Thursday, February 23, 2012

Doubt and Struggle

I wrote this as a paper for one of my classes, but it felt like a good thing to restart the blog with.

    If I were to pick a theme in my faith it would be that of doubt and struggle.  In choosing to reflect on a time when I struggled with doubt I can think of no better time than now, in my current spiritual state.  But what led me here is just as important. 
   At one time my spirituality was very black and white and had a very firm foundation.  I was, in general terms, a typical evangelical Christian.  I believed in the Bible as God's Word and understood it as a moral guideline for my life.  If the Bible said something was good, I believed that to be true, and similarly if the Bible claimed something to be sinful or bad, I also believed that to be true.  But this blind faith in a limited interpretation of the Bible was not helpful to my life.  It caused me to feel immense guilt for never living up to this unrealistic expectation of perfectionism and this God full of grace that the preachers spoke of never felt truly real.  God's grace was abundant but the grace of our peers often falls short, making God's grace all the more difficult to grasp. 
    After years of trying to change my wants, desires and attractions, I began to doubt if they were the evil, sinful things so many in my faith had named them to be.  I had been caught in an endless circle of shame and guilt, feeling more and more lonely because admitting that I was attracted to the same sex was as good as calling myself a pedophile in the eyes of most people I knew.   Outing myself would not be met with love and acceptance nor grace.  It was a fearful and repulsive thing to this faith community, where calling someone a "faggot" was totally acceptable because "homosexuals" weren't in the church.
But my struggle continued and my doubt grew.  I began to wonder if my community had all the answers and if these fringe Christians who spoke about homosexuality as being part of God's creation; those that embraced the gay community as just another colour of the rainbow (pun intended) were on to something. 
    So, I studied, absorbing all kinds of writings and interpretations of what the Bible was referring to in those handful of verses dealing with homosexuality.  As I questioned and read I discovered two things; first, that not everything I read I agreed with.  Sometimes the scholars felt as though they were little more than commentators, throwing opinions around freely but never really appearing to have a solid argument.  This made me feel better about my struggle; perhaps it was somehow more legitimate if I wasn't willing to settle on something just because it said what I wanted to hear, that I didn't have to choose between my God and my sexuality.  Secondly, I was impressed (and a little shocked) to discover that there were many, many disagreements on what the Bible said about many, many things.  Everything from women's equality to whether we were still allowed to have slaves was STILL being debated among Christians; things that I thought a consensus had been reached on long ago.  It was through this time of searching that I came to realize the great diversity of belief, even within  the Christian world.  I felt more and more comfortable believing my sexuality could be accepted and even blessed by God.  But in accepting my sexuality as a healthy part of my life, I was no longer acceptable in the church, so my faith was forced to change once again. 
    Recently I met with a pastor in the community who is also gay so that I could discuss the challenges I'm faced with currently in my faith.  Our last paper for practicum asked us to describe our spiritual resources and I found myself at a loss.  I knew what my spiritual resources used to be, but I could no longer name them, and I came to realize I was unsure of a great many things in my faith.  I realized I have begun to question many more things about my faith and so my old way of connecting to God no longer felt right.  This pastor was a great help in guiding me along my spiritual path, but I am realizing more and more that doubt and struggle are simply part of process of forming my faith; a faith that may never actually be formed but constantly in the state of becoming.  And so I am sitting in that, challenging and rediscovering my spirituality, doubting and struggling with my beliefs and trying to be content within the messiness of it. 

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