I’ve been on a Mission (not from God)

I’ve been on a mission.

And, now, I have a reeeeeeally strong desire to now say, “We’re on a mission from God”, but I won’t because it is totally off base here… It’s just that I love that line from one of the all time best comedy movies – the Blues Brothers. (See bottom of my post for details =)

But, no… my mission was definitely not “from God”… and, it was also pretty futile anyway. I found myself in an all out email war with a good friend of mine. A friend I grew up with… and we are still friends… remarkably… because we have almost nothing in common. This has always been true, but has been amplified the last couple years. She says she was always religious, but I don’t ever remember it being so frequently discussed, or her going to church regularly, until she got married and had a child a few years back. She also use to be Catholic, but has changed to a Presbyterian church. (I think that explains a lot right there. lol ;)

Now, she knows my history… and my feelings about church. We have always been very open with each other, and pride ourselves on the fact that we can agree to disagree… and be friends in spite of our many differences. I try not to get into too deep of religious type debates with any friends, because it doesn’t usually end well. But, she and I seemed to be the exception to this rule – and we frequently did debate hot topics… and we did so amicably.

Well… we did.. . until a few weeks ago, I think. It started when we went out for our birthdays, and at the end of the night ran into a guy that was the son of a co-worker of hers. She seemed to be long lost friends with this kid, and they talked and talked for some time. We walked away with her telling me what a GREAT kid he was… and then she went on to say that she felt bad because he was having some problems. Apparently, he’d had recently told his parents that “he THOUGHT he MIGHT be gay”. Then, this prompted all kinds of issues with his family – his mother disowned him… even though he was such a “GREAT kid”. My friend said she felt bad for him…

I couldn’t help myself… and, I asked her how she really felt about gay people in general. I asked because, I was curious to now how she felt since I knew how religious she was now… and, into bible-studying, etc… and because I knew what church taught ME when I was a kid. They taught me that “gay=sin”… basically… and, I wanted to know how SHE really felt. I guess, I was wondering if “they” had succeeded in “getting to her on this”, and I hoped “they” hadn’t. She always seems like a very NON-judgmental person in the past… and is one of those people that you can’t help but like. I was sort of shocked at her response… even though I half-expected it. My fears were somewhat confirmed – “They” had gotten to her. She told me how while she “had nothing against gay people, BUT that she did believe homosexuality was a sin”.

*sigh*

So – we wound up in a big debate that night, that resulted in my getting somewhat pissed-off/frustrated with her… and probably vice-versa. At the end of the night, I was asking her to please drop it –  because it was late, and she was driving… and wouldn’t let it go.  In spite of my best efforts, I was really frustrated and getting pissed off.

We apologized to each other the next day, not wanting to be disrespectful or hurtful to each other. We then agreed to have a “friendly” debate via email about this.   Well, that lasted for the last month or so.  ??  loletinf!

Our debate topics ran rapid. I told her once that she was changing the topic quicker than I could disagree with her! LOL

We started off debating whether being gay is a choice or if you are born that way. And, whether one can “change” being gay? Personally, I couldn’t believe she insisted that she loved this kid that we ran into and had “nothing against gay people”, but she also insisted that ACTING out on those feelings was a big sin.  ?  She insisted that people could simply choose NOT to be Gay and become “ex-gay” if they had already acted out on their (sinful) homosexual actions. ??  She compared it to a pedophile acting out, or an alcoholic drinking.  ?!  She explained she believed that it was “okay that he had the feelings – but, not okay that he acted on them”.  huh?!?

From there, I think we got into the whole, “love the sinner, not the sin”  type of argument.   Which in turn led into many other topics that I’m sure neither of us are qualified to debate really, since neither of us ARE gay or really into politics.  But that didn’t stop us, and we argued about things like:

- Gay = Sin?

- Can you really change and be “ex-gay”?

- What’s so wrong about being gay anyway?

- AIDS – is it a “gay” disease?  Is it a “punishment” from God for gay people??

- Gay Marriage & Gay parents

- James Dobson and Focus on the Family
(She subscribes to his newsletters, and was sending me articles of his to show why she feels the way she does. I, however, think he’s a big jerk.. and a dangerous one at that and sent her back info to back that up.)

