The World: (Not So) Evil and Dangerous!

by Latebloomer

From hanging around with people such as Scott Lively in my fundamentalist Christian homeschooling community, I understood the danger that America was facing from the gay agenda. I believed that the gay lifestyle was depraved and corrupt and a sign of rebellion against God. I believed that God expected me to use political activism to stand up for righteousness and his design for the family. I believed that my “pro-family-values” activism was actually me being loving to the deceived people around me, people who were just taking the easy way out by accepting every type of lifestyle.

Then one day I accidentally met a gay person.

It was at my first real job, when I was 23 years old. My favorite manager, Chris, called the store one day while he was off-duty. He chatted with the on-duty manager Katie for a few minutes; when she hung up, she remarked to me, “He’s so funny! Why did he call me from a gay bar? haha!”

I was extremely confused. “Yeah, that’s weird,” I said, trying to process the information, “Why would he be at a gay bar?” Her jaw dropped, and she stared at me for a minute. Then she said slowly, “Um…..because he’s gay. Didn’t you know that?”

It was a huge moment for me, but a million panicked thoughts flooded my mind at once. How was it that I hadn’t noticed anything “different” about him? He seemed so normal and sweet, not at all detrimental to society! He had always been so thoughtful to me, even from the first day I walked in the store in my awkward unstylish clothes and shyly handed him my resume. He was the first guy to tell me that I was pretty, that I looked like his favorite childhood actress Molly Ringwald (he couldn’t believe that I had never heard of her). But he was gay?? What was I supposed to do now??

I started to feel a huge spiritual burden for him, the feeling that I had a responsibility to help him get out of that damaging lifestyle somehow. But how should I approach that topic with him? Should I try to talk to him about turning away from that lifestyle and starting to follow Christ? Or should I just invite him to church and let God speak to him through the sermons and the pastor? I couldn’t really see either scenario playing out very well, so I waited and thought and prayed.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had no idea what was inherently wrong with gay sex and gay love! Why was it not equally valid? It started to seem a very arbitrary thing to forbid, and reality didn’t match what I had been taught about it in Christian culture. In some ways, I felt like my gay boss was a better example of love than many of the Christian people that I knew. After all, he had hired me willingly, even though he knew that I was a very conservative homeschooler and very likely to be strongly anti-gay. I knew he would not have gotten the same treatment from many conservative Christian employers. Cautiously, I started to think to myself, “Maybe homosexuality is ok after all.”

And that was just one of many cracks that formed as my Christian worldview hit reality. For the first time in my life, I was hearing about other worldviews directly from their source, instead of a filtered, watered-down version presented merely to strengthen my own worldview. And, for the first time in my life, I realized it was possible to hold different opinions from my own without being “blind”, “deceived,” or “in rebellion against God”–my worldview was not so obvious, and “unsaved” people were not so bad after all.

But what were the implications for the Bible? I had always tried to approach it simply, ready to believe the literal interpretation even when it required personal sacrifice. To me, it was a timeless book, orchestrated by God, without contradiction, the only reliable source of truth. But as cracks formed in my carefully-constructed Biblical worldview, in the end I had to decide what I thought about the Bible. I had always avoided my natural curiosity about how the Bible came to us in its current state–it certainly didn’t fall from the sky in its present form! Acknowledging my questions about it was terrifying, but ultimately necessary. If it were really from God, and if I really genuinely wanted to know the truth about it, I shouldn’t have anything to fear. So, very gradually, I looked at my beliefs and asked the hard questions.

My worldview said, “The Bible is the source for morality!” –But then why does it condone things like genocide, and call men “godly” when they offer their daughters to be gang raped, and advocate forced marriages between a girl and her raper? Why doesn’t it condemn slavery and child sacrifice and polygamy with child brides? My worldview said, “The Bible is written by eyewitnesses, and their accounts don’t contradict each other!” –Then why was I afraid to look at the supposed contradictions? They are there, after all, and just saying they don’t exist isn’t a valid argument. The Bible has internal contradictions on theology and history, and there are significant variations between historic manuscripts. Also, many of the books have unknown authors and were first written hundreds of years after the events took place. In its present form, the collection of books we call the Bible doesn’t have even more contradictions because those other books were thrown out as “uninspired” simply because they contradicted too much. My worldview said, “The Bible is the source of truth about salvation through Jesus!” –Then why are there over 2,000 language groups in the world today that have no way to access that truth? Why have billions upon billions of people lived and died without ever having a chance to hear it?

I was rooting for my Biblical worldview to win, I really was. It was comfortable because it was all I knew, and I really don’t like change. However, in the end, it didn’t hold up very well against reality. In the end, there were too many cracks, and my worldview shattered. And when it shattered, I finally saw what a tiny box I had been living in, and what a huge, beautiful, and interesting world was out there to discover.

