Today might be a touchy subject, but it’s an important one that I didn’t really realize was effecting my life so deeply until recently. If you choose to be offended by this, I’m sorry, but this has been my experience and I want to talk about it.
Today I want to talk about love.
It occurred to me recently that I am a very different person than I was a few years ago. I have more confidence in myself, I am able to say and do many things that I never would have dreamed before. If I want to do something, I will go for it, rather than lingering in indecision and doubt. I don’t waste my time and energy worrying about what people will think of me.
My partner and I were having a discussion about virginity (and celibacy), those people who choose to wait until marriage. “It’s most important,” I was telling him, “what others think.” He asked me, what about those who make the choice for themselves, who aren’t pressured into it. Even though that was the situation I was in, now that I am able to look back on that decision, I can see that the most important thing in that decision was other people. Being different than other people, being better than them. That meant that even if I didn’t tell them my choice outright, I still had certain standards to live up to so that they knew it. I could never be in a situation where there was any doubt of my chastity. That meant no alone, private time with a male, no dates, no relationship, and absolute supervision at all times. Anything that anyone could ever joke about or hint that something off color had happened, I couldn’t be found in that situation.
I didn’t realize until recently, but the cause of those actions and that decision was obviously fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being loved.
How can one think of such a situation of fear that dictates your daily actions as something linked to love? Because I wanted my future husband to love me. Because I didn’t know if I could love him in such a situation. I heard all the tales, of course, about your soul being ripped in two when you have sex, that you were used goods, men only want a warm body, no one wants the cow when you get the milk for free. Everything that degrades a person’s humanity and frightens them into obeying. Is that an act of love?
And this is what I’m saying. I grew up in the church and have been hesitant to say anything about it. I knew people’s complaints against the church. I thought I understood them too. Usually, I would say “some Christians” hate. “Some Christians” are bullies. “Some Christians” don’t know how to handle their love, so they control and command. “Some Christians” protest funerals. We weren’t Westboro, so we believed in love and respect, right? I believed in a God of unconditional Love. Big L – Love. “Agape” to use their word.
But what does that even mean? It means that no matter what, God loves you. It’s a good idea in theory, but we tend to love the idea of an Old Testament God. A God of rules, anger, and wrath. A God who will smite thousands on a whim. That’s the idea that the churches cling to. Yes, I thought my church as different. I thought that we believed in Love. I honestly did.
Does Love constantly give you constantly give you conditions and rules and regulations to follow that, if you don’t, you will be cast aside? I’m not even talking about smothering babies in hospitals. I understand that everything has its limits. But does it? Or are we talking about an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God? I think that means no conditions. God knows all and loves you anyway, right?
So who doesn’t? People. We need laws and I understand laws. We can’t be letting people run wild and murder our neighbors because we like their car. Or simply steal their car. We have laws to keep order in society. And the OT (Old Testament) was a book of laws for a people who needed them. We have different laws, because we live in a different time and place, with different knowledge, technology, and abilities. Everything is different. I believe in Love.
What I don’t believe is that laws and Love are connected. I don’t believe that the rules that the church tries to force people to follow are love. I don’t believe that using fear and scare tactics is an act of love. The reason I “became a Christian”? I didn’t want to go to hell. I was so scared of it that I had nightmares. Anytime that I was scared, I started praying and praying. Is that a real relationship of love? Is that what unconditional love is? You do what we say or you will burn in hell?
Now, I understand the “love the sinner, hate the sin” but I have yet to see it in practice. I’ve heard so many times that it is humanity turning away from God. He wants to be with us, but we don’t want to be with Him. Have you ever loved someone? They talk and talk about God’s forgiveness, but hold firm to his absolute intolerance for certain behaviors. Have you ever loved someone? Have you ever been wronged? I have. I was deeply hurt by someone that I loved dearly. But I loved him. Unconditionally. And I knew that he felt the same way. I knew that even though he did this thing, that he loved me and wanted to be with me. I wanted to be with him. So even before he asked, I forgave him. I’m not saying it wasn’t rough. I am only human and not a god. We had some hard times. I’m just saying. It’s this love that makes me question the things that I have been told are love in the past.
Tattoos. Drugs. Alcohol. Piercings. Revealing clothing. Flashy cars. Gambling. Sex. Homosexuality. Ambition. Swearing. Wives working outside the home. There are endless “sins” that don’t hurt anyone. Endless “sins” that are perfectly harmless, except to yourself, perhaps. Even then, perhaps not.
This brings up the point of defining sin. What is sin? I can tell you what isn’t, according to my sources. Living in a box and never talking to anyone, unless you are asking them if they’d like to join your cause. Anything that anyone might find offensive is definitely a sin. But especially sexual things. And that’s my focus.
Why do Christians automatically think that everything sexual is a sin? I would like to say that anything consensual is not. Of course, I cannot speak for God, but I think it’s awfully strange that there is so much focus in the Christian’s life on sex. And what you can’t do. It’s a constant string of “you can’t” and it makes sense that so many other religions want to capitalize on this. *coughmormonizmcough* I would like to point out that currently, the world’s population is at 7 billion. I would like to take the “forbidden fruit” appeal away from sex, please. Why was 50 Shades of Gray so freaking popular? Because it was so wrong, so forbidden.
I mean, there’s no other reason that book would have gotten anywhere? It was a painful read.
Anyway, back to the idea of unconditional love. For the first time in my life, ever, I have the confidence to do and say anything that I want to, because I don’t have to live in fear that I’m going to screw it all up. I mean, I might, but I also know that if I do, he will still love me. Which is pretty freaking amazing. Not even my family can say that. If I do “such-and-such” I will gain their disapproval and never be spoken to again. My Christian family. I know that they are doing what they think is right, so I can’t throw rocks at them. But I am not on speaking terms with 2/3 of my siblings and the 3rd is kind of teetering, but I think that’s from other reasons. I was kicked out of a church because I refused to stop being friends with non-Christian people. I know a girl who was forced to dye her hair and get rid of her piercings (only in her ears) and fashionable clothes to get help at a church after her family kicked her out on the streets for being pregnant at 16. A man was told that his fiancé had to dress properly or she wasn’t welcome to return, even though she wasn’t a Christian herself. I have endless stories to tell, but they aren’t mine and I wouldn’t know how to get permission.
The church talks about love and I know people say they believe in it, but they don’t show it. Why am I almost 30 and this is the first time I’ve felt confident and secure that someone will love me and be with me no matter what?
I know it’s a religious rant and I’m sorry. But this is pathetic and sad. I have to be honest. Until I can wear my stripper boots in church without having people look down on me, I will keep my religion away from the church.