People who ask questions, and tell truths, are accused of…
People who ask questions, and tell truths, are accused of…
Earlier this year we shared a guest post titled “Why I’m at a Church That Doesn’t Support Gender Equality”. The post led to a robust discussion of the pros and cons of staying versus leaving. Today a seasoned leader shares a consequence of staying in a complementarian church that did not come up in earlier…
by Velour/MtnShepherdess © Cartoon courtesy of David Hayward/NakedPastor.Com ©
My former church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley scrubs the internet of all negative reviews about the excommunications/shunnings of godly men and women who dare to think and use the brains God gave them. For former members who have exposed and opposed the authoritarianism, nepotism, 1970’s heavy-Shepherding techniques, and Thought-Reform techniques that the pastors/elders at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley (Cliff McManis, Sam Kim, Tim Wong, Bob Douglas and any other new pastors/elders) used to control church members GBFSV tries to scrub the internet of this important information.
From YELP to Google to Amazon and anywhere else Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley scrubs the internet of negative reviews to control the narrative.
After I wrote a negative review on Amazon beneath Cliff McManis’ book which I had previously bought and described the abusive church that he leads and that I was a member of for eight years, the church had Amazon revoke ALL of my customer reviewing privileges, which I have given mostly 4-5 stars for other products. I have been a customer of Amazon’s for years and have ordered many products for myself and as gifts for other people. (Cliff McManis also claims he has a Ph.D. and another advanced degree. According to the U.S. Department of Education, they’re FAKE degrees from an unaccredited diploma mill called Faith Bible College in Independence, Missouri. A real Ph.D. from an accredited university takes eight years of very hard work to earn. In the private sector, faking degrees and education gets people fired from their jobs or not hired if it’s learned that they lied about their degrees/education. Additionally, the Missouri Attorney General brought fraud charges against Faith Bible College’s bogus ‘accrediting agency.’ The fraudster accrediting agency was banned from doing any business in Missouri. The fraudsters moved to nearby Arkansas, renamed themselves, and opened up their fraudulent business again. And they’re back in Missouri again. And I contacted the Missouri Attorney General and said, “They’re BAAAACCCCK! Go get them, again!”)
I wrote the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, about the problems with GBFSV, the excommunications and shunnings and the Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer that the GBFSV pastors/elders gave membership to and access to everything, including putting him in a trusted position to supervise a team of people. The GBFSV pastors/elders maintain that “child porn isn’t a big deal”. It’s a very big deal — a felony crime — and violates federal and state laws. It carries stiff prison time.
Jeff Bezos RESTORED my customer reviewing privileges! (People around the world have heard about this story on the internet and said that they commend me for my stance at GBFSV and Jeff Bezos for backing me up!)
And I just started this blog because I refuse to see that level of abuse that goes on at GBFSV and turn around and be silent. It was terrible and painful to watch good people get kicked out for any trumped up reason, including a doctor in his 70’s and a middle-aged professional woman who volunteers with the mentally ill and the elderly in convalescent hospitals. And then the pastors/elders did it to me.
Thanks Jeff for understanding.
P.S. I also wrote the CEO of Google about my Google review that GBFSV had taken down and the CEO of YELP about my review that got scrubbed there too. Amazon was the first to respond!
“When Sheep Fight Back”. Cartoon by David Hayward/The Naked Pastor. ©
I was contacted today through social media from people across the United States who have found the new blog I have started about my former church, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, and its spiritual abuse. My ex-pastor was a graduate of John MacArthur’s The Master’s Seminary in Southern California. I liken it to a franchisee training ground, like a 7-11, where graduates learn to open up their own franchise of the JMac “brand”.
I learned from several writers/radio talk show hosts who have been in JMac churches that these abuses that I was subjected to at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, that I watched others be subjected to (godly men and women), and many others saw the ‘warning signs’ and the ‘writing on the wall’ and fled, are common-place in JMac churches with JMac graduates.
People who’ve read the blog hope that others around the world will read it, be strengthened by it. I started it because I will no longer be silent. What I witnessed, and what I was subjected to by the pastors/elders, was wrong.
