win situation. It led not just to the suppression of desire, but an unhealthy repression of sexuality.

    Oh, the sexual repression of fundamentalists is a BIG topic. We definitely need to do some writing on that one.

    When “lust” and masturbation are sins, and fantasizing is verboten, women basically have little to no chance for sexual fulfillment – even in marriage. I know good Christian wives who’ve never (and I mean NEVER) had an orgasm. Anything “down there” is dirty and shameful.

    When I first was leaving the church, I accepted an invitation from a new, non-Christian girlfriend of mine to attend a performance of The Vagina Monologues with her. Wow – was that an eye-opener!

  • 11. lostgirlfound  |  July 12, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Intergalatic Hussy … actually, they say Jesus was very liberated for his time … while “the church” has been the oppressor of women, Jesus had quite a few women in his entourage and broke from what was “socially acceptable” to welcome and encourage women.

  • 12. Thinking Ape  |  July 12, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Intergalactic Hussy says, “I don’t know about you but I’m not getting on my knees for some dude who owned slaves, approved of murder and maiming, and equated women to dirt.”

    Wow. What are we teaching kids these days?

  • 13. pj11  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    A word of advice from the conservative perspective (if you care) … some of the posters here have a caricature in their mind of what a fundamentalist (or evangelical) is. It’s easy to take pot-shots at a caricature. But the vast majority of the group you’re mocking doesn’t look or think the way you have judged them.

    When Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell and their ilk pass judgment and attack a caricature of liberals, homosexual men, or environmentalists, I’m guessing most of you are disgusted by it. Don’t fall into the same trap and become the flip side of what you despise. Don’t become a hater. Keep the dialogue on a constructive, intellectual level.

    I spend much of my time talking with and counseling evanglical Christians. Let me tell you … the majority are not “sexually repressed,” they’re not homophobic, and they don’t see homosexuality as “the worst sin ever.” They’re actually pretty normal, balanced people who simply want to worship God and live productive lives … they don’t hate atheists either! :-)

    I know that some of you have had dysfunctional experiences in the church. No doubt there are messed-up people in the church who project a poor image of Christianity. What are evangelicals often accused of … judging people unfairly? It would be wise for all of us – theist and atheist – to pay attention.

  • 14. The de-Convert  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Looking for That Special SomeONE? – Solely His

    Is that “His” as in “HeIsSailing”??? Hmmm…..

  • 15. Dan Barnett  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Hussy,
    “”””I don’t know about you but I’m not getting on my knees for some dude who owned slaves, approved of murder and maiming, and equated women to dirt.”””””””

    I assume you’re referring to Jesus, so where do you find that he owned slaves? Where do you see him approving of murder and maiming? What women were dirtr to him.

    He had no money to buy slaves. He only had followers he was teaching, which was very common at that time.

    He did not approve of murder or maiming. When the crowd was going to stone the adultress(oh wait, a woman) he stood up for her, and saved her by the crowd’s guilt.

    Speak from your mind, not your butt, and get it straight. Christians are accused left and right of twisting the scriptures to fit beliefs. Uh, hello! Study it before you use it for ammo.

  • 16. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Pj11,

    **the majority are not “sexually repressed,” they’re not homophobic, and they don’t see homosexuality as “the worst sin ever.” **

    Unfortunatly, that is how it comes across. On the national scale, who are the most prominant voices for Christianity? Jerry Falwell while he was alive, and James Dobson, and people along those lines. They are incredibly influential in terms of politics, and have a large following. And their primary focus does seem to be on abortoin and homosexuality, given what is drawing them to current presidential candidates, and their reaction to the one Christian group who wanted to make it a priority to combat climate change. That is the great moral crisis that they currently face.

