I want to share my experience of having gone through the phase of not wanting to come out as gay because of being raised Christian. I’m sure that a lot of gay people don’t want to acknowledge their non-hetero sexuality for fear of being sent to eternal hell, as ultra-conservative Christians would put it. However, if you think about it, gay Christians aren’t the only ones who rely on the foundation of godly fear. Most Christians, gay or straight, devote their lives to Christianity because of the fear of being damned in hell, which is painted as an extremely horrifying place of monstrous faces and activities. If Christianity exists without the concept of hell, do you think it would have such a strong power over people? I certainly don’t think so. I used to be tormented too with the seemingly oxymoronic combination of the words “gay” and “Christian”. Fortunately, I’ve been freed from that religious chokehold now.
[pullquote_left]I’m sure that a lot of gay people don’t want to acknowledge their non-hetero sexuality for fear of being sent to eternal hell.[/pullquote_left]
What follows is an excerpt from my original Tumblr post about my spiritual journey to agnosticism. I’ve written this over a year ago when I’ve come to realize the loopholes surrounding some Christian beliefs, the unclean slate of Christian history, as well as the indelibility of my sexuality. The post is not a scholarly writing about the issue between religion and homosexuality. (I’ll leave that long research up to you. Google can be a good start. Or maybe I’d write about it some time in the future, who knows?) It is also in no way an insult to Christianity, but a personal critical view of anti-gay sentiments that homophobic, religious people have. I am well aware that there are homosexuals out there who continue on valuing their Christian beliefs, sans the homophobic interpretation of Biblical teachings. Moreover, I do know that there are Christians out there who don’t ascribe to homophobic spiritual teachings. I respect them and their beliefs. It is only when beliefs are twisted to border on hatred and violence that I become very, very disagreeable of it.
[pullquote_right]It is only when beliefs are twisted to border on hatred and violence that I become very, very disagreeable of it.[/pullquote_right]
Religion is an external trait passed on from parents to children. Parents don’t ask their children what they want to believe in. They just present that version of eternal truth that they cling on to, and either spoonfeed or force-feed their children with it. Heck, I think even atheists wouldn’t wish their children to believe in something they think is ludicrous divinity. Thus, if the parents were Muslim, the child learns how to worship Allah; if the parents were churchgoers, children become churchgoing as well; if the parents were a hybrid of BudCa (Buddhist/Catholic, which a lot of Fil-Chis are), their children willingly go to both temple and church; if the parents were Protestants, the child would indubitably hear nonstop preaching about Christ’s magnificent love for sinners. And so, the child is born, and a significant part of his life would definitely be shaped by either the spiritual or the nonreligious mentality that have been bequeathed to him. Unless, of course, he breaks away from that mold and decides to choose for himself what beliefs sit right with him.
In my case, I have done the latter. My journey going to that point has been filled with prayers, englightenment, confusion, anger, joy and sadness. I’ve struggled hard with being a Born Again Christian. I think it all started when I realized that I didn’t want to live life as a girl because that meant not being able to love a girl I happen to have a crush on. My infatuations were always about girls ever since my childhood years, way before I’ve hit puberty. I’ve known I was different at a very early age.
[pullquote_right]But like every self-loathing and closeted gay person, I also denied my sexuality.[/pullquote_right]
So I’ve struggled with my faith. I cursed at God for making me put up with being a girl. I knew I wasn’t attracted to boys even before I learned about the terms gay, straight, bi & lesbian. But like every self-loathing and closeted gay person, I also denied my sexuality. I knew that being gay was something that society looks disgustingly upon, so I hid it. I never told anyone about my unruly gay feelings. I never told anyone about how difficult it was for me to fit in – both mind and heart – as a straight person because I was afraid what kind of reaction saying those words would elicit from people. Life as a little gay Christian girl was hard and harsh, and it didn’t really get better once teenage hormones kicked in. The cycle of self-denial and painful prayers continued to consume me, and apparently, I didn’t find being gay, gay at all.
