Salvation from "Evangelical"
I was dismayed last night when a blogger I read daily made a comment on his blog that I was a particularly interesting reader. You can read that entry on his blog here (Jeff) the post titled “I’m famous.” The writer addressed me as an “Evangelical!” I am not an Evangelical. Let’s get that straight, right here and now.
And I will qualify this answer with the following points:
- I am Gay
- I am also HIV Positive
- I am a Gay Married Man
- I am a self avowed sinner and profane homosexual
- I eat Evangelicals for breakfast
- I’ve never identified myself as an Evangelical
- My political stance is totally opposite of the Evangelical Movement
- I am as far from the Conservative Christian Right as I can get
I don’t attend an evangelical church, nor do I support many of their hateful and exceptional stances on the topics of Gay Rights and Gay Marriage. I don’t support the “rights” support of the U.S. President and his war of occupation. It seems to me that he must just come and see the decoration on my blog and he assumes by appearance that I am something peculiar. That could not be farther from the truth. Obviously, people have not invested in reading this blog, yet they can pronounce a judgment about this blog.
I have said in the past that I have studied Religion in University and my concentration was in the area of Christianity. And I have to admit that the longer I spent studying religion – the farther from institutional religion I have moved. My Faith Life is an amalgamation of many traditions – that complement my base Christian faith. It is said, in certain circles that you can take the boy out of the church, but you can’t take the church out of the boy. I still honor the faith of my family. The faith that was taught to me as a child. The faith that kept me alive all these years from certain death. And we can add to that that my higher power, whom I choose to call God, is with me in my recovery life as well.
Today my life has taken a marked turn. With the conferral of my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion. That one word “CONFERRED” means that I have arrived. That the institution that accepted me and taught me all that I know today and had faith in me all these years has assessed my academic work, my credits from Seminary and the work I have done for the University and conferred the degree which warrants me certain scholarly respect and dignity.
Nothing in life is free. And Life has not been lived without its challenges. Sobriety has been made all the richer for the lessons I have learned in class and in the program of AA. I have never pushed my faith or my beliefs on anyone in this sphere, although some would beg to differ with that thought. I read a lot of blogs on any given day and I have learned to choose my battles wisely based on the experienced I have lived to that date on any given day.
I see people make stupid choices and I read how miserable some people are in their active drinking and drugging. I have commented on certain blogs about the insanity of addiction and alcoholism, and many people come back with indignant remarks about judgment. I don’t judge any of you, but I know what that debasement and insanity feels like, and I know a solution from that insanity.
But some have said (Steven) that AA is all about that God shit. I cannot help him or any one who has that kind of defeatist attitude. I can’t show you the way out of the forest, if you like the shade of the trees. I cannot help you off the river denial without you getting in the water to swim or you choose to get in my boat so that I can take you to solid ground.
Freeing ones self from addiction will take more work on your part than I can give you. I’ve had to walk away from blogs because it bothers me deeply to read post after post, how you partied all weekend, and got drunk and now you are regretting it. The older I get and the longer I stay sober, my world changes. Yet, for many their world stays the same.
When the desire to stop drinking and drugging is heavier than the desire to keep plowing ones self with drugs and the drink, only then will I be able to help you. People are so adverse to a program of recovery because they say “all that ‘god’ damned shit just turns me off… so be it.. I am not here to convince you that you are an alcoholic or an addict. But for the most part I have read post after post and the record and the message is the same.
“Please God, save me from myself!”
I cannot prove to you that God exists. I cannot prove to you that a spiritual awakening will make you see the light. But I cannot prove to you that God does not exist either. What I can tell you is this:
- In 1994 – I was given 18 months to live – I am still alive
- In 1993 I lost a lover to suicide and it did not kill me
- In 1997 I had a near death experience that told me that there is more out there
- In 14 years I have lived through one drug after another to fight AIDS
- I got sober – slipped – almost died – and came back – and live to tell you about it
- I got sober in December 2001 and I haven’t had a drink or a drug since
- My life is better today than it has ever been in my life
- I went back to University at age 35 and succeeded
- I stayed sober and met my husband in a meeting – who knew
- We got married – we are both sober – we had a sober reception
- I’ve maintained the friends that I had even though I don’t drink
- I’ve learned that I can succeed even if I stopped drinking, despite of myself
- I can’t call you an alcoholic or an addict – I just point out the obvious, you have to make that determination yourself.
- I can show you where the rooms are – and I can even take you there, but you have to walk in the room to find out why we believe what we believe and how we came to that belief. If you don’t know, then don’t talk shit about recovery, just because you are in the middle of the river Denial…
Where is God in all of this? He is in the middle of all of it. Carrying me through the rough spots and walking with me on the flat path. There are steps we follow:
- We admitted we were powerless over (alcohol/drugs) and our lives had become unmanageable
- We came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
- We made a Decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him
One, Two, Three…
I’ve never pushed my God on anyone. But I’ve invited you into dialogue. If I were some evangelical Christian, I surely wouldn’t be politically active in LGBTQ issues. I wouldn’t write about the profane. And I surely would have converted lock, stock and barrel into the evangelical movement decrying my own life and my people, as it were. I would become rigid and judgmental. My God would be better than your God. Whomever that God was, because “Jesus has saved me.”
