Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Church of Hope and Love: Integrating Conflicting Beliefs

Disclaimer: The following post discusses my personal opinions regarding sensitive issues. It is in no way meant to be inflammatory or insinuate that someone else’s opinion is invalid. I state my opinions with full respect for the opinions of others and ask that you have the same respect for me.

I’ve recently been considering some very important philosophies The Hubs and I have and contemplating how we will best translate these to our children. This is very important right now because we are working on adopting a 14-year-old, a young adult who will already hold the beginnings of her own opinions. Many of my (for simplicity, I’ll say my, mine, me and I to include both The Hubs’ and my own thoughts) beliefs may, on the surface and to some people, appear to conflict with one another. I, however, don’t feel this is necessarily the case.

I’m sure that, by now, you’re asking yourself, what is Lynn babbling on about now? What I’m really talking about is the very touchy subject of homosexuality. You see, the older I get, the more and more I find myself thinking “why does it matter who someone loves? Why does a person’s sexuality need to impact their morality in the eyes of other people?” And I find myself answering that it really shouldn’t.

The problem I come to is integrating that belief with the religious beliefs I was raised with. In some ways, I’ve put many of these ideas aside already simply by growing up and experiencing life. However, there are still some things I do believe in. I have a strong belief in Jesus. I believe in God as well (that’s sort of inherent), however it’s not just the Father, but Jesus himself that my higher-power philosophy supports. This in and of itself is not what constitutes the problem. I’m aware that having a strong belief in, love of and dependence on God the Father and God the Son does not mean I have to be a bigoted, holier-than-thou, judgmental puppet for the homophobic sector of society. However, I have a desire to raise my child(ren) with a sense of right and wrong and with a love of the Lord. This should not pose an impossibility, yet I find myself wondering how I’ll do this. Traditionally, this would mean finding a church home and attending regularly. It’s what I’ve done much of my life. In recent years, though, I’ve found myself silently fuming over many of the things that are being taught in churches. Many times before The Hubs and I left our last church, I would find myself listening to the pastor and having to force myself to sit still and maintain decorum rather than jumping up and shouting that what was being said simply did not have to be the case.

Why did I not say something, you ask? Because, the long and short of it is, I’m a coward. The area we live in is a very conservative area and very religious. While I personally count myself as a Republican, this is true more on the fiscal side of things and my disagreement with abortion (that’s a story for another day, though, and comes down more to personal beliefs for myself than trying to dictate to others). Socially, it’s probably more accurate to deem myself a Libertarian as I am much more liberal in my social beliefs.

However, there is no room for acceptance here if you are not simply a sheep who keeps her head down and follows the rules, asking no questions and simply nodding agreement in the right places. I don’t want to be that person though. I want to be brave enough to stand up for what I believe in and be a role model my child(ren) can look up to with respect and think “yes, that’s the kind of human I want to be. Someone who fights for the rights of others and isn’t frightened away from doing the right thing because others will shun her as well.” I’m working on getting there, albeit in very small steps. Many people would laugh and say what I’m doing is not enough, but it is at least a start. I’ve openly posted supportive comments about the LGBT community and those organizations who support them on Twitter. I’ve spoken to friends and family about my feelings on the matter. I’ve publicly liked GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and SBNN (Straight But Not Narrow) on Facebook (this may seem like a very small thing, indeed, but only a few months ago there was an out and out comment war on my Facebook from someone locally who knows me and took offense at my posting a video to my Facebook wall from Youtube of Pink’s hit F*cking Perfect). I hope to use the qualifications I’m receiving from my degree to be more active by either becoming the staff advisor to a local GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) if I go into teaching or a support group for the local LGBT community if I go into social work. Whether this will be something I’ll be able to accomplish or not remains to be seen, but I certainly want to work towards it.

In the meantime, the question of how I will give my child(ren) what they need to develop a moral compass remains to be answered. I honestly don’t see us becoming active in a church again in the near future, unless a very rare and unusual church (at least for this area) makes itself known. I guess The Hubs and I will simply have to be shining examples for them and put them in the company of those who feel the same dedication to a world where everyone is accepted for who they are that we do.

UPDATE: Literally minutes after completing this post, I was excited to see a Tweet from @glaad with a link to this article. Looks like I’m not the only person thinking about this issue!

3 comments:

Becky said...

Our family is Catholic. While I believe much that the church teaches, this is certainly an area that the church and I are in complete opposition.

I think it would probably be hard to find a church - any church - where one would agree completely with every belief they purport. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that we have to supplement what we get from any church with what our own personal beliefs are.

I know that my children will develop their own moral compasses. I can only hope that we will be able to help them see that love and acceptance should be at the heart of that compass.

I love that you and your hubby have already put so much thought in to this.

Donna B. McNicol said...

I heartily endorse your thinking outside the church and making up your own mind.

Kristin said...

I think you are doing a fabulous job buit, if I may be selfish, I say adopt your child and move to Cary, NC. We are a fabulously open-minded community.

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