|introduction/letters on religion part one
||[Aug. 24th, 2007|08:19 pm]
United We Roar!
|||||minutes from nowhere||]|
|||||Train : Ordinary||]|
My name is julie ~ I"m Danielle's long time girlfriend/partner and i share her love of religion and politics, as I am an ordained minister, a druid/pagan and a practicing Christian. I've been dialoging back and forth with my best friend from Junior High and High School. Thought it might be interesting to post the letter I wrote to her a couple months ago. A new letter is also in the works, and it will be posted once complete. Enjoy. Feel free to leave feedback too, since every opinion counts
Onto the subject at hand. Its funny that you said that at times you were afraid that I woudln't speak to you again because of your "conservitveness". I had much the same fear of you with my liberal and ever-questioning views and my evolving thoughts on religion that is Christianity. I'm fully aware that I have a lot of radical beliefs that are not shared by many, at least not widespread. My kind are rather scattered. Perhaps I should begin where your letter left off - the story of me and how i came to terms with who and what I am. My evolution of sorts and my struggle with what I was taught for my entire upbringing verses what i came to believe over time.
First off, i wanted to apologize to you. I know that when we met and in the years immediately following, you were given a hard time constantly because of our friendship. Kids are cuel, and you stuck with me throughout and I'm eternally grateful for your support and your belief in me. I'm sorry that you were dragged into this by default, although I do believe that somehow in the midst of all the controversy, our friendship solidified and became stronger in spite of (or because of) all the hardship. And I believe that's why I'm sitting here and writing this letter to you you now, and why I"m adamant about getting this out in the open. Its so cliche to say that I always realized there was something different about me, and its not entirely true. Always is a long time. I had my first "crush" on a girl when I was in the 4th grade. Ironically enough, you've met the girl - Joylin Houston (we met her at Musicalle). Ever since then, it was a part of me that I couldn't shove out of my head. I was often attracted to girls but ignored it. I told my parents sometime in the 5th grade, and I was in psychological counseling ever since - up to and including my first year of college. My therapits told me a variety of stories - one being, of course, the mulitple personality disorder. Others told me that God would cure me. Others told me I was possessed by a demon and I was taken to a place that specialized in the removal of demons who were leading good Christian people astray. Add all this turmoil to the kind of trauma I experienced every day at school, and I was a scarred, emotional wreck for the majority of my adolescense. While I don't think anybody actually came out and said this directly - i was honestly led to believe by my family that I was the ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD that felt this way. And something inside me snapped. In high school, I didn't understand the concept of what being gay was. No one ever sat down and explained it to me. Everyone just knew it was a bad thing to be and they threw it as an insult in my face. Had I known then what I know now, my high school experience would have been drastically altered. All I was told was that it was wrong, point blank end of story, no question.
When I went to college, it was a freeing experience to realized that I COULD question all that I had been taught growing up - that the people going around spouting how wrong it is may not know what they are talking about. I learned that the Bible that I grew up with is NOT the Bible that was written 2000+ years ago. I also learned that its not just me - that there are thousands like me - and thousands of people out there who are proud to be who God made them. so, in a long winded answer to your question - I didn't STOP fighting homosexuality when I went to college. I stopped fighting myself. I stopped lying to myself and everyone else about who i was. And i STARTED fighting ignorance, hatred and intollerance perpetuated by people who claim to believe in a Savior who teaches wisdom, love and forgiveness. As Ghandi once said so elloquently: "I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians. They're nothing like your Christ."
I can't prove 100% that homosexuality as an orientation is genetic. But one of the most sound arguments I can think of lies in nature itself. Every single mammel practices homosexuality within their species. I doubt that you'd believe that your dog was "sinning" if it humped another male dog. My cats (all female) practive sexual tendancies towards each other when they're in heat. But animals aren't wrong or bad for doing this. Its something built into their natural instincts. So its not that far-fetched to bleieve or accept that a small but important group of humans could also experience that kind of expression. Just a side note.
