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.
One of the struggles I face most after leaving the Christian faith is an inability to quiet my mind’s desire to unhinge the religion. I so wish to pick each and every part out that damaged me, and announce to the world-how we can fix it, I so badly want to SCREAM, “You have google at your fingertips, Christian people—— research the shit out of this——you are DAMAGING your thinking children, and you won’t know it til it’s too late!”
Imagine one of those billboards that stream their message flashing from left to right. That is precisely what my thoughts look like running through my mind. And what’s strange is that I’m up and about, going and doing, but ALWAYS in these two places. My head is invested in whatever my hands are doing, but the flashing billboard is zipping by, sometimes slow, but usually fast. When it’s rapid firing, I notice that I’m tense, my jaw is clenched, and I have to force myself to loosen up. So much of this is based on the fact that my subconscious is hurting and angry. The systems at work inside Christianity are so degrading and I was raised in them from birth. I torment myself at times by mentally listing the ways it warped me, here are a few things I believed and in the parentheses is the reality:
You are worthy of hell, (but there’s not one)
Your natural state is sinful, (I’m actually innately good)
You must ask forgiveness for Every Sin, (harm no one and there is no sin)
Women caused the fall of man, (Patriarchal folktale)
Women are weaker minded, (FALSE)
Women need leadership, (FALSE)
Women must submit, (FALSE)
Women can’t teach men- only children, (laughably false)
Your body isn’t yours-it’s your dad or husband’s, it’s a temple, (She is fully mine)
You can’t trust yourself, (Always Always trust yourself)
You can’t trust your questions, (ask and research EVERY question for yourself)
Women have roles in the home that men shouldn’t, (Patriarchal BS)
You must not divorce unless there is an affair or physical abuse—-but really you should stay to work it out… (Get out the moment you realize they aren’t who you thought they were.)
Besides the basic false teachings of the church, the folktales that were told to me as fact, as God’s word, that I’ve had to research and tear down the walls of, I’ve also got these corrupt brain hi-jackers, that were embedded in me, that aren’t as easy to silence as a mythical Bible story. I know they aren’t true—-but I believed with my whole heart every bit of it, and that means for most of my life, I believed I was not good. I was a child, believing that I was innately in my core, bad. That is some tough shit to recover from. So the flashing lights stream on, playing over and over. This is simply me trying to pinpoint where the pain is coming from, me trying to undo the abusive talk of a subconscious that was herself, abused.. Sometimes I just wonder who I could’ve been had these systems not been at play. I mourn and lament for her…
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.
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.
I cut my beautiful hair, I traded in lion king panties for lacy underwear
I went from having never been kissed to loving someone deeply, and being completely dismissed
At 14, my first heartbreak left me different but not totally broken
with threads of insecurity, my heart was stitched up but gaps were still open
At 14, I watched on confused as the light of innocence left me
Hell was coming, no matter how hard I prayed, no matter how much they preached grace, I still knew my place
After every sin, I knew I’d need to repent again,
and so this game of guilt and shame was one I could not win
At 14, I understood fear to be the driving force, behind every single of one my life’s choices
It wasn’t about following my heart, it wasn’t about using my smarts, I’d only be okay if I learned early to play it safe, stay inside the boundaries so I’d be covered by grace
At 14, deep longings for more, resounded in my spirit, but because of indoctrination the flow of life couldn’t heal it. My divinity whispered for me to draw near, but I simply could not hear it.
See, I didn’t know I was still perfectly precious, I didn’t know I was still totally infectious, Being a sinner is what I let define me, not the amazing woman who was hiding inside me
So, Baby girl I just have to share, you carry a warrior’s glare and you have a mighty stare,
Your wear your armor daily with your strands of gold and copper hair
YOU know your truth and with YOUR hands you build your empire, and don’t forget like a dragoness, my girl you can breathe fire,
Your veins hold the pulsing of women
who fought so hard to be here, hold up your hands and cup their courage should you ever find yourself in need, dear
You have fierce wisdom of Athena
And great beauty of Aphrodite
Put them together and channel that strength, it’s beyond almighty
In your mind you carry the intuition of Dione and you hold wilderness of Artemis, listen to the call from within, she won’t leave you mistaken
Baby girl, at 14, you can begin to manifest your dreams, you can leave people behind if they don’t align, don’t feel guilty and deep down just know, that’s how you grow
And don’t you for one second think a mess-up is reflective of who you are, when wounded be proud of your scars, and deep down in the marrow of your bones, know your beauty, your truth, and your worth.
