The "cult"

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    Jun 12, 2007 5:34 AM GMT
    OK, so this is from a different topic, and I didn't want to detract from that thread. So,I was in a cult. Here is the tale, and I'm afraid it might be pretty boring unless we have some shared experiences (sorry, no virgin sacrifice):

    I grew up a Nazarene. It is a Weslyan offshoot, but it's pretty evangelical (if you are familiar with the Weslyan movement, you are, now, oddly attractive to me). All the time I grew up, I was force fed this idea about a "personal relationship with God" thing. I had one of those "Pauline revelations" where I felt like all of Christianity was wrong and corrupted--okay, so I still might believe that a little. But upon discussing this with a friend, he said "I go to a 'Bible study' that feels the same way! We just read the Bible and love Jesus." So naturally, I was all about it. Anyway, the focus was a lot on how God can talk to you and tell you to do things, and you can hear directly from him. Which was great. I mean, you never have to worry about being wrong if Jesus tells you you're right! So I was getting involved in this for a good amount of time.

    Meanwhile, my friend and I were getting very close. We spent every second we were not in class together. We would fall asleep in each other's rooms in order to just spend time together. It was pretty cool, sweet and innocent. Eventually, we told each other that we had "Struggled with being gay," and that God gave us each other to not give in to the "sexual sin" and have someone in our lives. Basically gay without the sex.

    So this cult called itself a mission organization, and this kid and I planned on spreading Jesus to the unconverted hordes in Jamaica. I would do the agriculture aspect, and he would preach or whatever. But after spending every second of every day together for 9 months, he stopped talking to me. He told me that the "mission organization" wanted him to marry this girl that they had been pushing him towards. I was floored, and he said I needed to go to a "private Bible study" with the leader of the cult's mother. I went, because I still thought that I was doing what God wanted. While there, she tried to get me to go to prom with some girl--mind you I was a Junior in college at this point, and knew Jesus wasn't going to take away my gayness--and that she had a vision from God that I was supposed to marry this girl and we would have 3 kids. I said that that was ridiculous, and then red flags started appearing...

    I talked to my friend on the phone for a couple hours although he lived right down the hall. In the course of that conversation, he said, "If you and I were together forever, it would disappoint everyone except me and you. And there is nothing more I want than to spend my entire life with you, but if I marry +@#$% then the only person I am disappointing is you and me, and I will have to just live with that." That was the last conversation I had with him. Later that night, someone came and said, "you know, that thing is a cult, they took [my friend's future wife] and grabbed her by the hands and shook her to get her ready for all the future conflicts." And the main cult things were that they were gnostic (secret knowledge from God) and they didn't believe in the Trinity. The next day, I went to talk to some religion faculty at my school and they talked to me. My friend/love interest, told the cult leader and he called me and said that i sinned against him and God by talking to the religion faculty. He tried to get me to "come back," but when I resisted because I saw it for what it was, he attacked me and said that i was a "baby Christian" and I am just trying to destroy everything, and that I crapped my pants, and now I need someone to clean it up. It was surreal. The next day, the cult leader showed up on campus with an entourage to intimidate me. Basically all the abusive cult red-flags. Thankfully, the situation with the kid I loved helped me step back and see the problems involved with the whole situation.

    They are married now, and just had a baby. They moved to Kenya for a bit, but had to come back when they didn't take their anti-malarials and Jesus decided not to heal them...

    I did learn from this that all love is an expression of the life of God. And to say that the goodness of God is separate of the love between gay people is a dualism and a major fault in anti-gay theology. Also I realized how beautiful it can be to love another human being. And I look forward to when I get out of homophobic Pullman and can experience love like that again, and love that even extends further.

    If you read all that, you get my eternal gratitude. Questions?
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    Jun 12, 2007 12:15 PM GMT
    I'm not familiar with the Wesleyan Movement, but I live 20 minutes away from Iowa Wesleyan College. Does that make me oddly attractive or just odd?
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    Jun 12, 2007 6:12 PM GMT
    The thing is that he will probably end up disappointing more than just you and him. His marriage and stuff may work or a while, but rarely do things last when based on someone disapointing himself.
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    Jun 12, 2007 7:20 PM GMT
    Wow, some story! Perhaps I'm cynical but wasn't there a time when people were locked up for claiming God was speaking to them? Fantastic!

    It's great you got out of that though.
  • SkyMiles

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    Jun 13, 2007 12:59 AM GMT
    That's deep...I don't really know what to say.
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    Jun 13, 2007 2:02 AM GMT
    So, for me, I fell more in love with the Christian Tradition, which helped me see how things got institutionalized, which in turn led me to the Episcopal Church, which I love. Everyone is looking for something. And I respect John Wesley's revolution, but like most spiritual movements, bad things came from it. I've become more of a humanist, and I feel like I am more a part of the dialogue about faith and God instead of a reader of an old book. So it was great for me developmentally, plus if I ever want to write a book, I have good fodder. I am thankful for my upbringing, and that in the end I could make decisions against that (of course with the double edged sword that if I didn't have my upbringing, I couldn't have had the capacity to reject such things), but the world is more exciting now that I am not an evangelical. Little decisions matter more now that i don't necessarily believe in heaven or hell.
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    Jun 13, 2007 2:41 AM GMT
    I think it's cool that you are still thankful for your upbringing, even though some of the programming was painful and needed to be purged. I've met a lot of adult gay men who still live in resentment of and recovery from their religious upbringings. As for me, I thank God that I was raised by atheists.
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    Jun 14, 2007 8:46 PM GMT
    I was in a real cult, Eckankar, from age 12 for 20 years. Followed a living Master who was God on Earth. The faith praticed out of body experiences taught in classes. Having your own experiences beyond the physical gave personal knowledge rather than blind faith.

    I had many such experiences out of the body which drew me away from the Master of the group. The cult didn't care for that but didn't do anything to make me feel threatened or bad. I went my own way and they went theirs.

    Like any religion, you're there to learn your lessons, once learned you need to go on. Those desks in first grade are made small for a reason. So you don't sit in first grade for 20 years, you grow up and move on.
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    Jun 14, 2007 9:10 PM GMT
    My cult background is Transcendental Meditation, but I never allowed my relationship with the TM organization to become cultish. I still love living in the heart of all things TM, here in Fairfield Iowa, but I moved on from TM years ago. Fairfield has matured into a very spiritually eclectic community.
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    Jun 15, 2007 3:05 AM GMT
    Paradox...I understand. I'm officially still a member of Eckankar but long since learned to ditch the crap and hold onto the gold. I think it's in every faith, crap that draws us in so we can learn the real lessons.

    As we grow we can weed out what was important to us at one time but advance into what brings us truth in our lives.

    Richard Bach's book "Illusions of a Reluctant Missiah" is so wonderful. Focus on what feeds us, weeds out the illusions.

    I still practice the spiritual exercises of Eckankar, still able to leave the body, still hear the Shabda sound of the universe but no longer attracted to the outer catchings that once fascinated me.
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    Jun 15, 2007 7:21 AM GMT
    Yeah, I've kind of come to the conclusion that I have outgrown the Christian view of God, but not the social responsibility that Jesus showed. Evangelicals spend a lot of time describing how God is our father, but what father doesn't want their kid to grow up and stop nagging them about everything :)