    This may just be media-bias. And I would love to see more Christians clamoring for an equal share in the spotlight in terms of social justice, better education for children, better protection for women who are facing the possibilty of an abortion and so on. But when I look at statements of belief for conservative churches, they make a point to specifically mention that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and only a heterosexual relationship is correct. Out of everything to focus on, such as love your neighbor, or keep a constant focus on the poor, homosexuality makes it to the statement of beliefs (which consist of the nature of God, creation, salvation, the fall of man), and the other two do no. It is important enough to be considered equal with salvation. And I’m talking about Baptist churches, not really, really extreme fundamentalist churches.

    I’ve seen blogs where liberal Christians advocate for homosexual rights, and the conservatives *lambast* them, asking how they will account for themselves on the Day of Judgement, or they are straying to the “lake of fire.” And yet when the liberal Christians comment on other sins, they’re pretty quiet.

    I’m going with what I have seen, and can only go based on the evidence I see before me. Because it does come across as though homosexuality is the Worst Sin Ever, and I was honestly curious if the focus on the personal relationship with Jesus, as HIS has explained it, might tie into that, given that the language used in a human context goes very close to a homosexual relationship. By focusing on eliminating homosexuality, it’s a way of ‘guarenteeing’ that no one will question the aspects of a personal relationship with Jesus.

    You say that most evangelicals are not like that, and honestly, I wish I could wholeheardetly agree. I wish I would be surprised by Falwell’s statements, and expect more loving behavior in general, rather than being surprised when homosexuality doesn’t dominate an evangelical’s goal. I really do. My experience simply suggests otherwise, and leads me wondering why there weren’t media clashes between Falwell and his followers, in terms of how he approached this topic.

  • 17. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Dan,

    **I assume you’re referring to Jesus, so where do you find that he owned slaves? Where do you see him approving of murder and maiming? What women were dirtr to him.**

    I would assume Intergalactic Hussy is getting most of this from the Trinitarian concept — because of behavior attributed to God in the Old Testament. And if Jesus was God, and co-existent with the Father, then would leave Jesus involved with those actions.

  • 18. I spent 65.2 seconds in hell « Microblogger  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:22 pm

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  • 19. pj11  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Hi, Heather! Great to interact with you again … on a different post this time! :-)

    You said: “I’m going with what I have seen, and can only go based on the evidence I see before me.”

    OK, I’ll play along … what I see of gay people is the guys in leather and chains on the Gay Pride parade floats in San Francisco … and Rosie O’Donnell’s angry rants on The View … and men kissing each other while protesting at Jerry Falwell’s funeral. So now I have an accurate and full picture of what it means to be gay! Alright, let the bashing begin! (sarcasm intended).

    At my seminary there are brilliant Christian philosophers such as J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig who would love to be approached and interviewed by the media on issues of culture and the church. But they aren’t going to be provocative … they’ll give a balanced account of sin and grace which won’t generate ratings in the American media. Falwell and Robertson are way more interesting to the medi moguls. It’s your responsibility, Heather, to realize this truth … and to avoid jumping to conclusions based solely on what you see and hear.

    By the way, at my church, the issue of homosexuality isn’t a part of our doctrinal statement … never entered my mind (and, yes, I believe Scripture condemns it just as Scripture condemns an adulterous heterosexual affair). Don’t let the fanatics and the politically motivated nuts color your opinions about Christianity … and I’ll do the same in regard to the gay lifestyle. Deal?

  • 20. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2007 at 12:46 am

    It is interesting to me how several people commented how funny they found this article. The humor was never intended on my part, but I guess it is funny in a sad, or maybe even a pathetic sort of way.

    Slapdash sez:
    “Her husband served in Iraq for almost two years (now back safely), and during his absence my friend claimed that she had fallen more in love with Jesus than she had ever experienced before in her life; that she might be more in love with him than with her own husband! Jesus had indeed become her surrogate lover while hubby was away.”

    Wow, that is really tough. What do you do about a situation like that? Your friend obviously needed a strong crutch during that difficult time in her life, and Jesus literally became the surrogate husband. But you can’t take that emotional crutch from her when she needs it. It was just misplaced I guess. But that is a really extreme form of the need for something emotionally stable. I hope she is doing better now – thanks for sharing!