Others who’ve been abused at JMac churches have been cowed into silence. Why? Our numbers are growing and the tide is turning. I will not ratify such abuse. Close your wallet, stop giving your money to support this nonsense, walk out the door, and don’t volunteer your time to any of these abusive churches.
by Velour/MtnShepherdess ©
The Bible is replete with examples of men and women gifted by God to teach and to lead. No Bible-believing Christian seems to have a problem with men leading or teaching, but women fulfilling those roles, as gifted by the Holy Spirit, seems to cause consternation in the lives of some who are more familiar with tradition than truth. We have dozens of illustrations in the New Testament of women teaching men (Priscilla, Anna, Philip’sfour unmarried daughters, and many, many more). There are also dozens of additional illustrations in the Bible of women leading men.
I Timothy 2:11-15 Is the Text Used by Men to Restrict Gifted Women
Following is the text that is used to stifle women. I have placed only four words in (bold) that more accurately translate what Paul is saying, words that are a direct translation of the Greek. The reasons for the four words I supply will be explained below:
“Let a (the) woman learn in quietness and full submission. “12I do not permit a (the) woman to teach or to assume authority over a (the) man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women (lit. “she“) will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
The verses above seem to say, at least on the surface and without the four words I’ve supplied, that no woman should ever teach any man; that no woman should ever assume any ‘authority’ over any man; and that all women must always be quiet in the presence of men. Of course, most evangelical conservative men would say that the Apostle Paul was only addressing women “in the church” and “in the home” so that women in the political world, corporate world, and secular world, are not under these restrictions. I find it humorous that conservatives complain of “potential malignancy” in one’s gospel orthodoxy if one can find a way to make this I Timothy 2 text say that it is okay for women to teach men or have authority over men “in the church.” Why is that humorous to me? Because those same conservative men have already found a way (rightly so) to explain how a woman can have leadership over a man and teach a man in every other realm of life (politics, business, etc…). Do we remember when Condi Rice, Secretary of State, spoke to the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006? She taught us Southern Baptist men a great deal about war and the bombing of terrorists, and we applauded her leadership as Secretary of State. So much for the gospel malignancy theory.
But back to the I Timothy 2 text above. For those of you “in the church” who get stuck on this text, and as a result, refuse to have women read the Bible in public at church, or teach a discipleship class with men in it, or refuse to have women serve as trustees, or elders, or committee chairpersons “in the church: lest they ‘assume authority’ over men, let me help you see how you are totally ignoring the clear teaching of the New Testament in favor of a poor and false interpretation of these I Timothy 2 verses. For all you out there in cyberland, and for a few of you in local churches who want to make women in leadership an issue of gospel orthodoxy, I will provide below a very clear interpretation of I Timothy 2:12-15 that is consistent with the rest of the New Testament’s teaching on empowering women in their giftedness. There are five basic principles that must be understood in order to rightly comprehend what Paul is saying:
(1). Paul is addressing a problem Timothy had with a specific woman teaching heresy to a specific man in the church at Ephesus.
How do we know this? There are at least four grammatical reasons:
(a). Paul gives instructions to “women” (plural) in the beginning of chapter two (i.e. how to dress modestly, live of life of good works, etc…), but beginning with verse 11, Paul switches from the plural noun (women) to the singular noun (woman). The definitive article “the” is in the original Greek (i.e. “the woman”), not the unfortunate translation “a” woman (NIV; NASB). Paul moves from instructions to women in general (vs. 9-10) to a very direct instruction for a specific woman in verse 11. You can verify this quite easily with any online interlinear.
(b). The “she” in verse 15 is third person singular (again, the NIV and NASB unfortunately mistranslates the third person singular Greek pronoun in v. 15 with the plural English noun “women”). The “she” of verse 15 is the same woman in verse 11 and verse 12. She is the woman who needs correcting.
(c). “…if they continue” (v.15). The word “they” is the accurate translation of the third person plural used by Paul. This plural pronoun identifies not only the woman doing the teaching, but also the man whom she is deceiving (“the woman” and “the man” of v. 12).
(d). The verb “continue” is in the aorist active subjunctive. This verb’s tense confirms that the instructions Paul gives in vs. 11-15 are designed for the woman and the man in question (v. 12), to two people who are alive at the time Paul is writing and not to those who are either dead or not yet born (i.e. Eveor women in general).
(2). The woman in question was teaching error out of her ignorance and should be shown mercy.
