Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas (or not)

Christmas is traditionally a time for families.

Yes, I know there are all the "Christ in Christmas" things, and all the other religious celebrations and petty squabbles over what christmas actually is, but I'm just talking about the overall expectations of the season - about getting together with loved ones and family - about appreciating each other and sharing love.

For many LGBT people this is the worst time of year!

So many have been rejected by their families and friends. Some have been completely ostracized, some are tolerated. Some go to christmas gatherings with dread, knowing they are going to get the looks, the lectures. Others don't even bother and choose to avoid it all, in an effort to preserve some dignity and self worth. And of course, many can't go because they aren't welcome, or have been completely rejected by family.

It is often a tragic time for many people, as their loneliness and rejection becomes glaringly obvious.

Please remember these beautiful hurting people.

Much is done for the homeless and impoverished, the sick and broken. But there are so many LGBT people who silently suffer every christmas.

If you know someone like this, be love to them. Respect and honour them. Show them they are beautiful and worthy of the same love we all are. No matter what you believe, love is the only thing that heals.

Live Loved!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Respect and Paradigms

I went to a funeral yesterday. Cam Rimmer, a Kiwi christian legend, highly respected across all flavours of church and denominations.

He was one of the most lovable, kind, big-hearted men I've ever known. He was larger than life, fun loving, full of stories and laughter, but deeply compassionate and caring in a way that few experience. And it was just naturally who he was.

His life experience was hard. He'd been through it all, and used every tragedy to create new stories that inspired and touched everyone. He made everyone feel like his best friend.

He influenced my own life as well on many occasions. We'd chatted often, sometimes for hours, and I'd always feel better for it.

A truly rare and wonderful man.

It was his faith that gave him life. His love for Jesus and God's Father heart oozed out of every pore. It was the most real, genuine and "lived" faith I've seen - a faith of integrity that had love at it's core. I honour his life, influence and memory.

Cam also founded Living Waters in New Zealand.

I was involved with Living Waters in Australia and NZ off and on for around 15 years - drawn by the deep love for God and the desire to bring healing and life to people struggling with all sorts of "brokenness" - relationships, addictions, abuse and trauma, and sexuality, including homosexuality. It promised life and freedom from addictive patterns of sin, of which homosexuality was one of the most common they dealt with.

What I realised during the funeral service though, was the depth of our paradigms. Cam lived with natural integrity and his ideas about sexuality were well grounded in what he and the Living Waters organisation assumed the bible, and therefore God, thought about it all. The doctrines and methods they espouse are built on complex interpretations, mixed with some basic psychology, to create something that appeals to those who see themselves as broken.

I'll be writing a lot more about Living Waters and other groups like them soon, but my point here, is that despite the immense heart of love and compassion that Cam (and many others) have, their "religious" paradigm shapes and directs that love and passion in ways that are deeply flawed. Ways that despite the best of intentions, can produce the exact opposite of what is intended.

I genuinely love Cam. But I also hurt for all the people who now live lives of religious delusion and obsession, deeply repressed identity issues, cognitive dissonance, and worst of all, called sinners for something that isn't sin.

A day of very mixed emotions. A deeper respect for the love and genuine heart of so many in this type of ministry, but a deeper determination to break the religious strangle hold of christianity on beautiful LGBT people who are assumed to be dirty broken sinners, and suffering the consequences of that sin.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Bible, being gay, right and wrong

Being gay (LGBT) and christian is a minefield of conflicting views.

Essentially, it all comes down to interpreting the bible. There are six passages in the bible that seem to address the issue and there is a mountain of studies, articles, books and videos that directly address these passages (often referred to as the "clobber" verses, simply because they are used to clobber gay people into submission).

Many of the theological discussions are well researched, thorough and irrefutable. Others are ambiguous, but enough to allow serious questioning. I applaud the scholarly work that has been done in this area, that has tirelessly explored the ancient cultures - their social structures, cultural paradigms, the way they used language including colloquialisms, analogy and metaphor, the influence of other cultures etc, all to bring a clearer exegesis to the scriptures.

These works have been crucial to my own journey out of the unbearable burden that christianity has placed on LGBT people.

But a much larger issue needs to be looked at in light of all this. And its not just for LGBT people - it's an issue that faces every single person who claims to be a christian.

The bible!

I've written quite a bit over the last year or so  about my views on the bible and its role. It's also something that many others are questioning as we look deeper into its history and influence.

The real issue however, is our deep need to have an unambiguous set of rules that clearly define right from wrong, good from bad. A book that says "this is how you live" - that if you don't follow the instructions exactly you'll be in trouble, possibly really big trouble.

