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I really wanted to be normal and I believed that god could do that

By Paul A ~

I grew up in an Evangelical-Pentecostal family in the Netherlands. I am Dutch and English is my second language. I was born with a harelip. My parents felt bad about this and thought it might been because they had sinned. They have been searching for comfort and an answer in their faith. They found John 9 as an answer:
“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
So all my childhood I have been told this story and in a way it made me feel special. God gave me a harelip and was going to do something special with it, I was wondering what that would be.

My parents were very active in the church and later on I was too. I was baptized in water and later on in the holy spirit too, spoke in tongues and was ever so happy. I went to bible college and dreamed of being a missionary somewhere in the tropical converting a hole tribe to Jesus.

The only problem was, I liked men. It started with liking and feeling attracted to Tarzan. But I thought this was a way of myself to compensate, for I thought of myself that I was not manly enough. Another thinking was – sex issue was taboo, even shampoo advertisements on the telly with almost nude ladies were switched off by my mother telling that all that was sin in the eyes of god – if I fantasized about men it’s not as bad as thinking about nude women. But becoming an adolescent with sexual feelings I always felt sinful and bad about it. Tried to repent and prayed to be changed. But I kept on liking manly men ….

In bible college – which was a boarding school, the students stay in school the whole year (sleeping, eating and studying) – I spent almost four years. The first year my roommate was very macho Italian and homophobic. Now god had really the chance to change me. The second year I had a roommate that I finally felt myself manly and masculine. (little detail, this roommate years later killed his ex-wife’s husband and hided the dead body in his car for several weeks.) The third year I had two roommates. I found out that my calling was not to evangelize. I liked much more to counsel people with problems in their religious life. One of them was a co-student who was not raised up as a Christian – like the majority of the students were. He had been a drug-addict, alcoholic and prostitute. (The kind of people Jesus came for, wasn’t it?). This guy behaved himself differently than the other students with evangelical backgrounds, he could talk roughly or touch subjects in a conversation which was considered inappropriate. Students started to avoid him. He was not very manly so I thought it was save to start to show Christian love. We decided in my fourth year to be roommates, we asked to the staff and they approved. But this guy was a manipulator and I was not prepared for that. So he seduced me and initiate me into things I fantasized about but did not want to do with him. Now I felt so horribly sinful and stupid… At the end of this story we had to leave the school, my parents where in tears (What have they ever done wrong?) I have never seen the guy again.

I started my training as a nurse, lived in Amsterdam and found out about gay life there in secret. I did not like to go to the church anymore. While I was thinking that I was gay, I started to fall in love with a girl in the class. We lived together and later on we married. At the start of our relation I told her about my bad experience in college and my attraction to men. But it was not a problem for her. But she discovered she did not like to live together with another person. She showed less and less interest in me and I started to meet other men. We ended up divorcing. I was very sad about that, I really liked and loved her. Then I met a guy I knew he was gay but he turned out to be converted to Christianity and went to church. I went with him and they preached about sex-addiction. I felt god finally take care of me. So I tried it all again, going to church, leading worship services and bible study groups. But I still had this longing to men. So I went to a counselling group for evangelical help for gays. In those days I went to a fourth square ministry church. After two years of counselling I still did not see any change in my born-again being. I also saw problems other born again and spirit filled Christians were struggling with all their lives. Like my mother has a severe anxiety for lightning storms and a lot of other things and this fear started to rule the whole family. And how she prayed not to be scared anymore, till today she still is. Being afraid is a lack of trust in god therefor it is sin.

I also went to a church where they practice exorcism. I did the whole process with fastening, praying. I really believed a demon would come out of me. But I stayed as calm as a lamb.

I really wanted to be normal and I believed that god could do that.

Than one day , I already passed forty years of age, I saw a program on the TV where Richard Dawkins was telling his vision about Christianity. For me it was so shocking to hear anyone saying that god was sadistic and cruel. I was thinking about it and could only conclude it was true. My picture of caring god the father was broken and I felt terrible confounded and for a year a felt depressed. But the more I thought about the non-existence of god the more it made sense to me, the more I saw the theological mistakes. The fall of men in Genesis. It is not love to send people out of paradise for something you did not like they have done. It is not love to ask for sacrifices at atonement for wrongdoing. It no live in it to crucify someone, yourself, for atonement, to allow yourself to forgive…

My parents, still alive, are still devoted Christians. I’ve never told them I am atheist now. I think it just hurt them and they would not understand. I lost all my Christian friends, it all just happened in silence. I don’t have the urge to ‘de-evangelize’ them. I am fifty years now, my youth has passed by struggling against my being gay. I have accepted it, but it will always feel awkward, I will always feel ‘unnatural’, this feeling is too deep-rooted.

And my hare-lip, well, there is nothing special about that.