Saturday, November 23, 2013

What Did Jesus Say About Homosexuality?

What did Jesus say about homosexuality?

As a transsexual lesbian I self identify as a homosexual. I am accepted in society as a woman and so will be identified as a homosexual (lesbian) if I am in a relationship with another woman, which is my preference. I am also a follower of the path of Jesus of Nazareth and believe Him to be both the Son of God and the Son of Man. As such, and with consideration to the rabid opposition of most evangelical Christians to homosexuality, what is actually said by the Son of Man regarding us 'queers' is of some interest to me. In this post I want to discuss Jesus' opinion of and his statements regarding homosexuality.

Regarding the statements of Jesus concerning homosexuality; there are none. Zippo. Nada. Zilcho. The empty set. The big goose egg. Jesus never said a single word regarding homosexuality.

Jesus did have something to say about divorce! He specifically stated, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." This quote from Mark does include the passage "But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh", but Jesus said it in the context of divorce and nothing else! The next time someone makes an anti-gay statement couched in biblical terms, ask them why he or she is not speaking out even more strongly against divorce!

It can be argued that Jesus healed the homosexual lover of a man when asked. Remember the story in Matthew 19 of the centurion who comes to Jesus and asks that his slave be healed? Did it ever seem odd to you both that a centurion (a high ranking military officer in the Roman army) would come to Jesus for help, and that this military leader would be seeking healing for his slave? I always thought this was a bit out of place, odd I thought that it was included.

An argument can be made based on the original Greek texts that the man and his slave were gay lovers. Is this conclusive evidence that Jesus sanctioned a gay relationship? Absolutely not! Neither are many of the arguments made against homosexuality. None of the passages quoted to damn gay people speak of committed gay or lesbian couples living in Gods grace. You can read more details at

Most of my arguments can be found at the website just mentioned, but the point of this post is simply to answer the question of "what did Jesus say about homosexuality?" The answer remains resoundingly; nothing; not a single word.

If a person or an institution is speaking out against homosexuality in the name of Jesus, who brought a new covenant from God which would be written in our hearts, that person or institution is what Jesus referred to as a false prophet; "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Jesus never made a single statement about homosexuality, but he spoke strongly about judging others; "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." If you bring this up to someone who is behaving as a false prophet, and he or she simply persists in their rhetoric of hate, remember also Jesus' admonition; "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." At some point when being confronted by someone who simply wishes to engage in hatred you are best served to do as Jesus told the disciples; "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet."

Why 12 Step Programs Failed Me

The following can be seen as a condemnation of the 12 step method, but it is not intended to be so. I am not condemning the underlying philosophy of the 12 steps. I am rather condemning the amateurish implementations of this philosophy that I have been exposed to. I continue to believe that the basic philosophy of the 12 steps is sound, but I would be remiss if I did not warn you of the false prophets you will encounter along that path.

“Not in order to justify, but simply in order to explain my lack of consistency, I say: Look at my present life and then at my former life, and you will see that I do attempt to carry them out. It is true that I have not fulfilled one thousandth part of them [Christian precepts], and I am ashamed of this, but I have failed to fulfill them not because I did not wish to, but because I was unable to. Teach me how to escape from the net of temptations that surrounds me, help me and I will fulfill them; even without help I wish and hope to fulfill them.

Attack me, I do this myself, but attack me rather than the path I follow and which I point out to anyone who asks me where I think it lies. If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side! If it is not the right way, then show me another way; but if I stagger and lose the way, you must help me, you must keep me on the true path, just as I am ready to support you. Do not mislead me, do not be glad that I have got lost, do not shout out joyfully: “Look at him! He said he was going home, but there he is crawling into a bog!” No, do not gloat, but give me your help and support.”
Leo Tolstoy

I first got clean in October of 2012. I had attempted suicide after three or four years of progressively worse addiction and having prostituted myself to feed my addiction when I could hold no other job. The attempt on my own life, the third or perhaps fourth (some things are fuzzy during that time period) failed, and I ended up in a lock down psych ward. While I was there two men came in and held an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. I talked to them afterwards and they told me about Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

I felt pretty good by the time my last day in the psych ward rolled around. I thought I was going to be able to stay clean. The day after I got out I was taking a bus to the pharmacy to get my prescriptions filled and I realized that I wasn't going to make the first day without going and finding and using drugs. I found the NA number for the area where I lived and called. I got a time and location and made my first meeting that evening at what ended up being a womens meeting.

I got there a bit late, so I didn't hear the introductory readings, and I just sat down near the door and listened to the other women share. At the end the moderator asked if anyone had a burning desire and turned and looked at me expectantly. I think that it was obvious both that I was new and that I was desperate. Not knowing exactly what to do, I spilled my story, which you can read in my other posts.

Towards the end I was cut off abruptly by one of the other women (not the moderator) as she stated that she was sorry but they always finished on time. Not a single person said a word. It had been made clear to me how important I was, and that I was less important that the schedule. A woman who had just dragged herself in off the streets, never having been to any NA meeting before and desperate for help, was cut off abruptly so the other women could finish the meeting on time. No one came up to me after the meeting to apologize or ask me if I needed to talk. Someone did get me a phone list and tell me to call someone if I needed to. That's it.