- What is “creditable” data?
(She kept using the Bible, and organizations like Exodus, and NARTH – which I rejected.  I kept using data and articles from real life gay people telling their stories on line, and articles about how bogus Exodus and NARTH is, and instead quoting things from American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She, however, dismissed any data from them, saying data can be twisted and she didn’t believe them any more than I believed the bible.

So where the hell were we going?  Still, we argued on…

- What constitutes discrimination?

- What about premarital sex in general and celibacy?

- Abortion??

- and the list went on…. and on… and on… with her on the far right wing… and me either out there on the left, or usually in the middle someplace.

What’s really sad,  I think….  here we are… having these debates… and on every topic… I am basically taking the stance of, “live and let live”, “who are we to judge”, “love is good, regardless of what form it’s in”…. and I was trying to be realistic, accepting, open and considerate of other human beings feelings, opinions, and rights.   And here she is… one of the nicest people you will ever meet… embracing Christianity and telling me how great it is and how much God loves me and we are all his children… but, yet – she is the one believing (what I think are) unacceptable, judgmental, and hateful messages.

I don’t get how can she sit there and schmooze and hug this gay kid when she sees him, telling me what a GREAT kid he is… but, still wholeheartedly believe he is doing something terribly wrong – something he should deserve to rot an eternity in hell for… and, that he can, and SHOULD change in order to get to heaven… or to be a “good Christian”??  It’s  just so contradictory to me. ??  But she doesn’t even see it.  She insists that she is NOT judging.  Huh?

Then… what also sort of set me off, was she kept making comments about how she was ” standing up for what she believes in”.  Even if it wasn’t easy.  Even if it wasn’t mainstream beliefs.  And, sort of implying that she was “going against the grain” to be sticking to her beliefs… and, NOT falling prey to society and their failing standards and ethics…  and basically saying that  *I* AM just going along with “everyone” and doing what is “easy”.  HA!
This was what I said to her regarding that:

“You keep talking about standing up for what you believe, not what everyone else thinks. Do you seriously think that *I* do not do this? Since when haven’t I held up to my own opinions, in SPITE of what others may WANT to hear or think?? Matter of fact, you of all people should know that I’m usually the one you can COUNT on to tell you what I think/believe, and not just tell you what you want to hear. I don’t see your stand on most things as going “against the norm:. On the contrary, I see it fitting in nicely with what most good Christians believe, and with what your church is teaching you, and with what I was taught my whole childhood.

I may be agreeing with some big organizations, or some common belief’s of society – and upcoming LAWS  – but, this is based on my own logical conclusions, research, experiences, and gut feelings.  Plus, do you think it’s easy to say I don’t really believe the bible is true? Or that I’m agnostic?  God forbid, an atheist!  Ha!  I’m afraid to say that out loud to most people… For fear of them thinking I’m some kind of satanic hellion.. possibly hunting me down with a pitch fork.   Seriously, I do not go around advertising that I am agnostic. It’s even hard to admit that we do not go to church to people. You can see the disapproval in their eyes, especially that we are not taking the kids to church. I know a lot more Christians, than I do non-Christians – both in my family, work-place, and circle of friends. So, to argue that you are standing up for what you believe, and make it sound like I am “going with the flow” bothers me, and once again I disagree.”

Well..  We wound up, after several wasted weeks of emails, once again, agreeing to disagree and calling a “truce”.  We were going nowhere and just wasting time and flirting with really pissing each other off.

I will always love this friend like a sister.  We have been thru a lot together, and I do believe she is a genuine and true friend.  I value her and respect her, in spite of the fact that we can’t see eye to eye on almost anything…  But, man, it’s tough sometimes to agree to disagree over such controversial topics! And, if all our debating was suppose to convince me in any way shape or form whatsoever that going to church, and bible studying, and being a Christian is the way to go…  it didn’t work for me.  At all.

And now… back to my original, totally unrelated comment about being on a mission from God… A kind of mission  that I’d much rather be on…  courtesy of the Blues Brothers… =):

11 Responses to “I’ve been on a Mission (not from God)”

  1. Heather Says:

    Wow. This sounds a lot like me. Not in the sense that I’ve been where you are — I’ve never been a fundamentalist, and was raised and thus have tried to live in the “Judge not” area.