We really like to have clearly defined boundaries. It gives us security and allows us to point to something outside ourselves as the source of authority. We love laws! In fact, I wonder if the metaphor in the Garden of Eden myth, is actually about our wanting "the knowledge of good and evil" simply so we don't have to live from a place of love - a place that requires thoughtfulness, empathy and compassion, responsibility, time and energy. The knowledge of good and evil, especially once it's formalised and written down, removes all personal responsibility because its already sorted - look it up in the book - end of story.

But we were never created for that. We were created for and from love, intimate unity with God and each other. The bible itself hints at this so often (in the New Testament at least).

But our obsession for the ultimate rule book is our Achilles heel. We simply cannot agree on what this authoritative book actually says - we never have! Thousands of different groups of christians all arguing about it. We are desperate for love and unity but keep trying to obtain it by deferring to a rigid rule book out of fear. Fear that we could be wrong. Fear from wanting to know good and evil and yet never sure if we have chosen the right thing. Fear of having to take responsibility for our own hearts. Fear of some eternal consequence. Fear of disobeying (knowingly or ignorantly) a God who is just as fearful as he is loving.

We have abdicated our intrinsic humanity. We have refused to live in and from love - outside of the concepts of law, right and wrong, good and evil.

The bible has some wonderful stories, and many object lessons, but it is the most abused and misinterpreted set of documents in history, simply because we have made it something it isn't.

Our first and only priority is to love - even the bible says this, lol!! Love, from beginning to end. That's it.

But what about...!? People need to....! But if we don't have guidelines...! - all excuses for not wanting to live with the personal responsibility of love.

Sure, have faith in Jesus, be christian, but the bible is not your reference book. It's not where you go to find right from wrong. God IN YOU is where we find love that shapes all we are and do. We all know what love is, and we can wrestle with the application of it, but we all know, really we do.

Live loved - go on - try it!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Who is Jim and why is his blog awesome?

I seem to have gathered a considerably large following after all the recent publicity.

Many of you have no idea of who I am apart from the fact I've written a book about being "gay and christian".

I've just updated my "Who" page with some more details. Here it is for your enjoyment. You may now chose to join me on my journey or label me a heretic, whatever, I don't mind, although I would like to think we are all willing to share, love and learn.

I have been a Christian for well over 40 years. Probably like most of you, life has been an adventure, full of joy, pain, regrets, shame, victory, defeat... you name it!
I was "zapped" by God when I was 15. No emotional "altar call" or meetings, just me and God late one night. It was so powerful and intimate that I could never, ever doubt it. My only point of reference for this experience was the church, so I totally devoured the bible and read the classics of the faith, but my ever inquiring/questioning mind never settled with the status quo. So, my journey of wandering through every doctrine and flavour of spirituality and christianity began.
I had a checkered youth, dealing with being gay, drugs and the musician's lifestyle (you know - the sex, drugs and rock and roll sort of thing) but somehow that experience of God would never let me go, and gave me the strength to go on, no matter what. 

I studied endlessly, reading hundreds of books, 2 years of bible college, listening to who knows how many sermons and lectures and countless conferences. I absorbed the bible until it became part of my world view.

I thought I knew what an intimate relationship with God looked like despite all the religious, legalistic, cultish rubbish I went through, and I kept seeing glimpses of a life resting in perfect grace, mercy and unconditional love. It's only been the last few years where that freedom has become a reality as I began to embrace the fullness of who I really am. I began slowly "renewing" my mind to our wonderful union with God every moment of my life, and the freedom from every religious expectation and demand.

Where am I today? Good question!

Life has become a wonderful adventure, free from the dogma of any religion, free to explore my unique journey with God, wherever that takes me. I can rest in the fact that he/she is far bigger and better than any one religion can contain. I've found that christianity can be a wonderful and valid expression of who God is and our relationship with him/her and each other.

But above all, doctrines and theologies aren't important - love is the only thing that matters. If the fruit of our belief system is anything other than love, then that system is bankrupt. I spent my life trying to discover how to live with integrity of faith and character, to have complete honesty in all I am and do. I believe that is all we can ever ask of each other. We each have our own completely unique journey to live.

Live loved!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Fight for Law change

I received this from Diane Sparkes ( who often writes for GayNZ).

We need law changes to fully protect our society from hate speech, bullying and abuse! Logan Robertson's email abuse does qualify for prosecution under the crimes act for inciting suicide, but we need broader more effective laws as we slowly move towards the extremes that places like the USA have become renowned for.

I really wish it weren't so. It breaks my heart to think that we need laws to protect us from stuff that no human should even consider! But until that....

