Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.
I am a 36 year old gay man living in Pittsburgh, after having lived in NYC (New York City) for 9 years.
I am not HIV+ (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus Positive (infected)), but my domestic partner of 5½ years was and passed away in 1996.
I am a Quaker, sir. Quakers are members of the body of Christ, which you have mistaken for all of the hypocrites and mean-spirited people that have furthered the cause of ignorance in the name of Christ. Jesus himself was aware of the wrong doings that people did in the name of God, saying "these people, in vain do they worship me… teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."
To paraphrase Johnny Cochrane, if the shoes does not fit, you must acquit.
Many of the flaws common to organized religion that you cover, are true of all of the man made religions. You seem to focus your bitterness against Christianity, not even bothering to mention how gays are mutilated and even murdered in some of the more radical Islamic nations.
You are quite right. Islam has magnified many of the Christian failings such as intolerance, suppression of women and fanaticism.
Many of the things you attribute to Christianity (believing God uses the weather to cause plagues) are more aptly attributed to Judaism and other religions, including Pagan. These were primitive people who first recorded these beliefs. Plagues and God’s anger are actually old testament misconceptions of God. According to Christianity, Christ came to deliver the truest nature of God… that God was a God of mercy and love and forgiveness and compassion.
You seem to believe that loud-mouthed, unscrupulous tele-evangelists like Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Baker represent Christianity and what Christianity means. You seem to equate established churches and denominations with the body of Christ.
Christians are the only people who give me a rough time who spend energy trying to make my life miserable, trying to force me into second class citizenship, accusing me unjustly. They tell me I must suffer with endless nausea when medical marijuana could ease it. Nobody else does that. They even want to interfere even in the most personal of decisions, when I choose to die. Sanctimoniousness excuses their outrageous presumption in their own minds. That smugness infects nearly every Christian heart, not just Jim Bakers’.
After an accident involving a tower collapsing, Jesus challenges the people’s common belief that the people who died in the accident somehow deserved it. Yes, the Bible reflects the views of ordinary men, with uneducated and primitive views of morality and justice, not to mention higher forms of ethics and spirituality.
Jesus did many things. He has been misquoted or taken out of context by hordes of people, desiring to manipulate religion for personal, political or financial gain. Again, being aware of this, Christ tells us that the day will come when people will cry out Lord, Lord, I cast out demons in your name! and He will tell them, Flee from me… I never knew you.
I believe in Christ’s promise that those who are last in this lifetime will be first in the next. I believe that the front rows of heaven, speaking figuratively of course, will be filled with gays, minorities, prostitutes, sinners… people who belonged to Christ’s church through the love in their hearts and not through verbal proclamations or church affiliations.
My lover Jaime and I always believed in Christ and his enlightenment and wisdom. More importantly, we comprehended his message with the sensitivities of our consciences.
Your attack on all of Christianity is every bit as hostile, prejudice, bitter and flawed as much as the nonsense that spews from the religious right.
Christianity is a web of conjectures presented as absolute Truth. Some are obviously untrue. Some are beautiful lies. Some are relatively innocuous lies, but they are lies just the same. The real god surely would have you seek Truth, rather than comfort. You are, of course, quite right that my most vitriolic assaults do not apply to all Christians.
You brag about giving away your belongings, yet Christ said to keep your good deeds in private and God who sees all things would reward you. He warns that people who brag of their good deeds have already received their reward.
Not quite true. If you want a reward, then Matthew suggests doing your good deeds in secret. Even pigs will do good for a reward. Matthew 6:4 "That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." I thought it was more important to try to encourage others to follow suit. Several pleasant things happened as a result of my choice:
The main disadvantage of my choice was having to reassure strangers that I was neither insane nor up to some unspeakable wickedness.
You stereotype all Christians as ignorant and say that we lie about God. I have always told people that God is love, that Christ simply tried to show people how to treat their fellow human beings. I share with people how God’s grace has intervened in my life, and gave comfort to me.
After my lover was gone, I spiraled into a world of cocaine addiction and alcohol. I went from a successful job as a control buyer in Manhattan with a college degree to a homeless, drug addicted outcast. I lost my job, my friends, my sanity and my home. I came very close to losing my soul.
God’s presence was with me and delivered me in the most miraculous ways. Now I have a normal life again, but more importantly, I have a lightness of soul that I believe was formed by Christ.
I have battled severe bipolar disorder, drug addiction, grief, homelessness and if I have anything to show for it, anything of value, it is my love and admiration for Jesus Christ.
Yes, I am sickened by hypocritical religious people. Yes, I am sickened by antigay rhetoric by hateful people who use religion to abdicate their responsibility. But these people are evil and would use any religion or social mores to inflict their bitterness on people.
Your battle is not with Christianity. Your battle is with the cold-hearted, mean spirited, self-righteous people of the world. Many of these people call them Christians. But saying doesn’t make it so.
You are right, in the main. However, I also have a battle with even the kindest-hearted Christians. I want to urge them to rethink their lives and put them on a firmer foundation. I want them to give up wishful thinking, or at least refrain from infecting youth with their beautiful lies. I don’t want them to give up kindness!
Perhaps real Christians are the people who did come forward and help during this AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) crisis. Who do not discriminate against gays. Who did not approve of slavery. Who do not live lives of hate and ignorance, but rather live lives of compassion, mercy and love. Perhaps you are one of these Christians, who worship the eminence of God (love) not through a declaration of being Christian but by following your conscience…… Yeah, I stand at the door and knock.
When I had no money for heat and I sat freezing in my little cabin a retired couple of Jehovah’s witnesses, Jean and Lorne Oliver, would invite me for dinner once a week. They would prepare a feast and then we would sit by the roaring fire and debate the Bible. They, of course, were absolute inerrantists. They persuaded me to come to their Kingdom Hall where person after person got up and blamed all the troubles of the world on gay people. Jean was in tears of shame and disappointment. She had told me the church had changed and it was now loving toward gays. It clearly had not.
As for society, Christ says plainly, "Forgive them Father, they know not what they do."
God bless you.
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