When I was a Christian

My transparency 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼
+When I was a Christian, I looked at others with a sadness. I believed that if they just had the knowledge that *I* had, they’d be okay.
+When I was a Christian, I thought of myself as a savior. If they could just hear me, speaking for God, they could have a relationship that changed them. 
+When I was a Christian, I truly pitied anyone who didn’t think like me. I was in full belief that my ideals (or my tribes’ ideals) were the only righteous ones.
+When I was a Christian, I operated from a place of unintentional arrogance. It was normal for me to run into someone and immediately ponder in my mind, “Bless them, they’ve had it rough, is there a sin they are committing, leading them into these troubles?”
+When I was a Christian, I met people with a silent judgement, but fake understanding. While I outwardly displayed the fruits of the Spirit, inwardly, I was pridefully attempting to encourage others to be like *me, therefore more like god. 
+When I was a Christian, I loved making sure others knew where I stood. I approached conversations with locked beliefs, unwilling to meet someone else where they were, but with the full hope of swaying them to agree with *me*
+When I was a Christian, all I needed was my echo chamber. So long as I had my believing friends and pulpit pals echoing back to me what I understood about god, then I’d never actually need to hear anyone else out.
+When I was a Christian I prided myself in speaking “truth” to everyone, even if I could sense they were uncomfortable. My brain was actually driven by this tension, to hurl my knowledge louder because these were the folks most in need of my knowledge, I could lead to the saving they didn’t know they needed.
+When I was a Christian, I made a spectacle out of my childrens’ obedience/disobedience to me and God. I praised their attempts at witnessing EVEN THOUGH I was encouraging their false ego, even though I was inherently teaching an us/them worldview.
+When I was a Christian, I doted on my kids as they *led others to Christ, and I began to cultivate in them, the same echo chamber friend system I had partaken in.
+When I was a Christian, my goal was that my children would stand apart for the Lord. No, not they they would see the face of God in others, but mainly that they would see God in their own reflection and their peers in Sunday School.
+When I was a Christian, I felt an arrogant sorrow for those kids who weren’t in Sunday school, oh how different their futures could be, if they had a mother like me…
+When I was a Christian, I could not love people exactly as they were. I always had small internal hopes for the ways *I could rub off on them.
+When I was a Christian, I operated with an ego so large, that I mourned the souls of those not like me, therefore not like God. I literally was a Pharisee by default.
+When I was a Christian, I got high on church, I got high on Jesus, dopamine levels through the roof with 4 part harmonies or repeated chords.

But now, now that I am not a Christian, I’ve loved from the pits of my own despair.
Now that I am not a Christian, I’ve loved with the kind of love that changes ME, literally reshaping my marrow.
Now that I am not a Christian, those whom I love might change—— but not because of my swaying, not because of *my example, but because they are safe and FREEEEEEEE to be unconditionally themselves in my presence. 
Now that I am not a Christian, I look in the eyes of the humans around me and believe in my whole heart that they, *we* are perfectly perfect and not in need of saving, unless it’s the saving that time spent inside the metaphorical grave gives us. 
Now that I am not a Christian, I understand that there’s a glorious darkness inside that grave. And that this is not something you can prompt, that it’s not something an echo chamber can provide. That it is not something you can indoctrinate into your children. It isn’t in a church and it’s only alluded to through metaphor in scripture. 
Now that I am not a Christian, I recognize the quiet of the wilderness, the silence of the mountainside, the belly of the whale—— that is where the holy sacred work gets done, not the pulpit. 
Now that I am not a Christian, I run into hurting people and I sit with them in my own hurt, I am no longer mentally slightly above them.
Now that I am not a Christian, I recognize that in order to eliminate our ego, in order to operate in humility, we must let go of everything we were taught and re-learn what and who we actually are. 
Now that I am not a Christian, people pity *my children, they’ve been proselytized and told that hell awaits them by their churchgoing witnessing peers— They reply, “oh you mean, Gehenna- no way, they turned that into a garden a LOOONG time ago, wanna see pictures, it’s worth a google” and they walk on.
Now that I am not a Christian, I find myself explaining to my children in full compassion the way indoctrination works and how their peers are truly fearful for their souls, that it’s not a burn (play on words😜)
Now that I am not a Christian, I have daughters who come to me tearfully, longing to be friends with ANYONE without an agenda, anyone who can fully love them as they are, without the line drawn.
Now that I am not a Christian, the tables have turned, and I am not in the Cliques, I am not wise-council, I am not even invited to the table without an agenda. I know the hurt of being “just another neighbor, unworthy of hearing.”
But now that I am not a Christian, there is no limit to my neighbor. There is no limit to what *I* can learn from those that I once set out to save. 
Now that I am not a Christian, *they* are saving me. 
Now that I am not a Christian, I sit on the outside of the gates of those who profess to follow Christ and yet, I am free to love like him more than I ever did———when I was a Christian…

