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Off The Fence - A Quest For God

by Patricia Spencer, taken from her book How to Survive Suicide: What nobody told me about how to survive losing my son to suicide, available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com

Note from Mary: This article, written by my dear friend Patty Spencer, is from the above-mentioned book. It presents such excellent concepts re God and science that I felt it should be included on this website.


In this essay I’m going to pour gasoline on open flames.

I’m going to talk about God.

The God conversation, I have noticed, is so inflammatory that any discussion about God quickly deteriorates into animosity and name-calling. People have strong feelings about the topic, whether pro or con, and they can’t abide divergent opinions.

I debated whether to include this essay at all because God is such a contentious issue. However, I decided to incorporate it because connecting to a Great Spirit was a critical part of my survival. If I didn’t have this conversation, I would be leaving out a key element in my recovery. In fact, without this piece, for me, there might not have been a recovery—at least not one as peaceful and rich.

Still, if you are a reader who under no circumstances would even consider the possibility that God exists, you should just hoot in derision now and skip to the next essay. If you’re already an ardent believer, you too might want to skip this essay because my eclectic ideas will undoubtedly upset you also.

On the other hand, if you’re in the middle like I was—if you’re someone who had a childhood exposure to God and had some sense of a Higher Spirit being afoot in the universe, but drifted away because you were upset by how christians behave, because you like to reach conclusions based on evidence, because God seemed too fantastical—then maybe you’d like to read on.

There’s no question, evolving from a secular, science-oriented world view to a belief in God is like going from being a white supremacist to marrying a person of colour. It requires a profound change in world view.

Why Bother

Nonetheless, for me that change of world view bestowed deep solace during a time of great sorrow, and it gave my life a sense of purpose and meaning that sustains me. That’s why in this essay I want to share with you some of the shifts in attitude that got me from secularism to God. Maybe some of these thoughts will be useful to you in your own search for spiritual peace. Maybe some of my insights can help you reframe some secular ideas that create obstacles to God.

First let me acknowledge that believing in God requires a leap of faith. It requires you to dismiss the socially-dominant idea that the scientific method is the only legitimate way to learn about the world. It requires you to trust your own experience and stop reframing it with scientism. And it requires you to accept mystery. There’s no scientific evidence I can bring you that can prove there is a God, just as there is no scientific evidence that can prove there isn’t a God.

The thing that finally prompted me to seriously search for God is that I found Aiden’s body.

I witnessed an atrocity—a disturbing act of violence perpetrated by my child, with himself as the victim. By my witness I became a party to something so horrific, so profoundly vile, that I could not purge it from the core of my being. It is not a small thing to end a life. I felt tainted, sullied, infected— sick in my soul. I woke every morning with a foul feeling in my gut, like I had some grotesque thing living inside me. At bedtime, with the distractions of the day quelled, I felt so distressed in my spirit that

I could not settle down. I felt restless, panicky. The more the numbness and shock phase wore off, the worse it became. That sensation of dis-ease became so strong I became convinced that if I didn’t find a way to purge that ... whatever ... from myself, I would eventually become physically ill.

That psychic illness I was experiencing was bigger than me, overwhelming, in fact. I intuited that I needed a solution bigger than myself, too. A spiritual crisis had to be met with a spiritual solution.

Thus I set out on a quest for God.

Major Insights

The first thing I realized was that everything I thought I knew about God was based on vague recollections from childhood catechism, and urban legend. I hadn't formally studied religion since I was 13 years old. It wasn't just that my formal education had taken place forty-five years before—I'd never come to it from an adult perspective. All through those secular years, I was so busy being disdainful and cynically superior—Yeah, right, I'd say. God sent his kid down to be crucified. That's fatherly love. Yeah, right. We're born with original sin, screwed before we even get started.—I'd never realized I was woefully uneducated. (BTW, I still reject these troublesome ideas, just from a now-examined point of view.)

Despite my facile attitude, I never quite let go of the idea of God during those years, either. I still sometimes went to church. It's like I had a sense there was something out there, but as science-oriented as I was (I was married to a scientist, I had studied nursing, and many of my friends were scientists), the idea that there was an actual overarching, unseen, Spiritual Being in the universe ran so counter to dominant thinking that it was hard to fully embrace.

I held onto a few strands of faith—scrawny refugees from my early christian upbringing. I believed in the importance of adding our light to the sum of light. And I believed that humans possess a spark of the divine. This was the spark I discerned when I heard stories of altruism, especially of people who risked their lives to help strangers. In fact, when I tried to explain God to Aiden, that was how I illustrated God, through altruism. I told him that God was what gave us the capacity to do the right thing (like rescuing Jews during the Nazi regime) when there was no personal gain in it, simply because it was the right thing to do.

If pressed, I might have said divinity was part of Life Itself, that it came as a standard feature in the human package. I thought maybe this spark, in all of us combined, created what humanity called God— a kind of collective uber-power capable of great works. I referred to this as 'godness.' Later, I'll get back to this idea and talk about the gaping hole that Aiden's death revealed in that little theory.

The first thing that helped me parse out the God question was the insight that what we refer to as christianity is actually composed of three separate elements—God, churches, and christians. You've got to figure out who's responsible for what, and therefore who you're really mad at.

Only one of these three elements is holy—God. Sadly, the only blameless one in the trio is the one who takes the heat. Which makes you wonder: If there is no God, as atheists keep saying, then who are they so mad at?

Personally, I think atheists and secularists are angry with churches and christians. Well, me too, because these two elements of christianity have historically done many indefensible things, things that warrant great shame. Worse, they've often done these dreadful things in God's name. In the past 80 years alone, they've failed to resist Hitler, they've participated in the genocide of First Nations through their residential schools, they've sheltered pedophiles, they've sat on their piles of plundered gold while the very faithful they stole it from live in poverty, etc., etc., etc.). I won't list more because this is an essay, not a library, but this abysmal history was another big reason why I shunned christianity. I didn't want to be associated with it any more than the next person.

Therefore, to get myself into a church again, to be part of a christian community, I had to come to grips with the fact that misconduct occurs everywhere that humans gather. Politics happen everywhere. Chicanery happens everywhere. Hypocrisy happens everywhere—including in the institutions that self- righteously proclaim their piety.

Churches, I had to realize, are hospitals for sinners, not museums for saints.

I also had to admit that the fervour with which religion is attacked is also hypocritical. Why is it okay to feverishly oppose one institution but not another, when the same ugly traits are being expressed in both? For example, why is it that when our churches and their followers are greedy, corrupt, and abusive to the powerless, secular society calls for the eradication of religion, but when our government and its followers are greedy, corrupt, and abusive to the powerless, they still call democracy the greatest system in the world?

