Post Traumatic Church Disorder

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When I told you I was strong, and would not let someone break me, I didn’t mean it as a challenge…
Kat Church

I had never heard of Post Traumatic Church Disorder until recently, although I had often described my feelings about church as a kind of post traumatic stress disorder. I have since read several articles on the subject. Mostly they are from people who have gone through it or are continuing to go through it.

I am one of those people who are going through it. It was about a year ago that I told the church board that I was resigning my position as youth and children’s pastor. I simply told them that I needed a break, though I did not go into details about why. My wife and I simply wanted to walk away and not leave hurt feelings behind, but somehow that did not happen.

That last day I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I wanted to find freedom from religion. I wanted to begin to heal, but I wanted nothing to do with church. I still loved God, but could care less if I stepped into a church building ever again. Some people thought I lost my faith. In a sense they were right. I did lose my faith in the church, but never in God and not in all of God’s followers.

I still struggle with church. I want to be involved with people who reach out to others, yet I expect them all to hurt me. I long for a church that is deeply loving, but I expect that to be on the surface only. Whenever something good happens, I expect something bad to happen. At times I’m even afraid to share what I think about a subject because I’m afraid of getting shot down, simply because I don’t agree with the majority perspective.

I also thought that I’d be safe being myself on facebook, but I was wrong there. “Christians” (and I use that word loosely here) like those at the churches I’d been at seemed to flock to some things I’d post just to make sure I knew I was going to hell simply because I didn’t still believe exactly like they did.

Seldom, whether on facebook or at church do these types of Christians use love, instead they choose to condemn something or someone. Sad that they can’t see how UnChristlike that is and how it hurts so many people. But of course those people who are hurt like me are the problem. We have lost our faith (don’t believe the exact same as they do), we caused the problem (even though in our case we didn’t cause people to ignore us in a time of need), we are the mean ones (because we think people should be nice), we are the ones that won’t listen (because we think it’s OK to disagree or have another view).

I don’t know what it will take for these types of “Christians” to realize what they do, but I can’t help them. All I can do is take care of myself.

Recovery from hurt takes a long time. Especially when it comes from those that you care about and expect more out of. I guess I expected too much out of the church and those that claim to follow Christ. I wonder if I should lower my expectations, but I don’t think so, instead I need to be the Christ I want the world to see. The real Christ. The one of love and acceptance that he was and is and will always be. The only problem with that is that Jesus wasn’t accepted by the religious people and if I’m like him then they will simply continue to attack me.

Sometimes I wonder if he was actually happy to be nailed to the cross. Maybe that was easier than putting up with the religious “do it only our way” people of his day. That is the same type of people that “crucify” people today.

Someday I’ll be beyond these hurts, but it will take a while. So be patient as I try learning to trust again.

 

For those dealing with PTCD there are groups on Facebook designed to help you.  Just type in Post traumatic church disorder and you should find it.  Hope you can heal and heal soon.

 

Here are some articles on Post traumatic Church disorder. Google it and you’ll find a lot more, Maybe it’s becoming an epidemic.
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/14/my-take-5-ways-to-survive-post-traumatic-church-syndrome/
http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/is-post-traumatic-church-syndrome-real.html
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2014/03/its-called-post-traumatic-church-syndrome-and-yes-its-real/

Different

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In the past week I’ve heard a couple stories about kids being different. One student was asked to not bring his My Little Pony things to school because he was being bullied so much. Another student tried to commit suicide because he was bullied for liking My Little Pony. Both situations are sad. No one should be pushed to trying to commit suicide for being themselves. A school should be a safe place and not punish a child for being bullied, but should discipline those who bully.

I work with special needs kids that are often looked at funny because they are not normal. You can see it in the eyes of people around them. Not all, but enough people still don’t get it that they can’t help rocking or making sounds that are different than you and me or what we call the general public.

This week, one of my students painted my fingernails. My left hand red and the right yellow. This is not the first time I’ve had my nails painted and probably not the last. I don’t see a big deal with painted fingernails on a guy, especially when the student gets so much fun out of doing it. Yes, I do get funny looks from some people, mostly guys, but some people think it’s great. They even go on with stories of when they painted another person’s fingernails.

