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July Blog News

blog-news.jpg

It’s the time of month, no not THAT time of month,  when I share what is new on The Way Forward and I remind readers of the various ways they can access this blog, contact me, or make a donation.

Health News

Not much to report. I am alive, still in pain, still fatigued and tired all the time, confined to a recliner/wheelchair some days and…well you get the drift. Perhaps the good news is that there is no bad news to report.

Guest Posts

I am always looking for people to write a guest post. Do you have something you would like to write about? Please let me know and I will gladly publish your guest post on The Way Forward.

You don’t have to be an atheist to write a guest post. Maybe you disagree with me on something and you want to set me straight. Write away… I am especially interested in publishing your deconversion story. If you need to, you can write anonymously.

Please use the contact form to send me your guest post.

Comment Spam and Attempts to Login to The Way Forward

By the end of July, it is likely that Akismet will have caught and I have manually deleted over 50,000 spam comments. Yes, that’s right….50,000. As you can see from this chart,

askimet spam july 2014

Akismet is catching the vast majority of the spam and automatically deleting them. I am having to manually delete about 200-300 comments a day from the spam folder. I am also having to watch for and delete spam left by real people. These comments are the most time-consuming because I have to read each of them. They often sound like real comments. Fortunately, this spam onslaught has turned me into an expert on how to spot a spam comment.

I use a login blocker to deal with attempts to access the WordPress admin panel. On most days, there are a dozen or so attempts to guess the user name/password combination and access the admin panel. Last week, for one 24 hour period, someone decided to run some sort of script or bot in hopes of gaining access. They made over 6,000 attempts in a 24 hour period. (I have an idea who the person is)

Pinterest

The Way Forward is on Pinterest. I am in the process of adding every blog graphic and picture to Pinterest. This will likely take a good bit of time. If you are on Pinterest, I would love it if you followed The Way Forward. Pinterest is a great way to promote my blog and attract new readers,or so the expert tell me anyway.

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Donations

Each month, a handful of people make a donation to the Bruce Gerencser Relief Fund. I appreciate each donation, regardless of the size. I view the donations as an act of kindness to me by my friends.

When I started blogging seven years ago, I decided I did not want to have advertising on my blog. I don’t blog to make money. I blog because I need to write. Donations are always appreciated, but they will never determine whether I blog. In other words, you can’t buy me! :)

I told my counselor about the recent $100 donation from a fundamentalist Baptist evangelist. I told him that I accepted the donation but asked him not to send me any further donations. He told me, Bruce, money is money. I know that, but I don’t want someone thinking that just because they sent me a donation that I am going to see their God/religion in a different light. My faith can not be bought!  Well, maybe for $50,000 it can. :) By all means, tempt me!

The donation form is on the sidebar if you would like to make a donation.

As always, thank you for reading The Way Forward. Your kindness and support mean a lot to me, and I know my life is richer because of it.

Bruce Gerencser

Published: July 25, 2014 | Comments: 6

Pastor Dan Haby Arrested for Sexual Indecency with a Child

pastor dan haby

Dan Haby  is the lead pastor of Cowboy Way Church in Alvarado, Texas. According to a Cleburne-Times news report, Haby was arrested by Fort Worth police and charged with two counts of indecency with a child. The news report goes on to say:

Haby used to live in Fort Worth and the alleged assault occurred between 2000 and 2001 and involved a then 15-year-old male victim, police said. The victim contacted police in June and investigators subsequently obtained two arrest warrants for indecency with a child by sexual contact.

Members of the FWPD Fugitive Unit arrested Haby at his home without incident. He was transported to the Fort Worth Jail and his bonds were set at $30,000. He has since bonded out, police said.

Haby’s wife of eight years, Melanie, co-pastors the church. Haby has a Master of Divinity degree, Master of Arts in Religious Education and two undergraduate diplomas from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Southern Baptist institution.

According to the various news stories I read, neither Haby or the church has made a public statement about the charges and arrest.