Ever since I was a cute, little, chubby baby (I know, I can be narcissistic), my parents would send me to Sunday School to learn all about God. I didn’t really like going to Sunday-brainwashing-day-school since I had to wake up very early. I wasn’t really into singing Christian songs, reciting Biblical passages, and other church activities. I wasn’t baptized until the age of 11 (or maybe 12?), and I did that just for the sake of being baptized and moving out of the early Sunday kiddie session to the young adult / adult fellowship meeting, since it meant getting up less early. But then, everything got more intense and annoying. There were young sisters who would sometimes visit me at home unannounced to talk about our faith and to encourage me to join weekday church activities. I still wasn’t into it, but i guess all that constant Christian blabbering and irritating persistence to make me an “active” Christian broke me down. I’ve finally decided to be “faithful servants” like them. I caved in.
[pullquote_left]“Hallelujah! God has spoken!” Isn’t that obviously just a coincidence?[/pullquote_left]
I joined weeknight fellowship meetings, shared testimonies about God working in my life, read the Bible everyday, visited other sisters, prayed and worshipped with all my heart, etc. During small fellowships, Christian sisters and brothers would share about how God has spoken to them through their morning devotion, some random moment during their day, or through, by some divine intervention, their thoughts. (Like how they say Satan can tempt you by interrupting your mind and feeding “lies” into it. If that were the case, is it still your fault then when you have bad thoughts?) So, every morning, I read the Bible and hoped to God that He’ll talk to me through the passages. Whenever I encountered words that could somehow relate to my current dilemma, I believed that God really was speaking to me. Now, I just see how ridiculous that kind of thinking was. Christians claim they mentally hear God talking to them about their circumstances, especially when they read something that touched their hearts. “Hallelujah! God has spoken!” Isn’t that obviously just a coincidence? Much like how I browse through my Tumblr dashboard and find quotes that I can relate to? If I find a quote that “speaks” to me, I don’t go around saying, “Thank the heavens!! The Almighty Tumblr has given me wisdom!”. Thoughts that Christians believe are from the devil or God are, really, just their own thought processes messing with them. It all boils down to what you think God wants you to do, or what you perceive is Satan making you to do.
[pullquote_right]If I find a quote that “speaks” to me, I don’t go around saying, “Thank the heavens!! The Almighty Tumblr has given me wisdom!”[/pullquote_right]
Needless to say, this part of my Christian life led me to bury my sexuality even deeper. When I was in my junior andsenior highschool, I thought I’ve managed to kill my sexuality by burying it alive. I think I felt fewer attractions during that time because I was forcing myself to get busy and to get high with Christian stuffs. I’ve had crushes here and there, but I fought it and tried to just brush it off, thinking that Satan is trying to trap me. This roused such guilt in me that, as the church I used to go to would tell the congregation, unworthiness of God’s love would eat away at me. Then, I met my 4th yr Highschool English teacher who shared to class that she used to be a lesbian. But by the great hallelujah power of God, she had been ridden of such desires (or so she claimed) and was now living a heterosexual life. Her story just made me suppress my sexuality even more (mainly because she was my favorite teacher in CKSC!) and made me want to be more active in church, thinking that God would someday turn me straight as a reward for my good Christian behavior.
Well, it didn’t turn out that way, haha. Ha.
Long-story-short, I got tired of fighting and crying and hurting and feeling guilty and praying and worshipping and reading the Bible to no avail. I quit because my attraction to women wasn’t dying. I quit because I couldn’t believe in a God who has been claimed to be unconditionally loving, merciful and powerful, and yet would undoubtedly throw you to eternal punishment by the flick of His hand just because you weren’t fervently giving all of yourself to Him while you were living on this earth. I say that’s not love, they say how can I question His love when He gave up His Son to be crucified for man’s countless sins. I say that’s not merciful, they say God has given us plenty of chances to turn our hearts to Him, and only to Him. (Really? Throwing people to eternal punishment is merciful?) Then, I say what about the word “unconditional”? Then, they quote from the Bible,”…Lean not on your own understanding.” You know what, I may not know everything there is to know about this world, I may not know all the Biblical stories by heart, but I am beyond sure what unconditional means! You can’t twist its meaning to suit your beliefs; you can’t just pick and choose what to believe in the Bible; you can’t make me surrender my need to use my God-given brain by your biased interpretation of that quote!
