The Latest from Bruce

Please Submit Your Questions

i have a question

Previously, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to answer. While I still have about a dozen or so questions to answer from my previous request, I am asking you, yes you, to submit new questions that you’d like me to answer. I plan to answer this round of questions using a video format. Yes, as my Facebook page followers know, I’m ready to start producing videos. I know I’ve been promising this for a long time. That time has arrived.

Please leave your questions in the comment section. You don’t have to be an atheist to submit a question. Honest questions from people of faith are welcome. If there is some aspect of my story you’d like to me to clarify or explain, please ask. I’ll do my best to answer every submitted question. I plan to answer questions in the order they are received.

The videos will be posted to this blog. They will  also be available through my YouTube Channel. If you FAVORITE my channel, you should receive a notification every time a new video is posted.


Another Christian Who Doesn’t Get It

saved or lost

Deon Nel43, a devout, I-know-I am-right, filled with the Holy Ghost Christian, left a comment meant to show the deluded readers of this blog the error of their way. What follows is Deon Nel43’s comment and my response. My words are emboldened and italicized.

Email begins here

It is sad to notice that when people on this site describe their past conversion, it ends up to be something like:

  1. Being a member of a church.
  2. Doing what the church and the pastor expected i.e. reading my bible, praying, outreach etc..
  3. Having lots of zeal and being sincere or even on fire for the Lord.

I don’t know of anyone who describes their conversion this way. The things listed by Deon Nel43 are what we would have called the fruit of faith, the evidence that we had been converted.

Is Deon Nel43 suggesting that Christians aren’t members of a church, don’t have to submit to those who the rule over them, or don’t need to pray  and read the Bible? Is Deon Nel43 suggesting that Christians shouldn’t be zealous unto good works? I would be glad to provide proof texts for each one of these. Let the Bible proof text duel begin.

Bruce’s testimony of his past Christian experience sounds much the same and is also a bit confusing.

See above.

In one post he says that his past experiences was ‘REAL’ yet he turned his back on it??? Figure that one out. Maybe he should say that he was sincere.

My experiences were real because I physically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually experienced them. These experiences are what we call life. I lived it and I know what I experienced. Is Deon Nel43 suggesting I had some sort of out-of-body experience?

And I was sincere too. Deon Nel43 wants to paint me as someone who was sincere but lost; someone who intellectually knew the “facts” but didn’t spiritually possess them. The only problem with this argument is that it is not true. This is just Deon Nel43’s way of dismissing a story (mine) that he can’t explain within the context of his version of Christianity.

That I can understand but how can something be real and then discarded like a dirty rag? Contradiction of words used. Unfortunately, the conversions described on this blog are not the conversions spoken of in scripture.

Who discarded Christianity like a dirty rag? I didn’t. It took several years before I was willing to say I was no longer a Christian. I agonized over this, and it was, by far, the hardest decision I ever made in my life.

It took a lot more soul-searching to get unsaved than it ever took to get saved. People like Deon Nel43 have never walked the path of deconversion so they have no idea how difficult it is to come to a place where you are willing to walk away from all that you considered precious and true.

conversion has always been:

  1. A personal conviction of one’s fallen state and sinfulness
  2. A personal revelation of my inability to do what God requires consistently.
  3. A personal  revelation of His justice and goodness and that those who do such things will not go unpunished.
  4. A personal revelation of God’s love towards one in Jesus Christ.
  5. A personal revelation of Jesus, the need for His death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension.
  6. Jesus personally coming to live in the person through the infilling of His Spirit.

Memo to Deon Nel43: When I was a Christian I wholeheartedly, without reservation believed every one of your six points of conversion. Not only did I believe them, I preached them to others.

Of course, I know how Deon Nel43 will respond to this…I didn’t REALLY believe these things, because if I had I would still be a Christian.

And around and around we go…

Bible conversion therefore takes place when one had the above mentioned revelation, then turns from serving himself and gives himself fully to the Lord never to turn back (true repentance). God will then fill him with His Spirit as He promised. When His Spirit enters that person, a change takes place. This change is describe in the bible as ‘being born from ABOVE’ and ‘conversion’. Conversion is the same as transformation and metamorphosis e.g. a worm that transforms into a butterfly.

How can one be transformed and not know it? How can one have a revelation of one’s sinfulness, of God’s love and righteousness, of Jesus Himself and having His Spirit abiding inside one and still be totally unaware of it? How can one turn from darkness to light and see no difference?

I agree with Deon Nel43. I knew I was a blood-bought child of the living God. I knew the Holy Spirit lived inside me.  And many of the people who read this blog would say the same.  We were there when Jesus saved us. We were there when Jesus transformed our lives. Our attitudes and desires were for the things of God. We were, as the Bible says,  reborn from above.

The bottom line is this: we were every bit as much a Christian as Deon Nel43 is now.  It doesn’t matter whether Deon Nel43 can square this with his particular brand of theology or personal experience. The fact remains, I once was a Christian and now I am not; I once was saved and now I am not. To suggest people like me “never were saved” is to deny reality.

The answer is plain.The conversion experienced does not come from above but is earthly, sensual and demonic and should be repented of, rejected, and cast away…

However there are a true conversion that leads to an abundant life here and in the hereafter…

Here is what is plain for all to see. Neon Del43 thinks his interpretation of the Bible is truth and that his experience is normative. Anyone who does not believe as he believes is not a Christian. Simply put, Neon Del43 is the template for all those who want to be Christian and go to God’s Motel 6 when they die.