I headed for the door and, as I was stepping into the parking lot to head for the bus stop, a man came up to me and tried to hug me. I stepped back protectively and he began delivering his "message" to me. Later, as I came to the group more frequently, he would stare at my feet and told me on several occasions he wanted to "suck my toes". He did go get two other women to talk to me, both obviously reluctant to do so, and they spent some time letting me know that I wasn't the only woman there that had performed sex for money.

That was my home group for twelve months. I went through five sponsors, each as bad as the rest. I was told that I was absolutely required to attend at least one meeting every day for ninety days, the infamous "90 in 90". As my only transportation was the city mass transit system, it was taking me an hour and a half to two hours each way to get to a meeting. With work around the house and in the yard to pay my rent where I was staying it was very tiring. Additionally, I was still very much in my addiction. I was not an emotionally healthy woman.

I would go to a meeting where often there would be angry men yelling and cursing and I would leave the meeting even more disturbed than when I'd entered it. I would then have a long bus drive home where I would be alone, and not a soul at the meeting spoke a kind word to me except on rare occasions. When I asked my sponsor if I could take a day off from meetings because I was exhausted she responded emphatically and before I'd even finished my sentence with a "No!" She didn't even care about how I felt, she was only interested in maintaining her authority.

Loud, angry, and profane men are a trigger for me. Loud, angry, and profane women are also, but to a lesser extent. Insisting that I absolutely must go to these meetings where I was exposed to a primary trigger was no less insensitive than it would be to tell an alcoholic in recovery that she absolutely must meet with friends every day in a local bar during happy hour. Idiotic is the word that comes to mind. In no case was my well being considered. The overriding factor was that I follow my sponsors will blindly and obediently. This is often referred to as a "power trip".

I often heard statements such as "newcomers should just sit down and shut the *%$# up" and "newcomers shouldn't hang out with each other because newcomers don't know how to live" and "take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth". It became very obvious in all the groups that I attended (perhaps five or six in my area) had taken the phrase in How It Works of "We have hurt so long that we are willing to go to any length to stay clean" as a license to become power obsessed autocrats. The common wisdom had become that the sponsee simply must blindly follow the sponsors advice regardless of how relevant it is to the individual. I was told by one sponsor that she had thirty years clean and had sponsored a number of women and she had a system that worked. The message to me was simple; it was "her way or the highway".

I sat beside one woman in a late night meeting who had been very quiet. There were only five people in the meeting, so we all got to share twice, but this woman never said a word. Finally, the moderator asked her and, after a brief pause, the woman broke down almost hysterically and told how she had less than a week clean and her sponsor had told her that she was not allowed to speak in meetings! I don't think I've ever wanted to strangle someone as much as I wanted to find and strangle that womans sponsor. This poor woman was dying to share and both NA and AA literature talks about the therapeutic value of sharing, but her egomaniac of a sponsor had denied her this basic and fundamental tool of recovery!

I would hear sponsors routinely talk about how they used the same tools that their sponsor worked with them, but they didn't mention all the women that I had seen that could not stay clean under that type of system. Either I fit into the cookie cutter mold of the "perfect sponsee" or she would effectively label me as "constitutionally incapable of being honest". It was my fault that the program didn't work for me. I needed to try harder. Despite the fact that the first step requires us to accept that we were "powerless over our addiction", the opinion of these women was that those of us who failed simply weren't trying hard enough. If I'm powerless over my addiction, how will trying harder make any difference.

You should note that I am being critical of these sponsors and not of the 12 steps in and of themselves. These sponsors had become so convinced that they were perfect that they could not envision a case where a sponsee would not want to follow them slavishly except where the sponsee simply "didn't want it bad enough". In every case these sponsors were simply neither following the letter of nor the spirit of the program. They were instead following a cult of power that had grown up around the program. I have found that decades of doing something wrong do not enable a person to effectively do something right. I have found that, the more experience a person has doing something, the more likely they are to be bad at doing it! It is simply too easy to allow bad habits to creep in. 

Many of these sponsors don't even try to follow the program. One of my sponsors and grand-sponsors refused to go over step work in person, instead setting aside two evenings a week for two to three hours each evening where the sponsee could call them to go over the work. I was told that I could have a personal meeting every two weeks for up to two hours. I assure you that I did not feel special, and I realized that "the therapeutic value of one addict helping another" was not a concept that would be used in my recovery with that sponsor.

Most of these sponsors are "one taggers", having gotten clean and never relapsed. I relapsed so many times I stopped picking up white tags. How can a woman who was able to stop cold turkey and never relapse relate to a woman who relapses multiple times? These sponsors would tell me things such as "you never have to use again if you really don't want to!" The message being that, if I relapsed, it was my fault, not hers or the programs. I simply didn't want it bad enough. This is a wonderful philosophy if you wish to divorce yourself as a sponsor from all responsibility for your actions as a sponsor to a sponsee. It effectively absolves the sponsor from any responsibility and allows her to be completely inept while still putting responsibility solely on the sponsee. 

What kind of addict is it that can put the drugs down and never relapse? Was she ever actually addicted to the drugs at all or was she just a sad and lonely person who needed the validation of the group? I am happy for those people that can do this, but only an idiot would believe that such a person could relate to me or give me meaningful advise. For such a person to give an addict such as myself trite advice such as that mentioned above reflects poorly only on the sponsor, not on the sponsee. Sponsors such as these believe that "white knuckling it", wanting to use so bad that you have to grip the sides of your chair till your knuckles turn white in order to keep yourself from getting up and going to get drugs, is OK! Their remedy is simply to go to more meetings. Live in the meeting room! It is not uncommon for these sponsors to tell the sponsee to go to three to five meetings per day!

