01.25.13 Truth & Wisdom
The Difference Between Religion and Faith: An Interview with Carrie Lloyd
BY Dawn O'Porter
For my first piece as guest editor I decided to interview one of my best friends, Carrie Lloyd. Carrie is the coolest, most open minded, understanding and supportive friend you could imagine. She is also a devout Christian. Comparatively, I am about as spiritual as a cardboard box and I certainly don’t have any affiliation with organized religion. In fact, I am actively opposed to it. We discuss this all the time, and even though I don’t share her beliefs, I really love the way she talks about her faith. I think you will see what I mean.
Hey Carrie, you alright?
Hi Dawn, I’m good. I am beautiful.
Inside or out?
Big words! Can we say we think we are beautiful, is that cool?
Why shouldn’t we? Jesus tells me I am beautiful everyday.
Oh here we go, Jesus again? Is he always on your mind?
Every decision I make he is in there somewhere, apart from maybe when I am cooking. I don’t ask him what I should put in a stir fry. But I probably should because they are always missing something.
Have you tried putting ginger in?
I’ll give that a shot. Thanks.
No worries. How do you communicate with him? Jesus, I mean?
Through prayer, through talking. The idea that God is constantly talking to me. I invite God to come and love me, and hear him talk to me. I believe in a heavenly realm and nothing involved in that is anything but goodness, joy, happiness and peace.
Goodness, joy, happiness and peace aren’t the four words that come into my head when I think about Christianity and religion. Most of them are not that positive to be honest. What do you think the average person’s opinion of the Church is?
The majority of nonbelievers would probably see the church as hostile, judgmental and that we live on this superior morality that doesn’t really show the grace of God in it’s true form.
But as you are what I would call, “A Really Cool Christian,” you can appreciate why that is, right?
YES, the church have got it very very wrong over the last few years. Whether that is single leaders or misguided people that follow the law too closely and have forgotten how to love unconditionally. I understand why people have a negative view of the church, it has treated some people very badly and that I am really sorry for.
What about you personally, do you live by the law of the Church?
These days I try to live by what the bible says.
I was an atheist for awhile after I lost my dad at 23. But I am not one of those people who ditched my faith because something bad happened, I just had a lot of questions to answer. There were a lot of things I struggled with. To believe in God isn’t to make your life rosier. Essentially being a Christian is a choice to have a harder life. Its a hard decision to be a Christian.
Why is that then?
Because the majority of people think you believe in a fairytale and it isn’t fun to be seen like that when you yourself have made very theoretical and logical decisions to how you found your faith.
What is your faith to you?
You say freedom, but wouldn’t you be freer if you didn’t have a set of rules to follow and high moral standards you had to meet?
If you love someone with all of your heart you are not ruled by rules to love them, so you want to protect that love and make sure you are doing the best by that person. So the rules don’t come across as rules to me. The decisions not to hurt myself or other people – that’s freedom. Discipline to honor something that taught me grace and love, that is freedom. It’s easier to not give in to temptation with that as your focus.
What does that mean? How do you define temptation?
OK, so you love Chris. You wouldn’t want to cheat on him because that would hurt the one you love. That’s what faith is like. I don’t want to do anything that would damage what I believe in. The faith I have makes me feel so loved I don’t seek it anywhere else. So the rules, are not rules as such. It’s discipline and its very freeing. Loving thy neighbor as thyself isn’t a rule, its common sense.
About temptation, you are quite a naughty Christian. You are not a virgin. Does that make you feel bad or guilty?
No. I don’t regret it. It was part of my journey, and if I am to believe in a graceful God that forgives me for everything then if I choose to carry around guilt or shame that is to do with the devil, not God.
Well isn’t that just saying you can do what you want and then be forgiven for it?
No, because no one is perfect. I’m certainly am not. I may make mistakes but having a graceful God doesn’t mean I have a get out of jail free card.
You are currently studying at the Super Natural School of Ministry in California, Bethel. What’s it like being surrounded only by people who believe what you believe? Cos its not like that in London, is it?
