Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #3: “Using public restrooms could be fatal”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 11, 2016 and has been revised. Speaking of epidemics/pandemics…

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The AIDS epidemic was already starting to make headlines when my wife and I began attending an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church back in 1983. The death toll was rising every year and would peak at 42,000 deaths in the US in 1995 with no cure in sight. People were frightened. How was AIDS transmitted? Could it be contracted by casual contact? If you were around in the 1980s, you’ll remember that AIDS was scary stuff.

The pastor at our church, Joe B, didn’t meet the crisis lying down. Sermons increasingly began to reference AIDS as being God’s judgement on homosexuality. After a while, it seemed like AIDS and homosexuality were the pastor’s prime focus. As the epidemic continued to ramp up, it became rare to hear a sermon that didn’t include a statement about the sin of homosexuality. I certainly know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but it became an obsession at our church. It became sin #1. But what about all the other sins against God? I got so sick of hearing about homosexuals during church sermons that I can remember getting physically agitated every time another harangue began.

In his sermons, Joe liked to mention that he had worked as a medical lab technician* before entering the seminary and he knew a thing or two about blood. Boy, did he know a thing or two. Sermons that referred to the blood of Christ were usually peppered with incomprehensible medical jargon. With the AIDS epidemic seemingly spreading like wildfire during a California dry spell, the pastor shared his “insider’s” perspective from the pulpit on exactly where the whole AIDS thing was headed; the impending “truth” that the government was too afraid to reveal to the public.

According to our former-medical-lab-technician pastor, men ran the risk of catching AIDS every time they visited a public lavatory. How so? The alarming scenario he laid out began with infected homosexual men using a restroom. When they subsequently flushed the toilet or urinal, the water and waste would naturally swirl together in the fixture, releasing microscopic droplets of infected urine into the surrounding air. Unsuspecting heterosexual men who entered the lavatory would inhale the contaminated vapor and contract AIDS. Yes, that hypothesis was preached as fact from the pulpit of our church to a congregation that was already skittish about the epidemic. For several months after that, I avoided public lavatories like the bubonic plague. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t at the time. The moral of the story is, don’t allow yourself or your family sit under the preaching of a megalomaniac. If there are no checks and balances on your pastor (the pastor is an absolute dictator in IFB churches), there’s a chance he could go off the deep end.

But some of our former pastor’s concerns were legitimate. Things have certainly changed since 1983 regarding homosexuality. In our post-modern, inclusive, pluralistic, tolerant society, sin is “out” and deviancy is “in.” Society has been tipped on its head. The exception is now presented as the norm. Old-school “morality” is pooh-poohed. Same-sex couples are now featured quite prominent in the popular media. Most anything goes these days. Whatever seems good to an individual is “right” for them as long as they don’t infringe upon anyone else. Christians are definitely going to catch increasing “heat” from secular society because of what the Bible says about homosexuality.

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:2

*When I first began attending the church, pastor Joe regularly bragged that he had been a medical student before entering the seminary. A suspicious church member checked out the story and found the claim was untrue. After being confronted, the pastor tearfully confessed before the congregation that he had been a lab technician, not a doctoral student. Years later, the pastor made it known that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was considering him as Billy’s eventual replacement, another pretentious lie.

2021 Update: Pastor Joe B’s rants against homosexuals are beyond ironic in light of the revelation that he was arrested for child sex abuse and pleaded guilty in town court on June 2nd, 2021. See my relevant post here. This post is also sadly ironic because today’s COVID-19 virus is contracted largely via airborne transmission.

13 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #3: “Using public restrooms could be fatal”

  1. Wow so much fake news and fear mongering to disparage homosexuals. We are living in the time of Judges where everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. At that time Israel had no king and today’s time people are rejecting Jesus’s Kingship. Glad y’all are out of the IFB. Hope you can rest before work tomorrow!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The IFB definitely was/is a mixed bag. Both a lot of good and a lot of bad. I wanted nothing to do with Christianity for 23 years after “escaping” the IFB. Yup, things are spiraling these days.
      Thanks! I started prepping the back-quarter of the house yesterday for my annual summer painting project. I’m going to do a little prepping today, but plan on hitting the couch no later than three. Hope you’re enjoying your visit with your Mom!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Mandy. I moved to New Mexico in 1979, but returned to NYC several times during the 1980s. In 1986, when my mother was dying of breast cancer, she was in the only hospital in the entire city taking AIDS patients at the time. I still remember those dark times, and may write about it.

        Thank you for asking, and for praying for me!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember the AIDS epidemic. I was in NYC and started my Parole career in 1986. So many paroles died slow deaths from sharing needles and other drug apparatus. We always worried doing searches and pat downs – was there an open needle in the pocket? Forget restrooms- could we get infected from doing urine tests?
    Wow, that’s a terrible pulpit story. Obsession with sexual sin is often a telltale sign of guilt. There’s always somekind of ‘leakage’ from criminal or deviant behavior.
    The man in the pulpit is the worst offender- he’s the one representing God’s word to the people.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth. You could probably write a couple of books with your experiences as a parole officer.

      You hit the nail on the head re: our old pastor and his obsession with sexual sin.

      Like

  3. My Thursday is going well though I’m exhausted after spending 7 nights staying up till way pass 5 Am to research for that post I wrote on today concerning Gramsci. Had some phone time as a pastor with members earlier and now I’m getting to go out to go help my parents! WIll read this shortly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could see you spent a lot of time researching that post. You convinced me Gramsci was a Marxist in good standing. Treat yourself tonight and go to sleep at 9:30 like me. 🤣

      I’m sure your parents appreciate all of your help. I spoke with my realtor this afternoon and she thinks the odor has abated enough to list my sister’s house next week. Just needs to come up with a price the next couple of days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember this original post when you first posted it; crazy how there’s so many skeletons in this pastor’s closet. For the record these days I get nervous when I hear preachers never preaches the Gospel and grace and Jesus, and become obsess with preaching against a sin that’s not prevalent in the congregation…I start wondering nowadays if they are ok…and are there skeletons

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: preachers never preaches the Gospel and grace and Jesus

      I appreciate you mentioning that. Pastor Joe always used fear, guilt, and shame to motivate. He never preached on God’s grace. So discouraging. That was standard in the IFB.

      When we initially began attending the SBC church and the pastor preached on God’s grace regularly I was delighted beyond measure.

      Liked by 1 person

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