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Republican Jesus or Classic Jesus

Occasionally I come across one of those modern-day equivalents to chain mail when scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, and typically skim through it, roll my eyes and keep scrolling.  Recently, a family member posted one of these that I recalled being widely circulated on the internet years ago.  The author of the original chain email claimed that the NBC news company edited out references to God and “Christ” from an interview Matt Lauer had with a family of a deceased Navy SEAL.  The reason, according to the author, for editing out these references to God and Christ is because it might offend someone.  And the author went on about how outraged and offended she was that the news media would do this and that Christians were being “asked to tread lightly, so as not to offend someone of another religion.”  She also rambled on about our country being a Christian nation, the history and the founding of our country, yada, yada, yada....

Of course this was all debunked, none of it was accurate.  It was believed that perhaps one local affiliate of the parent company NBC aired just a clip of the interview which sparked the author’s outrage, and so she spread a distorted story, getting many others, largely Republican conservatives, outraged who helped to spread the lie widely through the web.  These same conservative conspiracists started the whole war on Christmas business about the same time. 

I love my family, I truly do, and I guess that's why I care so deeply.  So when I saw this family member, who is one of the sweetest people one could meet, I couldn’t help myself.  I hated seeing that she was tricked by this scam of information.  If it were anybody else sharing, I probably would have kept scrolling and not have been triggered, but I was and so I commented.  And later, as usual, regretted it.  I let her know she was sadly misinformed and that none of It was accurate.  I went on to say that as a Christian and a man of great faith—and that I speak up and loudly as Jesus himself did against the arrogance that is so embedded in Christianity.  

 

Well, a cousin, whom I’ve had some difficulty with in the past, jumped all over my comment.  Tagging me she wrote, “its accurate and your an idiot. To say your like Jesus is sickening. Your a bully. The bullied became a bully.”

 

When I saw her name, I immediately regretted my earlier moment of Facebook Tourette’s; she and her family are evangelical, fundementalist-Christian fanatics.  I didn’t want a battle of words but she triggered my response:  

I’ve spent my entire adult life in service to this country, after making it through a childhood that wasn’t particularly easy—because I was born gay. It took years to reconcile the fact that I too, was created in His image. I’m not going to do this with you—I am certainly no bully. And if I come across as one, my sincere apologies, it certainly was NOT my intent. There is so much misinformation these days and it just pains me that many have simply forgotten or don’t care to acknowledge facts any longer and love to spew conspiracy and lies. Now I know [our cousin] didn’t mean any harm and [she] certainly didn’t ask for my comment and, again, I apologize because she has a beautiful heart. I just can’t help myself sometimes when I see stuff like this—because it’s dangerous to many of us. Now I will leave with one question and I ask you to think about it honestly, then I’m done because I don’t want to do this with you and your family—I ask you, if some of the words were changed in the post above, perhaps take out Liberal and replace it with “Conservative” and perhaps replace Christian with “Muslim” and Jesus with “Muhammad”—or references to any other religion, for that matter—do you think this chain mail would be getting shared so widely on social media? Probably not. I wouldn’t think so. And if it had, would you jump all over it? You and I, Threasa, have had many conversations in the past, many disagreements, about DC and it’s people, about my becoming a parent, and of course the Bible and religion and my sexual orientation. It’s why I choose to love you all from a distance and why we’re no longer “friends” on social media because I couldn’t do it any longer. So let’s just leave well enough alone. Please. God bless.”

Well, she didn’t leave it alone.  Her response:

 

I gotta say I am stunned at your toned down very nice comment. It's refreshing. I absolutely accept your apology. Just wish you would have made one for my mother who you hurt immensely. One thing we are similar in is our boldness and our deep strong beliefs. It is our difference in belief that has created a wedge. You do realize that your created that wedge with your harsh words and condensing attitude. (Forgiven) you asked if this article would be shared with certain words replaced....sure..I have no doubt. I don't attack other peoples beliefs. Now we can't replace Mohammed with Jesus because Mohammed was a self proclaimed prophet and Jesus is the son of God. You also said we had disagreements on your son and your sexual preference... I have never said anything negative about either. You asked me what I thought about you being gay and I said I don't condone it but I love you. You don't need to explain or as for an okay from anyone on this planet for that. God loves you just as much as me. I get what your saying about certain Christians and their high and mighty righteous attitude pointing their finger at you..it happens. Just don't stereotype us all like that. Just as you are asking all of us to respect and except your choices and beliefs..you must do the same for us. The reason for my angry reply here was because Crystal is a sweet spirited person and I was not going to stand by and watch you rip her down and hurt her heart. You have pushed people away Greggie that love you because you my cuz can't accept us for who we are yet want it the other way around. Now I feel its my turn to apologize for my name call . This country was built on God. Won't use the word Christian because as in all "groups" you got some ..well..crazies that put their own spin on it. I for one do not believe that because your gay you don't go to heaven. I know that is something that you want an answer to and have found a place of worship to cater to that issue. Your are the only one accountable for you. I wish you would just have that personal relationship with the Lord and stop worrying about what other people think and have to say. I fully enjoyed having you and your son in my home. Your a great cook and love your sense of humor and your Jeep saved the day and got us home safe. As I said before our Facebook friendship ended..I love you. Accept that please without worrying about what I think feel and believe.

I didn’t respond any further on Facebook. Because I’ve been through this too many times before with her and her mother.  They want to war with words but the minute they begin to lose battles when met with someone armed with knowledge, presented with truth and facts, and sometimes using their own tactics, the Bible—they deceive by deleting comments they don’t like or agree with, leaving only their words and their bible quotes, spinning the truth and retreating with the last word.  Posting my response here, she can’t do this.  She doesn’t get the last word.  I do.  Love does.  He does.  