    *******************************

    Pj11 sez:
    “You are one neurotic dude!”

    You know, I was thinking that as I typed this article. I was presenting myself with some pretty high anxiety! And you are probably right about that – well so be it. I would never ever share this kind of stuff with my old church family or small group. Thank goodness for anonymity, right? But I was also concerned about appearing blasphemous to some of the more sensitive readers. But honesty had to trump that. I am glad you took it in the spirit in which it was meant.

    Pj11 continues:
    “It’s an unfortunate part of the sappy, candy-cane religiosity that is so present in the church culture today. It’s typical American culture …”

    It seems to me that many of the articles on this site are useful for Christians and ex-Christians alike – for different reasons. I could have easily written this article back when I was a Christian if my head was a little clearer back then. I just needed time to look at my bubble of religion from the outside and gain perspective. I am really glad that this site is not just blind antagonism between believers and non-believers.

  • 21. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Stephen sez:
    “You’ve perverted it into something that is not its intent.”

    Stephen, you are absolutely correct. I have written an article which perverts the meaning of “Loving Christ” as presented in the Scriptures. I know what it means very well. But I am not the one doing the perverting. I came from a Christian culture which perverted those meanings for me, and I am just showing a few examples of how that culture still pervades Christian pop culture, and how that culture and mindset affected me personally. Understand the difference?

    Stephen continues:
    “Before people jump all over me — “hate” is a provocative way of saying precisely what I have said above, that our primary allegiance is to Jesus.”

    I am well aware of what Luke 14:26 means, and how ‘hate’ is defined in that context. What makes you think I want to jump all over you for quoting Scripture? Give me some credit, will you?

    **********************

    Karen sez:
    “The discomfort you felt is probably much more likely to be the culprit. After all, how many straight men are looking forward gleefully to the day they will become “a bride”?

    The description of heaven was very anti-climatic to me. Let’s see, streets of gold, gates of giant pearls, and a celebratory supper for my consummation as a bride. Forever. I gotta tell you, I allegorized passages like these like crazy!!

    By the way, have you ever heard Bishop Spong’s arguments that Paul may have been homosexual? I am not necessarily convinced of this, this is something that we will never know, but he makes an interesting case for it.

  • 22. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Heather sez:
    “I wonder if this is why the conservative movement has made homosexuality the Worst Sin Ever — because of the potential homoerotic tendencies lurking beneath the “Jesus as your best love.’”

    I know I probably gave too much information, but when I said I never felt guiltier then when I masturbated, I was not kidding. The guilt was awful. I have never met an openly homosexual Christian, but I have to wonder what goes on in their heads as they try to reconcile their faith with their nature.

    **********************************

    Steelman sez:
    “The dual prohibitions against premarital sex and masturbation seemed a no win situation. It led not just to the suppression of desire, but an unhealthy repression of sexuality.”

    I still think that pre-marital sex is ideally the best option for youngsters. But with that said, I wonder if this suppression of your natural emotions is the cause for the crazy signs and wonders movements that you see in Pentacostalism? If emotions are suppressed, they have to come out somehow, and we see it come out in Benny Hinn crusades.

    Whoa, I am not making much sense here. I must be getting sleepy.

  • 23. pj11  |  July 13, 2007 at 2:24 am

    HlS says: “By the way, have you ever heard Bishop Spong’s arguments that Paul may have been homosexual?”

    Not trying to be antagonistic here, but … there are “liberal” scholars within Christendom with whom I disagree but I still respect their methodology and integrity. For what it’s worth, John Shelby Spong is not among them. I’ve read several of his books and seen him in two debates and I’m not impressed with him as a scholar. I find him to be an attention-hungry sensationalist. He’ll say or write almost anything to get some press and/or sell some books (i.e. Paul was gay). Of course, there are similar types on the “conservative” side. In my mind, these are the type of extremists we need to marginalize in order to bring rational debate back to the table.

