coming out

No, I’m not gay. I am just “coming out” as a heathen. I suppose sharing here was prompted by a recent conversation with a woman in the BBQ serving line at the Autumn Daze festival. During our exchange, I mentioned that I was a “heathen.” She looked put off, so I asked if she knew what a heathen was. She replied that it was someone who “did not know right from wrong.” I explained that would be the definition of a sociopath, someone without a moral compass. I explained that a heathen was someone who did not acknowledge the God of the Bible, from the first definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Does this mean I don’t believe God exists? Not at all. It simply means I am not a Christian in the traditional sense of the word. I am no longer an adherent of any organized religion, but I have an unshakable foundation in spiritual beliefs and knowledge, including God. This column falls far short of the available space to fully express my thoughts and ideas regarding God and spiritual things. Let me instead give you some sense of the spiritual journey I’ve made for years, from a teenager to over 70 years old.

I grew up attending a Nazarene country church, where the emphasis was placed far more on hellfire and damnation than on any sort of love or forgiveness. At that time, I was torn between the fear of hell and the lack of any ability to understand many of God’s motivations, especially for actions I saw as repellent, written in the Old Testament. I was told by ministers, of course, that God works in ways that we can’t understand. I argued with and questioned those ministers in an attempt to find intelligent understanding until they despaired of any attempt at my salvation. Furthermore, I was a deep thinker, wanting to understand how things were, and I could not just take someone’s word for my spiritual truth. I had to find it for myself. In the following decades, I searched for answers to my questions through many avenues. I read books on everything that could possibly have given me the answers I sought. I will not itemize, but let’s say the list is quite long.

As a consequence of my search, I began to experience a personal spiritual awareness of myself and my connection to all life, including the concept of God. Not as an entity, lording over humans as a giver of rewards and punishment, but as an experience of…? At this point, I lose the words to describe my concept of God’s existence. I suppose the reason God is objectified as a being or entity is that it is a way of speaking of something that is not material but must be experienced spiritually.

But spiritual existence is not a world of speech, writings, or material things. It has no equivalent in the physical world. When a non-believer of spiritual existence demands proof, they want physical evidence. How silly. Spiritual existence has no physical quality and cannot be proved scientifically, no matter what kind of device we might invent. When we say God is “love,” that is about as close as we can come to defining God in a material world.

In conclusion, I want to clarify that, though I am not Christian, I believe the Bible is a source of much knowledge and many truths to take to heart. Please do not burn me at the stake. I may be a heathen, but I am your heathen.

Jerry Spiritual & Religion

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