I’ve been feeling the need to make this post for a long time. It’s a risky one that I know will make some of, if not all of my friends, mad at me in some way, but I can’t lie to people any more. I think a lot of people kinda know already, but I haven’t talked about it with anyone but my closest friends. I’m hoping this post will inspire change in the community so that we can all live together without hatred towards one another, and it can help others to understand not only me better, but other people who may seem foreign, disgusting, despicable, or anything else. I just want who I am to mean something to others.
Before I say it though, I want to talk about my experience and why anyone should care at all what I have to say. See, I was raised in a home that kind of went to church recreationally. I was raised with, for the most part, strong moral values. I lived a sheltered life, as I’m sure many of my friends could testify for. I one time had to ask my 8th grade teacher in class what a prostitute was. I didn’t swear, I didn’t watch dirty or violent movies, I had no idea what people were talking about around me. Middle school sort of woke me up to that world, but high school blew the lid off of it. Really what I’m getting at here is that I grew up in a kinda sorta Christian home, but not totally. From a young-ish age I felt I didn’t really fit into my surroundings, or what I was told I should do and be, or at least what I thought I should do or be. I didn’t really behave like other kids. I never felt at home in church and I had a really rough time making friends and then keeping friends. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
But flash forward to high school where everything became “more real” for me. I became more aware of people and myself. I learned about the world and where I fit into it. But while all this (self) discovery was occurring, I was experiencing culture shock. I really began to notice it and care about it around the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. I’d come through depression (for the most part) and I found people who showed me and taught me to be accepting of myself and to see myself in a new light. I ate it up, and it’s definitely led me to become who I am today. But that didn’t help me much in school.
I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone around me about who I was. There was such a big part of my life I was trying to keep secret and play it off like it was there, but not really. I had clothing and/or “accessories” that might have given it away to people, but I was always trying to hide it because I felt like people would judge me for it. I tried to act like other people to fit in and have friends who might like me more. I pretended certain things didn’t bother me just to avoid causing an argument. Disrespectful words and phrases are said by everyone in high school that would cause me to cringe a little and it would ruin my mood for a while. Wherever I went, I didn’t feel represented in anything. Teachers’ lessons and my peers didn’t include this part of who I am. Apparently this kind of stuff doesn’t belong in school. Nobody should talk about it. When it was talked about, it was scoffed at and treated as something for the criminally insane and anyone who had a part in it was less than everyone else. Whenever politics, everyone I seemed to know had a different opinion than me, and I knew if I spoke up about anything or dared to swim upstream, I’d be torn apart by them. It became so much easier to just pretend to be something I’m not. I thought if I did that, the problem would go away. I thought my friends would like me more, but they didn’t. I became embarrassed to be me, and that’s something that nobody should have to go through. But I’ve had enough of it, and while the change has happened/is happening inside of me, I think it’s about time I made a formal declaration to the world about who I am. So here it goes.
Woah, what just happened there? Allow me to explain. I intentionally set this up to look like I was coming out as gay. You could say I “click baited” you. I actually kinda did, but only to make a point about something. Every word I wrote above is 100% true. I didn’t make anything up to make this point, but I did reduce my experience to its essentials. I imagine some readers are pretty mad at me at this point. Maybe you’ll think I’m mocking the coming out experience, but that isn’t what I’m doing. Rather, I’m trying to show people how similar we all are.
You see, more now than ever, Christianity and LGBTQ+ affairs are in the spotlight. It seems like every day a new argument is raised over something relating to one or both of these things. Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner and the firestorm around that. The Josh Duggar scandal and the media hype around that. Presidential elections are coming up soon and candidates are taking a stand on these issues. The Indiana law is under fire. Basically, everywhere you turn there’s a polarizing “issue” in the news condemning/praising Christianity or LGBTQ+ rights and treatment.
My goal in writing this is to unify people. I’m sick of reading articles saying how disgusting Christianity is or how awful Caitlyn Jenner is. Every time Obama is mentioned, half the comments are commenting on him being the worst president ever who hates America(ns) and has to be removed immediately. The other half call him the best/coolest president ever and everyone who disagrees is a racist, bigoted, homophobic white man who needs to check his privilege. I’m sick of it from both sides! Enough is enough! I’ve been through a similar struggle as a Christian going through the public school system as many gay people have. I’m not saying this in a “poor me” way, I’m saying it to show that we’re more similar than we think. Television is almost always white straight people. But they’re almost always non-Christian as well. Most people in my high school were straight, but most people weren’t Christian either. People through around horrible words to describe LGBTQ+ people, like “fag” or “dike” or “tranny” or any number of words I don’t know. While there aren’t many words specific to Christians, there are just as many hateful sentiments. I’m not a bigot or a racist or a homophobe, and those words are NOT synonymous with Christians. The number of times I’ve heard people use “Jesus (Christ)” as a swear word is horrifying. Or how about the phrase “Oh my God?” I could go on and on about bad sentiments towards Christians, and I could do the same for LGBTQ+ people, because we’re in the same boat. At least I think we are.
