I don't quite know how to start this, and I have to tell you that I'm not super excited to be opening myself up this much on my personal blog. My intention for this space was to try my absolute best to keep it peaceful, light and as a beautiful piece of the web to hold my memories and pictures. However, I'm afraid I have to allow my original purpose for this to subside for a moment so I can discuss something very crucial, personal and deep. I know this will surprise some people, maybe even those that I hold closest to my heart, but that's okay; it's necessary that I voice my opinions in order to be honest with everyone (myself included). Please know that I am not trying to offend anyone. I am only telling my own personal thoughts and feelings.
Beginning as far back as I can remember, I was raised to be a Christian - to believe that God created the world; that Jesus Christ, his son, died for our sins so that we could be born again and spend eternity in heaven after we die. It seems so easy...simply stated - just believe this and you will not spend forever in the fires of hell. As a child, hell definitely didn't seem like a place I'd like to live someday, and the idea of God sounded surreally wonderful. I chose to believe it; to believe something no one can prove or see with their own eyes, but it somehow made sense to me and I rarely questioned it. When I did question it from time to time I was told, well, that's what faith is...believing something you can't see. You just have to trust it and know in your heart that it's the truth. Okay. So I continued to believe.
In the later years of elementary school, I remember attending a local baptist church with my family. I've never been a fan of church, especially the services. I was always incredibly bored unless I suddenly noticed many people laughing at something the pastor had said, and that would get my attention for a little while as I listened intently waiting for the man with the strange accent to say something funny again. I attended children's choir at this church, and I was actually given rather large acting roles with singing parts and even solos in a few different plays put on by the church. At this time, I was enjoying going to church on Wednesday nights, singing with my church friends and learning about the Bible. I was even baptized when I was 9, if I recall correctly. I remember being told that I had to make the decision to have a personal relationship with God in order to be baptized and washed clean of my sins. It seemed strange to have a personal relationship with something I wasn't even 100% positive existed, but I was convinced He was real and I needed to do this to spend my afterlife in heaven with the people I love.
I've always heard people say they have conversations with God, or God has spoken to them and told them what to do in tough situations. I used to try so hard to talk to God. I would pray and pray and pray and ask God to send me a sign. I think I may have gotten a sign a time or two, but it could have just been a coincidence. Who really knows? I prayed harder than I ever had in my life when I saw my Pop having a seizure in the passenger seat of his friend's car sitting in the driveway when I was 11. I fell while running up the stairs to get away from the chaos, squeezed my eyes shut so tight as tears came streaming out and I prayed. Why is this happening? Make it stop. Make him all right. It isn't time for him to go yet. He died ten days later. I remember seeing his body - bruised, yellow in coloring laying on the hospice bed, lifeless after having fought so hard. But I continued to believe. Bad things happen sometimes, and we cannot control it. It was time for him to go. God wouldn't have taken him if it wasn't time. Although, some people in my family didn't believe he would go to heaven, so for all I know he could be burning in hell right now.
Back to the topic of church. By the time middle school rolled around, I was attending "Surge" which was a youth group that met on Wednesday nights. I really enjoyed the youth leader. He always made sure we were having a good time, one way or another, with silly songs, props and dances. The thing I didn't like about it was that my old choir friends were different. We weren't really friends anymore. The youth group became very cliquey and no matter how hard I tried to be a part of their groups, I didn't feel welcome. I felt like an outsider that didn't belong. It was almost humorous how quickly things had changed. It's not that they were rude to me and it may have solely had to do with the fact that they all went to the same school and I attended a different one. Whatever the reason, I started disliking church again. My freshman year of high school, there was a church youth group for high schoolers that was "all the rage" called M-Pact. What I found interesting about M-Pact was that the same kids I would see worshiping and praising the Lord with their hands lifted up and waving in the air, tears pouring down their faces because of the feelings they were supposedly feeling, were the same kids cursing in school, drinking, running around in the hallways grabbing each other's body parts to be funny, being disrespectful to teachers and so on. It just didn't add up to me. These kids considered themselves Christians? This made me view the idea and institution of church even more negatively, and I gradually stopped going to M-Pact.
