Privileged: An Open Letter to Evangelicals

Dear Fellow Evangelicals,

I want to take a moment to thank you for the privilege of writing this blog.  Without you, I would not have a readership.  It is only through your kind words, criticisms, and support that I am even able to enjoy this platform.  In celebration of the last seven months, I want to take a moment to look back and consider the profound privilege of all of this.  Because for me, it is a bit overwhelming to consider.

As a way of commemorating the joyous occasion of having cleared five hundred (!) followers, I want to thank those that have made this all possible.  First, I want to thank all my fellow evangelical Christians actively working to silence female voices.  Without you, my blog would not be necessary.  If women like Jory Micah were not called “children throwing tantrums” and “bitter women who don’t recognize God’s authority over their lives” then my voice would be completely unnecessary.[1]

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It is precisely because we have all worked so diligently to ensure that women are kept on the bottom rung of the Church hierarchy that anyone listens to me at all.  If we did not uplift a man like Tim Keller – a man who has built an entire empire known as The Gospel Coalition around denying the gifting of women for vocational ministry – on such a pedestal, there would be no hurting people needing to hear an alternative message which recognizes and supports the gifting of God in their lives.

If we did not defend Doug Wilson when he claims that rape is God’s way of ensuring that women stay submissive to men, under the authority of their fathers, husbands, and male-only pastors I would have no cause to write posts exposing the corruption of power and abuse of women that occurs in the evangelical church.

So again, I thank you for this privilege.

I thank you for needing me – a white, straight, cisgender male – to write about other people’s sexuality before being willing to discuss the topic.  It is truly my privilege to be able to support the LGBTQ community in this way.  But I could not do this without all of you.

If we as evangelicals didn’t accept the teachings of men like Matt Chandler – a man who actively shames his congregation from the pulpit and who had to learn that his church needs systems in place to prevent the re-victimization of women by allowing a woman to first be re-victimized – on the LGBTQ community, then there would be no need for me to work to create a safe space for LGBTQ Christians to live out their faith.

Likewise, if we didn’t support men like Douglas Groothius, who claim that Romans 1 says being gay is entirely contrary to nature, to God’s creation purpose, and a rejection of “biblical truth” – though don’t forget it is entirely redeemable in celibacy or heterosexual conversion – I would not need to devote nineteen pages to dissecting the ways that passage is twisted.

I certainly would have written at least one less post if we hadn’t spent so much time sharing and retweeeting Ben Witherington’s opinion on same-sex marriage – in which he states that adoption can never be anything more than surrogacy.

If men like Denny Burk were not encouraged to reduce the romantic love between two men to “lust and fornication” there would be no occasion for me to endeavor to correct the falsehood perpetrated by so many.

I especially want to take a moment to thank all of my fellow evangelical Christian men.  It is our silence in the face of leaders who oppress women and ignore victims[2] that, more than anything else, makes this possible.  It is our desire to reinforce a power structure which ensures that we always come out on top that has created all the hurt I seek to speak into.  It is the ways in which we reinforce a hyper-masculine, aggressive, heteronormative culture, preserving our alpha dog status by ostracizing anyone who does not fit the homogenous, androcentric mold we have created which makes my blog necessary.

In light of all of these things, I want to thank you all for all you do.  Truly, I enjoy looking into the rotten depths of evangelical political and theological corruption so much I hope we never stop maintaining the status quo of oppression, ostracism, and blatant antagonism towards anyone considered “other.”  I don’t want us to be changed by my work because in the end I’m one of you.  In reality, this is all about my ego.  I don’t want us to learn, I don’t want us to be challenged, and I sure as hell don’t want to start loving our neighbors; because my privileged platform requires us to keep policing the borders, insisting the only way is our way, and thus we must never (NEVER!) respectfully or lovingly engage an “enemy.”

The reasoning for this is simple. If that were to happen, if Christian were to actually become a synonym for Christ-likeness, I would not have the privileges I do.  And if there is one thing I know about Christianity it’s that individual privileges are the highest order of a biblical morality.

I am truly humbled by the privilege you have all afforded me and I hope you all continue to empower me in this way.

Your brother in Christ,

Nate

**Disclaimer: This letter is intended to be entirely satirical and deeply ironic, an examination of how my own privileges intersect with the topics on which I write. My desire is to both mock and lament an environment where I possess so much unwarranted privilege while simultaneously realizing the need to use that privilege to influence a positive change. If you choose to comment, please engage as a work of satire.**

[1] These are actual comments made on a post, which has since been deleted by administration from the Christian Bloggers Network Facebook group.  I managed to get a screenshot of one of the comments, featured above.

