Thursday, 5 December 2013

My first Soapbox post: Christianity versus homosexuality... It does my freakin head in

Hi guys.

So, you may have picked up from me that I'm not one to get annoyed at much. Sure, I share indifference to things, sometimes I'm downright lazy about stuff, but usually I just coast through life and try not to get involved in anything too confrontational or angry. Mostly because I don't like it... it gives me weird ticks and I get all panicky and cry in inappropriate moments... I guess it's kinda entertaining to watch, but it tends to backfire on me most of the time.


A topic has been raised recently that, when raised in the past, has always evoked some form of reaction out of me, and none more so than it did last week. I've grown up being sure of two main things in my life; 1. I'm a Christian and 2. I make a damn good Fag Hag. These two things have tended to conflict with each other over the years and caused me to battle with what I genuinely believe is right and what others have told me is so. This is what I would like to talk about today.

I would like to say right away, before you guys turn off from this post and never talk to me again for being a bigot; this is not a post discriminating against homosexuality. I am in no way against anything to do with same sex relationships, in fact I freakin love it. As I'm a person who finds relationships the teensiest bit hard, seeing someone fall for another person is completely awesome to me, regardless of the sex of either party.

My "beef", if we have to call it anything, is with the fact that, unfortunately, hearing a Christian person say that they are supportive of homosexuality is something that I, for one, have rarely (if ever) heard before. In fact, every time I hear of discrimination against same sex relationships, 9 times out of 10, the reason used is that "God sees it as wrong."

Ugh... if I have to hear that one more time, I swear I will lose it. I get so angry, not just because it discriminates against a group of people who haven't done anything wrong, but also because it alienates those people from ever thinking that there is any form of loving God out there for them. Both of these "facts" I have experienced, in all my 28 years, not to be true in any way.

So how are these opinions shown? I've found that there are two ways in which Churches today approach the topic of being against homosexuality:

1. The all out and angry "God hates Fags and you're all going to hell" approach. 

Yes, this is the one the world hears about the most. Mostly because, the statements are made to gain as much attention as possible and, usually, are so shocking that they then become newsworthy. This is the approach that depicts God as an angry and fearful God who is just chomping at the bit to bind people's souls into the fiery pits of hell so as enforce his overall power on the world... or something...

It's an approach that I, being a Christian who has attended church all her life, have seen in different ways, usually as a way to get more people to attend church. The idea that, if a person doesn't repent of their sins and immediately turn to God, they will live in eternal hell forever and ever amen. Now, I'm not going to go into the details of this, as to do so would mean that I would end up on some tangent and I have a lot to say, so am trying to be really strict on myself and my usual writing habits in this area. However, I do want to say this. Regardless of whether I believe the heaven and hell story, and all its implications, to be true, I've never been too keen on the fear approach in convincing people to become Christians and go to church. It seems a little like cheating to me, as playing on one's fear isn't really allowing them to come to the decision on their own, but rather because they feel they have no choice.

In the context of this post however, this approach tends to encourage some Christians to use it as a way of enforcing derogatory belief systems onto lifestyles, races and opinions that they might feel uncomfortable to be around. It would be refreshing, for once, to turn on the news or pick up a paper and hear that someone has been vocal about their own bigoted views and been honest in admitting it's more down to their own personal preference, instead of constantly bringing God into it. Every time I read about a hate crime against homosexuality, not only does the hate crime itself send me into despair but it almost always then has to go ahead and have one of the attackers say "I'm a Christian," or "God told me to" etc and so forth.

I seriously am getting a permanent bruise on my forehead from the sheer amount of times I have banged it against the table in frustration. Please, please, please, readers of this blog; do not think that all Christians behave this way. We don't. We're actually quite nice most of the time and realise there's more to life than finding new and interesting ways to discriminate against people. But, unfortunately, as is the way for any particular organisation or religious group, the extremists (although there aren't as many of them) are the ones who make the most amount of noise and therefore attract the most amount of attention.

Which brings me to the only other public approach I have seen with Christians and homosexuality.