The real issue here is that Deon Nel43 doesn’t know what to do with the former Christians on this site. His theology tells him a true follower of Jesus can’t fall from grace, yet here we are.  Rather than recognizing his theology might be wrong, he insists that people such as myself “never were saved,” He ignores the fact that a persuasive case can be made for the Bible teaching that Christians can, in fact, lose their salvation.

Deon Nel43 is just another example of a Christian who doesn’t get it. Many have come before him and I am sure many more will follow.

A Man and His Wife

polly gerencser 2013

Polly Gerencser, 35th Wedding Anniversary, 2013

repost from July 2013, edited and corrected

It is a warm summer day in Manistee, Michigan. A man and his wife of thirty-five years get out of their black Ford Fusion to view Lake Michigan. They love the water, and if their life’s journey had taken them on another path perhaps they would live in a cottage on the shore of one of the Great Lakes or in a small fishing village on the Atlantic coast.

But as fate would have it, Ohio has been their home for most of their marriage. No matter where they moved, be it Texas, Michigan, or Arizona, they always came back, like the proverbial bad penny, to Ohio.

For the past six years they have lived in rural NW Ohio, in a small community with one stoplight, two bars, two churches, a grain elevator, gas station and 345 people. They live in a town where nothing happens, and the safety and stillness that “nothing” affords is fine by them.

They have made their peace with Ohio. After all, it is where their children and grandchildren live. This is home, and it is here that they will die some moment beyond their next breath.

But from time to time, the desire to dip their feet in a vast expanse of water, to hear the waves crashing on a shore and to walk barefooted on the beach calls out to them, and off they go.

They can no longer travel great distances; four to six hours away is the limit.  The man’s body is used up and broken, most days he needs a cane and some days a wheelchair to get from point to point.  Long trips in the car extract a painful price from his body, a toll that is paid weeks after they have returned home.

But today, the water calls, and on a warm July day they travel to South Haven, Michigan and then up the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to Manistee. Their travels will later to take them to Sault Ste Marie before they return home to Ohio.

Few people are at the Manistee beach, so unlike South Haven where the beaches and streets are filled with pushy, bustling, impatient tourists. The man and his wife have been to South Haven many times, but as they see the scarcity of people and the quietness of Manistee they say, I think we have found a new place to stay when we vacation.

plovers manistee michigan 2013

The beach is owned by thousands of Plovers. It is an amazing sight to behold. The man and his wife are mesmerized by the birds, and the man, ever possessed of his camera, begins to take pictures.

Soon the serenity of the place is ruined by a stupid boy who sees the birds as worthy of his scorn and derision. The birds are covering the landscape of HIS beach, and he will have none of that. So he runs through the mass of birds screaming and waving his arms. This put the birds into flight, complaining loudly about the stupid boy.

The man and his wife turn their attention to the pier and lighthouse in the distance. She asks, Do you think you can make it? He replies, Sure. So off they go.

As they begin their slow, faltering stroll on the pier, they notice a sign that says, No Jumping or Swimming off the Pier. The man smiles quietly to himself as he sees four teenage boys doing what the sign prohibits.  He remembers long ago when he, too, would have looked at the sign and proceeded to do exactly what the sign prohibited. He thinks, the folly, wonder, and joy of youth.

As the man and his wife pass the boys in the water, one of them calls out and says, How are you today, sir? The man thought, Sir? Am I really that old?  He knows the answer to the question before he asks. For a few moments the man talks with the boys, then haltingly continues to walk down the pier with his wife.

Not far from the boys, the man and his wife come upon a pair of ducks: a male, his female, and their brood of ten young ducklings. New life. The man wonders: How many of the ducklings will survive their youth? He knows the answer and this troubles him a bit. A reminder, that, for all its beauty, life is harsh, filled with pain, suffering, and death.

The man and his wife turn back to where the boys are swimming. The man thinks, as he looks at the shallow water with its rock-filled bottom, This is a dangerous place to be diving into the water.

But the boys are oblivious to the danger. The man’s mind races back to the days of his youth, remembering a time when he too lived without fear, enjoying the freedom of living in the moment.

One of the boys climbs back up on the pier and prepares to jump into the water. The man, a hundred feet or so from the boy, points his camera toward him. The man quickly adjusts the shutter speed, focuses the lens, and begins to shoot.

boy manistee michigan 2013 (2)

boy manistee michigan 2013 (3)

boy manistee michigan 2013 (4)

boy manistee michigan 2013 (5)

boy manistee michigan 2013 (6)

boy manistee michigan 2013 (1)

The man and his wife laugh as they watch the boy. Collectively, their minds wander back to a hot summer day in July when they joined their hands together and said, I do. Thirty-five years ago, they embraced one another and jumped off into the rock strewn water of life, and survived.

Together they turn to walk back to the car. As they pass the boys, the man shouts, I am going to make you famous. The boys laugh and continue on with the horseplay that dominates their day.

The boys will never know that their innocence, their sign-defying plunges off a pier in Manistee, Michigan, warmed the heart of the man and his wife.

One Man’s Journey from Faith to Unbelief


What follows is a guest post by a regular reader of this blog. He is writing this anonymously, and after you read his post you will understand why. If you have a story you would like to share in a guest post, please let me know. It is important that Christians who are struggling with their faith or who have lost their faith know that they are not alone. Telling your story, like the one below, will encourage and help many people.

This is the story of my spiritual migration so far.  Like my ancestors who immigrated from Europe to ________ a century and a half ago, I feel like I have crossed the ocean, and don’t know yet where I will settle on this vast continent.

I was raised Southern Baptist. Until about 15 months ago, I would have said we were pretty fundamentalist, but then I started reading The Way Forward (the previous name of this blog) and many other websites.  Now I would call all the churches I have belonged to throughout my life as only moderately conservative.  My time in the church has been a positive experience, and I’ve seen little of the pettiness, jealousy, domineering, and other bad traits so many others have experienced and written about.  I’m not saying it does not exist, just that I have not observed it.

