Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Checklist: Purity Culture's Alternative to Actually Getting to Know Someone

Groom Squirtle and Bride Pikachu wedding cake topper. Image source.
Libby Anne has a really good article about purity culture, marriage, and checklists: Checklist: An Evangelical Approach to the Marriage Market. It's about the "checklist" of requirements she believed she needed to satisfy in order to be "marriageable", and the "checklist" that boys in purity culture are also expected to fulfill. Her post even includes an example list from some purity website- a list of questions a boy would have to answer in order to be good enough to marry somebody's daughter. It's 30 questions long, and it's weirdddddd.

One of the items on this ridiculous list is: "10. Tell me everything you know about the Protestant Reformation." Which led to this conversation just now between me and my husband:
me: Tell me everything you know about the Protestant Reformation. 

Hendrix: [glances over at me without pausing his video game] What is that?

me: Uhh Protestant is 新教 [xīn jiào] ... hang on let me get the Chinese name ... [opens Google Translate] It's 新教改革 [xīn jiào gǎi gé].

Hendrix: [completely uninterested voice] Is that some religion thing?

me: [nods and smiles expectantly to prompt him to say more]

Hendrix: ... I don't really know much about it.

me: ... [starts laughing]

Hendrix: [glances over from his video game, trying to decide if he should even ask]
And then I laughed so much, and I had to explain that somebody on the internet wrote a huge list of questions that a purity-culture boy would have to answer, blah blah blah, I explained the whole thing and I LAUGHED SO HARD.

(Note: I did NOT explain what the Protestant Reformation is though. Guess he's still not marriage material.)

(It was almost as funny as the time that some complementarian pastor tweeted that a wife should "protect" her husband by being the outlet for all his lust, and so I said to Hendrix, "hey babe, how about I *protect* you?" and we weren't even married back then hehehe.)

Libby Anne then talks about how the "checklist" approach assumes that if 2 people "match" on paper then they'll have a good marriage, and how that's not how the real world works. Also she recounts the advice she got from a relative about marriage- the relative asked just 3 questions: "Do you love him? Does he love you? Does he treat you right?" Which is mind-blowing because of how different it is from this "checklist" teaching in purity culture, and it's so good and healthy it's astonishing. Libby Anne says that those checklists never included questions about how to actually treat each other. The checklist approach doesn't have any way to screen out "abusive narcissistic control freaks."

Yep. She's so right. The whole post is very good; go read the whole thing.

Back when I followed purity ideology, I also had a checklist of the qualities I was looking for in a "future husband." Unlike Libby Anne, I didn't have a checklist for myself- I believed me being super 100% devoted to God was all that was required. (I was in a different strand of purity culture than Libby Anne- in mine, there wasn't such a HUGE emphasis on gender roles- like obviously I believed the husband is the wife's leader, OBVIOUSLY, that's what the BIBLE SAYS, but I didn't translate that into specific household tasks that each gender should do.)

My checklist had 3 categories, actually:
  1. Absolutely necessary, non-negotiable. This category included "he has to be a Christian 100% devoted to Jesus." (Like, not just someone who "claims" to be a Christian, but someone who is the correct type of Christian.) Not sure if there was anything else in the category?
  2. Maybe not 100% necessary, but probably should have these qualities, like seriously be reaaaaally cautious about picking a guy who doesn't meet these requirements, it's not a definite no but really think about it. In this category, I included things like "smart" and "generous with money."
  3. Preferences. Things that I think are attractive but they're not what *really matters* when choosing a partner. Like "funny", "good at math", "cute."
Umm, why did I have category 2? Like what on earth was going on with that? Well see, here's the thing. I deeply believed my heart was unreliable. I believed that when I was thinking in an abstract sense, about hypothetical boys that I should hypothetically choose, then I could be objective and set up my checklist in a good and godly way. But when I had a crush- well, when I had a crush, wouldn't I make excuses for why it was okay for me to be with this guy even though he didn't meet the checklist requirements? So I needed to be really really clear about which ones I should never ever ever allow myself to remove from the list. Category 1 could never change. Category 3 I was allowed to throw away without a second thought. Category 2, well, I was pretty sure should never change, but I thought maybe there was a chance that somehow it would be okay for me to be with a guy who didn't necessary meet the requirements in category 2. But if that was the case, I'd have to make sure I prayed about it A LOT and analyzed all my feelings to figure out if my motivations for changing the list were good or bad.

To be clear, the "3 categories" thing was my own idea- nobody in purity culture taught me to do that; I came up with it myself, based on my belief that my emotions and desires couldn't be trusted, and the belief that people often make up excuses to "justify their sin." Both of which were EXPLICITLY taught to me in purity culture.

Fast-forward a couple years, and I started dating Hendrix, for a bunch of reasons, none of which were related to the checklist. Basically I was super-attracted to him, and he did not seem to be a creep, so that was enough for me to at least give him a chance. (Which of course would not have been okay under purity ideology.)

Category 1 he doesn't meet at all; he's not a Christian. Category 2, he meets a bunch of the requirements in there. Category 3, the one I thought was the least important because it was just about fun and attraction rather than deep "important" things ... it's those fun things that make me so happy every day to be married to him. Years ago, I imagined marriage was all about serious things like praying together and having the correct beliefs about this or that, but now we've been married about 1 year and I'm honestly so surprised by how fun it is. I get to see him every day, in our apartment, being cute. We make noises at each other. Sometimes I get milk for myself and then he drinks some of it and then I give him a look like, 'how could you do this to me, I am such a good wife,' and he gives me a look like, 'how could you be mad at me, I am so cute,' and then we just stare at each other, trying to outdo each other with our sad puppy eyes, and whoever laughs first loses. I love marriage. We have the serious stuff too, we know how important it is to communicate about EVERYTHING, we support each other when we're stressed or sad... but more than that, being married to him is just fun.

When I decided to marry him, I believed it was a good decision because of the relationship we already had. We had already been together for several years, supporting each other through all kinds of things- sickness, changing jobs, moving, etc. We lived together. We loved each other. (Of course we still love each other now- but my point is that we loved each other before we were engaged.)

It wasn't because of some list, some abstract ideas about what kind of person I *should* marry. It was because we already had a relationship. We already knew and loved each other. And we wanted to have that for our whole lives. (Still do.) We knew our relationship would work because it already did work.