After getting out of rehab I went to a meeting at a new group as I had moved in with my mother away from my home area. In my first meeting two men were cursing out the entire group, including me specifically, and not a soul did a thing about it. I stayed after, waiting for the eight o'clock meeting and these men with a few others continued to use language such as I hadn't heard since I was in the USMC. I kept my cool through all of it, but about fifteen or twenty minutes until eight I thought to myself "why would I want to be a member of a group that would allow men to swear at women and children?" I picked up my stuff, walked across the room by the men and told them as I was walking by "gentlemen, your language is offensive", and I walked out. 

An older man who apparently had forties years clean and who had been the primary offender had a gleam in his eye and a grin on his face as I walked out. He had achieved his objective. He had intentionally cursed at me during the meeting because he did not want a woman of faith to stay in that group. He wanted to offend me. No less than I was trying to follow the path of Jesus and to be a good person, he was following the path of Satan and doing his best to do evil. 

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.Martin Luther King Jr.

I went to several AA meetings but their literature and opening statements clearly say "alcohol related issues only", and, while I was told to lie (seriously!) I can't see how lying to get into a 12 step group is a sound basis for recovery. Even in these groups I experienced profanity unchecked; they state that "no profanity will offend no one" but then allow it to go unchecked. I was told in one AA meeting, by a potential sponsor, that I was not allowed to quote the bible in open meetings! The 12 steps never helped me; God healed my addiction. To be told that I couldn't quote the word of God was simply offensive. And I do mean "quote"; I wasn't trying to read from my bible, just quote passages from memory! As I don't consider Bill W to be a prophet and the programs he founded never helped me, I couldn't see quoting his words and giving him credit for my recovery when it was God that healed me, not Bill. Bill W even states in their literature that the non-alcoholic addict cannot be helped by being a member of AA! I am effectively banned from participation!

I finally decided to try Celebrate Recovery, even though I'm gay and they have programs to "heal" homosexuality, I felt I was at the end of the road with both NA and AA and have attended two separate meetings. In both I have met with acceptance and have found an environment where I do not believe I will have to put up with profanity and outbursts. It is made clear that offensive language and graphic descriptions are not allowed, quoting of scripture is allowed, and that anyone can hold up a hand to signal that the speaker is causing her to "trigger" and appropriate steps will be taken.

I haven't given up on the 12 steps; I have given up on both AA and NA as organizations. Neither have programs that actually follow the principles of the 12 steps or that are concerned with helping the addict (addicted to any substance) recover. Their approach is analogous to a ships captain having only one size life preserver on board, small, and stating that anyone who drowns because the life preserver wasn't the size for them simply didn't paddle hard enough! They have set up elitist clubs where sadists are allowed free reign based on length of membership and have lost sight of their primary purpose; to help the addict who still suffers. They read the words before each meeting that "the newcomer is the most important person at any meeting", but then treat newcomers with disrespect if they don't disregard them entirely. Judging the 12 steps harshly based on these egomaniacal organizations would be silly. The 12 steps make sense. The egomaniacs who use them as a facade for their sadistic and self serving behavior are no more a representation of the message and intent of the steps than are modern day evangelical Christians representative of the message of Jesus.

I do want to be part of a recovery group, both to keep my recovery sound and to be able to help others eventually. God healed me of my addiction and I am effectively recovered. I no longer identify myself as an addict; nor do I identify myself as a prostitute. To maintain and continue growth as a former addict who has been healed and who has recovered I know that I need to maintain my relationship with God. I also want to develop and build friendships among others who are in recovery or who have recovered. I think I have found that in Celebrate Recovery. 

If you can find an AA or NA meeting that follows the message of the 12 steps, and a sponsor that is more concerned about your recovery than she is about her ego, that is wonderful! But do not believe anyone that tells you that you are the problem! Read the AA big book and/or NA blue book for yourself! If someone tells you something that seems out of place, ask for clarification and do not settle for justification! This is the sample principle I apply to the bible. I do not listen to those who espouse principles that do not pass the test of the words of Jesus. You should not listen to those who tell you things that do not pass the principles of the 12 steps! Your recovery is your own. You are responsible for your recovery! You have a right to demand an explanation that meets the 12 step principles, and you have a right to be treated with courtesy and respect.

As a newcomer to any meeting, you are the most important person in the room! If you are not made to feel that way, go somewhere else!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Transsexual Lesbian's Search For A Christian Church

In this post I want to outline my search for a Christian church home. Please refer to my other posts for supporting and background information.

I recently got out of rehab and moved in with my mother and we began looking for a home church. Both of us are comfortable reading the bible with the words of Jesus in the forefront and were looking for a fellowship focused more on grace than on law. We were saddened by finding congregations that, while consisting of kind and accepting individuals, have in their statement of beliefs codifications of individual laws which would exclude, condemn, or denigrate one or the other of us. 

