Wild Horses: The Last was First to Ride, Here Is What We Found.

Wild Horses: The Last was First to Ride, Here Is What We Found.

“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses we’ll ride them some day.” –The Rolling Stones

I’ve always been in love with horses. The thought of riding a horse into the wild excites my spirit with feelings of freedom and escape of all that I want to run from. There has always been so much to run from. Mostly chains placed upon me by other people and systems I never asked for. The shackles of oppression came in the form of needing approval from others, or from God, church, and society. Love was nowhere to be found in this prison, not within and not on the outside.  It wasn’t until I encountered other free spirits in hell that I began to understand love. There was a restlessness in them too. As one broke free and rode their wild horse away, I wanted to follow. They loved themselves enough to do it, and the courage was contagious. I caught the cure from them, which was unconditional love for myself and bravery to go.

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You aren’t alone if you’re actively trying to make sense of this past year. It feels like we’ve entered some strange plane of existence where everything we thought isn’t true. It’s some bizarre point of human history where truth is on display, and massive exposure of all that is wrong. Victims of sexual assault are coming forward, daily it seems, finally reporting their stories. Predators are being thrown into the spotlight. There seems to be a mass shooting once a week. Horrid deaths of unarmed minorities at the hands of police are happening every single day. The demonization of LGBTQ, atheists, agnostics, muslims, and anyone not a member of the religious right is cast into the limelight for us all to witness.

Humanity has cancer, a poison infecting the good cells from thriving. Some of us have been fortunate enough to discard of it, but not without a price. Faith has been broken and changed. Tears were cried. This year the misfits rose up, the black sheep, the “last.” How we have done that is by finally cutting all toxic chains that were binding us from loving ourselves. We finally have found the freedom to be our true selves, because the systems and people we’ve been hiding from, as it turned out, are just as ugly and stained as we are. By cutting the toxic chains off of our being, we’re free to finally be loved. Unconditionally.

Unconditional love is the missing piece to the puzzle. It was the missing piece to my puzzle. My life has been complete chaos. I have spent a lifetime striving, and trying to change and morph myself into being something for another. I have felt shame about simply being Kimberly. I’ve felt guilt that I wasn’t who I was supposed to be. I didn’t thrive. I didn’t rise. I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t.

So I was self-destructive. With alcohol. Drugs. Relationships. Anger. Depression. You see, when you’re  down, there is only one place to go…deeper into the demon swamp of you.

This year, watching the religion of my youth support such immorality, turned on a light bulb in my heart that I’ve longed for. It was like “Hey, wait a minute, Why am I the bad one? Why am I hiding? Why am I begging for acceptance from any of this?”

And just like that, I changed. In the blink of an eye.

It was a truly born again experience. I realized that this is what Jesus was trying to tell us all along. We are accepted. Without conditions. It is truly a free gift. We need to do nothing to receive it. The gift doesn’t need any active work. The gift is you. The wonderful, complicated, messy you. Once you stick yourself on the cross, with all the shame, all the guilt, all the bullshit that other people have told you, then you can let it die. You can truly resurrect into a new creature. One that is free of acceptance from others. No more are you emotionally dependent on another. No more are you worried about other’s opinions. All of the sudden, you love yourself.

A magical thing happens when you finally discard of that ego that needs so badly to be loved by others. Without that need, you just want to love others, because you finally know how. Support them. Listen to them. Accept them. Help them. Celebrate them. No longer do you care to control anyone, or try to make them feel guilty. You truly want to be a source of unconditional love for yourself, and for others.

It saddens me that so many people throughout history have lived full lives never being able to love themselves. It’s heartbreaking that people are still living in secrecy and shame.

I was exposed very early on with people not living authentically in the church. When I was about ten years old, many affairs were exposed among prominent men in the church. Many secrets came out. I learned right then that people aren’t truly being who they are in this building. They’re trying so hard, but failing. Church culture takes the authentic you and tells you it’s not good enough. There are always expectations that you aren’t meeting, or people you are disappointing. There are so many biblical rules and so much rigid doctrine, it is overwhelming because no one could possibly  adhere to it all. This is an absolute nightmare for sensitive people. It was a nightmare for me.

So we build our lives and relationships on complete facades. I knew who I was around certain people, and who I needed to be around other people. I learned to constantly live in a state of censorship. I’m not the only one, I’m just one of the few who isn’t afraid to admit it. This year, I shed the skin. I tossed the mask out to the wolves. They can devour that instead of devouring me.

All of the hate, racism, and bigotry in the world is an effect of this lack of unconditional love. People don’t feel so bad if they aren’t one of these groups that they feel are so low or sinful. Pointing fingers at another just elevates yourself into a place of moral superiority. Truth is, people feel terrible on the inside. They don’t love themselves. How can they, possibly? Every true thing is stuffed down daily for a God they fear. They need approval, they’re addicted to approval.