I have especially fond memories of the church I grew up in from the age of 5 until I left for the military at 22.  This church wrapped its arms around me and my mother when she became a single mother after my father died when I was 9.  Many of the men there filled a void and were positive role models to me. The church gave me my first job, as the church janitor, when I was 15.  I made life-long friends there, and if I went back and visited there next Sunday I would still get hugs and handshakes even though I have been gone 30 years.  Because of the positive influence the people in that church had on me as a child and young adult, I have always been drawn to working with children in the church.  I have been a children’s Sunday school teacher, VBS worker, Awana leader, and led Royal Ambassadors (the Southern Baptists’ version of Boy Scouts).

At my first military assignment, on the west coast, I joined a church and made many friends.  One was a girl who was on staff at the church part-time and going to seminary part-time.  One of my roommates also went to seminary at this time.  Our church called a brand new seminary graduate as pastor, although he was older and was starting a second career.  I also read the Bible all the way through for the first time in my life.  With many questions and access to those who were studying at seminary, we had many deep conversations as I asked my questions.  Many of their answers weren’t particularly satisfying, but I suppressed the dissonance and soldiered on in the faith.

Fast forward 10 years and I was married and living on the other side of the country.  After a severe accident, my father-in-law lingered comatose in intensive care for 24 days before finally dying in spite of a coast-to-coast prayer vigil.  The fact that my wife never got to have a last conversation with her dad about his salvation motivated her to get intentional about spreading the gospel, so we took the Evangelism Explosion course and went out knocking on doors every week. At the next assignment and church, the evangelism program was called FAITH, and we did that. That church asked me to be a deacon.  The ‘examination’ was an open book essay test of my personal beliefs.  The military moved me a year later, so my active deacon service was short-lived.

About six years ago my wife amped up her passion and embarked on a master’s degree in Christian apologetics.  I thought it was useless to spend money on an actual degree, although the subject interested me too.

In the spring of 2012 I was driving home one day when I heard the PBS segment on Teresa McBain’s coming out as an atheist.  It sent chills down my spine.  Here was a person raised like me, a Southern Baptist, who had gone on to become a minister, who was renouncing her faith.  A few months later, by myself at home, I found a link to the broadcast and listened again.  This time I caught the reference to the Clergy Project.  I googled it, and found their website.  There I found links to former ministers who had left their faith behind.  That is where I went over the edge of the waterfall.

Over the next few weeks I read and listened to everything I could find from Dan Barker, John Compere, Ken Daniels, Bruce Gerencser, and Rich Lyons.  Bart Ehrman’s Jesus Misquoted was one of the textbooks my wife read for her master’s degree, so I pulled it off the shelf and read it.  One day, looking out the window at the sky it all came together and I told myself “it’s just not true.”  I didn’t get mad at God.  No one at church did me wrong.  I just concluded there was not enough evidence for me to continue to believe.

I don’t know when or how I will ever come out to either my family or church.  I don’t see bringing up the subject with my wife any time soon.  I know she has noticed I don’t insist on saying a blessing before a meal anymore, and that I don’t pull out the checkbook to write a check every Sunday morning, and that I find reasons to not go to the adult Sunday School class (she still teaches a children’s class), and sometimes even admit to just skipping.  If she ever directly challenges me I will probably come clean, since I am a terrible liar.

I have two sons who, for better or worse, think their dad can do no wrong, and I don’t want to damage my relationship with them. My teenage son made a profession of faith as a younger child.  He enjoys going to the youth camps and retreats, but shows little inclination to be there every time the door is open.  He is smarter than his engineer dad and accountant mother put together, so I am hopeful he will reason his way out of Christianity, perhaps with some subtle nudging from me, as he grows older.  For now, whenever he says something outrageous I challenge him to examine the evidence and ensure his beliefs and opinions are well founded.

My younger son has been totally brainwashed by his mom, and made his profession of faith and was baptized last summer, about a month after my ah-ha moment.  Interestingly, he still holds on to a belief in Santa Claus at an age when all the other kids have figured it out.  In fact, we were so frustrated that he wasn’t figuring it out, Christmas before last we told him flat-out that mom and dad were Santa, not some guy who literally comes from the North Pole in a sleigh with reindeer.  Nevertheless, a few days ago he asked me how Santa got around to all the houses he had to go to on Christmas Eve.  I said “well, let’s do the math.  How many houses does he have to go to?  How long does it take to go to each house?  How many hours are there in the night?”  We did not do all the calculations, but hopefully I planted another seed to use reason and evidence.  Maybe once he figures out Santa then he’ll apply the same logic to Christianity.

I’ve never talked about spiritual matters with my older siblings, but all the evidence points to me being the last one to get where they have been for about 40 years, so there is no issue there.  Both our parents are gone now, so that is also not a problem.  Most of our extended family is still Christian, but they live far enough away and we see them rarely enough that there is no need to come out to them.

At church, I had already started working to extract myself even before my epiphany.  I had informed our Sunday School director a few months before that I would not continue as a teacher after the current Sunday School year ended in August 2012.  My term on the one committee I am on will end this year, and I declined to be chairman of the committee this year.  I guess I was too subtle however, since I was surprised to be pulled aside one Sunday morning this past spring and told I had been nominated to be a deacon again.  I was given another examination questionnaire to fill out, and asked to pray about it.  I thought about using the questionnaire to express my new beliefs as a way of coming out, but decided there was nothing to be gained by that approach.  Instead, when they followed up a few weeks later I just said I didn’t think it would be appropriate to go through the process at this time.

