I Defy You, Oh Church (Notes from a Rebellious Ass)


And now I, at long last, know why I can’t stand religious people. They try to take away my wholeness: my sensuality, my curiosity, my intimacy, and my freedom. For how can any person be free without an illimitable life? Yet religion tries to imprison me in a sterile sanctuary and make me sing boring songs declaring there is only ONE GOD and quote moralistic scriptures written by castrated monks. 

I am many layers. Which of them are you going to save? Salvation. Which of the various me’s do you propose to save, and which do you propose to suppress? 

I defy you. I defy you, oh church, to save or suppress me according to your medieval, puritanical, and hypocritical standards. 

The ideal Christian! And which is he, if you please? The Pope or Franklin Graham? Jerry Falwell or Joshua Duggar? Marjorie Taylor Greene or Donald Trump? The ideal Christian?

There are other men in me, besides this rebellious ass who sits here in his plaid pajamas, typing on his Apple computer. What am I doing playing the rebellious ass in plaid pajamas? Who am I talking to? Who are you at the other end of this rebelliousness?

Who are you? How many selves have you? And which of these selves do you want to be? I finally can express myself after decades of religious repression. I have a sensual self, a curious self, a self that craves intimacy, and a self that craves freedom. I no longer hunger and thirst after righteousness; I tasted and drank the Kool-Aid, but it left me empty. I hunger and thirst after wholeness. Enlightenment, not goodness or perfection or salvation, is what I desire. 

The ideal self! Oh, but I have a strange and fugitive self longing to be free. It howls like a wolf under a full moon. See my red eyes in the dark? This is the self who is coming into his own. The salvation of man? Jesus H. Christ! 

When every person, as long as they remain alive, is in themselves a multitude of conflicting selves, which of these do you choose to perfect at the expense of every other?

Shall we repress our basic instincts, our biological drives? The Catholics have tried and failed. Ask all the children whose lives have been ruined by priests taking out their repressed sexuality on innocent little boys and girls. Ask all the youth groomed and sodomized by Southern Baptist leaders. 

Ask the abovementioned characters: the Pope, Graham, Falwell, Duggar, Greene, or Trump. Or should we ask Stormy Daniels, Jean Carroll, Anna Duggar, or the pool boy? 

The salvation of humanity is wholeness. Not goodness or perfection. Wholeness. The selves of man are a vast forest, and all religion intends is a single wooden tree—they call it an old rugged cross. Moreover, we are to deny ourselves, our forest, and take up that single bare tree and live to die. To be saved, religion requires a clone of a mythic man who bled and died on a tree. All Hail King Jesus. The ruler and savior of clones. 

I will not be a virtuous little automaton. I am a multi-layered human. I cannot function with a one-dimensional religion, suppressive rules, and denials of my basic instincts. The Ten Commandments are not going to get me going. I refuse to be a temperant, moderate, chaste, conforming, obedient robot. I refuse to behave and respond in a white, evangelical, patriarchal way. 

Here’s my creed. This is what I now believe. 

That I am many selves, and they are not to be denied. They are to be expressed.

That my being is a vast dark forest. 

That my known self is becoming like an ever-growing clearing in that forest. 

That nymphs, fawns, and faeries come into the clearing of my known self, commune with me, and then go back. 

That I must have the courage to let them come and go and be intimate with me.

That I refuse to let religion put anything over me any longer, and I refuse to be shamed, guilted, and judged by “Christians.” 

That I will always try to recognize and submit to the wonder in me and the wonder in others of every gender and color. 

That the goal of life is not goodness or perfection; it is wholeness. 

That I will live my essential selves daily: sensuality, curiosity, intimacy, and freedom. 

Those who prefer to be slaves, clones, or religious can call it heresy. I don’t care. I drank their Kool-aid and ate their communion crackers and was left thirsty and hungry. Finally, at long last, I am full-filled. I have the joy and peace they promised but never delivered. I am free.