The Curse of the Bastard

For the purposes of this post, bastard refers to those conceived out of wedlock.

In case it wasn’t clear from my last post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/my-wonderful-godly-grandparents/), my parents were encouraged into marriage when my mother fell pregnant. I have no idea if marriage was already on the cards for them and it’s not really a conversation I wish to have with my dad. It might be something I ask him in the future, if the right opportunity presents, but I am certainly not going to raise the subject. I don’t consider it important to know at this time of my life, the answer to the question is not important and would change nothing.

I was in my teens when I realised the circumstances of my birth and it was devastating. I was still reeling from the effects of my parents divorce some years previously, dad had remarried already and there was much ugliness still between my parents, mostly driven by my step-mother. That period of my life was immensely difficult and stressful, so throw in a revelation like this and it just added more torment to an already unhappy teen. Predictably I then started to think that the breakup of their marriage was my fault and if I’d never existed none of this pain and torment would exist either.

Oh the wonderful ways we choose to torture ourselves!

The Christian Response

Years later, when I’d left home and was having my own young adult issues I would have counselling to help me recover from the poisonous relationship that had developed between my dad and I. I can’t remember if the issue of conceived out of wedlock came up during those sessions. I am sure it must have but I really don’t remember if it did. Certainly that counselling helped me.

What I really want to bring attention to is a more spiritual response that came up. It would have been within a year (two at the most) of the counselling and this dramatic event (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/the-dramatic-deliverance/).

It would be at a church weekend away and, for reasons I can’t fully remember, I ended up in a one on one prayer session with the visiting teacher who was running the sessions. He was very much an advocate of spiritual gifts. When the conceived out of wedlock issue came up (I can’t remember why it did) he flung open his bible and found a passage condemning those who were born out of wedlock and pronounced me cursed. I don’t recall the passage in question and I certainly don’t wish to look for it, if someone thinks they know which one it might be, feel free to suggest it in a comment.

What followed was some very intensive prayer, at the end of which I had to voice out loud forgiveness to my parents for their fornication. I was also instructed to tell my father that I had done so. I didn’t particularly relish doing that, but I obeyed a few weeks later, thankfully dad just nodded his acknowledgment of the information and nothing more was made of it. I’m can’t recall if I had to do the same with my mother, it would have been much easier with her so if I did I am not surprised I don’t remember, this sort of thing would not have been a difficult conversation to have with her.

When I look back on that event I now realise how insensitive this particular spiritual teacher was. I don’t think his treatment of my revelation helped me at all. I also don’t think it was particularly unhelpful either; it did put me through a highly emotional 40 minutes, for pretty much no result.

I know this kind of thing happens on church weekends all over the country, maybe even weekly in some church services. This does concern me as it leaves the affected person with the idea that they are cursed (or even possessed) by something evil and the only help is the casting out of said evil or the prayer to remove the curse.

No counselling or further emotional support is offered. Well for me it wasn’t, I can’t say that it never is elsewhere, but I do know that is not offered as the norm because in the mind of the Christian engaging in spiritual warfare the victory is in the conquering of the entity causing the problem. The assumption is that once that is done the associated problem in the affected is cured. This just isn’t the case and for Christians to put others through that sort of turmoil with no counselling backup is to risk causing major emotional damage.

I can see all that now, but at the time it was happening it just seemed the right thing to do. Cast out the evil demon or pray the blessing of Jesus on the curse really did seem like the right thing to do and counselling the path of the loser.

First experience of Gifts of the Holy Spirit

It was during the years between leaving school and living permanently back in England that I first encountered Gifts of the Holy Spirit. As previously mentioned my parents were going to two very different churches. Mum a Pentecostal and dad a Presbyterian.

It was during a family meal when dad asked about the church mum went to and said something about them speaking in tongues there. I replied that I had not witnessed it happen, which was true at the time, I hadn’t witnessed any speaking in tongues, or any other gifts of the Holy Spirit at the church, yet. Dad, relaxed visibly and said, more to the step mother than to me, that maybe they’d stopped doing it.

I never knew the reason for dad’s concern about speaking in tongues and I never pushed it. I had learnt by now never to challenge or ask questions in dad’s house. Survival meant going with the flow and being as compliant as was possible, or at least giving that impression.

It wasn’t long before I did witness speaking in tongues in a service. I can’t remember at all what my reaction was at the time, or much of the detail of the event. It was to be repeated again not many weeks later and I would witness it quite a few more times before my final service at the church. Life at this vibrant and active church was so much more fun that the staid and boring church dad went to. The songs were sung with much gusto and there was genuine praise and worship going on. Such a different experience to the drudgery and hymns sung without enthusiasm.

I loved the clapping along to joyful and exuberant songs, the swaying and dancing in the isles and those wonderful Zambian voices. Oh those voices, they sing with such beauty and harmony, the sound of which beats pretty much any UK choir you could mention. A spine tingling joy radiates from a host of Zambian voices singing in enthusiastic unison that is almost impossible to adequately describe. Even though my British genes barred me from the honey voiced throng, I was in awe of the wonderful experience of being among that congregation.

Even though I now reject the concept of a God, the memories of being surrounded by a joyful throng of black voices, all singing wonderful harmonies is something I treasure. The men with such deep bass that I could feel it vibrate in my chest, I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

I don’t remember any specific teaching on spiritual gifts at the church, or what other gifts may have been used besides tongues. I only remember that tongues were occasionally used during a service.