I go to the adult Sunday School class about half the time now.  Sometimes I find a good reason to not go; sometimes I just skip out. I can do this and admit it to my wife without fear of condemnation because she has always hated adult Sunday School for its lack of depth of discussion and study (remember she went and got a seminary degree just for her own edification), and teaching children is her escape. I agreed with her that there was little value in the Bible study, but always enjoyed the social aspect. When I go now I usually stay quiet unless someone says something so outrageous I can’t stand not to comment.  One day the teacher opened the lesson by asking what would cause someone to doubt the existence of God.  I suppressed a smile, but did say that when a child is born with massive birth defects I think that would cause someone to doubt God.  Nobody else said anything, but heads nodded up and down.  Another time the topic was love between husband and wife, and the supporting text came from Song of Solomon 6:3 (I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.)  Everyone oohed and aahed about how poetic that was and how wise Solomon was until I spoke up said to keep reading to verse 8 (There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number).  Silence.

We sit together as a family in the service.  Once the sermon starts and the scripture has been read and we sit back down, I use the time reading other parts of the Bible to research and document inconsistencies and fallacies I’ve heard.  I do this to bolster my case for the day when I eventually do come out.

I’ll probably continue like this indefinitely, short of someone at the church making one of us mad enough to leave.  That would actually be a good cover story to use.  If I was still in the military it would be easy…we would eventually move and then just not make an effort to find another church.  But for now I am unwilling to perturb the relationship with my wife and sons.

So here I am in _________.  I’m standing firmly on dry land, but who knows where I will go from here, how I will get there, when I will go, or who might go with me.

Three Failed Ways Evangelicals Deal with Gay Church Members

homosexuals must repent

First Conservative Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. Gene Youngblood, pastor.

According to the dictionary, a homosexual is someone who is attracted to a person of the same sex. Homosexuality is the sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) the same-sex. Evangelicals believe that all each of us is born a heterosexual male or female. In accordance with this errant understanding of human sexuality, they refuse to accept that anyone is born homosexual. They believe gays choose to be homosexual and engage in same-sex sexual behavior. According to their interpretation of the Bible, homosexuality, the engaging in sexual relations with a person of the same-sex, is a sin.

Some Evangelicals think a person can be attracted to the same sex and not commit sin. It is the act of homosexual sex that is the sin. If people who are attracted to others of the same gender abstain from same-sex sexual behavior,  it is possible for them to be considered Christian. However, anyone who engages in habitual homosexual sex is not a Christian. Since anal and oral intercourse are usually the way gays engage in sex, shouldn’t these very same practices among Evangelical heterosexuals land them in the same hell as the homosexual? Further, if homosexual sex is just one of many sexual behaviors that God condemns, why is it that the sins of adultery, fornication, and masturbation among Evangelicals are rarely treated identically to same-sex sexual behavior?

According to the Evangelical Christian interpretation of Romans 1, many (most, all) homosexuals have been given over by God to a reprobate mind. Reprobates are people such as myself who have crossed the line of no return when it comes to God’s mercy and grace. Reprobates are beyond redemption and will certainly burn in hell for all eternity.

To a large degree, Evangelicals are a sect of sexually repressed people. Evangelical church-goers spend their lives being told what they can and can’t do sexually (and the “can’s” and “cant’s” vary from church to church, pastor to pastor). The blazing red line in the sand is this: heterosexual sexual intercourse between a husband and his wife is the only permissible form of sex (preferably in the missionary position and for the purpose of procreation). Attempts to spice up one’s sex life is often met with condemnation and judgement. When Evangelical husbands or wives ask their spouse to engage in sexual behavior that is considered kinky, they expose themselves to accusations of having watched pornography. After all, where would an Evangelical get the notion to engage in kinky sex without having been exposed to it elsewhere?

This is the world Evangelicals live in.

Back in the R-E-A-L world, we know that people are sexual creatures. We have a natural desire for sexual intimacy. We also know that there are numerous sexual orientations, including heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. While we readily admit that environmental factors certainly affect our sexual desires, we also know that most of us are born with a certain sexual identity. I am heterosexual because I was born this way, and so it is for the homosexual.

It is a common occurrence these days to hear of an Evangelical who has been outed as a homosexual. Homosexual Evangelical preachers, evangelists, college professors, and para-church leaders, among others, are regularly exposed and either end up repenting of their sin or leaving Evangelicalism. Many Evangelical homosexuals spend their lives in the closet, secretly indulging their nature, all the while living their lives as a “normal” heterosexuals. Often they marry someone of the opposite sex, hoping this will “cure” them of their attraction towards the same-sex. They will engage in heterosexual sex, father or birth children,outwardly doing all the things heterosexuals are supposed to do. But inwardly they battle with who and what they really are. Frequently they are depressed, desperately struggling to maintain their Evangelical façade. Some even consider suicide, a sin only slightly less heinous to Evangelicals than homosexuality.

I suppose marrying away the gay works for some, but more often than not, this approach fails miserably. The homosexual feels trapped in a marital relationship that is not open and honest. Sometimes the spouse understands the dilemma and turns a blind eye to liaisons with people of the same sex. Sometimes the sexual hypocrisy reaches such a point that it results in divorce. Imagine the pain and suffering inflicted on heterosexual spouses, knowing that their significant other desires a man or a woman and not them. Envision the pain, agony, and confusion children go through when they discover one parent or the other is not heterosexual. The family and spouse have been indoctrinated with the Evangelical view of homosexuality that says such behavior is abhorrent and vile. Is it any wonder that mom or dad coming out of the closet often causes huge rifts? These fissures frequently cause irreparable damage to family relationships.

