18 May 2006

My Conversion

This message may or may not appear later on Jasmyne Cannick's blogsite, but it's a very personal story, so I want it to appear here as well.

I'd like to offer some personal testimony. God gifted me with a strong sense of my own identity from an early age. While I was in denial about being Gay for a number of years, I never suffered the kind of pain and confusion about who and what I am that many other Gay people suffer. I never believed that I "chose" my sexuality. I never believed that my sexuality was a mental disorder. I never believed that I was "possessed" by a demon. I was never "recruited" into a homosexual "lifestyle." I knew that I wasn't depraved, and I knew that my sexuality was just one aspect of me. I was not "a homosexual."

I came to know early on how pervasive ignorance about homosexuality was; with anger, I can still recall being beaten up and called a "fag" as a child, long before I understood what the term meant. It was only after I "came out" to myself that I took full stock of the huge pack of lies that circulates about Gay people. I was horrified to learn about the executions, the tortures, the incarcerations and the wholesale vilification of Lesbians and Gay men all over the world. This persecution goes back centuries, and more often than not it has been carried out in the name of God.

At the age of eighteen, I left the Baptist church when my minister started including derogatory statements about Gay people in his sermons. I revered that Revered Williams, but I knew immediately when he was lying! Unlike other preachers I'd later learn about, he wasn't any good at camouflaging his homophobia, at least not in my judgment.  He did a good enough job poisoning my faith, though!  While I managed to salvage my belief in God, my bond with the Christian Church was severed forever.

Eventually, I came to believe that the Bible was the cause of everything bad that had ever happened to people like me. With its scriptural support for bigotry, it had to be an evil book. Finally, I decided to rid my home of it. I flung the Bible into a dumpster with such force, some of the pages separated from the binding. With that act, I symbolically freed myself from religious oppression. I began to openly deny being a Christian. Yet, it turned out that God had different plans for me.

One day while I was cleaning out my bookcase, I found a battered copy of the New Testament that I had long ago forgotten about. My first impulse was to rip it apart and toss it into the trash! I tried, but God did not allow me to do what I wanted to do. Instead, He directed me to re-read the four Gospels. I did so over a period of weeks, and for the first time, I began to learn. Instead of letting a minister tell me what the Bible said, I found out for myself.

I learned that Jesus Christ did not say one word of condemnation about my sexuality, contrary to what fundamentalist Christians claim. I learned that Jesus Christ did speak on the subject of homosexuality, contrary to what Gay theologians claim. Then I learned about Jesus Christ's own sexuality, particularly from the Gospel of John, and what I learned astounded me. I found evidence that the Saviour Himself may have been homosexual in His human form. So how could homosexuality be "an abomination" when the son of God did not say it was . . . when, in all likelihood, he shared my sexual orientation? The answers to these questions revived my lapsed Christian faith.

God revealed the true nature of the Bible to me. It is neither the absolute Word of God that fundamentalists say it is, nor is it the Satanic book I thought it was. It is neither inherently good nor evil, but it can be used for good or evil purposes. The Bible documents the time of the early Jews and Christians. It contains historical narrative, mythology, poetry and prognostication. It is unquestionably an essential text for Christians. It's our best written guide to living a Christian life. However, God showed me that the Bible can guide us just so far. He Himself must guide us the rest of the way!

Thousands of years ago, men began compiling the books that make up the Bible from texts that circulated among the early Christians. They declared many of those texts heretical and suppressed them. Some are lost forever, and we'll never know their contents. The Bible as we know it reflects the prejudices and political agendas of the men who created it. That in itself may not be such a bad thing, but what Christian leaders did after the Bible was compiled was definitely bad! They declared it a Divine Book and claimed that it had been dictated by God. Then they used its most draconian passages to oppress entire groups of people, especially Jews, heterosexual women, and homosexual women and men. Such has been the case from then until now.

Despite these dark manipulations, the purity of Jesus Christ's message survives in the four books chosen to be the Christian Gospels. God showed me that the Gospels are the "meat" of the Bible, the standard against which all the other books must be measured. If a scripture does not conform to Jesus Christ's teachings, then it is not truly Christian. It seems so obvious, but this logic has escaped a very large number of people for a very long time.

False prophets have made a mockery of Christ's teachings! They have ignored the meaning of His supreme sacrifice and portrayed God's love and salvation as conditional. They've nearly succeeded at draining all that is uplifting about Christianity and making it oppressive. Worst of all, they've made Christianity a "by the book" religion. They've declared the Bible to be the equivalent of God, and they've encouraged . . . no, demanded . . . that we worship it! Most of those who call themselves Christians today are actually Bible worshippers. This is wrong!

Christians everywhere need to be constantly comparing their ministers' teachings to those of Jesus Christ as documented in the Gospels. Christ did not direct us to worship the Bible(which did not even exist during His time on Earth). He directed us to worship God. No one and no thing can come between us and God! We must relate to Him directly.

We must perceive God with our intellect and our spirits, and the intellectual aspect is no less important than the spiritual one. God does not want or need his followers to be ignorant! We must open our minds and hearts so that when God reveals His will to us, we know that it is His will. Often, God's will contradicts what is written in the Bible, in the same way that Jesus Christ's teachings often contradicted the religious laws of ancient Israel. God's will is mysterious and vast. It cannot be limited to or contained within any book! And it cannot always be understood.

There are true emissaries of Christ who can guide us on our individual Christian journeys, but we must all be wary of people who go around calling themselves Christian ministers. False prophets have been plying their evil trade for thousands of years, and there seem to be more of them now than ever before. Pat Robertson, TD Jakes, Alfred Owens, Jr, Jerry Johnston, the late Jerry Falwell . . . there are far too many to list. Fortunately, false prophets are pretty easy to recognize. If ever we hear a preacher denigrate Jews, women or Gay people under the cover of scripture, it's a sure sign that we are sitting in the presence of Satan. We should get up and leave immediately! We mustn't give the Devil even half a chance to corrupt our souls.

We must remember that Jesus Christ forgave the Jewish leaders and everyone else who wronged him. We must remember that Jesus Christ bypassed his male disciples and chose women to spread the news of His resurrection. We must remember that Jesus Christ chose a man as his most Beloved. We are Christ's children. We belong! We are as God made us. Lesbians and Gay men can rest assured that, however many times they told otherwise, they are not abominations to God. They are revelations from God.

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