Quakers, Christianity and me, so far. Part 1: Beginnings

Right now, I’m on a bit of a spiritual journey. I think I have to write about its context before I say anything else on the subject.
I come form a very devout Seventh Day Adventist Christian background. Almost all of my Mothers family, whom I’m closest to, have lived their lives in close proximity to the church.It was always my family’s desire for me to continue the ‘legacy and work that they had gotten from their Grandfather, a former Anglican deacon who converted to Adventism at the turn of the century. I also shared in this desire. I was exposed to the religious at an early age and found in it the core of everything I love. The thing I love most is a beautiful and compelling Narrative in which I could and am a part. One which would allow me to participate in its beauty and contribute to that beauty by my deeds in life. This is also what attracted me to Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories, as well as to history and politics, and singing later on in life.
When I was in 4th Grade, my teacher remembers that when I was asked what I would like to do with my life, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote “A Pastor and a History teacher”. I don’t remember being so certain so soon, but I apparently was. And I’ve never strayed from it.

I am an intelligent person, but I am not very skilled. I don’t write very well, I’m bad at sports, I’m average to poor in the STEM subjects. Overall not much good at anything, really. Except for the preaching of the word, and the remembrance and retelling through speech of political and social narrative and facts. And so, consciously or unconsciously, I’ve lived almost my entire life preparing to work for and do ministry on behalf of the Seventh Day Adventist church. As a Pastor, a theologian, a religion teacher or professor, a bureaucrat in the church hierarchy, or in church related Human Rights work, I was trained  to be of service.

My personal interest in, and intoxication with, the story of a God who lives and moves and acts in the world, who actively loves, and who has an agenda in which he wishes us to be a part , profoundly affected my relationship to Religion in general and my Church in particular. In a word, my Church was my LIFE. My EXISTENCE. Period. To be a part of a faith always meant that it had to be whole hearted and complete commitment to that faith. No part of your existence was to be devoid of it. So my entire future, social, political, economic, as well as spiritual, was tied to my own loyalty and service to the church and its subsequent blessing for services rendered.

As I got older, I learned about the many flaws in my denomination, and the many contradictions of biblical faith. Some I learned to reconcile, others to live in tension with. But, though my perspective was not necessarily rigidly orthodox by denominational standards, more a moderate who intellectually leaned towards more liberal positions, my loyalty to the Church barely wavered.

Until I admitted I was gay at age 17. This realization did not seem to have any great import, at the time. It would make my life a little more difficult, but ultimately it wouldn’t change anything. I was already a celibate, being a good son of the church, so a life without sexual or romantic relationships did not seem like an impossibility. And just because you are gay doesn’t mean you have to LIKE being gay or accept things like gay rights (as many a gay has attested). And as far as I could tell there were no good biblically based  arguments in favor of gay people or their rights.

But as I witnessed the consequences of holding the homophobic verses in the Bible as an essential part of of faithful living in the world, as I witnessed all the pain and lies and obfuscation surrounding gay people and their existence on earth that arose from holding such bigoted views, my faith in my Church began to unravel…..

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