As an example; I am a lesbian. I have a personal relationship with God ("No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.") and, while he has made it clear to me that my past as a drug addict and prostitute has been wicked, he hasn't mentioned anything to me regarding either my sexuality or my gender identity. I found churches (both through attendance and online research) that make statements in their beliefs such as: "Our stand on the social issue of homosexuality is that... while we understand the... perversions... that lead to the choice of homosexuality... God's will is sufficient to overcome the practice of homosexuality" and; "we believe that God’s design for the gift of sexuality is that it is to be exercised and enjoyed only within the covenant relationship of marriage between one man and one woman.  We also believe that Christians are to live by God's moral law, which is found in both the Old and New Testaments." I found it disheartening that people will pick and choose which scriptures to use to judge their neighbors in this manner while avoiding those that might cause their own congregation to recoil in horror such as Paul's statement that "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church".

I read the words of Jesus first, then I read the Gospels around them, then the rest of the New Testament, then the Old Testament as reference, particularly of course with regard to those references that were made directly by Jesus or the authors of the books of the New Testament. I believe that Jesus effectively released us from the mores and letter of the law in the Old Testament that were followed by the Jewish community by statements such as "it is not what goes into your mouth, but rather that which comes out of it that defile you" (no more Leviticus restrictions on diet, this also is confirmed by Peter's vision), and "let those among you who are without sin cast the first stone." And yes, I am well aware of Mark 10:6-9 "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." He actually made this statement in the context of divorce and was criticizing divorce, not a same sex union!

I talk to Him daily and he hasn't mentioned to me that he finds me a "perversion". Jesus associated with prostitutes, Samaritans, adulteresses, lepers, and yes, even tax collectors. He continually confused and angered others, including his followers, by his insistence on being kind to all while running from the masses and from the spotlight, admonishing those he healed to "tell no one" and even taking a boat across a lake to avoid the throngs. Jesus didn't discriminate; except perhaps against legalists; and it did seem that he had a particular issue with the rich; and he did consistently speak out against those who condemn others; "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Perhaps those who choose to condemn me for being gay should also consider placing in their statement of beliefs Jesus' position on divorce as stated above. I cannot find it in my heart to believe in this type of "cafeteria Christianity", where one can pick and choose which "sins" to wink at and which to condemn. 

I must either live by grace as a child of God or I live as a false prophet, condemning others based on my own prejudice and fear, known by the fruit of my vine. 

I know that this is a narrow precipice to tread. On the one hand I have Jesus' parable stating "for many are called, few are chosen", and on the other I have his admonition to the disciples of "if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

In fact Jesus never stated any position on homosexuality, other than his position on marriage and against divorce of course; in which case I should be hesitant to read part of his statement without the other. I am just as hesitant to listen to the word of those who are comfortable taking His word out of context in this manner. I am similarly unwilling to read his statement that "it easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man into heaven" without also reading his follow up of "with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

I have found that many churches feel the need to have written "beliefs" that, in my understanding, contradict the message of the Son of Man, to love God with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. When asked by a Pharisee to define the word neighbor he gave us the parable of the good Samaritan, a person reviled by the Jewish community. He never mentioned the Samaritan or the Jew he helped having to undergo ritual cleansing during or after the aid. I don't recall the parable including any condemnation of either party for either perceived or imagined wrongs. He never mentioned the necessity of taking a "stand" on the social issue of the Samaritan being outside the Jewish community and their laws. 

It would seem that some churches believe that taking a stand on social or political issues is consistent with their following the words of Jesus. I remember only his admonition to "Give unto Caesar what is Caesars, and give unto God what is Gods." My mother is a staunch Republican who watches Fox News and thinks Glenn Beck is a good Christian and messenger of God. I am as far left as you can get, a Democrat, watch Rachel Maddow for my news, and find both Beck and Fox News to be offensive at best. But we're not looking to join either a political organization or a social activist group. We are looking for a church that follows the teachings of the Son of Man based on His word and His parables such as those of the good Samaritan, the yeast and the dough, etc. We would both enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow within a church and to give back to the community in ways that glorify His Word and His Will rather than our own.

My being a lesbian is not a "choice" nor is it a "practice" which requires being "overcome"; it is simply who I am and how God made me. It is not a "social issue" on which anyone has a right to "take a stand". It is not a perversion for me to be gay. I am not in the closet nor do I intend to ever crawl back in it. I realize there are churches for "people like me" such as Metropolitan Community Church. Are you old enough to remember segregation? I am. I read Phillip Yancy's book "Church: Why Bother" yesterday. I found his position that he searches for a church where the congregation is unlike him to be very interesting.

Here's the funny part; as a non-surgical (non-operative - no body altering surgery has been performed) transsexual lesbian, I still have male genitalia. Most bigots will regard me as a man, regardless of how long (over five years) I've lived as me and as a woman. Those same people will find me abhorrent (they've told me to my face, really, I don't have to guess anymore) and identify me as a man who lives as a woman. As a transsexual lesbian, I am only interested in romantic relationships with women, therefore the average "Christian" will say I'm gay based on who I date, and will find me despicable based on who I am living as. Again, God hasn't mentioned this to me in our conversations. Clearly, people such as these are simply looking for opportunities to hate. 

Hating people isn't something that I remember Jesus having done. Perhaps you, dear reader, can point out the verse to me. I recall him calling Judas 'friend' when Judas led the crowd to take him in the garden of Gethsemane. I recall him saving an adulteress from a horrible death. I recall him using a Samaritan divorcee as an impromptu disciple to save many in a Samaritan town. I have read his words many times and several times recently, but I can find no mention of his being willing to hate.

