Monday, May 7, 2012

Who told you that you were naked?

Who am I?  When I look into the mirror, can I be honest with myself?  Intimately honest? 

These questions surface in the aftermath of a funeral for my neighbor, a sweet lady who I really didn't know very well despite living next door for my entire life.  We don't always know the people who we are close to, in proximity at least.  The lack of intimacy is no new thing.

  And yet, perhaps the fundamental portion of a funeral, especially a funeral held in a church, is to remind us of the intimate relationship we have with our Creator - or for those who do not believe, He which the church believes created us.
  As I sat in this church, the first church I've been inside in some time, perhaps since my home church - the one in which I was born, baptized as an infant, confirmed as a jr. high student - told me that I was not welcome anymore, I wondered how I could say those words, sing those songs, believe the creeds and pray the prayers being so unwelcome in God's House.  For the first time in years, I'd felt again at home, and yet every word from my mouth in song, prayer, and every word to my ears in preaching and teaching and exposition all came with the taint of doubt and omissions. 

  Sexual orientation is more than a phase in a person's life.  It is more than a portion of his or her day.  It flows into the core of who we are.  And so, while I knew that I was attracted to young men as a young man, I didn't fully integrate that feeling into the definition of homosexuality.  It was just a portion of who I was in the mix of who I was, and I felt at home and welcome in God's House.  Now, as a man who understands himself better, who has come to see that my sexual orientation is such a part of who I am, and who has heard the slings and arrows of hate delivered by those who claim to be christian, I realize that I am unable to show God my true self.  I am unable to be intimate with my creator and be me.  I must somehow hide my orientation, my doubt in the church's teachings, my very self.  I could not be me in the one place where being who we are should never be denied.

  Fundamental Christians believe it is all coming to an end, some believe soon.  As a Star Trek fan, I believe in a far reaching existence of man kind.  So, perhaps I am somewhat disingenuous when I believe that there is bound to be a great amount of reckoning to come when God and his most ardent "followers" come face to face.  For, I am now living the painful realization that those who proclaim love have somehow managed to create in me a doubt and discomfort, seated entirely in defense of my spirit.  Surely I'm not alone, and surely there will come questions from most on high for those who stand at the door and let none pass.  Until then there are so many like me, raised in the church who now feel unwelcome, forced to hide who we are like Adam and Eve in the Genesis story.  


Anonymous said...

Hallo Randy,
Since you speak of "confirmation" as a teenager, I suppose you've belonged to the Protestant Church. I do not think it is the sense of "Martin Luther," Church members to exclude from the community. He was indeed excommunicated themselves from the Catholic Church and was punished by the Emperor with "Empire ban" / "Reichsbann". He lived in a marriage, even though he had to be celibate as a Catholic monk.
Are there no church groups for gays and lesbians in your city or region?
Gruß Nikki

Sammy B said...

Hello Randy
What I'm going to say is said, of course, from my perspective, the perspective of someone who has been an atheist almost as long as I've been conscious of being gay, that is from my early teens.
Organised religion, all religion, not just Christianity, is, to my mind, a means of social control, a means whereby a self-appointed elite maintain themselves in a position of power or privilege by the 'stick and carrot' approach of promising a better life in a world to come, or, alternatively, an eternity of pain and torment, dependent upon following, or failing to follow, a series of arbitrary rules in the here and now. Many of those completely arbitrary rules are centred around sexuality, for the simple reason that it is one of the most powerful driving forces humans experience, and if it can be 'controlled', seen to be in the gift of that self-appointed elite and their hierarchies, it can be used to keep people in thrall. And the other side of the coin, needless to say, is the vested interest the hierarchies have in demonising anyone who is outside the narrow definitions they have drawn up, because if people are 'different', non-conforming, they cease to be under the control of those who derive their power from that control. So, as non-conformists, the likes of you and I will never be welcomed or accepted by these people, because we're a 'flaw' in the neat pattern they think everyone should fit into, that, from their point of view, everyone needs to fit into so they can maintain their superior position.
I made my choice a long time ago, nearly forty years ago, albeit not directly because of my sexuality, but because I couldn't find any logical justification for believing their baseless mythology. This life, the here and now, is all there is, I believe, and, by following the narrow precepts of one cult or another, that one chance at life and fulfillment will be lost, it seems to me. Be yourself, and tell them to stick their rules and their hateful application of them where 'the sun don't shine', that would be my advice to anyone who might ask.

Love & best wishes
Sammy B

randy said...

Hi Sammy;
Yeah, there is that aspect of religion that is controlling. I once saw a post on it where someone said that they really like God but not so much his followers.
There is a lot to being "Christ-like" and none of it is the judgementalism I am seeing in far too many now days.
Thanks for commenting. Sorry to be so late responding....weird week.

randy said...

Hi Nikki;
That is a great question. I will look it up. I was actually raised Lutheran. The interesting thing is, the church I called "home" became so judgemental, or at least the leadership did, that it drove far too many away and couldn't sustain itself any longer. There is a certain lesson in that, I guess.
Be well;

Evan said...

I find this very interesting. I was raised Jewish, but my father is pretty much atheist, so we certainly never went to synagogue. I think because of this, I never learned to see my religious identity as what the rabbi said was right (or in your case, the priest). I saw my Jewishness as a cultural identity, so when I finally understood I was gay, I never had any conflict regarding my religious identification. Since our family kind of made up our own rules, I never had to deal with feeling outside of my religion. My only discomfort with attending a religious service would be that I have only been to synagogue a handful of times in my life, mostly for family events like Bar Mitzvahs or weddings.

I would guess that is the benefit of having a more personal relationship with religion and less reliance on the institutions. Also I think on balance, Judaism is a little more gay-friendly than many Christian denominations (with many exceptions of course).


randy said...

Hi Evan;
The very interesting thing about Judaism being more tolerant, these homophobe christians use the Torah to show homosexuality against God. Go figure.
Still, yes, religion is all too often about conformity than God.

Thank you for commenting!

Scottie said...

Hello Randy. Not really sure at this point in a long life filled with almost all the emotions known to man. My life has seen many pits of hell and joys of heaven. So where to fit it all in.

I had a mother who taught Sunday school...took a lot of comfort in it, and I would never want that taken from her..yet we had a house of horror.

The people down the road had a farm, and a weird religion as I was told...yet they went out of their way to feed, comfort and in the end help a battered child escape.

Because I was terrified of adult men as an eight year old, they would leave their door open, leave snacks for me where I would not have to pass an adult to reach,( I learned in my 20's from my boyhood friend the great lengths the whole family went to for this scared little boy who showed up one day.) , would let me play with their children and take pains never to get between me and the door...if a man entered the room suddenly I would they would slowly come into the room if at me time to adjust.

So I don't know if one religion is more worthy than another. I don't know if one God is better than another. I can't say having no God in your life is the best.

What I know is it is all individual, all personal. If your faith helps you, saves you, comforts you...than it is the right one for you. Never for anyone but you.

I don't know what is beyond this life. I am not a follower of any deity, but I have my beliefs in another type of life after this one. I take comfort in knowing the good done here is not in vain. Can I prove it, no...but I never felt I had to to. See the advantage I my belief is my own..for me..and you have the right to yours. I don't feel the need to force you to feel as I do, to live with my beliefs, and this is the part I hope others would take to and let live..respect , love, and give comfort to all.

After all we never know..and maybe that is the point...

Hugs and loves

Anonymous said...

Well said Scottie!!!
Everyone should be blessed in his own way.
Next Thursday is public holiday here - "Ascension of Christ".
Some celebrate the Ascension - the other "Father's Day".
Gruß Nikki