[2] When I read these two links I notice that Fellowship Bible Church calls the perpetrator “alleged” even though he has been charged with the crime and plead guilty to sexually assaulting the child.  It is sadly and disturbingly ironic they claim to support the victim with this wording.

http://www.fellowshipnashville.org/important/

http://www.brentwoodhomepage.com/family-of-3-year-old-rape-victim-files-lawsuit-against-fellowship-bible-church-cms-24074#.Vp3TyjbSn4

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10 thoughts on “Privileged: An Open Letter to Evangelicals

  1. Nate, as always, I sincerely admire your courage and your faith to challenge the establishment evangelical leaders. The example of Jesus–challenging the religious leaders of his time–echoes loudly, yet is rarely furthered in religions today. Most religions do not appreciate questions and tend to see a question as an accusation–a challenge to the entire faith. But, that is not reality. The realities…the truths…of what you share are harmful to people–people in many ways disenfranchised by a faith built on “love”–and your efforts to begin a dialogue within the faith is much needed. Your voice–and others like yours–speak the truth and deserve and demand discussion and dialogue instead of defensive deflections within your faith. In all sincerity, I walked a similar path…and now…I am a non-believer. The rigors of both questioning beliefs held by the status quo in evangelical circles, defending against the steady stream of ugly counter-attacks by evangelicals, and, all the while, simultaneously seeking truth, comfort and peace within the Christian faith led me down a path to a much different destination than I ever intended or would have imagined. But, I am now at peace–fully and in truth. That is my experience. Everyone’s walk is different–I respect your faith and efforts but also experienced the consequences of asking questions. I’m not trying to “warn” you or suggest deconversion is the destination when a person questions religious orders and practices in any way, shape or form, but simply sharing the truth of my own experience in challenging the thinking and indoctrination methods of extremist and even moderate thinking evangelicals–an example, right and duty exemplified by Yeshua to question authorities. Stay strong–all the best, luke

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    1. Luke,

      Thank you. I am sorry for your experience at the hands of so many. I grew up fundamentalist, so I must confess I was one of them for a long time. My faith journey has been long and difficult (if your interested in some snapshots of my story read my posts “I Used to Think” and “Masculinity Lost”. I have had some profound experiences that set me on this path and, if I’m being honest, felt called to start this blog about a year and a half ago and resisted it. I kept telling God I wanted more evidence, fighting against it because I didn’t want the attention. Finally, Kevin DeYoung released his 40 Questions and I felt God telling me that was the moment to jump in head first.

      But I have had to learn faith is a journey. And just like you, the place I’ve arrived is not the place I expected to be. I am a former complementariam, former fundamentalist, former xenophobe, former homophobe, former bigot learning what it means to love God and love people every day.

      Thank you for sharing unbelief. It is important to me that you feel safe in doing so. I recognize the courage it takes to express unbelief on a Christian blog, many places that would result in an attack on you. This is not one of those blogs and I’m honored that you have chosen to follow me.

      Thank you for the encouraging words and for sharing your story.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Luke, I have and still am coming up against the hierarchy of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and the post traumatic stress that I suffer and the recurring panic attacks that happen all too often are proof of how they are treating me. However, through all of this my faith in God has remained strong. People have said to me ‘why do you still go to church’, (no longer Presbyterian), I tell them this is not God’s fault. This is man at his worst. Man spiritually abusing people in the name of God. This is not of God, this is of Satan. If I walk away from God, Satan wins. So I fight on for those who cannot, I give a voice to those who have none.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rhonda,

        First I want to express my sincere and humble respect for you, your faith and others sharing the same faith and trust in God.

        Secondly, I am not in any way, shape or form attempting to proselytize my own perspectives on faith, God and the church, in general or specific.

        Having said this, I feel compelled to respond. Your comment deserves the respect of a response so you will understand my perspectives.

        From your comment it is evident you care. Thank you. I appreciate your sentiment of care. I do. I understand where you are coming from, a belief system that reflects broken people, possibly with a doctrine of original sin, walking through a world of sin and suffering all of this perpetuated by “Satan”, God’s adversary and ours as we walk the tempted journey of life as broken, sinful people.

        Being Presbyterian, there is a likelihood you believe in predestination, too.

