I Am Queer, and I Will Read the Bible Every Day for a Year
I am a wayward soul, to begin with. That isn’t to say that I regularly commit any horrible actions, but rather, my life steps do not follow any recognizable path. It has been a long time since I subscribed fully to any sort of religious structure for my life. I grew up attending a non-denominational Christian church, and I soaked up every opportunity to participate in their programming. Huddle groups, missions trips, leadership teams – I did it all and with a full heart. My secular peers viewed me as a top-notch Christian, while my fellow believers just saw me as one of their own. I preferred the latter, to belong to a group, and this duty towards my peers even trumped my desire to follow God. For every meaningful spiritual experience I can recall, none came from thoughtful solitude. They all involved the community, a group – two to two hundred – raucously singing, praying around poles, weeping into the night, philosophically stargazing. I don’t know whether my personality demanded this communal acceptance or if this experience of fellowship shaped my personality, but I was hooked. I wanted nothing more than to swim in the same direction as my Christian friends. No tide could deter us if we stayed together.
But then I grew up. I bloomed late. 16 and 17 and I learned of sex. 17 and 18 and I understood its implications. The winter before college brought change. A nor’easter hit, stranding my parents in Boston. I attracted a Jewish boy my age. He donned snow boots and walked over. We drank – we needed the excuse. The space between us vanished. We tried sex, but it didn’t work. We fell asleep in separate beds. And then for months thereafter, we buried the experience. His sister died suddenly. That overtook him. I went to college. The space helped. We checked in on occasion, but there was no trust. We desired one another, but we did not want what that meant, because oh God, it meant so many things.
Earlier this year and eight since that experience, I came out to my parents as queer. I did so with such confidence that it knocked them completely off balance. Not only was I queer, but I also would no longer tolerate any sort of discourse over the sinful nature of homosexuality. My faith had all but shuttered, I explained to them, and the hateful attitude of the church and the inconsistencies in how they interpreted the Bible were to blame. Sure, I still believed in God, but my faith no longer had any discipline to it. I had fallen into the middle ground of “spiritual” but not “religious,” a place without form and where any deity conforms to the follower, rather than the other way around. After the emotions wore off, the shock, the recitations, the “but you like football” arguments, we were left with a simple disagreement. I knew my sexual orientation to be natural, even a part of God’s plan. They knew it to be completely incompatible with a relationship with God. The Bible is very clear on the matter, they said. But the Bible is clear on many things we disregard – slavery, divorce, to name two. My mother paused and said simply, No. God doesn’t change.
I had heard that refrain before: God doesn’t change. Honestly, I would not want to believe in an ever-changing God. But this strikes to the core of the problem of homosexuality and Christianity. If God doesn’t change and the Bible is meant to be His roadmap, then a suspension of some logic is absolutely necessary to a belief in the Christian God. 80% of straight people consider themselves religious, while only half of the LGBT population says the same. On the factor of sexual orientation alone, millions of people lose faith. My anecdotal explanation for this is that religions historically don’t take kindly to otherness, and that most normative people find their core identity unchallenged by religious strictures. I have attempted to map my own trajectory away from Christianity, and it comes from a feeling. I know myself to be wholly queer, a status endowed, not chosen. How am I to refuse the only feelings of attraction that I contain for the entirety of my life? I should also mention: When I say that I am a wayward soul, I do not mean to acknowledge fault in my queerness. I simply mean that I act in a way without regard to faith. I have no set of bestowed ideals to hold for the first time in my life, and my sense of morality comes from what I feel to be true.
With the exception of reviewing so-called “clobber passages,” I have not cracked the spine of a Bible in nearly three years. How does one person travel from complete faith to complete sacrilege in such a short amount of time? How can one book inspire half the world while enraging others and continue to spawn countless interpretations, translations, and allusions? So call it an experiment or a means to understand, but I will read through the entire Bible in a year. I have done this before, in my early more venerable years, but it is time to make some more sense of it. I have many logical reasons to ditch my faith, but still the fact remains that I found legitimate value in the Christian lifestyle for decades of my life. I want to reexamine the Bible. I want to see what it actually says, in context, away from the half quotations and shouted rhetoric. I want to view it from the most basic perspective, without the ringing of denominations and pundits in my ears. I want to know if it is possible to be both fully logical and also fully faithful, or if a certain amount of disbelief must be suspended in order to adhere to something higher than oneself. If God doesn’t change, then why has His culture?
I will post daily my readings and thoughts and relate it to my experience growing up with and away from faith. My agenda is non-existent, and my goal is understanding. Let’s see how it goes.