Published: July 29, 2014 | Comments: 0

A Letter From Two Weak, Pathetic Men at Patrick Henry College

dont look

As I have shared before, Evangelical young men are taught that they are weak, pathetic creatures easily led astray by mere exposure to too much female flesh. Instead of being taught to own and control their sexuality, they whine, moan, and complain about women “tempting” them to sin. Well, the moaning part is them masturbating after seeing too much female flesh.This is the fault of women too. Let me give an example of this kind of thinking. Yesterday, Homeschooler’s Anonymous published a 2006 letter written by two Patrick Henry College (PHC) male students to the female students of the college. For those not familiar with PHC, it is fundamentalist Christian college in Purcellville, VA. Michael Farris, of Home School Legal Defense Association fame, is the chancellor. According to Wikipedia, PHC has 320 students.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

…We rejoice to say that the women at Patrick Henry are, overall, some of the most conscientiously-dressed ladies it has ever been our joy to meet. And we have seen a number of our sisters here grow in this area over the past few years. However, we must in honesty say that there are many who could do better. We do not believe that there is a general wicked desire to “cause a brother to stumble”—quite the contrary. You all show great love and care for us. But many Christian women, probably a large majority, simply do not understand the depth and extent of the foul perversity of the male mind. (If you’re a man and some part of this doesn’t apply to you personally, just assume we’re only talking about ourselves at that point.)

We have a duty as brothers in Christ to guard the purity and holiness of our sisters, which means restraining how bluntly we speak. On the other hand, part of that duty is to help you understand the problem. To avoid causing offense for our own sake, all the most explicit bits are taken directly from Scripture. Anyone who finds God’s authoritative written revelation inappropriate is advised to skip this section.

You’ve heard this before, but we’ll say it again: men are visually wired. A man notices a pretty female walking by. His eyes lock on, his brain clicks in (we mostly tend toward one-track minds). He is attracted to her. Attraction, when left undirected, leads naturally to desire.

If she’s his wife, all is well. In itself this visual attraction is a good thing. A man is supposed to look upon his wife and be drawn to her beauty. Please, please, ladies, don’t confuse the abuse of the thing with its good and proper and holy purpose in God’s plan. Husbands are not merely allowed but commanded to take pleasure and fulfillment in their wives’ physical beauty: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19). This intoxication is a blessed fact and should be a cause for great rejoicing. As C. S. Lewis says in a very similar context, “God likes it. He made it.”

But there is a great deal of abuse. If the attractive female wandering by is not the man’s wife (and mathematically, the odds tend that way), then there’s a nifty Biblical phrase for desiring her: “lusting after her in your heart.” We’ll leave out the details; you don’t want to know. Suffice it to say that he wants to be intoxicated and filled with delight too. As Solomon says in that passage we declined to quote from earlier: “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” It’s all right for Solomon, he’s talking about his wife, but many of us are not married. Of course most men—here at least—are decent enough not to actually do anything much; but that’s beside the point. The man has spoken these words to himself. He has made the act of volition…

…We are not trying to blame you for our sin. Rather, as a warrior with many wounds, on behalf of ourselves and these our brothers, we are asking for allies. This is a cry for reinforcements, lest the battle go to the enemy. We are sorely pressed on every side. This is no exaggeration: we need all the help we can get. We don’t need to be struck down from behind by friendly fire.

Remember, Adam’s sin was Adam’s, but that doesn’t mean God held Eve guiltless in the affair.

Eve tempted her husband, and God cursed her for it.

If we give in to temptation, we are judged; but if you deliberately tempt us, you are judged, whether we give in or not—even whether we notice or not. The sin is not in successfully tempting a brother, but in trying to do so. The immodest swimsuit is still immodest and sinful even if there happen to be no guys on the beach that day—if you decided to wear it because you hoped there would be. Deliberately choosing the barely-too-tight top is still immodest and sinful, even if the RA catches you before you make it out the door…

…But let us also offer a warning. Although women almost never completely realize the extent to which (or the ways in which) they can affect men, most women are aware on some level that certain things attract men. And women like to feel attractive. This is natural; we have already said that you are created to be beautiful. But we have also said that the purpose of attraction is enjoyment.

Please be careful of this desire to attract. It is a good thing; but it is easy to misuse. Many females drive us to ask some pretty unpleasant questions.

