And the one thing I can't seem to get my grasp on is religion.
I'm suspecting a few people quit reading after that final word. Religion is a big huge boulder that some people run away from entirely, while others let it hit them full on with acceptance. Then there are some who stand under it cautiously, but run away as soon as it seems that it could possibly topple onto them. You're either completely against it, totally immersed in it, or somewhere in the middle that may or may not gain you the acceptance of the two other sides.
If you're unaware, I live in the deep south. For those either foreigners to America or unfamiliar with the concept, the deep south is easily characterized by God and sweet tea. We face a huge stereotype that most can never overcome.
There are two main types of people living here. Strong willed Christians who love Wednesday night potlucks in their church's basement and sporting around their republican t-shirts who have quite the opinion on gay people, Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act, and abortion. Then there are those who seem to want the exact opposite of their counterparts. They love gay marriage, their pro-choice bumper stickers, and sleeping in every Sunday morning. And don't get me wrong, there are people living below the Mason Dixon Line (aka the south for those unfamilar with this phrase) who don't fall under either of these categories. I know many of them and currently I'd declare myself as one of them, but the above are the main stereotypes that live in my community.
But back to the current point. With such differing religious viewpoints filling my life, it's easy to let myself wonder about God and the Bible and Jesus and all that jazz.
Before I go any further though, I feel some sort of back story needs to take place here. I often think these types of conversations must include your own religious background just to help make the muddled picture a little less muddled.
All my life I was fed Bible stories and scripture verses until I could repeat them myself. The amount of sermons I've sat through I can guarantee is in the thousands. I'm Lutheran, which is a branch of Christianity that was started by a pretty rad guy named Martin Luther. He's honestly one of my favorite people. He didn't like what the Catholic Church was doing at the time and didn't hesitate to let them know how he was feeling about all this. Martin Luther stood up for what he believed in, which is basically the holy grail of things that you can do to impress me. He didn't intend to start a new branch of Christianity separate of Catholicism, he just wanted to reform the Catholic Church, but one thing lead to another, and now we have Lutherans. If you ever have a spare moment, put Martin Luther's name in Google's search box.
The main point here though, is that my religious upbringing I'm sure was done perfect according to the books. I wasn't smothered by religion nor was I brought up in a household of Christian hating Bible burners. But no matter the upbringing I had, I've found so many doubts in my own religion.
You see, the south is extremely conservative. People often wish that "all those homosexuals" (imagine that with a southern accent and it'll make that statement even more realistic as I've probably heard it a hundred times by my fellow southerners) and abortion clinics would just go away. And I don't care what others try to say, the south is very intolerant of other religions. They think all Muslims are terrorists/women's rights oppressors who are out to ruin our 'Merica (thanks 9-11) and atheists just need to be smothered in a blanket of bible stories and "you're going to hell" statements in order to bring them back to Christianity.
The shunning of homosexuals and judgmental lives of others, makes me question so many of the things I was brought up believing. Most of the things I've mentioned in this post haven't really come from people within my own church. We have a large population of Catholics and Baptist (both conservative branches of Christianity) living within my community and although I by no means want to put the blame on them, a good portion of these comments have stemmed from their mouths. I specifically remember on a field trip in sixth grade (for those unaware of the American education system children in this grade are usually 11/12 years old) the topic of gay people was brought upon our minds by a young girl on the bus ride home. The girl had an uncle who was gay and as she was never one to shy away from personal matters, this was somehow shoved into our conversation. Now another young boy who is a very devout Baptist and I'm actually very good friends with, made his view known. He spewed memorized Bible verses into the girl's ears about how her uncle needed to change his ways and how homosexuality was a sin and he would for sure go to hell.
The conversation ended in yelling between the two children and with tears streaming from the girl's face, she was moved to a separate part of the bus.
It's all these things and more that makes me question the validity of the Bible and the God that I for sure without a doubt thought existed only two short years ago. There's so much in religion that's left to faith and simply believing in what's fed into your mind and I have a hard time doing that. I like questions and what I like even more are answers and clear answers are hard to find in the world of religion, you're just expected to believe and continue on with life. I strongly think that the Christians who try so hard to mold atheists into born again Christians are doing it all wrong. If they want them to turn back to God, they need solid evidence to help them understand the whirlwind of Christianity. Atheists often hold on to the foundation of "there's no evidence of any of this happening" and simply shrug off the "Jesus freaks" who won't quit pestering them.
I hate a lot of things about my own religion to be honest. I hate that they can't accept gay people. I hate that they feel it's okay to judge others for their own sin, when they are sinners themselves. I hate that a lot of them rely on their own interpretation of the Bible, believing some things and discrediting others. I mean, what ludicrous method do they use to decide what still applies today and what doesn't? Shouldn't you either believe in the whole thing or none of it at all?
And I hate their notion of who is/isn't going to heaven. I don't understand how a person in a small village in Africa who dies at the age of three and has never even heard the words God, Jesus, etc. ever escape from someone's lips go to hell. If this is true, how can God place a child in a family of non-Christians who will never be spoken the word of The Lord and place another in a Christian, faith based family and expect them both to live up to the same religious expectations. If God loved us all, wouldn't he place us all in picture perfect religious households so we could all learn about Him and go to heaven?
I also don't understand how divorce and remarriage after divorce is acceptable (even though the Bible deems it as a sin unless the spouse partook in adultery) while gay marriage and the acceptance of homosexuals is constantly beaten down by Christians every where. I honestly just want one of the Duggar's kids to come out as gay. Or the Pope to be gay. Or for every over zealous conservative Christian to be given a gay child to show them that they are just like them, a sinner. If they can get into heaven, then so can their gay child. Just because they're committing a sin doesn't deny them their place in heaven just like all the sins YOU'VE committed hasn't denied your place. There's also nothing in the Bible that justifies shunning and hurting gays. Does love your neighbor as yourself mean nothing to you?
I don't really know how to end this properly. I'm full of other doubts that I want to write about, but it seems another post may need to be written. I'm having a hard time facing my religion that I've known for 16 years. Or maybe I'm having a hard time facing those who call themselves "Christians".
It's really really hard and it sucks ass, to be honest.
I feel like I just need to pray and read the Bible or something, but this post helped. It feels good to voice my struggles.
|Re-sharing this picture, because I hate posts with no pictures. And not to mention I love this picture.|
Have a fabulous day.