When I first tried drugs, It’s not like I was handed a joint and had to make a split second decision on what to do. I had agonized for years over whether I would do drugs (and every other moral decision facing a teenager), and if so, whether to tell my parents. I was my parents’ child. I had to determine what the morally right thing was to do and stand up for it come what may, just as they told us to do. Since forever I had been told about Martin Luther’s, “Here I stand; I can do no other” when on trial for his life for his beliefs. Except I’m sure I was supposed to just accept the church’s beliefs and stand up for those, not study the bible and think about it like Martin Luther.
I read the bible and thought about it, and decided there was nothing wrong with trying drugs. The harder question was whether to tell my parents about it. I would only lie about it, I reasoned, if I felt I shame over my actions or was unwilling to take the consequences. I felt no shame and was willing to take the consequences. I wouldn’t bring the topic up, but tell the truth if directly asked.
Of course I was asked. I was a teenager in the 70s. I was berated, bullied, and then shunned. They argued their biblical interpretations, and I argued mine. I would not back down; I was acting in accordance with the moral code I had been indoctrinated into. It went on for ages. My brother and sister learned from this to lie in order to avoid these dire consequences; they saw what happened to me and vowed it would not happen to them. It was ironic: I was the sinner who came out with a clean conscience, and they were the good children who felt shame. All from the church’s demand for blind obedience to a man who thought for himself.
I have a theory. Each church is forever plagued by the original “sin” that led to its inception. The Anglicans and Episcopalians are forever arguing about disobedience and sex. The Baptists started with salvation available for all, and ended up doorkeepers of heaven. The Methodists wanted faith and ended up dogmatic. And the Lutherans were based on one man’s individual interpretation of scripture, and ended up sheep.
In my family of origin, we dance this dance over and over. I stand up for a belief, they shut me out. Somehow there is a rapprochement after a year or so. There was premarital sex in my early 20s. Coming out in my 30s. Now it’s even more complicated, and I’m tired of this on-again off-again love. I can’t play it anymore, and I doubt I’ll ever see my father again. Here we stand.