Trusting Human Nature

Now let me look at other shifts in attitude that inched me toward God. You can call them rationalizations if you want. (Isn't it ironic that in a scientist society, 'rationalizing' is considered pejorative? Hah.)

Another irony is that the first steps I took toward God were actually decisions I made to trust in human nature. As part of my exploration of different faith traditions, one Sunday I attended a service in a cathedral that was built in the late 1700s. As I walked up its time-worn stone steps, it occurred to me that for over 200 years, people had been coming up those same stairs, carrying woes just like mine.

That made me think about how those people, like my own ancestors, had relied on God to get them through their trials. Even if God didn't really exist and was just a concept—God had been instrumental in their survival. I realized that even just the concept of God was powerful, like a placebo or something. I know that sounds outrageous, even sacrilegious, but the placebo effect is extraordinarily cool. (And who knows how or why the power of belief works—or where it comes from.)

Secondly, I think the fact that humanity has an innate urge for God is a sign that God is essential to our survival. I kept coming back to the fact that through all time, in all places, across every culture, people have believed in a God. This universal human desire for God did not seem accidental to me—it was just too widespread, too tenacious, too powerful. The urge was as primal as thirst or hunger. Even today, outside of the so-called advanced western world, God still has many adherents. Are they all wrong and we're the only ones who are right?

Atheists argue that religion must go because it causes conflicts that lead to war, but here they are coming to fisticuffs with believers over whether rationalism is superior to faith. To me, all conflict is about power. If we eradicated religion, believe me, we'd still have war. We'd just have to use other excuses, as did Stalin (50 million dead), Mao (15-45 million dead), and the Khmer Rouge (1.5-2 million dead).

Thirdly, I decided to trust the wisdom of Life Itself. Our brains have two hemispheres. The left brain is responsible for analytic, rational, logical thinking. The right deals with creativity, intuition, and insight. Proponents of scientism are insisting that only the knowledge derived from left brain thinking has validity. I decided that if the material world was the only important one, the right brain never would have developed. I think that fully half our brain power is dedicated to experiencing and interpreting non-material phenomena because that realm is just as important to humans as the rational and material experience.

Pushed Off The Fence

A fourth important decision I made didn't come from trusting humanity. Quite the opposite. This insight pushed me off the fence I'd been sitting on for so long.

I told you before about the mashup of ideas that served as my spiritual base in the years before Aiden's death, about how I thought 'godness' was generated from the human spirit. Of course, those notions got put to the test after Aiden died. As one would expect, his suicide caused my life to fall apart. My collapse was so profound, it left nothing of me but ashes. Spiritually I was a vacuum, completely depleted, no reserves.

Well, it turns out that when you get devastated like that, it shows up the glaring hole in your little 'godness' theory, and this is it: If divinity comes from humanity, and if you get to a point where your spirit is drained dry, where do you go to get more? How can you replenish it? You can't draw it from yourself. You're empty.

Grace, I realized, has to come from outside of ourselves.

Otherwise, when we fall into an abyss, we're done. Finito. Kaput. We just have to look around to see that people don't all die when their spirits fail them. Many of us do rise from the ashes. We aren't finished. We get refilled.

The notion that spiritual energy comes into you from someplace other than a human source, was pivotal. It took me another step closer to a belief in God as an entity outside of myself. Despite my complete spiritual bankruptcy during those awful years right after Aiden's death, I have survived this tragedy and grown spiritually from it. I know I didn't pull that rescue out of myself. I didn't have anything left upon which to draw. As I journalled, trying to figure things out, I had some Aha! moments that brought me great calm. I felt peace come over me as I began praying every day. I believe that a Greater Power was at work, gradually replacing my desolation with grace and hope. Increasingly, I became unwilling to discount those strong experiences, to reframe them with scientism and write them off as I would have in the past, as artefacts of concentration or meditation.

Another piece of the soul / God puzzle I decided not to write off—the concept that there is a realm outside of the strictly material world—are the stories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs). These NDEs, related by credible people with more to lose (professional licenses, and social status) than to gain by telling their stories, support the argument that there is individual consciousness separate from our bodies, and that there is a Loving Being in this realm of Higher Consciousness.

NDEs are finally getting the study they merit, instead of being summarily dismissed (which smacks of skeptics throwing out the data that doesn't support their hypothesis). Although there are countless stories becoming public, I was especially impressed by the stories of Dr. Eben Alexander, the neurosurgeon who wrote Proof of Heaven, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mary Neal (author of Heaven and Back), French anesthesiologist Dr. Jean-Jacques Charbonier (author of 7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife: A Doctor Reviews the Case for Consciousness after Death), and Anita Moorjani (author of Dying to be Me).

Except for Dr. Charbonier, who studies NDEs, the others all speak to having had vivid experiences that were life-altering in a way a simple hallucination would not be. In his book, Dr. Alexander, drawing on his medical background, refutes each major mainstream hypothesis that suggests that NDEs are caused by changes in brain chemistry during the dying process.

Dr. Neal, whose knees were broken and completely reversed in direction in a kayak accident, suffered no pain from her accident. Anita Moorjani, who was within hours of dying from widespread cancer, experienced a complete, medically-inexplicable, cure.

If you are familiar with NDEs, you know that many survivors' stories have a similar pattern. Reports of these same experiences can be found in volumes as old as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Plato's Republic. They are also reported by the very young, who have no notions about death theories, or craving for publicity.

The more I looked into it, the more I agreed with Pulitzer Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson, who says about scientism, that we are letting ourselves be talked out of our lived experience by the insistence that only rational, material explanations are valid ways of understanding the world.

I was tired of having my intuitive thinking process herded, cattle-like, down a chute that ended at a materialist slaughterhouse.

Scientism

Which brings me to scientism, the argument that science is the only reliable source of knowledge and that knowledge is independent of experience. Because scientism has become the prevailing world view, for me, it was the single biggest obstacle to God. Therefore, I will devote a fair amount of space to examining it.

And, yes, I will devote more space to its shortcomings, relative to the space I gave to the shortcomings of religion. The focus of this essay is on how I got to God. That means I have to dwell on how I challenged scientism.

First, I had to figure out what I thought, so I decided to write an essay about God, science, and faith. I intentionally did not research other people's ideas. I wrote from my own experience, trying to discern my own thoughts. (This might be an exercise that would be useful to you, too.)

