Friday, April 6, 2012

RE: I'm Christian, unless you're gay.

If you haven't read it, go read the post "I'm Christian, unless you're gay."  I know the first rule of blogging is "Don't send people away from your site," but this is important enough to break that rule.  I really don't mind.  Go, read.  I hope you come back, but I won't mind if you don't as long as you read that post.

I first saw this link on Facebook and, like many others, I clicked it expecting to find another diatribe against gays.  Thankfully, it's nothing like that.  It's a post full of wisdom that managed to put words to what I've been feeling for a long time.

And it gave me the courage to write this post.

Let me explain my situation a little.  I live in Arkanasas, where there's a church for every gas station.  As I sometimes describe it, "We have more flavors of Christianity than Texas has flavors of barbecue sauce."  Over the years, I've dabbled in many of them.  My grandmother took me to the gospel assembly (a type of pentecostal).  I went with my mom to Catholic Mass.  I tagged along with friends to their Baptist churches and, for a time, I actually worked at a Lutheran School.

Over the years, I've seen many flavors of Christianity, but one thing always becomes clear when you see their reaction to gays:  They're hypocrites.  I know those are harsh words and I try to be forgiving because I know people are fallible, yet it's this very reason that I turned away from Christianity and began searching elsewhere to "find religion".  Sadly, I'm still searching, but one thing has become clear over the years.

I don't hate Christianity.  I simply don't like how other people translate it.

There are many things in Christianity that I find good and noble.  When I read about Christ, I look at his forgiving nature and the way he ignored stereotype.  Just think about it.  He washed the feet of a prostitute and feed 5000 destitute people with only seven loaves of bread.  When I read about Noah, I see that he was mocked while he tried to build the ark, yet he kept walking down his own path.  When I read about Job, I see a man tormented by unfairness, but rewarded with something better than money.... he was rewarded with renewed conviction.

"If God exists, why do bad things happen?"  I hear this a lot by friends who have become atheists after years of praying to a silent God.  There's one way I always try to answer this question:  What did you learn from those bad things?  What could you teach to others so that they could learn the same lesson without suffering like you did?

People are stronger than they think.  I firmly believe it's not God that gives up on people.  It's people whom give up on themselves because they don't have God's faith in themselves.  I try to remember that during the hard times.  "God is silent because he knows I don't really need His/Her/Its help.  I'm just whining because it's hard."

The post, "I'm Christian, unless you're gay" really made me confront a place where I've been quietly whining to myself.  You see, I'm a married mother.  I'm also bisexual and my husband knew it from the beginning.  But here's something I've only told to a few close friends and family:  there are times I sincerely wished that I'd been born as a man. 

I wish I could tell you how hard it is to leave that written in plain view.  It's tough and scary.  Living in such a "Christian" community, I've always feared the backlash of admitting to these feelings.  It was hard enough to come out of the closet as Bisexual, but that post "I'm Christian...." felt like a slap in the face to wake me up.  Like Jesus, I need to look into the heart of people and have compassion.  Like Noah, I need to walk my own path in the face of all odds.  Like Job, I need to face the tribulation and keep going.

So often, I see people quoting scripture without respecting the underlying teachings.  Over the years, I've mostly kept my Bible on the shelf between a Wiccan book of ethics (When, Why, If...?  is my favorite) and a book on Buddhism.  Like I said before, I lost faith in Christianity and I've often searched elsewhere for the 'truth'.  I'm not so arrogant as to believe one book is the answer to everything--especially not when that book has been edited and revised by religious organizations that has restricted access to only the "approved segments".  The actual Bible holds many books that the were not released for distribution.

(Teach me Aramaic and give me the original text.... and I will amend my doubt in the "Bible".  Until then, I will always keep in mind that the "Word of God" has been tainted by the hand of man.) 

That is not to say I disagree with all the writings.  It simply means that we should be more open-minded to the meanings.  What was the author intending when he wrote those words?  As an example, I point to Revelations.  So many people focus on the verses that they forget to look at the context.  John was an exile ranting about the tyrant Nero.  His prophecies of an AntiChrist were much more immediate than people want to believe.

Faith is a very personal thing.  When we're not talking about the Bible, even most Christians would agree that blind faith is a mistake.  I guess I'm different because I dare to say it even when we ARE talking about the Bible.  Really.... What is the point of searching for God if you're too afraid to walk down every avenue... even the ones that make you question what you've been taught.  OR, to be more specific, I mean the paths that make you question HOW you've been taught.

Again, I say I do not hate Christianity.  I simply don't agree with the translations.

God does not hate gays.

God does not hate people who accept charity.

God does not hate you or me. 

God is probably looking down at all of us and saying, "I forgive them.  They know not what they do."