2. The disapproval of the act and not the person

This is the approach that I am most familiar with. It is the one that I have seen in all of the different churches I have attended over the years. It is the idea that God loves everyone and would never hate a person because of their sexual orientation. God wants them to join the church and experience his love and no amount of previous "sexual immorality" in their past is going to stop that. So far, so good. However, there is a clause. In order for a gay person to be a Christian, they have to suppress their attraction towards those of the same sex. They are not chastised for previous experiences, nor for  finding a same sex person attractive, but they are expected to at least work incredibly hard at not acting on these feelings in order to be accepted into heaven by God. 

I have come across many a situation like this in the past. And for the longest time, I accepted that this is what should happen, although I was never happy with it entirely. In fact, most of the time, when I heard this preached, I would find myself getting downright uncomfortable, but I held my tongue and chalked it up to something that I would never fully understand but had to accept as true.

In my own life outside of church, and within my little Fag Hag circle, I had decided from a ridiculously early age, that I would strive to at least be one positive Christian person in my gay friends' lives. I made it very clear that I was a Christian to them and that I was also completely supportive of the lifestyle they had. Although, as I grew older, I found more and more of my friends get bitter towards the idea of Christianity and what it stood for. Their reasons for this was because they only really seemed to come into conflict with other Christians and, even when the Christian in question was being loving and kind, their words still cut deeply because the message was exactly the same as those in Approach No 1: This opinion was that who they were wasn't acceptable in God's eyes, or theirs.

I know the people who preach this particular message, and encourage Approach No 2 wholeheartedly. They are gorgeous people. They are loving and beautiful and so, so accepting of everyone. They have offered me kindness and support in times when I had nothing else. These people are good people. I wanted to make this very clear before I go on to what I have to say next. There are no good and bad guys in this scenario, just a difference of opinion; albeit one that is potentially very damaging.

I also think that some of these people promote Approach No 2 because the only other real option available is Approach No 1. However, I wanted to throw my 2 cents in here, something that I have been working on over the past 4 or 5 years within my head and have felt my resolve strengthen with every moment... how about if there was an Approach No 3?

3. Realise that perhaps there is nothing damaging to be outraged about and come to terms with accepting this lifestyle for the beautiful thing that it is.

Several years ago I went to a barbecue round two of my friends' house. They are a gay couple and have been living together for years. The barbecue was fun, there was food, laughter and silliness involved. That night I slept round theirs and woke up in the morning to find one of the guys cooking breakfast for his very hungover boyfriend. I watched them from under my duvet on the sofa, and  realised that they might actually be one of the most loving and functional relationships I had ever seen. This was the moment I realised that there was absolutely no reason for the God that I knew and loved, to have a single problem with what they shared. The only thing that they were guilty of was love, and love was the one main thing that was promoted in Church.

Another thought then came to me. If these two ever decided that they wanted to go to Church regularly in the future, they may very well be told that they could only stay if they break up with each other. Suddenly, I was angry. Not one part of that made any sense to me and I vowed to myself that I wouldn't sit quiet anymore, when it came to this.

When I have discussed this with fellow Christians, they have said that the very act of being a Christian means that we need to be ready to make sacrifices, should we need to. There is truth in this and it is something that I have had to do myself in the past. The whole prospect stems from the idea that, if you love someone, you would do anything for them. Similar to how you would be with a spouse or child. There have also been comparisons to Monks and Nuns who live their lives in celibacy out of their love for God.

Here is my answer to this... the act of self-sacrifice for someone you love, is only ever really a meaningful thing when it has been a decision made by the individual solely. Monks and Nuns, as far as I am aware, are all in the profession they are on a voluntary basis. They chose this lifestyle for themselves; it wasn't forced on them on the basis of there not being any other choice. There are gay people within the church who have chosen to stay within church and be celibate, never acting on the sexual orientation that comes so natural to them. This may well be a decision that they are happy with; the people that I have spoken to in this regard have certainly seemed at peace with the concept for the most part, although the strains and stresses involved to get them to this point has seemed heartbreaking to me, especially when I am really wondering whether or not the point of them doing this is really that necessary.

Truth is, and this is the controversial opinion that I'm sure will spark up all kinds of debate amongst the Christian friends who know me, but I just don't see how God could possibly see anything wrong with it. Yes, it's in the bible in clear black and white, but it just doesn't seem to really make sense when compared to most of the rest of the book. I also have formed the opinion that my being a Christian means that the thing I worship isn't a book made by man, but rather the relationship I have with the God I believe to be real. And yes, the bible is sanctioned and blessed by God, but the idea that every word is completely and utterly word perfect when created by imperfect people, makes me wonder. I'm just not ready to believe the words of some men who died thousands of years ago over what I really believe to be true today.