One of my key conclusions was that though science is A wonderful way to discover and think about our world, it is not THE source of truth. That's because I decided that for a fact to qualify as a capital 'T' Truth, it has to have been true for all time in all places.

Using that criteria, science cannot qualify as being The Truth.

Here's an example why: In 1803, Dalton's Atomic Theory proposed that atoms were indivisible units of matter. Subsequently, J.J. Thomson discovered electrons (1897); Ernest Rutherford found protons (1918); and James Chadwick identified neutrons (1932). More recently, quantum mechanics has identified even tinier particles.

Therefore: At which point in that process was scientific knowledge about the atom 'The Truth'? In 1803? 1918? Today? No definition of the atom remained constant. Knowledge kept changing. OK. That's cool.

But what if you were waiting for science to reveal the cold hard facts (i.e., 'The Truth') so that you could base your life on something 'real'? When would that knowledge be available? In 1803? 1918? Ever? If researchers never stopped discovering new things about those cold hard facts you were waiting for, then what? Would Truth just be indefinitely postponed?

There's also another problem. What if the cold hard facts turned out to be too complicated for humans to understand? Would The Truth still exist? That is, if we were incapable of explaining the cold hard facts would that mean that they therefore didn't exist, due to lack of proof? Is the universe constrained by the limits of the human brain? Or does the universe extend beyond the limits of a blob of pink tissue trapped inside a human skull?

Perhaps the real problem is not God, but our human arrogance, our belief that nothing in the universe could possibly surpass what humans can describe.

Blemishes

Another reason why I couldn't accept science as The Truth is that sometimes it's just wrong.

In 1972 the prevailing thinking was that 98 percent of the human genome was 'junk DNA'—useless noncoding stuff that evolution hadn't bothered to delete. By September of 2012, however, the Encode Project announced that in fact these sequences are crucial to the way our genome works. Today, the basic evolutionary premise itself—that genes are the units of heredity—is under fire by the likes of Oxford's Denis Noble.

We like to think science rests on a solid foundation, and for centuries we have looked upon its complexion as if it were flawless, but it has blemishes. For instance:

  • Using the scientific method doesn't guarantee that researchers will either correctly design the experiments, or accurately interpret the results.
  • The scientific community has its popes, power structures, and 'in groups,' too.
  • While peer review serves as a way to 'validate' science, it can also eliminate 'outside-the-box' ideas. Even professional training itself may contribute to narrowed vision.
  • Science is limited by available tools.
  • While researchers can use the scientific method to answer questions in a systematic way, they may not pose the right questions.
  • Researchers can't be sure that the methods by which they test their hypotheses provide definitive results.
  • There are limits to what the scientific method can test. For example, because you must have a hypothesis that can be proven wrong, you can't test the existence of God. (Isn't it ironic that rabid atheists in the scientific community, bent on discrediting God, can't supply any scientific proof to support their claim? They have to rest their case on their strongly held beliefs, just like the faithful do.)
  • Science may produce unforeseen results that aren't immediately apparent (e.g., thalidomide, diethylstilbestrol).
  • Once a theory is widely accepted, subsequent research is framed exclusively within its paradigm. No one funds research that debunks the dominant way of thinking.
  • The scientific method uses reductionism. It looks at a phenomenon at the most basic level possible. It's like examining a novel by studying the individual letters of which it is comprised. This reductionism may hide how an element interacts with the bigger system of which it is a part.
  • Commercial interests exert huge pressure on scientists to create experiments that produce specific results when profit is involved, a troubling trend given how many university research facilities are now corporately funded.
  • Institutional and political interests can also undermine the practice of good science. (Ask Galileo.)


All the time our secular society turns its attention to the excesses of religion, it has turned a blind eye to the destructive aspects of science. We ignore the fact that science developed the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that science develops chemical weapons, and science advances germ warfare.

In the service of corporate greed, science has engineered terminator seeds (seeds that won't reproduce future generations) for the world's most important food crops, and wants to release them into the wild. As well, science has concocted the deadly slurry of cancer-causing liquids used in fracking at the extreme risk of our underground water reserves.

Above all, by developing the atomic bomb, science has brought us to the brink of destroying the entirety of humanity—as well as of destroying the very planet upon which we stand, our precious 1 in 10 billion blue planet with its 8.7 million life forms.

Science, in short, is just as impeachable as religion. Just as many serious accusations can be levelled against the scientific world as the religious. My point isn't to revile science. Science, by revealing the beauty and intricacy of the natural world makes me love creation all the more. I'm just trying to make it clear that the same human limitations and excesses that affect religion also affect science. It is not fair to dismiss the entirety of religion on the grounds of malfeasance any more than it is fair to dismiss science on that basis—especially since much good can also come from both those quarters.

One final thing I want to address about science has to do with reductionism (Michelangelo's David is just a piece of marble). In the context of this essay, reductionism harms the human spirit. By looking at Life Itself only through the lens of DNA, brain waves, or other reductive means, science devalues the human experience. The extraordinary concoction that is a human being becomes a pawn to its machinery. Love is reduced to oxytocin, personality to molecules, consciousness to brain chemistry.

As the survivor of a major trauma, I did not need to feel any more insignificant than I already did. I decided to take a stand and declare my worth beyond my molecules and synapses—to stop defining myself as the least I could be, rather than as the most I could be. I am the novel, with story and theme and subtext and character and dialog—I am not the alphabet.

Jesus In Particular

I believe all prayers rise to the same God, only via different traditions. In this section, however, I concentrate on christianity because this is a personal essay, and christianity is my experience. I don't think God left people out, but rather came to different peoples in ways that work for them. Therefore, I don't believe that christianity is the only 'true' faith; it is just one of the many true faiths.

Since most people in the west are familiar with the basic Jesus story, in this last section, I'm just going to quickly outline a few insights that I gained after I started studying christianity that strengthened my belief in the veracity of the story.

The one book I recommend that covers the basics of christianity and is very easy to read is Timothy Keller's book, The Reason for God—Belief in an Age of Skepticism. (I don't agree with all the theology, but it's a great entry point that covers all the stuff you thought you knew, but actually didn't.)

For two years, the only thing I read about was religion. So much has been written, from so many perspectives, for so long, that it's hard to figure out what's what—everyone has an interpretation. Ultimately I decided to just concentrate on the source story, the four gospels.

I began by asking how we even know the Jesus story is real. Once again, I came back to trusting human nature. Early christians, Jesus' contemporaries, were persecuted. So the ancients literally risked death to preserve that story, and to follow the teachings of Christ. Under life and death conditions, would you risk your life for a bogus story? Me neither.