I Cannot Go to Church Today

At this point in my life, church has me jacked up——-The role that patriarchy has played in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and its dominion over the world is indignant and needs to be explored by not only women, but men. If you practice ANY of these religions and have not done the hardy work of understanding how patriarchy has helped in silencing, erasing, and controlling women- this is a call to do just that. 

Women complicit in the pain and wounds that patriarchy subjugates on other women are abundant, especially those who participate in these religions (many religious women unintentionally support their own cages). Therefore, we must do this hard work alone, because sadly, folks are too comfortable to make changes that can benefit women. 

So, let me speak some truth to the nature of the feminine wisdom. For far too long, women have been made to carry the burden of the Eden Myth. But are you aware that in the earliest of days the serpent was a symbol for that of feminine wisdom and goddesses? Yes, snakes were thought of in relation to the innate divinity that women alone captured. Can you see the beginning of patriarchy unfold, as the writer of Genesis uses Eve and a serpent (her own internal wisdom) to be the fall of man?? Even WAY back then, finding a way to pin sin, death, and darkness on the shoulders of women ultimately leading an entire world view to deem women in need of a man’s guidance. How utterly TERRIFYING, that such a fear of womanly wisdom lingered even then….

Follow me, because of such ideals embedded in “holy” scriptures women have been in roles of submission and servitude for damn near all of modern humanity. When we look to the Bible which was written by Men for Men, we have to look HARD to find the female voice, because it’s almost non-existent. Even our modern hymns and liturgies, prayers, and creeds flow with male pronouns. This is not fair. And yet women are so numb to it, they hardly notice….

But, enter Jesus who was mostly egalitarian by nature. Women chose to even fund his travels. After his death, women were full participants in leading, teaching, guiding all-yes-even men. It stayed that way for close to 200 years. Until Paul’s epistle of 2nd Timothy makes the rounds. It is at this point, based on Paul-a recovering fundamentalist Jew, whose entire world view was wrapped up in women being 2nd class citizens and frequently abused and mistreated, shares in his letter that women should keep silent, neither teach-preach-or lead men. Paul never met Jesus, Paul did not ever see that Jesus had been equal in his treatment of all. And yet we apply his words to our modern day world-view, BACK UP- Paul! 

Then on the timeline of Christianity, things get political and ‘Following Jesus’ for women, takes a completely submissive role. From church councils all the way to home worship, women would become the  behind the scenes handmaids.   I cringe when I read the words the Church Fathers spoke over us… but here we are perpetuating a religion that doesn’t care to even speak kindly about us.

Because of this, most religious women have cut themselves out from the voice of the Divine Feminine. ‘She’ will try to rouse us, shining light on glimpses of patriarchy in our own lives, but we silence her. Often, women don’t go looking for their Voice as they are used to the roles patriarchy has established for them and because it is believed woman should be non-confrontational. Ever noticed how men and women who implore patriarchal roles dislike powerful and vocal women??

There are sleeping women- those who will not even attempt to believe there is anything wrong with or more to the story than  what we currently live out. There are those who are tossing and turning, wrestling with the reality that they hold their own worth and wisdom. And there are women who are awake—SCREAMING to let us partake in EVERY TASK that we so desire with BLATANT EQUALITY, we have found our inherent voice and our worth—-the voice of our Feminine Ancestors rattling the very marrow of our bones. 

I ask you now to please, please do this work, the work required to dismantle these norms in your own world, not  only for yourselves but our children. Sue Monk Kidd once said, “It’s a peculiar thing, isn’t it? How women can prefer the safety of cages to the hazards of freedom.” 

Until all can look at women and serpents and think, “Beautiful Goddesses full of the Wisdom of the Ages” and not “lust, temptation, sin, death,” women will forever be in cages.

Thanks for reading, friends. We must STOP allowing religion to pit woman against herself, against her own value, worth, and wisdom. Allow yourself to see it for what it is. And, if you partake in a structure that props up patriarchy as a norm, please invest in extensive research, although it will potentially unravel your world view. This is the work that MUST be done. We cannot settle for comfortable—- we deserve more. We deserve Truth.

💜🖤💜 ***This was written based on the notes I took while reading, Dance of the Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd—— required reading, Friends.

