I was born and raised in a Christian society in the Midwestern United States. Actually, I’m not sure there is any other type of society in the Midwest. I was taught to believe in God, Jesus, heaven and hell. Most Christian teachings were strictly against abortion, partying, drugs, pre-marital sex, infidelity, rock music, gambling, and same-sex relationships. To be a good Christian, I was taught to help neighbors in need and show up to church on Sundays in order to repent for all the sins of the week.
Questioning authority was definitely not something a good Christian did. The King James Version of the Bible was the book we lived by and no matter what it said, we believed it. What the Bible said, however, depended on which church you attended. One simply did not question the Bible or else he or she couldn’t possibly be a real Christian. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have always been the type to question everything, even if I wasn’t brave enough to vocalize those questions.
In my early twenties, I began to realize that I was quite different from what a good Christian was supposed to be. For one, I was very much attracted to the same sex. For another, despite being surrounded by Bible-thumping Republicans, I was a Democrat. There were other things I began to believe that went against old-fashioned Christianity, such as evolution. I had always loved science but it was hard to understand because the Bible never mentioned things like dinosaurs. Neither did it allude to the stars being anything more than a way to guide shepherds in the days of Christ. I just couldn’t understand how the Earth could possibly be 4.6 billion years old, because the Bible didn’t date back that far and it was never mentioned in the Bible.
In my late twenties, I moved from the Midwest to the Northeastern United States. I was shocked by all the different cultures and religions encountered there, to say the least. I had spent my entire life in an area where people were both white and Christian, or they were white and Christian. I now found myself in an area where being different was not a big deal at all.
Over the course of a decade spent in New York, I did my best to live my life the way I felt I should. Very few friends were religious and ‘God’ was just not something that came up in conversation very often. I sometimes made bad decisions and did things that probably made little sense to my family back home. I lost a few friends due to being a lesbian, but I think I lost even more by being a Democrat. I never stopped believing in God, however.
My faith in God’s existence has never wavered. I just began to realize that it isn’t an either/or situation. I began to see that there is such a huge gray area in Christianity, or any other religion, that is left up to the interpreter. King James translated the Bible to fit his times. That doesn’t mean that he did a very good job of it. Needless to say, my views on this do not make me popular among friends and family.
Today, I consider myself to be a new kind of Christian. I’m a Christian who believes that women do not need to stand behind their men; they can stand beside them. I’m a Christian who believes that God loves us all regardless of who we love, where we come from, or the color of our skin. The God I worship is one who wants us all to help each other without being judgmental, and to feed the poor in every country, not just the U.S. He wants us to be tolerant of each other and learn to accept the many differences between us so we don’t end up with the ‘God Hates Fags’ mentality of the Westboro Baptist Church. My God does not want us to hate anyone. Period.
Though many cannot seem to understand how I can be a liberal-minded democrat and still be a pro-life Christian, I am all those things. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of Christian, in my opinion. I believe that it is wrong to be a hypocrite, which means it’s wrong to be pro-life for a fetus then be pro-death penalty when that fetus becomes an adult.
I believe that God created the universe but I believe he did so by way of the ‘Big Bang’ theory, which Science supports. I do not believe humans evolved from primates; however I do believe that all creatures evolve over time and it’s ridiculous to think that mankind is the exception.
Christianity is only one of many religions and it’s a bit naïve to think that it’s the only relevant religion. I think many believe in a higher power, regardless of what they call him/her/it. The important thing is that we learn to be accepting of those who are different. Certain family members will likely never accept me for who I truly am, but I will love them anyway. That’s what my God would want and that’s the kind of Christian I want to be.