If anything, on all sides, everyone involved in this twilight zone should take away that they don’t need  anyone’s approval. The church has supported sexual assault, racism, oppression of the poor and sick, destruction of creation, and the worshipping of money. Your friend seated next to you in the pew that you care so much about what they think of you, was part of it. They are part of it. They voted for and still support this too. Everyone is on level ground with a line in front of us with no right to cast our stones.

I just want to help liberate everyone, and set everyone on their own wild horse to ride into a new, authentic life. You are loved. The deepest darkest parts. As long as you hate things about yourself, you can’t shine light into those things and grow. No one is free to love others if they aren’t free to be loved.

So let go. Be you. You can’t please a single soul, and it doesn’t matter. No one can. But when you’re free, everyone pleases you, just as they are, including yourself. When you’re free all you want to do is to love the hell (literally) out of everyone, no matter who they are.

In conclusion, this year has been a mass exodus for the “last”. We finally decided to leave it all behind and enter into a new life. One that we were always meant to live. Wildly free. Wildly loved, and wildly trying to drag others out of the stables of prison. I no longer have this need to run away. I have found life that I don’t want to leave. I have found life that I want others to have.

 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

-Jesus

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No ‘Moore’ Members Only: Club almost Elected a Child Molester to U.S. Senate

No ‘Moore’ Members Only: Club almost Elected a Child Molester to U.S. Senate

If you aren’t an ex-evangelical or former fundamentalist Christian, you may be scratching your head wondering how professed “Jesus followers” could vote for Roy Moore. You may be puzzled watching the Republican National Committee endorse and fund Moore’s campaign. Perhaps you’re bewildered watching Moore’s supporters sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Great thou Art” as the results began to swing in favor of Doug Jones on election night. Maybe you’ve been puzzled watching faith leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr., James Dobson, and Franklin Graham endorse Roy Moore. What is this Christian Club that supports Roy Moore? How could Christians support a child molester? How do they reconcile their politics with the words and teachings of Jesus?

You are not alone if you are asking these questions.

The same religious institution that voted for and still supports Trump, is the same as the one that supports Moore. Even after both men have received numerous allegations of sexual assault,  this religion still supports and endorses them. Even after the allegations of child molestation by Moore, this religion still supports him. Patterned behavior of sexual assault should be a stand alone reason to not support someone politically, however, it isn’t. This religious club excuses it. This religious club excused it with Trump, and then Moore. Sadly, sexual assault is not the only issue they are excusing.

They are excusing racism, bigotry, degradation of human beings especially LGBTQ, sexism, oppression of the poor and sick, destruction of the planet, gun worship, and child molestation.

Obviously, something is wrong.

Obviously this religion does not speak for Jesus Christ or represent Christianity.

However, they believe they DO speak for Jesus Christ and they think they DO represent Christianity. Which is increasingly becoming concerning to pretty much everyone other than them. Atheists are concerned. Agnostics are concerned. Muslims are concerned. LGBTQ people are concerned. Progressive Christians are concerned.

The reason we are so concerned is because this religion just endorsed a child molester because he is in their club. Their club means more than anyone else not in it. We all need to really take that in. Concentrate on the severity of this.

A child molester is preferred over an outsider of the White-Christian-Republican- Conservative-Trump Supporting- Club.

Scary and ugly truth, but that is the truth. Religious and political elitism has trumped doing the right thing concerning sexual assault, twice now. First with Trump, then with Moore. All in the name of Jesus Christ.  The hypocrisy of this is glaring in all of our faces. How can a Christian support a child molester, but lecture folks on sexual immorality? Christian conservatives have lost all legs to stand on. We need them to see that. We need them to see their hypocrisy because their beliefs are hurting humans. We need them to examine the beliefs and intentions of their religious club. Perhaps we all need to get out of our clubs. Maybe we all leave our clubs for a minute and ask ourselves some honest questions about why we are in our clubs. Questions like:

Do my beliefs hurt others?

Do my beliefs demean others in any way?

Who does my vote lift up? The Poor? The Rich?

Would I want to be on the other side of my vote? Do I want to be that single mom after the consequences of my vote? Do I want to be that elderly person? Veteran? Refugee? Minority?

What would Jesus support?

I just don’t see Jesus Christ supporting any institution, or policy,  that does not lift up other human beings. 

