Tuesday, November 21, 2006

one side

Neo: "I suppose the most obvious question is, how can I trust you?"
The Oracle: "Bingo. It is a pickle. No doubt about it. The bad news is there's no way if you can really know whether I'm here to help you or not, so it's really up to you. You just have to make up your own damned mind to either accept what I'm going to tell you, or reject it."

“I expect you to do what you’ve always done … to make up your own damn mind.”

at the end of it, i was just confused. i could tell that i'm not fully understood. but the whole scene seemed volatile. as if the slightest thing could have upset the delicate balance of composure to the room, so i tried to tread as lightly and humbly as i could. i did my best to be honest and open and vulnerable. to say nothing untrue. and, when called for, to say nothing at all. heard tell through the grapevine that erin and i handled ourselves with grace and dignity and we are not the only ones confused as to why this whole ordeal is taking place.

it began with an explanation of a few scriptures. mainly the ones at the heart of these proceedings. matthew 18:15-17 being one. then another from romans 16:17-18. a couple of questions as to whether things had changed with what was understood to be my thinking about pornography, marijuana, or salvation. a description of the three beliefs was outlined and i said that nothing had changed with pot or salvation, but that their thinking on my position on pornography was mistaken and retold my experience in brief hoping that this time it would be heard. i do not know if it was or not. the congregation was then warned upon hearing this news not to associate or have fellowship with me and that i am considered dangerous. this concluded trent's portion. and i know it was not something that he wanted to see happen or have to do. but in bowing to the authority he believes is over him, he did what set things right in his own conscience and i bear him no ill will. to symbolize and confirm the struggle, he received a lengthy hug from the elder at the conclusion of trent's portion.

then the elder took the podium.

what followed was about an hour long session of quotes from my blog being posted alongside scriptures to contrast things i say with what is accepted at this body as "sound doctrine." an intense time to say the least. my initial impression is one of surprise. i had no idea i was being followed so closely. it does not make me want to close off at all, but rather it gives me a greater idea of my audience at large. there are several quiet faithfuls who come here, but i didn't know about all i guess. and that i was being followed not just on my own blog, but on other blogs where i had commented as well. i found quotes of myself from other people's blogs up there as well. i find it strange i am being followed so closely everywhere i go here. but not regretful.

the more i have thought back on it, however, i am still confused by several things. first of all why it was even happening in the first place. difference of opinions doesn't seem to me to be sufficient grounds for what happened. it has been spoken to me that a certain degree of "unity in beliefs" needs to be maintained. but what beliefs are those? is there a menu of acceptable differences? "let's see... arminian... yes, we have some of that. calvinist?... yes, we just got some in. universalist?... universalist... sorry. that's not on the menu..." of course i use levity and metaphors, but it is in this that i feel my emotion and thoughts are best conveyed.

and jesus was quoted as saying, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged..." we were then admonished when reading the bible to compare scripture with scripture in order to get the correct interpretation. (strangely enough, THAT'S not actually an ideal i've seen spelled out in scripture. but apparently it is a universal we must abide by.) and we were then quoted several scriptures on judgement of which i cannot remember all of them. the ones i do recall are,
john 7:24 "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (highly ironic to me) and 1 corinthians 5:9-13 "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'"

it was then explained how these verses show that the same people who said not to judge also said to judge. that we are not to judge the world, but we are to judge the church. here's where the confusion comes twofold for me. 1st - in approaching scripture in this fashion, aren't you negating half of it? wasn't the part about not judging thrown out the window because there are other sections that say we are to judge? could i not easily then do the same thing about reading the verses about judging and then saying i should compare scripture with scripture, find the verses against judging and then just go with them because they are what suit my needs at the time?
2nd- much later, towards the end of the time, i was criticized for being too accepting and non judgmental of the world and far too critical and sitting in judgement of the church and that i had it backwards. when it was this very approach that we were admonished not an hour before was the correct way to be members of the body and use judgement. so it would seem that i am on trial in two different ways for the same reason. because i believe it and they do too.

