CONTENT WARNING: This post contains mention of mental health, religious adversity, discrimination and violence against LGBTQ individuals. Reader discretion is strongly advised. Any abuse will be sent straight to the spam folder! Also, I wrote this at 3am, so if there’s some incoherent waffling, I do apologise!
The last two weeks have not been easy. I’ve cried, panicked and cried again. A lot. I guess I could say I’ve had something that would be generally called a ‘crisis of faith’.
For those of you who don’t know, I resonate with agnosticism. However I’ve come to terms recently with the fact that I do, in fact, and have for a while, have some manner of faith.
Reading Bible verses and devotionals got me through a pretty trying time in the last few months with my mental health. I find reading religious texts across all faiths not only educational, but spritually enriching. So what gives?
It’s simple. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that quite a few (not all, no generalisations here) people who follow different faiths don’t like people like me. And by people like me, I mean people under the LGBTQ umbrella.
Though I’ve said many times that I’m not overly fond of labels, I’ve felt more comfortable over the last few months saying I am a bisexual woman. That’s who I am. I understand there is a debate about bisexuality and pansexuality, so if you want to call me a pansexual, feel free too. Either way I’m under that umbrella. As long as you’re not being nasty, we’re cool. But if I have to choose (a bisexual choosing?! *Gasps*) that’s what I say if it comes up in conversation or anyone asks. Or I’m taking the piss out of myself on Twitter. Yeah, I do that a lot.
Anyway, love is love and as long as you’re a good person, I really couldn’t care less. Whew, still figuring an awful lot of yourself out in this manner as an adult is exhausting. Lord knows how we did in our teens!
However there is one label given to us by certain individuals and institutions that I do have a problem with:
Along with the other awful slurs that come with it. Your ability to love, live a good life and even your ability to be a good parent is questioned and attacked just because of who you may or may not love. And unfortunately as we all know to well, in many parts of the world can be subjected to violence and death. It truly breaks my heart.
I know what some of you are thinking: Why are you so caught up in this? Who cares about what they think? And I’d agree, who cares? You do you. But reconciling one’s fluctuating faith with one’s identity, when many interpretations of i.e Christianity, can be so against your very existence, is bloody difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel like you have to choose between your faith and your sexuality. Both are integral parts of me; why should I have to?
As mentioned before, I don’t wish to generalise religion and religious people, which is very easy to do. I know people of faith who are very supportive of equality and LGBTQ rights. For example, my mother’s church is very open and accepting of people from all walks of life and are some of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet.
Faith aside, I love going into churches for their architecture, their history and if I like, just to be in the silence and calm in the pews. It’s relaxing and I go into an almost meditative state at times.
But going to church or another place of worship, where you have no qualms with your personal faith (as far as I’m concerned, me and the G-man are cool. He made me like this after all) but knowing some of the congregation would turn on you if they knew, in a place where you want to grow and is meant to be safe, is a truly horrid sentiment.
That includes the ‘hate the sin and not the sinner argument’ and/or that we need to ‘repent’ for our apparent sin. Personally, I find that just plain patronising. All I hear is ‘I don’t hate you, I just hate you.’ Loving someone, gender regardless, is certainly no sin to me. And it’s certainly not a choice or ‘lifestyle’. And if love is a sin, I’d much rather ‘burn in Hell’ like some like to remind us at Pride events, or at family weddings and barbecues. Plus if so, that means Freddie Mercury’s down there too, so it’d be one hell of a party!
Having said that, I wouldn’t expect everyone in these circles to understand or be completely fine with it. Despite what I may believe, I know there are many who do not share my stance. I’ve come across plenty of people who either can’t get their heads around it or have differences, but say ‘hey, you do you.’ And while that’s not entirely ideal, they take the approach of not judging or treating me or anyone else differently. ‘Do not judge lest ye be judged’ and all.
And to be frank, sometimes that’s the best you can hope for, and I can live with that. Conversation with the people we don’t see eye to eye with is important, in order for progression to take place. But unfortunately, as we know, there is an awful lot of hatred that needs to be addressed. Hurling abuse at someone or worse is never OK.