Mercy and love toward false teachers is one of the themes of letter we call I Timothy, particularly because the assembly at Ephesus was a church filled with people from pagan backgrounds: “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (I Timothy 1:3-5).
Paul has already spoken of the ignorance he was in before he was taught the truth: “(I) was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and insolent; but I received mercy, because being ignorant I did it in unbelief“ (I Timothy 1:13).
Paul mentions how Eve sinned in ignorance: “…it was the woman (Eve) who was deceived and became a sinner” (I Timothy 2:13). The entire first two chapters of I Timothy are leading up to Paul expressing sympathy toward, and encouraging Timothy to display love to, that woman teaching error. We know that Paul wrote this letter in response to problems Timothy was facing in Ephesus, and those problems were known by Paul (I Timothy 3:14-15). This is a personal letter, not a general epistle, and proper interpretation requires the reader to delve into why Paul wrote the letter in the first place.
(3). Paul expressed hope that this woman will be saved by Christ, even though she is in error.
Verse 15 “she will be saved through (the) childbearing” is a reference to the the woman’s salvation through the Incarnation of Christ (the childbearing). The word teknogonia is used just once in Scripture and the word is NOT a verb (childbearing)–it is a noun (THE childbearing). This is a reference to the Messiah, who was born from a woman despite the deception of Eve. The Messiah came to destroy the destroyer, to crush the head of the Serpent who deceives, and the deceived woman of I Timothy 2 will be saved through “the childbearing” if stops teaching heresy, learns of Christ in complete submissiveness (v. 11), and continues in“faith, love, and holiness in propriety.”
(4). Scripture only expresses a prohibition on women teaching error, never on women teaching men.
A similar passage to I Timothy 2:11-15 is Revelation 2:20: “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”
The problem with Jezebel was not that she “teaches and leads.” The problem with Jezebel was that she taught and led others “astray.” The only solution for a woman who teaches and leads astray is for her to first learn the truth. This is precisely the solution Paul proposes to Timothy for the woman of I Timothy 2. She must first learn “in quietness and full submission” (v.11). By the way, this is also a good practice for any man who is teaching error. He should be confronted and told to FIRST learn in quietness and submission before he attempts to teach.
(5). The people who misinterpret Paul and attempt to prohibit women from teaching or leading men are ignoring the entire tenor and teaching of the New Testament.
God empowers His people through giftings and anoints His people to fulfill their calling through the Holy Spirit. The giftings of God are never distributed according to gender. The calling of God is never limited according to physiology. When the daughters of Philip prophecied, it was by the giftings of God and the anointing of the Spirit. When Anna taught the men in the Temple it was in fulfillment of the calling of God on her life and through the giftings and anointing of the Spirit. From Priscilla, to Lydia, to Junia, to Phoebe, and to all the rest of the New Testament women God used to expand His kingdom through prophesying, teaching and leading other men and women, God has gifted and anointed as many women as He has men.
Let’s not traditions trump truth.
Artcle by Velour/MtnShepherdess ©
Over on The Wartburg Watch blog http://www.wartburgwatch.com/some commenters/Christians know the history of the abusive heavy-Shepherding Movement. It’s un-Biblical teachings are now spread via Mark Dever’s 9 Marks organization in Washington, D.C. and other authoritarian groups like Acts 29. The most “important mark” of a “healthy church” as Wartburg Watch commenters noted is “Love” in the Bible, which NEVER made it to Mark Dever’s 9 Marks of a “Healthy Church”, which is just abusive Shepherding all over again.
Resource/book: The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Ecclesiolgy by S. David Moore.
“Brad/FuturistGuy posted this on May 23, 2016:
After doing some background research, the book I picked as probably the best one for overall history and analysis is *The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Ecclesiology* by S. David Moore.
It would be really helpful to have a summary of key activities and indicators that demonstrate the presence of an underlying pro-Shepherding/authoritarian discipleship paradigm, and what contemporary groups function from that paradigm, and the history of the who and how that system got into those groups. I don’t yet know of any books that cover those details. Maybe a group can take that on sometime …” ]
Posted by BL on May 27, 2016, Part 1:
What would you say were the 9 (or whatever number) marks of the shepherding movement? Is there a way to sum it up? I can’t seem to get my head around it. I don’t know if there is a CliffNotes version, or not.
