Christians & Forgiveness
By Kevin Carnes
I “got saved” during a tumultuous period in my life. I was 17, living in an abusive home, and addicted to barbiturates. In other words, life sucked. All I really wanted was to feel better. Christians told me that faith in Jesus would do just that. I believed them. I prayed and gave myself to Jesus. And it worked… for a while. I was clean. I read and studied the Bible rabidly. I went to worship services, Bible studies, joined the church musicians, even wrote Christian songs. After a few years I was asked to teach a Bible study. Life was good. This church had two congregations - a north side and an east side (of the city - Columbus, Ohio). I went to the north side. One Sunday a month, both would meet together.
I also believed that Christian friends would be different from my drug using friends. I had had a couple of (what I thought) were close friends in my church. One was actually an old drinking buddy. I trusted them. I told them everything. As I became more educated about the Bible, I started questioning what I was reading and teaching. I had doubts. I asked them to pray for me when I was having these, and other, more private “sinful” thoughts and feelings. (The other of these “friends” was also my former therapist). She also happened to be married to one of the two church elders. She broke my confidence and told her husband some of what I was telling her. He, of course, discussed what he knew with the other elder. They went to my other friend, who in turn told them what I had told her. At some point, I must have crossed the line into heresy, or at least I was a borderline case. I was suspended from teaching, they chose who I was allowed to associate with away from services & studies. New believers were kept away from me. One of these new believers was my fiancé. They imposed several other restrictions on me, too (based on my other “sinful” thoughts and feelings). They told I must not be praying right, or maybe my faith wasn’t strong enough, or I would be “right with God” and wouldn’t be thinking and feeling any of those things. I resented all of this. I was angry with my two so-called friends. I refused to go to the combined congregation worships as they both were in that group. After two months, one of my “assigned friends” asked my why. Since I hadn’t yet learned my lesson, I told him. As you might guess, he ran to the elders and told them why. About a week later, this “friend” asked me to come over to his house. It turned out that both elders, their wives, and these other “friends” were all there. I got called on the carpet for feeling angry and resentful. My former therapist had also told them just about everything we ever talked about in therapy. I was ex-communicated that night. They told me if I ever tried to contact anyone in the church, they would reveal my all sins, past and present, to the entire congregation. It appears that while Jesus may have forgiven my “sins,” they didn’t. “Sins” of doubt, anger, resentment, and other human thoughts and emotions.
I wandered around trying to figure this out, in a bitter state, for several years. My doubts about TBAGT increased as I studied it more. I no longer harbor doubts. I know it CAN'T be any truth they claimed it is. During this time, I had searched for & found my biological parents & their families. My maternal grandfather, a Lakota, introduced me to the tribe's spiritual ways. I went with that for awhile, but like new black jeans, that faded, too. I wandered again (not in a bitter state this time) trying to figure out what I did or didn't believe. I found that "Apathetic Agnostic" best fit what I’ve been thinking for years now.