It's not God who tells you to hate someone or harass them for their differences.  God is silent because He/She/It knows we can learn to understand each other.  We have enormous potential for compassion and understanding.  The Bible wasn't written to be a Spear to hurt others.  It was written to be a Shield to protect us from the pain others can inflict through hatred, arrogance, and a whole bunch of other things that I can not even begin to name.

I truly believe we are loved.  I truly believe there is a deity watching over us, be it God, the natural energies of the heavens and earth, or something else.  But it's not the Word I care about.  It's the intentions and the meaning.  I try my best to ignore the bricks and pay attention to the foundation.

"If I turned myself into a man, would God hate me?"  Yes, I've asked myself this.  I even had a lengthy talk with it to my mother, who I thank the Heavens daily for being so open to my questions.  At first, she said "It would be unnatural."  I countered by saying I didn't think it would be anymore unnatural than a person with a pacemaker.  It's all about fixing something that doesn't feel like it's working right.  She had a difficult time responding, but, in the end, we agreed on one thing.

Even if it's wrong, God forgives mistakes.  And...  Just as my mother would never ask me to betray my heart, God could never hate me for trying to follow it.

I could only wish other people were as understanding toward each other.

As of this post, I have not undergone a transgender surgery.  I'm not sure I ever will.  I have a husband who loves me as I am and a son who relies on me.  I've talked with my husband and I believe he would love me even if I did undergo the surgery.  I haven't stayed as a woman because he asked me.  I haven't done it because my son asked me, either.  As much as I love them, I could still love them and protect them as a man.

The reason I haven't done it is because I'm afraid.  I'm not afraid for myself.  But my family...  I would never forgive myself if they were hurt by other people who couldn't accept my beliefs.  At the same time, I envy those with the courage and freedom to transform themselves.

You should also know there are times when I wonder if I'm ignoring God by ignoring these feelings.  Just as Abraham was asked to kill his own son even though it was written "Thou shalt not kill," I wonder if I've been asked to become a man despite the predicted backlash from Christian society.  Because of this, at times, my home feels like a fortress surrounded by enemies.

I truly hope you understand this.  I don't know if anything I've said would make sense to someone other than myself, but the post "I'm Christian, unless you're gay" gave me the courage to try and say it.  I don't identify as Christian anymore, because I feel like the Word has been corrupted by serpents' tongues.....  But I still have my faith.

My mother says it's fine "As long as you believe in God and you believe his Son died for your sins," but is that really good enough?  There are instances when I look at Christianity and all I see are flocks being led off a cliff by a pied piper.  I pray to God for someone to speak out and stop them, but God remains silent.  It wasn't until I read "I'm Christian, unless you're gay," that I realized WE--people like you and me--need to speak out.

So here I am.  You can think of me as another person jumping on the bandwagon if you want, but I'm here.  I don't know if other gay or bisexual people feel exactly as I do, because I've had very limited contact with the local gay community.... but I'm here. 

God doesn't hate you.

I don't hate you.

And even if we're both wrong in thinking "It's okay to be gay", it's okay to be wrong.  No one except God knows what's right and wrong, so keep faith and turn a deaf ear to haters.  You are capable of finding the truth for yourself, so don't depend on others to give you answers.  Also, remember that we are all stronger than we think.  Any trials we suffer and any tribulations we face are only stepping stones to understanding the potential God gave us. 

The Knightly Virtues are
Stick with those and you can't go wrong.  At least, that's what I believe and it's the only advice I can try to give you.  Whether someone else agrees with it or not, I'm going to continue to ignore the bricks and pay attention to the foundation.  The foundation of Sin is selfishness.  The foundation of Salvation is faith.

Maybe this is wrong for me to preach since I no longer identify as Christian, but I have faith that God is watching me.  I don't need anyone to correct my words or actions.  I don't need another person to guide me to Salvation.

God is silent because he has faith in me.

I beg you to share his/her/its faith.  Don't try to lead me down your path.  Don't hate me for taking my own route.  I ask you to have faith and wait silently for me to find my own destination.  And if that destination is different than yours, then don't try to move me by force.  Embrace my differences and try to understand why I could never be happy living in your shoes.

I said before that I thought Christianity was like a flock of sheep being led over a cliff by the pied piper.  I've also met people who think I'm the one walking over the cliff.  Well, I've spoken up now and I can't force you to turn back.  I only hope you give me the same respect.  I've heard your advice and your reasons for believing differently, but I don't agree.

And I'm okay with agreeing to disagree....

Because I don't hate you...

And God doesn't hate you....

So don't hate me.

All of life is suffering.   There's no need to add to it.

1 comment:

Angie Sandro said...

I think you are wonderful for having the strength to write about something so personal to you, and reflective of many people's thoughts and struggles.