Since much of my personal growth happened while I was in college, some have said that my changing opinions were the result of “liberal college brainwashing”. To those people, I doubt that I could say anything to change their opinion about that. However, the fact is that at no time during my education at community college or Christian university were my opinions mocked or belittled. At no time did anyone tell me what to believe or not to believe.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the fundamentalist Christian homeschooling environment. That is where you are told what to believe. That is where other opinions are belittled. That is where even questions are dangerous. I don’t want to be part of that culture anymore. To me, a worldview is not worth keeping if it requires ignoring or twisting reality to fit the worldview, pushing down your questions and doubts, and only listening to those who already agree with you.

These thoughts took a very long time to process, and my ideas are still a work in progress today. For now, I am finding that many of my new ideas fit within a looser interpretation of the Bible, one where I don’t completely abdicate my responsibility to think about what’s right in today’s world. I see that morality was a work in progress in the Bible, and I accept that it still is today too, and that I have a role to play.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

Latebloomer is on a journey away from the ideals she was raised with in the conservative homeschooling culture. Becoming a wife and mother has prompted her to re-evaluate her childhood experiences in an effort to avoid repeating those mistakes.  Her blog Past Tense Present Progressive is her place for sorting through her thoughts.

View all posts by Latebloomer!

 

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

  • Bill

    great article….wonderful really! you are almost there. All you need to do is realize that the people who lied to you about what the Bible is are the same people, in your head, telling you there is ANY truth in religion. It is made up. There is no reason to hold onto any of it. It was a geographical and biological accident that you happened to be born where this religion is assumed real. let it go completly. It isnt true and that’s all that really matters.

  • shadowspring

    This is so nice to read today! Some young home-schooled campaigner was ranting to me yesterday as I left the polls. It’s good to be reminded yet again that, as Steve Taylor once put it:

    “When the chicken squawks loudest (its) gonna lay a big egg.”

    A big egg is a big fat zero. In other words, it may still all come to nothing. There is hope this young girl will lose her paranoid fear of “the other” and go on to become a good citizen after all. Thanks for putting this out there today of all days. Peace to you, SS

  • shadowspring

    Bill, that is so patronizing. One does not need to be an atheist to be a good person and a good citizen both. Don’t go being all bigoted about your beliefs or lack thereof.

  • Bill

    Bigotry? Seriously? Religion’s are sets of ideas. You can’t be bigoted against ideas’s. However, claiming certain ideas merit special protection from counter arguments merely because they attach faith to them……well, that i might be tempted to call that patronizing.

  • betty arnold

    So, if you are home-schooled that makes you not a good citizen. What is your definition of a “good citizen”? And what makes that definition “right”? Does the ranting make a bad citizen or the fact that the person was home-schooled?

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com Kristen

    Bill, do you realize that you are now the one telling Late Bloomer what she should believe? Why not let her make her own journey– and why not let it be ok if she comes to different conclusions than you did?

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com Kristen

    Betty, I think you are misunderstanding Shadowspring, because it is my understanding she herself homeschools. She is not objecting to homeschoolers, but to people who live in “paranoid fear of ‘the other’”, in her own words.

  • nolongerquivering

    Hi Bill, I have noticed that you are commenting quite frequently here at No Longer Quivering recently. While we welcome your participation, please note that NLQ is not a place to proselytize – it is disrespectful of our community and creates an unsafe environment for spiritual abuse survivors who come here to process and heal in a supportive, non-judgmental community.

    Any further comments urging bloggers and/or readers to abandon their beliefs will be deleted. Please be considerate of the goals and purposes of No Longer Quivering. Thank you. Vyckie Garrison

  • betty

    But, what is a “good citizen”? I know “paranoid” families. Notice I put it in quotes, because I define them this way. They live very isolated lives, but they pay their taxes and do not engage in criminal activity. So are they not good citizens? I am very vocal about fear having lived in it for so long, and now understanding that Perfect love cast out fear, I ache for people caught in a life of fear. The biggest harm is it renders one incapable of making Jesus look worthy as if He is threatened by things of the world. I fear no man or his beliefs even if they do not line up with my own, because I know in Whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able. What I object to is labeling this girl as not a good citizen because of her actions or beliefs that do not line up with those of another. I am stepping out on a limb and guessing that this girl was putting forth a “religious” view point. If she had been putting forth a more “worldly” view point would she have been seen as having paranoid fear? We all need to be careful labeling people. I can’t stand it when during a debate someone begins to attack me personally. When that happens I get bored very quickly as I love a good debate on issues only. How can being on the opposite side of an issue from someone mean you are fearful of others? I almost hate to say this as I don’t know the whole story, but maybe she was very passionate in her beliefs as I am in mine. While I don’t agree with her approach, as I have never experienced ranting solving anything, to label her paranoid and not a good citizen does not solve anything either. So come let us reason together. As always I love kr’s voice of reason.

