Don’t weary yourself with worry over things you cannot change or the past that you cannot erase. Let go and move on!
Bishops, preachers, the Pope, religious leaders and Bible “experts” try to tell other people what to think and do spiritually rather than equip, teach and encourage people to think for themselves and make their own spiritual decisions that fit them. Inappropriate spiritual dependency stunts the spiritual growth of multitudes of people who are victims of abusive religion. One Bishop said that the current prolonged debate in the churches over the acceptance of homosexuals is itself “obscene!”
Jesus came to liberate people from sick religion. The teaching ministry of Jesus clearly focused on equipping people to think for themselves. Abandoning this basic principle of the life and ministry of Jesus has made many churches and church leaders irrelevant and destructive. The judgmental legalism sickness that afflicts religious institutions today is so firmly entrenched that there seems to be no effective treatment or cure.
The media recently has focused on the deliberations and decisions of the Pope, bishops, clergy and other religious leaders in their determination to decide sexual issues for other people. Many of these leaders have no or very limited sexual experience themselves, yet they pose as great spiritual authorities on sexuality. If this seems to be absurd, it is! When will church people wake up to the farce of present day religious authority and abusive control?
The churches have worked hard for centuries to keep people submissive and obedient rather than making disciples so that people could be free to know and follow the will of God for themselves (Matthew 28:18-20). This tragic misrepresentation of the gospel of Jesus cannot continue unchallenged. We live in an ever-increasing world of information and personal freedom because of the Internet. How much longer will reasonable and informed people tolerate the ridiculous wrangling and misguided decision making of the religious industry? When will the average person finally shout: “I’m not going to take it any more!”?
Freedom has to be guarded and protected at every moment or freedom dies. Spiritual freedom is constantly threatened by legalism, which is a religion in itself and is the religious sickness that Jesus most vigorously opposed and that brought about his rejection and execution. Without adequate accurate information and without the powerful loving liberating energy of the Spirit of Jesus, legalism happens and fills the void.
Why have so many people for so long tolerated the obvious misrepresentation of Jesus in the churches? Why do so many churches view diversity as a great threat instead of a blessing? Is it because of the incredible power of early childhood conditioning to perpetuate cultural mistakes? Is it because religious leaders, scholars and teachers don,t know what they are doing? Is it the work of Satan?
Whatever has caused the decline and fall of spiritual freedom in our culture, the solution is clear: Let go and move on! Move on to what? Jesus plus nothing! Return to the simplicity of the mission and message of Jesus, to whom a small child was the symbol of true greatness, to whom one-on-one and two or three at a time were the ideal setting for teaching, and to whom the highest rank in ministry was slave (John 13).
Are You Ready for God’s Love?
What a wonderful joy I had recently to share and preach in the Sunday worship of San Leandro Community Church, located about 15 miles from where I live! The spiritual energy of the congregation was contagious, and the lively music accompanied by Patrisha Gill from City of Refuge Church in San Francisco was exciting. The church was decorated with a lot of colorful stain glass windows and a huge rainbow banner that stretched across the front. I talked about the purpose of my book and shared the basic message of God’s love and acceptance of GLBT people. The response was enthusiastic and encouraging.
Near the end of my sermon, however, a man with his wife and child on the back row of the church stood and held up his hand like a traffic cop telling a motorist to stop! He did not say anything, but he and his family left and he made the comment to someone as they went out that he did not agree with what I was saying. They were first time visitors to the church.
Everybody is not ready to hear that God’s love and freedom in Christ includes Gay, Lesbian, Trans, and Bisexual people. Why not? Is it because so many churches have poisoned the minds of great multitudes of people with misinformation and sick religion?
Move on to Independence
“Co-dependency” has become the religious and personal lifestyle of far too many of us. My own battles with codependency are described in my web site and book. Melody Beattie seems to have written “Codependent No More” and “Beyond Codependency” especially for me! Her book of daily meditations for codependents: “The Language of Letting Go” has been my constant companion for the past three years. I recommend it to you.
Melody Beattie and others (like Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way”) have shown how religion encourages and sustains unhealthy codependency.
Control issues are part of all human relationships. Many people try to build their own sense of self-worth by controlling others. Control and counter-control can become an unpleasant yo-yo way of relating that never fully satisfies and can escalate into total war and domestic violence. Life for many people becomes a constant struggle for independence and freedom, which they never achieve.
“Where the Spirit of Christ is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Jesus promised that “you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Then Jesus added, “I am the truth.” (John 14) How has the church been able to justify the destructive use of religion against so many people for so long? What kind of worship of the “non-gods” and “elemental principles” continues to hold us in bondage, as Paul warned in Galatians 4:3, 8? We are facing old problems with new faces. Jesus challenged and defeated sick religion, and so will we.
The author of Invitation To Freedom and Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse, Rev. Rembert S. Truluck served in Metropolitan Community Churches in Atlanta, San Francisco and Nashville from 1988 to 1996. He earned a doctorate in sacred theology from Furman University, serving from 1953 to 1973 as a Southern Baptist preacher. He resigned as a professor at Baptist College at Charleston (now Charleston Southern University) and became an MCC pastor after being outed to the college’s board of trustees.