Other entries in this series: Your Questions Are Good, But Not That Good You Still Need an Answer for the Resurrection When You See Hypocrisy in the Church Dear friend, I hope my radio silence for the last several months will be forgiven somewhat when I tell you that I have, in fact, managed to read your book. As I expected, it is skillfully written and frequently compelling. You do a fine job telling your story and I have no doubt that many, many readers will see themselves in your tale (the Amazon reviews have already confirmed this).
Yes. I’ve said this multiple times on Facebook & maybe even tweeted it once. You are more than your impulses. They do not define you.
As a culture, there is somewhat of a general understanding of this principle in regards to food (though advertising pushes the opposite). We know that following our every impulse to eat whatever we want--to satisfy our cravings in the moment--doesn’t lead to physical health. We have to make decisions that will make us healthy in the long run. If we’re honest, we know that it means saying no (at least sometimes or most of the time) to more pizza or fried foods, and yes to leaner protein and vegetables & fruits. We may not enjoy the taste of those foods in the moment as much as we enjoy the taste of pizza, but our bodies will feel better afterwards & they will work better, too. Not to mention the impacts on mental health... And believe it or not, when we really train our taste buds to eat healthy foods, we often develop a distaste for junk & prefer the taste of foods that make us feel better too.
Why can we not understand sexual desires & impulses in the same way?
As an ex-evangelical that deconstructed years ago, my reasons for deconstruction was not because of sinful impulses or desires but because Evangelical Christianity for the most part shows God to be angry and sends most of humanity to hell which i believe is an abhorrent doctrine.
Having said that, i do understand where your friend is coming from. I also felt and still feel a conflict between selfish desires and being a Christian, (though i am more of an eastern orthodox christian now and i am a hopeful universalist). I have learned to live with the conflict and i understand that self-control is what God calls us to.
I also understand your friend when he says he got tired of feeling self-loathing for being human. I agree with your friend, Evangelical Christianity teaches us to hate ourselves at the same time stating that God loves us and alot of us cannot process that contradiction. I have come to understand that God loves me despite my faults and sins and that i don't have to jump thru hoops for God to love me and accept me.
I agree with you that our desires should NOT define us and that alot of our desires are selfish in nature. I do not have to be an Evangelical Christian to see that.
"The most important thing about me is _______"
After watching people be people in our culture over the past few years, I am convinced that most of us spend much of our time and energy trying to answer this question. Even folks who insist that the meaning of life is '42' (aka whatever), still seem bent on proving that they are important for important reasons. Sexuality and gender identity is, today, a common method of answering the question. Religion and antereligion are also big blank-fillers. Of course politics has become a religion unto itself and many fill in that blank with some form of red or blue.
We all seem to be under the assumption that we actually have the power and authority to fill in the blank for ourselves. Whether we actually do or not is beyond my point here... we just assume it. No longer do our parents get to tell us who we are, or what is most important about it. No longer will we allow the authorities or our social organizations to have that say in our lives. We demand that right for ourselves. The ironic thing is... we only seem to come up with the same answers as those in our social circles... We willingly conform to non-conformity and in the same breath demand that we should not be made to conform to anyones standard but our own. Our impulses have become our identity because, perhaps, we have nothing else left to tell us who we are or why we are significant.