And baby girl at 14, when insecurity creeps in, acknowledge her presence but don’t let her win, make her an acquaintance but not a close friend,
Remember you earned your place on this earth, you get to be here for this moment in time, and though you’re only 14, you’re able to see, that this in itself is truly divine
When mommy set out to write this for you, I let my mind go back in time, I don’t know why but I started to cry and so I stayed there for awhile.
That girl was beautiful with a heart of gold and smile she could not hide, but oh the sadness, such sadness were hiding in those green eyes.
I saw the Universe in those eyes, and I heard a whisper in the wind, you, JUST you, you are enough, so I let that voice rage from within,
I placed my arm around that girl sitting to my side, I said- chin up sister, it’s a matter of time, you’re gonna be just fine,
I gave her a hug and left her there
because 14 year old me, could not see it, much less try to live out and be it…
My baby girl now, I’m calling you out, I see your glory, your beauty, your grandeur….and at 14, if there’s only one thing you let engulf you and fill you up, please let it be that warrior raging within, “I KNOW I AM more than enough.”
Written by-Stacy Johnson, April 13, 2018
I wrote this last year on the eve of my daughter’s 14th birthday. I needed to channel the energy I was feeling into something positive, as 14 was a tricky year for me…
MY GLORIOUS GIRL:
******Today, I watched that 14 year old, stand before 150 high school band students and play a solo. A 3 minute piece that captured the magical essence that is my daughter. You see, my girl had only picked up a saxophone 9 months ago. Her teacher didn’t believe her when she told him she’d be first chair by Christmas, but SHE believed in herself, and that’s all she’ll ever need. She is not only first chair, but was was chosen to do that solo, I couldn’t have been prouder to watch her play up there. I witnessed the anxiety ridden tears throughout the week, but SHE GOT UP THERE AND NAILED IT. She cupped that courage and it paid off. I cried. And I’m giddy. She’s brave.
Thank you to:
My sister over at The Irresponsible Blogger, she reminded me that today was International Women’s Day and this poem goes right along with celebrating women, healing women, and empowerment of women. Thank you for reading, Friends!
Thoughts, how dangerous, how absolutely dangerous.
How beautiful they once were.
I recall a time in the not so distant past where things were different in my head, before leaving faith, before realizing that “submitting” was actually me agreeing to be silenced, before waking up to the abusive tactics patriarchy implores-and calls this God.
Back then, in the “before” period of my life, for every negative self-talk, there was a dozen scriptures-racing to take the place of the daggers inflicted by that of the “devil.”
I needed the devil. I could blame him for putting such awful images in my brain about myself.
But I needed God even more. I needed a savior outside myself to come in and “make me new.” I needed God to swoop down, ya know, cause that’s what the God of the Christians says He’ll do, He’ll swoop down and meet you where you are—He is, the only God who does this——
I needed that God to rescue me from myself.
I had after all, been taught that my own thoughts, my own will, my own nature was inherently and irrevocably dangerous, not to be trusted. Not even to do the work of asking questions…
From the earliest of days, being told that hell awaits those who reject God, was terrifying, everything was a rejection of God. Eating too much, reading for pleasure when I should be reading the Bible, secular music was a gateway to humanism, television watching would corrupt your purity, spending money was an idol, high-lighting my hair-vanity… it never ended, until I eventually took everything about myself away. I lived this out for years in an attempt to bring God all the glory.
Every fucking thing I could do, could be a way to reject God, and I couldn’t chance it.
So, I denied myself every possible avenue of joy in my life minus mothering.
Then……Silence. Disappearing into nothingness.
When I first realized this way of life had led me into a severe depression, Friends would ask, “well, what’s your favorite music?”
Me: I do not know.
“What shows do you enjoy?”
Me: I don’t.
“What is your hobby?”
Me: I don’t have any.
Folks, I kid you not, religion stole Me from Me.
The Dark Night of the Soul led me to the blatant realization that not “being of the world,” means you are VERY LONELY within. Cutting myself out of the culture of our time, left me in a state of adolescent adulthood.
Denying myself time and time again. Over and over, in every circumstance because Jesus was self-sacrificing, did baaaaaad things to me. I had no identity beyond wife and mother.
Typing that, my stomach turns, because that is supposed to be enough—-I should be filled with praise, and here I sit, alone with these thoughts, telling me that because it is not enough, I am bad-so bad.