But in purity ideology, none of this is allowed. You can't just date someone unless you're pretty confident you'll marry them. Because, they said, breaking up means you "lose part of your heart" and you'll never be able to fully love your future husband. Because your future husband will be heartbroken at the idea of you ever having done romantic things with an ex. Because purity means having as little experience as possible, and obviously purity is the most important factor in whether a marriage is healthy or not.

In purity land, experience is the WORST thing you can have. So you have to make this major life decision before you've gotten to know someone enough to actually make a good decision about them. Because the process of getting to know someone erodes your purity, so you should only do it with the person you're going to marry.

In fact, kids in purity culture are discouraged from even having close friends of the opposite gender, because if they get too close then they might develop crushes and wouldn't that just be terrible. (Also, hilarious how this ideology assumes everyone is straight.)

That's why we needed checklists. We weren't allowed to use the normal, natural process of getting to know someone, dating someone, and just seeing if it worked or not. We had to gather information from a distance. We had to check things off a list. We had to pray about it and weigh the importance of different qualities. We had to imagine if we could live with this person for a lifetime, without ever even living with them for 1 day.

(Back when I followed purity ideology, I actually was ALWAYS baffled at how that was supposed to work- how do you get to know someone enough to decide to marry them, if you're not allowed to get to know them until you're sure you're going to marry them? I basically believed the answer was to gather what information I could, then pray about it and God would tell me. The information I could gather would be helpful but definitely wouldn't be enough on its own. God would need to step in and make the final decision. In other variations of purity culture, the answer is to have your parents heavily involved in the decision.)

For Hendrix and I, the reason he's the right partner for me isn't because our "lists" match up. Instead, we are the right partners for each other because we have spent years getting to know each other. Now he knows me better than anyone else, and vice versa. We've changed and grown into the perfect match for each other. It's not because of some thought experiment where you imagine what a relationship between us might potentially be like- it's because that relationship already does exist, here in reality, and it's good.

And none of that is possible if you follow the purity rules.


In Purity Land, a First Date is a Bigger Decision Than Marriage 
I Know We'll Have a Good Marriage, BECAUSE We're Not Pure

Monday, July 30, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic) [part 5]

Bruce Banner arrives at the Battle of New York on his scooter. Image source.
[part 1]
[part 2]
[part 3]
[part 4]

Bruce was angry. So angry. This wasn't Hulk, it was Bruce. As his regular self, not hulked out. But he was angry.

As soon as he said the words, "The other guy loves me more than God," he knew. He knew his personal relationship with Jesus was over. And he knew that Jesus had never loved him; he only wanted to use him for his own purposes. (Puny god...) He knew it was wrong, all those things God had said about him being a worthless, dirty sinner. He knew Hulk was right- "God hate Banner."

He clenched his fists. He growled. Angry Bruce was kind of pathetic compared to angry Hulk. Angry Bruce didn't break anything. And right then, he almost wanted to turn into the Hulk, that's how angry he was.

What God did to me, he thought. Part of him wanted to cry, and part of him wanted to smash.

So that was the beginning of his healing. It would take a long time for him to realize the extent of "what God did to me."


So Bruce left Jesus behind and started the process of learning to love his "flesh." He slowly came to terms with the idea that his body is good and his emotions are good. And the other guy is good. Hard to even wrap his mind around it. He had spent his whole life fighting himself, and now he was doing the opposite. It was so weird. Good, but weird.

Sometimes Bruce was angry, and sometimes Hulk was angry. And there was that one time he heard part of the Lifehouse song "Everything" and flashed back to those dark days when he prayed on his knees and beat himself up and called it "worship" and surrendered his whole life to a God who thought he was trash. Within seconds, his skin was turning green, and the Hulk roared to life. When he calmed down, he saw the damage, the places where he had smashed the walls. God did worse to me, he thought. God damaged me more than the other guy ever damaged anything.

There were times when he felt so free, and times when he felt terrible. He felt alone and lost because his personal relationship with God was over. But, he reminded himself, he wasn't really alone. He had the other guy. He remembered that night when he tried to end it all and the Hulk saved him, when the Hulk ran through the woods screaming and smashing and preaching the gospel to him.

That's real love.

Love implies hate, right? When you love someone, you hate anything that tries to hurt them. That's why Hulk hated God. And now Bruce loved himself, so he hated God too.

Love doesn't mean just being nice all the time. Sometimes love is fiercely protective. Sometimes love is angry.

Sometimes love is an enormous green rage monster.


Bruce rolled into the city on a scooter and found where the other Avengers- Captain America, Ironman, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye- were fighting aliens. He had come because he knew the earth needed him. Well, the earth needed the other guy, at least.

Destruction everywhere. The streets were filled with debris from the battle. As a huge flying monster came towards them, Captain America said, "Dr. Banner, now might be a really good time for you to get angry."

Angry. Angry like a man who had spent years devoted to a God who never loved him. Angry like someone who just realized how effed-up it is that he was taught to hate his own body. Angry like when you see a good person- an amazing, beautiful person- who's been convinced that they're dirty and worthless. Angry like a man who attempted suicide because he just couldn't fight his sin anymore.

"That's my secret, Cap, I'm always angry," Bruce answered, as he morphed into the Hulk.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


(image from the 1st link in this post)
1. The kingdom of heaven is like 141 victims sexually abused by Larry Nassar, standing on stage to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

2. Men Prefer Uneducated, Naive Objects They Can Easily Control (posted July 19) "This is the definition of “biblical submission” that Lori wants Christian women to adapt: Think what your husband tells you to think. Do what your husband tells you to do. Lori is absolutely correct that a college education will interfere with this goal."

3. Supporters Praise Trump For Upholding Traditional American Value Of Supporting Murderous Dictators For Political Gain (posted July 17) From The Onion, a satire site.

4. The LGBT ‘Panic Defense’ Is Unjust. It Could Become Illegal. (posted July 18)

5. How saleswomen in India finally won the 'right to sit' (posted July 23) "'We were not allowed to sit even when there were no customers inside the shop,' she recalls. She also says she couldn't take a toilet break."