Jim Marjoram, is right, he (the Pastor) needs support, but how do we do this when
we fail to take it upon ourselves to demand from the society we live in the
consequences for Hate!
New Zealand has often been called God’s own country yet as a country we make no
demand of our rights.
As New Zealanders we are constantly told how great this country is but there are still
many issues that we as a society have failed to demand.
Justice is one of our collective rights and we have created many responses to just
what is acceptable for us all.
But one area of justice that we have failed to attend to is Hate.
I an article I wrote back in March 2013 for GayNz
I described my concern for this lack of a workable law on behalf of all marginalised
people. However it seems the demand has not been take up.
Hate is insidious in our society and it is societies purpose to let the whole of society
know that it will not be tolerated.
Whenever a person makes a decision to assault verbally or physically, a person
intentionally because they are different, of how they identify, a down fall of society
itself can be the only result.
The Justice Minister will be quick to point out that the crime of hate is taken care of
at the time of sentencing and is included in the sentencing act. Yet the police state
their hands are tied because there is no crime in the act.
But as stated in my article this is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
Not much help when someone proffers hate in this case, we have freedom of speech
do we not, but should we accept this kind of hatred as acceptable, certainly it sells
papers and promotes in the media indignation as a means of keeping us informed.
But the reality is, is it Right!
And what should our New Zealand society demand, our laws must show in no
uncertain terms just what we will accept, and while our enforcers of our laws are
disallowed the means of protecting our rights, we stand naked, discriminated against
for who we are, by freedom of speech.
Overseas where Hate is a crime, society through its laws seeks to protect its
community from this kind of hatred. See: American hate pastor set to stand trial
Demand for the crime of Hate is definitely needed in this country if we are truly
“Gods Own”.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Logan Robertson

As you can imagine, I've been completely inundated with email and messages, phone calls and media attention, so I thought I should try to pull all the strands together and make sure things don't get out of hand.
Despite the horrific abuse Logan has dished out, I'm genuinely concerned for the guy. We all know that he's completely incapable of delivering on his threats, so that's not an issue. But I AM concerned that many LGBT people may want to deliver on some of the threats against him and his family, although I'm sure no one would actually kill them.
Despite what we may think about his beliefs and actions, he needs love and support, not from his brainwashed followers, but from US! This is the biggest opportunity for LGBT people to demonstrate that we are NOT like that!
Jesus said to return good for evil, to forgive our enemies etc- you know the stuff. And here's the crunch, the only thing that heals is love! 
Yes this guy is sick, but he needs love more than anyone. People like this have never experienced real love, and its up to us who can, to let him know what real, unconditional love is.
I also understand that for many this is impossible because of the abuse they may have suffered at the hands of people like this - I get that - so there is no condemnation for feeling anger.
But the only thing that brings real lasting change is love.
PLEASE - no threats - no violence - no hate!
Concern, anger are all fine and healthy, and must be acknowledged and respected, but to act on it isn't acceptable.
So lets love on Logan, show him that his God isn't our God. Show him that WE are love, That the greatest force in the universe is love and that we are all equally loved by God, no matter what religion or spirituality you embrace. We are all together in this journey.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Tolerance (practicing what I preach)

I'm such an idealist!!

I think the world can be changed overnight by just adopting a few basic principles.
I think I can be changed overnight!
But here I am, still being my usual argumentative obnoxious self. I even wrote a blog not long ago about being a snob.
The worst part of it all is seeing others struggling with the crap I used to struggle with, seeing people trapped in the stuff that made me a tormented, deluded, suicidal wreck. I just want to tell people to get out of that religious garbage and shout at them to run away!! I want people to see the enormity of life and love and how small religious boxes are.
I want to desperately argue, discuss, reason and plead, and make them see how deceived they are!

But of course, I overlook the one thing that I claim to be so passionate about: respect for each others journey.

My life has been my unique journey. Your life is your unique journey. I can share my life and all that has made me what I am - all that has led me to here and now, my beliefs and hopes. But that's all. I have no right to demand that you change. I can encourage things like honesty and integrity, love and empathy. I can challenge our paradigms and confront bigotry and abuse. But I can't expect you to be me. I have no right to demand that you believe the same things I do, feel the same way I do.

When I respect your journey, I respect who you are. I acknowledge that God (whatever you conceive "him" to be) will take you on the path that is perfect for you and you alone.

I'm still learning to be tolerant. I have my good days and my bad days. Sometimes you all make me so frustrated!! Other days, I can see our unity, our common humanity, and I love you all to bits.

I'm so fickle, sigh...