Still it is not accepted as the norm or even OK by some. But why is it looked down on? Is it because it’s not “manly”? Probably that is the reason. Men have to be a certain way and women have to be a certain way. Society puts us all in a box and if you want to be out of the box, you are bullied until you come back to your box.

I’m not one for boxes. I have never been that way. Secretly and quietly I’ve always pushed against the norm. I like to cook and I cry at movies. My wife doesn’t do either. I have worn more make up in my life than my wife has (since the only time she wore it was for our wedding). I wore a dress at my bachelor party. Is it that I have no pride or that I just like being me? It’s the latter.

Yes, I get made fun of sometimes and that’s too bad. People should learn to encourage instead of criticize. What would this world be if we could learn to accept differences instead of bullying those who are different? What if everyone on your favorite football team was six foot 4 and 300 lbs? Not too many wide receivers there. No cornerbacks either. In sports we want everyone to be different so that they can fulfill the different positions. In fact, it is those with extra special “different” skills that we marvel at. The coaches that think out of the box are the hall of fame coaches.

In music and business we love those who are innovators. If we didn’t have people who were and are innovators we’d still be walking everywhere and having our own big farms so we could live. We love it when they can do things for us, but when we don’t think it helps us, we criticize.

The more that we encourage different ways of thinking and being, the more chance we have of creating greater scientists than Einstein or musicians than Beethoven or leaders than Gandhi. But most of all we will create people that love themselves and love others, so that we can create a better world and neighborhoods. Imagine towns where people care about their neighbors no matter what their differences are. We could cut down on a lot of unneeded suicides and bullying and make this world a better place – one encouraging moment at a time.

So if nothing else, I hope that you will allow yourself to be a little different and that you will accept others who are different.

Bearing Arms, A Right

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I don’t know how many people have actually looked up to see what it says.  Most people seem to believe that it says that the average American should be able to own a gun without any regulations.  That anyone should be able to go into a gun shop and walk out with whatever they are able to afford.  No questions asked.   I am a gun owner.  I have owned a gun for most of my life, but I find it odd that good people would not want some kind of regulations on who might be able to buy a lethal weapon.

The following is the entire second amendment.

Amendment II

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

First note is that it states “A well regulated Militia”.  To me “well regulated” means that there are laws controlling it from getting out of hand.  I don’t see how we can have”well regulated” guns without laws to manage them.   The definition of regulate is to “control or maintain the rate or speed of (a machine or process) so that it operates properly.”  I personally have no problem with regulating guns based on this definition.  I don’t see that the government is doing anything differently than this either.  What I have seen is that it’s OK when a Republican congress or president regulates, but when a democrat does it, it is not OK.

I remember Reagan trying to regulate guns back in the 1980’s but I didn’t hear people yelling back then.  But they did when Clinton tried to pass regulations (that started under Reagan) and now there is complaining as President Obama wants to.  I don’t remember either Bush trying to regulate anything with guns.

Secondly the amendment says it is for the “security of a free state.”  This statement means keeping America free from outside attacks.  I don’t know how someone having a gun without regulations is going to keep America free.  If Russia, China, or whoever attacks we have the military to defend us.  When this amendment was written we did not have a large military.  Local militias were our main defense, so we needed people to own guns in case the British attacked like they did in 1812.

Today only China has more people in the military than the United States. In the late 1700’s when this amendment was put into place we didn’t have much of anything.  By the war of 1812 the British had nearly 1/4 of a million troops compared to 7,000 in the U.S. military so we needed people to have guns.  When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 he had over half a million troops.  We were tiny and insignificant.  We needed anything and everything we could get to defend ourselves.  We did eventually get up to the mid 40,000 during the war, but there was still a big disparity.

With the invention of planes, rockets, tanks and so much more, the idea of a militia has become obsolete, like maybe this amendment has.  We have no need today for an active militia because we have such a large military.  Militias in the way that the amendment was written no longer exist and haven’t for a century.

Thirdly, what is wrong with background checks on people who want to own guns?  Do you want criminals to go buy guns?  If you take away regulations then they will be able to walk into a store and buy one just like anyone.  No questions asked.  Of course they may go steal one, but it would be less risky to simply buy one without questions so that they can go rob that gas station or shoot their neighbor, spouse, or whomever they are ticked off at at that moment.