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The First Time I Heard Of Asexuality ...

Aladdin and Jasmine on the magic carpet, holding hands romantically. Image source.
Remember back when I was trying to be Andrew Marin? What I mean is, I was a good evangelical Christian who believed it's okay to be gay but it's not okay to "act on" one's same-sex attraction, and I had all this compassion towards LGBT people who had been excluded and demonized by the church, and I was going to get to know them and "hate the sin, love the sinner" and show them that they still need to follow all the church's rules about sexuality and gender but like, it's cool because God loves us.

Ah yes, back then, when I started attending the LGBT group at my college, and reading articles written by LGBT people, and learning as much as I could. Listening to them instead of trying to tell them what to do. Haha, little did I know that this process of listening and learning would cause me to realize the church was all wrong about this. And that's how I became an ally. (And then, years later, I discovered I'm asexual.)

(Show of hands, how many of you ex-evangelicals made that same journey- from "hate the sin, love the sinner", to ally, to IDing as queer?)

Anyway, it was back then, in that context, that I first heard the word "asexual." In a list of definitions related to the queer community. The list said "asexual" means a person does not experience sexual attraction. And I was like, wow I can't imagine that, why would you not want to have sex?

Which might sound weird to you, given the fact that actually I am asexual. So let me explain. The problem was I had the wrong definition of "sex."

Christian purity teaching said that sex is an amazing and beautiful gift from God. It's sacred. It's the most intimate and the most vulnerable you can be with another person. It's giving yourself to your partner. It creates a bond between you that will last forever. It's two becoming one. It's so powerful that it would be dangerous to do it with someone you're not married to.

Always described in terms of emotions and love and connection. And because I'm extremely romantic, I really really wanted that. [Note: It's also totally fine to not want that.] And so I thought I really really wanted to have sex.

Ha. Nope.

So years later, when I quit believing all that purity stuff, quit believing unmarried sex is a sin, and finally did have sex with my partner, it was ... wut? Like, it wasn't a deep romantic expression of love, it was a difficult biology problem of how to put our genitals together in a way that feels good and isn't painful. Yeah, I knew that in a technical sense, sex means you do stuff with each other's genitals, but I didn't think it would feel like that. I thought it would just feel like love.

Kind of like when you're on a plane, sleeping, having a very smooth flight, and you sort of forget you're even on a plane. Like you know, intellectually, that you are thousands of feet up in the air, but it doesn't feel like you are. Or when you eat a pineapple imported from some faraway tropical island- you don't think about how far that fruit traveled to get to you, you just eat it. In the same way, I thought that, during sex, I would know that technically what we were doing was messing around with our genitals, but that wouldn't be a fact I'd need to be aware of. It would just happen automatically and I wouldn't need to pay attention to the practical mechanics of it. Instead I would just lose myself in the feelings of love and closeness.

Yeah, that's not what happened.

I guess for other people, sex maybe does feel that way- all that romantic intimacy stuff and "giving yourself" to your partner- maybe for some people it does feel like that. And that's fine for them. But what's not fine is how they talked about it in church like a one-size-fits-all thing. Everyone is straight, everyone should get married, everyone will feel the most emotionally close to their partner (ahem, spouse) during sex.

So I realized that what I had was romantic attraction and sensual attraction. Not sexual attraction. But there was no way I could have figured that out back when I first heard the word "asexual," back when I believed my romantic attraction would definitely turn into sexual attraction if I didn't "guard my heart."

I now realize that the way Christian teaching on "sexual purity" describes sex is NOT inclusive of asexuals. It acts like we don't exist. It says there is one specific way that emotions, romance, love, and sex relate to one another, and that it should be that exact same way for everyone. It erases the existence of asexuals, aromantics, polyamorous people, people who are perfectly fine having casual sex with no long-term relationship, etc etc etc.

And back when I was in that environment and bought into that teaching, there was just no way I could have known I was asexual. Even when the definition was right there in front of me.




This post is part of the July 2018 Carnival of Aces, an asexual blog carnival. This month's theme is "Then and Now."

Monday, July 23, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic) [part 4]

The Hulk, screaming. Image source.
[part 1]
[part 2]
[part 3]

[content note: suicide attempt, abusive Christian theology]

He spit out the bullet and crushed the gun easily. Then he raised his head and screamed louder than he had ever screamed before.


He yelled, he roared, and the sound echoed through the night air. He pounded the ground with his giant green fists, flinging dirt everywhere. "Banner! Banner!" Hulk punched and smashed again and again. Hitting hard, shaking the ground. It hurt his hands but he didn't care.

He was desperate. He was angry.

He took off running as fast as he could, through the dark forest, roaring. "Banner, save Banner!" They wanted to kill Banner. And it made Hulk angry. Running, jumping, bounding among the trees, punching everything he came into contact with. And screaming, yelling, unintelligible, groans which words cannot express.

He stopped at the top of a hill and roared again. "My Banner!" Angry. More angry. "Banner!" The sound carried over the hills and trees.

Then Hulk was jumping and running again. "God hate Banner!" He screamed it. He grabbed a tree, pulled it out of the ground, and threw it. "Banner! Listen! God kill Banner!" He pulled up another tree. "Hulk hate God!" And another. And another.

Hulk threw himself on the ground and kicked and pounded. "No!" He screamed and thrashed around more. "Hulk hate God."

He pushed himself up to a kneeling position. Hot, angry tears ran down his face. "Hulk hate God."

The Hulk screamed one last time and collapsed from exhaustion.


A few hours later, Bruce woke up. With his clothing ripped to pieces.

I'm alive, he thought. His whole body felt sore. What happened? he thought. God... He stopped. He didn't want to pray. It didn't feel right. Suddenly he felt like maybe he didn't want God to know all his thoughts. Maybe he didn't trust him.

So he was alive, and that meant he was going to have to go back into the city, back to his normal life. He groaned, overwhelmed. He had thought he was done, that he had a way out, but of course the other guy ruined it. Slowly, he stood up and began walking.

But maybe it wasn't so bad. He breathed in, felt the fresh air. He thought about his body getting oxygen. His body's needs, and the amazing biological processes that kept him alive and provided oxygen to his brain. That's a good thing, he thought. It was so simple, but he had never really thought about it.