I’ll give a shot at an overview of what I know & experienced.
Late 60s – early 70s and the Charismatic Movement swept through the US – impacting all ages (though the largest percentage were highschool & college age) AND all denominations.
People who were not believers as well as people who had been believers and church members for years. These people encountered God, and it changed them. They had tasted and seen that the Lord was good.
I know heroin addicts who stopped overnight and never went back.
I know church members that had been content with feeding on their Sunday sermons, that began voraciously reading Scripture.
I know highschool students who gathered together in groups of 3 or 4 to worship and praise God, to pray to Him and to seek His face.
People continued going to their denominational church, and would meet with other charismatics at other times. Young people who had not been church members, would go wherever they could find a church – to a Southern Baptist church on Sunday mornings, a Methodist church Sunday evening, an Assembly of God on Wednesday night.
And when there wasn’t an official church meeting somewhere, they would get together (again across all denominational lines) in homes, or offices, or the back of a motorcycle shop to worship, to share what they learned that week, to pray for each other, etc.
I say all this to point out that no man was in charge. No organization was determining who did what when.
And in response, several men already in various ministries decided that something needed to be done. There was concern that people were not being held accountable, they might not be maturing.
These were already nationally known speakers and authors, and had established relationships among themselves (that sounds familiar).
It is within the above that the Shepherding/Discipleship movement was launched.
I’ll continue in a following post on what came next.
Posted by BL on May 27, 2016, Part 2:
What would you say were the 9 (or whatever number) marks of the shepherding movement? Is there a way to sum it up? I can’t seem to get my head around it. I don’t know if there is a CliffNotes version, or not.
The discipleship leaders were initially involved with a ministry in Florida whose leader committed sexual sins. In response to this ministry’s failure, they sought protection from such failure by committing to each other for accountability.
So, we had a large number of on-fire Christians going from one meeting to another, one denomination to another, caravaning to other cities for some traveling evangelist, spending hours reading books or listening to teaching tapes, as well as talking to and teaching each other.
The men, Mumford, Simpson, Prince & Simpson (Baxter joined later) thought that the burgeoning charismatic movement needed to be accountable to someone and that someone needed to oversee it in order for the people to grow and mature.
They named themselves Christian Growth Ministries.
And in no particular order – they emphasized the importance of:
Restoring biblical church government.
The local church.
Spiritual authority, spiritual covering, delegated authority.
Spiritual covering (everyone had to have a personal shepherd).
Unquestioned obedience to your shepherd.
Wives’ submission & obedience to husbands.
Honoring & serving leadership.
Not gossiping, no negative speech, no spreading strife.
This church – Elitism (we’re the ones who are doing it right).
Not making any decisions without your shepherd’s approval.
Unity (with no place for dissent or disagreement.)
Small shepherding groups.
Obeying your shepherd even if he is wrong & trust God will fix it.
Leaving this church and your are leaving God.
Shunning anyone who has left.
I’m sure I’ve overlooked some aspects.
Conservative Christian Gram3 is a smart woman, wife/mother/and grandmother who has been “keyed out” [excommunicated from a church] for asking hard questions. She knows a great deal of history and is a logical thinker who posts comments on The Wartburg Watch. She has been an enormous help to me in helping me deprogram from the bizarre teachings that I was subjected to at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley.
Gram3 knows a great deal about church history, including the roots of the Complementarian/Patriarchy movement that we’re seeing in U.S. churches, and the spread of NeoCalvinism. Gram3 and her husband Gramp3 were “keyed out” as she says, excommunicated from their church for asking hard questions.
Gram3’s post on 5/24/16 http://thewartburgwatch.com/interesting/books-movies-tv-etc/#comment-254543 about the roots of Patriarchy that we are seeing in Christian churches, NeoCalvinism:
I would add to BradFuturist https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/ that Rousas Rushdoony was the fount of Reconstructionism (the Reformed version of Dominionism) which led to Federal Vision which plagues many PCA churches to this day. Federal Vision is Doug Wilson’s theology, though it is taught by Peter Leithart who is still inexplicably tolerated by the PCA.[Presbyterian Church]
Dominionism was also promoted heavily in charismatic circles via TBN and other outlets. The connection between the charismatic form of Dominionism and the Reconstructionist version was Gary North who is Rushdoony’s son-in-law.