        While I do not know the specifics of your struggles with the church, you have one clear point of conflict with most religions in general: you are a female. Christianity and most of the other major religions are much more male-friendly and dominated by males as the primary leaders, writers and creators of the bureaucracy and rules of organized religion(s).

        Just because of gender, you are already fighting a battle. A battle against the Pauline church, thousands of years of church traditions and a culture that is slowly resembling a more equitable perspective of gender, race and life choices.

        As I have said to Nate, a person I find faithful, incredibly articulate and reflecting the form of Christianity in his life and thinking I admired and sought to join when I was a believer, I also understand your struggles and giving voice to different perspectives on what it means to be a follower of Christ. The Bible is not as clear on these subjects as people would tend to believe and/or judge others by and with.

        Again, I wish you the best, as I do Nate. And, I will offer to you as I did to him the warning: you are running into a granite wall in fighting the establishment church.

        You may see some cracks and cause some new crevices in the wall of church bureaucracy and stonewalling arrogance toward those the church finds disagreement.

        But there is a price, a heavy one for disagreeing. You are clearly experiencing this, as I did.

        I once heard a Christian minister speak on the subject, “A faith that can’t be tested is a faith that can’t be trusted.”

        I was living the challenges of disagreeing with the church when I heard the message. I took up the challenge, spoke of in Psalms, Ecclesiastes and throughout the entire Bible: I came face to face with doubt, the place where faith is born and “lives.” Without doubt, there is no need for faith and faith is what Christ demanded, not sacrifice or works.

        Faith.

        I had a choice. I did not choose Satan, nor did Satan lead me astray. Satan was not the causal force for the conflicts I had with organized religion.

        To face your doubt you must face the Scriptures, objectively and with the same type of doubt expressed by many Psalmists, asking “Why?”

        After studying the Scriptures for several years, exhaustively, intensely praying as a then believer, I saw no proof or evidence of a “Satan” as a literal “person” , creature, lesser god, fallen angel or otherwise.

        Why would a loving, kind God create a creature, angel, whatever you choose, to lead God’s creation away from God and to a place of torture and torment?

        Why would a just God stack the deck in favor of a Satan character?

        If you believe in a literal Bible (which I doubt you do) the story of Job speaks to either a Zeus type God who accepts bets from adversary lesser gods/angels, gambling in a game of temptations inflicted willfully on his own followers…. or Job could be a metaphorical story for faith?

        The problem: Jesus spoke of Job as a real person. That’s a problem. “Job” was real according to Jesus. And if God truly gambled the only way that would happen in the case of a just God would be the reality he may lose? Job as a real person is a problem…

        Paul spoke of Adam as a real person bringing original sin into the world.

        The list goes on. What is real? What is not real? What is God saying? Is God a warrior God inflicting genocide on the Canaanites while sparing the nation of Israel? Or is God the loving God who creates Satan to lead his creation to a place such as Hell?

        Does God, Yahweh, the creator of the universe really get into that much detail and can change his mind (Moses and Abraham had their way with him) and seek to promote one people while wiping out others?

        God is mysterious? No, that says something is terribly at odds in the characterizations of God as reflected in the Bible.

        As a result of an objective study, I quit believing in Satan quite some time ago, then as a believer and now as an unbeliever. Not to dishonor your concern, but I am fine and not worried about Satan: there is no Satan.

        The same goes for Gehenna, or “Hell.” The doctrine of hell is a faux teaching the medieval church constructed to scare people toward the Catholic church at the time, more in line with Dante’s Inferno than anything Biblical. Sheol is not “hell.” No mention of Hell in the OT? Paul? No mention in his epistles saying he is offering 100% of what followers of Christ need to hear.

        Gehenna is a real place, a trash dump with burning trash outside of Jerusalem, a place infants were sacrificed to Molock (excuse spelling) that fits perfectly in the figurative language Jesus speaks of “gehenna”in the Sermon on the Mount (alongside the figurative language of plucking eyes out and cutting limbs off)

        My problem, personalizing this fully: faith in Yahweh had to go through the Bible.

        The Bible, a respected document but clearly not a historical document with evidence and accuracy to support connecting the dots to Adam, Moses, Joseph, Job has led to 20,000 denominations, wars, infighting and tremendous hurt because people choose to interpret the Bible differently than others. Mormons, going to hell? Muslims, hell bound? Hindus all going to hell? Buddhists, no chance, straight to hell? And people like me that gave my heart and truly, conscience, in an effort to have faith but cannot see the God of the Bible as the Creator…from what you suggest, I am hell bound too.