Many people are troubled by the inconsistencies among the gospels. It doesn't bother me that there are four versions because the core premise remains consistent. If you and three other people were in New York City on 9/11, you would have four accounts of what happened, depending on where you were standing and on what kinds of things you notice, wouldn't you? In fact, it would be odd if you were all called to court to testify and all your versions were identical, wouldn't it? It would sound a bit like collusion.

Neither does it bother me that the gospels were written "long after" Jesus' death. JC died in the year 30 (ish). Paul's letters were written in the 50's, and Mark's gospel is from the 70s. For a society with an oral tradition, 20-40 years is nothing. (Heck, 9/11 happened over 20 years ago now—do you think the survivors have grown fuzzy about what happened? Maybe about some minor details, but certainly not the core events.) Unlike us today, lazily relying on the internet for our information, people in those days had prodigious memories (think of the 'begats!'). Story telling, often in parables, was their way of transmitting wisdom from generation to generation. The reason the gospels were written at all is that the apostles were being killed off during the persecutions, and christians were seeking ways to protect the information. (Think how the Dead Sea Scrolls were protected. Same idea.)

Also, in those days, any number of false messiahs had swung through the region and gotten themselves crucified too, but no one knows their names. If Jesus was just another loony, why did his story persist? Why did people become his followers and not followers of the other Joes who called themselves messiahs? I think it's because something extraordinary happened. Remember, the first christians were Jesus' contemporaries. They were eyewitnesses to what actually happened—and there were hundreds of them. They were the ones who got the christian faith tradition rolling. They weren't going on hearsay like we are.

Another compelling insight for me was that most of the original apostles were martyred. Remember, on the night before the crucifixion when the authorities came asking about Jesus, some of those same guys denied being associated with Jesus. They didn't want to get in trouble any more than you or I would. But afterwards—after the resurrection—the apostles refused to repudiate Jesus. In my opinion, people don't go from: "Jesus? Nope. Don't know the guy" to: "Go ahead. Crucify me. I saw what I saw" unless they're convinced they've seen something worth dying for.

As far as I'm concerned Jesus was about love. His life exemplified the divinity of which humans are capable. His message was short and sweet: Love God. Love your neighbours. Over and out.

He was a man of humble origins who healed others and preached love. He had no social status, and no army, and he associated with all the wrong people. And yet, his message was so powerful, so compelling that the authorities felt they had to silence him. He demonstrated that there's tremendous power in our connection to the divinity within us. We are matches, lit from the Sun. We need to tap into that Light and reflect it in the way we behave in the world.

Becoming more familiar with christianity helped me discern the difference between the direct teachings of Jesus and the troublesome theologies that were tacked on after the fact. They're just theories, interpretations promoted by scholars who maybe spent too much time in the library stacks of the institutional church.

All Told

God, as I said earlier, comes down to faith. So does science, despite its certainty that eventually it can explain everything. I chose to have faith in the option that made me feel like my life has value and meaning and purpose. I chose the option that offered solace.

I simply would not have bothered to go through the hardship of recovering from the loss of my son and my marriage if my only reason for being in existence was to hand down my DNA (the purpose of life from an evolutionary point of view). In fact, from that perspective, with both my sons dead, my purpose for being alive was over. There was no reason to go on.

I chose God because God took me from desolation to consolation, from despair to possibility, from hating my life to honouring my life.

Ain't no strand of DNA that can code for that.


Read more about Patty and her books here.

Johnathan's Journey to Marriage

Johnathan's Journey to Marriage 1I am writing about our gay son, Johnathan's journey to marriage, to bring hope, faith, courage, and patience to others who are lonely and frustrated along the path.

Johnathan has Autism, specifically, Asperger's Syndrome. He is high-functioning and has his bachelor's degree. He has worked for Nintendo, Pokeman, and Microsoft for years as a video game tester. He loves Scrabble, chess, and math, and is very good at them, but his handicaps have given him many challenges.

He had stuttering problems as a child and seemed to be in his own little world. He was a sweet child but often did not fit in with the other kids. He has health issues, and social problems that made relationships very difficult.

He found people (both guys and girls) could be very cruel when trying to date, and would make fun of him. There were those who tried to help him, even though they did not feel compatible with him as dating partners.

As a mom I often worried about him. I worried when I found out he was gay, and even wrote a book, Prayers for Johnathan, in 2000.

I worried whether he could live on his own, finish college, and keep a job. I worried when he lost his faith in God, and became suicidal. I worried if he would catch some disease, get beaten up, or ever find a life partner.

Read more

Mormon Stories

Shameless Pride by Isaac Archuleta

As a shame-filled 20-something, I would recite the New International Version of Philippians 1:20 as my prayer for perfection: "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."

Slowly, as my perceived sins made their way to the surface, I worked incredibly hard to perform my way into pleasing God; to toil for a shameless life.  I was certain that if I left the parts of self called 'sins' behind, thereby achieving a shameless life, God would be pleased with me.  Then and only then could Christ be "exalted in my body".  I didn’t realize it then, but I was suffocating from the notion that love was earned and value was achieved.

I started emptying my life of anything I thought would be offensive to God.  I disguised my femininity behind walls of paranoia and tales of machismo and labeled any expression of sexuality as despicable to God.  I left my secret boyfriend of the time by following an escape route from Colorado to New York City.  Surely my 'same-sex attractions' wouldn’t follow me there, I erroneously thought.

Shame was burgeoning throughout my body like a viral disease because I thought my version of 'God is Love' and gender nonconformity were inherently damaged.  But while I tried to smite out the authenticity that produced my shame, I was in fact compounding my shame.  In fact, the more intensely I embraced shame, the more convinced I was paying an appropriate penance unto God.  Needless to say, I was fixing the wrong mechanism with the wrong remedy.

Many of us have a deep heart, attuned sensitivity, and a strong pull to keep those close to us satisfied.  We want to please them so that we will not lose their love.  Relationships feel like a tap dance, whereby love is only felt if flowers are thrown onto the stage and our loved ones shout, "Encore!"  When in reality, we are experiencing a fraudulent version of love.  

It is easy for many of us to feel like we are a dry sponge cake that can only be enjoyed if we cover ourselves with an enticing, delectable frosting.  But let us not forget the intention of our creator!

For me, Pride is a season of exalting God by cherishing the craftsmanship of my wonderful and intended design.  Pride is a season of letting the truth of God’s creativity have its way through my authenticity, giving me cause to celebrate the I AM that I am.  My body cannot be shame-free if it denies God’s instructions for its very own functioning.

