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Infected With Religion

Our friend Bobby was a hemophiliac. At one point, he needed a blood transfusion; unfortunately, Bobby received his transfusion in the 80s, before they thoroughly screened donated blood for the HIV virus.

Bobby was among the last children who caught the HIV virus from a blood transfusion.

We all have a God-shaped vacuum — I truly believe we do — a vacuum only God can fill. But most of us who have received our transfusion from Jesus got it in the “Christian era,” which is infected with the religion virus.

Now we’re managing severe symptoms of religion. We focus on behavior instead of life in Christ, the Tree of Knowledge instead of the Tree of Life. Instead of trusting the Spirit to lead us in all truth, we feel obligated to sort out truth and ram it down people’s throats.

Instead of trusting Christ in us the hope of glory, we trust our ability to manage our own sin.

And we develop elaborate systems of behavior-modification – accountability groups, calling each other out, “reparative therapy,” for crying out loud?  This instead of simply trusting the one who embraced us fully and completely — as we are — perfect as we are.

We judge people’s behavior as evidence of their Christianity instead of relaxing and fully believing that it’s the Holy Spirit who produces the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

If left untreated, the HIV AIDS virus can take your very life.

If left untreated, the religion virus can take your spiritual life, turning it into something hard and unyielding.

Something very unlike Jesus.

And it can be so contagious — infecting those around you — your kids, your spouse — who, by watching you, will believe that struggling self-effort and lack of spirit is what Christianity is all about.

The cure?

The simplicity of life in Jesus.

Life. In Christ. Personal relationship.

Love. Ourselves. Others. Unconditionally. As we are. Perfect.

[To read more from Susan Cottrell, visit]



SUSAN COTTRELL is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: Mom, I’m Gay – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faithas well as How Not to Lose Your Teen and The Marriage Renovation. Through her nonprofit organization – – Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that “loving God and loving others” are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said.

She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”

She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHearts and Jesus Blog columns.

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