Some of you know that I was once an evangelical Xian, albeit in Sweden and during the late 70’s, 80’s and early 90s, but I was just like those Evangelical Xians that are right now ripping through the USA. Fundamentalist, arrogant, life-hating and aggressive towards those who did not agree with me.
Lucky for me G-D had a few surprises up E’s sleeve for me. Surprises that unless I did something about them I would eventually have to kill myself. G-D’s biggest ally was my own brain.
1. I was virulently homophobic/transphobic – G-D’s solution: have me fall in love with a woman while physically still female. (later on it would turn out that I am a trans-man – but that didn’t come until I had had my “Night at Jabbok”)
2. I was virulently anti-abortion – G-D’s solution: make sure I had to counsel several women who had had several abortions during their lives – as part of my pastoral education.
3. I was virulently fundamentalist – G-D’s solution: show me every little contradictory statement in both the Xian scriptures and the Hebrew scriptures.
I was ready to kill myself. Yes, I had to quickly change my tack on the G-d stuff… I did. Took me a few years, but I did. Much reading, much digging, much praying and arguing with G-d. Many angry, frustrated hours spent ranting to myself about the hypocrisy in Evangelical Xianism, looking for alternative ways of reading scripture, alternative ways of understanding the texts and the immense gap between scripture and practice that I encountered over and over and over again. Homophobia, misogyny, self-righteousness, spousal abuse, child abuse, fundamentalism, idol-worship of pastors and youth leaders.
I entered Xianism at 16 because I was lonely. At 24 I was still lonely – because no amount of prayer could change the fact that I was, on the out-side, a lesbian, pro-choice and non-fundamentalist. No amount of prayer could change the fact that nowhere in the world I knew was there room for me.
I tried changing communities. I tried switching denomination, but still I was lonely and ready to leave at 27.
I switched religion – explored Paganism and it worked for a time – this was before I had access to the Net, so it was very much a loner path.
At 30 I finally came out a trans-man did the whole process as much as I could (in the 90’s) and then I switched again – this time to Judaism. Here at least I recognized the texts, the images of G-D. I found one thing in the texts I read about Judaism that I had not found in Xianism – freedom of thought and freedom of practice. And no hell.
I also found the Internetz. And found that the flavor of Judaism most prevalent on line at the time was Traditional Judaism/Orthodox/Ultra Orthodox Judaism. Same problem there – homophobia, misogyny, self-righteousness, spousal abuse, child abuse, fundamentalism, idol-worship of rabbis and youth leaders. So I switched again – to my own flavor of Judaism.
To a path all my own within Torah as I understand it.
Many people in similar situations loose their faith completely. I didn’t, and that I thank G-D for. Every day. However much I adapted my beliefs, my faith away from a fundamentalist path, one thing remained, and only barely: My belief in One G-D.
I had my Night at Jabbok. I wrestled with G-D – mostly about not being accepted into a community, about the rigidity of interpretation of Torah, about who I was in relation to Torah – and G-D. I came out on the other side together with G-D.
I walk with a limp today. But I walk.