Yes, we want to please those around us, even those who hurt us.  But true love cannot exist when our loved ones and neighbors only see and know our performances.  They cannot love a cake by only tasting its frosting.

True love only exists when others experience and connect to the authentic, God-created essence of your being.

During Pride we have an opportunity to allow God to be exalted through our own unique expressions of authenticity, including how we love and our gender expressions.  To be shameless, or to "have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death," means that I must feel unconditionally beloved while expressing my true self.  This is that type of self-acceptance I "eagerly expect and hope" for all of us.  

And this, to me, is the purest reason for Pride:  I am not ashamed of my authenticity, especially because dropping my performance is the only route to fully loving - even fully loving myself.  Now that takes "sufficient courage," and that is the premise of Pride we are called to emulate, express, and embrace.   

Walk with courage, for you are already and inherently enough.


Contemplation:

  1. Are you blocking your ability to bond and know love because you are trying to earn the love of others by performing?
  2. Can you trust that loving yourself is the foundation of and centerpiece to loving others? If so, what parts of yourself must you embrace more full-heartedly?
  3. Spend time envisioning a version of Pride whereby you are called to courageously emulate, express, and embrace God’s version of authenticity encoded into your being. With this in mind, how might this change the way you show up in relationships?

Isaac ArchuletaIsaac Archuleta is the Interim Executive Director of Q Christian Fellowship. He holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), contributes to The Huffington Post, and hosts weekend seminars for couples, individuals, and religious parents of children in the LGBTQIA community. He lives in Denver, CO.

 


Reprinted with permission from Kyle Franklin, Programs Manager Q Christian Fellowship. Many thanks!  
June 28, 2018.

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Bridget Night in 2018 - A Short Synopsis Of My Faith Experience

My parents were raised Lutheran in Germany and East Prussia,  but joined the Mormon church while single in their late twenties after much investigation.  They were drawn to the aspect of living prophets and genealogy (saving your ancestors) and eternal families.  So I was born and raised in the Mormon church.  As a child growing up I loved the stories of Jesus and accepted Christ early on. 

My dad was an artist and painted a lot of oil paintings of the stories of Jesus and hung them all over our house.  I also liked the idea of modern day revelation and living prophets who could guide us in these turbulent latter days.

I attended Brigham Young University for a year when I was 18 and had the desire to become a missionary.  When I was 21 I was called to serve for 2 years as a Mormon Missionary in Austria. 

Austria was 89% Catholic and most people there had lost their faith in God and the Catholic church after WWII.  So it was a difficult mission, as no one really wanted to hear about churches or religion. 

I ended up doing a lot of service projects and giving surveys to the Austrian people about what they thought was necessary to be happy in life.  I liked the LDS (Latter Day Saints/Mormon) plan of salvation in regard to the pursuit of excellence, and that as God’s spirit children we could become like Him, and joint heirs with Christ.

During these 2 years I began questioning my faith for the first time.  Many people I had met in Austria challenged me and I became confused at why so many people had different spiritual experiences than mine.  Some told me about how God had led them to their church and how they knew they got the Holy Ghost when they were baptized into their church.  Others seemed to believe in reincarnation.

One Swedish couple told me how they prayed to find the true church at 14 but God never answered them.  I also had a missionary companion hit on me sexually while on this mission and that was very frightening and made me know for sure I was not gay.  But I was kind and understanding to her and we remained friends until she died about 20 years ago.  By the time I got home from my mission in 1971 I had pretty much lost my faith in God. 

I lived in Las Vegas then and was 24 years old.  I was looking for a husband and was desperately wanting sex.  I still wanted to believe in God and in the Mormon church so I started praying again.  I was giving God another chance to redeem himself in my eyes (ha, ha).  But that is where I was at.

God led me to my agnostic (at the time) husband  and he thought the LDS religion had a rational theology, so he joined.  He figured the spiritual witness would come later, so he often prayed and fasted about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but never got that spiritual witness of knowing like Peter did when Jesus asked him 'who do you say I am'. 

Then we had children and got sealed in the LDS temple as an eternal family and marriage.  The temple ceremonies were strange to us and we never got a good feeling about them. 

I was asked to teach the adult gospel doctrine class and did a lot of research on LDS church history.  This is when a lot of things began bothering me about Joseph Smith, polygamy, and church history.  When I asked questions from church leaders I was told not to question, and that really bothered me. 

My husband left the LDS church first and I continued attending church but was depressed.  One Sunday at a fast and testimony meeting, I was crying and asking God why He never gave my husband a testimony of the LDS church and book of Mormon.  Suddenly I had this thought go through my head 3 times, "Why don’t you go visit that Seventh Day Adventist Church around the corner."  I wondered where that came from and told my husband about it.  So, we decided to attend there and met this wonderful pastor who brought us to Christ and showed us how Jesus came to save us from our sins, not our problems.

We attended there for 2 years but could not believe in their doctrine, that the sign of the beast (whether you go to heaven or not) was whether you worshipped on the true Sabbath (Saturday). All of this was very confusing for our 3 kids too, and shook their faith in God.

Just to shorten this, in 2010 we moved to Florida and attended various churches there for awhile. We settled on the Nazarene church for two years until an interim pastor there told me that if I did not reject all of my Mormon friends and family, as well as my gay son and all my gay friends, I would not be allowed in their church anymore.  Needless to say, we left there and eventually found the church we are in today (United Church of Christ) that God led us to. 

I have always been a truth seeker, even if it meant facing something painful.  Leaving the LDS church was painful for me after being there for 60 years.  Paul's admonition to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good, is my motto.  There was, and is, much good in the LDS church and I have kept that.  God also showed me that He works through all churches and people who seek Him.  That He may lead you to one church at one time and then to another at another time.  I believe that God does mold us like clay and gives us the experiences we need to grow and mature. I do believe in the second coming of Christ where there will eventually be a unity of faith and one church.

15 Reasons Why I Have Changed My Mind (by Roberta Showalter Kreider)

Roberta Showalter KreiderIn August of 1984, my youngest brother, who had been my childhood playmate, died with AIDS. Just two weeks earlier, while visiting him in the hospital, he told my husband and I his lifelong secret. He was gay and had always been gay.

I have wished many times since that brief encounter with the person he really was that we could have been granted more time so that he could help me understand this complex reality. But for some reason (possibly my own pious and judgmental attitude that kept him from sharing this secret with me), our time of unmasked openness with each other was limited to a few short hours. Yet it was freeing for both of us to realize that when the secret was out in the open, we loved each other more deeply than ever before.

