31yo gay guy, Charismatic background but not religious today

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Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
January 9, 2010, 02:35

Thanks Meg. I couldn’t agree more.

I personally found my counselling studies to be more God-like than the church, facilitating me to truly apply loving principles which the church had been trying to beat into me for years. Within the counselling school there was true acceptance and realness and I saw myself as God sees me, learning to embrace my limitations and make them work for me. I was inspired from that position of enlightened weakness to naturally become a better person rather than being guilted into it. I guess you could say my weaknesses became my strengths.

Rabid womble, I loved the church more than I loved myself. They were closer to me than my own family. And they loved me while I was doing things their way and then cast me aside when I stood up to them, like they did with so many others. I mourned for them for years and searched high and low to find a suitable place of worship and couldn’t find one. And then I discovered f2b. Coming to this site has facilitated healing, community, like-mindedness and acceptance; basically all the things the church has not been interested in providing.

I’m quite comfortable with the fact that the church does not have a monopoly on healing or God. And the sacred is everywhere. Thank God for that or else I might have given up long ago like the church did.

Joined in 2009
January 9, 2010, 02:53

Hi, 🙂

I would like to share from a slightly different perspective

I would like to add that whilst my experience outside of church was initially quite scary, it actually caused me to listen to my own spirit – I learned to find my own spiritual place. Faith spirituality is a very individual thing in my opinion, even those congregated in a church have widely differing beliefs. I found that my journey for spirituality outside the church had a lot to teach me in the way of acceptance of others. I found that I had much to learn in the way of tolerance to other ideas and beliefs and its made me a more accepting person of people generally speaking.

I find that one of the dangers that is posed by gathering in like minded groups is that familiarity can breed contempt for others that are unlike them. So while its a really good thing to be around like minded people there are inherent flaws in this too. I have found that the information regarding those of a different belief/faith, that has been given from the pulpit in my past in churches has been quite wrong and it has been a case of inadequate research regarding a given belief/faith.

I really disliked the subtle ‘us vs them’ attitude that I found amongst the churches attended in the past and I hope its less of a problem today than what it was. It is really unchristian in my view to think in terms of ‘us vs them’ – that the Christians were somehow better than the rest that their way was the only way of salvation. People are people regardless of what we believe and we all deserve to be treated with love, kindness and dignity and we all have the right to occupy time and space and believe what we want to and how we want to practice it. When we get away from these basic understandings we move away from the teachings of Christ which focused in these basic things.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
January 9, 2010, 10:57

Hi Ant

Great to see you here again. Your input is greatly appreciated and the above is an excellent comment.

Yes, wandering in the desert will certainly test and develop an ability to listen more to one’s spirit. That’s what I’ve experienced anyway. Would I have chosen it? No – of course not! Who wants to suffer? And yet I am glad for my heart being broken open so I can relate to those the church has turned it’s back on or forgotten. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have the compassion or acceptance of various disenfranchised others that I have now. That’s what Jesus was about, ministering to the broken, the forgotten, the down trodden, and outcasts. And that’s where my focus is drawn so I think that’s the most important one.

I hope this is OK, pingtimeout, continuing from your initial post with this?

I too heard a lot of misinformation about other faiths and practices from the pulpit and it was based on fear not love. And the ‘us and them’ you mentioned I found to be anything but subtle. I agree it is not Christian or in fact truly spiritual to hold an ‘us and them’ attitude. It comes from primitive times of needing to fight and defend against anything that might threaten survival. However, I believe we now live in a more secure and aware age and are able to discern things in more complex ways. And if we are really secure in ourselves, we don’t need to speak in an ignorant or defamatory way about those who have different beliefs. We are afterall all connected and, I believe, all cherished by the creator.

Yes, Jesus moved outside of the current church and culture of his day. He was a rebel but never arrogant. He wasn’t taking orders from the synagogue or any man and seemed to regularly upset church authorities. The things he did were contraversial but always deeply loving. That’s the person I want to be, motivated by love and courage. And I think that is more likely to occur outside of church than in it. I hope you’re right, Ant. It would be nice to think that the church is changing for the better, also being broken open to include all kinds of people who were excluded before. I’m just not so sure that it’s the right place for me anymore, that’s all.