Fast-forward to college. Everyone knows college is supposed to be where teenagers grow into adults and make decisions and choices that shape who they will become. It's true. I met a lot of different people from various backgrounds with various views and opinions. I made some wonderful friends and formed relationships that I still cherish and respect. It was an extremely happy time for me, and there are many things about that time in my life that I miss a great deal. Now, I'm an adult. I have made the afore-mentioned choices that have begun to shape me into the person I am and will continue to be. Some of these unfavorable decisions have disappointed my family. I moved in with my boyfriend right after graduation. We had been dating for about a year and four months, and I saw it as a waste to pay for my own place because I was almost always over at his apartment anyway. So for reasons of finance and love, I moved in with him. Two apartments later, we still live together in - what some would consider - a bed of sin. It's a pretty delightful bed of sin if you ask me. He's my best friend and I learn more and more from him everyday, about him and about myself. I'm content and, it's really wonderful.
The ideals of Christianity, faith and the afterlife honestly don't cross my mind too often these days. I'm not saying I believe there is no God; I would still like to believe that there is, and sometimes I do. I mean, truthfully, no one knows what happens after we die. People either choose the road of believing in heaven and hell as real places of the afterlife, or they think it's all an idea/elaborate story to make people feel better about death. At this time, I'm not really sure what I believe, and it's been this way for quite some time now. People are always pressuring me to believe something - I HAVE TO believe something. All I know is that I believe in family, love, happiness and being the best person you can be during the short time we have on Earth. No one knows what's next, and that's okay.
Now personal views aside. Let's talk about the Bible. The Bible says homosexuality is wrong, an "abomination" is the word used I believe.
"If a man has sex with another man, kill them both." Leviticus 20:13
Okay, that's pretty clear.
Others sins in addition to homosexuality, according to the Bible, include getting tattoos on your body (I have a tattoo), cutting your hair and/or beard (pretty sure most people do this on a regular basis), eating pork, eating any kind of seafood (these organisms are considered unclean) and having wounded genitals (yes, you read that right).
"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord." Deuteronomy 23:1
Another sin mentioned in the Bible is cursing at your parents.
"And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death." Exodus 21:17
Getting remarried after a divorce is also considered a sin, unless of course your husband cheated on you. Also, working on the sabbath is a sin punishable by death. That scares me a little because I don't have the ability to choose my work schedule and therefore work most every weekend.
"Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people." Exodus 31:14-15
What I find a little odd is that Christians have somehow evolved and managed to forget some or all of these sins except for homosexuality. If God views all sin the same, what sets homosexuality apart from getting remarried after divorce? This cherry-picking just doesn't make sense to me. These are the kind of inconsistencies that make me question the whole belief.
I have an endless amount of respect and love for my Nana because she has come to terms with having a gay daughter. She struggled with it for a little while and finally decided to "love the sinner, hate the sin." She doesn't nag my aunt about her choices and her lifestyle. She loves her just the same as her other daughters, and told me personally about the gratitude she has toward my aunt for taking such great care of her in this difficult last year and a half that Nana has developed health problems. Not a single day goes by that my aunt doesn't call to check on Nana, and she even had a new room built onto her house that Nana lived in during the past year. They are two of the best people in my life - pure souls in a mixed-up world.
Moving on to a somewhat current topic in politics with the presidential election upon us - women's rights. This is a subject that never ceases to infuriate me, but I'll attempt to keep it brief. It's disconcerting that this is even still a present issue in society.
Here are some verses from the Bible concerning women's rights:
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-36
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." Colossians 3:18
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Genesis 3:16
I don't even know how to react or respond to these verses. No wonder our country isn't willing to give equal rights to its women or let them make decisions regarding their own bodies. These are the philosophies and beliefs many people grow up reading and studying. What do you say to this? I'm sorry, but a husband should not "rule over" his wife. It's called a partnership for a reason. It's not a master-slave relationship.
As far as the election goes, I honestly don't love either presidential candidate. I watched parts of the debates and they both use colorful, buttered-up vocabulary and talk about percentages and numbers like they've got the bandage for our wounded country, but when it comes down to it, they're just trying to win us over with their words and their promises. Amidst the shred of honesty they may convey, most of their talk is lies. We've seen it happen over and over again. This time it's no different. Unlike many others, I'm not going to flat out announce who I'm voting for, but it's probably pretty obvious given this post.
I'm not trying to convince anyone to believe anything other than what they already do. I just had to tell this story and get some of these thoughts out of my head and into real words. It feels good to be open and honest - a breath of fresh air, a naked moment.