After reading your letter, there were a list of poings that I wanted to bring up for you to consider. You mentioned that one of the ways God speaks to us is through History. I agree, but I wanted to ask you a question directly relating to that point. Is God proud of the history of His church? When I look at the history of Christianity as an organized religious, political force, all i see is 2000 years worth of pain, brutality and condemnation. The highlights of which that come to mind instantaniously are the crusades, the inquisition, the witch hunts, the war for power between the Roman Catholic church and the protestant reformation. All these events occurred in the past, but there are also recent events that, while not of the same magnitude, are still horrific. We have Christians protesting and bombing abortion clinics, and my personal favorites - the Westboro baptist church. If you're unfamiliar with the group, they run a website called "godhatesfags.com" where they spout a message of hatred towards gays, soldiers, America as a whole, and any other country that supports the equal rights of homosexual citizens. They even picket the funerals of dead homosexuals saying that "aids is gods cure for fags" and promising to post pictures of dead homosexuals on their website along with a running count of how long they've been suffering in hell. Not only do they believe that they're doing God's work, but they believe that they are the ONLY true Christians left in the world today. All of these events have one horrific theme - they were all done in the name of God. So, is God proud of what has been done and continues to be done in his name throughout History?
Point number two: If you believe in a perfect, all-knowing God, then how does this diety change thoughout time - or is God unchaning, and its just our perception of him that is constantly changing as we evolve? In the Bible, in the beginning after the fall in the garden of Eden, God takes a look at the sinful nature of his creation. And before the flood occurs, the Bible makes a statement that I can't get out of my head. It says that "god regretted ever making man". Obviously, from before the time the earth was ever created, God knew what was going to happen. So how can an all-knowing, all powerful perfect being regret? Aside from that, allow me to make another. If you compare the nature of God in the old testament side by side with the nature of the God that emerges within the New Testedment, its almost like looking at two seperate entities - or perhaps the two faces of the same being. The God of the Old Testament is judgemental, unbending, vengeful, wrathful and very frightening to the people he's chosen to follow him. He demanded obedience at any cost, punnishing anyone who varied slightly from his will. but the God of the New Testament speaking mostly through the person of Jesus Christ is loving, accepting and forgiving - and all He asks is for us to open our hearts and accept him and He'll forgive us our sinful nature - all we have to do is ak. Did God change or did we change? And this brings us directly to my next point.
I have many issues with the Bible, but in the interests of time I'll only go into a few for this letter. There are rules in the Old Testament that are not enforced by Christians today. Why? Because culture and society has undergone changes since the time it was written. For example, in Leviticus, it is forbidden to wear clothing consisting of two different kinds of material (for example - cotton/polyester blends are out). It also forbids eating pork or shellfish. Leviticus also mentions homosexuality. The other rules in modern Christianity are passively ignored - but I still get that verse in Leviticus thrown at me as "God's proof" that my homosexuality is sinful. How can you pick and choose which verses are valid and which ones aren't. Another example - both the Old and New Testaments have rules and guidelines for how to handle owned slaves and their management. These verses were used to justify slavery in the United States. But we don't agree with or follow them today. Why? Because the culture of the times has changed.
I have issues with the idea of the Bible being the "infallible, unchangeable word of God" especially the New Testament. The Bible that was written 2000+ years ago is different than the Bible we have today. God did not write the Bible. Humans did. Any by that very definition, it leaves the Bible open to certain various discepencies. The Bible even contradicts itself. The New Testament itself with the history of how it was written and compiled into the document we have today is a wonderful example of how historical and political forces can impact the Bible's integrity. There are even startling variances between the cultural aspects of the New Testament and today. Most obvious example of course is Paul's writings in his letters about women. I think you'd agree that those beliefs are no longer practiced in large part today. But the Bible still says it. The Bible has been translated and copied so many times, it pure integrity is near impossible. In Biblical culture, it was customary for men to kiss one another in greeting. When the New King James translation came out the verse "Greet one another with a brotherly kiss" became "Greet on another with a handshake." So the Bible Changes. So how can it possibly be held as the end all be all of God's authority. One question: if you told a story to everyone you met, and they told everyone etc, etc - finally, after 80 years (whic is the earliest date for the writing of any of the Gospels 60 - 80 years after the death and resurrection of Christ) someone who had never even met you decided to write it down. How close to your original story would the written version be?