Matthew 21: 18-20 ; Mark 11: 12-14 ; Jeremiah 29:17
I’ve struggled for a very, very long time. I’m not going down that road again and be self-hating. I am sure of what I feel and think. There are certainly moments in life to be or not to be something, to do or not to do something, to say or not to say something. But there are also lots of things in life that you can’t change. I didn’t choose to be gay (what person would wake up one day and say, “Oh, I think I’mma be gay and go through hardships because of my sexuality. I would love to be a disgrace to society, family, friends and God. Yep, I believe that’s a great idea!”) No one makes that decision. But I choose to accept my sexuality and say “eff you!” to every goddamn narrow-mindedness. I choose to detach myself from any religion that scratches out a person’s right to be happy and that makes him/her feel bad for being someone he/she can’t undo.
[pullquote_left]Oh, I think I’mma be gay and go through hardships because of my sexuality. I would love to be a disgrace to society, family, friends and God. Yep, I believe that’s a great idea![/pullquote_left]
So, I’ve left the church because I’m sick and tired of listening to stuffs I find ridiculous. I’m sick of hearing that God will change your “unholy” ways. Well, from experience and observation, God doesn’t change you, you change for Him. You spend your whole life trying to tweak out every sinful bit about you, and you die still trying. You try and try all for the glory of God who doesn’t even have the decency to show at least some part of His Being to the naked eye of mere mortals. Christianity tells you to focus on your relationship with God, not the religious aspect of it. Last time I checked, every party involved in a relationship should know how to give and take. I feel like all I did was give, and the only thing I got in return was more preaching about how Jesus cares for me, loves me, died on the cross for me, blah.. blah.. – a cycle of love and guilt. Actions really do speak louder than words, y’know.
How come I’ve arrived to that ambiguous spiritual line between believers and nonbelievers? I’m agnostic because, while I don’t believe in a loving, merciful and all-knowing God who would condemn people to hell for picking out the wrong religion, or for not being able to find it in themselves to believe and worship an invisible God, I don’t claim the inexistence of God. I think life is one gigantic, out-of-this-world mystery, and no one could ever unravel, prove or disprove things that are of the spiritual/ supernatural realm. We’ll never know what’s truly “out there” unless we’ve been there. God may be real, angels may be real, ghosts.. souls.. spirits.. past lives.. I think it’s possible. But I have to deal with the fact that right now I can’t know with 100% certainty, and I’m okay with that. What I’m saying is that, maybe, there is a God, just not like the one some homophobic “godly men/women” picture out to be. There are just so many loopholes surrounding their interpretations of the Bible. However, if there is one thing that is a shared belief with all religions or worldviews, that would be the fact that what we do now in this life is what really matters.
I hope you don’t make out Agnosticism to be synonymous to indifference or amorality. Being agnostic is about accepting the fact that you don’t have the answer to everything, but still maintain the sensible act of using your intelligence to sort out what sounds right and what doesn’t. Thus, you are certain about some things in life.
Also, I hope you don’t make the conclusion that being homosexual and Christian at the same time is ironic. Like I said before, there are Christian groups that don’t believe in the anti-gay interpretations of the Bible. Maybe if I grew up in a Christian religion like that, I wouldn’t have turned out to be agnostic somewhere down the road. Anyway, the point is that you live out your life based on the experiences you have, and will continue to have, in this world. You continue to seek out truth and fight for it. You can’t just live as a blind follower.
I send this blog post out to God as an online prayer and seal it with an “Amen.” Thanks for all the good and bad times, God.
Hey, God has been lurking around the Internet superhighway as well, have you seen “God wants you to know..” on Facebook? Or those chain e-mails about receiving blessings if you forward it to others? Apparently, religion is moving with the modern technological age too.