*Laughs* There are 7,000 people at Bethel and like me they see the word “religion” as a negative connotation. I don’t like being referred to as religious because religion focuses on the law of faith, and I am motivated by love of faith. It’s very freeing to be able to talk about whats going on in your heart, body, mind and spirit without feeling like you are being judged. But living in that environment for the rest of your life would feel like it’s them and us. I don’t think that would be healthy for me.
The sex thing really fascinates me because you have already done it, but now you want to hold off until marriage in your next relationship. Isn’t the deed already done? Whats the point in waiting now?
The point in waiting is that me having sex with someone exceeded a level of intimacy where there wasn’t the same level of trust. So my heart got broken. I cant just see sex as sex. Its the most amazing connection. Two people becoming one. Its like having two wooden bricks and sticking them together with super glue. Then when you try to tear them apart those blocks are not quite the same. Bits are stuck that wont come off.
I think you had the wrong kind of sex if you are comparing it to two wooden blocks.
Dawn, the sex was good. I loved it, I am actually really good at it, so I know what good sex is. This isn’t about sensation it’s about emotion. For me, the idea that I will one day have good sex plus love, where I can be as vulnerable as I want to be with a trusting bond really excites me. Stop being naughty.
OK, but don’t you think you are over thinking it? It doesn’t sound very ‘free’?
I really believe in souls connecting and when you have sex there is a soul tie. I only want to be that vulnerable with one person in my life.
Yeah but you’ve already blown that, haven’t you Kinky Pants?
DAWN! Yeah, I appreciate I have lost my virginity but the more I do it the more it would be self sabotage. I get attached and if they don’t I cant separate from it. It’s self protection. God created sex to be an emotional thing, and thats how I see it.
So do you think girls like me got it wrong?
No not remotely. I think girls like you have a free choice to do whatever you like. I am not trying to make everyone else a Christian, I just try to encourage people to love each other. Love casts out all fear. It says that in the bible.
When you visualize God, what do you see?
A king and father.
What a big man with a crown on?
No, like a force of love.
But what does that mean? What do you see? A thunder storm? A whirlwind? A clown selling candy floss?
We are supposed to be made in his image, but my science quantum physics head is still trying to work that out. I don’t know what it looks like. I just have the answers to what it feels like.
So what does God feel like?
The few God encounters that I have had have been the most peaceful moments of my life. Where I felt like everything is going to be OK in the world and there is nothing to be afraid of. Just overwhelming love.
I had that once. It cost $7 and the come down was awful.
*Laughs* You are not taking this seriously, are you?
No, I am. I really am. I actually envy you a bit. That you have this thing that you can fall back on, ask for help, believe in and take guidance from. I don’t believe in it myself but I like that you do. But we don’t have to believe in the same stuff to be friends so it’s all good. Is it hard to find a boyfriend being a christian?
Pretty tricky. The good ones are always married by the time they are 23. The church attracts a lot of weak people and they expect God to sort them out. They don’t make the effort to sort themselves out and don’t take responsibility for what they do. So I am yet to find a guy who is strong enough in his identity with God – and who also happens to have an amazing body. Obviously.
Would you date a non Christian?
My experience in the past tells me it isn’t good. It seems a bit futile. I think you should marry someone with the same core values as yourself. That way you can fully connect.
What if you never find that guy?
It’s OK, I have Jesus.
Oh come on, you don’t mean that?
No, but I would rather not marry at all than marry someone who isn’t right for me. Because that is a jail-term.
Then you wouldn’t be free, would you? God or not.
No, that would be awful. But I doubt it will happen, I wouldn’t let a relationship I didn’t believe in get that far.
Do you find it hard to tell people you are a Christian? Do people give you a hard time?
I don’t find it hard anymore, not now I am an adult. But you do get people who ask questions but don’t really want to know the answers. They just want to argue with me. That’s about them, not me. You and I have completely different beliefs but we can chat about this stuff without arguing. You don’t offend me with your questions, I don’t offend you with my answers. I like being challenged by people like you who genuinely want to know how I feel and you respect me as an individual who has makes my own decisions. You don’t label me as brainwashed. I appreciate that. Of course it helps that you also have a great rack.
Now THAT I believe.
Read more from Carrie on her blog Her Glass Slipper.