Gender Complementarianism is Superstition

gender complementarianism is superstition
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Growing up gay in the conservative church, I believed I was barred from ever having a gay relationship and that, unless something truly miraculous happened which allowed me to marry a woman, I would spend the rest of my life celibate. This wasn’t because my Christian community overtly hated gay people – though many did. It wasn’t even because of the “clobber passages” – the handful of passages that allegedly directly mention homosexuality.

No. I and my Christian community believed I was barred from a gay relationship, first and foremost, because of gender complementarianism: the belief that the union of male and female within the covenant of marriage creates a morally exclusive spiritual state, and that such a state is the only valid and virtuous “container” for sexual activity.

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Finding Identity Outside of God

Finding Identity Outside of God

Last week, as I was talking to another fellow deconstruction survivor, I had a realization. I suddenly understood that what made my falling apart of faith so painful, so overwhelming, was not just the trauma of an unprecedented paradigm shift, but a breaking of myself.

Too often, when our faith falls apart, we break too. Through my journey of doubt I sometimes felt, psychically, as if pressure was being put on a joint in the wrong direction: maddening, roaring pain, and the terror that something fundamental within me is about to break. It wasn’t just something theoretical, external, theological that was about to break. If my faith broke, I broke too.

Now, as I reflect on this, I realize why. Or, at least, why the stakes feel so high for me as I re-evaluate my faith. My faith, my understanding of God, doesn’t just tell me what the world is, it tells me who I am. My God doesn’t just organize the cosmos around me, he organizes the principles that guide my life. I believe in compassion, goodness, and mercy because of God. I believe in not lying and pursing justice and being a man of integrity because of God. In other words, all my principles and guiding forces are outsourced to something outside myself. When that external thing dies, it feels like I die, too. I become lost, blind, with no compass to guide my way.

I’ve come to understand that a shift of faith is inevitably difficult, sometimes even traumatic, but it is made all the more so by the fact that so much of our identity is outsourced to this external, etherial thing called God. When we lose that, or when that God comes up for serious review, the foundation for our guiding principles come up for review as well.

As I’ve mentioned on the podcast and in my articles, I no longer know if God exists, and I can no longer go beyond the magisterium of science when making external truth claims. I dearly hope for a God, and I hope for an afterlife. But regardless of whether there is or is not an afterlife, wether there is or is not a God, I have to stop outsourcing my guiding principle to some external, unstable foundation.

I can choose compassion, mercy, and justice even if there is no God. I can choose truth telling and integrity even if there is no God. I can locate these things in my own being, in my own conscious, without appealing to some higher power. Doing so provides a far more solid foundation: I don’t need to go through life in an existential moral wreck if I doubt God’s existence, and my identity need not feel threatened every time I ask crucial questions about the nature of God.

I am called to be a person of integrity regardless of whether God exists or not, and I find that epiphany deeply comforting as I continue my quest for truth.

Charlottesville and Waking Up to Racism

Racism America

In this mini episode of the Sacred Tension Podcast, I reflect on the recent display of violence and racism in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ashamed as I am to admit it, the Charlottesville protests were a wake up call for me. I realized that I have had the privilege to distance myself from the subject of race, and that I am complicit in systems of injustice. I admit to my ignorance and privilege, and I hope to learn more and become an even greater advocate of justice.

This will not be the first and last episode on racism in the United States. As I learn more, I hope to have more nuanced and helpful discussions on the podcast about race.

If you enjoy the podcast, please spread the word and write a review on iTunes.

Artwork is by Justin Caleb Bryant, music is by The Jellyrox.

As usual, thanks for listening.

Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious

In this episode I have a conversation with author David Dark about how to navigate the murky and triggering topic of religion. Many of us have religious baggage of some kind, and David Dark provides some thought provoking insights into engaging the subject of religion in a new way.

David Dark’s website

David Dark on Twitter

Music for the show is provided by The Jellyrox

Artwork by Justin Caleb Bryant

Escape From Scientology

In this episode I have a conversation with Chris Shelton, who was a member of Scientology for nearly three decades. We talk about his experience of horrific abuse in the Sea Org, how he eventually escaped, and how easy it is for human beings to fall prey to cults and crazy beliefs.

Chris’s Show: The Sensibly Speaking Podcast

My appearance on Sensibly Speaking.

Music for the podcast is provided by The Jellyrox.

Artwork by Justin Caleb Bryant.

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Sacred Tension, Episode Zero: The Spiritual Discipline of Asking Questions

Welcome to Sacred Tension: a podcast about entering the spiritual discipline of asking questions.

I was born gay and Christian, and struggling with that dichotomy my entire life has led me to understand that most of us are in similar interstitial spaces: between religion and science, faith and skepticism, conservative and liberal, gay and straight.

This podcast is an invitation to explore those uncomfortable places with me.

Thanks for joining me. I hope we learn a lot together.

Music is provided by The Jellyrox.

Artwork is by Justin Caleb Bryant.

An Esoteric Christian and a Former Scientologist Have a Conversation

An Esoteric Christian and a Former Scientologist
Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

I recently had a fun, engaging, meeting-of-the-minds conversation with former Scientologist Chris Shelton for his Sensibly Speaking show. In our conversation we discussed struggling with atheism, deconstruction of faith, inner truth vs. outer truth, speaking in tongues, yoga, and much more. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.

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