The baseless accusations of the church

Posted: March 12, 2012 in Real Life
Tags: , , , , , ,

Warning(s): I’m about to get extremely autobiographical. Also it will take me a bit to get to my point since I have to setup my setup for the point. 

I grew up as an only child till I was 7… so basically an only child since no one was close enough to my age for me to relate to them. I also grew up without a neighborhood. The street where I grew up is a 4-lane highway with a 55 mph speed limit. You didn’t dare play in the street, and there was definitely no cul-de-sac where the kids gathered. My neighbors were older people, so there were no kids next door either.  I went to a private Independent Baptist school thru 9th grade. I didn’t participate in any after school activities. I did go to a Southern Baptist church, tho.  I was actively involved in church, and went on quite a few trips with the youth group.

Given my neighborhood situation, I only saw my school friends during the school year unless they went to church with me. I began working when I was 14 but only on weekends. Once I turned 16, I worked during the week.  Although it was a grocery store job, there weren’t many people there that were my age, and the few that were had their own crowd they associated with.  I didn’t really make any serious friends there, and that was fine. I didn’t intend for it to be a career, plus I had my “social” life at church.

To summarize, I lived a pretty sheltered life and didn’t have many friends that I hung out with outside of structured activities such as church or school.

Fast forward to my post-teen young adult years. I took church very seriously. If there was an event, no matter how big or small, I was there.  I was there almost 7 nights a week.  I taught Sunday school, ran the sound board for the band during the singles’ group service on Friday nights, and became an integral part of the organization. I was 110% committed. When I wasn’t at church, I was thinking about church. When I wasn’t there or working, I’d be studying. I had shelves upon shelves of reference books. It would take me a solid week to prepare for Sunday school, because for me, it was literally school and I was literally a teacher. I was teaching my peers, college students and singles my own age. We weren’t doing the felt boards with stories of Noah and the Ark or Jonah and the Whale. We were looking at the New Testament, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. What did it really mean?  The English translation isn’t sufficient.  What did the original Greek say?  What was the culture at that time?  Did the culture have an impact on any idioms that were used? Et Cetera.

With all of the Bible studying and group activities, I didn’t save any time for dating. I did have friends that I hung out with tho.  Usually, they were like-minded individuals. We discussed the Bible and formed opinions. As we matured in our knowledge, we found that we didn’t necessarily agree with everything that was usually preached in Southern Baptist churches. There seemed to be too many analogies and empty stories and pleas for “sinners” to get “saved” instead of actually teaching the believers that were already there.  Around that time, some other like-minded individuals were starting new churches. Not baptist churches… non-denominational Bible churches.  And I left for one of those.

It was different being in a small church, especially one that was so hardcore.  Where I and my friends had really stood out in the previous setting, we were now in a group where we were basically average.  Everyone was of a similar mindset.  It was really great… for a while.

I was now 22. As I said, I hadn’t set aside time for dating. I skipped prom. I didn’t celebrate turning 21. None of it. I was getting frustrated with my job situation and wanted to find a better job. I couldn’t see myself working at the grocery store forever. As luck would have it, I was able to get a job at a call center. Now, I was older, had a decent job, had transportation, had more time on my hands.  I began to feel like I had missed out on certain aspects of life.  I made some friends at work that were close to my age. They didn’t go to church, but they seemed like good people.  I got along well with them.

I was starting to realize that there was a whole life outside of church. I started wanting to hang out with non-church friends and do non-church things.  I moved out and got my own place with a roommate who didn’t go to church.  It finally struck me: I was discovering myself and things that I really wanted to do. Those things conflicted with the teachings of the church, so I decided to stop going. Why? I didn’t want to be a hypocrite.

The church I was going to at the time practiced Church Discipline as taught in the New Testament, and I was ostracized. (I suppose I still am since I don’t think there is a statute of limitations on that.)

Hopefully, I’ve done a fairly good job of illustrating how I emerged from a sheltered life and ended up leaving the church.  Now, I need to introduce a few characters:

  • Player 1 is a friend who I recently reconnected with. He’s had his own struggles since he was sent to prison after a pastor had some evidence planted on his computer, but that’s a story for him to tell.  Back on point, though, we were friends and there was a mutual respect.
  • Player 2 is a woman who some have described as being manipulative. She usually has a group of girls that she’s supposedly mentoring but end up acting as more of a clique.

Player 1 is talking with Player 2 (they were both at the original Southern Baptist church, by the way), and he makes an off-hand remark that he misses me being around. Player 2 proceeds to inform him that I’m not going to church anymore because I’m gay.  ….Um, What?  When he told me this the other night, I about fell out laughing so hard. Where did that come from?  When I shared the news with my good friend who I see on a regular basis, he said that he had heard the same thing from another source.  Wow!  Why am I just now hearing about this 8 years later?  I guess it might’ve hurt me then, but now it’s just hilarious.

Anyone that knows me… any of my real friends… They’d know right away that wasn’t true.  It’s funny to me that the church people had to come up with a reason for my leaving that was unknown to me, and pretty far-fetched.  I left simply because my life was going in a different direction and I chose not to be a hypocrite. I didn’t want to be one of those “Sunday Christians” that only shows up on Sundays and/or holidays but doesn’t live their beliefs Monday thru Saturday.

I suppose that, technically, homosexuality would fall under the hypocrisy umbrella since the church is very anti-homosexual; however, that wasn’t a factor with me.  I may occasionally go to a gay bar since I have friends that hang out there (for some reason even though they are straight), but I’d much rather spend my time at the local strip club wasting money on lap dances (from women, just to be clear).

If you’ve stayed with me this far, congratulations. You’ve made it to the end. Thanks for allowing me to ramble on.  When I heard this story the other night I laughed so hard that I knew I had to share it. It just took a while to set it up.

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