  • 24. Heather  |  July 13, 2007 at 5:38 am

    Pj11,

    **It’s your responsibility, Heather, to realize this truth … and to avoid jumping to conclusions based solely on what you see and hear.** Except how else do you relaize the truth except based on what is seen and heard, coupled with researching more in-depth? Do Robertson and Falwell come across as over the top? Yes, but I’m not even sure they can fall into the fanatical category, such as those who picket funerals in protest of homosexuality. Falwell had a *huge* following, and he was a powerful voice in the Religious Right. If he were in the “nut” category, or that much in the fringes, it doesn’t seem as though so many people would listen to him, or that he’d have the power he did. I know that with his funeral, several came out to say that he was a nice man, and a decent man, and a good Christian man. They knew him bettter than I did. I just wish, then, that he’d be more insistent that the media portrayed him in all facets, rather than just on what it did focus on.

    Or same with James Dobson, and the letter to the one association (not just by him, but including other evangelical leaders as well. Seen here: http://www.citizenlink.org/pdfs/NAELetterFinal.pdf). He’s also a powerful voice, and yet is focusing on the great moral issues such as “sanctity of human life, integrety of marriage, and sexual abstintence/morality to children.” Out of everything in the letter, those are the three elements felt most important to specifically address. Not care for the poor. Not better living conditions.

    And I don’t think Baptist churches can be referred to as “fanatics and politically motivated nuts.” (Westburo (sp?) Baptist churches, yes). But the “normal” Baptist churches? And this is one, because I know a person who was raised in that church, as well as her family. That doesn’t fall into either category. That’s not a ‘fringe’ Christian group.

  • 25. Slapdash  |  July 13, 2007 at 9:27 am

    ***Oh, the sexual repression of fundamentalists is a BIG topic. We definitely need to do some writing on that one. *** (Karen)

    Yes, please!!! Someone write about this.

    At the congregational church I went to 3-ish years ago, the 30-something group had monthly talks with guest speakers. I will for the moment leave aside the question of the composition and mental/social/spiritual health of those who were in the 30-something group, but that’s a big issue too: the church doesn’t know how to handle unmarried people in this age bracket.

    Anyway, one week a married couple spoke about chastity and marriage. I cringed throughout the whole talk, as it was the exact same talk I have heard since I was about 14 years old. This couple had married during or just after college and had NO idea what it was like to navigate life as a 30-something who is expected to deny/repress/ignore/squash their sexuality – and by all means avoid masturbation and sex. It was awful. I wanted to hear some kind of frank, honest acknowledgement of the pain and struggle to be a celibate 30 year old. But no. Got instead the typical rose-colored speech about the sanctity of marriage and sex.

    I think what really irked me is that this couple talked as though all everyone in this group needed to do was pray more and wait on God more to bring their perfect mate. As I looked around to the predominantly female crowd, and thought about the broader church demographics which skew noticeably to the female side, it suddenly struck me that some notable proportion of the women in the room were simply never going to marry – God wasn’t going to miraculously pair everyone off, and statistics were not on their side.

    I also started thinking about how the chastity message was probably much easier to swallow before the 20th century, as marriage occurred so much earlier in one’s life – so one had to be chaste until what, 19, 20, 22 maybe? Today, Christian men and women are expected to be chaste well into their 30s and 40s if they haven’t yet married. That is a very tough pill to swallow, and the (married people in the) church just kind of smile and shrug and say: “Jesus is your SomeONE!”

  • 26. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2007 at 10:25 am

    pj11 sez:
    “For what it’s worth, John Shelby Spong is not among them. ”

    Thanks for your perspective. I read one of his books (Why Christianity must change or die) and to be honest I found it liberating at a time when my church small group was about to suffocate me. A very long story. Anyway, other then that I know next to nothing about the man.

    I will admit that the one thing that struck me odd about the book was that he thoroughly deconstructed what he felt were the bigoted aspects of Christianity, which was pretty much all of it, and talked about a new Christianity which must emerge. But he never really wrote about what the new Christianity was, or what it should change into, and sort of left the reader hanging.

