I believe in God. I’m almost hesitant to start with that because I know many people will write me off immediately. Here’s another article about religion; here’s another crazy fanatic raving intolerance and ignorance. Please. Just hear me out.
Last week, a preacher was protesting gays in the most hateful and aggressive way right in the center of our campus. He was wearing a sign that said, “You deserve hell,” and screaming it at the LGBT students rallying right across from him. I was horrified and ashamed. As if we Christians, we religious people in general, didn’t already have enough of a bad reputation.
The biblical rules against homosexuality have always been one of the core problems I have had with my faith. I have never been able to reconcile a God who could hate love with a God who is supposed to be the incarnation of love. The Bible says that man should not lay with man; it’s supposed to be Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. But I could never understand why. How could God call it sin for two people to love each other, who never hurt anyone, who couldn’t help it? Some Christians say it’s a choice to be gay. Maybe some people choose, but I’m heterosexual and attracted to men, and I never chose that. I don’t buy that argument.
Other Christian friends tell me that gays are sinning, but their sin is no more wrong than lying or cheating or being selfish, which we all do. My friends say we have to love them anyway, just as we love other sinners, just as we still love ourselves. I hate this position the most. It’s condescending. Why, I ask over and over. Why is it a sin to love someone? Because they weren’t the right gender to love? Then we have to excuse them, as if we are being God.
I’ll say it again: I could never believe in a God who condemns innocent people. The Bible says lots of crazy things — I’ll be the first to admit that. The Old Testament allowed slavery, the Old Testament sanctioned stoning as punishment, yet I don’t see anyone trying to hold on to these laws. “You can’t pick and choose what to believe in the Bible!” friends tell me. I partially agree, but if we ignore some laws, why is this the one people try to hold on to? If the Bible describes a God who denounces people just for being, then I can’t believe in that kind of God. I don’t want to.
There are lots of things I can never reconcile with my faith. I will never understand why good people go to hell, why God allows suffering in the world, why people who follow Him can still find acres of misery and trouble. I still believe in Him anyway. As much as intellectuals try to make religion about reason and logic, faith — at some point — boils down to emotion and intuition.
If I’m being honest, I believe in God because at the times when I struggled, when I was loneliest, when I felt weakest, when I felt as if I couldn’t stand to see the next day, a belief in some higher power was the only thing that gave me strength. I believe in God because when I see the intricacy of the world, the way fates and lives can intertwine, I believe that none of it could have happened by chance.
I won’t try to justify contradictions, like many Christians try to do, because they are inexplicable. All our religious answers are just sophistry. I won’t tie up my argument with a nice little conclusion like the Bible is all metaphoric and dependent on context, so God is actually tolerant. The ambiguity of faith is intentional and necessary, just as ambiguity is necessary in any relationship. Why do I love this person, even though sometimes they disappoint me? Because at the end of the day, we’ve built trust and a bond that forms our very foundation, even if we don’t completely agree on everything. I can’t be rid of it.
I don’t believe that God finds homosexuality to be a sin. I know many Christians will scream at me for saying that, but I don’t care. It’s what I believe, and faith is not always about strict adherence to a set of laws. We Christians aren’t all like the town crier proclaiming hellfire on everyone. Some of us struggle with your same doubts about our faith. We don’t all follow blindly.
AMY CHAN is a College junior from Augusta, Ga., studying English and classics. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. “Chances Are” usually appears every other Wednesday.
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