I’m so sick of hearing people refer to liberals negatively or conservatives negatively. The Bible preaches love above everything else, so why are we spreading hatred, especially unequally? Part of me thinks it’s easier to attack the “other” than to face yourself. It’s easier to hate the homosexual population because you’re not a part of it. In reality, there are a number of other things that go unaddressed like divorce or rape or fill in the blank. Usually, liberal people are preaching equality, love, and acceptance as well. But most of the people I know are hateful toward people who don’t share the same views as them, whether the other people are hateful or not. If I dared to say I disagree with gay marriage, I’d be called homophobic and bigoted which simply isn’t true. My belief as a Christian is that we’re all broken and in need of a Savior that can transcend that brokenness. I am absolutely NO better than the next guy or gal. I don’t pretend to be either. My disagreement with gay marriage doesn’t mean I think I’m better than you, or that I hate gay people in the same way that your supporting it means you hate Christians. They are not the same thing.
I don’t think homophobia or Islamophobia or any specific phobia is at the root of all this. Certainly those are problems that need addressing, but they’re small parts of a bigger picture. I think Christianophobia is a thing as well, but because Christianity is “in power” and “in control” of America, it goes unnoticed. But that’s beside the point. Who cares about what “-phobia” exists when at the root of it all is just cold blooded hatred of others? Being hated is not an excuse to hate back. This is stressed by Jesus! Jesus had every right to hate the world and he didn’t. People called him names and beat him and spit on him. He was murdered by the government for his beliefs. He was whipped by a cat of nine tails (much nastier than a standard whip by the way), he was beaten, he had stakes driven through his palms, and a crown of thorns placed upon his head. Everywhere he went, people sought to kill him, and never once did he utter a word of hate. Christian or not, Jesus is the epitome of what a human should be: loving everyone no matter how they come. I do my absolute best not to preach or spread hatred, but I’m not perfect. People seem to have this misconception that Christians are perfect or supposed to be perfect, so messing up is seen as hypocrisy. Really, we’re all hypocrites. Don’t bother denying it. I’m a hypocrite, you’re a hypocrite, we’re all hypocrites. Yay! Don’t fight hypocrites, fight hypocrisy in yourself, and then make amends for when you inevitable mess up.
I’m not excusing Josh Duggar’s actions, but he’s a perfect example right now. Everyone is crying foul (justifiably) instead of crying forgiveness. That’s what makes Christianity stand out. To everyone saying homosexuality is unnatural, go check yourself. Christianity is unnatural. It’s completely unnatural. It’s supernatural. It’s supposed to transcend this “natural” world. The natural response to hatred is to hate back. Jesus was completely unnatural, so quit saying otherwise. It’s completely logical to hate Josh Duggar and what he did. He should be held accountable (whether he has or not is open to debate). But he should also be forgiven. People have a misconception about forgiveness. It does not mean that you excuse their actions. Wikipedia defines forgiveness as this: “Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.” It has nothing to do with condoning, it has everything to do with moving forward on a personal level and not letting negative emotions control you. The 1828 edition of Websters Dictionary defines it at follows: “The act of forgiving; the pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty. The forgiveness of enemies is a christian duty.” This one is interesting because it does mention pardoning. I rarely think forgiveness is the first step for us. If it were, we wouldn’t have prison. Justice is necessary. Really what I think it comes down to is that forgiveness happens on a completely personal level. Forgiveness is not natural or easy, but I think it’s necessary in order to let go of negative emotions. It’s breaking free of that person or event’s control of you. Recent research has shown that pedophilia may be a mental disorder. If that were the case, would you view Josh Duggar’s actions differently? I don’t know, but it’s something to consider. What I’m getting at is that while Josh Duggar may deserve everything he’s getting, what he should be getting is help in addition to his rightful punishment.
This kind of deviated from the original point, but it all shares this idea of working together instead of against each other. We’re SO polarized at the moment and that’s just a bomb waiting for ignition. I hesitate to say it’s too late for the older generations, because it isn’t, but the odds of older people changing their minds is much less likely. So I’m mainly proposing this to my generation. We have the power to make real and significant change. We have the opportunity right now to choose who we’re going to be and what we’re going to stand for. I’m challenging you to, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, whether you’re Christian, Jewish, atheist, Mormon, Buddhist, a believer in the flying spaghetti monster, or anywhere in between, to stop fighting each other. Don’t make history, make a movie because everything works out right at the end of a movie. I can’t remember the movie, but there’s one I’m thinking of where in the end, everyone throws down their weapons and learns to live together despite their differences. There will always be problems in the world, but that doesn’t mean we need to add one more to the list by becoming each others problems. We’re far more alike than we make each other out to be. Stop focusing on what everyone is doing wrong and start commending people for what they’re doing right. Remind people of their wrongdoings in love, not in scrutiny. If we can all do this just a little more, I think America and the world is in for a brighter future.