Is love a discipline?

One christian tenet that is commonly touted is the whole idea of love being a discipline – something we have to work on – to actively “deny ourselves” and exercise Godly love despite our feelings.

I always battled with this. I could never figure out why love had to be so hard, even though the excuse provided by traditional doctrine is that we are born “fallen” so everything we do that has value is going to be resisted by our “fallen” nature. It just didn’t gel.

As I began my journey out of traditional christianity, I began to see people who genuinely felt “emotional” love towards everyone. It’s the kind of love that isn’t a discipline or a consciously focused exercise on applying scriptural doctrines, or trying to “channel” God in some way. For these people, they just felt simple and unconditional love for every person.

How could this be? So I read and observed, and discovered it isn’t just super spiritual gurus who have obtained “enlightenment” of some sort, but was often simple, average people.

I’ve discovered the one common factor is self love! self-love

I’m not talking about anything narcissistic in the slightest. I’m talking about a full acceptance of our own worth as neither better or less than any other human being. It’s a complete acceptance and love of self as we are at this moment, no guilt, no shame, no regrets. It’s a full embracing of our core being as an expression of love. It doesn’t matter what religion or doctrines you may believe, apart from the basic fact that we are all beautiful and created in love.

This alone creates an inner peace that is far beyond any religion or spiritual discipline. If we have to strive to be loving, then we have missed the point entirely. And I can personally attest to it! Over the last 5 years I’ve grown to love myself “warts and all” in such a way that I feel equal to everyone else. Love to others becomes an expression of my love for myself. I don’t have to “fake it till I make it”. In fact, when I don’t feel love for someone I’m getting to the point where I stop and look at what is being reflected in my own lack of self love.

Yes, it’s something we grow into as we peel away the layers of self loathing in all its blatant and subtle forms. We have to abandon any belief that says we are broken and needy and require an external “saviour” because that shifts the focus and responsibility to that “thing” rather than embracing our true value on it’s own merit.

If you don’t experience natural, emotional based love that feels like empathy and affection for others, then the solution isn’t “trying” harder, it’s loving yourself more, and that only comes by unconditional acceptance of all that we are right now, and then allowing that internal love to gently strip away anything that isn’t a product of love. No striving or effort to repent and renounce sins, no berating ourselves or struggling to be better – we are enough as we are, and all the we hate about ourselves is just a product of our “journey” so far, and we can change the direction of that journey by embracing self love.

Sounds too good to be true? Yep, we’ve been told a lot of lies for a long time. We ARE beautiful, all of us, right now. It’s how we are “created”. We truly are “one”.

Live loved!

LGBT vs The Church

I engage with Christians every day who wrestle with scripture, trying to justify being LGBT with their faith.

I’m constantly confronted by traditional and fundamentalist Christians as well as many from the “grace” movements, convinced that being gay is sin and it’s all to do with how we wrestle with and treat that sin. Many are genuine, loving and concerned people. Others are, well, not so loving.

This constant barrage of how to treat the sin fails to recognise the effect of the whole issue on LGBT people. We are the ones being discussed. We are the ones being told that we are sinful, broken people needing Jesus saving grace, just like murderers and paedophiles and addicts etc. We are the subject of judgement by those who have no idea what its actually like.Anti_gay_San_Francisco

But hardly any Christians fail to look at two key points. Firstly, it’s not just “gay or not gay”. There is an incredible lack of knowledge when it comes to understanding what sexuality and gender really is. They keep trying to force everything into a heteronormative paradigm that flies in the face of all the science and psychology, to say nothing of the personal experiences of millions of LGBT people, claiming that the bible is the foundation for their knowledge, despite the fact that the bible’s track record on scientific accuracy leaves a lot to be desired (astronomy, geography, physics, etc), as well as human rights (slavery, racism, misogyny, etc).

Here’s the truth. Sexuality and gender are psychological attributes, defined by a continuum of expression and identity. Even our physical bodies can be ambiguous with varying amounts of hormones determining a huge range of gender identification.

Secondly, the bible was never meant to be factual about anything. It’s a book of allegory and metaphor based on mythology and folk lore. It’s full of deep truths that have to be gleaned from the cultural morass of the societies that wrote it.