    I have to agree with Heather regarding public perception of Christianity. I never regarded Falwell or Robertson to be over the edge or fringe Christians (ok, maybe Robertson sometimes), in fact I have always liked and respected Falwell as a minister and person. Still do. In my mind, he is mainstream Christianity. Some of the more outspoken churches that I attended would castigate liberal Christians to the point that we even doubted their salvation in Jesus Christ!! I would never darken the door of stale, dry Lutheren or Methodest or God forbid Episcopalean churches. And Catholics are the whore of Babylon!! Any brand of Christians other than Fundamentalist are marginalized by the more Fundamentalist Baptist churches and Calvary Chapel churches. I am not sure where Oak Hill Bible Church falls in that spectrum, or what they teach, but I am telling you just what I ahve observed, and how this marginalization contributes to public perception of Christianity. Sad but true.

  • 27. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Slapdash sez:
    “Yes, please!!! Someone write about this. ”

    I think you just did. Thanks for the great read. I would not be able to do this topic justice, but if you want to write a longer article, do so and email it to me so I can place it on the main page.

    Slapdash:
    “I will for the moment leave aside the question of the composition and mental/social/spiritual health of those who were in the 30-something group, but that’s a big issue too: the church doesn’t know how to handle unmarried people in this age bracket.”

    We had singles groups for teens, 20s and elderly (widowed). I did not marry until I was 41 years old. Not that I craved going to singles groups or anything, I didn’t, but our churches were also ill-equipped to handle older single. On the few times I did go to these groups, I saw people well into their 30s and 40s (including myself) attending the 20s single groups. I have not been to one of those singles groups in 15 years or so, so I have no idea what it is like now.

    When I did marry, I was required to go through marraige counseling by my church as a prerequisite to be married by them. I did as thorough a job as I could researching the Bible on marraige and sexuality. So I got my trusty Thompson Chain Reference out and spent a weekend studying. I was surprised at how little there really is in the Bible regarding these issues! hmmmm…. now there is an article I CAN write about!!

  • 28. Lyall Abbott  |  July 13, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I understand totally. The kind of love with our Creator, Redeemer and Brother, High Priest, Friend, Counselor, Mighty God, etc…. is not at all a sexual sensual love. Yet in all religious circles you will hear all this language that is very much like that of a romance novel. Agape is the type of love we are talking about with our connection to Jesus Christ. Agape is soul love, with its blood covenant at the cross of Calvary, but we also have a risen Savior, Salvation was not finished at the cross. There is a Heavenly Sanctuary where Christ entered to minister salvation as our High Priest. There is NO earthly Priest that can compare or shadow today what Christ is doing for us in the Heavenly Sanctuary. The way of Salvation is through the Sanctuary. A close study of the Sanctuary and the Parables of the Branch and the Vine, the Law(s) of God, those Sabbaths that go beyond the ten commandment covenant the Feast Days, Holy Convocations on the specified days, and times etc.. The only difference is there is no DEAD or BLOOD Sacrifice. God wants a living sacrifice. We humans have trouble remembering things. We need to do things that helps us remember and to understand the things of God, not just hear words that are soon forgotten. Life is an experience with God. It is impossible to please God without FAITH, and Faith without the works of Faith are Dead. The first 4 commandments in the ten are about receiving God’s love, and the last 6 are about how to give God’s love to others. We cannot give what we have not received. We need to take the sex out of the love of God, but don’t through the baby out with the bath water sort of speak. The marriage covenant is one of the most basic and practical ways of learning of how the principles of God’s love/Agape works. We have to understand what covenant means. It is an agreement or contract by two parties, parties can be groups, to keep it simple, Man and Woman, in a marriage, which is signed or confirmed, or made binding through blood. When two virgins, male and female get married their marriage covenant is made binding through the sexual act. There is blood shed. And many other things. These two living souls are being bound together. They are establishing a soul tie. They are becoming or have become one flesh. Only God can break a soul tie. We can through mental imagination spiritually create a soul tie in principle with anyone that we have a sexual fantasy with. Not all soul ties are or have to be sexual. Anyone who is a true Christian has accepted the soul tie that Christ has provided for us that ties us or binds us to the Heavenly Father. There was nothing sexual in the life of Christ or His death on the cross. Nothing sexual in the entire ministry of Christ and or in the way He loved or showed His love to anyone. There where however many situations that were about sexual sin that Christ dealt with. A much deeper study of the covenant and the law and the Sanctuary are very much needed to the Christian world today. The Annual Sabbaths for example were also prophecies. They were about types and shadows and yes about remembering about the past, but there was also a future application even to our day, and yet to be in the near future. It is like the saying about not forgetting the way God has lead us in the past as we press forward, looking ahead, so we know that our future is in God’s hands whom we can trust completely. God will not break His covenant with us, it is us that breaks or rejects the covenant with Him. God works with the will of each and every one of us. God never forces the will of man. Choose ye this day whom ye will worship, serve, God or the fallen one.