I think we can safely judge a person, ministry, practice or environment by the fruit that grows. And so if people thrive and produce good fruit wherever they are, then something really good must be happening in their lives, even if it’s different to popular opinion or what we think they should be doing.

Blessings to all,

Ann Maree

Joined in 2008
January 9, 2010, 14:03

Pingtimeout, in many ways my experience is similar to Ann Maree’s in that I too have had to adjust to a life outside my former organised church, which was and still is to my knowledge, very fundamentalist and insular by nature. I lost virtually all of my friends overnight when I left as they were instructed not to contact me as I had so-called “fallen away” to put it in the pente lingo …

I think the issue that most concerns me, having been in the pente scene, is the high level of control some charismatic churches excercise over their congregations with their various rules, regulations and attempts to portray the outside world as being evil, perverted and unjust. Some people might label these types of churches as a “high-demand group”. That is not a label any church would want.

As Ann Maree put it, a certain degree of trust must exist between a church and a member. If that trust is broken, then it becomes very hard to rebuild it unless there is a sure Christ like commitment to doing that by both parties. Some people need time to make that commitment. The great thing about Freedom2b[e] is it is a safe space for us to work through any faith and/or sexuality issues without any condemnation or judgement.

We are all here to support one another …

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
January 9, 2010, 16:23

a belated hi from me pingtimeout

great that you found us and thanks for sharing your story.

it seems like you are a regulary internet user….is this correct.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
January 9, 2010, 18:59

Hi mobileguy

I too had friends instructed not to call myself and my husband, which was devastating to be cut off like that, and a definite cult hall mark. Church leaders even asked us to lie about the circumstances under which we left. I too am concerned about the control you speak of in churches but believe it’s present in more than some pentecostal circles, albeit to varying degrees. I’d class a lot of them as cultish and mine was definitely a “high demand church”/cult.

Thanks for your comments. It’s a relief to know I’m not alone in what I went through although it seemed like that for ages. Pingtimeout, I hope you also enjoy the level of support available here.

Blessings and Happy New Year,

Ann Maree

Joined in 2009
January 10, 2010, 05:44

Hi everyone,

I’ve only been here a few days but I have to say this is a very supportive and friendly space. Having worked in moderating or administrating online spaces for about 14 years I appreciate the hard work, both from the founders/admins and also the regulars here to build that. 🙂 This is a composite reply.

deafant (and Ann Maree) – The “us vs them” at the church I was in was very, very apparent. In retrospect it seems ridiculous that they were presumptuous enough to believe they were the only church through which God was working. I liked this quote particularly, it reflects my own “unlearning” too:

People are people regardless of what we believe and we all deserve to be treated with love, kindness and dignity and we all have the right to occupy time and space and believe what we want to and how we want to practice it. When we get away from these basic understandings we move away from the teachings of Christ which focused in these basic things.

Ann Maree – that’s no problem. I think it’s a natural tendency of forum posts to randomly dip in and out of different topics, it’s all about building community. I pretty much agreed with your entire post (10:57am). Re: other faiths… we were taught songs in Children’s Church which actively mocked other faiths. Pretty sad that they considered that necessary, really.

mobileguy – Yes, the control thing is a huge problem where it exists. I do know there are churches where that really isn’t a problem – the whole idea of telling people what to think rather than letting them be guided by the Spirit in their own path doesn’t allow people to mature or develop for themselves, and I think a truly mature church can only be strengthened by this process – it’s sad that some of their leaders don’t recognise this. I agree with your point on trust – applies to my situation too.

Anthony: Hi and thanks 🙂 Yeah I’ve been on the internet since 1995 (and other online networks for even longer). The nickname is unique for here, I thought it best to keep the various parts of my life separate for now – I hope that is not interpreted as a lack of trust, but more just I’m aware that people from my old church, my work or even my other internet pursuits could be reading.