Fact of the matter is, the main lesson that I have always been taught in my growing up in the many churches I have attended, is that A: God made us exactly how he wanted us to be, and B: All he really wants is for us to show the love that he has to everyone who will listen.

So this is what I'm going to do. I believe that God made everyone, including their sexual orientation. I have spoken to enough people to know that a person's attraction to those of the same sex is no more of a choice for them as mine is for those of the opposite sex. Therefore, I have to believe that God made them this way. If this is the case, I can then hypothesise one of two things... that God is a sadist who has decided to cause unending pain to a large majority of our population by making them, by their very nature, an "abomination" to Him; or that He made them this way for a reason, because he really doesn't care all that much about who we love, as long as we love them.

Guys, I don't believe God is a sadist. I believe, in fact, that he spends more time tearing his hair out (if he has hair... I'm not too sure about that one) over the concept that the large majority of his representatives are acting on an archaic piece of text and using it as a way to discriminate against those he carefully and wonderfully made. I believe that he has been doing this for most of our existance as, let's face it, we don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to promoting God's tolerance with other cultures, races and sexes. In fact, the bible has been used to encourage bigotry and intolerance for almost all of our existance. A way of promoting racism, sexism and many more. I believe that this is just a repeat of history, and one that thankfully, seems to be getting better, although we are nowhere near being there yet.

When expressing this opinion last week, I was told that by defining homosexuality as a "race" I am therefore opening a whole can of worms of what else can be defined as a "race". This person then went on to compare this group of people with those of adulterers and paedophiles etc. I had never been so angry. To even consider that the act of man loving another man or woman loving another woman is considered to be on the same level as those types of things that cause harm and hurt to people around them, had my blood running cold. This is where the main irk lies in my anger, and my main plea for sanity to be restored to the Christian Church. There is this unexplained idea that somehow, same sex relationships are evil and wrong... to those people, I ask why? What on earth are they doing that promotes one iota of evil deed? They're not hurting people, they're just trying to get on with their lives. The only evil I see in this, is the intolerance that is bred against their lifestyle. This therefore suggesting that the evil and hurt lies within God's representatives, rather than any homosexual person. To alienate and shun a person for who they are is bullying, simple as. This is something that I know any Christian would agree as being the complete opposite of what Christianity promotes God to be.

The sad thing that I am facing at the moment is that I can't seem to find many people who share my view. There are odd friends, ones who support this concept, but to find an entire church that promotes unconditional support, love and acceptance in this area has been entirely fruitless for me. I'm sure they are out there. I've heard the odd story occasionally, but I've yet to experience it for myself.

About five months ago, I stopped going to Church for the first time in my entire life. My reason for this was simple; I could no longer sit and ignore the bigotry towards homosexual people, no matter how kindly it was portrayed. It seemed wrong for me to attend an organisation who openly admitted to hating the idea of homosexuality and wanted to find a way of eradicating it. But above all, it made me sad. The same way, I am really beginning to believe it makes God sad. This isn't the life that he had planned for his children, to fight against each other's views because they differ from their own. He made us different, so that we can learn from each other.

When making my decision to leave the church, I decided that I had a choice to make, I could either stay and accept that homosexuality is wrong, as this is what the bible preaches, or I could go and give up my beliefs.

I chose neither. I left, but I know that my anger wouldn't have been nearly as prominent had it not been for the fact that I knew that this was the wrong way Christian's should be approaching this topic. I am so upset over this because I believe that it is the Church who need to change their views, because I believe that it is wrong. I believe that someone can have an awesome life as a Christian and love a person who shares the same sex with them, at the same time. I believe that a change needs to happen and it needs to happen soon. I, for one, am going to strive to find a church who believes the same as me. I live in London, there must be one somewhere. And in the meantime, I will try my hardest to at least let any gay people out there know that it doesn't have to be one way or the other when it comes to being a Christian. If you want to be a Christian, you can be one, and love anyone you choose to in the process, because, if it's good enough for us "straight people", then it damn well should be good enough for you.

Peace out my lovelies.

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