Reconstructionism is a perversion of standard Covenant Theology. Some consider it merely an extreme form of Covenant Theology, but I disagree. As Brad said, they wish to establish a theocratic state modeled on the OT theocracy. They take that as a pattern for how we should do government and church and family. This includes the idea of Patriarchy.
Federal Vision shifted the focus from establishing a theocracy to establishing a church that is the center of everything. There is much talk of priests, fathers as priests of their family, etc. Rather than a focus on individual conversion, the FV focuses on baptism and communion. One becomes a Christian by being baptized and one is baptized because one is born into a family headed by a Christian man.
The word “covenant” is plastered all over a lot of different things, and I think it is important to keep those things separate lest we blame people who hold to standard Covenant Theology for the weirdness.
I think a lot of Reconstructionist baggage got ported over to the YRR by guys reading Greg Bahnsen who was an affiliate of Rushdoony. He was a brilliant guy who was highly respected as an apologist in the Van Til school as was Rushdoony.
Gothard is another thing entirely, as far as I know. Wheaton in the 60’s was not a Reformed stronghold. I believe that Gothard’s views were primarily shaped by a fundamentalist mindset in reaction to a liberalizing culture. The answer was more laws and rules rather than an emphasis on regeneration and the internal work of sanctification in the individual believer. He began his work helping parents who were frustrated with their teenagers’ rebellion. Any of us who have raised teenagers can identify with their desperation for answers, and Gothard offered a System for that just like our current Female Subordinationists offer a System which supposedly produces happy marriages and families.
I think there was a lot of cross-pollination among these various streams of thought back in the 60’s and 70’s to get us where we are today. The Christian homeschooling movement is another place where ideas crossed over. Rushdoony decreed that homeschooling is the only Biblical way.
The bottom line is that people will use whatever means works if what they desire is to rule over others. We have all been useful idiots, but typically in the present it is much easier to see when other people are being useful idiots. Retrospectively, some of us have been able to realize that we were useful idiots.
That’s enough for a comment box. If you Google these names and movements, you will find a wealth of information.
We live in a day when the basic family unit is disintegrating. Divorces are rampant. Live-in relationships are the norm, and homosexual unions are being recognized by governments. It is right and necessary for the Christian church to both teach and model the Biblical concept of “family” in this age when the Biblical concept of family is seldom understood. However, one of the problems we face as Christians is misinterpreting what God calls the ideal home. There is a growing patriarchal movement among conservative Christian churches, a movement where men are taught that they should have complete “authority” in the home, and that they should “rule” over their wives and children. Many of these conservative Bible-believing Christians who advocate patriarchy honestly believe they are teaching Biblical truth. It is my intention in this post to show that patriarchy is not God’s ideal, but rather, patriarchy is the result of God’s curse on Adam and Eve. When God’s grace appears in the home, patriarchy is expelled.
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, God pronounced judgment on them in Genesis 3:16-19. God first began with Eve:
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
Some conservative Bible scholars take the last phrase of v.16 to mean (1). The wife shall have a “sexual desire” for her husband (i.e. “your desire shall be for your husband”), and (2). The husband is to be the head, authority and ruler of the home (i.e. “and he shall rule over you”). These conservative scholars declare that God’s statement in v. 16 is how the husband and wife “should” relate to each other in the home, and how the home ought to be in terms of headship and governance. The man, they say, is to rule over his home; there should be no equality of authority since God established this patriarchal system from the very beginning.
However, other conservative Bible scholars rightly point out that the woman’s “desire” for her husband in Genesis 3:16 is not, at least linguistically and contextually, a sexual desire. One only needs to turn one chapter over to find the same word teshuqah, in Genesis 4:7, where it is also translated “desire.” In the context of Genesis 4:7, teshuqah is used to refer to sin’s “desire” to control Cain. Thus, letting the Bible interpret itself, the word “desire” in both both Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 4:7 means “a desire to control.”
Likewise, the same Hebrew verb mashal, which means “to rule,” is also used in Genesis 4:7, just as it was in Genesis 3:16. Mashal is used in Genesis 4:7 to describe Cain’s efforts to rule over or dominate the sin that is “crouching at his door.” Again, when you let the Bible interpret itself, mashal is used in both Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 4:7 to describe someone who is having to fend off an attack; it carries the idea of warring for control or domination; a battle to see who will be ultimate “ruler.”