But isn’t that the pattern of what religion does to us. It tells you to do something/be something, something you can’t, you realize you can’t and you ask for a savior, when that isn’t enough, there you sit—- “I’m naturally bad.” The only difference is, for the believer, they think God cleanses the bad away. But for those of us who don’t believe, WE must do the work to remove the “I am bad,” sense of self, and this is not easy.
I don’t know how to do that.
Instead I sit with the pattern of self-defeat regularly. How badly, I want MY TWO HANDS, My brain, to figure out how to LOVE MYSELF. But being told you’re a sinner from childhood on, well-its damaged me. There are other relationships that have damaged me along the way, but because I struggle to love myself, I allow them.
I HOPE to find a way to mend the pieces of me. If you are a recovering former believer, what have you done to help you LOVE YOURSELF? Or, if depression is a battle you’ve faced, what helps you most?
I recall it like it was yesterday… not six years ago. It was a beautiful time. I was a bible believing, god seeking, holy-spirit led, Child of God. I had quit my job as a public school teacher so I could pursue a career as a full time homeschool momma. My faith was the driving force in EVERYTHING I SET MY HANDS TO. Making breakfast-sing some praise, folding laundry- gratitude prayer, exercise- self-sacrifice is honorable, someone is sick- the devil is attacking, teaching my daughters- God is SO Good. Every situation had a scripture to call on and I did!
The Bible was the LITERAL Word of God, every word written was inspired by God…
I’d been raised Church of Christ, the fundamentalist Bible Belt version, not the progressive version. I was a literalist, inerrantist, the “Bible says it so I believe it” kind of girl.
The C of C believed that the gifts of the spirit had ceased, that women should never teach men, that one must be baptized by submission into water, that the Lord’s Supper was a weekly part of service, absolutely NO instruments, salvation can be lost with any sin not repented from, and that everyone who was not a part of their belief system was headed for hell. Talk about a scary childhood….I might go to hell for a sin I hadn’t been forgiven of, all of my peers who attended other churches were going to Hell…. even my grandparents. And what about all of humanity before the C of C was started? I mean, the “denomination” was only a couple hundred years old???
For a long time, I wrestled with C of C beliefs and could not reconcile many of them with Scripture. If other believers were receiving healing by the laying on of hands—- why not me? If others could speak in a tongue between them and God, why not me? If others’ children only needed to confess that Jesus is Lord and would then be forever saved, why not mine?
In my adulthood, I became a Christian Church Gypsy. I needed all the experiences that came with the varieties of denominations, so I set out. Over the course of 10 years, I met with the Methodists, I praised with the Pentecostals, I danced with the non-denominationals, I sat in the Silence with the Quakers, I tithed with the Word of Faithers, I observed the Eucharist with the Catholics, I visited vespers with the Eastern Orthodox, I blessed my pew neighbor with the Christian Alliance, I mingled with the Mormons, I broke bread with the Baptists…. you catch my drift.
I made SO MANY friends.
Meanwhile at home, I was carrying on in my God ordained calling as a homeschool momma and we were reaching the point in our studies where my girls were moving from bible stories, to the history of the Church, including its councils, how the Bible came to be, and Jewish history.
My precious little girls were resting in a peaceful life, I was rising with the sun, Bible in one hand, filled coffee cup in the other, and a front porch rocker overlooking a Pennsylvania country-side. I recall praying daily for God to bless our studies and tear down the walls of indoctrination I’d received in my upbringing. I wanted nothing more than to serve God with my life.
God. Making mercies new every morning…
God. Granting me sweet sleep every night….
They say, “the road to atheism is littered with Bibles that’ve been read cover-to-cover.”
I am a testament to that. For me, it was my INTENSE pursuit and study into Biblical origins and the Christian Church that forced me to HAVE TO LEAVE that faith.
One of my friends tried to banter me back to belief by stating that all deconstruction journeys start with doubt. Effff that noise! I’m calling bullshit.
I’d never been at a more faithful place in my walk with Christ when, “the walls came tumbling down.”
For me, it was sincere curiosity for understanding how modern Christianity relates to Jesus and his roots and praying it through.
It was me trying to understand the parables from the perspective of a Jewish believer and praying it through.
It was me, digging deep into how those ancient beings would’ve interpreted the Torah, then the epistles and gospels and prophets and praying it through.
It was me reading the Church Councils and their decisions and praying them through.
It was me realizing the very questions I’d been told not to ask, had entire councils dedicated to trying to solve them and that sometimes, they didn’t have answers, but politics would win—-even back then. And praying that through.
It was me, coming to grasp the magnitude of the Protestant Reformation and praying it through.
