About Religion

This isn’t going to be an easy topic. Religion and gay issues never mesh well. But I’m going to attempt to provide some perspective – an academic perspective, the perspective from someone who grew up Catholic in a small town and from a gay perspective.

Let me start off this post by saying I have no idea where I’m going with this. I have many thoughts about religion – particularly Christianity – but I don’t think I’ve ever come to a conclusion. There are too many hypocrisies on both sides of the argument.

First, I must disclaim that it is perfectly possible for someone to be religious, have faith in Christianity while also being accepting of gay people. My grandmother is a perfect example. She’s wonderful.

But every time I hear someone say, “I don’t like gay people because the Bible says it’s wrong,” I cringe.

I’ve studied the Bible from an academic perspective in college. (I took a few classes taught by Rebecca Denova. She’s an incredible professor. If anyone at Pitt is reading this, sign up for her classes immediately!) The people that cite the Bible for disliking homosexuality are correct. The Bible says it’s wrong. But the Bible also says it’s OK to sell your daughter into slavery and that men should maim their penises.

I have many problems Bible. It was written thousands of years ago by non-historians, and it has since been translated hundreds of times. There’s a very good chance that the versions we have now are wildly different from the authors’ original intent. There are dozens of authors, and this mythical Jesus Christ never wrote any of it. Also, how can we ignore the fact that Jesus is eerily similar to many other mythical Gods – who were around before Jesus, were all born of a virgin mother and were resurrected around the spring equinox.

But just because I don’t believe the Bible, am I really in any position to urge others to question their faith? It’s a way of life for many people. And it provides strength for those who otherwise would be lost in life. Just because someone doesn’t like gay people because of their religion, is it really my place to challenge their beliefs and try to shatter their faith? I don’t want to do that to anyone.

A common response is that Christianity preaches acceptance and understanding, which is great. But when it also says that my lifestyle is “detestable” and should be punishable by death, are they really preaching acceptance?

I have no right to challenge people’s faith. But those people also have no right to push their faith on me. The Constitution is pretty clear about that. Just because your faith tells you that homosexuality is wrong and you think I’m “living in sin,” doesn’t mean that I should care what you believe. I don’t hold your same religious views. In fact, I don’t hold any religious views at all. I live by my own moral code that I’ve spent many hours thinking about.

What is religion if not a moral compass? I personally think religion is the easy way out, for people who can’t decide for themselves what is moral. But that’s pretty awful of me to say. I can’t criticize other people if they want to follow a set of rules written by someone else. I know many good people who follow religous morals.

But I live my life by two simple rules:

  1. Be nice to those around me – I have no idea what’s going on in their lives.
  2. Do whatever makes me happy, as long as it doesn’t hurt those around me or break any laws.

Maybe this post is breaking my own rules; maybe I’m being mean to those around me. I know lots of people who are very religious. And I don’t want to hurt those people, because most of them have been very accepting of me.

I think I’m even being a bit hypocritical. I’m telling others not to tell me what I should believe, but here I am attacking their beliefs. That’s a major problem within our community. Oftentimes, instead of pushing for acceptance, we attack religion (much like I did here) to prove a point. But all it really does is cause a deeper divide.

How can we reconcile this? As you can tell, I don’t think very highly of religion, but should I even publish this? These are my thoughts on religion; does this hurt others’ beliefs?

I have no idea. I’m sure this post upset many of you. I’m sorry for that. But this is the challenge that I face, and I don’t how to resolve it. But we’ll never come to an understanding if we don’t talk about.

See, I told you I had no idea where I was going with this.

(Feel free to keep the discussion going in the comments, but try to be respectful.)

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3 Responses to About Religion

  1. Brad says:

    First, I don’t think you should feel bad about sharing your opinion.
    Second, I agree with this: A common response is that Christianity preaches acceptance and understanding, which is great. But when it also says that my lifestyle is “detestable” and should be punishable by death, are they really preaching acceptance?
    It’s a complete oxymoron. It boggles my mind how people (and I am generalizing for convenience) can claim to “love everyone,” but really only mean a very small slice of society and then use their religion as a platform for hate.

  2. Jami says:

    I struggle with these same issues. Obviously, not so much from the same point of view as your, but many others that include abortion, birth control, parenting. I want to live a moral life, and just because I don’t go to church doesn’t make me a bad person and the person who goes to church every Sunday- it doesn’t make them a better person than me. I struggle in the same catholic family as you, and it is HARD! I get the snide remarks because I don’t take my child church or sunday school. I want her to be a genuine, good person. I want her to have a sense of community, family and friendship. Those things mean more to me. Sorry to disappoint some people.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I understand why you would have those thoughts regarding religion. My grandfather is a retired Methodist minister, so Christianity has been present in my life since the beginning when I was baptized. As a child, my family attended church fairly regularly, though we did move every 3 to 5 years and had to choose a new church in each location. As my siblings and I began to get older, it was more and more difficult to get us to church every Sunday. Eventually my family stopped going other than holidays. We became “those people.”

    When I was at the age of confirmation (middle school), I refused to be confirmed-not necessarily because I was rebelling or because I did not have faith, but instead I was fearful that my peers would make fun of me. At that point, we were living in a small town, and all of the “popular” kids went to this particular church. Not the most Christian-like way to have to fear being teased, especially in a church-setting.

    There are definitely religious people who are hypocritical and use church as a giant rationalization for their poor behavior. Of course, I will not generalize, since everyone is different. On the other hand, church and religion can bring together a community and a “people,” providing a “safe haven” along with a social setting. However, like any existing social organization, whether it be church, a sports team, or a club, clicks will be generated, and segregation will occur. Pros and Cons Pros and Cons….

    I agree with you that a moral compass can be developed and maintained without the help of a religious affiliation. Religion functions for some people as “an easy way out,” but for others it serves as a social setting, safe place, or perhaps a simple obligation. The bible is an interesting book full of stories and lessons, but I don’t believe that it is meant to be taken literally (though many do). I don’t think that the bible should ever be used as an end-all source to support or verify statements, whether positive or negative.

    Finally, how you choose to live your life and love is your choice and your choice only. We all have needs, hopes, desires, and dreams. It sounds like your moral code is strong and fulfilling. We all strive to find someone who is able and willing to share in the challenges and accomplishments that occur throughout our lifetime. Whether it is a man or a woman is not relevant.

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