I’m sorry this post is rambling and fragmented, but I’m trying to connect the dots in my shift in religious mindset.
Life occasionally brings those Oprah-style “aha moments.” I remember watching an episode of Rules of Engagement with my wife about two years and one child into our marriage. I never found the show that entertaining or funny, but it was one of the few shows at the time that we both liked to watch. Right after the episode was over, my wife initiated sex, something that didn’t happen a ton at the time. After the sex, I recognized a pattern – she initiated sex after every episode we watched as far back as I could recall. The insecure person I was at the time, I just had to know if it was Patrick Warburton or Oliver Hudson who was getting her all hot and bothered – and of course I couldn’t converse with her directly about this. So, the next time we watched the show, I was tuned in to her reactions to the show. But, I noticed something different, she was more focused on the show when Bianca Kajlich’s character was on the screen. I found Kajlich’s character, while attractive, to be the least funny on the show, but I noticed that my wife found all of Kajlich’s character’s jokes to be hilarious. And then, as usual, we had sex after watching the show. Continue reading
In addition to exploring intellectual issues I have with Christianity – whether Jesus claimed to be God, reliability of biblical sources, etc., I want to explore the events in my life that made me question my faith. Among these are LGBTQ people in my life, marriage and parenthood, sex and purity culture, and feelings/emotions in regards to religious experiences. This post is in regards to a couple of my gay friends – I’ll post more in the future about how LGBTQ people deeply impacted my faith given how big of a role it played.
James Davison Hunter, in his now classic Culture Wars, notes of the American cultural conflicts:
The divisions of political consequence today are not theological and ecclesiastical in character but the result of differing worldviews. That is to say, they no longer revolve around specific doctrinal issues or style of practice and organization but around our most fundamental and cherished assumptions about how to order our lives–our own lives and our lives together in this society.
[…] It is the commitment to different and opposing bases of moral authority and the world views that derive from them that creates the deep cleavages between antagonists in the contemporary culture war. As we will see, this cleavage is so deep that it cuts across the old lines of conflict, making the distinctions that long divided Americans–those between Protestants, Catholics, and Jews–virtually irrelevant.
I’m hoping to post about some real life experiences that led me to question my preconceived religious notions. The biggest factor was my experience with LGBTQ people. I came across an interview with David Gushee in Religion Dispatches today that I found very fascinating. The entire interview was great, but this part especially spoke to my experiences:
The last chapter in the book talks in the most detail about that leap, that change in loyalties that has happened; it certainly includes learning about my sister Katy and her suffering as a deeply repressed lesbian unable to claim her own sexuality and identity and learning more recently that a major factor for her was the fear of the disapproval of her church—and actually of her brother, me. I didn’t know all that.
I would say I managed to live the great majority of my life without a lot of exposure to the actual lives and journeys of LGBT people. That speaks very much to what happens in the evangelical world—if you create an environment inhospitable enough you drive people out or underground. That’s how I could manage not to have much exposure until I came to Atlanta and started to be in a seminary setting and in a church setting—neither of which were flag-waving kind of pro LGBT environments, but they were open and safe enough that people began coming.
So, friendships began developing, notably in my church setting and Sunday school class over time, and I went from zero to a fairly decent understanding of what it’s like to be an LGBT person and a Christian in America.
I would say that beginning to learn more and more about the suffering of wounded and closeted and exiled LGBT young people really began to affect me deeply, beginning with Katy. But obviously there’s a literature out there I had never studied; I began to read some of that and began to hear stories of the cruelest kind of rejections from families and churches.
It’s amazing how drastically getting to know LGBTQ people can shatter your world. I think that had I not come to know a few LGBTQ people well, there’s a chance I’d still be a traditionalist. I plan on delving deeper into this in the near future.
Below is an edited email I sent to a few friends about what got me questioning Catholicism and Christianity in general. My thoughts have developed since this email, but I think it illustrates some of the holes in Catholicism and Christianity that got me questioning. Continue reading