It is easy to understand, then, why many Evangelical closeted gays remain safely hidden in the darkened back of the closet. Loving their family more than life itself, they willingly hide who and what they really are. While I personally experience physical pain, I can only imagine the emotional and mental suffering endured by those forced to live a lie because the Evangelical God hates homosexuals,

Sometimes, Evangelicals who struggle with homosexuality are told they just need to pray. When they are tempted with same-sex sexual desires, they are told to pray away the gay. If they will just pray hard enough, have enough faith, and trust that God will not give them more than they can bear, they will surely be delivered from their same-sex attraction. And if they still have this attraction? It’s is their fault. They didn’t pray hard enough, have enough faith, or really believe that God would deliver them. No matter what, it’s their fault.

Imagine the same scenario for a heterosexual. We know that the majority of Evangelicals engage in premarital sex. Most Evangelical heterosexuals are not virgins when they walk down the aisle at the local Baptist church. Add to this number those who masturbate and it is clear very few Evangelicals actually keep the Bible’s puritanical, anti-human sexuality code. Imagine two Evangelical young adults, let call them Nathan and Abigail, regularly dating.  Over time, they become more physical with one another. Soon they find themselves rounding third and heading for home. What should they do? Pray? Have faith? Trust that God will provide them a way of escape (remember, masturbation is NOT a way of escape)?

It is likely that Nathan and Abigail will slide right into home. They will feel guilty afterward, promising God they will never, ever do it again. And then, just like a man who has a chocolate shake for the first time at Dairy Queen, who forever after yearns for a chocolate shake every time he passes a DQ, Nathan and Abigail want to have sex every time they engage in sexual intimacy. Once a person experiences sexual intercourse for the first time, there’s no going back.

Do you think fornicators Nathan and Abigail will be treated the same as two homosexuals when their sexual activity is exposed? Of course not.  All of the older adults at the local Baptist church understand youthful temptation and desire. They likely know from firsthand experience the guilt Nathan and Abigail are experiencing. As heterosexuals, they understand how such things happen. However, when it comes to two homosexuals sliding into home, they cannot begin to fathom such a thing. In their eyes, homosexuality is the one sin that is above every other transgression of God’s law.

Sometimes, Evangelical churches and pastors reluctantly admit that some church member are attracted to people of the same-sex. They might even grudgingly admit these people were born that way.  But, make no mistake about it, born this way or not, their homosexuality is condemned by the Bible, and such conduct is never permissible. God creates us with desires for the same-sex person, and then tells us we can’t act on them? Strange way to go about things, don’t you think? Evangelical homosexuals are told that they must live a sexually celibate life. They are never permitted to love someone, to know what it is to find sexual fulfillment in the embrace of their significant other. They must forsake what is essential to human nature and live like a celibate priest, all the while foregoing masturbatory relief (and we all know how well that works).

Evangelical homosexuals rightly consider marry away the gay, pray away the gay, and forced celibacy teachings to be an offensive denial of who and what they are. While many Evangelical homosexuals have strong faith in the Christian God and desire to worship him, they are usually forced to leave the church. The good news is that there are liberal and progressive Christian churches who will gladly accept them as they are.



A guest post by Ian

There were several things that contributed to my deconversion, which was a several year process. Books were the first things that made me question my beliefs.

The first book than made me question was a reference to the worship of Mithras in a David Morrell book titled, The Covenant Of The Flame. I used to sneak read his books because I wasn’t allowed to read this type of fiction, only Christian fiction. In it, a character describes a method of worship similar to, but pre-dating, Catholicism. I told my pastor about this and how surprised I was. He kind of chuckled and printed me out some material about Mithraic worship. I was amazed; this was totally new to me. He told me what I had heard many times before: the Devil knew what Christians would do for worship, so he created many practices to replicate true worship; these false religions were created hundred or thousands of years before Jesus’ birth. I had always thought this was weird, but he was the pastor and knew better than me. I kept wondering about it, though, and this created a fine crack in my belief system.

The second book was The Da Vinci Code. In it was this quote:

“History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”.

As I thought about this idea, I wondered who actually put together the books of the Bible we use today. I posed this question to that same pastor. He told me that tradition passed down these books to us. That true Christians always knew what books were the real ones. Again, this was an answer that didn’t make any sense; I didn’t fall for a non answer this time, though. I kept this question in the back of my mind and chewed on it. This opened a crack in my belief system that was started way back in ’93 or ’94 by the Morrell book.

Growing up, I had been warned about the dangers of setting evil things before my eyes and the virtue of thinking on things that are pure and right. I was told that once a thing is seen, heard or read it can never be unseen, unheard or unread. This is true, and there are some things that little children should not be exposed to. As we mature, though, exposure to new things and ideas makes us smarter and better equipped to face the world. Christianity hopes to keep people from learning anything outside of itself because it might cause you to question, or even loose, your faith. Questioning your faith means questioning those in authority over you, who watch for your souls; and we can’t have that.

Keeping people in the dark and withholding knowledge of a larger world is a hallmark of the IFB movement. I’m sure it can be said of other fundamental religions, but I have firsthand knowledge of IFB teachings and traditions and I know free thought is discouraged.

The books had started me on a course of actually thinking about what I had been taught and whether it was right or wrong, truth or fiction. This free thinking was very slow at first. Looking into these radical ideas made me feel guilty at first, but they resounded with me and I could feel that there was something there. During this time, I also started throwing off the trappings of King James Onlyism. Throwing off the mantle of KJV only allowed me even more freedom in my thoughts.  Of course, I had to keep these heresies to myself; there is no room for dissent in the church. Eventually, these heresies started permeating the things I did at church. A few people commented on some slight changes they noticed, but I was able to explain these things away. (Amazingly enough, AFTER I made my deconversion known, I heard that everyone could tell there was something different with me. How come no one cared enough to ask me about it then?)