I want to clarify, apart from my immediate family, a few close friends and you guys, no one else knows about my sexuality. While it may come across like I shout it from the rooftops, in reality I don’t.
One, because I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the world and an area where most just don’t care. Second, because unless you are dear to me or sharing a bed with me, it’s no one else’s business. Third, because while it’s generally safe in the UK to not be straight, it’s for my safety (let’s face it, you never know how some will react) and to save myself from ridiculous, ‘Prove it, kiss that random woman’ or ‘So, you want to have a threesome with me?’ comments. I can have banter with my friends where we good-naturedly take the piss out of each other, but those who genuinely mean it? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
However, it’s nice to find somewhere where if you want to practice your faith, whatever that may be, where you feel like you may belong. For me, this falls along the lines of Quakerism and Unitarianism. And yes, you can be both.
Faith aside, a lot of the teachings, particularly Unitarian teachings of togetherness, is something I have always resonated with since being a young child. Basically the ‘can’t we all just get along?’ of faith (or lack thereof, there atheist Unitarians as well), community and embracing social progression, including LGBTQ rights. They were even some of the first to perform same sex marriages and civil partnerships, even before they were fully legalised in the USA and UK.
I’ve always felt like this, but only fully realised that my beliefs do in fact, have a name. Not that it majorly matters, as being as good a person is what matters regardless of one’s backgrounds. Like many however, my approach to faith helps me try to achieve that.
Plus, what I love is that I’ve always felt no matter what place of worship I am in, I can still connect to that deeply spiritual headspace that comes with the quiet stillness of these places.
While I can’t definitively say, ‘Yes I am this and that’ at present, if asked, I’ll quite happily say that I take a somewhat Quakerish Unitarian approach to my faith. Predominantly, I follow teachings from Christianity (let’s face it, Jesus was pretty awesome) along with egalitarian and spiritual teachings in the Quran, and Jewish approaches to finding God in everyday life, to name a few. I believe that there is something good to be learned from every faith, or agnosticism or atheism, obviously along with science and critical thinking.
So while it’s not been easy by any stretch to come to terms with my faith and identity, I’m glad I’ve found some part of the world where I say ‘yeah, you’re my people.’ 😊
17 thoughts on “Crisis of faith”
This is a really thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion. It must be very difficult to reconcile faith with the often negative and hostile religious traditions. I’m pleased for you that you have found Quakers and Unitarians to be a warmer spiritual home for you. 🌹
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It’s certainly not easy but it’s finding what feels right in your heart. A lot of the time it’s taking these teachings in the context of the time they were written, but as we see a lot that can be disregarded. But that’s just my take anyway! Thank you Jupiter 😊❤️
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Ah Jesus 😉 I have written a lot about him. I was educated in a catholic convent school and long ago decided I had to create my own view of Jesus, God and religion. And my god is nothing like the descriptions I often read of him. I have my own god, my own faith and it lives within me. I agree there is something to be learned from the “scriptures” but they certainly should not be seen as the truth or the absolute of anything.
As far as sexuality is concerned – well that is a personal business and an individual one too. I don’t know what mine would be called. I like sex 😉 I have fancied women but have only fucked men. I believe we fall in love with the person – not the sex. And if I were to fall in love with a woman in that way then I may want to fuck her too 😉
Thought provoking post as always Violet
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Catholic convent school? Goodness, I can imagine that was pretty full on! I believe there’s certain universal lessons that can be drawn from each faith i.e. Love thy neighbour from Jesus, but whether or not he was the son of God I shall never know so don’t think about it all that much. Either way he was pretty chill! 😂
My sexuality was thankfully never the issue in my heart 😊 I’m not ashamed and nor should I be. It was feeling like I could be at home if I decided to go to church if I felt the urge to, or somewhere where I could be in that space and not feel ostracised, hence feeling I needed to choose at one point, which no one should have to. I don’t see why they make such a big deal of it anyway (I put it down to the historical context of the fire and brimstone, personally) or even going as far as claiming not to have an issue but saying you have to be celibate so as not to “sin”. To me that’s condemning someone to a life of misery, one of the most un-Christian things someone can do. Same, I’ve only been with men but am attracted to women at times as well. Sometimes even someone who is genderqueer, although for me the binary does play a big role in who I am attracted to. Hence with the bi/pan debate some really get irate over, but either way if I’m feelin’ it, I’m feelin’ it! 😂
Thank you May ❤️ Hope you’re doing well 😊
I can appreciate much of what you say here. I’ve read a bit from various religions and find that I usually have to separate the writings from the more oppressive structures that theological politics created from them. Not least some of the things that are also troubling you. Reading such things can feel like a personal condemnation and rejection by that which you’re drawn to. And to then have people in the modern world use them to project real hostility is very hard.