the middle part was the hardest, though. it seemed as though i was being baited. as if someone was trying to catch me in my words in order to draw conclusions out of people. i do not know if i disappointed or not. as i said, i did my best to remain composed and not fall into arguing or haggling over words. questions were asked and i did my best to answer. i did not see the point in trying to disagree with an elder of the congregation in that forum. i am not out to lower his status in the eyes of his flock at all.

but a part of me thinks they ought to know everything.

i mean, in truth, this man who was questioning me is the same man who gave me the first piece of universalist literature i ever read. it was called "the unselfishness of god" by hannah whitall smith. i still have it. the same man who was the first to tell me he thought there were going to be many surprises in eternity as many who did not identify themselves as "christians" would find themselves in paradise. and many who did identify themselves as christians would not. he was the first to tell me that he didn't think that the bible was the only word of god. not that it wasn't... just that it was not exclusive. he was the one who also gave me a book about three weeks before everything hit the fan called, "everyday apocalypse" in which the idea is put forth that god is speaking to us all the time from many sources. we just need to be willing to listen and hear it. and he is also the one who sent me this message. it is the last piece of mail i ever received from him on myspace. "thank you, jOn. I need to hear that we're still in this together. I also understand you are out on the limb and you know that people you care about are traditional enough to saw you off. I'll do whatever I can to keep you climbing. Your journey encourages me."

it is these things that confuse me the most. in adding up all of these things that i received from him, i got something else... and for that, i am dangerous and unacceptable and need to be cast out.

i forgive him. though it has caused great pain for everyone, i still forgive. because i know that the shockwaves of this go far deeper than i know. this is absolutely rocking a church community right now. something has been started here that is completely out of any human control and it is going to be one heck of a finish let me tell you. i have NO idea what it is... but it's going to be something. and if not something... then something else...


Wendy said...

Interesting this judging business

Matthew 7 and Luke 6

Jesus is speaking to his disciples and to the great crowd that has gathered when he says:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

In Luke:
37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." and then hypocrites and planks are mentioned again ...

Notice that Jesus doesn't say we cannot remove the speck ... we just better be perfect ourselves before we decide to. Hmmmm

It has always been interesring to me the way church elders operate when it comes to these kinds of things. Are they really plankless?

Can we talk about pornography here in this forum? I mean will you be completely honest Jon? Will you answer my questions and hear my views here as well in this "more public" place than anyone was aware of? :-)

Susan said...

It is quite creepy commenting on your blog after reading that. I know that blogs are a public forum and many people 'lurker' (visit but never comment). But I had always thought of 'lurkers' as innocent, curious people who were a bit shy not people whose sole intention was to collect evidence.

It is really difficult to understand people who would hug you were with one arm and knife you in the back with the other. I've met several in my life and don't understand them at all. They seem to have an amazing commitment to the status quo which blinds them to their behaviour and any sense of empathy. Although we can forgive such people it is difficult to be reconciled to them when often they don't believe they have done anything hurtful.

jON said...

just a quick response for now. yes, wendy. you can talk about anything here. as always. i will be completely honest with you. as always.

Wendy ftfs said...

Jon, I don't have an agreeable related tale to tell you about my experience with porn ... I hope you don't mind.

I'm thinking that you are upsetting the status quo when you expose men's sexuality for what it seems to so often be ... which I don't disagree with ... I often hear women say that "all men are pigs" .... LOL Not MY words ... but I hear this a lot among women. What I think they mean is that "all men are pigs". LOLOL
joking :-)
Thus the line up and success of porn sites.???
I don't really know, I'm asking.. they are not places I frequent or have ever desired to frequent,but I have been on the receiving end several times in my life of men's weird ideas of who I am and what I'm on this planet for.