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A Little Woman With Big Dreams (by T. James)

T. JamesLike many, I grew up in a Christian household. We went to church every Sunday, said prayer before bed, and went to Vacation Bible School during the summer. I had the typical Christian childhood. Then one year puberty hit, and I started noticing that girls made me a little more nervous than they used to, and they seemed more shapely and alluring. In time I'd learn I was gay.

But what's a gay girl to do when she's been brought up to believe that homosexuality is wrong? After all, I just kinda grew into it. There was no traumatization, no bad influence from some pedophile adult. I just was what I was, and all of a sudden Jesus hated me for it.

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A Lesbian in Nigeria - Disowned By My Family (by Rizi Timane)

Rizi timaneI am originally from Nigeria, West Africa, where homosexuality is completely forbidden and illegal. I was also raised in a Christian home and faced great conflict when I realized that I was a lesbian.

My family tried praying it out of me 🙂 and later on, we fell out completely. They basically told me I was disowned and would only be allowed back into our family when I decide to go straight. They were all so angry, so let down and so hurt and I was so brokenhearted. I packed up my stuff and moved to the USA by myself with no family contact at all.

Almost a year later, they reached out to me to make amends and we are still healing right now.

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Rizi Timane - Part 2 - F2M Trans Singer, Actor, Coach, Advocate

Rizi Xavier Timane is a female-to-male transgender singer, actor and trans-specialist coach who advocates for transgender rights. He was born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa. Rizi realized at age eight that he was a boy living in a girl's body and approached his parents about this dilemma. His parents, converts to fundamentalist Christianity, responded with attempted exorcisms and other reparative therapies that sought to "pray the trans away." This rejection and disapproval carried over to the community-at-large as well as peers at school making Rizi the victim of bullying and harassment driving him to years of alcohol and drug abuse and suicidal ideation.

A Miracle of Healing

by Mike Domínguez (aka "Acorn")

I was born in 1973 and raised by my aunt and grandmother in a tiny fishing village called Delacroix Island in St. Bernard parish on the outskirts of New Orleans. My mother had married a Pentecostal preacher with five children, and believed my aunt and grandmother would be able to provide for me and give me the continued stability and attention that I needed as an only child, and which she wasn't able do anymore. I have always remained close to my mother, and to this day she is my closest friend and confident. My aunt and grandmother were traditional Roman Catholics, and made sure that I received the best Catholic education.

For as long as I can remember I have always known that I was gay, and I positively embraced that part of myself. I officially came out to my family when I was 16 years old. They accepted me and encouraged me to be proud of who I am. My stepfather would come around eventually, three years before he died, but he let me know that he loved me, and God loved me and accepted me just the way I was. I wish we would have had more time to develop a deeper relationship.

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A Peek Inside the Closet Growing up Gay in Conservative America

Mom,

For someone who has not lived this life, it is impossible for that person to fully understand. I am sitting here trying to think of some other current condition in life to which closeted homosexuality can be compared - I cannot think of one other condition that comes close.

Nevertheless, I tried to put some things down on paper because I wanted to help you understand to some small degree what life is like for people like myself, people who because of the position of society, their family, and the Church feel they have to hide their true nature.

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A Priest's Confession

"I knew at a very early age that I was different."

Father Rich Danyluk 1THE PRIEST'S heart was pounding in his chest. His hands were icy cold.

He was nervous. More than usual. The pews were nearly full as they are most Sundays as he walked up the middle aisle of St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda to celebrate Mass.

It was just after 9 a.m. Children squirmed and latecomers slid into their seats as the morning light poured in through the stained-glass images of Mary, Jesus, Joseph and the saints.

Going through the ritualistic motions of Mass, the priest struggled in his mind with the decision he had made. It's the time, he thought. It's the right place, the right people.

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Attorney and Plaintiff in the First Same Sex Marriage Lawsuit of the Modern Gay Rights Movement

by Craig Dean

Craig DeanPerhaps no topic stirs the imagination as the legalization of same-sex marriage. In this veritable minefield of tradition versus progress, twenty years ago attorney Craig Dean filed the first discrimination suit to legalize same-sex marriage in over forty years when his marriage license application to his partner was denied by the District of Columbia because both parties were men.

Since then he has been speaking out on issues affecting gay and lesbian couples and has become a powerful advocate for legalization of gay marriages. His presentation gives a historical background to same-sex marriage, places it in the context of society and the modern gay civil rights movement, and discusses what the future may hold.

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Bridget Night - Her Mormon Background, Her Book, and Her Gay Son

Note from Mary: Bridget is a well-loved member of our Social Group, the straight mother of a gay son. She has been a blessing to us all.

Disclaimer from Bridget: This is what I believed at one time, however my beliefs have evolved, and I am no longer a member of the Mormon Church.

When our youngest child, Johnathan, was around 16 years old he suddenly took a dramatic turn that was very disturbing to my husband and I. Jonathan was a very kind and loving child growing up. He was always well-behaved, cheerful, and optimistic. He was a very spiritual young man who loved the Lord. He never swore and he always got on his friends' case when they were swearing. He wanted to be a missionary when he turned 19.

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Bridget Night - My Hopes And Beliefs, And Why I Have Them

Note from Mary: Bridget has been a well-loved member of Christian Gays for many years. She is the straight mother of a gay son, whose faith history includes the Mormon Church. She has been a spiritual mother and mentor to many of our family, especially our Mormon family.

Disclaimer from Bridget: This is what I believed at one time, however my beliefs have evolved, and I am no longer a member of the Mormon Church.

Sept 20, 2011 - In 1 Peter 3:5 of the New Testament it says, "....be ready always to give an answer, to every man that asketh you, a reason of the hope that is in you...." Therefore, I would like to share "the reasons for the hope within me." The following are my hopes and beliefs and why I have them.

1. I believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the light, as He said He was. I believe He is the Son of God literally. It is my firm belief that lasting happiness and peace can only be achieved by accepting and following Him.

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Christian Drag Queen Nedra Belle Finds Acceptance in Church

May 18 2017 - "I'm sorry I'm running late, church got out late," Chris Weaver, also known as drag queen Nedra Belle, said as he entered the gay bar. He came straight from performing in two church services with the praise team to the gay bar for his weekly show Sermon.

"But you know black church," he said, pouring his makeup bag all over the counter in an unused service area of the gay bar. "We always running late."

Born and raised in Long Island, NY, 29-year-old Chris Weaver says it was his godmother who first took him to church. "When I was about three, my godmother used to take me to church. I would come back and put on my dad's shirt and preach the message we heard that day," he said.

