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.