 

Jesus was human. He explained time and time again to his disciples that He is the poor. He is the oppressed. He is the sick and the imprisoned. The point of the entire Christmas Story is that Jesus was human. We forget that sometimes because we’ve elevated him into the Almighty God. Which is true. He is God. He became human. God became human to show us we are all God. God lives in us all. We live in God. We are all connected. We are all one. We need to remember this right now. Remember the humility of a God that would become human simply to show us how to be God-like. Being God-like is simple: It’s Love. It’s being love. It’s showing love to our brothers and sisters. Love is treating others, who may be outside of our elite clubs, how we would want to be treated.

Love is baking the cake. Love is denouncing sexual predators.

I don’t care what club that you’re in. Society made up all of the clubs. They’re an illusion of our separateness and if we aren’t lifting one another up, we are not lifting ourselves up.

Last night with the election of Doug Jones, the people of Alabama lifted up so many human beings, even people that didn’t belong in their club. They lifted up victims. Women. Children. Muslims. Minorities. There were lifelong republicans that helped make this happen. There were lifelong Christian conservatives that helped make this happen, and I am grateful.

So I propose that we take Alabama’s lead, and vote for the human,

vote for the child of God in all humans…

Don’t just vote with your club or to benefit members of your club. 

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The Line in the Sand: I Side with Eminem and So Would Jesus

The Line in the Sand: I Side with Eminem and So Would Jesus

My whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn’t
‘Til I grew up, now I blew up, it makes you sick to ya stomach
Doesn’t it?

Eminem

Last night during the Hip Hop Awards, Eminem gave an explosive freestyle rap, blasting Trump, and drawing a line in the sand to his fans. Either you’re on the side of his, or you’re on the side of Trump. He showed courage and the ultimate middle finger to any of his supporters that are continuing to support this president. He stands to lose money or he stands to gain, however, in that historical moment, he didn’t care. Humans are more important.

You see, Eminem didn’t draw the line first. The line has been drawn by conservative Christianity for years. Either you’re their version of a believer, or you’re out, lost, sick, wayward, and backslidden. The line has been drawn by Donald Trump now for over a year. Either you stand with the media, or Donald Trump. Either you stand with the NFL, or Donald Trump. Either you stand with the white supremacists in Charlottesville, or you stand with the people protesting against racism. We can all pretend this line isn’t as deep as the Grand Canyon, but we’d all be naive. There is clearly a line, and you are on one side or the other.

You may think Eminem is a hypocrite because of his vulgarities in his rap music. You may say he has no right to criticize Trump because his rap music is full of filthy words. Do you know what his filthy words are about? I’ve been listening to Eminem for almost 20 years now. He is a lyrical genius that expresses the rage we all feel inside, deep in our bones and with every cell in our body. Some are too blind to appreciate his artistry to even try and understand what he is brilliantly bringing forth to the youth. They’ve tried to silence him, and censor him. Republicans tried to take him off the air for his offensive lyrics in 2001.

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So what does Eminem rage against?

Child abuse. Domestic Violence. Inequality. Poverty. Racism. War. Violence. Hypocrisy. Censorship. Gang Violence. Suicide. Sexual Assault. Rape. Police Brutality. Human Suffering. Drug addiction.

All of his epic lyrics that bring to the light all of these issues are lost on some because he doesn’t speak their language. All they can hear are the swear words. All they hear are the words on the surface. Art is deep. The message is deeper than the literal words. Eminem is no saint. He wouldn’t claim to be.  There are some of his lyrics that I obviously, cannot get behind. However, I see what he is speaking through his lyrical poetry. His truth is his art not actual action in real life. His profane lyrics don’t match his deeds. However, Trump matches his horrible words with actual deeds.

What does Donald Trump rage against?

Equality. Racial Justice. LGBTQ. The Poor. Immigrants. Mexicans. Women. Black Americans. The Disabled. POW heroes. The sick. The “hit” the budget has taken because of the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, raging against victims.

You’re damn right I’m on the side of Eminem. No apologies. No shame. No guilt.

My blaring question is who in their right mind isn’t on the side with me and Eminem? Who in their heart and spirit can even justify being on the side of Donald Trump? People have tried to censor me as well for using my platform to rage against all things that burn me and others. I’m not following the Word of God, they say. Every word in the Bible is God-breathed. How about this verse in Ezekiel 23:20:

 “There she lusted after her lovers,

whose genitals were like those of donkeys

and whose emission was like that of horses.”(NIV)

This came from the mouth of God? Gasp.

But KJV only churches mask this verse with a more clean version to hide the filth in order to deceive further.

“For she doted upon their paramours,

whose flesh is as the flesh of asses,

and whose issue is like the issue of horses.”

Both verses mean the exact same thing. What word is this that is God-breathed? It’s vulgar. It’s pornographic. Yet, people are conditioned to be more offended by swear words than they are actual issues that deserve our collective disgust. Bring your Bible to school though kids. Read your Bibles that include passages about sizes, emissions, murder, and genocide. Read those passages advocating rape and slavery.