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ChristianGays.com Saved My Life

by James

I am a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance (we call it the GLBT Club) at my local community college where I am a student.

I am interested in participating at blogging on your website, ChristianGays.com. I do not have any credentials other than a High School Diploma, but when I was only a few years younger, your website saved my life.

I was going through a hard time as a gay man, and the part that did not sit well with me was that I was a Christian, and I have always been taught that being gay was a sin.

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Does God Hate Me? - The Road to Finding Peace With My Sexuality

by Heather Smith

Heather SmithGreetings in the Name of Christ!!

If you clicked on this link, it must be either because you wanted to know more, want to bash, or maybe you're just plain curious to see where it led you.

The dictionary says that a homosexual is: "Of or having sexual desires for persons of the same sex."

I define it simply as "Loving the one who God gave me to love."

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Gay and Catholic - by Darren Theoret

by Darren Theoret
Ottawa, Canada

The following is the letter I emailed to my friends, family and Catholic Church officials advising that I have decided not to become ordained as a Deacon. It is dated 16 January, 2008.

Darren TheoretWhen I rededicated my life to the Lord, I was 19 years old and living a very high-risk lifestyle. I was trying every vice in order not to feel the pain of being different from societal norms. You see, since I was a young boy, I knew that I felt things and saw things differently than other boys. As I got a little older I found the word for it. It turns out that I was gay whether I liked it or not.

When I came back to the church, I was told that God loved me just the way I was but that He had a plan for my life which included curing me of homosexuality and making me a straight man with a super testimony that would bring many people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This happened in a Pentecostal church in Montreal.

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Gay and Christian - Ray Vester Proves You Can Be Both

Ray VesterRALEIGH - Ray Vester was raised in a Pentacostal Christian home in Rocky Mount, N.C. It was there that he developed a devotion to the music and teachings of the Christian religion.

At the age of 19, he recorded his first record, "Come Soon Jesus," which was released in 1979 and subsequently re-recorded by several other groups. In the years that followed, Vester found success with various gospel groups: The Faith in Action Singers, The King's Messengers and The Gospel Laymen.

The Gospel Laymen recorded two albums during the three years they were together.

In 1985 Ray joined yet another gospel group, The Monarchs. Although he wrote and recorded "This Man from Galilee" on the group's "Naturally" album, which garnered major airplay on multiple gospel stations on the east coast, the effort would be his last for nearly 18 years.

Now he's back on the scene again, preaching and singing the message of his beliefs across the United States and Canada. But where has he been all this time?

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Gay Pride - by Rick James

Every once in a while I have people ask me what my multicolored (rainbow) wristband means. My usual response is: it means that one is either gay, or gay friendly. I don't usually tell them that "it's a pride thing," although it would be an accurate statement. My typical response is usually enough information for them, and then they move on.

If I thought these persons were really interested in hearing more, I might tell them that for most gay people the wristbands, or rings, or bumper stickers mean a couple of things. First, they are a way to inoffensively self-identify. Secondly, they are a way to show a rather small amount of pride in who we are as individuals, as a constituency, and as a part of a greater community.

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HIV and Me - A Story of HOPE - Turning Scars Into Stars

by Yowee

On this day five years ago my life was changed forever. It was on Wednesday 24 April 2002 at 7:30am I got a call from my doctor saying the blood test had come back and that he had to see me. I said to him, "It's positive isn't it? Otherwise you wouldn't call me." To which he replied, "Yes but I'm not supposed to tell you on the phone." I went in at 11:30am to see him and he told me that I was HIV positive (HIV+).

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Little Bad Falls - Brother Lawrence Damien Cos

Brother Lawrence DamienFor many years I have been on a journey.  This journey began with my being raised in a Congregationalist church. Then I became "Born Again" and became an Evangelical.  That was followed by my being "Baptized in the Holy Spirit" with the evidence of speaking in tongues.  Thus I became a Pentecostal/Charismatic preacher for 34 years before retiring and leaving the Pentecostal faith.

My journey then took me into the Episcopal Church and then finally into the Catholic faith.  It has been a journey of learning, discovery, change and progressing closer to, and becoming more like Jesus.

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Losses - And New L.I.F.E - Living In Faith Everlasting

by Susan Duviella (brwneyes)

I was born and raised in a Hispanic Pentecostal church in Brooklyn, NY. I've always known that I was different, but kept it to myself. In fact, for a long time, I denied the possibility that I was a lesbian. I even fought anyone who dare call me gay.

For many years I knew that I had been attracted to other women. Even when I dated guys, my eyes would wander as a beautiful woman walked by. But I was a Christian and those feelings were sinful. I continued to live a lie for so long.

Finally, when I was in my early twenties, I could not deny my feelings any more. I confided in a friend and she seemed to understand. We eventually became a closeted couple. We struggled with our relationship because of the teachings we both have learned. We would end the relationship and get back together several times. Finally, we decided to come out to our friends. That was a disaster.

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Mary Pearson – Confessions of a Christian Lesbian

Mary PearsonChristian Gays has come about as a result of many years of turmoil and depression at being unable to reconcile my sexuality with my Christianity. It is a labour of love with the mission of reaching other hurting gays who believe that they cannot be Christian if they are gay. Trust me. It IS possible to be gay AND Christian! I am a born again Christian lesbian!

At the age of 12, I fell in love with my swimming counselor at camp and from that time on, I knew I was "different". This incredibly wonderful (straight) woman has remained a faithful friend to me for over 60 years now.

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My Discovery - My Journey To A Place I Should Have Been All My Life I Am Here Now - Never Look Back

by Linda Smith
January 7, 2012

My name is Linda and I am 56 years young. I am a Late Blooming Lesbian and only discovered myself about 5 yrs ago. I fell deeply and sincerely in love with a wonderful lady.

I have lived a very painful and difficult life... brutal alcoholic father... poverty... parental lack of education... too many kids, etc. etc. etc. Enough about that.

When I try to reflect back to see why I had my lesbianism hidden, I lack answers. All I can think of is my Catholic upbringing, brutal father, lack of knowledge about sex education... whatever the reason I am here now.

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My Salvation is Based on Christ Alone

by William Spangler

I am 46 yrs. old. I grew up in VA. right on the Bible Belt. I attended a Pentecostal church. I was miserable. During all my young adult life I had to suppress my real self. I constantly felt condemned, I witnessed firsthand the shame my church brought upon others who dared to venture out of their shells and let the church know that they were gay. So, needless to say I was a very depressed, angry, and ashamed young man. I did not know who to turn to, I mean if God hated me, then there was nowhere left to go. I prayed, and prayed and prayed. No result. So, I left the church. I figured if God did not want me, then I would live my life my way. WRONG!!!