I've actually been abused by an unfaithful husband who was into porn and strip bars, so, Jon, I'm already jaded against the indulgence of this past time. Not judging ... just seeking to understand and find what the Lord would have us thinking about these things that often debase and harm mostly women and children.


jON said...

i am in no way trying to say that pornography is not something that can be destructive and harmful. or that it is an industry on the whole that is honorable and uplifting. what i have tried to communicate is that i found myself bound by it. as many men do. and taking the sanctioned approaches of "just don't do it" did not change what was on the inside. how the desire would grow and become overwhelming and destructive causing me to do many things behind my wife's back. whether physically through giving in to temptation or mentally and spiritually even when i did not give in. attacking the problem from a physical aspect did not change the heart. and even if things appeared fine on the outside through "success" only i and god alone knew the truth of the inside.
(and here's where the "trouble" begins) so i decided to try something else... i began to invite god to come along with me and be present and help me understand what was going on in me when these times of "failure" happened and why the desires were so strong and not being overcome through "approved" methods of prayer and abstinence. the first thing that came back was an understanding that either the cross worked or it didn't. either my sin was forgiven or it wasn't. and either way, i was in the same boat and i could stop condemning myself. (which is one of the problems as most feel i am taking "license" with grace.) but what this did was free me from the guilt and condemnation which created the cycle. as with most addictive substances, using it brings about a terrible sense of guilt and condemnation which sends you right back to that very thing for the comfort that indulging brings. losing the guilt and condemnation broke this. and then i was shown that what i was continually looking for was not another woman or any particular physical thing or gratification but rather an idea/ideal that was lacking in my own sexual intimacy with erin. the thought that women enjoy sex as much as men. and that this is okay and normal and acheivable. this is something that is VERY appealing to men, as you can see from the BILLIONS of dollars that are devoted to this idea every year.

then i was shown how this was to be acheived in a godly way for myself and my wife. in realizing the difference between the two dynamics of sex for both men and women. on the whole, what you see and experience through porn is a woman "allowing" her body to be used in whatever manner is desired by the man. this lies in contrast to what i feel is a better dynamic which is "giving" her body to her partner. which may seem like a subtle difference. the main one to me would be the difference between being disengaged (allowing) and being engaged (giving).
the chasm on the man's end is not as subtle. the dynamic then, in response to the woman becomes either one of "taking" or one of "receiving". which as you can see, is a greater difference.

because men know what women ought to know if they don't. sexually speaking, women have all of the power. and a man can trick a woman into relinquishing her power to him "allowing/taking" or a man can LOVE his woman and respect her and take her pleasure into account and she will take his into account and they can create a wonderful symbiosis of "giving/receiving".

is this too long already? am i losing you here? feel free to ask questions. as many as you have for clarification.

as i began learning these things, i began opening up to erin about my fantasies and thoughts and things that excite me and on and on and we began to have an open vulnerable communication about our sexuality. sharing with her what i had learned about myself and my sexuality and apologizing for being too embarassed about sharing my sexual side in a more honest way with her sooner. the revolutionizing it has done has helped us so much, i wouldn't trade it or apologize for it for anything. i don't think healing is anything to apologize for.

and of course this has been a very brief overview of everything and cannot cover all of the intricacies and subtleties of what has been learned. but it should be a start for you to understand. most men run to pornography because that is where there fantasies lie. they are too embarassed to ask their wives to be their fantasies because in most traditions women are taught to think of a man's sexuality as being "perverted" and "dirty". but that doesn't change the man's desires and needs from being what they are. and erin and i have found that if the woman wants the man to throw his heart and soul into cleaning the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, garbage, picking out drapes and patterns and furniture and shopping at bath and body works and sitting around for hours holding the purse and giving our opinion about things we genuinely don't care too much about but we care because YOU care, then it is only fair for wmoen to approach the most interesting aspects of a man's life with the same force and vigor and sacrifice they expect out of their men about things the men could care less about. symbiosis. giving/receiving. willing vs. unwilling. fairness. all good things.

i'm sorry to hear about your experiences wendy. i feel sorry for many women who become trapped with a "taker". as much as i feel sorry for men who are with women who are not "givers". i only pray for healing for everyone. i only wish to share my experiences for the better of those who can use it. like erin and i.

Wendy ftfs said...

So your porn addiction is over?
No more monkey on the back? :-)
Can you imagine what that would be like to have a monkey on your back 24/7?
There is a lot of good advice there ... and yet you have wanted another woman just recently as you have admitted to us ...
Someone recently shared with me that the stats show that 85% of men in our countries cheat on their wives ... that's a staggering statistic ... to me it makes marriage and its emotional cost for a woman a very scary proposition.
It is good to be open and gentle with your wife ... most women would respond to this. I don't think a woman should feel pressured into accepting anything she is not comfortable with. The threat of a man cheating on a marriage if he doesn't get what he wants should not be held over her head. The surety of a committed and loving husband "no matter what" needs to be the heart of the home. This is the strength of a marriage... Christ in the home who gave his life for his bride.
I have learned through much pain that the opposite of love is not hatred ... it is selfishness.

