Not to be confused with an Atheist. They are definitely two different things. I’m very irritable when it comes to labels, but in order to define the way in which my mind thinks, this is the only way I can really describe it.
Believe it or not, I just came to this realization not very long ago. I have been pushing the boundaries of my beliefs for a few years now, but as of just a few months ago, I have realized that I am indeed, simply agnostic.
Let’s back up a long time ago, to my childhood. I was raised in a semi-non-religious household. My parents were more interested in extra-curriculars to really have interest in God and religion and all that comes with it. As a baby, I was baptized in a Methodist church and would frequently visit the Methodist church with my maternal grandparents. Though, to this day, I still don’t really know what they believe and I don’t know what they taught me.
When my parents divorced and then re-married, I was introduced to a non-denominational church. Looking back on it, it was really more of a ‘modern Pentecostalism’ church. Live band, lots of awesome singing and music, speaking in tongues, and being filled up with the holy spirit.
I totally dug it. I also believed things about the world, that I would now find to be appalling. In fact, I am still ashamed of myself for feeling and thinking the way I did in those years. I would proclaim that sex before marriage was a sin and you would go to Hell. I had been known to make statements about how being gay was sinful and disgusting. (At the time, I knew not even one gay person)
I would stand in my pew and sing my heart out, during my early and late teens, and I would praise God for the graces he gave me. Which really, looking back wasn’t much. For the anonymity of my family and those that I was shaped by, I will not go into details, but I was a damaged child searching for answers. Searching for a place to belong. I was a kid searching for something or someone to accept me and take care of me for a change.
I moved out of my mother’s house when I was 17, finishing my senior year of high school away from my immediate family and still religion followed me. I found a church behind our house and I thought, “This is what God wanted. He placed me in this house and I found my way here, for a reason.” I attended the youth group and was part of many skits and plays that fostered the idea that if you didn’t believe in God and you didn’t believe in the Bible you were going to Hell and there was just no hope for you.
When I graduated high school, I went on to college. From there, I tried to find and seek out a religious group for which I could belong. I found none that were as inclusive and as welcoming as I did when I was growing up. I believe, now, that it was because in college, people are more open minded. People don’t feel as though you are black or white.
I met my first real gay friend and before I knew she was gay, I told her that I thought gay people would go to Hell. She came out to me shortly after and that was the moment when I changed my entire view on things. I also realized, I was gay. Though, again, I don’t really care for labels and in the grand scheme of things, who knows what I may or may not be.
I met my partner of 10 years while I was attending that same college and she is my first and only partner of the same sex gender. We have been together for 10 years, we have a beautiful baby girl who will be a year old in less than a month. So, in a sense, for label-sake, I am a lesbian. However, only because I couldn’t imagine being with anyone but my partner. Not because she is a woman, but because she is the person I was meant to be with. Should we, which is very unlikely, split, I am not sure which gender I may or may not find company with.
Anyway, once I found my partner, who is an atheist, I started to question what I really believed. My entire religious upbringing was very cut and dry. If you were gay, you went to Hell and God didn’t love you. Well, that’s a bummer. I had been loyal to Him. I had gathered Him followers. My father got out of jail and turned ‘jailhouse Christian’, so when I came out, he shunned me for 6 years. Why? The deacons of the church told him that if he allowed me into his house, I would corrupt his children, my younger siblings, and his entire family would go to Hell for ‘condoning my sins.’
This was another breaking point in religion for me. So, now, not only does the religious community tell me that if I’m gay (because I love a woman) I am going to Hell, but my dad (my only male figure and hero) agrees and has shut me out of his life (though has since come around and we have a great relationship, the damage to religious ideals is done.)
So, where does that leave me?
Well, today, I start this blog to discover what that means. I am not really sure myself. I have scoured the internet and communities to find like minded individuals like me. People who want to parent their child without religion, without forcing their ideals on their children.
How do you do that? I am not sure.
I want to arm my daughter with all the knowledge she would need to have an intellectual religious conversation. I want her to have answers when she is asked questions about her beliefs. I want her to be able to make her own decisions about what she believes.
I know, I know, she’s not even one yet and already this idea of religion plagues me. Religion has come to my life in times when I needed it most and made me feel amazing, but it taught me some very ugly things. I feel as though I was indoctrinated as a child and I don’t fully know what I believe anymore.
There are days when I feel like my questions about my beliefs will just send me straight to Hell. My thoughts on not raising my child in the church or discussing God and religion with my child will condemn us both to Hell. Then there are days, when I just feel like that’s ridiculous. That religion is only a form of scare tactics to keep people in line and fear is a great motivator for making people do the things you want them to do, or believe the things you want them to believe.
Where do I stand on this? I’m still not sure. I know that I doubt the belief in God and the teachings of the church enough to question it. I know that means I am in a sense, Agnostic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I KNOW that God does or does not exist, but do believe, there’s a possibility that my entire childhood is a lie.
I don’t want that for my kid. I don’t want her to live in fear of her every move. I don’t want her to feel judged for every mistake. I don’t want my daughter to be told how to feel, groomed how to think.
So where does this journey lead?
Hopefully, where I want it to lead. A child who grows up knowing she can be who she wants to be, believe what she wants to believe. A child who is taught to love everyone and accept people for who they are. A child who doesn’t need God or the teachings of the church to define her or dictate her decisions in life.