Is there something wrong with banning assault weapons?  Who needs one?  You can’t hunt with one.  I can defend my family easier with a handgun than I could an assault weapon, especially at close range.

Another thing the Obama administration would like is to limit ammunition magazines to a 10-round capacity.  I don’t understand why you’d want more rounds than that.  Realistically if you haven’t hit your target in two shots, it’s gone.  So what would you need a gun with so many rounds for?

I have never been given a good reason as to why someone wants these types of weapons or that much fire power.  I have never been given a good reason for why a person should not have patience and wait a couple days to be approved for a gun.  I find the reasons given to be selfish and impatient.  I want it and I want it NOW!  No one should be able to tell me what to do, what I can have or what I can do with it.  That is how those who fight against gun control sound to me.  Maybe they need a good time out.

For me the whole issue is about safety. Safety for you, your kids, your family, your neighborhood.  If you have not done anything wrong then there is no reason to not want regulations.  You will still be able to get your gun.  I don’t think any of us wants a gun in the hands of someone who is unstable or has a history of violence.  Those people will be denied.  The less available guns are to people like that, the better and safer society will be.  Yes, I know that criminals will just go out and steal a gun or buy one illegally, but the harder we make it for them the better and safer we will be.

Hope this helps you better understand the the second amendment.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/guntime1.html

Making Lent Real

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“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice and is never the result of selfishness.”  Napoleon Hill

Lent is about sacrifice.  It has been practiced for at least 1800 years as Christians prepared for the celebration of Easter.  I find it ironic that some churches don’t understand what sacrifice means.

Let me back track for a bit.  About 7 years ago I was with a church that was meeting to define its purpose.  Just what did it want be hold as it’s main standards of living?  What did that church want the community to know about them?  Those who were there split up into groups of fours and fives and talked and discussed what each person wanted.  I’d bet there were close to ten groups that night.  Terms were tossed around like caring, friendly, good kids program, Bible based preaching, good music program and on and on.  But I did not hear sacrifice.  I told my small group that without sacrifice there is no Christianity.  Sacrifice must be the center of everything that we do.  The others in my group eventually decided that sacrifice should be added to our core.  My wife had a similar experience in her group.

All the groups were brought together and each listed it’s ideas of the core values of the church.  My group and my wifes were the only ones that listed sacrifice.  We again had to fight for the idea that sacrifice should be part of the church.  That blew me away.  Then the leader of the meetings said that in the ten years he’d been doing these seminars no church had listed sacrifice as a core value.  I was astonished.

Eventually I got my way and sacrifice was listed as a core value.  However it was only listed as a surface value.  It had no depth.  When you have to fight to put sacrifice or anything into a groups core, the group really doesn’t hold to that deeply and they just let it slip under the rug.

What is Easter if it is no about sacrifice?  Jesus went to the cross to sacrifice himself for the greater good of humanity.  Without his sacrifice there would be no Christianity, and yet sacrifice is now too hard for the church.  To hard for the church to do for the God they so eagerly say they want to serve.

No man can serve two masters, they cannot love God and safety, they can not love God and their comfortable life.  We can not love the poor without sacrificing our pride.  No one can love the sick and dying without sacrificing their comfort.  Jesus loved the lepers, the poor, the prostitutes, the destitute and more.  How much are you willing to sacrifice to be like him?

From Tertullian we got the phrase “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”  What is a martyr but someone who sacrificed everything for God?  You may not give up your life in the name of God, but would you be willing to?  That is a hard question, not easily answered.  No one knows for sure until it’s too late.

Lent as well as life is about becoming more like God.  Giving up our lives to follow the path that God has laid in front of us.  I have found that the more I follow the true path the harder it becomes.  It is not about a life of ease, the nice house, family or job.  It’s about stripping away the things that hold us all back from truly loving those people that we just can’t stand.  Stripping away wants and desires until all that is left is God and nothing else.

Who’s willing to be spiritually naked before the world and let them see your true self.  Not the self that is hidden behind fear, religion, rules, or what society tells us is right.  But the self that God wants the world to see.  The self that God created in the first place.