If a woman does not want to be the subject of wicked imagining, why does she provide so much scope for the imagination? If she does not intend to be suggestive, why does she tantalize with hints, peeks, glimpses, suggestions?…

…Some articles of clothing are just irredeemably scandalous (in the Greek sense of “causing to stumble”), but many others may be immodest on one woman and perfectly modest on another, and not simply because of physical differences. (Just be careful of the “Well, it could be immodest, but I’m not wearing it like that” argument.) Any woman can be immodest “by accident,” but she is far less likely to do so if she has sisterly love in mind as a deliberate daily goal. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Modesty flows from a heart devoted to the service of God.

“Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to Godliness.” (I Timothy 2:9-10)…

You can read the entire letter here.  These two men took over 4,000 words to tell the women of Patrick Henry College that they are making them lust. Lest you think that PHC women are running around half naked, here’s the dress standard for women:

  • Women should not wear clothes that are too revealing, (e.g., spaghetti straps,halter tops, tube tops, see-through tops, or tops that reveal bare midriffs, that strap at only one shoulder, or that strap below the shoulder).
  • Shorts: Shorts should extend mid-thigh.
  • Skirts: Skirts and skirt slits should end no higher than 2 inches above the top of the knee when standing.

Under the Business Dress section for women, the Student Life Handbook states:

  • Shirt: blouses and nice tops are to be worn.
  • Skirts/Slacks: Women are to wear skirts, dresses, or slacks (dress slacks or Dockers style).
  • Shoes: Women are to wear dress shoes; sandals that would be considered professional business attire may also be worn. Tennis shoes and flip-flops are not allowed.
  • Appearance: Excessive or gaudy jewelry or make-up should be avoided.

These standards, when compared to those of other fundamentalist institutions, are quite liberal.

This letter reflects the common notion among Evangelicals that if a man lusts after a woman it is her fault. While the letter writers try to distance themselves from the suggestion that they are “blaming” PHC women for their lust, their argument loses its force when they demand that the women dress in ways not to “tempt” them. Based on the Student Life standard for female dress, what could PHC women be doing and wearing that would cause these poor, weak men to lust?

These men have likely been schooled in a Puritanical form of morality that requires women to be the moral gatekeepers. It is up to women to keep men from lusting after them. After all, men will be men and they can’t help themselves; it’s just how they are wired. Instead of embracing their sexuality and realizing that it is quite normal to be physically attracted to women and to admire their beauty, they are taught that such feelings and desires outside of marriage are a sin. (even though it is these very desires that will likely draw them to the woman they will some day marry)

These men need to be taught to look but not touch and if they are being tempted to touch then it is their problem not the woman’s. They need to grow up and take control of their sexuality and not blame others for their own perceived weakness. I say perceived weakness because I think this weakness is a manufactured one brought on by a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible and fundamentalist moral/social standards.

So what do you think, you slutty temptresses? Is it your fault these men are tempted to lust?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Published: July 29, 2014 | Comments: 5

After I am Dead

cheating death

As soon as some Christian fundamentalists read this headline they will shout at their screen:

  • You will be burning in hell!
  • You will know that there is a God!
  • You will know I was right!

They will see my death as a vindication of their belief system, and I wonder how many of them will say to themselves, I bet Bruce wishes he had listened to me! The Calvinists will says to themselves, now we know he was not one of the elect!  They will speak of the preacher turned atheist who now knows the TRUTH.

Now, if they bother to read the read the rest of this post they will see I that this post is not about my e-t-e-r-n-a-l destiny. I have no concern over God, judgment, or hell. I am satisfied that hell is the creation of those who want to control people through fear so they can demand moral conformity or gain wealth. Since their holy book lost its power and authority over me, I no longer fear God or hell. I am confident that this is the only life I will ever have, and once I die I will be…drum roll please, d-e-a-d.

So, this post is not about the afterlife or my eternal destiny. What I want to do in this post is share what my last will and testament is regarding what happens after I draw my last breath.

First, I do not want a funeral service. Waste of time, effort, and money. No need for fake friends or distant family members to show up and weep fake tears. No need for flowers. Ugh, what a waste of money. I want Polly to spend as little as possible on disposing of my dead carcass. Trust me, I won’t care.

Second, I want to be cremated. No special urn. A cardboard box will work just fine. If Polly wants to show her love for me, a Hostess cupcake box would be sweet.   As I jokingly told someone, when I am cremated, I will go from ass to ashes.