    My website is under construction.
    Lyall

  • 29. JumpingFromConclusions  |  July 13, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    **God never forces the will of man.**

    Actually he did, according to the Bible. Remember how he liked to harden people’s hearts on occasion so he could punish them more?

    I just thought I’d throw that out there, as the whole “free will” thing is a major part of many Christian’s defense of the faith, and it just is not legitimate.

  • 30. Steelman  |  July 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Lyall, I agree that the traditional concept of the Jesus-human relationship is about agape not eros. I suppose the type of sexualized marketing HIS wrote about was bound to happen, especially in a capitalistic society where people openly talk about all manner of personal fulfillment.

    Lyall said: “When two virgins, male and female get married their marriage covenant is made binding through the sexual act. There is blood shed.”

    Uh, you do know about things like tampons and horseback riding? :)

  • 31. Stephen  |  July 13, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    HelsSailing:
    I apologize if I assumed you’re more hostile to Christianity than you suggest in your reply to me. But the post, beginning with its title, strikes me as uncharitable mockery of sincere devotion.

    Moreover, the site supposedly serves the purpose of “deconverting” people. Thus you shouldn’t be too shocked if readers like me fail to give you the benefit of the doubt!

  • 32. Heather  |  July 13, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Stephen,

    **Moreover, the site supposedly serves the purpose of “deconverting” people. ** Actually, it’s for the skeptical, those in the process of de-converting, or former Christians.

  • 33. pj11  |  July 13, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Heather said: “And I don’t think Baptist churches can be referred to as “fanatics and politically motivated nuts.”

    HlS said: “Any brand of Christians other than Fundamentalist are marginalized by the more Fundamentalist Baptist churches and Calvary Chapel churches.”

    Like every people group in America, those of us in the evangelical church are not monolithic and we prefer not to be lumped in with others unfairly. Some Baptist churches are very intolerant and legalistic … others are quite gracious. I just think it would be wise for the contributors and moderators of this blog to carefully safeguard it so it doesn’t become a “hater” site where caricatures of Christianity are held up for bashing like a pinata at a kiddie party!

    HlS … you asked about the church I pastor, Oak Hill, and where we stand in the spectrum of evangelicalism. We’re an independent body which sees itself rooted historically in the flow of Christian orthodoxy and contending for the faith handed down to us by the apostles, early church fathers, and the Reformers. We hold a Reformed (Calvinist) view of salvation. We reject the methodologies of the contemporary “seeker-sensitive” church growth movement. We don’t dabble in politics. We preach the Gospel with gentleness and respect for those who disagree … but we won’t compromise either. Our mandate as individuals believers is to die to self and pursue submission to God’s will alone as revealed in Scripture. To that end, I challenge the flock to study hard and think critically. That’s a quick look. Does it sound scary to you?