Turn off Eminem, he’s a soldier of hell, right?

Something is amiss, America. Something is so wrong with all of this. Some of us see it and we are blasting whatever fire we have inside at the cold, stark, truth. We are showing bravery, courage, and willingness to lose it all. We have to. How can we not speak against this evil force in office?

They’ve drawn their line. Evangelicals drew it again with their Nashville Statement. Anyone who is affirming to LGBTQ cannot call themselves Christian. Well, I’m not that kind of Christian. I will happily describe myself as a Jesusist, if that rocks their world. Because the Jesus I know, love, and follow, raged against all of the same things as Eminem. They tried to shut him up too. The religious and political leaders of the day tried to censor his message too by killing him. His message lives on though. Love will be spoken and has been resurrected. Love will survive and will overcome the other side. Instead of drawing a line, he said in Matthew 12:30:

“He that is not with me is against me.”

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To the “Godless”: We Must Stop the Rising Theocracy of Radicalized Christianity

To the “Godless”: We Must Stop the Rising Theocracy of Radicalized Christianity

“Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8

During the Obama years, and since, if you are left-leaning, democrat, or a liberal, you may have heard insults that you are “godless”. This seems to be the rhetoric of the religious right. If you are not one of them, you are a heathen and are among the secular “godless”. I am among you if you have been called any of these things. In fact, just this week I was called “the darkness” in a Franklin Graham Twitter thread. Why?  Because I was calling out Trump for his immorality, and reiterating my refusal to support him. Interestingly, I was using the words of Christ to prove my point.

This polarization and demonization of human beings not falling in line with the religious right is concerning on many levels. The United States seems to be moving toward a theocracy where the religion of the religious right is taking over, seeking power, control, and oppression to anyone refusing allegiance. The Republican Tax bill revealed on November 2nd, repeals the Johnson amendment which prohibits churches and other religious groups from making political statements and backing certain causes. Churches and other religious groups can still maintain their tax-exempt status while endorsing certain candidates or other issues. There are no limits to how much political influence this gives the church, and how easily this makes the rising theocracy a reality.

While I’m not going to add insult to injury and call them out on their “godless” behavior, I will say that I don’t worship the same “God” they do. Since America is blessed with the constitution guaranteeing that no law shall be established in respect or adherence to any one religion, as American citizens, we legally do not have to comply with this theocracy. The First Amendment clearly states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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However, the religious right is in charge right now. They are making policies right now. They are trying to put prayer back in public schools. They are trying to end sexual education in public schools. There are Christian organizations disrespecting separation of church and state by handing out Bibles to children on public school property. They are trying to thrust creationism into science classrooms while at the same time, fighting against the teaching of evolution.

All of these efforts by the religious right point me to the conclusion that Christianity, at large, has become radicalized. Historically speaking, it has always been radicalized. There has always been an “us vs. them” mentality present as Christian history speaks for itself. There have always been times where “followers of Christ” believe themselves to be the elite, while all others are lacking in God’s favor, and deserve damnation. Christian crusaders truly believed, and were manipulated and lawfully forced to believe that it was their duty to kill non-believers, and they did.

This same radical belief is still present today.

The mentality present during the crusades still persists in the psyche of fundamentalism, only it will be post-rapture crusades. In their belief system, Jesus is coming soon to take them out of this earth because they are the true believers. All other humans, all other religions, and arguably all other sects of Christianity (such as progressive, Catholicism, Lutheran, etc.) will be left behind. For 7 years all those left behind will suffer horrible afflictions by God. After this horrific 7 years dubbed the “tribulation”,  Jesus and his “church” comes back down to earth.  Once and for all they will defeat (kill, send to hell) evil (non-believers). After this Holy War,  the elite will reign in a kingdom on earth for 1000 years.

I used to believe this. Now I see nothing more than a post-apocalyptic crusade.

However, fundamental Christians are looking forward to the rapture. They yearn for it. The rapture is their ultimate reward for their service to Christ. It will be the most glorious day of their life. But how can that be? Will they look back from the heavens and see their fellow humans suffering in torment and feel joy? How could heaven be a place of peace, love, and harmony while knowing what is happening to other humans? I wouldn’t feel happy. I would be in misery in this heaven, just as I am in misery on earth amidst human suffering.

Still, this radical belief persists and the “us vs. them” mentality runs rampant causing harmful division and policies hurting other humans. I am not impressed with the moral integrity of those subscribing to the “us” category. I don’t want to be one of them. It seems that racism is on their side. It seems that oppression of the poor and sick is on their side. Hatred of LGBTQ, gun worshipping, and destruction of the environment is on their side. Building walls, deporting foreigners, death penalty, and war is on their side.  Also,  turning a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians because of being pro-Israel, is on their side.

