An Autistic Christian Responds to Greg Locke

Am I demonized? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are a number of pastors that really don’t belong in the pulpit. One example is someone like Greg Locke. He’s done such crazy things as burning Twilight and Harry Potter books. (I personally don’t mind burning Twilight books, but it’s not because they have vampires in them.) I have had brought to my attention recently how he said that children can be demonized based on how they act, but the doctor calls it Autism. I finally found a clip of it being used here.

So let’s start with some points of agreement.

First off, I do fully agree that God can heal people. If God wanted to heal me of my Autism, He can do that. God can bring people back from the dead and create a universe from nothing. Healing someone of a condition is child’s play. The same can apply to OCD or Down’s Syndrome or cancer or any other condition.

Second, I do agree that if a child is having problems in the church, parents should try to do something and I would add that they should work with the church staff so that everyone involved can have a better experience. Some children on the spectrum could have some sensory issues. I remember when I was a child, I never liked it when our pastor got in the center of the stage and started yelling.

But let’s get to the real deal here.

Locke makes claims such as saying that words like Autism show up nowhere in the Bible. Sure. So what? I interact with JWs who tell me the word Trinity shows up nowhere in the Bible. Somehow, we got this silly idea that only words that show up in the Bible are acceptable to use. Am I to think that cancer, influenza, polio, and other diseases don’t exist because those words aren’t used in the Bible?

Locke also says he’s not saying a child who is said to be autistic is demon-possessed, but that they could be demonized. As the video above asks, what is the difference? The most could be one is being controlled and one is being influenced. For parents who are struggling, Locke adds to their burden by saying demonic activity is responsible for their child’s experiences. Are they to think that they don’t have faith then?

Now I know I have said to not talk about one’s own self so much, but when it comes to autism, I think that is different. After all, if I am going to give the perspective of a Christian on the spectrum, the one I know best is myself. I will then talk about what it is like, the good and the bad both.

I became a Christian at the age of 11 when I heard the gospel at a Baptist church. The Bible shaped my life and I was always in church thanks also to the influence of my parents who raised me Christian. My parents never had to worry about me behaviorally. No illegal drugs. No going out partying. No alcohol. No porn. Not even profanity. While I am divorced now, I stayed a virgin until I married and I aim to remain chaste until I remarry.

I struggle sometimes still with interactions and I was thankful to find gamer friends in school that I could unite with. Video games and games like that have been a bonding tool for me. I went to Bible College after high school and came to develop a love for Christian apologetics that I discovered there.

I knew I wanted to go to seminary in North Carolina, yet I lived in Tennessee. I also knew how protective my parents were and that I would have to convince them I could live on my own. Thus, I went out apartment hunting secretly and one day, came home and told them I put money down on an apartment. I was going to live on my own for a year and then work on getting into seminary.

I moved to seminary with a friend named David from Missouri and apologetics became a way also that I met people, though in my cases, I relied on David for social guidance. I did marry and I can say my wife was a calming influence on me in many ways. I have written enough about the divorce before and I don’t want to say more about it.

I moved back in with my parents and knew I wanted to finish my Master’s. Thus, I applied for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where I had spoken before. This would be the furthest away I had ever been from my parents and on my own, aside from my cat Shiro who sits behind me on my laptop carrying case as I speak. I am working on a Master’s in Philosophy and plan to get a PhD. My plan now is to study on video games and Christianity and our need for a quest.

There are benefits of being on the spectrum. My mind can be a virtual encyclopedia able to churn out random trivia facts easily. I love doing difficult mathematics in my head. My Dad sometimes contacts me about a word game he plays where you have to unscramble a seven-letter word and he can just tell me the letters and I can do it. I also have a great ability to multi-task. I will play a game here at home while watching videos on YouTube, usually something educational. I am reading through multiple books at the time in addition to what I have to read for school.

I also enjoy humor. Students on campus know me well as a cut-up where they can come into the post office on campus where I work and I can immediately say something humorous. It is especially funny for me when I take people literalistically. There are a number of professors who get in on my jokes as well and I love to see people leaving the post office laughing.

This is not to say there aren’t difficulties. I hate small talk. My therapist and I have decided humor is actually my small talk. I can very easily miss social cues and I don’t know when to tell if someone is joking or not a number of times.

I also can have a difficulty expressing myself and my own wants and desires. If I am at the Wal-Mart for instance and I want to get a divider in the check-out line so I can put my own stuff down, I cannot seem to be able to say the words “Excuse me. Can I get a divider?” I normally speak with gestures a number of times if I don’t know someone well.

This also makes dating really hard. How can you tell if a girl is interested? I don’t know. How do you express your own desires and overcome speaking barriers when you want to ask someone out? Don’t know. I realize other guys struggle with this, but guys on the spectrum struggle more.

I don’t understand how other students interact and how friendships are formed. When I go to a church service and I see people just communicating with one another, I don’t understand what’s going on. I hate it when people come up to me and just touch me, even if it’s something like a pat on the back or something. I remember a therapist once asking me “How would you like to respond when someone does that?” and saying “A judo toss would be nice.”

I know my diet is very limited due to my being on the spectrum. When other students enjoy crawfest here where everyone has crawfish, I go because I try to step out of my comfort zone, but it is a nightmare experience for me. I try to avoid going into the cafeteria when meals are going on.

But you know what? Generally, I am thankful for my life and being on the spectrum because I want to be a blessing to others. I have been told that at the next Defend, I will be speaking not just on video games and Christianity, but also Autism and Christianity. I realize I am high-functioning, but I want people to know Autism is not a death sentence.

My mother and I sometimes talk about how doctors long ago told my mother that I would be bound to her for the rest of my life. I would never go to high school or graduate or live on my own or drive a car or go to college. Nope. None of those things. My parents refused to accept that. I refused to accept that. Being a gamer, I learned to push myself and face challenges. Today, I live over 600 miles away from my parents working on my Master’s and driving my own car and working at the seminary post office.

No, Pastor Locke. I am not demonized. I have struggles like everyone else does in many ways. I have some struggles unique to my condition, but also, I wouldn’t want to be cured of this condition. I like the benefits I have from it.

As for my own Christianity, I would tell you to listen to people who have heard me from the pulpit before. I am sure many of them would tell you of a guy who loves his God and wants to tell the truth of Christianity. You would see in me a guy who wants to do everything he can to help out his fellow man and can’t stand to see someone needlessly suffering. You would see someone who wants to bring joy to others, but at the same time for those I trust, someone who is deep and real with his own pains, hurts, and insecurities.

No, pastor. My behavior is not the result of demonization. When I do act in ways I shouldn’t from my condition, I do stress that autism can be an explanation for why I do things, but if they’re wrong, it’s not a justification. I once again ask that people work with me. Thankfully, I have found people online and offline that have been working with me.

Speaking of online, I also want to stress that the internet has let people like me find their voice. I still get terrified at the thought of face-to-face evangelism, but put me behind a computer screen and I take on anyone I can. That also includes expressing myself in this blog.

Step down, Pastor Locke, and give your position to someone who is more worthy. Give it to someone who truly understands the flock and seeks to love the flock. Give it to someone who will not go to struggling parents and weigh them down even more.

There are plenty of people out there like that. They won’t be hard to find.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)