Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Shut Up in the Name of Unity?

It was a Wednesday night like any other. Most people were rushing home to feed their kids or running to the gym. Some people might stop to have dinner and drinks with friends, or stop and pick up dry cleaning before heading home for the night. Not me, and not the group gathered together that night or every other Wednesday night, because Wednesday night was Church night. It was probably more important than Sundays even, because it was the night that the body was fed with spiritual nourishment. It's where we dug deeper in the scriptures to learn how they were meant to shape our lives - how we could grow as followers of Christ.

The pastor said that the elders wanted to address the body. There was a serious issue that had to be presented to the body. There was a wolf among us in sheep's clothing. They even named the wolf. Her name was Amy. She was my friend. I knew Amy well. She was one of the first people that I met when I came to the Church. We were in separate parts of the Church then though and didn't get to see each other much. We were told that Amy had sinned on several occasions and had been forgiven because she had promised to change. But, darn it, she had done it again and she just wasn't repenting to the satisfaction of the elders. Her repeated lapses with this particular sin had proven she wasn't repentant. The only thing that would save Amy now was if she was turned out into the world to wallow in her vomit. We were told that she was marked, that meant we as members of the body were to not talk to her, to not help her in any way. If we did, if we went against the directives of the leadership, we would be considered in sin. We could risk being marked ourselves. I began crying. Tears were streaming down my face as I listened to the scriptural basis for their judgment. My heart was breaking for what I felt in the deepest part of me was not right, was not loving, was not true. But, I left that  night and never talked to Amy again. It was biblical after all. They had laid it out before me with scriptures after all as to what I was to do, what I had to do if I was to be right with God. Amy was not right with God. She was a homosexual.

This wasn't the only time I had disagreed with the leadership or the tenants of the Church. I had questions. I even raised them from time to time. However, I learned early on to keep my mouth shut because my questions were always met with scorn. I, or anyone else who spoke out about something was labeled as divisive. We were shown scriptures of how in the body of Christ we were called to be united. Questioning meant you were not united, you were being divisive to God's word.

Eventually, I left that Church. To do so was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life. I had to be careful what I told people when I left for fear that I would be marked as divisive and lose the relationships I had spent years building. I didn't want my questions to create enough doubt in others that they would question their involvement and leave. After leaving, I studied about cults, about brainwashing, and about mind-control. The deeper I went into my studies I realized that I had been part of a cult. There are many things that go into making a cult. The symptoms are insidious. Cults aren't limited to religion. They can develop in any group where information is controlled, where outside input is blocked.

We have been called to unite as a country. Does that mean those who aren't in agreement, the losers of this election, must shut up? That they must stop questioning the direction our country is moving, the decisions the administration are making in our name. I say: Hell No! Now is when our voices must get louder. We must demand to be heard.

When someone is called to unity it doesn't mean they must shut up, it doesn't mean they must concede their beliefs. It doesn't mean that the victor is right. The victor needs to work as much for unity too. Unity means finding a compromise in order to work together. It doesn't mean blind agreement.

I express my feelings here sometimes.  It's my journal, my forum. So far, I still have that right in the United States. I will fight for that right. I will fight to be heard. But, in the name of peace, love, and yes, unity, I will also listen and hopefully learn.

"Whoever kindles the flames of intolerance is lighting a fire underneath his own home."  ~Harrold Stassen (b.1907) U.S. politician

26 comments:

judithheartsong said...

Exceptional entry dear Robbie. Very well said. judi

mlraminiak said...

Wonderful entry, Robbie.  I particularly appreciate how the policies of the current administration appear cultish.  After 9/11, they crafted a culture where speaking out against administration policies was considered unpatriotic.  People were actually afraid to criticize the president. And then, during the campaign they just excluded people from their "gatherings" who might disagree with the administrations policies.  How frightening is this?  It's one of the things I have such a hard time dealing with about this whole affair.  Where is the outrage?  Even the media started blathering about the president's "mandate" after the word first crawled out of Dick Cheney's mouth.  It is firghtening how more than half this country has lined up obediently behind the President as if he is some kind of messiah, just because they are frightened (he made sure of that during the campaign) and they believe (falsely) that he will keep them safe.  And they don't seem to care what they have to give up in order to make that happen.  Lisa  :-]

babyshark28 said...

great entry robbie :)
I was also in a church like you talk about, for about a year. It was a very small one, which is always an indicator of poor spiritual health.  But, when your in it...your just so glad to be accepted, you will want to do anything to keep being accepted.  It's just too bad there even out there, but being that were all human....well, it's just the way it is.  We just have to be wise.

and no, you don't have to be quiet about any of your beliefs, who would dare ask you too. :)

guardianfas said...

That church was no church, and any religion that doesn't forgive isn't doing God's work, although I disagree about the coment that a small church is a sign of a cult.

So far as the political commentary - what makes this country great is the ability to speak one's mind, without fear of capture or death - things a good part of this planet can't say.

And while "shutting up" is never a good idea, constructive suggestion is much more palatable than outright objection.  There is another old saying..."it you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

freeepeace said...

Well said Robbie.  Thank you for this important reminder.  Don't ever stop questioning and by all means, never shut up!

sistercdr said...

Robbie, all I can say is Amen!  Our voices have to be heard, our questions have to be answered, and our government (and our churches) have to be accountable to us as well as to everybody else.

readmereadyou said...

Scary church you went to. Thank God Catholics are allowed to think but you'd never know it by the media. I can see now why some religions think we are whacky. I like us. : ) We can even vote for democrats. LOL!
As for not saying anything against this administration......Hah! We continue on and we hope and pray that people's eyes and ears will be opened. The sad thing is that we will pay for the mistakes of their votes. However, they will learn.
God bless you, dear girl,
Angela

msyahtzee said...