Yet, this side calls anyone else “godless”.

If being godless means I have to suddenly change my inherent compassion to such an extreme as to embrace their god and join them, then perhaps they are correct in that assumption. I am void of that kind of god. I am not void of love. But God is Love, right? So in insulting the left with terms like “godless”, they are in a sense calling us “loveless”.

I can think of no other loveless act than taking great pleasure in leaving this world behind to suffer at the hands of a radical God. I can think of no other loveless act than sending any form of creation to Hell for eternity because they were created into a Muslim family, or with a homosexual pre-disposition.

Unfortunately, as long as humans can embrace and are manipulated to embrace a God that would do any of these things and yet still think this God is love, we are all going to fall prey to this radical, extreme division. Make no mistake, anyone not them is an enemy in the war for this extreme Christ.

This extreme Christ is not the Gospel, however.

The Gospel of Christ is inclusivity, and unconditional love, grace, forgiveness for all. It is raising the oppressed, helping the poor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, welcoming the foreigner, and visiting the imprisoned. In no sense of the word is there a questionnaire to be filled out by those we are supposed to help asking whether or not they said the sinner’s prayer. Jesus even forgave the people killing him and allowed them to do so.  If Jesus had this type of character in this world, how does he suddenly change into a militant army warrior causing and delighting in the suffering of humans, post-rapture?

It isn’t Jesus. This isn’t the one I know and tell my children about. It isn’t the one that I will follow in this theocracy. I encourage everyone to join organizations that are fighting to uphold the separation of church and state. This law exists to keep radical religions from becoming state law. If this isn’t kept in check, there are no limits to how this religion can be exploited at the detriment of citizens not falling in line. We need no other example but Christianity’s own history.

Links to organizations:

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Sex: Let’s Talk About It, America, and Use Common Sense

Sex: Let’s Talk About It, America, and Use Common Sense

I watched a lot of female mice being raped during my senior year of college. Yes, you read that right. I was part of an insanely hilarious group of psychology students whom embarked on a research project to compare human sexual behavior to sexual behavior in mice. Our hypothesis was that the male mice would do anything they needed to do to get laid, and that the male mice would fall asleep directly after sex. Observing hours upon hours of mice, the data that we collected proved our hypothesis to be TRUE.

Just like mice, humans are biologically predisposed to have sex. The desire is arguably stronger with men because biologically they are wired to spread their seed to ensure survival of the human race. Their urges are natural and based on hormones that are out of their control. Based on years of conversations with male friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is very difficult for the male to use their brain to keep their desires at bay. They have it kind of rough because of their biological predisposition.

Watching these male mice chase the female mice around incessantly until they captured one and mated with them, even though the female tried to get away, showed me up close this natural need that is so very powerful. In contrast to mice, humans can exercise self-control even through major difficulty. However, humans are also humans, and failing our best intentions is inevitable at times, especially during teenage years when hormones are raging.

Purity culture intends to arm young women and boys with a spiritual defense during times of sexual temptation. However, it turns sex and natural urges into something to feel ashamed of. Masturbation is a sin among many religions, and pre-marital sex is stressed as a HUGE sin, beating gossip, greed, and lying. Purity culture tries to enforce abstinence through a promise made to God-that the teen will stay a virgin until married.

I made a purity promise in youth group when I was 12 years old. Being an overly sensitive young girl that both loved and feared her God, it was an easy promise to make. I was positive I could honor this pact. Psychologically, I was afraid of the consequences if I didn’t. Biologically, I was unaware at the changes my body would undergo in the next few years. I hadn’t fallen in love yet. I hadn’t wanted to express my love yet. I knew nothing. I was 12. I did know sin, I did know fear, and I did know that my God would be so angry if I broke my promise and it would potentially ruin my relationship with my God.

Just like most humans, I was unable to keep this promise. I lost my virginity to my first love, at 18, and instead of it being a beautiful experience, it ended with a major cognitive and spiritual breakdown. I thought God didn’t love me anymore and it was the onset of my downward spiral, that lasted a decade. Most importantly, I was unsafe. I wasn’t armed with birth control or a condom. Being in possession of either would’ve been in direct defiance of the promise I intended to keep. Purity culture had failed me. Luckily, I didn’t end up pregnant or with an STD.