Faith is easy if you have no conflict with it. The fact you have wrestled with the conflict and faith has won through says how much it means to you. I hope the position you’ve reached gives you more peace.
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Thank you Melody ❤ I completely agree, on it's own they are fascinating texts, both historically and otherwise. With the politics embroiled as we see in the news and in laws it can prove a massive headache. Indeed it can feel like a personal condemnation, but like I said to May, taking them in the context of when they were written, rightly or wrongly, the 2000 year time span becomes a lot more into perspective. It does make my heart hurt to hear the positive primary teachings of each faith used to ostracise others. It makes me think of all the people who aren't allowed to love who they do openly, or live in a country where it is punishable by execution. I believe teachings can evolve with time (the 'somewhat Quakerish' approach in me) along with encouraging asking questions and having informed conclusions with what works for you.
Hope you're well ❤ xx
I’m like May in the sense I spend 12 yrs in catholic school, even studied to be a nun. Until the term “bride of Christ” was used and I thought if an entity could knock up Mary then that could happen to me (I was 7 at the time) but that freaked me out. I always felt guilty about anything and everything never wanted to stare too long at Jesus hanging on the cross because I thought he would jump off and beat me.LOL.
I always questioned my religion, now I just am. I believe when those so-called Christians speak hateful words because they don’t understand. If they think someone is going to hell they should be praying for that person’s soul not telling them they are going to hell and burn. That’s just me though, I would not tell someone their faith or belief system is wrong. It’s what is in the person’s heart and what their actions say about them. I don’t care if someone loves men, women or trees. If that person is good, kind and doesn’t try to push their beliefs onto me then I’m good.
Thank you for adding the content warning. 🙂
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Thank you Cat 😊 It was necessary to put a warning considering the themes. I agree, there’s a lot of misunderstandings and misinterpretations (coming from multiple versions and 2000 years worth of translating from Aramaic, Ancient Greek and Hebrew etc. it’s hardly surprising) As long as its not hurting anyone else live and let live. Xx
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I love Jesus, and while I don’t have a deep knowledge of religious texts, including ones from Christianity and Catholicism which are what I grew up with, there are many bits of bible verses that over the years have resonated with me and brought me comfort when I needed it. I also love churches and think the sense of peace and calm that comes with them is immense, often that is totally ruined for me by the congregation and the Vicar being present! As you say not everyone has the best attitude and I am and always will be unapologetically queer and alternative (in various ways, at various times) so I don’t exactly exist quietly as some folks might like me to. What faith I have is probably hard to define, but I do have it and I’m glad that folks like yourself are writing about this as a subject. It’s good to share all aspects of ourselves xxx
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I completely agree. In amongst the fire and brimstone which I don’t subscribe to, I love Jesus’ teachings. I especially love the Proverbs of Soloman as well, which is a mixture of poetic writing and common sense. Churches can be so peaceful when you just need a quiet space. The silence and architecture, not to mention the acoustics, are phenomenal. Same, I take bits from every faith though that are some religious folk that have told me I’m ‘confusing myself’ by wanting to read their texts and that I should ‘just stick to the Bible’ I told them that I find that limiting just using one when there’s a whole world of information out there to learn. And me too I will continue to be unapologetically bi. Thank you Floss that really does mean a lot, I didn’t really know how it’d go down truthfully but I’m glad people have been able to relate to it xxx
*By common sense I mean things like if you’re horrible to someone for no reason, that doesn’t make you a good person etc.
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Thank you Melody and May ❤ xxx
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