I had always been told that the Bible was able to withstand any scrutiny. I proved that wrong, and I am no scholar. I just had a healthy curiosity and no fear of looking outside of the box for the truth. I had actually started studying these things to prove them false and bolster my faith. I wanted to patch the cracks in my beliefs and be stronger than ever. Unfortunately, to honestly study these things, I had to leave behind Spurgeon, Pink, et al, and go to the sources. Once I left the IFB reservation, I finally saw there was a whole world with different, if not new, ideas and knowledge. Once I started looking at this new information, Christianity started falling apart like rotten clothes. I didn’t know what to do with that information at that time, though. I stayed where I was, with a flawed belief, for a couple of years as I started to search for the truth. This was a long process. It is a rewarding process. It is an important process.

I would tell anyone what I tell my children (who are still Christians). I tell them that the truth needs no defense. If you look at the truth and it needs bolstering, it probably isn’t the truth. In addition, the truth may not be what you want it to be, but never be afraid of the truth. Truth will set your mind free; and with a free mind, you can work on freeing your body. Look at the Dark Ages. For several hundred years, the world was dominated by a religious system that kept the people in slavery by telling them what to think. Only when brave men began to throw off their chains did knowledge begin to increase and people become free.

So, yes, heresies are a bad thing. They are a bad thing to the church or group that is trying to control you. One of the definitions Merriam-Webster gives to heresy is “an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards”. If you look at a heresy with an honest search for the truth, you may be surprised at what you find. And this is why religions hate an honest search for the truth and the appearance of heresies. People may come to see that what they believe is a lie. This, in turn, will point the way to the truth. And the truth will set the people free.

Matthew 5:28: Genocide or Slavery?


Guest post by P.D. and Tanya

Matthew 5:28 remains the primary endorsement among Christians for criminalizing sexual thoughts, with never a mention of its origins or historical context. Whilst we don’t wish to venture any farther into the subject of masturbation, a brief mention of it will be necessary. Nevertheless, the primary agenda here is to expose the truth about this passage in a contributory attempt to diffuse any further Christian abuse.

The Genocide Position

Matthew 5:28 is a damning verse incorporated within a statement allegedly made during the Sermon on the Mount, beginning with verse 27 and continuing through to verse 30. The entire passage with verse 28 underlined is:

“You have heard it said that it is a sin to commit adultery. But verily I say unto you, any man who looks upon a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to sin, gauge it out and through it away, for it is better to lose one part of your body than to be thrown whole into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, hack it off and throw it away, for it is better to enter life maimed than be cast whole into Hell.”

This is arguably the most traumatizing and harmful quote in the history of literature, and one which has destroyed the peace of mind of so very many. Throughout Christian web forums, the most asked question by young believers is: “Is masturbation a sin?” In every instance, they are referred to this quote. Even the more liberal Christian advisors, who offer the view that masturbation, in itself, is not sinful, continue to condemn sexual lust. What they fail to acknowledge is that the same hormones that drive one towards masturbation are the same hormones that guide the mind towards sexual thoughts, imagery and erotic literature. For example, without testosterone, a male would not even know the desire to view pornography.

At face value, Matthew 5:27-30 is a statement that if any male has feelings of sexual desire towards a female, he should either commit self-mutilation, or be cast into eternal fire. Christians say that this is justified because sexual desire is for marriage only; a rather ludicrous position, for how might one be drawn to a future spouse without first feeling the fires of the passion within? For one to deny one’s own involuntary sexual instinct instigated by healthy hormones is not only a genocidal suggestion, but one which also presents an extreme danger in the immediacy. The Catholic Church demands that certain members of its clergy embrace a life of complete sexual abstinence, the torment of which drives them into a state of virtual insanity. This is shown by its position as the record holder for the highest number of incidents of child sexual abuse on earth.

But why should anybody take Matthew 5:28 seriously?

As with all the New Testament gospels, the Gospel of Matthew begins with a blatant lie – its title. Nobody knows who wrote any of the gospels other than that they were written decades after the events they claim to be describing. The earliest gospel, the Gospel of Mark, comes to us once again anonymously, only with an additional question. Not only did nobody named ‘Mark’ actually write it, but neither does anybody know who this ‘Mark’ was supposed to have been. He wasn’t named as one of the twelve disciples and wasn’t mentioned as character anywhere else in the New Testament.

‘Matthew’ clearly plagiarized ‘Mark’ in many places, and the majority of scholarly opinion places its (Matthew’s) origins between 80 and 85 C.E. (Duling, pp.298, 302.) Ergo, if Christians wish to assert that the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew the tax collector, they must also explain why an eyewitness to the events would need to plagiarize the words of one who was not.

Another vital question to ask before examining the validity of Matthew 5:28 is – could the Sermon on the Mount have even taken place? It’s three chapters long, and is said to have occurred in a location where nobody beyond those on the front row would have been able to hear the sermon. Jesus would certainly have had no access to a P.A. system. The audience would have been largely illiterate and therefore even those who could hear him would have required photographic memories in order to relate it to others. Those others would, in turn, also have needed photographic memories in order to regurgitate three chapters worth, and continue to pass it down for fifty years until it reached our anonymous, falsely-ascribed author.

However, while 5:28 appears to demand that all people must despise their own natural sexual instinct and, subsequently, promote global genocide; does it actually call for anything of the kind?

The Bible does, indeed, promote complete sexual denial and genocidal doctrine. Matthew 19:12 states:

“There are those who were born eunuchs. There are those who became eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it let him receive it.”

