I hear the road to hell is paved with good intentions
For much of my life I bought hook, line and sinker the messages about gay sexuality I’d received from church, family, society, organized religion, evangelical institutions of higher education and other bastions of authority in my life. In my heart of hearts I believed all gay persons were aberrations, abominations, and hell-spawned, evil-dripping, fabric-of-society-ripping cesspools of immorality and degradation. On their good days.
I wasn’t one of them. I was a Christian, for pete’s sake. I didn’t have black wings, cloven feet, a forked tail. When I looked in the mirror I saw a freckled face looking back at me, a tall and gangly body that tended to the wimpy side. The fabric of society had nothing to fear from those fingers.
I regarded same-sex attraction as my cross to bear, a specific bent to sinning that God would someday remove from me. After all, God and I were aligned in this: neither one of us approved of these desires.
A part of me knew better. A part of me was convinced that could I look deep enough, I’d see at the my core of my being an ugly twisted thing, a grey-black coal of smoldering ash, a bottomless pit of irredeemable sin. So I couldn’t bring myself to identify myself as gay, well, I had nonetheless fingered the center of my soul and found it cold, hard and ringed with teeth.
This is a common story, I know. A ho-hum, heard-it-before description for those who’ve come out to themselves within the context of fundamentalist religion. A recognizable portrait of what organized religion regularly does to its lgbt daughters and sons.
This does not make for mental health. Nor spiritual health. Nor for a caring society, strong bones and healthy teeth. To train up children to believe such things about themselves.
It does not make sense, but again and again I hear otherwise well-meaning people—many of whom readily self-identify as orthodox Christians—touting messages that would perpetrate and propagate this same state of affairs. Can they not see with their own eyes what they’re doing in the name of religion, in the name of the divine, with the best of intentions and intricate theological arguments?
In a word? No.
For me, the path to health—mental, spiritual, holistic health—lies in moving toward a place that goes beyond good intentions, goes beyond getting stuck in labeling things (and people) as bad or good.
- Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems (awaypoint.wordpress.com)
- Integral Spirituality Lives Outside Religion (integral-living.com)