Just thoughts I'm throwing out there.

Tessa said...

"I have learned through much pain that the opposite of love is not hatred ... it is selfishness."

I like that a lot... and its true. Thanks for shareing!

jON said...

cured? i suppose that means different things to different people. and for me, i have no desire to be cured of my sexual desires. i simply wish for them to be channeled in more positive and healthy directions. is it a 100% victory all the time? no. but i do what i can.

"... and yet you have wanted another woman just recently as you have admitted to us ..." and, as pertains to the conversation at hand, it was not a sexual thing. you see, i have a big problem. i love women. i really do. i have a heart that aches for them. i communicate with them far better than men. (because women actually communicate) and the big problem i have is that i can't stand to see a woman without love. it's a real difficulty for me and it breaks my heart. i wish there were a thousand of me to go around and offer love to every woman who needs it. i don't know why men aren't willing to get themselves together and actually approach committing themselves to a woman. which sounds highly ironic coming from me i am sure, but, at the heart of this summer was a heartrending desire to try to understand exactly why my heart breaks like this and just what i should do about it, if anything.

"It is good to be open and gentle with your wife ... most women would respond to this. I don't think a woman should feel pressured into accepting anything she is not comfortable with. The threat of a man cheating on a marriage if he doesn't get what he wants should not be held over her head. The surety of a committed and loving husband "no matter what" needs to be the heart of the home. "
i agree with you. but at the same time, at least in my experiences and witnessings in the culture i am a part of, this does not swing both ways. as i stated earlier, it is expected of a man to fulfill his wife's greatest desires or else "face the consequences", but yet a wife is somehow exempt from this. it has been my experience that a husband is expected to bend over backwards no matter what and that a wife is at her leisure to fulfill whatever suits her at any given moment. i find this to be a situation that needs remedying. especially if the wives really want their men to be engaged in the "little things" that make a home for them from their hearts.

"I have learned through much pain that the opposite of love is not hatred ... it is selfishness."
powerful words. and truer than all hell. they of course shatter me and pierce me to the core of my being because they have everything to do with me. and truthfully, i think they have everything to do with each one of us. i don't know if it is possible to live outside of selfishness. because even when we act unselfishly. we usually do it out of a selfish desire to feel good about ourselves and what we do.

Wendy ftfs said...

It IS possible ...

Mark 10, Matthew 19

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other,
"Who then can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

All things are possible with God, even here, in affluent North America.

Great peace and love to you
Jon and Erin.
Gentle hugs to Zaavan

Wendy ftfs said...

" 'Religion is for unbelievers; it's the business of the godless',says Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Religion is what man makes out of God; Christianity, therefore, is no religion. It is a living relationship with a living God. The moment Christianity becomes religion, it dies. The word 'religion' comes from the Latin 'religare', and literally means to tie yourself back, to rest a secure anchor at a safe place, so we are not swept away by the current of life into unknown and dangerous waters. Religion tries to reach up to God, and throw an anchor in a safe place beyond the line between humans and God, the secular and the saint, then it safeguards that anchor and line at any cost. Not only does religion not see that Christ has done all that for us: it does not want to see it."

Wolfgang Simson from the chapter
'Developing a Persecution Proof Structure'
from his book
"HOUSES that change the WORLD"

:-) Wanted to share :-)

Wendy ftfs said...

Came back here because I wanted to respond to this... :-)

""you see, i have a big problem. i love women. i really do. i have a heart that aches for them. i communicate with them far better than men. (because women actually communicate) and the big problem i have is that i can't stand to see a woman without love. it's a real difficulty for me and it breaks my heart.""

