It’s been nearly six years since the first time I was admitted to a detox for substance abuse. I was nervous and scared; I was relieved and excited – although I had no idea what to expect out of the whole experience. As far as I knew, I was going to be “cured”. I’d move on with my life refreshed, renewed, and relieved of my little bouts with overindulgence in the drink – all over the course of seven days that I committed to “saving my life”. I clearly had no clue what I was truly up against; the miscreant within me and its inception of surfacing; the dawning of a war in its infancy that would prove to rapidly mature into adulthood. That first day in detox, I was asked what I believed to be the difference between “Religion” and “Spirituality”. I didn’t have an answer, just genuine confusion followed by a cold, blank stare – my entire life up to that point they had been lumped together as one in the same in my mind. “The difference”, a fellow addict blurted out, “is that religion is for the people afraid to go to Hell; spirituality is for those of us who have already been there and never want to go back.” Even in my medicated state, fundamental for safely combatting the potentially dangerous effects of alcohol withdrawal, I could identify with what that meant; how it made complete and total sense. Two things took place in that moment. The first I was conscious of, although I wasn’t going to burden myself with acknowledgement of it; I knew deep down that someday I would ultimately be faced with one question – was my solution going to be that of a spiritual nature, or would it be found somewhere in the depths of religion? The second I wasn’t consciously aware of yet, but would masterfully become versed in over the course of years to come – contrary to my belief at the time, I had not encountered anything resembling a trip to Hell…yet.
I know now I’m not a religious guy, by any means, which is a direct result of my experience with the church and its parishioners – granted, I do believe the church does some good in regards to community outreach, but it can come across like more of an ego-boosting, “pat on the back” kind of deal to make church goers feel better about themselves; a pity party for the less fortunate before receding back to their nice, comfortable homes, quickly self-absorbed into their own luxuries in life. Furthermore, I doubt I could ever see past the hypocrisy of their message; how, for the most part, religious folk talk the talk, yet don’t walk the walk; how families stroll through the divine doors of God’s house with a fraudulent smile, kids in tow all dressed up to the nines, acting as if life’s so wonderful and this place is heaven on earth – always secretly trying to prove their family is somehow better than the rest; singing and praising the Holy name of Jesus, who, for all intents and purposes seemed like he was a decent dude, but ten minutes after driving off the “Holy grounds”, mister Holier than thou guy is frantically honking at another driver on the road who didn’t hit the gas the exact second the light turned green, all the while flipping the bird and screaming obscenities out the window – I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever done that, and I don’t even buy into the ritualistic insincerity of the religious horseshit anymore; you can trust me when I say patience isn’t a strong suit of mine either.
Marriage? The sanctity of “Holy Matrimony? Two people becoming one body, one flesh – “I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.” That is rarely taken serious anymore. The divorce rate in this country according to the American Psychological Association: “About 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.” I myself am included in these statistics because my own wife, who came from a very “Christian Family” and whom I met at church, was secretly seeing a co-worker on the side and filed for divorce because of my disease of alcoholism. So much for “pledging herself to me” or “in sickness and in health”. It also seems rather convenient how the pastor or priest always finds a way to both boldly and subliminally mention throughout the entire service how gravely important it is to give financially, or tithe, of which the amount is “suggested” to be ten percent of the household income – and, on top of everything else, if God is so almighty and powerful, how has Satan been able to take over such an overwhelming share of the market? From where I’m sitting, Heaven is experiencing quite the “bear” and God appears to be terrible at making investments.
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew, Chapter 28 starting at verse 18.
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope…” – “There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” – Alcoholics Anonymous
I’m fairly certain that what Jesus commanded His disciples to do, and what Bill W. suggested those afflicted with the disease of alcoholism are pretty similar; a common denominator of carrying a message. In fact, the bible actually takes it a step further; literally commanding they force Christianity upon people – convincing that conversion to their beliefs is a necessity and the only path for eternal life. I don’t really like or even necessarily feel comfortable expressing my views and opinions of religion because it becomes highly controversial and folks start to go bananas; the endless wars, mass genocide, poverty and strife between nations of the world caused by it; I write honestly and truthfully about what I’ve been through as an alcoholic, including the darkness that comes along with it, and now it is embarrassing to be associated with me; you’re offended? I’m writing this post because I’ve received some criticism lately for sharing my experiences with alcoholism and my journey of hope for sobriety; opinions not from random people who may happen across and read my blog; critiques not from friends who may or may not identify with some of what I have to say or have been through; this was a blatant judgement and demand that I stop writing about my experiences from a cradle Christian member of my own family – the one who’s been sheltered from the darkness of this world and loves to serve as spokesperson for the rest; that I stop carrying the message of my personal experience, strength, and hope like my fellowship suggests that I do – stating things like what I write is vulgar; “filthy, grotesque, and obscene” were the exact words I believe; my family should not be subjected to such content – they shouldn’t have to be associated or embarrassed by having a person like me tied to their reputations as members of the church; that they’re, so called “church family” could read it and judge them. I’m pretty sure that if you are a Christian, there’s only one who can declare judgment on anybody; it’s certainly not a parishioner. I’m not going to apologize because I write honestly and truthfully about myself and finally found an outlet for self-expression. Have they not read the bible as the devout Christians they claim to be? I’ve come across some rather “filthy, grotesque and obscene” content within its pages – should that be taken off the shelves of bookstores around the world? The bible is, at the very least, rated R.
“She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses”. Ezekiel 23:20 NIV
“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 23:1 NRSV
“If a man has sex with an animal, he must be put to death, and the animal must be killed.” Leviticus 20:15 NLT
“You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.” Deuteronomy 28:30-31,35
I don’t think I need to go on and on with the multitude of examples that are found within the Holy book; you know, the “filthy, grotesque, and obscene” – and please spare me the excuse of reading it in whatever you deem the “proper” context is. It doesn’t matter the context, the words and sentences would be considered offensive to most church-going people – but the television pastors that live in million dollar mansions and churches around the world avoid that content for the very reason of its offensive nature; folks want to go to church to feel good, not hear what their God and their book claims to be the truth.
Our country was founded by Christians who desired escape from the captivity of living under British rule. These Christians wrote a set of rules as which to live by and subsequently, Amendments were made. The very first one prohibits making any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of speech, etc. Basically – you do you, and I’ll do me – lets be civil human beings and agree to disagree, you know, because that is what our democracy allows us to freely do – we have Americans fighting to protect those rights every single day while we’re standing in line at Starbucks or bitching about this, that and the other thing; special interest groups and their selfishly insane agendas; people losing their livelihood over it because everybody is scared to say or do the politically incorrect thing. Guess what America – nobody here in the United States was ever granted the right not to be offended – change the channel, switch the station, visit “safe” sites on the internet and protect your own baby ears and eyes from what is actually happening around us as a human race; that right you do have – maybe it’s time you start utilizing it and stop casting blame and judgement on everybody and everything else.
Peace, Love, and Tolerance