Third, I want my ashes to be spread along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Polly knows the place. I hope my children, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren, and close family, will be there. I want no prayers said and as few tears as possible. Perhaps those who are gathered will share a funny story, one of their many Butch/Bruce/Dad/Grandpa stories. I hope they will remember me for the good I have done and forgive me for those moments when I was less than I could or should have been.

And that’s it. Dust to dust ashes to ashes, as the waves of Lake Michigan lap up and absorb my ashes.

I hope Polly will let the readers of this blog know that I won’t be blogging anymore. I guess I better leave her specific instructions so she can successfully login and post.  If not, readers will start wondering if I have “quit” again…yes, I have, but this time it really will be for good.

You see, for me, as an atheist, life is not about dying but living. Since I am on the short side of life, I dare not waste any time. When death comes, the battery in my life clock will be depleted. Like the Big Ben clock beside our bed, the one I listen to late at night as it clicks off the seconds, I know there is coming a day when I will hear click and that will be it.

I have no time to think about death. It’s coming and it will find me whether I am ready or not. All I can do is live my life the best I can and let how I lived my life testify to the kind of man I was.

How about you? As an atheist, what do you want to happen after you die? Have you made funeral plans? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments: 12

A Few Thoughts About Racism and Christianity

nelson mandela quote about racism

Charles asked:

“Why is racism still such a powerful and pervasive force in the Christian community when they should all know by now that Jesus was a dark-skinned Middle East person with black hair like almost everyone else with Semitic ancestry in that area of the world.”

This is a great question. First, let me be clear, I know that many Christians are not racist. (at least outwardly) But, there is virulent strain of racism and bigotry that runs though Christianity, especially among conservative, Evangelical, and fundamentalist believers. I know this because I pastored people who were racist and I saw the same racism among the clergy I associated with. And if I am honest, as much as I thought I was color blind, I had my own problem with racism. More than once I said, I don’t have a problem with blacks, I just don’t want my children marrying one. I would then launch into a justification of my racism, quoting statistics about mixed race couples getting married. It took me a few years before I saw that the real issue was the deep-seated racism taught to me by my racist John Bircher parents and the churches I attended.

Part of the problem for me was that I had no contact with minorities. I was six years old before I saw my first black person, a porter on a train in Chicago. I grew up in a white monoculture, insulated from other races except for the Mexican migrants who showed up once a year to pick local tomatoes. In the 1970′s, I attended Findlay High School, one of the largest high schools in Ohio. In a school district with thousands of students, there were two blacks, a boy and girl who were siblings. That’s it. Findlay, a community of 40,000 plus, was as white as white could be, and I suspect people liked it that way. I know my parents did.

My parents were extreme right-wingers, supporters of Barry Goldwater in the 1960′s. My parents despised Martin Luther King, Jr, a man they considered a communist. They saw the riots in Watts and Detroit, along with the rise of the Black Panthers, as proof of their view that blacks were inferior to whites.  In many ways, their thinking was no different from many whites of their generation.

Let me share a few illustrations from my past that I think will help illustrate the racism I saw in the fundamentalist/Evangelical church.

One church I attended as a youth traveled once a year to the south to help the Cedine Bible Camp,a black Evangelical camp. The church had good intentions, but it seemed at the time that the church felt they had to help these poor, helpless black folk. The deep-seated racism in this church was exposed when one of the woman from the church moved back to Bryan, Ohio with their new, much darker husband. They thought they would be welcomed with open arms. While no one went to them and said, no blacks allowed, church gossip made it clear that many church members were not happy having a black person or a mixed married couple in the church.

In the fall of 1976, I moved to Pontiac, Michigan to attend Midwestern Baptist College. Pontiac had a large black population, as did Detroit to the south. Yet, the church associated with the college, Emmanuel Baptist Church, pastored by Tom Malone, a man born and raised in Alabama and schooled at Bob Jones College, had few black members.

