Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Losing My Religion Over... My Religion" by Jarrett Hill


1/8/13 Huffington Post- I just read an article here on The Huffington Post that simultaneously brought a smile to my face and a conflict in my heart. The article talked about a new chapter in the history of the Mormon church, which has stated a new view that homosexuality is neither a choice nor a sin (while acting on said affliction still is). On one hand, the smile was to say, "One more wall that stands before equality has been breached"; the conflict was the feeling of "wait, what changed?"

Jarrett Hill: Writer
My consternation was not wrapped in the idea that someone else was accepting me, it was more about the idea that God seemingly had a change of heart. Was that really the case!? No. Couldn't be.
Well, to be fair, as we learn listening to the soundtrack to The Book of Mormon's hit song "I Believe," back in 1978 God had a change of heart about black people -- BLACK PEOPLE! -- so, sure, why not the gays that were once going straight to Hell?
Herein lies the problem that I face with church and religion. 
The article goes on to chronicle the work of some courageous members of the faith that had some issues with the ways that gays & lesbians within the faith were being treated. Somehow between the promulgation of California's Proposition 8, the assembly of this group of LDS LGBT allies, and me choosing Chick-Fil-A as Hate Food of the Year three years running -- the church decided that they needed to address a growing population of the world and its members with some new theology.
The problem? Well, were I a person of the Mormon faith (which I am not), I'd currently have to stomach one of following two things: Either a) God has changed God's mind on how God feels about homosexuality after hearing the hearts of the LGBT community, the straight people who support them, and watching Lifetime's reruns of Will & Grace; or b) we've all along had a grossly misunderstood interpretation of God's heart and feelings about the people that boast same-sex attraction in their big Homo Day Parade's across the country every year.
As a person of faith, which I am, neither one of those really sits well with me. Church and the Bible have taught me that "God doesn't change [God's] mind." What God says/said was true when God said it; it is today, and will be for every tomorrow. So, it couldn't be that. Church has also taught me that there are all kinds of interpretations of what God meant when God wrote the Bible through divinely inspired people, but the only true and right one (that will subsequently get you thru the gates of pearl) is -- whichever one you believe in. The rest are somewhere between slightly flawed, while nonetheless Hell-bound, or complete malarkey and not to be heard, let alone trusted, unless you want to go to, ya know, the great in-ground furnace. ::cue fire::
I remember one of the defining moments in my religious life. I came home from college and was visiting the church I had spent years and years in with my family. The service was going as it always did; I went upstairs to visit with the technicians in the production booth that I used to volunteer in before leaving for university. While I was up there the sermon had begun and I stayed there to hear it, rather than re-enter the sanctuary and risk being a distraction. When the sermon was reaching its height, the pastor, speaking of how parents should be raising their children, said to the congregation: "...and single mothers, don't let your little boys grow up to be sissies and punks!"
For me, the world stopped.
As my memory recalls it now, all sound faded out to the cheers of the congregation, affirming the pastor's rant. Meanwhile, I shut down.
Sissies. Punks.
For me, those words are hate speech. Those are words used by bullies on the playground -- in a Bay Area elementary school, during recess, shouted to a little boy that chose hanging out and talking with girls over playing sports with boys. Not to make this too personal.
You mean to tell me that's the way that God thinks? Those are words that God would have a messenger, speaking on behalf of the Almighty, shout to the church full of cheering believers? If that's the case, I can't say I'm into that God.
Maybe it's more that the messenger has added one part message, to one part of his own ideas, and serving us a makeshift recipe of what was more desirable for him to serve his congregation for this week's Sunday morning feast. Somehow, I'd lost my appetite.
For me, the problem isn't God. The problem isn't even religion. The problem is the way religion gets used to make some better than others, to put down people who are different, and to ostracize those whom we don't understand. So often, in my church life, I've heard language that suggests God does these things, when in reality it's all us and no God.
To me, God is an all-caring, ever-present, omniscient, wealth of love and joy. "It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o'clock on Sunday morning," is one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s most noted and true quotes. For those of us that believe, we all view God through the lens of our informed truth's perspective. I remember hearing spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant say that God speaks to each of us differently, but always in a voice that we would recognize. I have to believe that a god that is sensitive to my ear is sensitive to my heart.
I appreciate the Church of Latter-day Saints' acknowledging that I'm not a sinner because of my same-sex attraction. I'm troubled by the idea that my living out my life as a same-sex attracted person is the real sin before God. The idea that God created me and my life perfectly but would ask me not to live it according to its reality isn't something that makes much sense to me, especially when I think in another 50 or 100 years they may decide they were wrong (again) and I had wasted my whole life with my head hanging down, "struggling," frivolously begging God to love and forgive me for who and how I was created.
For more information on the new views help by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, visit their cause website at www.MormonsAndGays.com, it's quite a read.
Also we did a fantastic show at 'The New Ricki Lake Show' with an openly gay man, who is married to a woman, living life in a straight marriage. It was a captivating discussion that you can see in an episode title 'When Gay People Live Straight Lives.'
Follow Jarrett Hill on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JarrettHill

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