        And that needs a response.

        The Bible is full of conflicts. It is. Willful blindness will not rule out the reality of contradictory rules, laws, expectations of the Messiah, prophecy, teachings of Jesus, stories of Jesus, Pauline doctrines, interpretations of the OT….on and on.

        The Bible, at least 2/3’s of it, is the story of Israel and their formation as a nation using the OT to rewrite a history of their nation and Yahweh. Yet, even Chronicles conflicts with what is the most historically accurate writings relating to the Kings of Israel. Two flood stories. Two creation stories. Moses. Canaanite extermination. Joshua. The resurrection. Stories with conflicts, many of them.

        So, what is the Bible? I viewed it as a message, a story of God’s outreach to mankind as I clung to faith in my last stages of willful blindness, expecting the Bible to be something quite different than most believed. But even this did not work. If this was all just a fictional story, what can we believe? Zeus? Hercules? The Enuma Elish? Mohamed’s midnight ride? Joseph Smith? The stories are all out there and unfathomable. I could not just pick one and say, “That’s it. I’m right, you’re wrong.” That includes being a Christian as the Bible offers.

        Reality set in. My issues with the church bureaucrats and their interpretations are minuscule compared to sitting in a room with parents who lost their child to leukemia at age 4 and then hear the minister say, “God is mysterious, there is a purpose here. You must trust God. God is Love.”

        If God purposed this death of a child (predestination says even more about purposing chosen people before they are even people) and other atrocities how does that fit with a God listening to prayer and interactive in the world we live? I remember reading a blog with a Christian praising God for getting her a parking spot. What about the unfortunate others who did not get the spot? Were they simply less sinful or holy?

        C’mon….

        Was it the child’s fault, at 4, she had leukemia? A sin of the parents?

        That is OT stuff seemingly overturned by Jesus, so I do not buy into the Christian form of karma.

        Did God do this, purpose this, allow this death???? Or did he create Satan to do the dirty work and then feel the need to crucify himself and/or his son?

        And, how does God judge people justly if he made them as they are knowing their outcome before they are even people (predestination)?

        That does not sound just or even applicable to a loving God, does it?

        Again, I could go on, but I offer this not as proselytizing but evidence of a choice to not believe, one I would hope you and others respect.

        And that is the point. I offered my comments in loving respect. I did not or do I believe I am on Satan’s Team and hell bound. Sorry, but that isn’t real or Biblical.

        I am not attempting to proselytize here out of anger or out of need. Your comment deserves clarification. I closed out a faith-based blog with a couple of thousand followers and a million plus views and then ceased furthering anything promoting unbelief out of respect both for the faithful and to step away from the hurt religion can and does inflict…as you are experiencing.

        This is not a debate. This is not an argument. I simply stated what I have said and that is all. I truly wish you all the best in your life, in your faith and you may find happiness and peace.

        I have. I hope you understand and can respect my own journey, as I do yours and others.

        Thanks,
        luke

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Disclaimer: I don’t know where I’m at on the LBGT issue (as far as it being “normal” in the Body of Christ). I will say I’ve done a 180º from my Fundy roots, in how I see them. The fear and horror and judgment are gone.

    That said, you get a standing ovation for your point in this. Well done. That comment you quoted…. My gosh. “Preaching” is a 4 hr a week calling? How far does your head have to be up American church ass to even say something like that? When did “Preaching the Gospel” become a “4 hrs a week” event that women are excluded from?? But this person is just saying what everyone is believing and accepting, consciously or subconsciously.

    I was reading comments on a page about that CFC scandal last night, and I about wanted to tear hair out, the blindness was so bad. Look at all the shame YOU are bringing onto to the church! Not the RAPIST, but YOU for talking about it! Do you realize what you’re doing?? The world sees us now!

    Ugh. Carry on, Nate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly how you feel. And I don’t ask everyone to agree with me on LGBTQ, only to respectfully engage with the willingness to think and be challenged by what I am saying. I’d say you certainly fall in that category.

      Thanks Pappy 🙂 Nice to see you in the comments here.

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  3. Where would the evangelical church be without you, Nate!

    But seriously, it’s still both a surprise and a relief to me that someone like you is willing to wade into the depths that I try to avoid.

    Liked by 2 people

Thanks for taking the time to read and engage. I look forward to your feedback, I welcome any criticism. However, as my goal here is mutualy respectful, beneficial conversation, I only ask that we keep civility in mind with our words. Grace and Peace.

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