(After finishing the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins for the third time in the span of about a year, and having also read Hitchens’ God is Not Great a few times as well, I found that my many opinions about Christianity finally started to take some coherent form. I could write an entire book [and I hope to at some point] about my feelings on Christianity, as well as religion in general. In an effort to work toward that, I’ve started taking notes. The following is more less copied and pasted from my notepad so it isn’t entirely fleshed out or well-organized, but it is a good place to start. I wanted to point out that these are notes for myself so that it’s clear that this isn’t the final product, just the early stages of something I’m working on.)
Christianity is a system of cyclical emotional abuse that inculcates and indoctrinates new members (almost always as emotionally vulnerable and mentally impressionable children) to believe that they fundamentally disordered in such a way that they are evil and worthy of eternal torment from the moment they are born. Not only this, but they are taught to believe that they CANNOT be anything other than evil and worthy of the most horrific kind of torture and punishment, because the only way to be truly good, moral, and decent, is to allow Christ to take on your own sin (whether you’ve committed any sin or not), and Christianity takes care to institute such rigorous regulations that most normal, healthy, biologically necessary actions are considered sinful, and thought crime is preached by the central deity, so that absolutely any moment of anything other than complete lobotomized silence is viewed as sinful and in need of correction or forgiveness. To be naked is a sin, to experience physical arousal is a sin, to desire to be close and to express love is a sin, to even think about exercising a completely healthy biological function like masturbation is a sin, even unavoidable biological functions like menstruation are sinful and “unclean,” in short: everything that any normal human being might do is considered a sin, so that no matter how hard you try, you cannot escape God’s righteous indignation.
This tactic is sometimes employed by the military, during basic training, in which a drill Sargeant will emotionally abuse his pupils by setting such absurd regulations on behavior that it becomes literally impossible for the rules to be followed, and so the entire unit is punished when one pupil slips up. Drill Sargeant will also give conflicting orders and punish a cadet no matter their actions, regardless of if they obeyed or not, simply to torture them. The reason for this barbaric method of training is to purposely bring the unit together in their utter contempt of the drill Sargeant, and yet also to fear and obey him, regardless of his orders, because it is the only way to avoid punishment, even if avoiding it is futile. Soldiers are placed under such extreme mental and emotional stress in an attempt to completely break their spirit, and then rebuild their demolished psyche into that of a ruthless killing machine whose only goal and joy comes from following orders and serving the military.
This kind of barbaric treatment is contemptible, but when it’s done in the military, people recognize it for what it is. Even those who justify this cruelty say that it’s done for a purpose. No one pretends that this medieval method of training is done out of love and compassion. But when God does the same things, and worse, people will make any excuse to justify his contemptible behavior, and most sickeningly of all: that God abuses and tortures his creations because he LOVES us. God is the ultimate abusive boyfriend. Countless times throughout the Bible he presses into service those same excuses we know abusers use: “You brought this on yourself,” “Look what you made me do,” “I’m only doing this because I love you.” If any man were on trial for doing a fraction of the things god does to his children, he would most certainly be sentenced to prison or worse. Yet his actions are excused and justified by his victims, who trip over themselves to believe that 2+2=5 if God says it does.
(I want to preface this post by saying that these words were originally written as a post on Facebook, and ordinarily I don’t put my Facebook posts here on the blog, because usually Facebook posts are less thought out than my blog posts, and the quality of writing isn’t as good because it’s very off the cuff. However I got a really positive reaction to this post and a lot of people said it made them think or it affected them, so I’m going to post it here on the blog in the hopes that it might affect someone else.)
My whole life I have lived in fear because I’m gay. My boyfriends have refused to let me touch or hold their hand in public because they were genuinely afraid we would get shot. People can say what they want about change or progress, but through my eyes, the world is a place that abhors and hates gay people. It isn’t about politics or points of view. This is a world in which being gay is a crime punishable by the bloodiest death imaginable.
If you are gay, you have to get out of bed in the morning and fight the entire world. If you are gay, you have to live in fear everywhere you go. If you are gay, you have to drive past church billboards and protesters and rallies of people, all plotting ways to kill you. Every piece of homophobic rhetoric is an incitement to violence. Every person talking about “traditional marriage” is inciting violence; every time any person abhors homosexuality they are inviting the most unstable of us to kill. There is no debate. There is no middle ground. Homosexuality is real and homosexual people are worthy. If you don’t agree with that, if you fight against that, your actions are inciting death.
Am I angry at the man who killed fifty of my brothers and sisters? I don’t know. I don’t know what I feel. But right now, in THIS moment, I feel sad for him. I feel sad because he was afraid, he was afraid of what this entire homophobic world told him. I understand the desire to hurt someone. I understand what it’s like to be fucked up in the head, and to not know how to take out your anger. His anger overpowered him and he took it out on those innocent people.