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The religious right is hell bent on trying to legislate purity. Recently, in the name of religious liberty, the President signed an executive order rolling back employer-mandated birth control. Constantly efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are thrown into the spotlight as being a Christian mission. Sexual education in public schools are discouraged and disguised as corrupting the youth with filth and perversion. Franklin Graham recently posted on Facebook about how dangerous sex-ed is and gave a call to Christians to run for their school boards to stop the filth. Here is his post:

“Parents beware and listen up—here’s an example of how dangerous our public schools have become for our children. This Oklahoma middle school was teaching 7th and 8th graders topics in their sex education class including mutual masturbation, oral, vaginal and anal sex as the “4 types” of sex. It disturbed one 12-year-old student so much that she was in tears and asked to be taken out of the class. Another student said, “Mom, it’s like instead of telling us how not to do it, it’s like they gave us a road map.” This curriculum tried to make it more elementary by having kids fill in the blanks and referring to “underwear zones.” This is all part of an agenda to pervert the minds and steal the innocence of children—it’s wrong, and it’s evil. Parents, be on guard. Get informed about what the schools are teaching your children. Get involved and let the school and the school board know this isn’t going to happen on your watch. I urge Christians across the country to run for your local and state school boards where you can help put a stop to initiatives like this. Let me know in the comments below if this kind of garbage is being taught in your community’s schools.”

All of these efforts by the religious right to legislate sex are completely futile and will increase abortions. Sex whether marital or pre-marital has and will be going on as long as humans exist. Abortions will always go on, legal or not. Why wouldn’t we want to arm our children with knowledge, STD defenses, and pregnancy barriers? Instead send them out on the whim they can stay abstinent? That isn’t realistic whatsoever, I couldn’t do it, and I guarantee most of the religious right couldn’t do it. The youth needs education. They need to be taught personal responsibility. Research shows that increasing access to birth control, and increasing sexual education programs DECREASE unwanted pregnancies, which DECREASE abortions.

No one loves abortion. Women’s rights activists are not out on the front line trying to persuade women to get abortions. Being pro-choice isn’t synonymous with being pro-abortion. Most of us are abortion reductionists. We want to reduce abortions, and the actions taken by the religious right are doing the opposite.

I encourage parents, Christians and Non-Christians to have honest and open conversations about sex with their children. We, as a society cannot hide from it, nor do we need to shame it. It’s a natural process, that is both pleasurable and life enhancing. Teens shouldn’t be taught to be ashamed of themselves for having lustful thoughts or sexual urges, because neither can be stopped. It’s like telling your kid to be ashamed for being hungry or thirsty. Sexual repression, in my opinion based on observations, can manifest itself through extra-marital affairs later in life, perversion, and also contributes to rape and sexual assault. Just look at the rape and molestation of young boys in the Catholic religion by priests, whom are extremely sexually repressed.

Consent needs to be taught. Respect needs to be taught. Being responsible with birth control and condoms need to be taught. Mutual pleasure needs to be taught. Boys need to know that sex isn’t just for them. Boys need to know they aren’t monsters and women need to know they aren’t sluts. Abstinence should be taught as an excellent option, however, not used as a tool teaching God’s wrath if we fail.

Let’s just be smart America, and use our common sense. We are after all, no different than mice. We just have tools at our disposal that can help us succeed and overcome our biological and psychological urges in a way that benefits everyone. May we contribute to policies and programs that will reduce abortions not increase them.

 

Love is My Religion: This Year I Have Been a Hypocrite.

Love is My Religion: This Year I Have Been a Hypocrite.

Confession: I am a hypocrite. This year specifically I have violated my first and foremost belief, one that I have been preaching my entire life:

To love my neighbor as myself.

I’ve spent a lifetime pushing back against Christianity. I’ve fought to expose the blatant hypocrisy and incongruence to Jesus’ core values. My life has been lived out in the open, no secrets, all sins laid bare. I’ve drank and abused alcohol, smoked cigarettes, lived with boyfriends, bartended, advocated for medical marijuana, have been divorced, advocated for choice, allied with LGBTQ, the list goes on and on in the ways I have lived on display to the church, being everything it’s against.

Since I was a child, I’ve always fought for the underdog. It’s been so easy to preach “love your enemies” and “love your neighbor”  in church culture when my focus was on the underdogs, LGBTQ, the addicted, the sinners, etc. It has been where I naturally have fit in, among the misfits, because I was one. I am one. I was trying to be understood and loved anyway, even through my misfitery. I spent my life in one mess after the next, never being able to rise because I never felt loved, just as I was, sins and all, heretic and all, wayward and all.

Whenever I was confronted by a Christian “in love” for my sinful ways, I would preach Matthew 7:1-5, call them out on ways they’re sinning, and be on my way to crash and burn again. As I look back at my series of life monstrosities, I can only wonder if I, perhaps, was a test for the church. Living authentically was my only sin, however. I was purely acting and living from exactly who I was at that moment with my current, available resources, and lack of self love.