At the time, Emmanuel was one the largest churches in the United States. The church operated a large bus ministry that bussed in countless black children. But, here’s the thing. These black children, for the most part, weren’t a part of the regular church services and Sunday school. Instead, they had their own Sunday school in the afternoon. It was called B Sunday school. (which some of us understood to mean BLACK Sunday school)

During my sophomore year, a new pastor assumed control of the bus ministry. His name was Julian Lyons. He quickly stopped running the buses to Detroit. While we were told that the reason for doing this was cost, some of concluded it was due to race. Lyons and I got into it over this. He accused me of having a bad attitude and I told him I thought he was a racist. To this day, I am surprised that I didn’t get expelled from school.

Over the course of 25 years in the ministry, I encountered racism numerous times. I can’t tell you the times I heard church members talking about “those people.” You know, those lazy, good for nothing blacks that were on welfare or in jail or living in government housing. My favorite one is when people would start talking about “colored people”; “colored people” because respectable Evangelicals don’t say nigger. When church members used the colored people phrase I would ask them, “so what color are they?” “Oh preacher, you know what I mean”, they would tell me. If I had the opportunity, I would gently remind them that, in most cases, mentioning a person’s race is not germane to the discussion. Often the phrase was used in a pejorative sense, usually connected to some negative human behavior.

My wife’s family is quite racist, even though they would be offended if someone called them such. They like to “think” they are free of racial bigotry, but their reaction to the Kenyan born black that is currently president suggests otherwise. Let me share a family experience from a previous post:

…Christmas of 2009 was insufferable for Polly and I. Everywhere we turned we saw accusatory looks. No one talked to me, though they did talk to Polly and our children. Every year someone buys a gag gift and gives it to one family member. The gag gift for Christmas 2009 was a President Barack Obama commemorative plate. Our nephew, Cyle Hughes, bought the plate at Big Lots and gave it to Polly’s uncle, James Dennis. Everyone but us laughed. What a great gag gift for the patriarch of an IFB, God is a Republican, Duck Dynasty loving, gun-toting, right-wing family. (and a family that has a racist streak running through it)

After this, I was fuming and I was ready to go home. But, for Polly’s sake I shut my mouth and said nothing. (my thoughts were definitely x-rated) Later in the evening, one of  James Dennis’s young grandchildren picked up the plate and asked him what the plate was for. James Dennis replied, to poo-poo on. (to shit on, for those not initiated in IFB slang) Later in the evening, while everyone was busy eating,  I put my old-shoplifting skills to use and I stole the plate. I took it home with me and donated it to Goodwill. (I feel v-e-r-y good over stealing the plate)…

Evangelicals and many white Americans bristle when they are accused of racism. They think as long as they don’t use the N word that they are not racist. I have come to the conclusion that my parent’s generation will likely never lose their deep-seated racist beliefs and my generation will continue to battle with how our parents racism affected our thinking. I like to think I am color blind and accepting of all races and cultures, but I know that I am not perfect.

The hope of a post race world rests with our children and grandchildren.  While I am worried about the increasing racism in Europe and in certain parts of American political and religious culture, I do see progress. After all, we do have a black president. But, the vitriol towards him reveals that there is still racial hatred percolating under the surface of the American experience. We must continue to battle racism wherever it is found. We must also come to terms with what white America did, not only to blacks, but to Japanese-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos. We have much that needs atoned for, and waving our hand and saying it is all in the past will not suffice. There is no path forward until we are willing to embrace our past. If we don’t allow history to teach us so we can we choose a different path, we will certainly repeat the sins of our racist ancestors.

Charles brings up the irony of Christian racism. The Jesus Christians worship is a dark-skinned man of Middle East descent. He would blend in well with those trying to cross our southern border. Why is it that many American Christians fail to see this?

Because they see Jesus like this:

white jesus

 jesus the fisherman

football jesus

rather than like:

jesus

For many American Christians, Jesus is just like them. Since we continue to be quite segregated in America, we are not forced to come into contact with other races and cultures. We never even question if there is any such thing as race to begin with. If the human race started with Adam and Eve and later with Noah and his family, didn’t we all descend from the same race? Isn’t the racial diversity we now see due to evolution and adaptation? Why is it so hard for us to see race from this perspective? Why do we have such a hard time understanding that culture and tribe affects everything, from what we eat to how we live? Instead of walling ourselves off from other races and cultures, why not attempt to experience and understand the racial and cultural uniqueness of others?

