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The Children of Levi in the Modern Age

By Mark Roma --

I was born as the result of the intervention of Jesus in the sex lives of my parents, and his "hand of influence" has cast a shadow over most of my life.

Description unavailableImage by Jocelyn Catterson via Flickr
In the 1970's an entire class of wild ex-hippie types realized that free love and drugs weren't the path to happiness. In their quest for sustainable personal fulfillment, my parents abandoned moderate thinking in order to swing from a hedonistic lifestyle to one of almost monastic structure.

They abandoned "secular" music, coffee and soda, their class rings and yearbooks, any text other than the Bible, and their right to question in order to be accepted into the cult like environment of Charismatic Christianity.

Instead of hashish and marijuana, my parents found their highs in "speaking in tongues," visions and prophecy. They laid their hands on the sick in full faith that God would heal, and He did not.

When I was born, I was prophesied over by eloquent pastors and prophets. I would be a leader of God's chosen, they told my parents, a man of great love and integrity. Who can say how many other parents heard the same things about their children. I only know that my earliest memories were shaped by these expectations.

They sent my brother and I to a Christian private school where, in classes meant to center on the science of biology, we were taught that man and dinosaur coexisted, and that evolution was an intricate lie created by unbelievers. From 10 to 18 I heard daily the pontifications of power-mad spiritual leaders who insisted that the war of Armageddon was happening, that the "end of days" is neigh.

We were taught that the day would come when atheists put guns to our heads and sent us to Heaven for our loyalty to God.

When I graduated from high school, I was lost and alone. I had no professional direction, no understanding of how to plan finances or a career (I hadn't planned on the Earth existing for more than another decade or so) or how to create social and romantic relationships with people outside religious environments.

I floundered in a cycle of doubt, self loathing created by that doubt, and repentance until I realized that I could not win. My mind would not cease to question, and could not be forced selectively to quiet itself to all the inconsistencies and injustices of the religious world.

At first I created qualifications and exceptions that allowed me a chance at post mortal bliss: I was a Christian minus the hatred for followers of other religions, the condemnation of gays and unwed mothers, or the belief that unbelievers or innocent children should burn in Hell for all eternity. Then my exceptions broadened to include a serious doubt in the Church system itself, cynicism about transubstantiation and a dislike for "speaking in tongues" and other Charismatic affectations.

I reconnected, through the wonders of the internet, with other classmates who wrestled with these doubts, and found many common threads and experiences. When honesty began to flow, I saw one very frightening statistic come to light.

Over a quarter of the people from my high school who would speak freely about such things were molested.

Whether it happened at home, by relatives, or by teachers at the school each of these people had their childhood destroyed and ruined within the confines of the Christian Church.

For years I had thought I was alone in this experience, that only I had fallen prey to this social rot, and that perhaps somehow I was to blame for the victimization I had endured as a child.

I now believe, with all my heart, that something in the structure of organized religion nurtures abuse of all kinds. Having men responsible for the spiritual welfare of other men, or having men ultimately able to justify their actions to an invisible Super-being with mysterious methods and motives basically allows the entire concept of responsibility and morality to unravel. I'm part of a generation that suffered greatly at the hands of men who felt it was within their power to forgive each other of child abuse, and decided that there was no need to involve the police or the courts to protect us. They were the servants of a "higher way," and their beliefs justified some of the most disgusting evil on the face of this planet.

I proudly stand, divested of the trappings of Christianity, to say that I am a Human, an upstanding citizen and a man of great morality and integrity. In a sad way, what I am today proves all those childhood prophesies to be true, though I alone am responsible for my actions, and the God of my parents has had no hand in who I am today.