However, living authentically has a price. I paid the cost by being a focus. As long as Kimberly was such a “lost one”, no one had any need to look in the mirror. The church could focus on me, because I was willing to just be myself, train wreck and all. The more stones that were cast, the deeper I dug in my hole of self-destruction. I didn’t know how to love myself. The church did not teach me how. Other misfits taught me how. It wasn’t until this election, when I finally saw the church’s sins laid bare, that I finally could rise. Just like they were focused on me in my mess, I was too focused on the church for redemption.

And just like them, I have cast more stones than a gravel truck this year.

Currently, this political climate is causing so much upheaval in all of our lives. People on both sides of the aisle have been exposed to the “real” versions of friends and family we once thought we knew so well. We’ve been surprised, hurt, angry, bewildered, confused, and exhausted. This strange reality we have all been forced to comprehend and endure has not been easy. I know I’ve failed. I’ve failed by hurting back. I’ve failed by laying the church out flat. I’ve failed by being passive aggressive. I’ve failed by ghosting, unfriending, unfollowing, and limiting contact. It isn’t just me that is failing, it’s most of us, on both sides.

The election of Donald Trump by 80% of evangelicals stung some of us. Deep. Just like I didn’t have the moral high ground back during my many episodes of self-destructive crisis’, they don’t have the moral high ground now. None of us have ever had any moral high ground. None of us ever will, which was the point Jesus tried to make. None of us are perfect. All of us are guilty. All of us forgiven. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin, everyone is redeemed from law. An adulteress doesn’t deserve stoning anymore than an LGBTQ deserves bigotry. None of us can cast stones. The law has been winning over love for generations.

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This year gave me the opportunity to finally show that my “watered down gospel” is the way. And yet, I’ve been so angry, I’ve been judging left and right, because how dare they support the immorality displayed by this president? How dare the church that now lives in a glass house, still continue to cast stones at others, and still cling on to the most immoral person I’ve ever witnessed? The church didn’t love me at my worst. Yet, the church loves this president, a man who in word and deed is in direct opposition to any value Jesus Christ ever spoke.

It’s been the biggest test of my life, this year, to love my enemies. A test I have overwhelmingly flopped, not once, but daily, sometimes hourly, for almost a year. I’m not proud of the way I’ve handled it, however, I also have grace for myself for my mistakes, and I now see a better way. We need to try and love them anyway. This year has been a time of breakdown. Foundations have crumbled. Lies exposed. Hypocrisy in the spotlight. However, no longer do we need to feel like we are the immoral ones begging for redemption. This year proves without a doubt that none of us are behaving from Love. But with breakdown, comes a time to rebuild a new foundation, and destroy what never was meant to stand anyway…RELIGIOUS LAW.

I’m willing to try. With that being said, I need to treat myself from Love, showing myself unconditional love, grace, and acceptance for my daily failure. If I would’ve known how to do that years ago, perhaps I never would’ve hit rock bottom. I only knew the love that wasn’t shown. I only knew judgement. I only knew not measuring up. It took this election for me to realize that I wasn’t so stained after all. We can’t love others until we truly love ourselves. We cannot love ourselves until we know what love is. It’s a cycle that is never-ending. People need to know what love is. It isn’t controlling someone, it isn’t damning someone, it isn’t judging, it isn’t insisting on our own way. It is patience. It is kindness. People can only be who they are with their current level of experience, knowledge, and worldview.

We can only be ourselves, and that just has to be enough. It just must be. It is the way Jesus taught us to love one another. The church has failed in that regard. Now, the resistance is failing.

I will continue to love the underdog because I’ve been one. I will continue to speak out and fight for the oppressed, and pray that the church sees it’s hypocrisy. I can try my best to speak from understanding and confidence instead of hurt, anger, and frustration. I no longer need to feel that way, as I believe whole-heartedly in my inherent values. Nothing and no one can press those down anymore.

May everyone in this nation look deep inside of their heart, and see their lack of love and hypocrisy. Only then can this nation begin to heal. I see mine. Love is my religion, and I have been a hypocrite, and I most likely will fail again, perhaps with this very blog post,  but at least I see it, and am willing to try.

May we all just try.

 

Onward Christian Soldiers: The Culture War I Grew Up in Fighting for “Jesus”

Onward Christian Soldiers: The Culture War I Grew Up in Fighting for “Jesus”

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive”

C.S. Lewis

I grew up in a fanatical world of Christianity that set me on course to be part of a movement, a culture war,  to take the country back for Christ. This meant voting Republican, being anti-LGBTQ, pro-life, pro-war, pro-gun, pro-prayer in schools, anti-evolution, anti-feminist, and anti-science. I want to express that there are so many innocent players in this movement, as they are indoctrinated with this ideology. The innocent believe they are doing the right thing for Jesus, their savior, and feel such responsibility for this country to come back to Christ because to them, the threat of eternal hellfire is very real and not up for any debate whatsoever. What better and unsuspecting people are there to manipulate than those that were primed since children to live under the threat of eternal torture?

