I’ve taken to calling God my Gay Dad. That may sound like blasphemy. That may sound like the damning words on my one way ticket to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. I’m not too bothered by the perceptions others may have of it. As for Gay Dad, They certainly don’t take offense to it. During Pride Month, They gave me an image of Themself decked out in rainbow gear. It’s an inside joke of sorts, a term of endearment.
I grew up knowing who God was. He was my friend, my Father, my protector. I grew up being told by the Catholic church that God is very different than the God I inherently knew. I grew up thinking He was both male and female, and neither male nor female at the same time, but preferred to be called He. This was, in a word, confusing.
I grew up thinking that He had plans for me, either to get married (to a man), be a nun, or, as a last resort, remain single for life. I felt the plans He had for me were much bigger than just those options.
I was told the God in my branch of Christianity was different but the same as the God in other branches of Christianity. People tried to dance around the fact that their personal church believed that everyone except for the members of the church were heading to hell.
They knew deep down that it was unfair and judgmental to assume that the majority of humanity was heading to hell. Even so, they couldn’t look at the person in front of them and imagine that they would not see them in the after life.
It is no simple feat to reconcile how impractical it would be to expect that every person on the planet would believe the exact same thing. Nor is it easy to grapple with the idea that most people you know and love will not make it to an eternal paradise that you hope to enjoy. They ended these conversations with “well, we just don’t know.” But they knew. They chose to look to the other side.
I understood that good and evil exist. From an early age, I saw it with my own eyes and felt it in my own heart. But as for who/what was good or evil, I got mixed signals from people. It seemed people who paid more to the church or who were in positions of authority were more likely to be called good. People who took an even-handed stance on political issues, listened to people, and admitted to not knowing everything about the mysteries of the universe were often seen as bad.
I believed that I was created by a loving, benevolent, parental, creative God who could construct a purpose for my pain and a unique, exciting design for my destiny. As for all the extra stuff like policing purity, stifling my sexuality, guilt trips, doctrine, dogma, and rules for my role in society as a woman, I can’t recall a time where I ever swallowed that without a hitch.
I was brainwashed, but that is far different than adopting a belief system. I was programmed young to defend my faith by people who were also programmed young to defend their faith. The difference is that when I started asking questions, I didn’t shut up. I stopped asking the people who would tell me not to ask, and started asking people who had no ulterior motive or desire to sway my beliefs.
When I was Catholic, I couldn’t get behind the idea that Mary’s teenage motherhood was sanctified because she was not only a virgin when she conceived Jesus, but remained so for the entirety of her life. I failed to understand how gay people couldn’t get married, simply because they were…gay?
There were explanations but each seemed more murky than the last. It all boiled down to “it’s just not natural.” But, I thought, it feels natural to me. I kept that to myself for far too long. I had other little beefs with Catholicism and large ones.
I have also suffered abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy. Some people can forgive and/or forget. I can’t bring myself to support and defend a church that tells victims that they should get over their trauma and forgive their abuser; they should ignore the fact that the church doesn’t listen to victims save to know which clergy to shuffle to fresh congregations. No shade on Catholics, I just cannot personally accept that; it is not helpful for my healing.
Around age 21, I hopped into another frying pan and became evangelical after leaving Catholicism officially. Having had my whole beliefs system flipped on its head before with no life shattering effects, I was a little more comfortable with skepticism and inquisitivity than some religious folks. Eventually, I started asking questions about my new religion. It wasn’t long after that that I elected to take a break from traditional Christianity altogether.
Now I am a non-denominational, non-traditional spiritualist with roots in Christianity. I do believe in God, who is my Parent, Protector, and Creator. I, like most traditional Christians, believe that this deity has no gender. Unlike the traditional Christians, however, I don’t call Them “He” just because “He prefers it.”
I believe in Jesus because I have seen Jesus with my eyes and felt Him in my heart. I believe in a radical Jesus, a Jesus with a heart for justice, for healing, for redemption, for equality, for paying the debt that someone attached to me when I was sold through human trafficking.
I believe in a Jesus who literally sat beside sex workers, lepers, tax collectors, and social outcasts, flipped tables when nothing else would make His point, and hung on a cross beside a criminal, offering him peace and pardon in His last moments. I believe in a Jesus who stayed silent on the matter of homosexuality because He loves all people for their humanity, not how well they follow rules. I don’t believe in a Jesus who hates fags — figs, maybe, though.
This post may be controversial. It does cover one of those topics we’re not supposed to bring up at dinner tables (even though we always do): religion. I am happy to discuss spirituality and religion; as for debating it, hard pass. I don’t seek to be converted. I simply seek the truth in life as it reveals itself to me.
My kind of Christianity tends to make waves when I meet other Christians. That’s okay. I am not here to please anyone except my loving Gay Dad, God. Even if I’m not right all the time, at least I’m growing. That, above all, is what my Creator created me to do. Spiritually speaking, I’m branching up and out. If I start growing wonky, I have faith that They will direct my branches back towards the light.