My old college buddy at Rae’s Space alerted me to MySecret.tv, an evangelical rip off of Post Secret that’s hosted by LifeChurch.tv, a multi-site megachurch run by Craig Groeschel. (I went to Craig’s singles service in college, when we were both still Methodists.)
MySecret lets you anonymously post a confession of a sin. Categories include shame, sexuality, regret, lust, and eating disorders. It’s impossible to sum up the dozens of posts, or even supply a representative sample, but here are some that caught my eye:
I must confess that sometimes (at least once a week) I don’t like being a Mom. I get tired of laundry, cleaning, cooking and dealing with a strong-willed and stubborn child. I want to be selfish and go shopping, get a makeover or something entirely extravagant. But I can’t, so sometimes I’m just plain grumpy and difficult to live with.
Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to be married to someone else.
I have a hard time not looking at my girlfriend’s anatomy. Not that we sleep together or that she intentionally exposes it before me, but I stare and imagine her naked all the time. I want to overcome this before our relationship goes any further.
I read everyman’s battle, but I still constantly struggle not to check out girls. I remember Craig [Groeschel] saying once we had to train our eyes to bounce away from them. I try to keep that as a habit, but I don’t really want to. I’d rather look. It always amazes me that women don’t seem to know or believe that this is true about most men.
Almost all the confessions at MySecret have a raw honesty about them—the confessors truly believe they have sinned. And some have.
But then there are the posts where the confessors seek forgiveness for simply being human. There are folks who have bought a package deal of what it means to be a good human, and when their lives don’t measure up, they count themselves failures.
I was there once. As a teenager, my faith community taught me (intentionally and otherwise) that my being a sexual person was sinful. Countless church camp sermons and workshops exacerbated my hormones—with detailed descriptions of just what I was “struggling” with—just to condemn me for it. “Oh, we know what you’re thinking, and Jesus does too.” I was terrified even to ask anyone out for fear I would be committing the sin of lust by doing it. Hell, even that I wanted to ask people out was lust in their book.
At MySecret, I see I am in good company still. Sitting alongside the many stories of evangelical hot-button sins like abortion and homosexuality sit confessions of mere sexuality. It’s easy to mock. But these folks are scared. They sincerely want to be good people, and they believe that wet dreams and masturbation prove that they’re not. What’s worse, they don’t understand why they can’t achieve “total victory” over their sins, adding a second shortcoming to the first. Pietism exacts its price.
And yet, in spite of its sin, we can still learn a thing or two from LifeChurch. It’s obviously tapped into a yearning for a life more abundant, a life where there is redemption from regret and abuse in this life. Whatever their beliefs about the afterlife, the folks at MySecret want redemption now, and they want to live it out and see it for themselves. This is not a pie in the sky gospel.
What’s more, LifeChurch understands that we all experience ourselves as broken people, that brokenness is a profound and universal human experience. “Sin” is the word that the Religions of the Book have come up with to describe this brokenness. We Unitarians aren’t that comfortable with that word; we’re even a little phobic. And yet, if we are broken, then we are sinners.
We are comfortable talking about oppression though. We rail against oppression when we are not berating ourselves for our own oppressiveness. It’s our own word for sin, and it’s just a partial a view as the evangelical one.
I hesitate to draw too close a parallel, but could we be as uncomfortable and over aware of our political natures as the LifeChurchers are of their sexual natures?
Avoiding our own brokenness only deepens it, and the surest way to wall it off is to buy a package deal. Evangelical Christianity can be one of those package deals. Liberal religion can be one too. Both let their consumers endulge in “metrospirituality,” with tickets to a lookout deck over brokenness. But there are few journeys down into the canyon. This is brokenness as a spectator sport.
We Unitarians have talked some lately about our need for a renewed “vocabulary of reverence.” Our hesitance to talk about our brokenness stunts our spiritual growth and cripples us as a religious movement. Our hesitance wards us off from liberating religion, and liberating religion is something that both we and the LifeChurchers desperately need.