    But I have friends who are evangelical and Baptist. There is one where I will not hold any sort of religious/political discussion because I know it will end badly. She responds in an instinctive emotional way, and even with minor differences in viewpoints we have, she gets really passionate.

    The other friend I have shares the same personality that I do, so we’ve been able to have these discussions with only minor complications. The end result has always been to agree to disagree, and yet it always leaves me feeling incredibly frustrated. I’ve spent a long time wondering as to why, because of the whole “live and let live” methodology I follow. I kind of felt hypocritical saying that I followed that, and yet really tried to switch her to my viewpoint.

    I think it’s because I find her viewpoint so damaging. I’ll give three examples: the Left Behind series really angers her, because she says that it’s not accurate at all. What I’ve hinted at to her is that her entire belief structure is set up to produce the Left Behind series — no matter how many ways she says it, with God loving people, free will and all that, the structure is accept Jesus or burn in hell. The Left Behind just reduces that to the simple element.

    Example two: we have this aquiantance that used to be a friend once tell us that she was no longer a virgin (she was also evangelical). There was kind of a big set up to that knowledge, and my friend took this as a huge symbol of trust, and that we must be really good friends with the now non-friend. I didn’t take it that way at all — so she wasn’t a virgin. There were much bigger things to worry about. To me, it wasn’t really a huge display of trust.

    What I pointed out to her is that the differences in our perception was probably due to our upbringing. Conservative Christianity really, really focuses on premarital sex and how bad it is. It’s the extra bad sin or something. So to her, this would seem like a huge display of trust, because it’s not something lightly confessed to in conservative Christian circles. Except if we’re going to start ranking sins, I would think poverty, cruelty, war, genocide, depression — those are much, much worse than someone’s sexual status. *Those* are the things that Christians of all sorts should be screaming about. And yet they don’t, and I find that damaging.

    Example three: Christian music. I’ve been introduced to some. And I told her last night that I think one of the main reasons it bothers me is that it leaves out an entire range of human emotion. Where’s the Christian music equivalent to Alanis Morissette’s song of “You Oughta Know?” Where are the songs that express the rage, or sorrow, or crying out against injustice? Where are the songs that say, “I’m in pain right now, and need to express that?” In many ways, it’s like you’re condemnded simply for being human. You’re not allowed to go into that range, because let’s face it: there are some days out there that absolutely suck, no matter what you believe. There are days you doubt, days you think there is no God, days that you just feel like a really ugly person. And it does no one any favors if those days are shoved under the carpet.

    Hence, I try to change her mind.

    And she no doubt feels the same, in that my viewpoint is damaging to me.

  2. samanthamj Says:

    Heather –

    Yep – I know exactly what you mean. My friend has also been sending me Christian music lyrics… and insisting I will like it… and even made me a CD. One of the most recent song lyrics she sent me was to this song:

    Chris Rice \ Smell The Color 9
    (http://youtube.com/watch?v=E6_txtZa3Yk)

    There’s a part in the song that goes:

    =============
    I would take no for an answer,
    Just to know I heard you speak,
    And I’m wondering why I’ve never,
    Seen the signs they claim they see,
    A lotta special revelations,
    Meant for everybody but me,
    Maybe I don’t truly know You,
    or maybe I just simply believe…

    Cause I can sniff, I can see, and I can
    count up pretty high; but these faculties
    aren’t getting me any closer to the sky,
    but my heart of faith keeps poundin’ so
    I know I’m doin’ fine but sometimes findin
    you is just like tryin to smell the color nine.
    Smell the color nine…

    ==============

    She thought I’d like the song, because she thought I might relate. ? Instead, the song made me wonder why the heck the guy singing it, or anyone listening to it for that matter, would have any faith? Basically, to me, it’s saying “I don’t have any reason to believe in you, God. Nothing makes any sense, but I am just going to assume I can’t understand and not bother to try to understand”.

    At least that’s what I hear when I listen to it…

    And, what really gets me… is it’s such a happy upbeat melody. You would think he’d at least be a little down about his lack of understanding and smelling capabilities… ?? LOL ;)

    You’re right. I’ll take Alanis and some angst any day. ;)

    Thanks for the feedback… I always enjoy your posts.