Christian apologists argue that this is merely an invitation to embrace celibacy. However, given that there is nothing whatsoever to indicate celibacy in the quote (everybody knows what a eunuch is) it seems reasonable to assume that they are merely seeking to keep their own options open.

The other is Colossians 3:5 – “Deaden your bodily members to their passions.”

From an objective point of view, that would be considered self-explanatory.

However, these are very rarely used in the criminalization of sexual thoughts, fantasies, erotic novels, pornography or masturbation. Matthew 5:28 remains the favourite for instilling guilt and terror into the libidinous, the world over. Nevertheless, even from a biblical perspective, this translation is a mistake!

The Slavery Position

If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Why not “If a woman looks at a man lustfully?” Or “…a man looks at a man lustfully?” Or “…a woman looks at a woman lustfully?” Notice also the use of the word ‘adultery’ and not fornication. A pre-existing marriage had to be a factor in order for this to apply. The word rendered ‘lustfully’ is taken from the Greek epithumia, meaning “desire to possess.”

With those particulars taken into account, the answer to the meaning of Matthew 5:28 can be found in Exodus 20:17 – the tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s property; neither his land, nor his oxen, ass, slave, maidservant, wife, or any other chattel.

It is rather ironic that the Ten Commandments are considered to be the ultimate guidelines for morality when they conclude with an endorsement of slavery and the insistence that a man’s wife is his lawfully-owned chattel. It also introduces the world to the most totalitarian concept possible – thought crime. However, it clearly explains why there was no such concept as any other sexually-desiring concept other than a ‘man looking at a woman lustfully.’ This also elucidates why ‘adultery’ was the stated offence and not fornication. It is concerned purely with ancient Jewish ownership rights and the objectification of women – “Don’t desire your neighbour’s property.” It bears no relation to the prohibition of masturbation, pornography, or any other form of contemporary erotica.

Christians argue that the issue with lust is one of “betrayal and the heartbreak caused by marital infidelity.” This reasoning is what will happen when people attempt to superimpose contemporary western values upon writings from the middle-eastern Bronze Age. As with modern day Iraq, there was no such cultural concept as ‘romance’ during the time of Jesus. How we view love today in the West originated during the twelfth century. ‘Romantic love’ was literally an invention of the Troubadours. Marriage in first century Judea was an arrangement of owner and property; a man and his chattel-wife. Such unions usually resulted from a business arrangement between the father of the groom and the father of the bride, and where virginity was considered to have commercial value. Women were sold into marriage with no say in the matter. The most nauseating example of this can be found in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 where, under the Law of God, it states that a rapist must pay his victim’s father 50 silver shekels for the loss of the father’s ‘property.’ He was then compelled to marry his victim.

When questioned about the morality of forcing a rape victim to marry her own rapist, Christians we have interviewed usually defer to the argument that: “It was a different time, and nobody else would have wanted to marry her following the rape. It then became the rapist’s responsibility to care for her.” This is a blanket statement that the women of the Bronze Age did not feel pain as the women of today do, neither did they feel violated, nor did they value their lives as we do today. This is despite the fact that their natural life-spans were far shorter than ours. It is also a blind assumption that a Bronze Age rapist would make a fine ‘carer.’ The majority of secular people in our civilization today would have no hesitation in declaring that there can be no context whatsoever that could ever possibly justify forcing a rape victim to marry her own rapist.

How ironic it is that Christians use Matthew 5:28 to assert their position that pornography objectifies women. Porn stars are paid well for their work, and they can leave the studio and return home whenever they choose. A first century Judean wife would never have been afforded such privileges.

More than 90% of Christians, including Christian counsellors, have never fully read the Bible, or have any understanding of its cultural origins. This demonstrates yet another ironic example of the blind leading the blind – into a ditch of utter misery.

Final thoughts and Conclusion

The modern use of Matthew 5:28 is to regard human beings as robots who are presumed to be able switch off certain aspects of their bodies and minds at will, and reactivate them at the moment they utter the words “I do.” Arguments that ‘lust’ objectifies women and treats them as sex objects abound in their condemnation of the most essential of all human instincts, leaving an endless trail of trauma, guilt and hadephobia in their wake.

In reality, they are using a passage which endorses the worst forms of female objectification, misogyny and loveless slavery; their erroneous arguments enabled through religion’s ultimate foundations: the lust for power and control – and the blatant refusal to think.

It Doesn’t Always Happen to Someone Else

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As a Christian, I believed that if I prayed God would take care of me and he would make sure calamity didn’t show up at my doorstep. In those rare instances when it seemed that God wasn’t answering my prayer and I was facing disaster, I thought that God was either testing me or chastising me for disobedience.

I was relatively healthy until the early 1990s. I played basketball in the winter and softball in the summer. In the fall I cut wood, spending hours sawing felled trees into wood stove sized pieces. I hunted in the fall/winter, walking for miles in the Appalachian foothills. I was, by every measure, a healthy, but increasingly overweight man. Today, I am a crippled old man, worn thin by chronic illness and debilitating pain.

I am still amazed by how quickly the circumstances of my life have changed. It seems that life is being sucked out of me ever so slowly. Gone are the days of strenuous physical activity. Now I am happy if I can do things of physical nature a few days out of the month. Our home is littered with projects in various stages of completion. I will get to these projects soon, I tell myself. The pile of unread magazines on the bedside table continues to grow. I stubbornly refuse to cancel the subscriptions because I just know I am going to catch up on magazine reading one of these days. The same could be said for the unread books that line the shelves in the living room.