For them…

	

Your child is not a Christian

Recently while listening to Richard Dawkins’, “The God Delusion,” I had to pause and let some of his words wash over me—they were cleansing, if you will.

I won’t quote him directly, but here’s the jist:

**There can be indoctrinated children, and there can be children of Christian parents, but there are zero Christian children.**

Obviously, a few years ago I would have wanted to battle back and proclaim that MY children were believers and students of the Holy book. I would’ve scrambled to find the flaw in his statement—- but deep in my noggin, I would’ve been arguing, not with Dawkins, but with my own indoctrination.

As much as I would’ve wanted to believe my kids WERE Christian kids, the truth was—every belief they possessed came directly from me or the Bible stories I’d allowed them to learn. Sure they knew scripture, but how did they learn it? –Me, a curriculum I’d chosen, a class I’d taken them to… Sure they knew the prayers, but how did they know who to pray to and the format of recitation? Me! These weren’t things they would’ve ever approached on their own. They were simply babies who wanted to PLAY! But my kids were my echo chambers, they were simply regurgitating by beliefs right back out at me. It’s scary to think how deeply I had sculpted their entire world view and reality. Shits terrifying, man. Wheeeew. Breathe. Even scarier is the way some folks never realize what they are doing….

Fortunately for me now, as a deconstructed exvangelical, when I read Dawkins’ words, I was in complete and total agreement. It was actually freeing to hear someone else saying what I knew from my own childhood and in raising my kids.

Every single attempt at raising Godly kids is a form of indoctrination. From reciting scripture, creeds, and prayers at young ages, to attending weekly services, to routines of the home. Every time a parent intentionally places their belief system into the mind of their child, they are indoctrinating that child. Every time a child declares they are saved or that they’ve had a God experience, it is simply a replication of what they’ve witnessed from adults around them or is a fictitious response to hormones released in emotional situations. Again, a fabrication of that child’s reality set up by someone else.

Children are born religion free. Again, when a baby is born, their brain has zero knowledge of any religion. Yet, they are divine. They come to us with an awe-struck curiosity for the mystical experiences of nature. They are bright eyed and eager to explore, they worship in the form of wonder. Wouldn’t it be grand to approach guiding them, with that same joy of learning that they implore. When THEY ask about God, faith, sins, the devil, as parents we show excitement and present them with timelines of all the major world religions, allowing them to see for themselves the bigger picture. There is NO indoctrination in that method. And, there is no right answer, therefore no pressure to conform out of fear.

I remember the fear that being a Christian places within parents. The “their blood is on your hands,” approach to training up children. Hell, I pulled my kids from school so I COULD INDOCTRINATE them to think like me.

I remember feeling afraid when they “sinned.” I remember crying out to God that he would guard their hearts. I spent literal nights awake trying to envision a way to best teach them so they’d know God’s Love….

But now I see, if you look at your child as a fallen being to be saved, you’ve lost the chance at letting the magic of life teach them. Their own Life is their best teacher. You are cutting them off from their own flow when you’ve set the default state of being as a religious one. They have very little chance at growing beyond that default setting, and for many Christians that is their hope.

How sad. But that’s what you get when generation after generation sits in the church pew and never does the work of thinking. You get uneducated worldviews, partnered with indoctrinated beliefs, sculpted into little robotic beings, passing off their ideals as the ONLY right way, all the way into their adulthood, and this then repeats itself with their children. And it’s ALL misinformation, but they live from default because it’s safe and requires no conscious effort to learn new ways and new information.  It’s frankly, an irresponsible way to live.

For me and for my children, I did the work of reprogramming my default settings. They will not have to deconstruct, they will not have to “go astray” or “leave the fold.” Together, we are free to let Wonder, Curiosity, and Life be our teachers. Please join me in ending the brain-washing of our youth-they deserve better. They deserve to be the joyful explorers that they were literally born being. Let us, as adults, give our children the space they need to be here, free from your default settings.