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Notes on Gender Role Transition - My Personal Experiences

by Stephenie Robinson

Stephenie Robinson

So if you think that I got to look like I do in this photograph easily you can forget that, it is not true, it took dedication, work, tenacity and all the things we have to do to get a result in any given situation. It was over hell and high water to reach a stage of public acceptability. You might well ask why go to so much trouble? Well, here's the thing: Back in the old days around 1979 Dr. John Randall (A psychiatrist at the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic in London) was a stickler for detail not to mention a God-like control over his patients. My first meeting with John Randall in 1979 was a culmination of seeking help due to extremes of testosterone-driven violence and mental disruption.

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Reflections of a Gay Boy

Jack GafflesThis morning, I received my daily visit from a community nurse, who is coming to terms with the suicide-death of her adult, gay brother. In an attempt to help her, and to explain the shameful and desperate aloneness, involved in growing up as a gay man, I have decided to commit to paper a reflection upon my own experience, growing up as a gay boy, in a world, still deeply and entrenchedly homophobic. And I thought I'd share it with you. Because this reflection is based in my own experiences, growing up as a gay child, adolescent, youth and adult man, my terms of reference will be gay males; this is not, however, in any way, intended as a slight against, or lack of respect for, gay females. It is, however, the first time I have ever made any public disclosure of my deepest fears that began, as I vividly remember, when I was only five-years-of-age.

Homosexuality is in and of itself not pathological; like heterosexuality, it is a complex expression of multiple personal and historical meanings. For me, growing up gay meant being scapegoated, shamed, ridiculed and subsequently hidden. It meant internalizing my negative self-esteem. Only after thirty years of age.....and with the help of my one-and-only lover, the most beautiful man I have ever known, the late Singaporean Jeffrey.....did I begin to learn how to "manage" my homosexuality and grow into some kind of acceptable me!

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Scott Williamson Catches a Glimpse of Heaven

Scott WilliamsonScott Williamson is one of the most positive individuals I have ever met. His amazing ability to see the glass half full is unparalleled and makes him well-liked by anyone who knows him.

Despite some less-than-ideal circumstances surrounding his life, Scott remains upbeat and committed to his favorite verse of Scripture which says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Scott grew up in Clarkston, Michigan with his parents and two older sisters. They attended a Church of Christ where his father eventually became a deacon and served on the Board of Elders.

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Update to Scott Williamson Catches a Glimpse of Heaven

See Part 1 here

April 2018 Update:

Rev Scott Williamson and partner Joe CurrySince the running of the article in Out and About Newspaper a decade ago much has occurred. I am no longer with the partner mentioned in the article, but am happily engaged to a wonderful man named Joe who also brought into my life his daughter Brianna. Joe and I have been together for six years and plan to marry sometime in the next year. During the writing of the article I was fighting a call into ministry. By the time the article ran, I was sure that God does call LGBT people into ministry, but just was not willing to believe God was calling ME into ministry.

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The Hard Lesson of Suicide

by Rev. Tessie Mandeville

The Cathedral of Hope was honored to have Mary Lou Wallner with us this past Sunday May 11, 2003, in Dallas and Oklahoma City. Mary Lou shared her story of tragedy and how God helped her transform that tragedy into healing, not only for herself but for thousands more. Mary Lou's daughter, who was a lesbian and a Christian, committed suicide in February 1997. Anna took her own life after years of struggling with being a lesbian. Her struggle came in part because of the fundamentalist teachings that she received from friends and family that homosexuality is a sin.

I was deeply moved by this story as I recognized that I walked a very similar path at one time in my life. I know many of us have walked this path and we know the struggle. I heard and learned so many things from Mary Lou but there is one thing in particular that I hold up for us today. It is the lesson of compassion. For you see, Mary Lou, shared that she did not show compassion to her daughter or to her daughter's homosexual friends. In fact she said, "I had no use for them."

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Un-sync-able

Taken From Ellie's Blog
Used With Permission

...it starts with a niggle in the deep recesses of your soul that all is not quite right with the world as you know it and from there it grows... and there was I... one day I realised I was no longer in sync with my world, my family and the church culture I'd been brought up in. Put simply I felt I had become un-sync-able! This blog is to work through some of that seasoned by honesty, grace and love...

What about me? (no not the Shannon Noll song)
A little background on me ... I might include some more detail in later posts on certain parts but to keep this kinda short I'll give you a summary.

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Unapologetically Christian, Unapologetically Lesbian

by Anita

When I wrote that phrase some time ago and as I write this post today I'm thinking of you who believe there's no such thing as a "Christian lesbian." You consider the term to be a contradiction of terms but more than that, you regard it an offense to the Gospel. You believe if someone identifies as a Christian they would seek repentance from homosexuality and would do all they could to change and short of change they would at least commit to not "practicing" homosexuality.

I also have those of you in mind who, even while doubting such a thing as a "Christian lesbian" exists have haltingly admitted to yourself that while you love Christ and are committed to the Christian life, your desire for an intimate and loving relationship is with another woman. Because of this apparent conflict you feel as though there's a choice you'll have to eventually make, to either walk away from your faith in God or deny, reject, or attempt to change your attraction to other women.

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When Matt Became Jade

Matt - JadeMany at Northern Secondary School were surprised when Matt H. announced last year that he was running for student council president. A somewhat lonely boy, he didn't fit the model of the popular, extroverted student leader. Everyone seemed to know the outgoing president. Matt was more reserved - he liked playing on-line games and writing. He was on the ninth revision of a fantasy novel.

Everyone told him he didn't have a hope of winning. But he got the signatures needed for a nomination. For his election campaign that spring, he made a funny video, an instant teenage classic that showed him drinking a smoothie made from everything in his refrigerator. On stage at an assembly, where he stood tall, at 6 foot, 4 inches, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he made a short satirical speech that parodied campaign promises: "I'll prevent a gigantic meteor from crashing into the school," he boasted. He won a standing ovation. It was a narrow margin - 16 votes - but he won the election.

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Why I Wear A Red Ribbon

People often ask me why I wear a Red Ribbon. Some people ask the question simply to find out what the ribbon means, but other people are really asking a hidden question: they wonder what experiences in life has moved me so that I would want to wear a Red Ribbon, a visible reminder to all who see me of the continuing battle against HIV and AIDS. They are asking why I, a Priest, would choose to take an often unpopular stand, instead of quietly going about my life. Unknowingly, they are asking about my former partner, Alan.

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