What Marriage Equality Means to Me

Hello Everyone!

I am sure most of us that care to, know by now that the Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality was announced Friday granting marriage equality rights to countless gay and lesbian couples across the United States. Anyone that reads the things I write and post knows my opinion on that.  Having said that, I am sure there are many that wonder why I argue so strongly in favor of marriage equality and to explain that there are two big things I want to talk about which I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for a while now.  One thing I’ve been holding on to for a long time and one is a relatively new change.  But they are connected, so I have to discuss them together.

1) The first thing is something that has been hard for me to talk about with anyone for quite awhile, much less anyone who will read this, but with each person I talk to it gets monumentally easier. So, having said that I’ll just come right out and say it.  The reason I am so strongly vocal about marriage equality is because it affects me personally.  I’m gay, and I want to one day be able to marry the love of my life when I find him.  If you could see into my heart you’d see how afraid I’d been for so long to say those words.  The thought of telling anyone was absolutely terrifying, much less my family, who I only recently told.  This isn’t a new revelation for me, or something that I just realized an hour ago.  This has been something I struggled with for as long as I can remember, and it has truly been a struggle in the strictest sense of the word.  For a majority of my life I hated myself because of this.  It didn’t sync with my religious beliefs and I knew I was going to be thrown into Hell if I didn’t manage to change it somehow.  I knew that… I also believed I’d lose all of my family and friends.  I suffered some pretty severe depression, nearly constant anxiety, and constant loneliness.  “Depressed and lonely” was my normal state of existence.  One of my most constant prayers was for god to “fix” me.  I felt like I was literally cursed most of the time, and I couldn’t understand what I’d done to deserve it.  I convinced myself that if I could resist these “sinful” thoughts for a month, or a week, or some other arbitrary number, then I would be fixed, and that it was all just a test to see if I really trusted god enough.  When I inevitably failed, it wasn’t god’s fault, it was mine;  I convinced myself that my faith just wasn’t strong enough, and then I would fall into a pit of despair.

It never crossed my mind until my late 20’s that maybe I wasn’t being “fixed” because there was nothing to “fix”! I finally came to the realization that it wasn’t me that was broken… I didn’t choose to be the way that I was…  No… It was my religious beliefs that were broken. Which leads me to the second thing I want to talk about.

2)  I’ve given up religion. Not just Christianity, but religion. Period.  I don’t have one, and I don’t want one. As of now, I don’t know how I want to label myself when it comes to spirituality.  I don’t know whether to consider myself “agnostic” or “atheist.” Where I am when it comes to all things spiritual is “I don’t know.”  I like to believe our souls go on somehow, but I honestly don’t know what’s after death, I don’t even know if we have a soul, and I don’t know if there is a god. The idea of heaven and existing eternally sounds great, but in spite of the assertions, there is no evidence to prove that any of those things exist.  If there is a god, I don’t believe for a second that any of the man-made religions have it right.  I can’t believe in a god that would demand a man kill his son, then tell him not to in some weird cosmic joke (as in the case of Abraham and Isaac).  I can’t believe in a god who, because of a bet with his enemy, would destroy a man’s life including allowing his entire family to be killed in horrible ways (Job). I can’t believe in a god that would throw someone into a pit of fire for an eternity of torture for nothing more than telling a white lie, saying a curse word when you stub your toe, or just being one of the unlucky ones who happened to be born in a place where they didn’t have access to a Bible.  I can’t even believe in a god who would torture even a murderer for ALL ETERNITY.  Try and wrap your head around that… All EternityNever ending… That is what Hell is supposed to be.  Someone being tortured FOREVER. Put your emotions aside for a second and ask yourself if you think that even the worst criminal will have learned their lesson after say… A thousand years of the worst torture imaginable? How about ten thousand years? Lastly, I can’t believe in a god who would make me gay,  label me an “abomination”, and then permit, if not flat out command, his followers to humiliate, abuse, oppress, and kill those like me in his name.  If there is a god, and he does the things I’ve mentioned, then he doesn’t deserve to be worshiped.

If there truly is a god, then he would be none of those things I mentioned.  If he’s there then he gave us our reasoning ability and our capacity for intelligence to use.  Any person, book, or document that would try and tell you it’s wrong to question everything and reject illogical ideas does not have your best interest at heart. If god exists, then he wouldn’t want us to take things blindly by faith, and he certainly wouldn’t punish us for doubting his existence when we can’t find any logical reason to do so.  If there is a god and he is so powerful and so infinite that he was able to create the entire universe right down to the smallest atom, then why on earth would he care if we believed in him or not? Up to this point, the existence of humanity is less than a nanosecond in the scope of all that is, ever was, or will be. To a god that created all of that, we’d be less than a passing thought.  To me it’s only human arrogance that demands that we have some ultimate purpose when it comes to the entire universe.  Does an ant care if it has a destiny? Does a dog?  Who cares if we matter or not in the grand scheme of things?  Make your life matter for you and those around you.  Make your own purpose. Do your best to be kind, to be happy, to find fulfillment in the things you choose, and try to make the world around you a better place to the best of your ability.

