Monday, February 25, 2013

Social Justice, Dirty Jokes, and Jesus

Last week, I had an interesting three-day span:

  • Day 1: Wrote about something way out of my comfort zone (feminism) that I had been journaling about for weeks. Compared it to living as a member of God Kingdom.
  • Day 2: Laughed uproariously while trading dirty puns with a few friends, each raunchier and sillier than the last.
  • Day 3: Wrote a post about Jesus as described in a passage in Matthew.

Living these three days in succession represents something I’ve been working toward my whole life: integration.

Much of fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity teaches about having “two natures”: a sin nature which we inherited from Adam, and a new creation which we are given by God because of Jesus’s death and resurrection. I was “born again” at a very young age, so ever since I was a child I believed that I had two personalities: Bad Shoopy and Good Shoopy.

I’m not a theologian. My knowledge of Christian theology is limited to what I learned in church and in Christian schools (high school and college). I won’t cover the theological concept of the dual nature of a Christian. As always, I will simply share my own experience.

By emphasizing this duality at a young age, I started out (by definition) broken in two. Everything about me (without God) was bad. Therefore, I reasoned that any thoughts, conversations, or actions that did not focus on God were expressions of my sin nature. I came to the conclusion that my humanity was my sin nature.

Side note: Is it any wonder that kids, in Sunday School, always answer “God” or “Jesus” when they don’t know the answer to a question? They are “safe” with those answers even if they are incorrect!

When I realized that I was gay, there were more fractures. To survive, I developed behaviors and patterns that I thought would make me more acceptable to those around me. The part that was hidden, the Shadow, did not go away. It only continued to grow.

I’ve wrote on this blog before about the Jungian concept of the Shadow in this post. Here is an excerpt:

The Shadow is a true part of ourselves that we hide in response to something that shames us, usually in childhood. It’s important to understand that not all of the “shaming” activities that form this Shadow are necessarily unhealthy. For example, a child could be screaming and crying in a restaurant, or being loud in a movie theater or library—and a parent will tell the child “no” or “be quiet” or “you shouldn’t do that.” The child learns that this is bad behavior, and compensates. That “bad behavior” in a sense becomes a part of the child’s Shadow.

I do encourage you to read the whole post. However, it is sufficient to explain that the work of becoming whole is learning how to integrate this shadow into our conscious being.

What exactly am I trying to “integrate” then? My sexuality, for one. And not just my sexual preference, but the reality that I am a human being and therefore a sexual being.

Additionally, I am integrating the part of me that felt shame for having fun. Being a fundamentalist Christian in good standing is serious business and serious work. There is no time to be human; “being human” is equated to wallowing in the “filthy rags” of our sin nature.

Ultimately, what I’m integrating is my humanity. I am human being; not a fundamentalist robot incapable of doubt, happiness, anger, and rational thought.

I spent a great deal of time reclaiming my humanity and losing some of the false innocence of fundamentalism. Today, I can think and talk about God, work toward social justice, and revel in dirty jokes—all beautiful, shameless, truly human activities. Real connection with others is possible. THIS is the closest I’ve been to the life I’ve always wanted to live: Authentic. Vulnerable. Fun. Meaningful. Integrated. Whole. Like the youth pastor of today’s younger generation says: "I’m a free bitch."


Emily Maynard said...

I love this post! Integration has been a theme of mine for the past 4 or 5 months. It names all this drawing in, accepting and learning, and marking as holy all of the pieces of myself.

Love that you're learning the same!

Kevin said...

Thanks Emily! That's very cool you are going through the same sort of process. This was definitely one of my "up" days. I still have a lot of cynical, rotten days too. YAY HUMANITY! :)