Ann Maree: What happened at my church was interesting and from what I’ve heard typical of “megachurches” in that the main church hierarchy had lost control of the edges and a level of “middle management” had arisen which had very much their own aims to pursue. The youth group was operating within any regular definition of a cult, and the church pretty much had no idea how far gone it was until the end.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
January 10, 2010, 12:31

hey pingtimeout….thanks for your compliments. Creating a safe space has been a priority for me. I believe we have achieved that and we always communicate respectfully with each other. We have had people come on here and be angry and aggressive. either they begin to tone it down because we don’t return anger and aggression or the leave because basically they want to vent to find people they can vent with.

Some forums only feed peoples dysfunctions. I like to think that here people can find healing not keep opening the wounds.

Good idea about the new username……as we say in our guidelines.


1. Freedom 2 b[e] is a safe place. That means you are welcome and we will do all we can to respect your rights which, if you choose, include your anonymity. Our website, online forum and meetings are free of a sexual agenda. (ie cruise free zones)

2. Freedom 2 b[e] is non judgmental. We make no judgment about the way you live your life or express your gender or sexual orientation. You are responsible to live your life in ways that demonstrate respect to yourself and others.

3. Freedom 2 b[e] has no agenda. It is not our intention to get people to leave churches or go back to them or tell them what they should believe. That is your decision and journey. Our only intention is to provide a space for people to grow and address any issues they may have about their gender and/or sexuality, and/or their beliefs. Once again the choices are yours.

4. Freedom 2 b[e] is a place of integrity. To maintain a powerful voice that has credibility we seek to maintain a high standard of integrity in all we do and say. Freedom 2 b[e] leaders follow guidelines that ensure our integrity is evident.

Joined in 2009
January 12, 2010, 00:31

deafant (and Ann Maree) – The “us vs them” at the church I was in was very, very apparent. In retrospect it seems ridiculous that they were presumptuous enough to believe they were the only church through which God was working. I liked this quote particularly, it reflects my own “unlearning” too:

Thanks for your reply pingtimeout, I had read your story with empathy and identified with the elements that were present in my own experience. It was a confusing time for me when I left the church not knowing what to believe or or what to think. I had to begin a slow process of unlearning which I am still doing – I still get caught in fundamentalistic thought patterns even 10 years down the track, I still remember choruses that run through my mind as if yesterday and the problem is that these choruses often no longer represent what I believe. I have substituted my own words at times but that has been limited in its success.

I am struck by Jesus’ itinerant ministry he had no regular church and there is not a lot of record of him attending the synagogue – of course this could be assumed knowledge of the time so I cant say that he didnt attend the synagogue regularly but that does not seem to be the the focus of the gospels. It seems to me that the focus was that of Jesus and people regardless of who they were and he didnt discriminate between believers and non believers. The focus is on individual spirituality, not collective worship. As afar as I am aware Jesus does not give any instruction to regularly attend a church or synagogue.

I dont mean to say its not right to attend church but I do think its a sign of spiritual maturity when we arent co-dependent on a church – just as its good not to be co-dependent in relationships. If our faith is dependent on being around like minded people then we are missing the point in my opinion. Like our faith shouldnt fall apart if we cant make it to church in Sunday. That said the company of like minded people does strengthen us, there is no doubt about that.

Pingtimeout I really admire your determination to speak to new people on a regular basis its not something that many of us are comfortable with in this day and age of suspicion of strangers and lack of local communities. I appreciate you taking the time to tell your story

Joined in 2009
January 13, 2010, 14:48

Exactly, it’s a case of “everything in its right place”. Church has its role in some people’s lives, and can be a valuable and affirmational thing (I’ve seen that recently in the death of a friend’s mother whose faith and links in the church kept her admirably strong through her illness) but like anything, too much of something is usually not a good thing and people can become co-dependent. I like your point: “our faith shouldn’t fall apart if we can’t make it to church on Sunday”.

I can relate somewhat to that “stuck in the same pattern” situation – I’ll still to this day find myself subconsciously judging people on their looks or other external characteristics and it annoys me that although my head is past that stage years ago, it still seems to trigger subconsciously. And yes, sometimes the songs get stuck in my head too (I’m a guitarist and vocalist so have a particularly good memory for music – this can be a downside sometimes)

Re new people – I did that more at the start, not so much now – was just a necessary step in breaking down the barriers I’d erected around myself in the belief the world was an evil and taboo place. And thanks very much for your kind comments 🙂

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