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    It seems like the more rigidly a belief system is held, the less one questions it, the more brittle and prone to shattering it is. I went through an atheist period when I was younger because my unquestioned beliefs met science, and since I had no reason to think of my teachers as untrustworthy sources, it didn’t take much for that shattering to happen. (I was ten. We discussed evolution in school one day.)

    Today I question my beliefs more (religious and otherwise), I examine them, and while my faith could be considered to be less strong, it is much more resilient. My views on evolution changed because of studying religious and philosophical texts in school, for example, and I’ve been able to better reconcile science with faith. It is by questioning my beliefs that I am able to feel secure in them, because they have been tested and survived.

  • http://bibicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

    No idea merits special protection from counter-arguments, but you seem to say: “You don’t like aspects X and Y of this religion, so throw out all religion.”

    That is itself an argument that deserve no special protection. What is more, it is a prescription to others on how to live their lives, without a very good argument.

    As for “geographical and historical accident” , we could say it is a g&h accident that you were born in an era and place where unbelief in God or gods is considered an option. And the “g&h accident” idea say nothing of the truth of an idea: It could be called (if I did not believe in God placing me in the era I am in) a geographic and historic accident that I am born in a world that know how to generate electricity and harness it for use. That don’t make the usefullness of electricity untrue.

  • Jim

    “Why doesn’t it condemn slavery and child sacrifice and polygamy with child brides?”

    It does condemn child sacrifice. That’s one level of the Abraham and Isaac story. As for polygamy with child brides – well, it’s the Middle East.

    “I was rooting for my Biblical worldview to win,”

    I thought Jesus was supposed to be the basis of our worldview. It’s Pharisees who are so stuck in scripture that they wouldn’t know God if God if he came riding into town on a donkey.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    Jim, I’m afraid you are inserting today’s moral into a story that doesn’t even hint at them. At best you can only argue that the Bible is neutral on child sacrifice…which is what I said: the Bible doesn’t condemn it.

    After all, God commanded Abraham to do it, and Abraham didn’t question it as immoral. God never explained later that it was an immoral action. All God had to say was: “Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

    Then there is also Judges 11, which appears to depict a father sacrificing his daughter to the Lord. The father gets the Lord’s help at killing random pagans, and proceeds to offer his daughter as a burnt sacrifice to the Lord after getting home from battle. It is also not condemned. Here are the relevant verses:

    “Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’ Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands.

    When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, ‘Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.’

    ‘My father,’ she replied, ‘you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. But grant me this one request,’ she said. ‘Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.’

    ‘You may go,’ he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.”

  • Jennifer

    Um, there’s a difference between loving and liking an individual gay person and IGNORING the fact that yes, the rabid gay movement is not Godly or reasonable. Check out San Francisco if you don’t believe that, and try not to define the world based on one individual. And of course, in order to make yourself feel better about liking a gay person, you decided to tear apart the Bible and say it’s just a bunch of contradictions. Have you ever really studied it and the root of the context? That’s far more dangerous to you spiritually than befriending a gay person could ever be.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    Jennifer, I think the problem is in the word “rabid” and not in the word “gay”.

    You may also have missed my other posts, where I mention that I live in CA. I have spent a lot of time in the Bay Area, so I’ve seen firsthand what you think is the most rabid gay movement behavior, and I really don’t see why you feel threatened by it.

    I’m not even going to respond to your other malicious comments. If it makes you feel better to assume I tossed out the whole Bible based on one nice gay person, then go right ahead.

  • Tyro

    Leviticus 18:21, “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD,” is an instance of condemnation of child sacrifice. I don’t think God was saying, “don’t sacrifice your children to Moloch, but sacrificing them for other reasons is ok…”

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    To be fair to the passage, it is definitely focusing on the false god idea and not the child sacrifice issue. Otherwise, why specify “to Molech”? I think people very often assume the Bible agrees with their preconceived ideas rather than checking what it says for itself. It’s very easy to make that mistake.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    For anyone who is interested in learning more about how the Bible came to be, I’d really recommend a book I just finished reading, called “Jesus, Interrupted” by Bart Erhman. It talks about who wrote the books of the New Testament, when they were written, how the cannon was formed, and how we have no idea what the original words were because we don’t have the original manuscripts.

  • http://christianrethinker.wordpress.com Retha

    Latebloomer, that book had lots of scholarly critisism for, among others, seriously overstating it’s case. I suggest you could look up criticisms of the book, it is not something to swallow whole.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    Thanks for the suggestion Retha. I found that the book agreed with what I was taught in my Bible classes at the evangelical Christian college I attended, which were taught by a leading Christian scholar of the Dead Sea scrolls. But I’m definitely interested in reading more on the subject….do you have a recommendation?

    I’d like to add that I read this book since writing the post, so this post is not based on the book.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

    Perhaps this,
    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2009/04/bart-interrupted-detailed-analysis-of.html

    for part 1, then looking on the right side of the page to click on links to part 2, 3, etc.

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