  • 34. karen  |  July 13, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    I have to agree with Heather regarding public perception of Christianity. I never regarded Falwell or Robertson to be over the edge or fringe Christians (ok, maybe Robertson sometimes), in fact I have always liked and respected Falwell as a minister and person. Still do. In my mind, he is mainstream Christianity. Some of the more outspoken churches that I attended would castigate liberal Christians to the point that we even doubted their salvation in Jesus Christ!! I would never darken the door of stale, dry Lutheren or Methodest or God forbid Episcopalean churches. And Catholics are the whore of Babylon!! Any brand of Christians other than Fundamentalist are marginalized by the more Fundamentalist Baptist churches and Calvary Chapel churches.

    One thing I’ve learned through interacting on blogs like this one is that we were definitely on the conservative side of Christianity, HIS. I thought just like you do that the Focus on the Family-version of Christianity was “mainstream,” but it’s actually not.

    If you look at the numbers, fundies and evangelicals are not the majority of Christians. They’re loud, they’re politically motivated and they tend to vote in a bloc, so they’re influential no doubt. But the mainstream churches, while they continue to lose members, still are a powerful force and they’re far less conservative than Falwell and Dobson. And now they’re being joined by an upsurge in more liberal movements like the emergent church, many of them universalist in nature – or at least far less dogmatic than Calvary Chapel and the like.

    Another point, and I think this may be what pj is trying to say, is that the leaders of any movement tend to be way ahead of the followers in their thinking and their stridency. This is true of liberal Christians and even of atheists (look how many rank-and-file atheists object to the stridency of a Dawkins or Harris).

    So while the majority of the conservative Christians may approve of Dobson and many contribute to Focus on the Family, most of them probably don’t agree with everything he says and even object to his most-extreme views.

  • 35. karen  |  July 13, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Like every people group in America, those of us in the evangelical church are not monolithic and we prefer not to be lumped in with others unfairly. Some Baptist churches are very intolerant and legalistic … others are quite gracious.

    As I understand it, there’s a big difference between the Southern Baptist denomination and other Baptists. One of the most gracious and liberal Christians I know comes from the independent Baptist tradition. Calvary Chapel types would be totally shocked by the liberal teaching in her Baptist church, yet she’s been a good Baptist all her life. Jimmy Carter’s another example of someone who objects strongly to the Southern Baptists, yet remains in the independent Baptist tradition.

  • 36. karen  |  July 13, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    ***Oh, the sexual repression of fundamentalists is a BIG topic. We definitely need to do some writing on that one. *** (Karen)

    Yes, please!!! Someone write about this.

    Wow – that would be tough to do without risking giving “too much information”! But I definitely experienced major sexual repression as a fundy and I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only woman who did. I think women suffer a lot on this issue.

    I’ll have to give it some thought and figure out if I’m courageous enough to tackle that subject. HIS may have more guts than I do. :-)

  • 37. Heather  |  July 13, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    **. But the mainstream churches, while they continue to lose members, still are a powerful force and they’re far less conservative than Falwell and Dobson. And now they’re being joined by an upsurge in more liberal movements like the emergent church, many of them universalist in nature **

    Which thrills me, because I hope that in 100 years or so, if not a lot sooner, the public’s perception of Christian “sin-targets” are injustice, inequality and along those lines. Those are the things that should be connected to the word “Christianity.”

  • 38. karen  |  July 14, 2007 at 12:11 am

    Which thrills me, because I hope that in 100 years or so, if not a lot sooner, the public’s perception of Christian “sin-targets” are injustice, inequality and along those lines. Those are the things that should be connected to the word “Christianity.”

    I agree, and I optimistically hope for the same thing.

    I have seen various atheists who predict that Christianity – and religion in general – will be on the wane popularity-wise within 50 or 100 years. Frankly, I think that’s wildly over-optimistic.

    But I do think it’s likely that fundamentalism will decline in my lifetime and the Christianity that replaces it will be far less offensive and far more focused on doing good rather than converting.

  • 39. Nathan  |  July 16, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    This perfectly illustrates the problem of worshipping an anthropomophic deity like Jesus – one’s feelings about God inevitably become caught up in one’s feelings about human beings.