Thanks for reading! XO

Dear Patriarchy

Dear Patriarchy,

I was placed into your grasp as a little girl. I ate the crumbs from your gnarled and mangled hands. I watched you work the system and create a breed of subservient little female beings. You chewed us up and spit us out and told us our purpose was to simply be present to help You. You needed our fertility, open our legs for your pleasure and your cum. Carry your babies so you don’t fade away into oblivion. We sit here now foaming at the mouth ready to rip your fucking throats out, and you tell us to smile, keep quiet, be a lady. Meanwhile, you’re lusting for the blossoms in the church pew, with your pious and godly wife sitting right there beside you. But she doesn’t know how to be the Slut you need. The Sacred Whore within, she’s never unleashed. You did that to her. You, Patriarchy! You told her to be good, but with everything you are, you like em bad. So so bad. You told us to be honest, but you’ve got your secrets. You snicker, and you smile, and you keep things under the table. Your army, your squad, your “good ol boys”—- they uphold you as the Man among men, and while your wife may be fooled cause she’s a product of her raising, just know-your daughter won’t bow down to ANY SYSTEM that’s degrading, she’s not just the winds of change-she’s a fucking tornado. She is tearing this shit down and you don’t know what to do. You hang on to your faith cause it ALWAYS WORKS FOR YOU. Cling to your traditions, the empire built by men for men, but your daughter yells, “No!” She’s watched and she’s listened to every command made on her mother and her sisters, she’s thirsty for the blood of every person whose ever said, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen.” She is harsh and bold and she is ready to hurt your feelings. She yells, “Fuck you and fuck your religion! You pieces of shit-stealing the minds of the innocent, and they can’t even think critically enough to harbor resentment.” Your daughters are coming for you, Patriarchy, are you shaking in your work boots? We are coming for you, right after we untie your shoes.

Written by: Stacy Johnson

“Virginity”


It’s been 20 years to the day, since my first encounter with sex. And first of all, let’s get this out there—- 

Virginity is not a real thing——— The most accurate words I’ve heard expressed about it (though I can’t recall who to credit?) is, “Virginity is a social construct created by arrogant men who thought their penises were SO powerful that they could actually change a woman.” 

Bitch, please! My bicycle seat did more damage to my hymen then sex ever did.

Did I walk a little broader for a couple hours afterwards, maybe? Was there an ever so slight red splotch in my panties that evening? Sure… but I’m not certain it had anything to do with virginity? It may have simply been that I was an unprepared and completely inexperienced fourteen year old, dry as a bone, with an inexperienced, gentle yet ambitious 14 year old partner,  wearing a rubber who was simply ready  to do the damn thing. I can’t say the experience was good or bad. No absolutes. It is what it is. Two horny teenagers who’d been fooling around for a good 6 months prior. It was simply the next step in our “relationship.”

I giggle as I type the word “relationship.” Ain’t no relationship happening, we were two kids, who’d always hung out with the older crowd, so naturally we chose one another for things like such: make-out sessions, escorting one another to class, I sat in the stands as the  little blonde cheering him on, we dropped each other letters through the day that had zero substance. This guy had always found me attractive and I appreciated that to a fault. I’d known him forever, and had known forever that one day, he’d get me in trouble. 

I recall sitting proper as a 5 year old little lady in the church pew. He was, a few people down, on the floor playing with small cars. I’d lean forward and peek down the aisle, his excited little eyes would brighten and smile back, happy I had noticed him, this tiny tot flirting would continue, and even at 5, I knew I’m in trouble with this one. 

Fast forward 9 short years, with countless welcomed smooch-fests and fondlings, and there we were, me flat on my back in his bed, panties down, legs tense-so tense, him putting on the rubber and us, trying to figure the shit out. There was the putting it  in, is this going to fit? There was the trying to maintain a rhythm, while hoping to be romantic with continued kissing…..We tried, God knows, we tried! We tried  to get all the parts running together. 

>>>>All of these things, we’d later laugh about in our adulthood when he chose to give a quick apology for having literally destroyed my soul after breaking up with me like less than a month after this first sexual encounter. 

Yes, bull shit- I know.  But he was “just a boy”—and deep down I  knew this  was simply about getting the deed done. It was kinda like, “Sweet, high five, buddy, we did it, team work.” I was glad to no longer be carrying that neon light “V-Card,” and rising from his bed there wasn’t an immediate guilt or shame, but the reality that I was expected to feel guilt and shame, and he wasn’t. This realization caused heart-ache to come on strong….For him, it was hell yeah——Nods of approval from bro to bro down the hall, and then emotional unattachment. But for me, it was a different story….

Unfortunately for romanticized me, he strung me along for a couple weeks afterward and blew me off. How could this be? I’d allowed myself to love fully. Was I not good enough? 

……Not good enough… I still battle that thought today…..

I can say this boy did me one favor. I asked one morning after our sexual experience and multiple realizations waving over me, “Hey. When is the first time you think about me during the day?” He was honest and replied, “Right now, when I see you in this hallway at school.”