He looked at his hands, and they looked perfectly fine. Not a scratch on them, even though he knew that the other guy had been smashing and pounding everything last night. Hulk heals himself, thought Bruce. Hulk takes care of me.

He thought about Hulk, and for the first time, he wasn't disgusted at himself. Maybe he liked Hulk a little bit. Was it because he had saved his life? Maybe. Or maybe there was more to it than that. WAIT. Bruce stopped himself. This is temptation. He was almost at the point of thinking sin wasn't that bad, and wow that was a dangerous place to be.

But he was so tired of fighting it. Last night he thought he was done, that he wouldn't have to fight his flesh ever again. He didn't care if he went to heaven or hell- he just couldn't live like this anymore, so ashamed and so dirty. Hulk saved him. He wasn't going to fight Hulk anymore.

And what about God? A bible verse came to Bruce's mind- "whoever is not with me is against me."

Oh no, Bruce thought, it's terrible to think these things. I need to repent. After all that Jesus has done for me- dying for me, loving me even though I'm so sinful- how can I treat him like this? "You are not your own, you were bought at a price."

Hulk hated God. Bruce had suspected it- of course his sinful nature is in rebellion against God- but last night Hulk had actually said those words out loud. And that was who Bruce was, deep inside. His sin nature literally hated the God who had done so much, shown him so much love and mercy he didn't deserve. No, Bruce couldn't stop fighting Hulk. But he was so exhausted. Really, last night he had decided he was done, and he wasn't willing to go back and take up the fight again.

He thought of praying "Jesus, give me strength," but he didn't. Not now. Not yet. And he knew that it meant he was in rebellion against God. But he was just too exhausted.

He arrived back at his home. He had thought he would never be back here. He took out his key- from under the mat because he thought he'd never use it again- and opened the door. It felt so weird to come back here. It was normal, it was home, but he had said goodbye last night and thought that was the end.

Bruce collapsed on his bed. But he couldn't sleep, and he couldn't pray.


He stared at his sandwich, which was untouched. He didn't feel like eating. And next to it, his bible. Also untouched.

The other guy is too simple, too emotional, Bruce thought. He doesn't understand nuance. That's why he thinks God hates me.

He doesn't understand... Bruce paused, trying to put it into words. ... He doesn't understand that God can love me and also think I'm a rotten sinner. Yes, of course God thinks I'm a rotten sinner, because it's true. And still, God loves me.

Nuance, he said to himself.



He thought about reaching for his bible, but he couldn't do it. Wow, this looks bad, he thought. First I entertain thoughts about not fighting my sinful nature, and now I'm not even going to read the bible today. Oh I really am a terrible person.

He looked back at the sandwich, then tore off a corner and ate it. Trying to decide if he should repent and try to submit to God again.

Then Bruce had a realization. A very bad, sinful realization.

The other guy...

He stopped. Could he even dare to think these words? This was sinful, this was probably even blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

The other guy...

Ohh if he finished that thought, he was so going to hell.

The other guy...

I can't fight anymore, Jesus, I'm sorry. I'm done.

Bruce hunched forward, with his hands close to his chest, and said it in a barely-audible whisper: "The other guy loves me more than God."

Yes, he was going to hell.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 19, 2018


A chicken sitting on two puppies to protect them as if they are her babies. Image source.
1. The Bible is literature for the resistance (posted July 12) "And so the Bible honors women like Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who defied the Pharaoh’s orders by safely delivering the sons of Hebrew slaves, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who essentially “took a knee” by refusing to show the required patriotism at one of King Nebuchadnezzar’s state parades." Preach.

2. This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head (posted July 12) Adorable!

3. What Reporting Sexual Harassment Taught Me (posted July 9) [content note: sexual harassment, victims being re-victimized when reporting] "These questions convey the message that we should only report incidents that were traumatic, and only if we’re sure that the harasser deserves dire consequences. This is part of a broader pattern of holding people who report sexual harassment to an impossible standard."

4. Film Theory: Can You SUE a Superhero? (Disney Pixar's The Incredibles) (posted June 19) "Clearly this timeline isn't an accident on the part of Pixar."

5. Abortion is Immoral, Except When It Comes to My Mistress (posted July 11) [content note: violence against women, "pro-life" politicians] 

6. Trump’s Spiritual Advisor Calls Babies Smuggled into the U.S. “Sinful” (posted July 16) What Paula White did here is called taking the Lord's name in vain.

Related: If y'all aren't already reading Libby Anne's blog, you should. All her recent posts about immigration, politics, and Christianity are very good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What "God's Calling" Means For a Naive Kid

2 disciples leaving their fish and nets to follow Jesus. Image source.
All right, I'm an adult, I've been working full-time for a few years now, changed jobs a few times, responsible to pay my own rent and bills and stuff, and I suddenly remembered something.

Remember back when I was in college and I came to China on a mission trip? When I was 100% devoted to Jesus, and a bunch of the other students on the trip were talking about how they were planning to be missionaries in the future. Like, long-term, called-by-God, all that. I had never considered that before- I planned to just live my normal white American life- but I believed God was in charge and it wasn't my decision. If God said I should move to some strange country and be a missionary, then that was that.

I was worried, actually. I was worried that God would "call" me to drop out of college and become a missionary immediately.

Fortunately, God didn't, and I stayed in school a while longer and got my BS and MS degrees. Then came to China.

Now all these years later, I think about that again, and I'm like HOLY CRAP, HOLY CRAP do you know how bad that would have been? If I didn't have a college degree? Do you know how much harder everything would be? For the rest of my life...

All the full-time jobs I've had- no chance I could have gotten them without a college degree. All that job interviews I've ever gone to- nope, they wouldn't have given me the chance with no degree. I know that now, I'm an adult, I know how the real world of jobs works. I didn't know ANYTHING back when I was in college. Only a life of academic success, always being the top of my class, accepted to all the colleges I applied to (except MIT). Authority figures always gave me opportunities, gave me a chance to prove myself, and always were impressed at my intelligence. I didn't know how hard it would be for me to even find a entry-level job. I didn't know about the paradox where you can't get a job because you don't have work experience, but you can't get work experience because nobody will give you a job. You guys, it was hard for me even with an MS degree. Turns out job interviews aren't about whether or not people are impressed with my raw talent in math. They're about a company trying to find a person to fill a certain role. If the company is looking for someone with a certain amount of experience I don't have, yeah maybe it's not "fair" to me but so what? That's not something the company concerns itself with.