Jesus was not the 'pablum Jesus' that modern Christians would have us believe. He was not always gentle and kind and strong and confident and composed. Philip Yancy refers to this post-Constantine illusion as the 'Prozac Jesus'. 

Mother Teresa, that “when we judge people, we have no time to love them.”

Accepting God; A Scientists' Perspective

I described in a prior post how I had come to accept God and how I had been healed both physically and emotionally by God. In this post I want to share how I have managed to reconcile my intellectual beliefs as a scientist, and how I continue on a daily basis to reaffirm those beliefs with my acceptance of God through the Word of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man and the Son of God.

I have a degree in engineering from a reasonably prestigious state university, and have spent the past three to three and a half decades reaffirming my atheism. I read Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance while in high school and it changed my life. I refined my view of the world to be one where logic and intellect ruled. I designed and built machines and software programs that could do virtually anything. I had been known to say "if I can image it, I can build it."

My experience with God and religion had been through a prism of fundamentalist religion that was imposed on me as a child through the cult that my family was a member of. Hell fire, brimstone, and righteous judgement ruled the day. There was no concept of either grace or forgiveness, only perpetual living with shame. Even though I was familiar with the bible my view was tainted by this Old Testament view and I judged the bible and all persons who followed it by the evils perpetrated in its pages such as the genocides of Joshua.

When, in my mid-forties, I experienced a traumatic life experience, that of losing my family to an ugly separation, I had neither deity nor religious belief to turn to. My family includes many alcoholics and drug addicts, none of whom could help me. Most of them simply would not help me, preferring instead to ridicule and denigrate me due to my being a transsexual lesbian. I was alone with my atheism, surrounded by the cold intellectual framework of Stephen Hawking, James Watson, and Francis Crick. We had seen the mind of God, unraveling the mysteries of both the universe and of life itself.

I studied quantum physics, wondering at the mystery of quantum entanglement and wave particle duality. I studied astrophysics, accepting the age of the universe as approximately 13.7 years old. I studied paleoarchaeology, accepting that humans evolved from lower mammals (effectively from apes) over the last five to six million years. I studied paleogeology, accepting the age of the earth as approximately 4.5 billion years old. I came to believe that the theory of panspermia best explained the development of DNA. 

I studied and sometimes participated in religious ceremonies and beliefs including Wicca, Buddhism, Islam, and others. I never found any religion that coincided with my intellectual beliefs and continued to scoff at those who accepted the concept of a deity. I had found nothing in my studies that would explain how any supernatural force would work. I reveled in my atheism, stating that atheists were more likely to be good people as they didn't get a "second chance". Only when I had hit rock bottom for the second time, ending up in a state supported treatment facility as an addict did I reevaluate my position.

I have covered how I came to be in rehab in a prior post, and the impact that my addiction to synthetic marijuana had on my life in another. In this post I am only addressing how I have managed to accept God into my life while still accepting the scientific evidence of the world and the universe around me. 

White willow bark has been mentioned in some of the oldest texts known to exist and is believed to  have been used as far back as six millennia. Modern tests conclude that "The active extract of the bark, called salicin... was isolated to its crystalline form in 1828 by Henri Leroux, a French pharmacist, and Raffaele Piria, an Italian chemist, who then succeeded in separating out the acid in its pure state. Salicylic acid, like aspirin, is a chemical derivative of salicin." White willow bark is, effectively, Mother Nature's aspirin. Ancient civilizations had no way of knowing this of course, but they knew that it was effective as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent. It is likely that our ancestors, as hunter-gatherers,  tested virtually every species of both flora and fauna for edibility in their efforts to survive. Those found to be inedible due to unwanted reactions were avoided; those found to be edible were gathered (and eventually farmed); those found to provide beneficial side effects (such pain and inflammation relief) would certainly have been identified and used for medicinal (or recreational!) purposes. It was not necessary for these people to know the underlying chemical compounds responsible. Our ancestors were wise enough to use what worked. 

I often wonder if we have lost the ability to appreciate both the beauty and wonder around us without dissecting it. We have become a culture of reductionists, our religion that of reductionism, disbelieving anything which we cannot both dissect and understand. Stephen Hawking stated "When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense... there is no god. No one created our universe,and no one directs our fate...There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. " We now know how DNA replicates to sustain and create life. To the pure scientist, the thrill is gone, the cat is out of the bag, what was hidden has been revealed. We no longer need gods; we have become gods. 

Some years ago I was working at manufacturing plant where one of my projects was to build a lab environment where the machinists and tool and die makers could build prototypes. I have an engineering degree and had at that time worked with machinists and tool and die makers for over a decade in addition to machine shop labs in school and years of helping my older brother, father, and step-father work on cars and various equipment. I determined that I would build one of the parts that I had designed in the new lab rather than assign it to one of the machinists. I finally had to give up after breaking several hundred dollars worth of milling heads and ruining perhaps half a dozen expensive tool steel blanks. I simply do not have the talent required to be a machinist. I had a similar experience with welding years before. Although I had a minor in welding metallurgy I could not (and most assuredly still cannot) weld two pieces of steel together adequately no matter how hard I try! I can calculate tool paths and figure metal alloys, design complex structures and machines, but I simply do not have the talent to be either a machinist or a welder. I can neither sing nor dance of note either. 