His honesty cut deep, “I should’ve asked that question before I laid in that bed,” my intuition whispered. In an instant, I knew I’d given a part of me away that was unhealable. I moseyed down the hall holding back tears. He had been my waking thought for nearly a year…

You were always enough, and you’re going to go on to do the work necessary to know that

So how did all this come to be my fate on that Super Bowl Sunday, 1999? Let me set this up for you:

My parents were the cutest and *still are lovey dovey high school sweethearts that set the bar. My sister and I both, were led to believe by our own inexperience with other places and stories, that our future husbands were right there walking the halls of our very high school. In our minds it would be a tragedy to not have the love story our parents had.

Partner this fantastical view of high school love with a deeply indoctrinated belief that women should please their men, be submissive, and have a man lead them…..

Then sprinkle that misinformed point of view with a little,  “Don’t do it” 

“SEX IS BAD—- DIRTY EVEN! But it  can be so good with the right person….”

>>>>Every High School Girl believes her current boyfriend IS THE RIGHT PERSON. 

Mix this all up with parents who trusted me and a dousing of teenage hormones and you’ve got a recipe for a good old-fashioned sexcapade.

Hear me: REPRESSION LEADS TO OBSESSION 

Need it again: REPRESSION LEADS TO OBSESSION

Purity Culture is TOXIC right along with fundamentalist Christianity.  Telling a teenager not to explore, not to touch themselves, and to abstain AT ALL COSTS is like writing an omen over your child that they WILL partake in teen sex on the regular. And probably not under the best circumstances. This is just the simple truth. It is what it is. Sexuality is as much a part of adolescence as the use of our arms or legs, denying that is detrimental.

If I could go back and summon the Divine Feminine to speak over that 14 year old baby with big green eyes,  I’d hope she’d have shown up in the form of a Sister rather than a Mother. In this  instance of hormonal neediness, a mother figure would want to protect as she knows the outcome, but my mind was made up, I was going to have sex….An older sister however, would speak sassy truth and that’s the voice I needed. 

I can hear this Divine Sister  now, “Listen, this won’t be like you’ve seen in the movies, this will not be some spiritual practice in emotional soul bonding. If you want to do this, do it, but know, this is going to be purely physical. This won’t make you closer to your partner. It’s kinda like your first time with anything, this is merely trial and error, practice… You’re going walk outta that room as the same girl you were before. Nothing has changed. You’ll have simply experienced a rite of passage that nearly all the humans telling you not to do this, did themselves.  Everything good and beautiful and holy will still reside within you. Do it, then let it go, don’t attach yourself to the idea of having lost something or attach yourself to this boy, you’ll have lost nothing but a label. Do not trade the label “virgin” for the label “guilt” or  the label “shame.” You are you— you are you—-you are YOURS. This is your label to give away if you really want to, do this if you must, but walk out of that room-pop your collar, blow on some imaginary dice. Confidence, baby girl—Stand tall, this is like any other first, excitement/ no regrets. Be certain.” 

My Divine Feminine voice is always saucy! 

…………………………….If every girl was raised in a sex positive, equal opportunity environment, girls could live empowered rather than defeated. If this had been my inner voice, instead of “you lost something you can’t get back,” I could’ve avoided the depths of heart-ache of not being good enough. We set girls up to fail and to remain in bad situations because they’re so tied to labels. 

If we could be honest about the toxicity of religion and purity culture than this double standard about sex could  be minimized—— you know what I’m talking about, the dirty looks and awful words used for the girls who have sex, and the hope they’ll feel guilt and shame, versus the pats on the back and locker room praise for the boys.

I find it not coincidental, that two weeks after I began having sex, the only 40 year old virgin woman in our church begins, “righteously” training us to maintain our purity, as our virginity is our gift to our future husbands… Our sexuality was always about the man, the goal was guilting and shaming us into compliance in order to support patriarchal constructs. A woman in touch with herself, is a powerful woman, and that is scary in fundamentalist religion.

If  girls knew they could explore themselves and embrace their cycles and urges without the help of a man at all, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to “need” a partner. 

I have a 14 year old daughter. She knows my story wholly. She doesn’t want the same experience. Honesty is almost as good a  teacher as experience. Tell your kids your stories, the good, the bad, the beauty, and the heartache. We can change the internal voices of our daughters and inherently teach our sons how to be good partners… Join me and let’s change the conversation from maintaining “virginity,” to remaining true to Self and holding ourselves in the love of compassion.

You don’t have to carry that sadness in your eyes…

January 31st, 1999, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl….. and I lost a label…. I lost nothing more than a label.