I did it, somehow I did it. I'm working full-time as an engineer in China. (Been doing this for a couple years now and it's going great.) That was my goal. But wow, can you imagine? Can you imagine if "God" had "called" me to drop out of college? 

I was so naive back then. I knew nothing about how the real world works.

Sure, I knew that it would be "harder" to get a job if I had no degree, but that was just a vague word- "harder." I've done a lot of hard things in my life; I like challenges. I didn't get that it wouldn't be that kind of "harder"; it would be "harder" as in, I'm completely ineligible for the interesting engineering jobs I want, I'm stuck in some low-paying thing that requires way more people skills than I have. For my whole life. And maybe I could go back to school someday, but it wouldn't be like going to school as an 18-year-old, it would be with all the responsibilities of living an adult life, on top of the classes and homework.

How easily we threw around the idea of "leaving the nets and following Jesus" back then. We didn't know anything.

I prayed, on that mission trip in China back then. I worried, because a mission trip seemed like the kind of setting where God might "call" people. I didn't want to drop out of college. I really really didn't want to.

My reasons? Mainly that studying math and engineering was (is) a huge part of my identity. I identify as an engineer (even when I worked as an English teacher when I first came to China, I still told people "I'm actually an engineer"), and so it made sense that I should be in college, majoring in engineering. If I left that behind, I would have to reevaluate my identity. Ooooh, was I making it an idol? Was I finding my identity in STEM instead of in Jesus?

Also, I didn't want to drop out of college because my classmates might think some sexist thoughts about what women aren't good at. Did God understand that? It wasn't just about me; I'm a representative of women in engineering, whether or not I want to be.

And I didn't want God to "call" me because then I would have to tell people. I would have to tell my parents, who paid for my entire education. Of course they would have tried to talk me out of it. They would have told me having a college degree makes a huge difference. They would have said a lot of things that were true about the real world, but which I wouldn't have been able to understand, with my privileged life and radical Christian missions ideology. Education handed to me so easily that I took it for granted, and Christian leaders preaching about how wonderful and beautiful it is to give up everything for God, to suffer for Christ, "it's hard but it's worth it." I had no idea what I was talking about.

Those were my reasons, back then. Finding my identity in my STEM ability, feeling a duty to defy sexist stereotypes, and the fear of telling my parents. Those were the reasons I hoped God wouldn't force me to quit school. It never occurred to me to think about the consequences for my career, consequences that would follow me for the rest of my life.

Would I have done it? Well... here's what probably would have happened, if God "called" me: I would have convinced myself/ my parents would have convinced me that God meant I should finish undergrad firstand then go off and be a missionary. Which I believe, from my current vantage point of being a real adult with a real job, would have been okay. Having a BS degree makes life much easier than not having one. That would have been okay, in terms of future job prospects and my financial situation.

(Pretty similar to what I actually ended up doing, except I stayed in school long enough to get an MS, and God didn't "call" me- I came to China because I wanted to.)

I was 100% committed to Jesus back then, so if I really believed Jesus wanted me to quit school, I would have done it. But I don't believe there was ever really a chance of that happening, because I can't imagine how I could actually be so certain that's what Jesus wanted. It's much more likely I would be certain that he wants me to go to a particular country but I don't know the details of the timeline. In which case I would finish school first, because that makes sense. Because that's how it typically works. When my friends said they're going to be missionaries someday, they meant after they graduated college.

I was so naive back then, back when I wanted to "give up everything for Jesus" as if that was some beautiful adventure, complete with romanticized suffering that would "draw me closer to God" and let me experience his [sic] deep love and how wonderful it is to rely on him and know him.

And yes, I was naive when I actually did make the decision to move to China. I came here right after graduation, and I became an adult here. And it's been hard. Show up as an immigrant with no full-time work experience and expect to find a job. That's why I was stuck teaching English at first. It's been hard.

I don't regret anything, because I love my life and it's not useful to wonder about if I should have done things differently in the past. I'm proud of myself for learning Chinese and working as an engineer at a Chinese company. I love my Chinese husband.

But wow. I really didn't know anything back then.

And wow, I think about how easy it was for me to imagine God "calling" me to drop out of college. I didn't get how big of a deal that would be- how bad of a decision. I didn't get that it would affect my career for the whole rest of my life. We were just kids- privileged kids on fire for God. We didn't have any idea what we were talking about.


I Didn't Count the Cost Before I Moved To China
Runaway Radical: The Stories You Can't Tell In Church

Monday, July 16, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic) [part 3]

Bruce Banner, looking unhappy. Image source.
[part 1]
[part 2]

[content note: suicide attempt, gun, abusive Christian theology]

"You haven't fixed this yet?" his boss said in Portuguese, gesturing toward one of the factory machines.

Okay, thought Bruce, be calm, don't get angry. "I worked ..." he answered, in broken Portuguese, trying to stay calm. "... You said ... fix the power supply ... is more important."

"No!" the boss answered. "I told you to fix this one!" Okay, that wasn't true though, thought Bruce. His boss had said yesterday the power supply was a higher priority.

Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment, thought Bruce. Love your enemies. Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. He couldn't let himself get angry. He couldn't give in to the temptation, no matter what the boss did, it wasn't an excuse to sin.

Think of God, think of God's love. Jesus, help me. Love, love your enemies, like Jesus did. Just think good things. Don't feel. Jesus doesn't want me to get mad.

He looked down. He didn't answer, because he didn't trust himself to answer without getting angry. Just submit, he told himself.

He nodded. He'd just try harder and do what his boss said.

Okay, it's going okay, now he just needed to remove himself from the situation before the temptation got worse. He looked down and nodded again. After a few seconds, the boss left without another word.

All right. Success. He didn't sin. He didn't give in to temptation. He controlled it.

Praise God.


But a few hours later, he maybe didn't want to praise God.

That was a success? He had stomped down all the anger, he was very very nice and polite, he didn't hulk out, but ... why did he feel so terrible?

