Conflict with Christianity

Religion. It's a subject which only recently I have found myself becoming vocal about. Whilst there's no doubt that I was brought up in the thick of it; my father's side a strong Irish Catholic, my mother's an opposing Protestant, it never equated to me being particularly passionate about it.

I had the full hog: a Christening; Confirmation; Sunday School and expected to attend the service most Sunday's. Whether it was the words which were spoken, or the fact that it was something I was forced to attend - going to Church became associated with a chore-like task, and something that I most definitely wasn't interested in.



Don't get me wrong, there was always one aspect which I truly adored - and that was the people who attended. I longed for the service to end so that I could chat to the congregation, and answer their questions of how school was going and what I was up to - not because they were making small talk or felt obliged to do so, but because they were genuinely interested in what I had to say.

It was the community feel of the Church which I enjoyed, and still to this day nothing makes my day more than bumping into one of the familiar faces on the street, and catching up on all that has changed since I last attended the 10am service on a Sunday morning.

However, then everything changed. I'm sure most of you will be aware of what I am alluding to here, and for this reason I hope this post isn't viewed as offensive - as it is simply my opinion, and one that I truly believe I have a right to have.

When people go through hard times, some of them tend to cling to God in the hope that He will help them see the light - that he has a big plan as to why what's happened has occurred. They lean on this benevolent figure to guide them through their pain and find a meaning to their suffering.

I'm not going to pretend like I wasn't originally one of those people. When I found out the news that the life of someone who was supposed to lead a long and happy one by my side was about to be cut short, I tried everything to diminish the power of the inevitable.




I prayed for miracles: I prayed for the possibility of a wrong diagnosis; for extra time - I even prayed for time reversal which would involve me being the one who was dying, and not the person who was so utterly undeserving of it. I tried everything I could, and when nothing worked I began to become very angry and bitter at the world. The thought that there was someone controlling this, and making us suffer in this kind of severity that we were, and are, led me to overpowering resentment - one that I still feel to this day.

I have been asked whether I blame God for what has happened, and my answer is simply no. Mainly because I don't believe he exists. I think it would be much more offensive for me to push the blame onto someone, as it is to not believe in them. However, because of this, the blame is pushed onto myself. Trust me, I would completely love to push this soul - crushing guilt onto someone, or something, else in order to not have to feel it anymore - but I can't. I can't pretend to have faith in an ideology when nothing about it seems like the truth, and I don't see why I should have to apologise for, or feel bad about, that.

Yet, then comes the issue of heaven. Whilst I would love nothing more than to believe that all my loved ones are reunited up in the sky, it's something that no matter how hard I attempt to conjure it up, I truly cannot be convinced. I remember sitting in a councillor's office and being asked what I believe happens when we die. Before I even had the chance to think properly, I answered by saying that I believe we live the same life over and over again, in different Universes, and in different instances of time.



Whilst I uttered these words long before any of what was meant to be occurred, it's an ideology that still to this day I take great comfort in, and has helped me so much throughout the grieving process. The thought that somewhere, in an alternate Universe, I am still experiencing the most wonderful childhood with my beautiful brother and sister is one which keeps me going on the hardest of days, and something that I know I will forever cherish.

However, on the other hand I have to address my political conflicts with the idea of God.  In a conversation with my fantastic friend Ella Baxter, I was recommended a film called 'I am Michael' (which is on Netflix, if you are interested in watching ... I completely recommend that you do).

The film follows Michael Glatze, who was one of the most recognised gay activists in America. Upon starting his own magazine for young gay men, campaigning for gay rights and speaking in Universities about normalising gay culture, he began to start experiencing panic attacks so severe that he was convinced he was going to die. As I mentioned before, the hard times are when people seem to turn to God, and this is exactly what Glatze did. As he became more invested in the teachings of the bible, he began to question his own sexuality - concluding that he's been living a lie, proceeding to very publicly announce that he has changed, and that being gay is a sin.



One thing which struck me as particularly important in this story is that Michael couldn't simply be gay and a Christian, instead he had to choose one or the other.

Whilst this occurrence was over a decade ago, and I would love nothing more than to believe that society has significantly improved since then, I am aware that it hasn't completely. Still to this day, there is a stigma surrounding homosexual couples and religion, and the thought of that exasperates me. Churches drill into us from a young age to 'love thy neighbour as thyself', yet is this only to be evokes if 'thy neighbour[s]' are Adam and Eve-esque figures; a white, heterosexual, Christian couple?

I believe what angers, and worries, me the most is that the Bible is interpreted in a way which typically projects Western values, and if impressionable figures are led to believe from a young age that this book is 'The Word of God', then we can never truly amount to social change. How are we expected to reform society when the next generations are being held back by teachings which fail to include and celebrate the minorities?



The truth is, and to put this bluntly, I don't believe in Capitalism, I don't believe in social hierarch, and I don't believe in idolisation, so I most definitely do not believe (or want to believe) that there's a dominant force in the sky dictating and controlling human life. I think a problem with religion is that people believe it provides us with answers when, really, we're asking the wrong kinds of questions.


Thank you for reading,

Love,
Grace x

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