Jesus has saved me. But not in the ways you think. Jesus is on my blog because He is the man I met – as a young man, who welcomed me to Christianity. He loved me for all that I was, not all that I wasn’t. He loved me even when I could not love myself. He did not label me nor judge me. He did not have words of condemnation for me – yet He loved me all the same. This is the face I see when I meditate on Jesus. He is modern and not so strict as the ‘church’ has given us in cards and in print.
Everyone has to believe in something or else there is no sense in living, for me. Christianity for me means that I am kind to others, and I offer a hand where I can. I have knowledge about religion that you might not. A degree in Religion now gives me the platform to talk about Religion from a scholarly and informed point of view. I may know a little bit more about Religion that most evangelicals do not. I am not a literal Christian. The Bible, as I have learned is NOT a science book, NOR a History book. The bible is a collection of stories collected and collated by man. The bible, historically was transcribed by scribes in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.
One must understand the terms allegory, metaphor and parable. One must understand the context of any given story or situation and understand what each chapter, book and verse was written for, By Whom, For Whom, When and Where. One must understand that the Old Testament was written by many authors. In that same thought, One must seriously understand the difference between Authorship and Attribution.
I am not a “Church” Christian. I am a “Field” Christian. I don’t belong to any church or specific denomination. I don’t subscribe to any specific institutional teaching, yet the roots of Catholicism are entrenched in my soul. They will never be un-rooted or killed.
I can tell you who God IS to me.
And I can tell you who God is NOT
You can poll 100 evangelicals about God and the bible. You will get 200 different answers, because for most evangelicals, they operate based on the social gospel of their particular church and sure as shit, they tow the party line of the Pastor who shepherd’s their flock. An evangelical will never wander far from the base – because they would be found too far from their leader and in that case, they would be tempted by the devil to believe in something that is too far from the teaching of their God and Pastor.
I know this, because I am familiar with the Evangelical movement coming from personal experience in the United States and here in Canada as well. There are evangelical Christians in the halls of AA, and I have, on many occasions, had some serious knock down drag out arguments about “Religion” with the best of them. Many of them will not open up their mouths around me because when they quote scripture to me, I quote scholarship back to them, and that gets them every time…
The God of my father is not the God of the Evangelical Church. The God of my father does not judge me for who I am, yet he judges me by the works of my hands and the words that I speak. I can speak from a place of authority on the subject of evangelical church and God because I have been at the end of their spears of judgment and condemnation since the day I admitted that I was a homosexual. One can only speak from what one comes from and at my age I have a long life of lived history in the “church” to draw upon.
I know who God is, and I know who God is not…
Many of my LGBT brothers and sisters are so hurt by “church” that they are living on their own, having formed whatever religious tradition they have built on their own. My friend (Cooper) has a great take on religious institution. Go read what he has to say about it, he is one of the best writers I have read on my list.
I believe that GOD WEEPS at some of the SHIT that the Evangelical Movement has unleashed on the world in the words it speaks and the Crap they dish out to those who do not conform to the blood of Jesus, saved and crucified in the Lord Almighty Evangelical Movement in North America.
AND GOD WEPT!!
Many of the LGBT people I read have a sense and understanding of the sacred found places other than church. Because the church in all its incarnations and states today have spoken so terribly about those of us who are not in “communion” or that we live outside the acceptable “Norm” of Holy Mother Church and the Literal Biblical readers of the Evangelical and many Christian movements around the world.
In the recent past year we have seen the emergence of “The Emergent church” and the “Church Plant” and as far as “The Revolution Church” led by the most fantastic Jay Bakker, in his statement about the Evangelical and Christian movement of judgment and condemnation, the Revolution Church is a welcoming, affirming, Gay Affirming church. The Revolution Church is a wondeful breath of Fresh Air in the halls of Christendom.
I am NOT an Evangelical by any means. And this post is surely to raise the ire of many Christians because I wield my judgmental pen (Read:typing) on them from my little church in the tower of eternal peace in Montreal. I lead by example, I support my brothers and sisters. I am kind to people and I trust them because they trust me. I am kind and nice to people because it is far easier to be Kind than is it to be unkind, because it takes much more energy to be unkind. I have not been unkind in this post, I have told you the truth as I see it. As I have seen and experienced it.
I have earned every word I type on this blog. I have earned every accolade that will come in to this blog since earning a FOUR YEAR DEGREE studying RELIGION in University. I worked my ass off over the last four years. I stayed sober, I have a life, a husband, friends who support and love me and today I have a Formal University Degree.
The one thing I keep real is this: I don’t know everything there is to know about God, hence the mystery. I like a little mystery in my life, it keeps things real. They say that faith is like a flame. That flame burns within us, always pushing us farther to ask the questions of faith, that keep us seeking. If we are true to ourselves and to God, more will be revealed to us. AND I am Not God…
Today I am teachable… And that is the greatest blessing I have today and the reprieve from the drink, based on my daily maintenance of my spiritual condition.
A Vision for You
Page 164 of the Big Book
Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.
Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
May God bless you and keep you-until then.
The AA Promises
Page 83-84 of the Big Book
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not.
They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
They will always materialize if we work for them.
I have seen all these promises come true. Because I stuck around and I wait on the miracles to come. My faith is stronger today than it has ever been, because I believe in a Power Greater than Myself. God is good, and in His heaven, and one day, I will see him face to face.
And won’t I want to hear him say “Well done good and faithful servant!!”
**END OF SERMON**