This is gonna be my whole life, he thought. Best-case scenario, I control it, we never see the other guy... and I feel like crap. Because what I did this afternoon... I can't keep doing that. I can't live that way. Focusing so hard on fighting the temptation, I could barely even think. I can't force myself to not feel my feelings. Even though that's the only way to not sin.

It was too much. Too hard. He had dedicated and rededicated his life to Jesus too many times, and still he could barely control his ... the other guy.

I can't live like this anymore, he thought. I just can't.

Bruce opened his closet door and pulled out a pile of blankets. And there it was, underneath, where he had hidden it. A gun he had stolen. Because... he thought it might come to this. He stole this gun in case he ever needed to kill himself.

Yeah, he was a thief. Yeah, it's one of the Ten Commandments. Add that to the list of all his other sins.

God, you have to understand, he prayed, I keep hurting you with my sin, I can't stop it, can't control it, I'm crucifying Jesus over and over again, wouldn't it be better if I just died? Bruce prayed, but didn't listen for an answer. He didn't really want to hear from God right now. Because God would definitely disapprove of his plan. God would want him to repent instead. Well, whatever. He already knew he was going to die here, in his sin, and probably go to hell. But at least then he couldn't hurt God anymore. He wouldn't be wasting God's time with his pathetic prayers, wouldn't be breaking God's heart over and over.

I'm really going to do it, he thought. Finally this is going to end, and I won't have to fight the other guy anymore. He was actually feeling relieved. Bruce was no match for the Hulk- even with the Holy Spirit supposedly living in him... well, probably he wasn't getting help from the Holy Spirit anyway because he didn't pray enough and he wasn't devoted to God enough. And he had never even tried to look for a church after moving here. Whatever, it doesn't matter anymore. He wouldn't be stuck in this losing battle anymore.

He decided to go outside, to go into the forest where no one would find him. "Where can I go from your spirit, where can I flee from your presence?" Ugh, why did a bible verse have to pop into his head right now? Okay fine, God knew where he was, God knew what he was doing. Whatever. He was in rebellion against God anyway. He wasn't going to pray anyway. God was too pure to look at sin, so it would be better for Bruce to not even try bothering him.

He was alone, outside, in the middle of nowhere.

There was no hope. Every thought he had was a sin. Just piling up higher and higher, burying him. There was no way out. He could never be good enough. He could never get his flesh to surrender to God. He had tried and tried and just couldn't stop himself from sinning. He could never please God.

Just this one last sin, and that would be the end of his fight. He was so tired.

Bruce closed his mouth around the end of the gun.

And then...

God didn't save him.

The Hulk saved him.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 12, 2018


1. ‘The Soreno has politely said No’ (posted June 26) "The manager of the George Washington Hotel in West Palm Beach refused to allow black major leaguers to stay at his hotel, but this was simply good manners and “not … political.” Equality under the law would be political. Inequality was merely polite."

2. Trump administration moves to block victims of gang violence and domestic abuse from claiming asylum (posted June 11)

3. Unlearning Shame: My First Pair of Short Shorts (posted July 3) "At school I was constantly bullied for being fat and ugly. All of this additional fat shaming and lack of autonomy was reinforced by the church and their fixation on keeping girls like me pure and modest."

4. The Shame in Puerto Rico (posted June 3) "After surveying random households across the island and comparing mortality rates they encountered to those before Maria, they came up with an estimated 4,645 additional deaths through the end of the year — a third of them people who died for lack of medical care."

5. 'They treated us as though we were animals': Letters from inside an immigration detention facility (posted July 4) [content note: first-hand accounts of parents whose children were taken by the US government, it's pretty emotional] "But I want you to know that I miss you a lot. And that every day, I pray to God that we'll be together again soon and that they will never again separate you from me because you are the most beautiful thing that God has given me, you my son."

6. Vice President Mike Pence Defends Cruel Anti-Immigration Policy With Scripture (posted July 4)

7. Xi Jinping: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (posted June 17) John Oliver's report about Chinese president Xi Jinping. I'm over here in China watching this with a VPN, thinking yep there's no way any of this is getting past the Chinese internet censors.

Also we all know Xi Jinping looks like Winnie the Pooh.

8. Sexplanations- This is a sex-ed youtube channel. Content note: very NSFW, explicit sexual content and images

9. disappointment is the guide to happiness (posted June 12) "I still experienced the entire emotional spectrum but was taught to ignore a significant section of it, to bury those feelings."

10. The kingdom of heaven is like Kesha performing "Praying" at the Grammys. (I know I've posted this before, but wow it's just so good.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

But if that doesn't help you, that's fine too

Image text: "Beliefs" with a silhouette of a head and a bunch of thought bubbles in the brain. Image source.
Yesterday I published God Is With Us (a post about autism), which was about my understanding of the Incarnation- I believe God lives in us (all of us, no matter our religion) and feels our emotions at the same time we feel them. In particular, God experiences the pain of sensory overload, and the stigma from being misunderstood or judged for being autistic.

For me, this idea is really meaningful and helpful, but I want to say this: If it's not helpful for you, that's totally fine.

Like maybe someone would object, and say "So what if God feels our pain- they don't actually intervene and do anything to help, so what's the point?" And indeed, I don't believe God intervenes in our lives. If I believed that, it would raise a lot of awkward questions about why a world where God is constantly micromanaging the tiny details of my life is also a world with so much systemic injustice. How could I credit God with helping me find a new job, for example, when God hasn't fixed the widespread societal problem of resumes with "black-sounding" names being less likely to get called for interviews? (Yes, quite awkward to give God credit for something that I actually got through white privilege...)

Because of the problem of evil, I don't believe in a God who actually does tangible things in our lives. But I do believe in a God who is with us and feels what we feel. It's comforting for me, but if it's not comforting for you, I get that. That's totally fine. You don't have to believe any of this.

If you don't believe in God at all, that's also fine. I'm ex-evangelical and still a Christian, but if you're ex-evangelical and not Christian anymore, that's fine too.

And I don't try to convince people my beliefs are right. I'm not interested in convincing anyone to become a Christian. It really does not matter to me what people's religious beliefs are- what matters is how they treat people.