Recently, I went over to my oldest son’s home to wire their new bedroom and bathroom. My coming over to help quickly turned into me taking extra doses of pain medication and sitting on a chair while I told others what to do. I was able to get the circuits where they needed to go, and I suppose I could make myself feel good over my son still needing my expertise, but I quietly wept inside as I thought about how much I have lost. Any attempt to do something physically strenuous is met with the screaming objections of my body. I push through the pain, knowing that I will pay a heavy price for ignoring by body’s vociferous objections. I shouldn’t do these things anymore, but the only thing worse than not doing them, is feeling that my expertise and help are no longer needed. We all want to feel needed by those we love.

One of the biggest issues that dominates my every-other-week counseling sessions with Dr. Deal is my unwillingness to embrace life as it is. Even my family doctor has talked to me about the fine line between giving up and embracing the reality of how my life is. There will be no more days of playing basketball or softball. There will be no more days of feeling the sweat run down my face and back as I cut wood on a crisp fall day. There will be no more days of trudging through the woods playing a game of hide-and-seek with a cottontail rabbit or a fox squirrel. No matter how much I want it to be different, I will never be able to read like I once did. While the voracious appetite for the printed page is still there, the ability to process it is long gone.  This is my life, and there is not one damn thing I can do about it.

As a Christian I believed that my physical afflictions were the result of God making me more like Jesus. I believed the way to heaven was paved with suffering. I can confidently say that God never answered one prayer of mine when I cried out to him for physical relief or deliverance. I came to see that I was like the Apostle Paul who prayed for deliverance and God told him no. (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)

These days I now realize that the diseases that are  ever-so-slowly taking life from me are the result of a combination of genetics, environment, and lifestyle choices with a topping of “who the hell knows.” When I whine and complain about my lot in life and say “why me?” the universe shouts back, “why not you?”

Bad things don’t always happen to other people. It is not always another family’s child that gets cancer or is killed in a car accident. It is not always someone else who has a brain tumor, goes through a divorce, or loses a job. It is not always someone else who loses everything in a fire, tornado, hurricane, or a flood. The truth is that life is a big crap-shoot: good luck, bad luck, at the right place, at the wrong place, good genetics, bad genetics, growing up on the right side of the tracks, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, marrying the right person, marrying the wrong person. The list is endless.

As I peruse the ways of humankind, it is clear to me that very few people live to be old without facing trial and adversity. It is just how life is. If there really is a God, I might find some pleasure and satisfaction in saying DAMN you God  But since there is no God, I am left to shout at a universe that yawns at my death-defying struggle. If the universe could speak it surely would say, this movie always ends the same way. Dead. Next.

It is futile to see life other than as it is. Wishing for days that are long since gone only results in depression and despair. We must embrace life as it is while we go kicking and screaming into the night. We have two choices in life: fight or roll over and die. Yes, life is unfair and bad things happen to good people. Shit happens and it doesn’t always happen to someone else.

Let me end this post with a poem by Dylan Thomas, an early 20th century poet who died at the age of 39:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Arizona: The Day I Got Busted by the Border Patrol

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Gerencser Children, Miller Peak, outside of Sierra Vista, Arizona 2004

If there is one thing I am famous for, at least among my children, it is my wanderlust driving the back roads of wherever we are living at the time. I hate highways and interstates, and, if given a choice, I will always choose a back-road-takes-longer-who-cares-where-we-are-headed route. Our family took many road trips over the years where the only destination was east, west, south, or north.

In 2004, we lived in Yuma, Arizona. We took a lot of road trips, going as far as San Diego,California to the west, Bisbee, Arizona to the east, Phoenix, Arizona to the north, and Mexico to the south.  We traveled countless Arizona back roads, drove around the Salton Sea, and attended a Friends church in El Centro California. I worked for Allegro Medical, Polly cleaned offices, and after work and on the weekends we would jump in our Ford Crown Victoria, the best car we ever owned, and off we would go.

One Saturday, we piled into the car to take a road trip to San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. Outside of Yuma, I decided to get off the highway and take a back road. I was headed south and I knew that the road would eventually lead to the Mexican border. After a few miles, the road began to change into a sand version of a rutted dirt road in Perry County Ohio. The road was narrow and I began to notice that there were no houses…anywhere. Polly was worried we were lost. I wasn’t lost, I just didn’t know where I was.

As my family will attest, I don’t turn around and go back. Oh no. I decided to keep driving, only to find out that I wasn’t really driving on a road. I was making my own road through the desert. Now, I began to worry.  The car started getting bogged down in the sand, so I drove faster; you know like a drug smuggler trying to avoid the Border Patrol.

It wasn’t long before I spotted the steel fence separating the United States from Mexico. See, I thought, I know EXACTLY where we are going. At the border fence, I turned west toward San Luis Rio Colorado. Little did I know that the Border Patrol had been watching me.

As I began to drive west, I noticed a Border Patrol vehicle ahead. I thought, this ain’t going to turn out well. Sure enough, they pulled in front of me, stopped our car, and began to question me. I told them we were just out sightseeing and had gotten a tiny-wee-bit off the road. I thought, I bet they have never heard this line before.

But, they believed me, and just before I started to put the car in drive they said, hey, do you mind if we look in your trunk? I thought, Oh no…not that. You see, I carried all my camera equipment in a padded aluminum case, you know the one that looks just like the one drug dealers use in the movies? I told them they could look in the trunk, but, before they did, I explained to them what they would find and I told them they could open the not-drugs-not-drug-money aluminum case.  All they found was camera equipment and they then let us go on our way.

We took the highway home.

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Gerencser Children, Yuma, Arizona 2004

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Polly Gerencser, Arizona 2004, wearing her first pair of pants. Such a heathen :)