It was the harsh reality that the Church Fathers and earliest believers were pacifists—-even when they were in the military…. and allowing myself to sit with that in the midst of the American Military War Machine era, headed by none other than modern day Bible-Believing Christians…and praying that through.
It was me, pursuing the roots of our modern ideas of Hell versus that of believers long before us and praying it through.
It was realizing that Jesus never believed he was dying for the sins of others and that his goal wasn’t to get others to heaven, but to bring heaven to earth and praying that through.
It was taking scripture and putting it back in the context of the people who wrote it and praying that through.
It was me realizing the ways the church has made room for change- from slavery, to integrating, to interracial relationships, to women leaders, to birth control, to music in worship, to partaking in the Lord’s Supper occasionally—-but its refusal to lean towards change for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and praying that through.
It was me being made fully aware that the Bible was written by men- with a patriarchal lens, and that every story has that spin, even though it was done inherently, from women needing to be virgins-to victims of rape needing to marry their rapists so they could be honorable, to concubines, to Abraham being a complete ass to Hagar and his child-almost killing his kid, deciding that cutting tips of penises off was a good thing, and then being the “father” of this religion I’ve believed in wholeheartedly for my entire existence and praying it through.
It was learning that Jewish rabbis today believe much of Scripture to be metaphorical and not the end all, but instead the starting point for discussion and praying that through.
It was the deep study of which verses were added later and that Mark was the first gospel and the others are based on it. AND, that the resurrection and virgin birth stories were not originally in Mark. That’s kinda a big deal.
All of these studies, flowing forth from the beginning, out of a sincere desire to best know my Savior.
And eventually crying and peeking over my shoulder as I googled, “Today, I lost my faith.” Because I had deconstructed my whole belief system in quiet so as to not lose my community.
I started researching what religion does to a brain, and how humans are conditioned to expect rewards.
I then began to allow my eyes to see the similarities between Christianity and older religions, particularly Zoastrianism.
I was waking up to the fact that people I’d trusted to teach Truth, had only ever studied Christian apologists, and called that a well-rounded education.
And what happened when I began to share what I’d discovered? The same ol fear campaign. The same ol doubt story-where are these questions coming from spill. The same ol, “just gotta have faith.”
And then, when I spoke—“NOOOOO! I will not pretend to believe this ANY LONGER, friends, it does not hold up under the light of sincere open-heart studying. This is not something I wanted-this is not what I set out to discover. This was not a choice, it was simply the facts. The Facts. I’d spent 6 quiet years reading and reading and researching and listening to, and praying over. It wasn’t an overnight choice taken lightly. It was years in the Dark Night of the Soul, with painful discoveries and literal life-altering outcomes.” I begged them to please understand. I guess they could not. It’s scary, I know. Trust me. I know.
It all became so obvious. I let myself recall the fear tactics used by the Church, not only throughout history, but right there in my own history. How can a child ever use logic or think critically when they are told their questions are doubt and doubt isn’t from God. And what about the manipulation of emotions by guilt/shame, and the repeated three chords on the keyboard, causing our brains to rapid fire release dopamine, then calling that a God experience.
From the beginning of its time, this story I built my life upon had been some human somewhere’s best attempt at persuading others to go along with them and calling it God. The same way we do today. This wasn’t the story of God using humans but very much the opposite. Humans using God.
So….. where do I go from here…. how and what do I instill in my children?
Below, my manifesto:
In our home we believe:
*it is OKAY to say, “If God is real________, “ or, “If there is a God, ___________.”
*we do NOT know for sure that there is an after-life, no one on Earth knows for sure.
*it is OKAY, perhaps even WONDERFUL to say, “I don’t know.”
*If God is real, and he/she/it created us, then God is like the ultimate parent—- there is nothing we can do to ever stop It from loving us. The Love is Unconditional and just like a good parent does, that love will never cease— we did not ask to be here.
*the Bible was written by humans to humans of a SPECIFIC TIME. To not use the context of the culture it was written is a blatant misrepresentation of the text. This takes lotsa planning to implement a single Bible-lesson, but better than a skewed surface reading.
*Humans HAVE ALWAYS used their version of God to justify going after what they wanted by saying in no uncertain terms, “We are God’s chosen and he told us to do this.” That doesn’t mean the humans are/were right.
*our descriptions are only as good as our vocabulary, therefore EDUCATION MATTERS. The Bible CANNOT teach on topics the people who wrote it were unfamiliar with.