While I do not support forced integration, I do think it is advantageous for me to know people who are different from me. From a political and social perspective, I think everyone, regardless of their race, should have equal opportunity. Instead of pointing to the failures within this or that race and culture, let’s take the time to understand why these failures are happening. It is not enough to point the finger at a class of people and make a “those people” conclusion. If flag waving whites want to expose the failures within the black community, I hope they will take the time to understand why these failures are happening. And in answering the why question, perhaps they will be forced to admit their own culpability in many of the things they see.

Instead of talking about race and “those people”, let’s talk about the collapse of our cities, which are overwhelmingly populated by people of color, and poverty, jobs, school funding, the war on drugs, and equal protection under the law.  If we seriously address these kind of issues, I suspect that things will improve for everyone, regardless of their skin color.

I wish I could say I was optimistic about the future, but I think that we are a long way away from a post-racial society. Frankly, Grandma and Grandpa need to die. A future that is post-race lies in the hands of our children and grandchildren. But even then, as we are now seeing in the increase of white nationalism in Europe among unemployed young adults, if we don’t address joblessness and a lack of economic mobility, we will continue to have racial tension. To some degree, it’s human nature. When we are pushed into a corner we tend to seek the comfort and support of like-minded people. We then start to see things through the lens of our race or tribe. Is this not what we see in the Middle East and Ukraine, places where neighbors are now turning against each other because of their religion or ethnicity?

Let me close this post with a video that aptly reveals the racism  that is still quite prominent today. Witness the words and reaction of US Congressman Curt Clawson to several U.S. government workers that Clawson thought were foreigners:

While I am not suggesting Clawson is a racist, I AM suggesting that this is a good illustration of how many white Americans view people of color.

Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments: 8

What to Do if the Russians Nuke Us This Week

I was born in 1957. The following video accurately portrays what I heard and experienced as a young child in California.

YouTube Preview Image

These days, local officials only blow the siren if a tornado has been spotted nearby and we know that if a nuclear bomb is dropped on us we might as well kiss our ass goodbye.

The real issue is WHY we still have a nuclear armed world? Last night, John Oliver tackled the issue of American nuclear weapons:

YouTube Preview Image

Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments: 3

Hi, I’m One of Bruce’s Friends

lets be friends

The phone rang earlier today and it was Suzanne, a woman who comments on this blog. She and her husband were vacationing in Ohio and we had hope to connect on their way through NW Ohio.Unfortunately, we were not able to meet. I was really looking forward to meeting Suzanne and her husband, but Polly had to go to work so we ran out of time to do so. (and if any of you are within a Toledo, Ohio/Fort Wayne, Indiana distance from our home in Ney, I would love meeting you)

After Polly picked up the phone, Suzanne said, Hi, I’m one of Bruce’s friends. This one little, friendly statement reveals how different my life is today than it was when I was an Evangelical church member and pastor.

Most of the churches I grew up in taught me to avoid the opposite sex. Girls were temptresses and Jezebels out to rob poor, weak, pathetic young men of their virtue. I was told to avoid the very appearance of evil, and evil meant not touching or getting to cozy with a girl. After all, no girl ever got pregnant without holding hands with a boy first, right?

Despite being told girls were dangerous creatures, I had a few friends who were girls. I still correspond with one of them today. Several of  my girl friends became girlfriends, and after we broke up, because we ALWAYS broke up, we went back to being friends.

In the fall of 1976, I enrolled at Midwestern Baptist College to study for the ministry. Midwestern had strict rules against physical contact with the opposite sex. Girls, who were now young women, were considered dangerous, just like the temptresses and Jezebels at the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches I grew up in.

Seasoned pastors warned me, from the chapel pulpit and in my classes, that women were dangerous creatures that could bring down a pastor’s ministry and ruin his life. I was taught not to have female friends. I was taught to maintain my distance from the opposite sex lest I fall into sexual sin. Paul Vanaman , a crusty IFB preacher, taught young preacher boys that  “a stiff prick has no conscience.” While this statement has some truth to it, its implication is that having female friends results in sexual arousal.