The “powers that be” know exactly what they’re doing to get this group on the side of furthering oppression. As we can see it is working here in America. I feel sorry for them. I used to be one, but somehow I was sensitive enough to see inconsistencies with what I learned about Jesus. There seemed to be two very different, very opposite versions…

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It was my junior year of high school in my advanced biology class, and we were discussing the AIDS crisis. My teacher asked the class what some solutions could be, to reduce the effects of this epidemic. He was most likely hoping we would say things like; increase scientific research, STD education, or free, accessible condoms. Little did he know he had an arrogant Christian soldier in his class… me. I raised my hand, he called on me, and I said something along the lines of, “We should just put all of the gays on an island, and then they will die off, and there won’t be anymore AIDS.”

This horror actually came out of my mouth.

Also, that same year I wrote an essay in English class about how awful and sinful gays and lesbians were. I read this essay years later and I was saddened beyond words that I had ever written something so wrong and hateful. I shudder to think of my teacher’s reaction when he read my paper. This was the same hippie, liberal teacher who first taught me to think for myself and put important books in our hands like “1984” by George Orwell. I hope he said a prayer for me when he read my essay. I am pretty sure my biology teacher did after my island comment, as he was a great man, a very loving man.

I wasn’t born with hate or bigotry in my heart. I was the bright, adorable, little girl in our tiny, modest, country Baptist church that my grandfather was the pastor of. I was a social butterfly and loved everyone in that building. My mother would laugh when I would often invite the entire congregation over for dessert after Sunday night service, even though we only had two pieces left of the delicious apple crisp or coffee cake that she made. Slowly over the years, however, my inherent love and compassion was chipped away, inadvertently and subtly.

I was taught that there were two sides. Ours and theirs. The “true believers” and the “world”. The world included anyone not subscribing to our sect of Christianity (KJV only, literal truth, no questions allowed). This secular world included Methodists, Catholics, democrats, LGBTQ, Lutherans, Progressive Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, feminists, pretty much everyone else. Everyone was wrong but us, and other churches adhering to our rigid interpretation. I learned that America was a Christian nation, and the secular world was an enemy to America because they wanted to remove Jesus from our country. The secular world was an enemy of Jesus. The only thing to do was convert others, and if we couldn’t, then dismiss them. Be of the world but not in the world.

Constantly, I questioned all of this. I never understood it, and thought it was really silly that there were so many churches in my town but only certain ones were okay. Others weren’t going to heaven? Others were deceiving their flock, and they were headed to hell? Still though, this anti-LGBTQ doctrine had taken hold.

It isn’t surprising to me that this culture war is being fought with such fervency. It isn’t surprising to me that  fundamental Christians and evangelical Christians are doubling down in their support of Trump. No matter how destructive his policies are to other human beings, and no matter how immoral his character is, he is still on the side of the religious right working to take back the country for Christ. They truly think they’re doing the right thing.

But it’s their version of Christ. 

We need to be concerned at the rise of  Christian Fascism. Already we are seeing policies such as the trans military ban, that are one step away from “putting the gays on an island.” The LGBTQ community is being tossed into the limelight as the ultimate sacrifice for this culture war that must be won for Christ, along with black Americans, immigrants, refugees, the poor, women, and the sick. Even the children are being sacrificed for this culture war, as the GOP chose not to renew the low-income health insurance program (CHIP) and is set to expire at the end of this month, leaving 9 million children at risk of losing their insurance.

Those of us that are speaking out, whistle-blowing this damaging movement that we used to be part of, are making them extremely uncomfortable. We are causing distress and discomfort. The only choice they have is to put us on prayer chains, gossip (praying together) and hope that soon we will see the light of their lord and return apologetically like the prodigal son.

This prodigal daughter is not returning. In doing so, I would have to forfeit my first and foremost belief, to love my neighbors as myself, and treat others like I would want to be treated. This is the Gospel I also learned about in this community and from my grandfather. This is the Jesus I also learned about in this community and from my grandfather. I cannot abandon it, nor am I ashamed to speak it. I am thankful I was brought out of that world, only to return to that little girl that loves everyone. But my fate is that I will forever be damned to hell in the light of their lord, yet forever trying to help people that are hurting.

I will suffer for it though.

I will suffer being on prayer chains, and gossip circles.

I will suffer knowing how badly I have hurt the collective by refusing to conform.

I will suffer because it isn’t about me. It isn’t about them, or maybe it is. Who knows how many of the people inside of that building are living with secrecy and unnecessary shame.

It will always be about fighting for, standing up for, and kneeling with, the least of these.