I believe that, given an expensive Swiss mechanical watch and the proper tools, I could take it apart, figure out how it works, and perhaps even design a new one or make improvements. I might even (with considerable luck and lots of notes!) be able to get the disassembled watch back together in working order (want to let me try on your Rolex?), but I have virtually zero confidence that I could build one from scratch. As an engineer and scientist I am able to dissect an object and understand it, even perhaps able to describe it and possibly determine what changes might do to its behavior. Still, none of this mean that I am capable of either building that object from scratch or, more importantly, in the absence of such an object, does it mean that I am able to conceive of and create that object. 

A heart surgeon brought his vintage motorcycle to the shop and was told it needed a valve job. On picking up the motorcycle some time later the mechanic asked him, "Doc, I opened up the head, cleaned the valves, and put it all back together so that it's running smooth. You open up a heart, clean the valves, and put it all back together so it's running smooth. Why is it I make thirty dollars and hour and you make three hundred dollars an hour?" The surgeon replied without pause, "Try doing it while the motor is running."

When I was healed of my brain damage, guilt, and shame, I had to come to terms with that. Either I denied that I had been healed, in which case I was back to the cold, stark reality of an atheist, or I accepted that I had been healed, in which case I had to understand how that happened. Further, denying that I had been healed would be an admission that I am in fact insane! I know what happened to me. The scientist in me "observed" the healing and compared that to prior data. There simply is no way for me to deny having been physically and emotionally healed other than to deny my own observations, effectively accepting that I am insane. (The astute among you will note my use of the scientific method to "prove" a very non-scientific result!).

That we understand how the "clockwork" of life, DNA, and of the universe works does not mean that we are capable of understanding why or how either was created nor that we would be able to create, envision, or understand either in the absence of their existence. In fact, we do not even come close to understanding either the universe or the creation of life. Proponents of the anthropic principle note the fine tuning of fundamental constants without which our universe and life would not be possible. Those who understand the replication of DNA are awestruck by the process, and we still do not understand how each cell "knows" what type of cell to become. How we are so different from chimpanzees although we differ in DNA by only a percentage.

I had to accept that I was healed, and that I had not been healed on prior occasions no matter how hard I wanted it. Not only was I powerless over my addiction, I had absolutely no control over the damage that drugs had done to my brain. Once I accepted this, it became obvious to me what I had been missing; our ability to dissect DNA and to mathematically describe the universe did not in fact make us gods. Stephen Hawking is wrong; no matter how well we describe the world around us, we will still not know the mind of God.

I have had conversations with those who don't believe in evolution, believe in a literal creation story where humans and all the flora and fauna of the world are immutable. Parallel with the belief that life on earth is immutable, believers in a literal creation story believe in a young earth, it being 'created' by God less than ten thousand years ago. Modern science has disproved both these theories. Charles Darwin, the primary developer of modern evolutionary theory fought to believe in a literal creation story. He had to recant, but only after years of research, stating on 11 January, 1844 in a letter to a friend that he was "almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable." Modern science has proven the literal interpretation of creation myths to be just that, mythology.

I still believe in evolution and that man evolved from apes. I still wonder at the miracle of quantum entanglement. I still believe that the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old and the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. I still believe that the speed of light is constant throughout the universe (e=mc2) and that no physical object can approach the speed of light due to the infinite increase in mass. I still don't believe that inter-stellar travel is possible due to e=mc2 and that the use of wormholes is impossible due to time dilation (although I do not discount future discoveries such as traversable wormholes). I still believe that there is no time outside the beginning of the universe

The leap of faith required by me in order to believe in God as a Creator is far greater than that of someone ignorant of modern science and too belligerent to consider it. I had to decide that I believe in God even though the evidence produced by all of humanity over the course of all history contradict His existence. The ignorant and close minded person simply has to believe his pastor. It is interesting to note that, of those who believe in a young earth and the immutability of species, most still rely on modern science when it comes to medicine. Hypocrite is the most appropriate term for these people, and it is interesting to note that the earliest reference I can find to its use other than in the original Greek, for an actor, is when Jesus used it repeatedly to those who followed the letter of the law while ignoring its spirit.

My faith in God is strong enough that I don't need Him to fit within the mathematics of Stephen Hawking or within DNA sequencing theory. In truth, I would have no respect for a deity that could be described by our science. That said; I pray every day for God that "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Do I know what God looks like? Of course not. That we are "made in His image" may not be a literal statement, just as the creation story is not literal. Made in "His image" may be a reference to how we think and act. Jesus said that "God is spirit." We don't even know what Jesus looked like. The popular "Caucasian" image or, as Philip Yancy labels him, the Prozak Jesus, most certainly looks nothing like a first century Jew. Jesus probably looked more like Lenny Bruce with a full beard, and the two probably would have understood each other quite well, generational issues aside.

Do I know what Heaven is or looks like or what the kingdom of God is or looks like? What a ridiculous question! It certainly isn't in the clouds, as was thought up until a few centuries past. Jesus told us that the kingdom of God is upon you. he also said that, wherever there are two or more of us in His name He will be there. Maybe we're in heaven and the kingdom of God right now, as Christians who actually try to follow the words of Jesus and who call on Him. You can find, and I have found, numerous arguments that will shred my simplified statements, however, once I accept that the bible is to be read primarily as a parable and I cast off the desire to be a legalist and interpret scripture as exact, trying instead to live by the spirit of the scripture, no more does the legalist have any hold over me.