Christians can argue how to deal with the “sin” till the cows come home, but until we realise that our sexuality or gender has nothing to do with sin in any way, we are fighting a losing battle. Our belief in the personification of God through Jesus, and all that entails, has zero to do with who we love and how we feel about our gender!

Being outside the heterosexual norm IS NOT A SIN. It’s that simple. Our morality is a whole different issue and if we chose to live a lifestyle that is unloving and damaging to others then sure, address that as you would with anyone.

Religion is our worst enemy. It stereotypes, shames, demonises, patronises and calls good bad and evil good. If by some miracle you can hold to your belief system through the abuse, all well and good. But most LGBT people in the church are like abused wives who keep going back to their abuser who promises so much but never delivers, only to deal out more abuse.

You are not sinful.

You are not broken.

You are loved – live loved!

 

The Sissy-boy Experiment

In 1970, a five-year-old boy named Kirk Murphy was subjected to an ex-gay experiment…

This is a four part documentary (about 30 min total). We still face the same toxic mentality today. All ex-gay therapy is extremely damaging, to the point of inducing mental illness and all too often, suicide.

 

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What Happens When Gay People Are Told That Homosexuality Is A Sin?

“Conservative Christians have long argued that their condemnations of homosexuality are couched in love, complete with the catchy slogan, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” But that message — that homosexuality is a sin — is harmful in and of itself.”

Full article here

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Masculine vs feminine

One of the most confusing and misunderstood areas about sexuality and gender are the core concepts of masculinity and femininity. Even amongst LGBT people there is often confusion!

The general stereotype says you are either an effeminate gay or butch lesbian, and the other stuff is just too hard to understand.

One of the confusing issues is how we relate the body (physical gender) with the psyche (the mental aspects). Masculinity and femininity are fluid concepts that are not confined to one  particular body. We all know guys who exhibit feminine qualities to some degree and women who show some masculinity. man with makeup

We could define the typical masculine psyche as tough, decisive, pursuing achievement and status, self reliant, aggressive etc. The feminine could be defined as gentle, thoughtful, caring, nurturing, sensitive etc (Wikipedia gives a very thorough breakdown of masculinity and femininity).

So for LGBT people there is a heck of a lot of stereotyping in all this, especially as far as the heteronormative understanding is involved. Traditionally gay guys are supposed to be very effeminate and lesbians are supposed to be butch. Of course the reality is nothing of the sort, but obviously it’s easier to differentiate an effeminate guy from the crowd and assume he’s gay, and the same with macho women- they stand out.

The problem is that its a continuum (sliding scale) – everyone on this planet has a mix of the masculinMasculine-Feminine-Energye/feminine psyche, irrespective of their sexual attraction or gender identity!

So just because you may be attracted to the same sex doesn’t mean you are obliged to behave a certain way. There are gay guys who are really macho – fitting the classic masculine psyche, and there are lesbian women who are 100% feminine. You would never know they are “same sex attracted” from how they appear or act.

Even transgender people can be somewhere on the masculine/feminine continuum. For example, a guy could identify as a female in terms of gender, but still have a high degree of masculinity, and the inverse with a woman. Basically I’m saying everyone is different.

This can become a problem when, for example, a young guy “comes out’, but due to his exposure to the stereotypes he assumes that being gay means going to gay bars, watching drag shows and acting feminine. This can be hugely damaging and cause a lot of deep conflict for a guy, who may simply want to live an average male life with an average male partner. Sadly, even the pressure from within the LGBT community itself can be a problem.

We need to let go of every stereotype! We are ALL somewhere on the continuum of sexual attraction, gender identity, gender expression, and even physical gender attributes (Intersex)! There simply isn’t the “gay or straight” box that people get locked into.

We still have a lot to learn, and we need the freedom to find where we fit in. That freedom needs to be from society as a whole and just as importantly, from within the LGBT community itself. Fortunately times are changing, and fast! Let’s give each other the freedom to be our true selves.

 

Orlando

I’ve waited a couple of days to ponder over the Orlando shooting and all the implications.

There has been an incredible outpouring of love and strength from the LGBT community and the world at large. Probably not much more I could add to all that.

There has been a lot of blame juggling – from gun laws, to Islam, to homophobia, to politics – you name it, someone or something is getting blamed and scapegoated.