*people are people, not sinners. There is nothing to save them from. If there is a heaven, it is universal. This includes the LGBTQ Community, heaven is for EVERYONE
*Hell, as most view it today, does not exist. Jews of ancient days weren’t of the belief and Jesus teaches about a literal place called Gehenna, not an eternal torment. The OT doesn’t even mention it.
*Jesus did NOT KNOW he was dying for others’ sins. Once you look at the original language used and cultural implications, there is no proof that Jesus believed he was sacrificing himself for others. Ultimately, penal substitutionary atonement is unnecessary. No One comes to the Father except through me, does not mean what modern ppl think it means.
*Paul’s teachings are not authoritative automatically. Paul was a Pharisee coming out of a fundamentalist approach to Judaism, he teaches from that lens therefore the language and admonitions from his letters must only be used in context of his culture.
*scholars agree Mark is the original gospel and that Matthew and John were copies that had been embellished. There is no virgin birth or resurrection story in the earlier copies of Mark.
*humans chose which books of the Bible should be in the Canon, verses were added at way later dates to the Bible, to this day Catholic and Orthodox churches include far more books than those of Protestant traditions
*all scripture is God-breathed…… the word is actually a Latin-derivative meaning inspired—- just because something is inspired doesn’t mean it’s the only tool by which we can navigate life.
*There are believers who’ve allowed the Bible to become an idol and this can hinder any actual leadings from God to undo indoctrination.
*to create a situation where you play on the emotions of youth and adults alike, is to “fake” a saving experience and is a manipulation of their reality.
*it is emotionally abusive and manipulative to raise children with a constant fear that hell awaits them, should they turn out to be anything but what you deem acceptable.
*indoctrinating children from birth to believe that Your ideas about God are *the only correct ideas is not only arrogant, but also irresponsible. This gives kids a false superiority complex. Ultimately you’re teaching your kids to give ultimatums— befriend and conform -succumb to our attempt to save, or disassociate and be shunned.
*teaching children to “save” other children is a blatant misrepresentation of Christianity. “They will know you are Christian by your LOVE.”
*Believers ultimately see what they want to see. All questions are very googleable, to continue to teach ideas that were passed to you via someone else’s indoctrination is a shame. It is scary to do this work, but important.
*to say, “I love you,” means you fully accept and affirm that person. You cannot love someone but not “accept” their “way of life.” That is conditional and we don’t do that here.
*when kids at school call themselves Christians, but they are exclusive instead of inclusive, when they are homophobic- or racist-or misogynistic: call that chit out!
*making a hateful statement or judgmental statement that assumes everyone has the same indoctrination you do-or should adhere to the same view as you is still HATE speech. Wrapping it in “Christian Love” is condescending and simply a justification of that hate-speech. Call it out.
*the Bible is not a weapon. Battling someone with quotes of Scripture is demeaning- they’ve read it before and don’t need it thrown in their face, nor was it intended to be used in such a way.
*Christianity is appealing to many men because it has mistakenly placed them in authority throughout time, Jesus does not model this and is completely egalitarian.
*Research shows meditation and practicing concentrated gratitude is equally as good for you as time spent praying. Studies show we use the same parts of the brain during these things and that prayer actually helps the person praying more than those whom they are praying for.
*cool fact: Research reveals speaking in tongues and mediums channeling the dead-use the same parts of the brain to do those things. Cool. Cool.
*cognitive dissonance is real, it is the first line of defense any person hoping to stay in the comfort of their social constructs uses.
*you are free to pursue ANY belief system you so desire, so long as it is not a cult
*you are free to NOT practice ANY form of religion
*you are free to disagree with me
*ask questions, forsaking NONE, silencing NONE
*continue studying logic, arguments, philosophy, and anthropology
But anyhow, to sum it all up—————
Ultimately, in our home we believe:
*if there is a God, it/He/She/Source is LOVE. It starts with Love, it ends with Love, and to add ANYTHING at all as a stipulation of receiving that Love would make it conditional and that is not Love.
*in the end NO OTHER DOCTRINE matters, but to LOVE LOVE LOVE UNTIL you are dead and literally cannot LOVE anymore.
*its okay to say, we hope there is an afterlife, but we do not know for sure, so we will not pretend we do.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I had a super proud secular homeschool mom moment—— far far removed from the mom who once touted how many scripture her children had memorized… I was studying different BAD arguments with my 11 year old. We moved to “argument based on irrelevant authority” and I had her create her own image to help her remember what this means. When I browsed her page my heart skipped a beat—- it’s that easy to help your child become a critical thinker!
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…
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.
January 31st, 1999, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl….. and I lost a label…. I lost nothing more than a label.