I read the bible through the filter of the "words in red." I look for what Jesus actually meant rather than tearing apart the exact phrasing of a particular interpretation. Jesus repeatedly used this same method to both strike down existing law as in His statement that "it is not what goes into your mouth, but rather that which comes out of it that defiles you" as well in his actions such as fraternizing with Samaritans and lepers

When I read Paul saying that it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church, I simply run that through the filter of the words of Jesus. Sorry! There is absolutely no way that Jesus would have taken that position! The last people at the cross and the first at the tomb were women. Women of means followed him and the disciples and helped to support them. Jesus used a Samaritan woman to carry the message to a Samaritan town, effectively making her a disciple.

Jesus' message to anyone who will read His words without the filter of his or her own prejudice. He spoke to us in parables that were so simple even children could understand them. When asked what to do to inherit eternal life he acknowledged that we must love the Lord with all our heart and love our neighbor as we do our self. When asked to define neighbor he gave us the parable of the good Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews hated one another, yet Jesus chose one of the most hated classes of people to demonstrate to the Jewish Pharisees what is meant by love. You must love everyone, regardless of differences, even as you love yourself. 

Jesus never mentioned any ritual cleansing that was required before or after the Samaritan helped the Jew, only that help was given and nothing expected in return. Is that really so difficult to understand? With that context in mind how can anyone justify condemning anyone else whether he or she be an adulterer, homosexual, Muslim, African American, or even a Republican?

I've had apologists explain Pauls' statement disallowing women to speak in church as being due to the women being "pagans", but that is not mentioned in Pauls' text. None seems willing to discuss the issue of divorce, although all will readily condemn homosexuality. Jesus was clear on his stance against divorce, but he never mentioned homosexuality. How can someone who professes to be a Christian castigate homosexuals but never mention divorce? Hypocrisy. Homosexuals are an easy target in our society; it is popular to hate us. Criticize divorcees in the same manner and watch your congregation, and hence your cash flow, run screaming for the doors.

Jesus made it clear that there would be a great cost in being a disciple. Those who succumb to social pressure or prejudice and treat others in a manner other than as a neighbor (in the sense that Jesus meant) are simply not following the path that He laid out for us. He made it clear that there would be false prophets. He even made it clear how to identify them; by their very actions. If someone professes to follow His path, but treats others badly, and not as Jesus outlined in his definition of neighbor, that is a false prophet.

Jesus brought to us a new covenant, in which God said; "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts... No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." How hard is it to read the words of Jesus, understanding his simple parables, and to pray to God in His name asking for understanding? I don't need someone with a degree in seminary to tell me that God doesn't hate me because I'm gay. It's obvious to me when I commune with God.

My Addiction To Synthetic Marijuana (K2/spice)

My other posts have given more details surrounding the issue of my addiction. In this post I specifically want to talk about the progress and effects of my addiction to synthetic marijuana, also known as "spice" or "K2". The synopsis is that this is dangerous stuff!

I began using spice as a replacement for marijuana (pot), seeing it as a legal alternative. My understanding was that it was essentially the same thing as pot, but sold retail over the counter so I didn't have to get busted. Within three to six months I was going through three to four grams daily (at approximately ten to fifteen dollars per gram).

I was already experiencing withdrawals including nausea and anxiety. I would smoke a bowl to go to bed, smoke a bowl if I got up at night to use the restroom, and smoke a bowl when I got up before I even made coffee. By this time I had begun to keep a pipe in my car, smoking a bowl before I left my apartment, then another bowl before I left my car to go to work. I'd come out at lunch and smoke a couple of bowls at lunch. Before long I was taking "smoke breaks", coming out to my car once or twice in the morning and again in the afternoon. I was no longer functional at work and lost my job.

I had stopped taking my medications, psych medications for manic/depressive/bipolar disorder. I was having to self medicate the lows anyway I thought, so why bother with my prescription medications? Once I stopped using the prescription drugs use of spice took off. I had no thought of being an addict at this time. I simply thought I was doing what I needed to do to feel 'normal'.

I overdosed the first time during this period. I smoked some stuff that I hadn't tried before and went to lay down. Within a few minutes I was paralyzed. I could swallow and blink my eyes, but I couldn't so much as move a finger. I could feel my heart beat once or twice "thump thump", then stop. I would gasp and my heart would start again. If I weren't such a healthy and strong woman I have no doubt that I would have died right there. After perhaps an hour and a half I was able to move again. I loaded another bowl, albeit with less than before.

When I lost my job I loaded my car (which I hadn't made payments on in about three months) with some clothes, dropped off some photo albums off at a friends, and headed to Las Vegas where I theorized that I would make a living gambling. I ran out of money and gas on a long stretch of New Mexico highway and tried to beg for some money. I found that I had become invisible. People treated me like I had the plague. I prostituted myself for the first time at that truck stop. There is always a man around that will give you a twenty to give him oral sex.

When I got to Vegas my situation didn't improve. I would make a little money gambling, then lose a lot. I'd make it up hooking, only to do it over again. Before long I was hooking all day every day. All I cared about was getting high. I was going through five to ten grams of spice at this time, plus a couple of bottles of hydrocodone each week, plus whatever my 'client' had in his bowl when I arrived. 