    It seems to me that if one is going to be a theist, then one should take the line that God demands ethical behaviour from us, but it is impossible for us to understand anything else about it – and that sectarianism, dogma, or mysticism should never trump those ethical obligations.

    On the other hand, if one is going to be an atheist, one should accept that people nevertheless have ethical obligations to others and to society at large which are absolute – and should never be overriden by concerns about personal pleasure, equality, or political correctness about other cultures or ways of life.

    As an agnostic, either way is fine with me.

  • 40. Anonymous  |  September 16, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    poooleeeeze don’t equate sex with love

  • 41. Cooper  |  September 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Jesus was my secret, backdoor lover. I could witness the Gospel to unbelievers until I was blue in the face, but I always stopped short of declaring my Love for Jesus. Cut me some slack! I am a man – Jesus is a man. I could not admit love for any man the way I felt I was to love Jesus. I could even admit loving an amorphous, asexual God. But the man Jesus? I loved this man because I felt it was an obligation to love Jesus. I did not know him – I never felt him, touched him, saw him, felt his breath on my ear – how could I possibly love him? But I had to.

    HelsSaling—

    After reading your post I really have to say with all sincerity you never knew Christ. Anyone who really knows the Lord would not write something like that. Afraid to say you love Jesus due to homosexual overtones? You weren’t a Christian—and I really mean that. That post was very, very sad indeed.

  • 42. Cooper  |  September 16, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    But when I got married, I realized that I had all these loving phrases that I wanted to pass on to my wife but were already reserved for Jesus! I could not tell my wife that she was my one and only, then turn around and tell Jesus that HE was my one and only!! I the lovey-mushy talk of love for Jesus abruptly ceased. I realized that if I were to be a faithful husband, I must have only one lover in my life. My marriage his given me a real relationship, and the anxiety of Loving Jesus has finally disappeared.

    What the? Anxiety of loving Jesus? Lovey-mushy talk of love for Jesus? Only one lover in your life? I’m not sure which Jesus you are referring to here. No wonder he never answered back. What kind of concept did you have of the Lord? I’m sorry—-but this article is very disturbing. I’ll go to another thread. The Lord I know and love is so far above a human type of love I’m wondering who it was you were trying to worship!!??

  • 43. Cooper  |  September 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    When I say above human type of love I mean that the love that comes from Jesus is “agape” love or divine love, not “eros” or human love which is largely based on sexuality, etc. Somehow you confused those two when you were trying to have a relationship with Christ it appears, and never experienced the agape love of God. No Christian I know has ever said they felt “lovey-mushy” when saying they love Jesus Christ. It is a love of a Divine Being, not a spouse. When I say I love Christ I am not referring to some romantic love reserved for a wife or lover, I am speaking of a love that comes from the Holy Spirit himself for the person of Christ.

  • 44. HeiisSailing  |  September 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Cooper bodly proclaims:

    You weren’t a Christian—and I really mean that.

    Amazing how you can judge my entire 40+ years as a Christian based exclusively on this one article. You must be blessed with the ‘Gift of Discernment’.

  • 45. orDover  |  September 16, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Cooper/Oleander/Joe,

    You are an incredible ass.

  • 46. Xtine  |  July 9, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    wow!

  • 47. Joe  |  July 10, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Xtine—-

    OrDover made a typo—-replace “are” with “have” and the real thought comes through. lol

  • 48. Quester  |  July 13, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Ah, so you are the same Joe who was Oleander, Cooper and all the rest? I’d wondered.

  • 49. Joe  |  July 13, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Quester—

    Please note though—that was back in 9-2008. I have been “Joe” consistently since that time (almost a year now). I used the different names for a short period because someone labeled me a “troll” at the time and my posts were being removed. Once that was disproven I was able to stay with my original name and no problems since. (see date on #45) I also have learned a lot more since then about this site, so have far less “scuffles” here. :>)

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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