Back when I was evangelical, I would have answered the question "why are you a Christian?" by trying to make an argument about why everyone should be a Christian. I would have seen it as an opportunity to "do evangelism" to the person who asked. I would have crafted my answer with the goal of getting them to think they should be a Christian too.

But now, my answer is that I love the concepts of resurrection and incarnation so much. I love "your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven." (As Belinda Carlisle said, "Heaven is a place on earth." That's my religion.) These ideas are so beautiful and meaningful to me, and so I believe them. Maybe that's not a very good reason to believe something- okay, sure, that's why I'm not trying to convince anybody. If you think it's not a good basis for belief, I get that. That's totally fine.

A few months ago I was talking with a friend who's queer and non-religious, about my experiences coming from a queermisic Christian background and then coming to a new understanding of Christianity that's queer-affirming. He asked me, why continue to believe at all? Why not just get rid of the whole thing? And I said, yeah, some people do that, and that's also completely valid, I get it.

So if I ever say "God is like this or that" I don't mean it in the sense of "this is the right answer and if you don't agree then you are wrong and you need to change." Of course that's how I meant it back when I was an evangelical, but please don't take it that way now. When I call people out for having terrible beliefs, it's because I know those beliefs lead to abuse, mental health problems, mistreating people in the name of God, etc. It's not because we disagree about some abstract idea related to the nature of God. I don't care what religion you are; I care how your beliefs affect people. The Sabbath was made for us, not us for the Sabbath.


And since we're talking about incarnation, let me share one of my favorite songs about it~ "The Final Word" by Michael Card~
"Their final word was Jesus, they needed no other one"


You asked and I answered~ In my 2018 Reader Survey, one of the top 5 topics you voted for was "the Christianity that Perfect Number believes now." Hence this post. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

God Is With Us (a post about autism)

Image text: "Immanuel, God with us" on a starry background. Image source.
When we feel scared, God feels scared too.

When we feel lonely, God feels lonely too.

When we get excited and obsess over one topic for days and days, God is excited too.

When we feel overwhelmed because everything is too loud and crowded, God feels overwhelmed too.

When we feel like no one understands us, God feels like no one understands them too.

When we feel confused about how to communicate with people, God is confused too.

When lights are too bright, they're too bright for God too.

When sounds are too loud, God feels pain too.

When smells or tastes are repulsive, God feels the same disgust we do.

When textures are uncomfortable on our skin, God can't stand the feeling either.

When we're distressed because plans are changing suddenly and everything feels disorganized, God is freaking out too.

When we're embarrassed because we can't handle something that everyone else seems completely fine with, God feels that shame too.

When we think maybe we're just weak and pathetic because we have such a hard time with things that other people think are no big deal, God feels bad about themself too.

When we have so many emotions and can't even understand them, God is overwhelmed too.

When we are stuck in a situation that's too intense, forced to stay there because other people don't listen when we say we're not okay, God gets more and more stressed and panicked at the same time we do.

Sensory pain. God feels it too. The same pain.

Fear. God feels it too. Just as intense.

Loneliness. God feels it at the same time we do.

God is with us. God is autistic too.


Related: The Sound [trigger warnings for globophobia/phonophobia]

Follow-up post: But if that doesn't help you, that's fine too

Monday, July 9, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic) [part 2]

An image of Bruce Banner, but with eyes green to represent the Hulk too. Image source.
[part 1]

[content note: abusive Christian theology]

I really need to pray, Bruce thought. He sat on the floor of his new home, which was even cheaper and dirtier than the previous one, leaned against his bed, and closed his eyes. God, help, he began. God, I need you so much.

Maybe I could worship with music, he thought, and he turned on his mp3 player. He closed his eyes again and listened.

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from you

The words seemed to sink into him, convicting him. He was so bad at following God, so rebellious all the time. Selfish, stubborn, proud.

I am the king of excuses
I've got one for every selfish thing I do

This was Bruce's prayer. He knew those words were all true. He was always straying so far from God.

What's going on inside of me
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I'm still a man in need of a savior

The words washed over him, and there he was, guilty and ashamed before God. He was so low, so sinful, so in need of God.

I wanna be in the light
As you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh Lord be my light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the light

He wanted it so bad. He wanted to get rid of his sinful nature, this green monster that lived inside him, and just be with God. Why was it so hard to just be with God? Why did the other guy have to get in the way? He loved God so much, so why was it such a struggle? Like Paul said in Romans 7, "what I hate I do." Who will rescue me from this body of death? thought Bruce.

The disease of self runs through my blood
It's a cancer, fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control

It was true, it was all true... He'd failed so much. He'd run away to South America, left behind everything he cared about. Running from his responsibilities, maybe even running from God. And what did it get him? The other guy was inside him- running away was useless.

The other guy... Bruce could feel the other guy getting a little angry. No, he wouldn't let him out. This was his quiet time; he was listening to God and praying. Keep it under control, he told himself. Why did the other guy have to act up when Bruce was having such a deep worshipful moment? Just shows how the devil tries to get us distracted and away from God.

No, he thought, have to push the other guy down. Keep it inside. This is just me and God. Oh God help!

He turned up the volume, so the sound would surround him and overpower the temptation he was feeling. And then he was singing, because this was his prayer, the only thing he could do:
"Tell me what's going on inside of me!
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicion
That I'm still a man in need of a savior!

"I wanna be in the light," he sobbed, "as you are in the light..."

I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens

But he was hiding in Brazil, not "in the light at all" ...

Oh Lord be my light, and be my salvation

"... cause all I want is to be in the light..." he managed to say, hiding his face in his hands. How could he even pray that? Did he even want God or not? Why was he running from his problems? Why was he not fighting his sin? Why did he have this thorn in the flesh? (A messenger of Satan, to torment me... yeah if that wasn't a description of the Hulk...) Why was it so hard to keep the Hulk down? Why couldn't he just "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ"?

So sinful. And he knew he had always been like this. Gamma rays don't have morals- his failed experiment didn't make him a rage monster, it just revealed the sin that had always lived inside him.

God, he started to pray, God ... I need you.

But why would God want him? Why would God show him unconditional love when he was such a failure?

God, I don't know why you love me... I'm unworthy... but I need you so much. Just help me get through another day. Help me not sin.