Using basic principles of interpretation, one comes up with a very simple explanation of the consequence of God’s curse on Adam and Eve – a consequence that has infiltrated every home since the beginning of time. Simply put, the woman will desire to dominate or control the man, but the man, perhaps even with superior strength, will fight hard to rule over and dominate the woman. Where the curse is present there is a constant battle for control. This is how things are because of sin, not how things in the home ought to be. The patriarchal societies of the world express the reality of male domination, and in certain western Christian cultures, patriarchy is often said to be ordered by God – as if God designed the home to be this way.
Likewise, in some cultures, such as the Kanu of South America, the women “rule” the home, and the men are the “servants.” These women explain their domination of men in the home with the simple phrase – “the gods have made it this way.” What both matriarchal and patriachal proponents need to understand, regardless of the culture from which they come, is that any system designed for “domination” or “control” of the other spouse is the result of sin and the curse on sin.
When the God of all grace gets a hold of a man and a woman in a marriage relationship, no longer will there be a fight to see who dominates and controls the other. Rather, there will be mutual submission between husband and wife (i.e. Ephesians 5:21 – “submitting to one another in reverence to Christ”). Mutual submission, with no thought of “control,” is God’s design for the home. It should be the effort of every Bible-believing church, pastor and teacher to instruct husbands and wives on the sinful nature of any husband or wife seeking to dominate the other spouse.
In fact, I like what Dr. Richard Hess, Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Denver Theological Seminary says in his comments on Genesis 3:16. Dr. Hess said all Christians should attempt to pull down any patriarchal (or matriarchal) system of domination and control in the Christian home, and then responds to those who object to any attempt to end patriarchy:
It is no more a sin to end this consequence of the fall than it is to use weed killer to end the promised weeds and thorns in the following verses. No, the emphasis (in Genesis 3:16) is on the terrible effects of sin, and the destruction of a harmonious relationship that once existed. In its place comes a harmful struggle of wills.
I trust that conservative, evangelical churches will continue to proclaim and model God’s design for the home. I just pray that we do a good job of understanding the subject ourselves first. Patriarchy is the result of man’s sinful desire to control and dominate and should be, by God’s grace, avoided at all costs.
In His Grace,
by Velour/MtnShepherdess ©gbfsvchurchabuse.org
Cartoon used with permission by David Hayward ©Naked Pastor.com http://www.nakedpastor.com/
One of the things I had to reconcile – and reject – was my ex-church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley’s hatred of gays. It bothered me but I had to be quiet to “keep the peace”. It bothered me that my ex-senior pastor asked us in Adult Sunday School class if “God could kill gays?” I responded with Scripture that God could kill any of us.
My ex-senior pastor smiled and corrected me before about fifty people “that God could kill gays.” Why would he even have to mention it? I wondered why adults, who called themselves Christians, were even wasting breath on this topic? Hadn’t Jesus called us to a radical form of Love? Didn’t we serve a big Jesus, not a little one? Weren’t we supposed to be known for our Love?
Then there were two women who both hated gays. One older church member repeatedly demanded that I use hate speech against gays. I refused. She ordered me in person over and over and over again to use hate speech against gays, until the blood drained out of my face in shock.
Another woman boycotted attending all of her large, extended family’s holiday events and celebrations because there was one gay relative. The gay relative is also a cop. I couldn’t identify with her immature “stand” that she simply wouldn’t bring a side dish, show up, be nice, and socialize with everyone. What do her relatives think about her Jesus and the Gospel because of her “stand”? It can’t be good.
The constant anger at gays by GBFSV clergy and church members was like the Bible talked about. It contaminated me too and made me angry, and sad.
And finally I remembered that before that unloving church, God had called me one night at Christmas-time to minister to a young man named Sean who was dying of AIDS. If I did what GBFSV does, I couldn’t have listened to the call of God. I answer to Him, not them.
Here is my story about that December night that I posted on another blog.
At my former NeoCalvinist/9Marks/John MacArthur-ite church many people espoused a hatred for gays. They had vile speech, and were proud of it.