    ~smj

  3. Heather Says:

    Smj,

    **Instead, the song made me wonder why the heck the guy singing it, or anyone listening to it for that matter, would have any faith? **

    I would wonder the same thing — I don’t mean to pun by this, but I’m trying to think of what other area in life someone would pour so much unsubstantiated faith into.

    My friend gave me a Nichole Nordeman CD for Christmas a few years back. She said that Nichole had been compared to Tori Amos. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to Tori, but considering a line in her latest CD was, “So you’re a superstar/get off that cross/we need the wood,” I’m thinking someone has never listened to Tori. Because there is *no* comparison.

  4. samanthamj Says:

    Heather –
    Yeah.. Tori can be a little edgy. Which is good. I like edgy music. Heart-warming music has it’s place too… but, sometimes, ya need a little edge.

    Ya know… Sometimes, I tell my husband, “oh, climb down off your cross and join the rest of us”. LOL He likes to be the martyr sometimes. And, I never even heard that Tori line. =)

    Have a good one, Heather.
    ~smj

  5. HeIsSailing Says:

    Wow, smj

    Great article, and great comments from you and heather regarding Christian music. I also have a dear Christian friend, in fact about the only Christian friend left who is even willing to discuss this stuff with me. We have some pretty good discussions, but we both have agreed to end discussions when it comes to the point that we feel ourselves getting frustrated with each other.

    Instead of debate, which I really don’t like anyway – I try to educate my friend. She has been a devout Christian her entire life, yet has never considered simple things like the authorship and authority of the Gospels. So I spend some time talking about some of the theories in scholarly circles, we scan a few websites that show some of the actuall NT documents, etc. She finds it really interesting, and at least opens that minds up that there is a lot more out there than what is being fed to them in church.

    Anyway – thanks again for your article.

  6. HeIsSailing Says:

    Heather,

    You express exactly why I never liked Christian pop music. It is indeed very one dimensional.

  7. samanthamj Says:

    HeIsSailing –
    Thanks… and, I agree… about the education part. I am sure I don’t know the bible half as well as you… not even close… but, I still feel like I know it better than my Christian friends. Maybe not for long, as they are studying it and learning more and more. But I found it scary how people just buy into whatever they read in their “Focus on the Family” magazine…. or what their new bible study leader tells them, for that matter.

    I can’t help but think it’s only a matter or time before our friendship dissolves. She swears it won’t. I know I would never throw it away… but, I also know how when I went to church all the time, I was strongly encouraged to “drop all my worldly friends”… Hopefully, that won’t happen with her… or if it does… she values our friendship enough to tell them “no”.

    ~smj

  8. Response to “spare the rod” post at PBB…. « Mom’s a religious nut & Dad was an atheist Says:

    [...] Dobson with Focus on the Family, use the bible to support spanking and different views on this.  As I recently mentioned, I can’t stand Dobson or FOF. I worry about messages being spread still today, and that good Christian people (like my friend who [...]

  9. mary a. kaufman Says:

    Now I have not had time to read “every” word on either the aricle in question, nor the comments, but I’d like to put my proverbial two cents in. I recently felt compelled to break off a friendship of at least fifteen years. I was, for some ten years, Mennonite, turned atheist. My friend, a Presbyterian, turned Catholic, which you’d think could lead go some discussion between us. Not so. Nothing. Fifteen years and, finally, bored out of my skull, I had to put an end to it. So, if you’ve found someone willing to argue, debate, talk things out, whatever…be grateful. Just stick to you guns, as the saying goes.

  10. samanthamj Says:

    Mary –
    Now, that is good advice. I know you are right, and I DO value this friend of mine… even if we DO drive each other crazy sometimes. I hope she never goes so far to the other side that she gives up on our friendship, because I know I wouldn’t. All in all, she is one of the people I can always count on if I need a friend. And, that is rare. We like to joke around and tell people we are like Laverne and Shirley. Guess which ones Laverne?
    =)
    ~smj

  11. food Says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts
    and I will be waiting for your next write ups
    thanks once again.


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