It’s said that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic state. I did not grow up around Islam. But I can tell you what I do know, and that’s Christianity. I ask you to please remember that I am sharing my personal experience here. I have seen Christianity. I have seen every kind of Christian.
I have seen my grandmother, who was kind and loving, who never let me leave her house without kissing me and telling me she loved me, even when she was mad at me.
I have seen the Westboro Baptist Church, and I ask you to please, PLEASE believe me when I tell you that as a gay man from Charlotte, North Carolina, you would be very surprised to know that the sentiments written on those Westboro Baptist Church placards are shared by MANY Christians.
Now hold on. If you just rolled your eyes or thought “That’s a minority of people,” or “Yeah, but that doesn’t represent everyone or even that faith,” or anything like that, just wait a moment. Please listen. This is my experience. I’m telling you what I’ve seen.
Even the people who are kind, who take people in and help them, who feed the poor, even those people have no qualms about talking candidly about “niggers” and “fags” the moment the door is closed. As an example, there is a woman I knew from the time I was a child, who loved me and whose grandchildren were my friends, who was kind and smiled and laughed and who gave me food every time I came into her house. This was a patently good person. And when I mentioned off-handedly that I was gay she laughed and said “Now Jesse, you are too much of a nice boy to be a fag.”
I have seen the face of Christianity. It is self loathing, it is fear, it is embracing worthlessness, it is absolving yourself of personal responsibility, it is denial of pleasure and joy, it is hatred of the world around you, it is a loathing for the world and a longing for death and for a paradise beyond death, it is a fear of anger and retribution and fire, it is a longing to be unworthy, it is an obscene lust to be persecuted, it is a desire to prostrate yourself at all times before a master who condemns you, it is a sadomasochistic fascination with being unclean and hating yourself. This is the Christianity I have seen, and I am telling you the truth.
I am not surprised that the shooter claimed an allegiance to Islamic ideals. And it inst because I’m Islamophobic (at least not anymore than I’m Christophobic). It’s because I understand what Christianity can do to people. Islam is a sister religion to Christianity. Christianity and Islam share many things, and there differences are often only superficial: both religions contain the same calls to violence and the same condemnation of anyone who opposes their views. They also both contain beautiful poetry and wise people. But ultimately these religions are no different.
Let us not get sidetracked by focusing too much on the man with the gun who killed those people. Remember that he killed those people in that club BECAUSE THEY WERE GAY. If you deny this then you’re burying your head in the sand. And did he do it because of Islam? I have seen Christianity make monsters out of good people, so yes, absolutely it could have been because of Islam. It does not make me a bigot to realize this. It does not make me a bigot to stand up and shout that religion has been targeting my people and killing them for millennia. Christianity has targeted and murdered gay people specifically because they are gay for centuries upon centuries, and Islam is a stone’s throw (pardon the irony) from Christianity.
I am gay. I told everyone I was gay the moment I understood it to be the truth when I was 12 years old. Believe what I’m telling you, I have seen good and decent people become monsters because of their homophobia. I should be angry at those people, and I should be angry at the gunman.
But I’m just sad. I’m just sad, and exhausted.
little god who is afraid?
where have you hidden
millennia upon another
how many forms have you taken?
how many lives have you taken
how many nations have you taken
how many children have you taken
how many minds have you taken
bodies have you taken
smiles and hopes and loves have you taken
how much hope have you stolen
how much to feed your greedy lust for worship
where have you been when all the worlds called out your name in unison
and you responded with a stone silence louder than the cosmic explosion
when your temperament was tested and you stood still
when the children were committed into your arms
and you did not take them
when the slaves and the oppressed and the thirsty and the valiant and the pious and the sinless and the humble and the destitute and the afraid and the weak and the mourning and the lost all cried up to heaven “speak! I listen”
“call! I wait”
“sing, I will join you”
“weep and I will comfort you”
“hope that I may hope as we’ll”
where were you standing?
what went through your mind?
you are so little in a universe so vast
so small that you are one neuron firing in our brains
so lifeless that you could never respond
so small and so weak that your voice could never be heard
your voice was only ever borrowed from us
and we want it back
though we gave it away still we can claim this for ourselves
little god, sad god, weeping god, put down the torment and the pain, give it back to us
you, child, who never should have been
your suffering has been our suffering, vast and infinite in variation
but we forgive you
we let you go
we step forward
we strive and we fail and we remember you
we cry at the remembrance of our lost love
but we will survive
we will live
you never got the chance to be alive
but we have it, and for you we cannot squander it
our tiny maker, our vast and great child
we forgive you
we forgive you