This is probably one of the sweetest things that I have ever heard a man say about women ... most men say they don't understand us. :-)

... I wanted to let you know that there IS something you can do for us. Those of us who have been hurt by men and live without them for that reason .... remain in love with your wife ... be faithful in every way. There are few things we like better than to see a marriage that is working and a husband that is devoted to his wife and children ... it gives us hope that there are men in the world who are actually able to love.

I also wanted to ask you a question. Would you trade places with Zaavan ... would you, if you could, give him your life for his? Would you give him your legs, your seizure free brain, your ability to talk and walk and run.

jON said...

thanks wendy. i'll do what i can to let my love for erin shine like a beacon to all the males out there calling them to get it together already...

you ask a hard question. in the moment, it seems easy to say yes. but it makes me ponder circumstances and how it would actually work. if it was just a pain free "freaky friday" type swap, i would do it. but if it's something like he gets a wild miraculous healing in exchange for me being in a horrible car wreck and coming out paralyzed... that seems a little harder to say yes to. as well as the impact on erin now having to be the sole bread winner without health insurance, a husband in the hospital, a new baby on the way, as well as a 4 year old toddler who can suddenly tear up the house and no longer qualifies for any more funding or child care help from the government.

it would certainly shake things up a bit. why do you ask?

Wendy said...

You said this ...

""i don't know if it is possible to live outside of selfishness. because even when we act unselfishly. we usually do it out of a selfish desire to feel good about ourselves and what we do.""

But ...

you would give your son your normal body as long as all went well for Erin and your unborn child. This is a selfless act and selfless thinking .... it's a total identification with God and His parenthood and brotherhood to us.

Love ... is not self-seeking ... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

:-) It always amazes me,too, that we can find so many examples of love here among us.

Sue said...

Hi, this is Sue from 2008 swinging back into 2006. This feels weird :) But such is the flat state of blogdom haha.

It's funny, but as I started reading this post I was thinking, "Hmm, I might start reading some of Jon's archive. I know so little about him" And then you provided the links.

Ouch. Is all I can say. How painful this must have been for you, Jon. How does all of this feel now, looking back on it?

jON said...

thanks for meeting me in the past. if you're really interested, let me know you made it back to see this and i'll chat with you about it more.

Sue said...

Yep, made it back :)

jON said...

it still fucks me up, honestly. most days now, i'm good. but i cycle. when it's good, it's real good. and when it's bad...

the really hard part, now, is dealing with the family issues. my pastor was (is) my brother-in-law. most people who have gone through this sort of ordeal don't have to come face to face with their accuser/abuser/betrayer every major holiday. i'm just beginning dialogue with my mother about it, actually. which i hope will be healing.

it's so surreal some times, though. to know that i went through that. that it happened.

most here in the blogging world experienced their deconstructions and/or betrayals before entering blogdom. i had taken up residence only a few months prior. my entire deconstruction has been documented. at the very least i think that's kinda cool. because that's kind of what i've always wanted this blog to be.

a voice that i wish i would have had much sooner.

come to think of it, that was always the kind of youth pastor i tried to be. one i wish i would have had growing up. but that's a whole 'nother story.

if you are really interested in my story (which if you read it all front to back it wouldn't take more than a day) i posted a chronology of blog postings you could use. (hold on...) ah, yes. here it is.

a couple of months missing in between april 2008 and when you showed up june 27th, 2008. but those are easily enough found.

thanks for asking. it's good to talk about in a calm and positive manner. :-)

Sue said...

Oh, wow. He is your brother in law. OUCH!!!!!

You know, it does sound like you are working through it, just reading what you're saying here. I have a problem with the linear view of time. We think when we come back to stuff that we are returning back tot he same spot and regressing, but I reckon often we need to go back and rvisit because we are in a different place, and so we see it from a slightly different angle. But anyway, I'm sure I'm not saying anything you don't already know. I just empathise with the difficulty of all this. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Thanks for the link! I shall read with interest

jON said...

cool. if anything catches your eye, feel free to comment about it. it would be fun to meet you in the past. walking through the halls of conversations had. conversations there still waiting.

like an episode of the twilight zone where you walk into a room and no one can see you or hear you and they're all acting normal.

but rest assured, i will get your comment emailed to me so i should find it within a day or two and meet you wherever you are at.

thanks. this is cool.