Background: This post is text I posted to Facebook and my 5000+ followers 10th January 2023 following some pushback I got on a poem shared on Jan 3rd. You’ll have to view the comments to see a good number of people honed in on the gay reference.
On the other side of some well-meaning commenters making demands that I change my position on being LGBTQ+ affirming based on a poem I posted, thoughts on unconditional love have been emerging. These are some of my thoughts plus a kind of PSA I feel I should make, at the end.
If you consider developmental models like Spiral Dynamics (Beck & Graves), Psychosocial Development (Erickson) or Stages of Faith (Fowler), The Heroes Journey (Campbell) they all carry a similar theme; that being, our development begins with deep dependency for belonging and identity within a tribe but we are then invited to mature into expanded differentiated individuals.
At the tribal/child level, we all find strength in belonging to a larger family, purpose, dogma, culture, etc. This is necessary for our growth and survival. The 8-year-old that runs from the security of the tribal village is likely to die in the wilderness. Myths, legends, and fear-filled stories allow the parents to communicate the danger and risk to the child – and it is done from a place of love, care and concern. Largely, the tribe survives through homogenisation – meaning, that it is important everyone be the same and adhere, comply, and be shaped by the rules of that tribe. These rules are often binary / dualist / black and white. This makes it easy to follow and belong.
The idea of unconditional love here is that it belongs within the boundaries of the camp and little thought is given to those in other camps, including sworn enemies and threats to the way of the tribe. They confess to love their enemy but will likely first mount weapons when a threat is perceived. Much of religion, including fundamental Christianity moves like this, I think. For the most part, the loudest and most charismatic voices are polarising – granting the tribe certainty, and therefore a sense of safety. The tribe’s role is to support this thinking and punish those who stray from it.
Please understand, I am not here passing judgement or accusation to whether this is right or not. It simply seems to be true across history and human development. The research supports this across disciplines. I mean, just take a look at your own family-of-origin system, regardless of whether they were left or right leaning.
In decades past, I was adherent to this kind of dynamic. It was, and is largely necessary, for early stages of faith development (discipleship and service). I am truly grateful for the parents, pastors and preachers who sacrificially helped me survive. To those at this stage of their faith and expansion – hang in there! I see you, get you and love you.
However, when the person matures beyond childhood, it may become apparent that life beyond the tribal camp is safer than imagined. There are no monsters, fairies, or demons as they were told in their youth. Instead, there is a world to explore. To the young warrior’s surprise, the elders of the tribe smoke peace-pipes with nearby tribes and share common concerns on broader topics. There is land to explore and many cultures to consider. It is necessary for the maturity of the warrior to endure hardship. To find their own way. To experience the sacrificial challenge of raising a family/tribe of their own. To have their identity affirmed by others. To be released into the mystery of their own future. To consider a second or third spiritual birth at adulthood and midlife – not into the tribe, but into the world, and into the mystery of themselves.
This is the invitation of differentiation. Over time, all the black and white rules blend to grey. Binary and broad judgement makes way for the individual before them. A deeper respect for the ways of the tribe emerges. Ultimately however, at this stage we see unconditional love expressed through the journey of self-discovery. They discover that as they come to accept in themselves what they once thought was unacceptable, their true and higher self emerges. Counter-intuitively, they discover as they do the inner work, their capacity to love others as they are increases. Their differentiation serves as a filter for friends and they sincerely struggle to sit with adults stuck in mythology of their childhood.
Facebook friends, I do appreciate all the support over the years. Some of you have even donated to our ministry years ago and bought resource from us. Some of you took courses I created. I do hope they were helpful.
But as a kind of PSA, (Public Service Announcement), you need to know, I just won’t bend to your tribal demands and projections because you are afraid of me or concerned I will lead other adults astray into the dangerous forest. Feel free to unfollow, unfriend or block me. Warn others of my as you must. I really don’t mind.
If you are a young Christian, do as you please, but honestly, my writings may not be best for you. It may be best you find another voice. One that caters for early stages of faith and development. There are thousands out there. It is no loss to me. You need milk, and I’m serving vegan burgers.
Without apology, my message is provocative and meant for those on the journey to differentiation, just as I am. It is for those who are wrestling with God and the faith of their youth. It is for those who deeply love God and experience Trinity’s love in a way that only silence, poetry and a cheeky smile might communicate. It is for recovering rescuers. It is for those who are learning to walk without leaving themselves behind.
My position on being LGBTQ+ affirming stands and is founded on my own extensive study and experience. So too is my position on no longer subscribing to the commonly adopted theological theories of Eternal Conscious Torment in Hell (ECT) AND Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA). I have painfully, carefully, and intentionally made those decisions after years of study. Do not make the mistake that I have rejected these things on a whim. Do not make the assumption that I haven’t consulted with others on my decisions.
Unfortunately, the deconditioning of these things is arduous and very costly. To my surprise, the world beyond these common evangelical theological theories is profound, expansive, and plentiful!
If you are apt to hurling scriptures and long comments questioning my salvation – feel free to do that, I won’t be replying, so you may just be wasting your time. Nor will I engage with insults or private messages demanding I be subject to a kind of spiritual covering like you are. Those with a right to speak into my life have earnt those over many years of love and mutual support of one another. These people don’t use Facebook comments to connect or call me to account. They actually CALL me on the phone and begin by asking me how my day is! LOL
Much love and blessings to you all – wherever today finds you.
To clarify some (and save from typing) of the points I shot this video
Then someone commented on another poem asking why I never professed my affirmation of the LGBTQ+ community here.
In many ways, I didn’t know people were wanting me to list views, opinion and lifestyle choices, so I shot this video which includes some tongue-in-cheek things and others more serious.