Can friends cross the line and enter into inappropriate relationships? Sure. But, why did the IFB preachers of my youth and college years only worry about the opposite sex? Oh wait, I know, there are no gays in IFB churches. Instead of teaching me to embrace my sexuality and be responsible for it, they taught me to be weak and fearful of  women. (and this kind of thinking naturally flows from the notion of how sinful humans are)  They taught me that preachers who have affairs are like an ox to the slaughter. Instead of the shrill warnings about the slaughter, they should have taught me how to avoid the slaughter, how to have healthy relationships with the opposite sex.

What I wasn’t taught was to be a grown up, to be a man in control of his sexuality. Women were temptresses and I needed to avoid them. Yes, I had to be their pastor, but I was taught to avoid being too friendly with them. In fact, several noted preachers told us young preacher boys that we shouldn’t have ANY friends in the churches we pastored. Despite being warned, I did develop friendships with a few women in the various churches I pastored. Not many, but a few. In every way my life was enriched by having these friendships.

These days, I am free to have female friends without worrying about whether they are out to seduce me. (at my age, I can only wish) I am in control of my sexuality, in love with my wife, and satisfied and happy with our relationship. Both Polly and I have developed friendships with people of the opposite sex. We know what the boundaries are, and because we respect each other we don’t cross them. We do this out of love not fear.  Polly doesn’t fear a phone call or an email to me is an attempt by a woman to get her man. In fact, on some days, she would probably let them have me.

Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments: 4

Arguing with an Evangelical is Like Pissing Into the Wind

Pissing Into the Wind

As a blogger, one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is to not argue, debate, or engage every fundamentalist/Evangelical that comments or sends me an email. When I started blogging, I was quite naïve. I thought if I just “explained” myself they would understand. I quickly found out that they didn’t want to understand. They didn’t leave a comment or send me an email to engage me in thoughtful discussion. They simply wanted me to know that they were right and I was wrong.

Then I went through the angry “I’m going to get in the last word” phase. I knew I had no hope of changing their mind, but I was going to make sure they knew exactly what I thought of their beliefs. These “discussions” proved to be quite exhausting, mentally and emotionally.  Finally, I decided to stop making any attempt to engage fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians. I have yet to see an Evangelical moved off their certainty as a result of something I have said or written. This is why when a fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian leaves a comment or sends me an email arguing for the inspiration/inerrancy/infallibility of the Bible, the first question I ask them is, have you read any of Bart Ehrman’s books? If they haven’t, I know it is a waste of time to have a discussion with them about the Bible. (inerrancy is intellectually untenable and inspiration is a faith claim)

Arguing with fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians is like pissing into the wind. Just mentally picture that the next time you feel the urge to argue/debate/engage a closed-minded, certain I am right fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian. And if you can’t picture that (I know this illustration is better suited to men) just remember the urban dictionary definition of pissing into the wind: Engaging in a pointless activity; something futile.

I subscribe to the law of diminishing return. After seven years of blogging, what value is there in engaging in endless, pointless, futile discussions or arguments with Evangelicals? I no longer feel the need to make sure I am “understood” because I now know that they don’t want to understand me. They just want to be right, and for them to be right means I am most certainly wrong. I would rather focus on helping people who have doubts/questions, are considering leaving Christianity, or who have already left Christianity. It’s all about deciding how best to use my time and what benefit is derived from engaging a fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian in a discussion.

People who deconvert from  fundamentalist/Evangelical Christianity often go through various emotional stages. Most often, anger is the first stage. I remember how angry I was after I left the faith. Angry about a wasted life, angry about the lies I was taught, and angry about how Christians treated me. While I think this stage was necessary for me, I came to see that I could not stay angry. Unrelenting anger will eat a person alive. Over time, my anger died and in its place came a calm, a sense that I was on the right path. While I can still have moments of anger, I am at a place in life where I know my writing has a purpose and helps others, so I am less inclined to get all worked up over people who make no attempt to understand me and the path I have taken. Instead, I use their comments and emails as opportunities to help others.

Bottom line? I got tired of having to change my pants all the time. I finally learned that it is better to turn my back to the wind and piss rather than piss into the wind.

Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments: 12

Girl in a Country Song by Maddie & Tae

In the following video, Maddie and Tae detail how women are often portrayed in country songs. They turn the country-bro mentality on its head.

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Published: July 28, 2014 | Comments: 1