Friday, September 17, 2010

FLEE TOXIC CHURCHES AND CLERGY

The following article entitled, Flee Toxic Churches and Clergy was published in the current issue of whosoever.org, and I think it contains a message that all people, LGBT and Straight, need to take to heart.

Whosoever is an excellent online magazine that is primarily geared to LGBT people and allies, and I strongly urge you to read many of its current and past articles.

By attending homophobic churches inhabited by clergy who preach the false gospel of genital placement rather than the only Gospel to be found in Christianity that is comprised of God's grace (unmerited favor) to us that we can only appropriate by trusting God over and above seen circumstances, LGBT people (and all decent people) are submitting themselves to indignities, to a false Christianity, and to humiliation that serves no other purposes than to lend credibility to those heretical clergy and their blind followers, and also exacerbates internalized homophobia within those LGBT people who attend those churches.

I truly believe that any LGBT person who attends a homophobic church, or any church that doesn't allow him/her full participation in the life of the church and the partaking of all of its sacramental rights, to be a masochist!

Why would you seek your "spiritual sustenance" from any church that views you as a second class citizen; views you as "disordered"; seeks to deprive you of equal civil and sacramental rights that heterosexuals enjoy and take for granted; is in the vanguard of discriminating against LGBT people to the point that many LGBT people commit suicide, are assaulted, and are even murdered; stridently lobbies for denying you and others equal civil rights?

And don't delude yourself by saying of a homophobic church that you attend, "It's my church too!" It's not you're church at all! You can't preach from the pulpit; you don't determine church dogma or doctrine; you can't excommunicate anyone! No! It's not your church too!

A true Church is made up of the ecclesia, the called out ones, those called out by God to be God's disciples! And being housed in a building whose clergy espouse legalism, perfectionism, prejudice, discrimination, and affirm through action and/or silence the denial of civil and sacramental rights to anyone does not make one a Christian any more than being in a garage makes one a car!

If you want to be truly emotionally and spiritually intact, and truly live out your authenticity and ministry ordained by God, flee those toxic churches and clergy as fast as your legs can carry you!

The following is my article entitled, Flee Toxic Churches and Clergy:

As I've often written, many clergy within the institutional Church preach and teach the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion and thereby do immeasurable harm to the emotional and spiritual lives of those who allow themselves to be exposed to that kind of toxic religion.

The only Gospel to be found in Christianity is the Gospel of grace (God's unmerited favor); faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances); love; peace; reconciliation; inclusiveness. Any other gospel is a false gospel!

If you allow yourself to be subjected to preaching and/or teaching other than the Gospel of Christ (the "Good News" that all of our sins have been forgiven by the Sacrifice of Christ), flee those churches, or other such venues, as fast as your legs can carry you!

Moreover, if you take seriously the rhetoric of those who claim to speak for God and for the Bible, and who teach and preach a false gospel, you are not only being subjected to a warped version of Christianity that is really not "Christianity," but you are making decisions about your spiritual and emotional life that are based on lies and perversions of: the grace of God; the teachings, ministry, and Sacrifice of Jesus; the Bible; Christianity itself.

Unfortunately, those who pervert Scripture and the Gospel, those who deny the full and final Sacrifice that Jesus made to cover over all of our sins, are those who spit in the very face of God and seek to impose their false and perverted gospel onto others, falsely taking on the role of being possessors of moral authority; an authority that they do not deserve and which must be given no credibility.

Needless to say that these perverts have done enormous harm, and caused untold suffering, to so many of God's LGBT children!

I recently received an email from someone who wrote of his and his family's heartbreaking experiences in the church that they attend. He said that the pastor preached his reactionary political positions from the pulpit, and he felt depressed at the state of that church that he and his family have faithfully attended for many years.

I wrote him the following reply that I thought you might be interested in reading:

"Thank you for your heartfelt letter to me. You and I share exactly the same sentiments, save for the fact that you view the institutional Church as being equivalent to Christ's Church and I don't. I feel that most of the institutional Church has defamed the name of Christ and, in many cases, has spit in the very face of God through its proclamation of a false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion.

"You say, 'My family and I have declared a fasting from TV.' I suggest that you declare a fast from that church you attend, as that pastor is most likely reflecting the ungodly and political sentiments of most of the congregation of that "church."

"He and most of the rest of that congregation are more likely to change you than you are likely to change them.

"Run from such a 'church' as fast as you can! If you can't find a church that is truly reflective of the Gospel of Jesus, then worship with other Christians in a home Bible study or, if that is impossible, it is far better for you and your family to stay home and study the Bible and worship together.

"What you describe is toxic religion, about which I've often written, and is terribly harmful to one's spiritual and emotional life. My very best wishes, Jerry."


You, too, have my very best wishes, and I strongly urge you to not be taken in by the smug, self-righteous teachers of a false gospel that puts unnecessary yokes of bondage on you.

Don't be fooled by the seeming urgency and sincerity of their message that they often profess with an air of oracular authority; a message for which many are quite handsomely rewarded materially and/or psychologically and/or socially and/or politically.

The Gospel of Christ is so simple that even a child can understand it: You have been saved, through the grace of God, from the wrath of a righteous and just God by the sacrifice of God's Son, and by having faith in Christ's teachings and Sacrifice for your redemption and for your eternal reconciliation with God.

That's the Gospel, and it is the Gospel for all of God's children, be they Gay, Straight, Bisexual, or Transgender!

You and I have been saved by the Sacrifice of Jesus; there is nothing we can do to win God's approval, as God already approves of us due to the Sacrifice of Jesus. All we have to do is to plug into God's grace by having faith in Jesus' Sacrifice that covers over all of our sins.

That is why the Gospel is called "Good News!" After all, if we have to obey all sorts of rules, regulations, doctrines, etc., what's the good news in that?

Communicating this message has been one of my major goals, and I just hope that this message gets through so that no one feels condemned by the ignorant and/or hateful homophobic rhetoric that emanates from the lips of all too many clergy and other professing "Christians" who erroneously claim to speak for God.
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4 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

You and I have sent out this important message many times, Jerry. I wonder when it will ever get through? I don't see any evidence that it's been heeded yet.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: It's hard to tell if this message has been heeded, or to what degree it has been heeded, but we do know that there are seemingly fewer people attending institutional churches, and it may well be that increasing numbers of Christians are coming to the realization that what is preached in most churches is both antagonistic to the Gospel, and is also inconsistent with Christ's teachings regarding loving and not judging or condemning others.

And, this is a message that must be reinforced for it is crucial that LGBT people finally come to understand that they are being lied to when homophobic rhetoric is spewed out of the mouths of ignorant and/or mendacious clergy. Best wishes, Jerry.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I love it when you get tough and draw the line with ¨ignorant and/or mendacious clergy¨...I cross posted again today and I throughly see how your message applies to extremists of all stripes...it certainly applies to Anglican fear/hatemongers who pride themselves on their holiness...they actually mention how ¨Godly¨ they are! YIKES!

Thanks again, Jerry,

Len

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Len. What you wrote means a great deal to me, and I'm very appreciative. When people call themselves "Godly," they deny and betray the very trait that they are applauding in themselves! As you know, there is a great difference between Christ's Church and the institutional Church, and there is all too often very little overlap between the two. My very best wishes, Jerry.