Wow, I am ever more grateful that I belong to a church who accepts everyone for where they are at and do not judge and abolish someone from the community.  We actually prde ourselves on theological diversity.  We may not all agree but we agree that everyone is invited to share and participate.  I am glad that you found the courage to leave.  Thanks for sharing this.  -Kari

txsguinan said...

You're right ~ this current "you're either with us, or you're against us" mentality contains many of the elements of cultism; a worldview based on 'Them' v 'Us', where 'We' are Good and 'They' are Evil.

And as much as they'd like us to, I don't understand the idea that the 48% of the country that did not vote for this president or his administration should suddenly just...disappear.  Intelligent debate is one of the cornerstones of democracy.  What, I wonder, are they all so afraid of? Although Bush, Cheney and Rove et al do so love their personal loyalty oaths, we as citizens pledged our allegiance to the country, not this particular cast of characters.  

Shout it from the rooftops ~ "Loyalty to my country always.  Loyalty to the government when it deserves it" ~ Mark Twain

plieck30 said...

It is wonderful that we still live in a free country where we can attend the church of our choice and vote as we please. I am thankful for that. Thank you for your comments in my journal. Paula

magogos said...

Thank you, Robbie, for sharing this. I will be looking for ways to be heard, to speak loudly and clearly but not inflamarorily(is that a word?). I truly love my country, but worry about where we are going in the name of "decency and morality." Margo

ryanagi said...

Wow...I didn't think there were that many faiths left that practiced "shunning". Curious about which church you belonged to, of course, but also glad you found your own path. (And laughing about the comment that Catholics are aloud to think for themselves. Ha!)

screaminremo303 said...

Compromise is the mark of maturity. Here's hoping we all grow up a little in the next four years! Great entry.

ondinemonet said...

Robbie :)

This is probably one of the best entries you have EVER written. You are 1000 percent correct that now more then ever we should let our voices be heard. We need to keep watch on not just Washington but the men and women of the government who represent our very own communities. I hope you will join me in my personal endeavor to share in my journal about those politicians and judges and all in authority in my back yard who get caught and have their misdeeds placed on page 9 instead of the front page. Join me in reading about the offenders who make terrible hateful decisons and think no one is watching. We can come together in the truth, that is where empowerment lies. And as for those who are now sitting back in the afterglow of an election won...you might want to keep watch also, you never know when your fair weather politician might fall from grace.

Always, Carly :)

ksgal3133 said...

Wonderful entry and I'm glad you got out of that "church".
Never shut up, just keep pushing forward :)

Gretchen
http://livinginsavannah.blogspot.com/

lisbnjvi said...

So glad you were strong enough to leave the Church when you did.  Unfortunately, there are still many, including the "one" in power, that blindly follow without asking even one question against their faith.  
Hugs and love, Lisa

lamove04 said...

Thank you for this wonderful entry, Robbie... I am going through a similar depression myself, just beginning to come out of it now, though I'm finding it hard to watch the news.  I want to figure out somewhere to volunteer, to fight the trend I see taking place, toward prejudice and divisiveness...  --Albert

mcjerseygiri said...

I was raised in that type of church. I knew as a teen how wrong those views were. As an adult I stopped going altogether for a long time. I go now to a different church but I find that I am my own person. If they try to change me, I will leave. I support everyone and their rights to live their lives on their terms. I have many gay friends. I try to follow the example of Jesus. He said we are to love everyone as our brother. Love is described in Corinthians. It's kindness, patience, trust, hope. LOVE NEVER FAILS. It's my job to love and God's and his alone to judge. Nelle

indigosunmoon said...

What an entry Robbie!  I've got a lump in my throat!!
Bravo honey!  Nobody says it as eloquently as you do!!
Lovish!
Connie

belfastcowboy75 said...

Tell it, sister. Jingoism is a cult, too.

kathlyna22 said...

What a fabulous entry!
My parents still feel that way
and I think its sad.
I don't understand the difference between gay or straight?
Aren't we all just people trying to get along on this big old planet??
Kathleen

st0rmwhispers said...

Robbie,  My friend asked me to visit her church "the United Church of Christ"  so I went and at first everything went well...then quickly they started giving me rules and trying to take away my sources of information...radio, television, even my computer.  It was even suggested that I quit my job and home school my son.  Mind you...they even have a web site!  

Of course I refused and quit attending.  I believe in doing my own thinking since God saw fit to provide me with my own brain.  Now my friend (and neighbor) barely talks to me and when she does...she is constantly looking around to make sure no one sees her

Its sad.  

I agree with everything you've so eloquently written.  You did a beautiful job on this entry...You should consider submitting it to USA Today or Time Magazine.  
 
No one ever talks about the Christian left but a handful of j-landers.  

ckays1967 said...

Wow Robbie!!!!    No wonder you left that church......I don't think that that is the kind of love God was talking about at all.  

Judge not least I be judged.   Glass houses and all....

Very good entry.

bridgetteleigh75 said...

Your church sounds like every church I've ever been to.  I grew up in the 'Bible Belt' and have been taught my whole life that homosexuality is wrong.  Honestly, it just doesn't matter to me what people choose to do in their personal lives.  I base my opinions strictly on THE PERSON and not their choices.  Sometimes good people make bad choices, and vice versa.  I hope people respect me enough to do the same.

This was a great entry, Robbie.  Very true to form and revealing.  

Love,
bridgett

debijanssen said...

GOOD ENTRY IT'S SO SAD BUT THATS WHY ALOT OF PEOPLE QUIT GOING TO CHURCH ALL THE HYPOCRISY.

thesheatons said...

No way. Those of us who disagree will keep stating our case. And we'll keep saying it. After all, water will eventually wear away the hardest stone. It takes awhile but it does wear away.