More on the Church (Part II)

Well, that escalated quickly.

The Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting is going on right now. This is sort of like the conventions that Political Parties have… but it happens every year. The member churches will send a representative to the convention and they decide on church business for that year.

One of the motions that was voted on was to accept a resolution on “transgender identity.” The full text of this resolution can be seen (on a first party website, no less) here. (Search for “On Transgender Identity.” It’s near the bottom.)

Patheos has a pretty good writeup on it.

I don’t need to quote the whole thing. It’s pretty readable on its own. Here’s a few good bits:

…That we oppose efforts to alter one’s bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to refashion it to conform with one’s perceived gender identity…

…That we oppose all cultural efforts to validate claims to transgender identity…

Fuck off, SBC.

More on the Church

Note: If you are an Evangelical Christian, skip this post. It’s only going to make you mad. Either you’ll be mad at me for writing it, or you’ll be mad at the churches I attended for putting me in this position. Either way, you’re going to find it upsetting.

I have been thinking a lot about the church lately. I’m not sure why, it’s just been on my mind a lot.

I spent the first 28 years of my life very deep in the church. Really deep. I have family members that are graduates of the Southern Baptist Seminaries and everything. It runs really deep in my family and has been since I was born.

Now that I’m a few years on the other side of it and have had a chance to start sorting out my own feelings from the ones I was taught as a child (and then over and over again as an adult), there is one thing I keep coming back to: the concept of Hell.

Southern Baptist churches are independent churches that elect to join the Southern Baptist Convention. Each church is otherwise independent, but they share a common doctrine, the Baptist Faith and Message.

Section X (“Last Things”) of the 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message states: “The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment.”

The more I think about this statement, the more messed up it seems.

If you think about what this is really saying, it’s saying “Do what we tell you, or else God will punish you so bad not even death itself will save you.” What a messed up idea that is… the idea that if you don’t do what the church tells you, you’re going to be burning in a lake of fire for all entirety.

This idea helped shaped my entire life up until the point I left the church. I was so scared of being true to myself because I didn’t want to get tossed into the everlasting bonfire. I’d heard this since I was a kid, to the point that I just believed it to be true without giving it much thought. (Today I believe that religion has no place around children. Let them make up their own mind when they are older.)

The picture the church paints is “Hell is a horrible place! We love you, let us save you from it!” Which… just makes me mad, now, thinking about it. There’s this horrible place that we made up and we’re going to save you from it! 😦

There’s a traveling show that goes around Baptist Churches every now and then called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.” Take a few minutes and watch the trailer for it on their website.

This show came to my church when I was in high school. I’m still trying to recover from it. It’s just amazing that churches use fear of being punished even after death as a motivator for their message.

I feel like I let fear of a fictional construct called Hell rule my life for so long. Being able to be punished so hard that not even death will save you is…. horrifying.

I let something designed to help churches win over people from being true to myself for over three decades.



Union Lake Baptist Church

I grew up in the Baptist Church. I spent the first 28 years or so of my life very deep in the church. I served on committees. I was someone people could always depend on when things needed to be done. I was really, really deep into the church… yet most of it never really clicked in my head. I was just doing what I was suppose to do.

There was this long running dialog in my head for years that went something like this: “God doesn’t make mistakes. God made males and God made females. The roles are very well defined. God doesn’t make mistakes. Why do I feel the way I do? What’s wrong with me? Is this a sin? Am I going to hell? God does NOT make mistakes.”

I’ve had some very difficult conversations with my therapist working all of this out. Christmas last year was really rough, hopefully this year will not be so bad. (I had a big crying breakdown on Christmas Eve – there’s a big Baptist church near my apartment and the parking lot was parked for Christmas Eve services and I just lost it.)

I’m still really struggling with the notion of “God is Love” vs “Behave exactly the way God says the way you should or else he will punish you so hard that not even death itself will save you.”

These days I identify as agnostic. There might be a God, there might not be. I’m not sure. (And if there is, I have to keep reminding myself that Baptists do not have a monopoly on God.) For now I am focusing on what has always made sense to me – Science and Technology.

So that’s been my life for the last year. I’ve been working on all of this. It took a long time for me to get where I am and it’ll take a while for me to get it out of my head.