It was all he could do. It was all he had. He was a pathetic sinner, but he would cling to God.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 5, 2018


Two cats. Image source.
1. The Sims banned in China and the Middle East ‘over same-sex relationships’ (posted June 25) "And while the developer did not specify what the regional standards were, online users said it was because the game allowed gay relationships and marriages."

2. Immigrant toddlers ordered to appear in court alone (posted June 27) "'The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,' Toczylowski said."

3. How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement (posted 2012) "If the pro-life movement believes that even a very small chance of a zygote being flushed out is enough reason to oppose the use of the pill, then there should be an extreme amount of concern about the much, much higher number of fertilized eggs flushed out of the bodies of women not using the pill." This is an old article, but I'm sharing it again because it's one of the best articles out there about the "pro-life" movement.

4. That Ohio Bill Does More than Require Teachers to Report on Transgender Students (posted June 27) [content note: transmisia, mention of child death] "I feel obliged to point out that Ohio is where Leelah Alcorn died."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic)

A pair of glasses with one lens broken. Image source.
A fanfic where Bruce Banner is an evangelical Christian

[content note: abusive Christian theology, suicidal ideation]


God, why did this happen?

Bruce tried to sit up. His shirt was gone and his pants were ripped. Why? What had come over his body? All he could remember was running away, out of control, smashing. And something green.

He prayed, God help me. God what's wrong with me?

He was in the parking garage outside his lab. There were huge cracks in the walls and pavement, and the car beside him had its entire back end smashed and flattened. This is bad, this is really bad, he thought.

Slowly, he walked back to his lab, trying to ignore all the craters in the walls. The door of the lab was smashed to pieces, all over the floor. Ohhh this is bad.

Bruce grabbed his things- phone, laptop, backpack- and got out of there.


It's because I was too proud, wasn't it? Bruce thought. That's why God let this happen. I've just been so busy, and I haven't been spending time in the Word... I've been acting like I can do it all myself. I started this big experiment, this big important milestone in my career, and I didn't even pray about it.

He sighed. God, I'm sorry. You have to forgive me. You have to help me. I don't know what I'm going to do.

He normally didn't kneel when he prayed, but that night he did. He wanted to humble himself before God. He had seen his sinful nature in a way he never had before- big, green, monstrous. It's always been inside me, he thought, but I didn't take it seriously. A bible verse popped into his head- "If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall."

Yes, Bruce had always known he was a sinner. That his heart was deceitful and desperately wicked. He knew all that- he had prayed the prayer at age 5 like a good church kid. But before today, it had been a cliche, an abstract theological point that people threw around carelessly. Yes, he knew he was a sinner- but now he REALLY knew it.

Yes, he knew- in an abstract way- that his sin had killed Jesus, that every sin is an infinite offense against a holy God, that his sinful nature was a dangerous thing that shouldn't be taken lightly, that it meant he deserved nothing good, he deserved to die and go to hell... but today his sin had literally turned him into a huge green monster. He had smashed the door, smashed the walls, smashed that car. Thousands of dollars in property damage. Because that's who he was. That's who Bruce Banner has always been. Always. A sinner. Totally depraved.

He had always hidden it. People who knew him would say he was a good person. Ha, Bruce thought, there's no such thing as a "good person." But maybe lately he had fooled himself. Maybe he was acting like his sin wasn't so bad. Maybe it's because last week he was traveling and missed church. Whatever the reason, his real self had come out. God have given him over to it. He was a monster.


He went into hiding. He moved to Brazil. He found a job in a soda bottling plant. And he committed to reading the bible and praying for an hour every day.

Bruce flipped to Matthew 5, to the part about anger. "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment."

Well, that was pretty clear. Being angry is just as bad as murder. Hulking out is a sin. Obviously.

God, how can I avoid it? he prayed. How can I fight the temptation and stop myself before I hulk out? God I need you so much. I can't do it. I'm weak. I'm sinful. I'm too weak against this temptation.

It was a slippery slope, he thought. If he ever started to get a little bit angry, he needed to stop those thoughts before they had a chance to grow. Because now, the other guy would be there to reveal his sin to the whole world. Wow, wasn't it just terrible that he had only started to care about his sin because other people were going to see it? Really, all that matters is that his sin hurts God. "Against you, you only, have I sinned." Even before the lab accident, his anger was an infinite offense against a holy God, and he didn't take it seriously back then. Wow, how pathetic that he needed this as a motivator. It meant he didn't really love God; he just didn't want other people to judge him. Yeah, his heart was deceitful and wicked.

He deserved it, though. He deserved to have other people see it, see how evil he was.

God, I'm sorry, he prayed. Help, please help, I need you.


He had hulked out, and he felt terrible.

What happened? He had gotten into an argument with the neighbor from the apartment below his. The guy thought water was leaking from Bruce's apartment, but it wasn't, but he wouldn't listen, and... Bruce didn't want to think about it. He knew he had done a bad thing, he had somehow lost control and hulked out, he had totally forgotten to pray.

God, what do I do? he thought. He knew the right thing to do would be to go apologize to his neighbor. But I won't, he thought, instead I'm going to move. Because now that guy knows about the monster, and he's going to tell people, and I need to be gone before that happens.

He was just making excuses. He knew what the right thing was, but he wasn't willing to do it. He was just going to make this whole thing even more sinful by running away.

He was such a bad Christian. He said he was devoting his life to God, but really he wasn't.

I promise, God, after I find a new place to live, then I'll really get my life back on track. Then I'll pray more. I won't hulk out. I won't get angry. I'll submit my life to you. I'll read the bible every day.

It wouldn't be good enough, he knew. He could never be good enough; the sanctification process would last his whole life, until he was perfect in heaven. On earth, he would always have a sin nature and he would always have to fight it. But someday he would have a closer relationship with God, and it would be easier.

Or maybe he wished he could just die instead. Just take a bunch of pills and ...

No. Don't think things like that. He was going to rededicate his life to Jesus. Surrender all. Let go. Lay it all down at the foot of the cross. It would be hard, but God would take care of him. God loved him so much, and he didn't deserve it- he deserved to die. Surely anybody who saw the monster would agree Bruce deserved to die.

That night, he gathered up his things- only 2 backpacks' worth- and moved out.

To be continued...