It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’ve had several topics run through my brain of what to write, but I haven’t had much time to sit down and get it out. Today, the topic at the top of my head is the changes in my belief system. As mentioned in previous posts, I grew up within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). This set of beliefs was taught to me from birth and I accepted them as absolute truth. In fact, when I was a child, I was told that I belonged to the only true church on Earth. My best friend, who lived just across the street, was within the boundaries of a different ward (a geographical region within the LDS faith). Due to the fact that she was in a different ward, she attended church at another building. One day, I was talking with my grandmother and I asked, “Grandma, which church is true, mine or Kimberly’s?” My grandma replied that both were true. My response was a priceless line which has been laughed at within my family for years, “but mine is truer!”
I grew up in Star Valley, Wyoming, which is a small community on the Idaho border. The predominant faith in the area is overwhelmingly LDS. As I got older, I never thought to question anything about the religion. Nearly everyone I knew was an active churchgoer. Those who didn’t attend or belonged to other religions were not necessarily treated with a cold shoulder, but it was common to feel sorrow for the sake of their eternal salvation. When I discovered I was Gay, a ‘grievous sin’ ranking up there with the murderers and rapists, I was clearly troubled. Eventually, I came to a place where I was at peace with my sexuality and when I finally stopped lying about my sexual orientation, I stopped attending church altogether.
Shortly after I stopped going, my bishop (the presiding leader of a ward) asked me to come by his office after church services one afternoon to talk. I explained that I was Gay and would not be attending church anymore. He counseled me of the dangers I faced and explained that in the next life I would be attracted to women. It was a sin for me to seek relationships with men, but I shouldn’t actively seek relationships with women at this time either because it wouldn’t be fair to either of us as neither partners’ needs would be met. At that time, he asked me if I felt I was born this way. When I responded in the affirmative, he put in plain words that some children, through no fault of their own, are born addicted to crack cocaine. Even though this does occur, it doesn’t make it appropriate to start using crack cocaine as an adult. Although I was mortified at having listened to a grown man compare the love between two adults to a crack addict, I was cordial and attested that I had made my decision, it was not something I came to overnight, but I had carefully considered all my options for years.
When I first stopped going to services, I still had a strong belief in the teaching of the LDS Church, I merely felt they were misguided in this one area. Then more time passed, and I began to question more and more of the beliefs until I renounced it completely, holding the belief that Joseph Smith was a man of God, but his church had changed over time and was no longer what it was at the onset. I still believe part of that last statement. I don’t think the LDS Church of 2010 is anything like Joseph originally had planned and I think he’d be sadly disappointed at what it has become.
My childhood faith preaches that God’s love is unending and cannot be comprehended by human beings. God loves all his children unconditionally. Then in the next breath they tell me that God will cast me out of his home because I fell in love with, and made a family with someone of the same gender. This is incredibly contradictory to me! I don’t have children of my own yet, but when I think about how much I love each and every one of my nieces and nephews, there is nothing any of them could do which would make me love them less. Furthermore, if something were to happen where they needed a place to live, nothing would stop me from opening my door to them. Not only that, but my parents have the same love for me. Just over a year ago, I moved back home to be with my family for a few months while I worked through some personal issues. Shortly after I moved home, my ex-boyfriend was kicked out of his house by his stepdad. Not only did my parents open their door to me in my time of need, they allowed him to move in with us too. If God’s love is so unconditional, how is it possible that a mortal, such as myself or my parents, is more capable of extending love to another than God is capable of.
The evolution of my beliefs continued as the wheel of time kept pressing forward. I soon began questioning all organized religion. Sure, at the core, they all want the betterment of the human race, but when you mingle them together, it results in war, hatred, animosity, mistrust, oppression, judgment, condemnation, and a slew of other awful things! Eventually, I began to question the very idea of God at all. I believe that it is possible that there is an omniscient male being in control of everything, but it’s highly unlikely. It’s also possible that there is a monster made of a spaghetti-like substance that would like nothing more than to torture all human beings. A creature who plans a specific damnation of all beings for the next life. To me, these two beliefs are just as likely. On the other hand, the idea that the universe exists due to natural laws of physics, laws which exist regardless of mass belief, is a more charming explanation. I believe in Karma. Good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds punished. I feel this is a natural law of attraction.
In closing, I wanted to share an interesting statistic: Just over 10% of people do not believe in God. Another, more startling statistic shows that in prison, less than 1% of people don’t believe, meaning that over 99% have faith in God. Furthermore, on the opposite end of the spectrum, members of the National Academy of Sciences (people with a generally higher IQ score than your average Joe), when polled, 72% have a ‘personal disbelief in God’ thereby claiming Atheism, and another 20% claim ‘doubt or agnosticism’ leaving the remaining 8% with a belief in God. I find these details completely fascinating!