Some of you know that I have been in a bit of a faith-based struggle as of late.
It’s been a hard road for me to navigate and it’s been about a two-year journey.
Back in the spring of 2020, when we were all locked down and no one really knew what was happening, I started to REALLY take notice of how far off my faith was. Like it’s not that I didn’t know before, but when you have no other aspects of your life to take up time, you start to hyper-focus on things, and for me, that was my faith.
I was raised in a Christian home and taught that I was to follow the scriptures and church leaders, almost without question. But as I said on Monday, I like to push boundaries. As a teenager, it seemed almost ridiculous that it was a church policy that I wasn’t allowed to get a nose piercing when revered women in the Bible had nose piercings. As a young adult, it seemed a bit ridiculous that getting a tattoo was seen as a sin when youth pastors from other churches had them and the scriptures just say not to tattoo images of the devil or cut yourself in memory of the dead (my remembering of the passage in Deuteronomy, I didn’t look it up to make this post). As a human being, I have always felt that the hatred towards LGBTQ communities goes against the call to love your neighbour. If you have chosen your future partner and are not married and have kids in that loving and stable relationship, I find it absolutely ridiculous that the church will judge you because you’re “not married”.
These are just some of the things that I have struggled with my entire adult life to understand. But I have also felt like I have had to follow what was “expected” of me, because it would mean damaging relationships if I didn’t. And I honestly was just tired of that struggle in myself and how I personally want to live and how that will affect others in my life, like my parents.
So in May of 2020, I took it upon myself to right my own relationship with God. I’ve heard that it takes 28 days to form a new habit so I set a goal of 100 days. I was not playing around. I took out all the things in my own life that I didn’t think lined up with the Christian I wanted to be. I also stopped dating during that time. Men have always been a major distraction in my life once I loved myself enough to see my value and to understand that someone could love me back (so like since I was 30 haha). And while my own dating life wasn’t something that I was ashamed of, it was something that I knew would distract me from actually focusing on my own relationship with God and fixing it the way that I wanted to. I also needed to figure out what I wanted in myself, which would determine the type of partner I would choose, so dating at that time didn’t make any sense.
And I’m proud to say that I have gotten to a point where I am happy with that relationship and the efforts that I am putting in to be the Christian that I want to be.
But once I got to that point, then there was that other aspect of my dating life. I was pursuing dating with the “values” that were instilled in me to be a “proper Christian woman”. Specifically only dating Christian men, and waiting for marriage for sex. And ya know what? I don’t agree with what is taught in churches around this. Or about the other things that I mentioned above.
So here is the point where I am at, and I am completely happy and comfortable with that place:
- I support the LGBTQ community and consider myself an ally. My brother was over on Thursday for our sibling dinner where we celebrated his birthday. He said something that his fiancee would say and I said “ya know I realy hate to agree with her on anything but I agree!” and it wasn’t even meant to be said in a snarky way but just like a matter of fact. He asked why I would hate to agree with her on things and I said because I don’t agree with people like her on most things. Like her homophobia. And I used that word because I feel like that’s what it is. And told him he has it too. He said there are degrees of homophobia, like purposely beating people or endangering their lives on one end and then like him where it’s not a choice he would make, it’s a sin, but whatever live your life. And that’s what I can’t agree with. For me it’s, “oh that’s not someone I would be attracted to, but you be happy” and it has nothing to do with gender. I’m not attracted to my friend’s husband either, definitely not my type, I would never in a million years go on a date with him (and trust me, his grandmother tried). I’m just not attracted to him. But she is, so I’m happy she is happy. That’s my level of it.
- I no longer have an issue with relationships moving into more intimate places before marriage. Now I’m not saying I’m going to start sleeping around, we all know I’m way too much of an emotional person for that. But I don’t think that I really need to wait. If I’m in a loving and safe monogomous relationship, I am ok crossing those boundaries. And honestly, it has taken 4 years to get to that point. I have had these boundaires in place in my mind since I was mid-20’s but never really gave myself permission to think that they were ok. Which honestly made dating more difficult than it had to be because not only was I not sure about my own boundaries, I’m sure that it made it very confsuing for the men I was dating as well. There is a lot of shame and stigma around issues of sex and sexuality in the church and it’s hard to break from all of that dogma. I think the teachings on this subject do more harm then good and I wish I had a better education on sex and sexuality growing up instead of having it from the internet.
- I have no problem dating men who aren’t Christian. I have flip flopped on this a lot since I started dating almost 5 years ago. At first I was like “there is no need”, then I was like “YES! I need a Christian man!” Where in reality, I need them to have respect for my faith and that I am Christian and would want to raise my children in a loving and tolerant Christian home, but they don’t have to be a church goer themselves. If I was someone who has the “conviction” that my brother has, then yes I would *need* to have a practicing Christian. But that’s not who I am and it’s never been me, and it’s not who I need my partner to be. And in all honesty, if I did ever date a practicing Christian, I feel like our own values and opinions would not line up on important issues such as bullet points 1 and 2.
So after basically shocking my brother with this conversation and the fact that I can’t just blindly follow rules from the Bible which make no sense, I feel better. Like I feel lighter in a way, ya know? Like even though I had made these choices for myself and had been sharing them with people who support those changes in my life, but it meant more to actually verbalize them to someone who I knew would not be accepting of them. Especially since it started from a conversation on why I would hate to agree with his fiancee on things and then I was sure to phrase some things in ways that I hoped would link directly to what she has said in conversations but I didn’t take any more attack shots at her after saying I thought she was homophobic. I reminded him of something he said about 10 years ago and it was very harsh and homophobic and he now refuses to accept he said it. I’m glad he has moved away from it but it just also hurts that he refuses to accept that I remember him saying it. Even if he didn’t truly mean it, that is what will always be in my mind and the line in which I think he follows. He says he doesn’t, so I’m glad of that fact.
Just as I was working through all this and coming to a firm belief of my own, I came across this image from Post Secret
And it’s exactly the same place where I have landed. I have lost the connection to the institutional religious aspects of my faith, but not the belief in God. That is still there and thriving. But my own conscience just won’t allow me to follow certain rules. And where before that made me feel like a horrible Christian and a bit of a hypocrite, now I’m ok with it. And I’m glad I have got there.