The Definition of Marriage

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Answering the Gay Question Part 4

What does the Bible say about marriage?

There has been a lot of talk about what the definition of marriage is in this country.  Is it between a man and a woman or between two people regardless of sex?  The conservative Christians hold to the idea that the Bible states that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  After all God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

There is really very little consistency in the books of the Bible as to what really defines marriage.  Shall we have one spouse or multiple?  Is divorce ok or not?  Exodus 22:16 says that if a man rapes a women all he has to do is pay a price and he gets to marry her.  Good thing we don’t follow that one today.  I have found only one verse (1 Timothy 3:2 & 12) that says a man should only have one wife.  In that instance the writer is specifically talking about overseers and deacons and not necessarily about everyone.

What about Jesus?  Jesus didn’t really say much about who should marry.  His main statement is that there should be no divorce and boy we aren’t very good with that one.  In that verse he says, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulterer, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”  Matthew 5:22.  Many people argue that since Jesus said wife and did not talk about a husband’s husband or a wife’s wife that marriage is between a man and a woman.  My question to them would be why would he?  The question of homosexual marriage was not happening in their time.  If he started talking about irrelevant things then he would have become irrelevant.

Going back further to Adam (or Mankind as it could be translated, Eve meaning the source of life), there is a contradiction in the two creation stories that is worth looking at.  Many discuss that the two become flesh as meaning that God wanted male and female to partner up in marriage.  However in Genesis 1:27 it says that God created man (Adam) in his own image, in the image of God he created him, Male and Female he created them.  So they are already of the same material.  They are already of the same flesh.  So why would God (Elohim) in Genesis 1 create them in the same image and God (Yaweh), in chapter two create them differently?  Which is correct?

In Genesis 3 the story continues and Yaweh declares that the woman will be ruled by the male. (Vs. 16) By the way, that belief in male domination is about the only consistent marital connection throughout the Bible.

Also we must take into consideration that the writers of Genesis lived in the days when a man could have multiple wives and taught according to that belief.  Paul however said that you should only get married if you burn for another.  1 Corinthians 7:9-10.

1 Corinthians 7 also says that divorce is ok in some circumstances, that according to Jesus was not.  But according to the Pentateuch it is ok.  So which is right?  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be the final answer and yet our churches are full of divorced people?  Many of them are in leadership too, but that isn’t what the writer of Timothy says.

Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:22-33 all tell women to submit to their husbands as we do to the Lord.  There is no equality in this. We submit all things to the lord.  Our entire life is given up and we serve him faithfully.   Is this what women want? Do women want to serve the husband?  To give up their entire life and follow the man wherever he goes without getting explanations?

Of course we have rejected this idea and want a partnership in marriage.  We want one spouse for life.  But if that somehow does not work out, there is forgiveness and you can be reinstated in the church and in life.  There is no real sound definition in the Bible.  The only definition is what we want to believe it is.  Maybe that is how God left it.  For us to decide who we want to love.  After all, he loves us all and created us all, so why shouldn’t we be able to love that person who God created for us?

Answering the Gay Question: New Testament Style

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In the past few blogs, I’ve covered Old Testament verses that Christians often use to condemn homosexuality and I’ve covered Romans chapter one. Today I will deal with more verses in the New Testament.

The next hammer verse that Christians often use to say homosexuality is a sin is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.  9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV)

There are several things in this verse that I find interesting.  First is that the word for prostitutes and the word for homosexual offenders are the same word (arsenokoites, ar-sen-ok-oy’-tace).  I opened up my Greek Bible to check this and there is only one word.   It’s not that Paul repeats the word, but we do.  It seems that the translator figured the one word meant the phrase neither “male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders”.  However, why would we translate one word into two meanings and add a “nor” in there?  That confuses the heck out of me.  Yes, I am aware that one Greek word can mean a simple sentence, but it should not have two meanings.

Secondly the translation of this word is tricky.  According to my Bible computer program it translates it as sodomite.  Paul would have known that the Hebrew word for Sodomite Qadesh, (feminine Qedheshah) finds its route word in Qadash.  Qadash is the Hebrew word for Holy.  So why is sodomite and holy connected?  Is this possibly a Temple prostitute?

