If you’ve heard my story, you’ve undoubtedly heard me speak about the anger, bitterness and hatred I once harbored towards Christians. It was pretty bad, let me tell ya. For many years, I did all I could to cause as much grief as possible to as many Christians as would talk to me. I loved to rub in their faces the fact that I was a porn producer, and to use that conversation to progress into theological discussions about parts of the Bible that made no sense to me.
…like Hosea 13:16 where, supposedly under God’s command, unborn babies were ripped from their mothers wombs. The exact text goes like this:
Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Where does a thinking person go with a scripture like that? Christians usually had no response to the venom I’d spit after rambling off that passage, mostly because that scripture, as others like it, aren’t discussed from the pulpit. It almost seems as if words streaming from a pulpit are as far as the average Christian “studies”. I used to refer to such individuals as little birdies sitting with their mouths open waiting for “mommy birdie” to fill them up. In this case “mommy birdie” was their religious leader. If their Pastor or Sunday School teacher hadn’t prepared them to answer such questions, hadn’t told them what to think about such matters, they were not prepared for my rehearsed venomous rhetoric.
I’d pepper the person with whom I was arguing with questions about Dionysus and other “gods” like him. Dionysus lived 500 years before Christ, was said to have been born of a virgin on December 25th, performed miracles, was called the “King of Kings”, the “Alpha and Omega” and was resurrected from the dead after he died. Mithra, who was popular in Persia 1200 years before Christ, was said to have been born of a virgin on December 25th, had 12 disciples, performed miracles, died and rose again 3 days later. Christianity, I argued, was not unique and was in fact a copy of previous belief systems.
For these arguments most Christians have no answers. Like their ignorance of the text of Hosea 13:16, many people have never heard of Dionysus or Mithra.
Since surrendering my life to God I’ve discovered there are answers to these questions. I’ve been searching them out. But we’re not here to talk about those answers right now. If you’d like great scholastic research on such things pick up a copy of Lee Strobel’s The Case for the Real Jesus (which is an entirely different book than The Case for Christ). It relies on researched scholarship to address these claims. Very good book. I highly recommend it.
The anger, bitterness and hatred I harbored was mostly based on experiences I had growing up a Pastor’s son, watching the hypocrisy and politics that went on amongst leaders and members of the congregations my father pastored. If that was God, I reasoned, I wanted no part of Him.
But the nature of God and the nature of those who claim to follow Him are often mutually exclusive, aren’t they? I didn’t allow for that. Such an elementary concept didn’t occur to me until late in my porn career.
Childhood experiences were only part of my problem. I was deeply disappointed that the entire belief system I’d been taught since childhood had been reduced to so much bullshit, at least in my mind (pardon the language, dear constant reader… I’m certain God has heard it before). Switching that disappointment to intense anger was a very short road.
The amazing year since I surrendered my life to God and have pursued to strengthen my relationship with Him has been quite the learning experience, to say the least. My mind has been rewired in many ways. Circuits have been replaced. Traffic has been re-routed. You get the picture, I’m sure. In a real, living, non-cliché way I’ve discovered that God really is love. Pure love. He’s this perfect parent who wants nothing but good for His children. Ya know what I mean, Vern? That learning process continues. I love Him more each day. On a daily basis, I discover something new about his nature from my experiences in… ordinary life.
Letting go of all the anger and bitterness is part of the process of getting to know who God IS. I’m happy to say, those two things are mostly gone. Mostly. There are flare ups from time to time, and perhaps there always will be. But the hatred? I can honestly say the hatred is gone for good.
How was I able to let that hatred go? By making an attempt to see others as God sees them… as he sees me. Despite my garbage, baggage, sin… God loved me. He never let go. He looks at me with even more fondness than I look at my son. I know there is nothing my son could ever do to make me love him any less, and how much more so can the same be said about how God cares for each of HIS children? I’ve said before, if someone disliked my son I think I’d have a hard time liking that person. How can I dislike God’s sons and daughters and expect Him to be happy about it? I’ve discovered that letting go of hatred is mostly a choice. I’ve made that choice. I’ve adjusted the perspective from which I look at others, and have happily discovered I really love people.
I like watching people. I like studying them. In doing so, I’ve been really encouraged by the movements I see happening amongst Christian communities all across this country. I see hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes being addressed from the pulpit, and I notice that when people realize they don’t HAVE to be that way, when they are “given permission” to lay such things down by someone they trust and respect, all that crap is gladly abandoned. Even though it’s self evident, it’s as if we sometimes need to have someone tell us “that’s okay”.
I think to myself, “Perhaps all that crap has existed in this world for so long only because people assume they HAVE to be that way. Perhaps such behavior has been handed down from one generation to another, and when people find out it’s okay to break that cycle it’s like a burden is lifted from their shoulders and they are free to love everyone, regardless of where they are… it sure seems as if things are changing for the better. It sure seems as if people are finally starting to discover what freedom in Christ really means. It sure seems as if Christians are beginning to realize they really CAN try to follow the example Jesus set with his life.”
Or maybe, just maybe, it was my eyes that were out of focus all along?
How can I do anything but love God’s kids?