“You are a sinner” – a fallacy

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For so long now my sense of self has been about what I DO. It seems that I can’t even remember a time where it was different. I am almost 40 years old and I am just now struggling to re-train my brain to think otherwise. Where did this come from? Why is it so engrained into me?

I look back at my life and yes, it has been difficult … abuse on many levels, the loss of loved ones at a young age, depression, anxiety attacks, etc. The list goes on.

It also has been a wonderful life … the relationship I have with God today, for example, is a constant source of peace, joy and fulfillment in being on the path I intuitively sense God wants me to be on.

Strangely, I look back at my time at New Hope Ministries and I see something that is indicative of a larger epidemic. The idea that we ARE what we DO. That mindset wasn’t given to me by New Hope Ministries however … they were just a satellite to the mindset of fundamentalist Christianity today that tells us we are what we do.

“We are sinners only saved by grace.” … that in and of itself is the ultimate statement of, “You are what you do.”

No. I refuse to take such a fallacy on and I am going to continue to fight it until this madness is out of my brain. I am a beautiful creation who is already loved, whole and complete … just as I am. There is NOTHING that I can DO (or not do) that will have God love me more than I already am … right here, right now.

When I look at the dichotomy of the ”you are a sinner” mindset and then the fact that the only happiness I have is in God it has me wonder … could this be the grand scheme of things behind how the Church at large would have us be? It is a mindset learned SO early on that even when I have it good I can’t truly appreciate it … because the only happiness I am supposed to have is through God (vis a vis the church, according to that learned state of mind).

When we ARE what we DO over time we will begin to see ourselves as failures. So if the Church can have us view ourselves in this way we will ultimately discover that the only joy, peace and fulfillment to be had will be had in a relationship through God. If the Church is the only path to this then … voila … they are needed and vitally necessary. If people actually started finding peace, joy and fulfillment for themselves in their own personal relationship with God … what would the Church do? Where would it go, would it be needed? People are sheep who need to be herded after all!

When we are viewing ourselves as what we DO, we are not actually connected to God. Thus we must run to the Church as the only way we can gain access to God … the only way we can have freedom from being the result of our actions. The only way we can have salvation from being evil “sinners”.

Is that really a healthy relationship to be having with God? Is the Church so desperate for control that they would deprive people of an intimate relationship with their Creator by basically brainwashing them from youth that they forever and always will only be … what they DO??

That is the fallacy behind ex-gay ministries. That is the fallacy behind religious politicism. You are what you do … so you’d better DO the right thing, otherwise you are going to Hell.

Bullshit. That is not the God that I know and love. That is not the Jesus who walked this earth healing, feeding people and freeing them from the oppressive dogmas around them. Think about it … who WERE the people who were threatened by and actually killed Jesus?

They were the people who had brainwashed everyone to be a certain way, to live by a certain moral code that they decreed … and made money doing it. The people who created the “you are what you do” mindset and served as the only “gateway” to God so that everyone had to cowtow to what they decreed.

Those are the people who put nails in Jesus’ wrists and feet, and a crown of thorns on his head. Not the gays, or any other minority group currently demonized by fundamentalism.

The establishment called “Church” is not the gateway to God. Church is a gathering of people who love God and share it together. Church is me going over to my nephew’s house to have dinner and watch Monday Night Football … and then staying up until 2 AM talking about God. Fellowship and sharing … encouraging each other to grow and know God more deeply.

God is right here, right now … waiting to connect deeply, passionately and intimately with every one of us. You don’t need to DO anything to gain access to this connection. You don’t need to DO anything to make yourself worthy of establishing this connection. God just Loves you and wants to fulfill you, to connect with you … to LOVE you.

I am a beautiful creation, already whole and complete. I cannot be loved any more than I already am, right here … and right now.

You are a beautiful creation, already whole and complete. YOU cannot be loved any more than you already are, right here … and right now.

Bask in it … and allow God’s Love to fill you up. It is ALWAYS there for you, no matter what you do.

***

– pic of the Pieta in St. Peter’s Cathedral, The Vatican.

***

Two friends, Larry and Chris, whose joint stint in New Hope ministries, a communal “reparative therapy” (or “ex-gay”) program, has sparked a friendship lasting almost twenty years. Through those years Larry and Chris have struggled to discover who they are as spiritual gay men whose relationship with God could never be taken away or denied.

They’ve fought, they’ve laughed, they’ve loved and somehow, through Guidance neither could have foreseen, they’ve found their way to loving and accepting themselves as gay men … gay men who are loved by God, just as they are.

These are their stories.

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CHRIS ANDERSON was born in San Jose, CA and raised in a Christian missionary family as the youngest of nine children. Chris moved to New Hope Ministries when he was twenty years old. He lived there for two years, and began being mentored to be a Youth Pastor by the pastor of the church that supported the ministry, Church of the Open Door. When Chris began asking questions and then ultimately “coming out”, he was excommunicated from the tight-knit community. Feeling rejected by virtually everyone, at age 23 Chris decided to follow his dreams. He quit his corporate job and began waiting tables with the hope of becoming a singer. A year later he was discovered by a voice teacher, and later accepted into The San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a Voice Major. Chris has performed opera in venues throughout Europe, China and the United States.

Currently, Chris is working on furthering his original dream; composing and performing his own original songs, in the form of Collaborative Composition: a music project where anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute their ideas for accompaniment to the “a capella” vocals of his original, spiritually focused songs.

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