The sad but honest truth is that I know too much—I know who they are.  As a child, I was very fond of all my cousins, very close to several as we were all close in age and we had a strong and loving bond.  I spent a lot of time with this particular cousin and her brother, have a ton of great memories of the three of us together as children.  But, unfortunately, I also have some very unpleasant memories of their mother. My aunt and her newly-found fundementalist-Christian beliefs caused some traumas for a little, gay boy.  I’ve shared in the past some of my writing about those experiences here on my blog.   

Writing is therapeutic for me.  And talking about emotions and feelings is important as it allows us to let go.  Letting go isn’t forgetting.  And forgetting has nothing to do with forgiveness.  Forgetting actually impedes forgiveness.  Ask any person that has suffered trauma from abuse, even persons with a mental block of memory of the trauma, must recall and face the trauma and the experience of the trauma in order to be free from the emotional pain caused by the trauma.  Not doing so inevitably affects the person’s well-being in one way or another. 

I wont respond to every word, every insult thrown at me by my cousin above, I think most can clearly see for themselves the self-righteousness and ugliness in her response toward me.  I know she can’t see it because she’s so bound by the trauma’s that haunt her and blinded by her religion, it all getting in her way of being Christ-like.  But I must address and clarify a few things--  

I’ve never been one to push people away, or to “create a wedge” between people, especially with those I love.  If my honesty does that, because it hurts to hear the truth, well that isn’t me creating a wedge.  I’d like to believe that most people think the exact opposite.  I always try to bring people together, I enjoy bringing people together.  I’ve done it many, many times successfully and in vain throughout my years to bring family members together.  I bring friends together.  I also find it ironic that this cousin herself has said that one of her memories of me as a child was that I was always the peace-keeper.  I am.  I want peace for all my family and loved ones.  I want others to know peace, have love, and to experience joy: to turn away from fear and judgement, and to see oneself as a child of God.  See the divine nature in all of us.  This was one of Jesus’ greatest teachings and what he wanted for all people, to know that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, in the here and now, and for all, and that it is everlasting.  Be still and know.

Another clarification, I never once asked anyone what they thought about me being gay.  Not once.  Ever.  I only ever told the people that truly matter, the truth of who I am, after years of fighting and denying the truth that I was gay.  I never felt the need to tell everyone about my sexuality, all I needed to do was to live my life honestly by living my life openly.  The conversations I had with my cousin about me being gay, centered around the journey my partner and I had toward parenthood.  My cousin and her mother were not particularly supportive of the idea.  The only part of her statement that was accurate is the part of her telling me they don’t “condone” my sexuality.  Do I really need to insert the definition of condone here?  A wedge, one might say.

It’s also true, my son and I spent time with my cousin in her home.  I enjoyed the time very much myself.  What she doesn’t know or understand is that I traveled from my home in Washington, D.C. to accompany our grandmother to a wedding.  My younger cousin, Threasa’s sister, was getting married and my grandma was anxious about going and staying with her own daughter as it would be the first time she would be doing so alone since the passing of my grandfather.  It was my grandma that invited me.  She needed a calming presence with her so she could make getting through the visit because of some of my aunt’s difficult beliefs and ways.  Truth.  Another truth I found to be quite shocking, having lived in Washington for many years, is that I extended an invitation to my cousin to come up from Virginia for a long weekend, to sort of return the favor for having so graciously welcomed me into her home, and she said she couldn't.  I didn’t quite understand.  When I pushed, she mentioned her brother worked in the area doing some job or jobs and she had visited Washington during this period of time and and then admitted during a telephone conversation that she didn’t honestly care for D.C. because there were “too many black people” for her liking.  I’ll never forget her words and just how deeply disturbed and upsetting they were to me.  It found these words more shocking and upsetting than her words directed at my orientation.  (Forgiven)

One final thing I’d like to respond to and be very clear in doing so.  Her comment and I quote, “I for one do not believe that because your gay you don't go to heaven. I know that is something that you want an answer to and have found a place of worship to cater to that issue,” end quote.  

This is something else I’ve never once asked nor said anything like this to her nor any other human being after coming out as an adult—wanting “an answer to” whether or not I would get to heaven.  Sure, I struggled as a child and young man, trying to reconcile my Christian upbringing and my sexuality. But I sought God. And God provided all answers to all questions.  Sexuality isn’t a choice, it’s innate.  I was made by God.  And truth be told, my aunt and her religious influence made my childhood and my coming out journey all the more difficult as some experiences with her had a toll on my psyche.  All her talk about ancient writings collected together in a book that she herself clearly never comprehend and still doesn’t to this day.  Her pure fundamentalist brainwashing nonsense made up of manipulation and deceit.  Always talking about the rapture, the devil, the mark of the beast, the end of times, speaking in tongues, her miracle performing, and “saving” people.  Anyone that ever questions or challenges her nonsense is a nonbeliever—not saved and is damned to hell.  Fear is all she knows. They continue to feed the fear, inviting evil into their lives. I just wish they would just have that personal relationship with the Christ and stop worrying about the boogeyman getting everyone else.

My friend and one of my own spiritual teachers, Sal, I’m sure would be happy to hear that I have “found a place of worship to cater to that issue.”  I guess my being gay and not getting into heaven is an issue for my cousin and her family. But, hey, at least she doesn’t have a high and mighty righteous attitude. 

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