Thirdly, this word is also literally translated “man-bed”.  It is a compound word.  What does “man-bed” mean?  Not to you, but to the people of the first century.  We could easily say that a man-bed means homosexuality, after all what else could a “man-bed” mean?  However compound words don’t necessarily mean the two separate meanings.  For instance, mandate; is that about a man’s date?  Manhole; is that a man’s hole, or a hole in a man?  Manhood; is that a man who wears a hooded shirt?  Or a man who lives in the hood?  Mankind; is that a nice guy?  I think you get the point.

Like Romans chapter one, no one really seems to know.  Professor Jennifer Knust, a professor of Religion at Boston University says that word is “notoriously hard to translate.”  If professors of religion with PhD’s have a hard time with it then we should be careful what we say it means.

Fourth problem or question for this word is that Paul also never uses common words of the day for homosexual.  He could have used any of the following and it would not be questioned.  However, he did not.

  1. arrenomanesmeaning mad after men or boy crazy
  2. dihetaristriai – a synonym referencing lesbian sexuality, meaning essentially the same thing as hetairistriai, tribad, tribades, from: Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, Brooton, Bernadette, p. 23.
  3. erastes – a sometimes older man who loves a sometimes younger male
  4. eromenos – a sometimes younger male who loves an older male
  5. euryproktoi – men who dress as women, also a vulgar reference to anal penetration
  6. frictrix – Latin word referring to a lewd woman and sometimes used to refer to a lesbian. Tertullian, 160-220 AD, translated tribas (a masculine woman) as frictrix.
  7. hetairistriai – women who are attracted to other women, used by Plato’s character Aristophanes, in The Symposium. May also refer to hyper-masculine women, from Lucian’s Dialogue of the Courtesans, cited by Brooten, p. 52.
  8. kinaidos – a word for effeminate, κίναιδος or kínaidoi (cinaedus in its Latinized form), a man “whose most salient feature was a supposedly feminine love of being sexually penetrated by other men.” Winkler, John J., 1990, The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece, New York: Routledge.Although some scholars, like Dr. Robert Gagnon, understand kinaidoi to mean the passive partner in a male couple, Davidson argues that kinaidoi refers to a man insatiable and unrestrained in his sexual appetites instead of merely effeminate or passive. Davidson, J. 1997. Courtesans & Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens, New York, p. 167-182.
  9. lakkoproktoi – a lewd and vulgar reference to anal penetration
  10. lesbiai – a synonym referencing lesbian sexuality, meaning essentially the same thing as dihetaristriai, hetairistriai, tribad, tribades, from: Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, Brooton, Bernadette, p. 23.
  11. paiderasste – sexual behavior between males
  12. paiderastes or paiderastïs – παιδεραστής derived from the Greek word pais, παῖς a boy, meaning lover of boys
  13. paidomanes – a male mad for boys or boy crazy
  14. paidophthoros – a Greek word meaning corrupter of boys
  15. pathikos – the passive penetrated partner in a male couple
  16. tribades – an ancient Latin word indicating the active female partner of a lesbian pair, sometimes interpreted to mean a pseudo-male, referencing genital contact between women. Rashi defines it as “rubbing in a sexual manner.”
  17. tribas – the active partner in a lesbian relationship, who takes the male role

Instead, we translate arsenokoites, ar-sen-ok-oy’-tace here in Corinthians and later in 1 Timothy to be homosexuals when it was not at all a commonly used or definite word for that.  We must question why we translate it as a homosexual.  It might simply be a pervert, sexual abuser, prostitute, or something we have no clue about.

Like Romans 1, I am not willing call something a sin that is very unclear.  Nor am I willing to deny someone their rights or love based on a word that is unclear and neither should the church.  In fact, the more research that I do, the more I find that homosexuality is just as normal as heterosexuality and should be accepted in the same way.

My next blog I will take a look at the definition of “Biblical” marriage.

Some recommended reading:

Unprotected Texts          by Jennifer Wright Knust

http://www.gaychristian101.com/what-words-could-paul-have-used-if-he-intended-to-condemn-homosexuality.html

Living in Sin:  by Bishop Spong