I overdosed the second time while in Vegas. My price was either cash or drugs, negotiable depending on how bad I needed to get high. In any case, the party never started until I got high. I usually had no idea what I was smoking. I came over to a clients apartment and he had a bong waiting for me. I got high and, by the time he had finished with me, I was paralyzed again like I had been the first time. I slid off the couch onto the filthy carpet, naked and filthy from what he had done to me. Again I could feel my heart stopping, but this time was worse, and I prepared myself to die. My face was pressed into the filthy carpet, my mouth partially open, and every time I gasped bits of lint and filth got in my mouth. I was laying so that I could see underneath the couch. There was a worn out red flip and a small blue fuzzy ball that looked like a cat toy. I hadn't seen a cat in the apartment, and I remember thinking; "Who took the cat and why is he only wearing one shoe?" Such were my grand thoughts as I lay dying.

When the john saw that I was dying, he grabbed me by the wrist and drug me into his shower, putting me under cold water and slapping me until I could tell him where my car was. He carried me out and threw me and my clothes into the back of my car and left me there. As I lay there naked, wet from the shower, and filthy as I hadn't been able to clean myself after he had used me, what I felt was 'alone'. Not solitude; solitude is when you go off somewhere by yourself to contemplate. Not loneliness; loneliness requires you to have something to be lonely from, or for, and I had lost or given up every thing. I just felt alone. It was perhaps an hour before I could begin moving around in my car. My first act was neither to dress or clean myself. I loaded my pipe and smoked a bowl to numb back out. Still, it was several months before a friend talked me into coming back home and staying with her.

I had cut off all contact with my friends and family except for one friend, and I had refused to answer any of her calls or texts except the occasional late night text which I knew she wouldn't answer. I had convinced myself that giving oral sex to strangers was less degrading than working in an office writing software, and had saved up several bottles of hydrocodone, planning to commit suicide when I finally lost any will to go on. In fact, I had lost the will to live months before, but was only surviving on the desire to continue getting high. 

My friend convinced me to come home and stay with her the next time I went broke, so I did, and arrived with twenty dollars and a car that was repossessed almost immediately. I stayed clean for a few months simply because I had no money, no car to get out to turn tricks, and I stayed busy working in her backyard and garden. I drew unemployment from my prior job and saved up enough money to get a cheap car and immediately starting using spice again, going right back to prostitution to get it.

I had a car accident after about six months and had no money or insurance and had run out of drugs. I attempted suicide with a bottle of hydrocodone two days later. My friend came home early and found me and I spent some time under watch at the county hospital then locked down in the psych ward. The day after I got out I realized that I wouldn't make the day without taking the money my friend had given me to get my scripts filled and buying drugs. I attended my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting that evening.

I managed to stay clean for about six months, although I quit going to NA after about three months. The profanity and anger never helped me. I was clean, but I had not recovered. I was a dry addict. I had found a job and on the day I bought a car with money I saved up I went and got high. I spent the next four or five months trying to quit by myself but never could. I would go a day or two, but the nausea and anxiety was too much. In the last month before I was fired from this job (there had been two others in there somewhere in this story, but things are a bit fuzzy) I was going out to my car three to four times in the morning and again in the afternoon in addition to smoking before and after work and at lunch! I was going through five to ten grams of spice per day.

I was experiencing blackouts, and had overdosed twice more. I would get out to my car, smoke a bowl, then take off for home, coming to an hour or two later in an area of the metroplex that I had never even been in before and didn't know how I'd gotten there! Twice I was busted with cops banging on my window, sitting in my seat with a pipe in one hand and a lighter in the other, sitting at a stop sign completely unconscious.

I had begun to hear phantom music after I'd returned from Vegas. At first I thought it was a neighborhood band, then I thought the wiring in the house was picking up a strange radio station. By the time I was having blackouts almost daily I was hearing phantom music almost all times of the day. It was never the same music and never music that I was familiar with. It always sounded like the tinny music you hear when someone's headphones or earbuds are over bleeding. My brain was making up music on the fly that was completely unique. I was going insane. I had used so many drugs that I had caused brain damage and my brain was screaming for relief.

My friend had kicked me out and I was living in my car the week or so before I checked myself into rehab. As a transsexual woman, I had been treated horribly during my stays in the psych ward and in jail. I was terrified of going into rehab and instead was living in my car, spending all my money on spice, knowing that it was only a few days before I'd have to turn to prostitution again. A friend from work talked me into going into rehab where I did not let them know I was a transsexual woman so they treated me as any other woman and I was in the unit for almost two weeks before I voluntarily let everyone know.

I couldn't eat for almost a week. I had stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea as well as horrible anxiety. I know that alcoholics and heroin addicts probably have worse withdrawals, but spice withdrawal was horrible. 

You can read about how I was healed in my other blog posts. The point here is how I, an educated and intelligent woman with a good job history and capable of making eighty to ninety thousand a year salary decided instead to prostitute herself for a cheap high. During my addiction I had actually convinced myself that I was doing what was best for me.

I have some simple advice for you if you are thinking of using spice. Do some research. You'll find I'm not the only person who has become addicted to spice and has had brain damage or worse and who has experienced horrible withdrawals. Spice is some nasty stuff!