I guess that is my point in the end.  Writing this is about finding fulfillment in my own life, and I can’t do that while hiding who I am from the world, and much more, the people I love. My honest hope, is that it won’t matter to anyone… Having said that I am still pretty positive that the things I’ve said will shock some, will anger others, and I know I will most likely lose friends and maybe even family members over this.  But I know that I will also see who truly cares about me and values me no matter who I’m attracted to or what I believe when it comes to religion.  The truth is, even after I’ve said all of this, I will still be me.  I will be the same person I’ve always been; the same person you’ve chatted or debated with on Facebook, the same person you’ve had lunch with, who you’ve borrowed a book from, who you went to school with, who you’ve laughed with; you will just know me a little better. If you are reading this, know that if I have you in my life in any capacity, whether it be just a distant Facebook acquaintance, someone I only talk to occasionally, or someone I see every day, I value you in some way.  If I lose you, it will hurt… But don’t be surprised when I continue to live a happy life without you.

What it comes down to, is that I am done hiding.

I have a lot of Christian friends who I love dearly, and I know there are some who would attempt to sway my views.  So I am going to ask now that you ignore your evangelical urges and not do that. Please don’t tell me “I’ll pray for you” (at least when it comes to these things).  While I know you mean well, what that says to me is “you’re wrong, and I want god to fix you.” I’ve asked for god to “fix” me nearly all my life, so you can trust me when I say it doesn’t work. Pray for me if you find it necessary for your own mental wellbeing, but don’t announce it to me as if it’s some sort of ammunition.  Also, please don’t tell me that I was never truly saved or that I don’t understand scripture. Rest assured, I have read the Bible back to front several times, I’ve read a variety of apologetics, I have read books that explain scripture, and I have done my own spiritual acrobatics to try and justify some of the things I find horrific in the Bible, up to and including “well that was just (insert author’s) opinion, not god’s!” I can guarantee that (with the exception of very few people on my friends list), I’ve heard and have probably said everything you can say… It just doesn’t hold up for me anymore. If you can respect me for who I am and not try and convince me that I’m wrong, then I am more than happy to keep you around. If you insist on debating, that’s fine, but do so in a respectful manner. Just be prepared for me to show you why I believe you’re wrong. Also, if I ask you to stop, then be respectful and stop.  If you find it necessary to bring up Hell or god’s judgement in some way,  it might be best if we go our separate ways, because that is one thing I will not tolerate.

I hope if you’re a friend or family member who is reading this, that I can keep you in that capacity, because as I’ve said, I value you.  If that’s not possible, I’ll be sorry to see you go.  Anyway, that’s it for now…

Regards,

James

2 thoughts on “What Marriage Equality Means to Me

  1. mattjstead

    I want to applaud you for sharing your story and also your struggle with sexuality. That takes a VERY strong man, and there are a lot that would never do what you did.
    I am probably just as strong (and have been) for marriage equality because my son (2 years old) God-Mother came out to us a little over a year ago (this was well after we had said she was his God-Mother). We both knew each others stance on it (God, we would go to Lady GaGa concerts and be unable to talk the next 3 days), but none the less that fear that seems to be instilled from society had taken over her and she broke down crying that we would “take him away” from her. Needless to say, we met her girl-friend and have rightly dubbed her his God-Mother as well. I’ve never seen such a pure love between two people. This is also very sticky for me because I come from a Pentecostal back ground (Homeschooled until age 18, Father AND Grandfather Pastors, Lived on 3 Acres and rarely left, cult like? Yeah..Pretty much). And you can imagine the “families” response to such a thing. But, I learned I had to be ME, and hold what I believe to be MORAL and EHTICAL as true.

    Okay, I’ve talked your ear off enough.

    I will suggest one thing… I live in Dallas and am apart of the Dallas Meditation Centers (yeah I know, a Meditation center in Texas! Thank God Dallas is more liberal haha), the Young Adult Meditation Group and the center is based off the teachings of Thich Naht Hanh. I’ve gone for 2 years and found so much peace and acceptance both with the people and the teachings. And oddly enough, the “brother” that was the head guy was diagnosed with Cancer a year ago and came out to everyone and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. But you know what there was? LOVE. Boundless, Endless, LOVE.
    Anyways, If you ever want some books to start with (Thich Naht Hanh has like 30) I can recommend some for you.
    It’s not a “Religion”, its a “way to live peacefully.” Zero Doctrine. Zero Judging. Zero Intolerance. All Love and Helping One Another as fellow human beings.
    You can add me on Twitter and DM me if you’d like. @MattJStead

    Peace,
    Matty Jay.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this and for your kind words! I also grew up Pentecostal (Assemblies of God) and I can totally relate to how your child’s god-mother felt. I also feared that my sister and my brother-in-law would not let me see my niece and nephew and that my best friends wouldn’t let me see their kids (who also call me uncle.) It was completely unfounded, unjustified fear, but it was there never-the-less. I am so glad that you chose to love and accept rather than judge and reject. The world definitely needs more people like you. As for the meditation group, I was deeply involved with religion for so much of my life that currently I am enjoying the freedom of not having one, though I am always willing to read some books on it. Who knows? I may change my mind! Let me know a good “introductory” title and I’ll give it a read through.

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