I can’t do that because of my job, I have to uphold anti discrimination laws, and because a boss (who is a wonderful, talented professional) is gay.
On a deeper level, I couldn’t abide by the lack of love. In these groups people also proudly shun gay relatives. John MacArthur recommends this.As a Christian, I can’t.
Years ago, in December a few weeks before Christmas, some friends called to say that their young neighbor in the countryside in their town by a river had been taken by paramedics to my city’s emergency room. He was dying of AIDS. It was the middle of the night, a pouring rain storm, I was in bed, cozy and warm. And God insisted that I go visit this young man in the middle of the night. I had never done anything like that before, or with an AIDS patient (which on my own strength would have frightened me). But the Lord was insistent. “Go!”
So I got dressed, got a teddy bear and some Christmas candy together (early Christmas gifts from others). I called a little old lady friend Catherine, 100 years old, Catholic, a retired social worker and a lovely, warm, kind person who could melt anyone’s heart. I asked her if she wanted to come with me. I told her the Lord insisted I go, and I was going. It would be nice to have company, but I understood if she wanted to sleep.
She said she wanted to come. She got out of bed and got dressed as well.
I went to a 24-hour supermarket and bought a small table top Christmas tree, with little decorations on it, some sports magazines, entertainment magazines, and some snacks.
My elderly friend and I went to the hospital. I told the nurse at the ER that, “Sean’s [the young man who was so sick] Christmas Angels have arrived.” He was so stunned when my little old lady friend and I walked in with gifts to see him. I introduced us.
He was so terribly weak. And he hugged us. I got him a Pepsi and fed it to with him a straw. Sean kept hugging Catherine, 100 years old. She stroked his hair.He kept saying, “This is the best Christmas I’ve ever had in my entire life.” He was in his mid 20’s. His mother had died when he was a child. His family that remained was very dysfunctional and they had disowned him. They lived back East in Massachusetts.
The little room for indigent patients was nothing spectacular to look at. Old large discolored white tiles on the floor. No art work on the walls. Old, tired sink near by.
It was 3am and it was pouring rain outside. But I could feel the presence of God and the angels in that room. I could feel them.I thought when I went to give Sean some Pepsi or a hug or whatever that I would bump into an invisible visitor. That room was physically ugly but it was so beautiful because it glowed from the presence of God!
Sean said to me, “If you ever need anything, call on me and I’ll be there.” I smiled and I thought to myself, “What is a guy with AIDS who is this weak going to do for me. He couldn’t even lift a box if I moved.” I smiled and nodded. Sean repeated it, “If you ever need anything call on me and I’ll be there.” I nodded and said, “If I ever need anything I’ll call on you and you’ll be there.” He smiled weakly and said, ” Yes.”
I went, or so I thought, to minister to a young man named Sean dying of AIDS that night.
I thought that was what God wanted me to do. Instead something entirely different took place: I was ministered to. It was glorious.
I told Sean I would see him a few hours later that day, bring him some Mickey Mouse socks from the mall to keep his feet warm. He said he’d like that.
When I called the hospital in the morning to ask about Sean, the nurse said, “Oh you’re the lady who was here with the 100-year old lady visiting Sean. Sean passed away peacefully this morning at about 6:30 a.m.”
“When you did this for the least among Me, you did it for Me.” That is what my Lord would have me do. The Royal Law of Love.
Catherine who died at 102 years old was known for her Italian brown sugar candy, Penuche. I had made it with her all of my life, since nursery school. During the first rains of the season I would call her to make candy. Here is her recipe.
Penuche Italian Brown Sugar Candy by Cath
1 small can – evaporated mil. Add water to 1 cup.
2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
nuts 1/2 cup to 1 cup of pecans chopped
Directions: Place all ingredients (except for vanilla) in a saucepan on low fire on the stove top. Stir well until sugars dissolve and boil begins.
When boiling begins cover the pan and cook rapidly for 2 minutes.
Continue to boil until a little of the mixture dropped in a glass of cold water forms a “soft ball” and “clings”. (Or try creaming a little on a small plate for the same result.
Remove from fire. Set aside until practically cold.
Beat with a large spoon until thick and creamy.
Add 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Pour into buttered pan. 8 x 8, or on to a plate, or on to aluminum foil.