The depth of the emotions we experience at something like this are always going to govern our opinions. The thing that we are most passionately “anti” will take the full brunt of our blame. That’s just human nature. We all do it. And that’s why I waited, to give myself time to sift through my natural responses and biases as well as all the rhetoric going around. And I certainly don’t want to diminish the impact of the event or the trauma and grief millions are feeling.

I think when we get to the bottom of it all, the problem is hate – fear based hate. It’s something we are all subject to. When we feel threatened fear sets in and fear needs an outlet. More often than not it’s directed at someone or something as hate. We fear what a political change might bring so we hate the politician. We fear someone for abusing us so we hate them. We fear so many things in different ways and turn it into hate.

It seems the shooter was himself a closeted gay. His native culture and religion made it utterly impossible to come to terms with his sexuality, and the fear of being gay and all that entailed drove him to hate who he was and anyone who reminded him of that. The cognitive dissonance in his mind – the clash of sexuality and his religious and cultural paradigms triggered an extreme hatred against himself and gay people in general.

He was also abusive to his wife, which is just another expression of that self hatred, lashing out in an attempt to be in control.

He was a victim. Yes, as much as we may despise the man (and justifiably so) he was still a victim.

Religion breeds fear, and fear breeds hate.love-over-fear

But this is just one observation of the situation. It’s incredibly complex and we must stop to consider as many aspects as we can before blaming anyone or anything. In the end, we can all be victims of fear and hate, no matter what form it takes.

He wasn’t evil. He wasn’t a terrorist. He was a scared, frightened man who felt he had no other alternative. The consequences of that however are horrific, his actions bringing untold devastation to countless people.

We have much to learn if we are to bring change to this world, and perpetuating fear and hate will not bring that change. We have many hard lessons to learn on this journey, but we can only start with ourselves, in honesty and integrity, learning to live loved.

“It’s Life Jim…” – Reduced price!!

“It’s Life Jim…” has been reduced to only $10US indefinitely!

I’m not in this for the money – I just want to get the word out – that there is hope beyond religion – that there is life and love that goes beyond anything it could ever offer.

Click on the image or use this link

A Journey to Sexual and Spiritual Reconciliation via the Road of Fundamentalist Religion.

A Journey to Sexual and Spiritual Reconciliation via the Road of Fundamentalist Religion.

Religious fundamentalism a mental illness?

I have battled with religious fundamentalism for a large portion of my life – from both sides!

I was in it up to the eyeballs, yet often questioning so much of it. I felt confused a lot of the time because part of me was convinced it was all true, but another part of me said it was ridiculous. I repressed the latter out of fear.

This article presents a perspective that I can relate to, as one who suffered deeply through it all. It left me scarred but wiser.

Please read the whole article before jumping to conclusions though!

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Click here for full article

Internalised Homophobia

Internalised Homophobia is a real thing, and it’s one of the most destructive things LGBT people can suffer from.

Basically, you’ve been conditioned by cultural and religious input for so long that you “know” that being gay is perverted and sinful. You are convinced that anyone who is LGBT is sick and needs to repent or get professional help.

The problem is you are gay.homophobia

You repress and deny what you feel, because to admit that you are gay is in complete contradiction to your foundational beliefs. This produces cognitive dissonance (the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change) – often severe. Severe enough to produce mental health issues, often chronic depression and suicidal ideation.

The journey through this is tough, and far too many don’t make it. To make sense of this requires guts and determination, to look at the issue face on and start searching for the facts –

  • facts about what being LGBT actually means
  • facts about cultural and religious mindsets or paradigms
  • facts about religion and it’s origins
  • facts about our entire belief system

And it requires a willingness to have a “crisis of faith”, whatever that may look like.

But the good news is you are not alone! Millions of people are in the same boat. And the simple fact that you’ve made it this far proves you are far stronger than you think!

Love is the solution. And that’s not some empty platitude. Love has nothing to do with God or religion – it transcends everything. Love is the only thing that brings peace, joy and change.

Look for and embrace love – start within yourself.

There are some happy endings!

Another dose of sick religion!

Get ready to grab a tissue, because this is an incredibly beautiful and sad story of a real family coming together…

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