Monday, February 13, 2012

I've Just Had an Apostrophe.

I just read this (here):
First off, I believe in God. Why? Because I choose to. I have no proof one way or the other, but I find comfort in the concept of God, and therefore choose to believe. 
 and am sad to say that it sparked something of an epiphany for me. Sad, because this was not a natural line of thinking.

I decided I don't need to worry about the nature of God, because I can believe in whatever I want to believe. I don't need to accept someone else's vision of him, not even that of the church I've spent my entire life in. If it doesn't feel right to me, then I don't need it. God is not prove-able, and I believe that I have my own authority to know her/him in my own way (yes, I wrote "him/her" first and then deliberately switched it). At the beginning I sort of knew that this was the point I needed to reach--being able to feel comfortable with my own vision of God regardless of what the church said about it--but that isn't something you can force. I had to wait for it come, and I think it finally did. Mostly.

At this moment I don't know exactly what I believe God is. I do know what God isn't, though, so I will start with that.
  • I believe that God is not a man who would hide his wife from view and prevent their children from knowing and communicating with her. 
  • I believe that God does not endorse the patriarchal order, does not want women to be "guided" or "led" by men, does not want women to do nothing in life except raise children and keep house. 
  • I believe that God is non-violent. I do not like analogies of Christianity as war, and I don't think God wants to be "crusaded" for.
  • I believe that God doesn't care what religion you are, doesn't care about missionary work, doesn't require us to parade our religious beliefs in front of everyone else. I don't think that she/he necessarily dislikes people sharing their faith, if their personality is inclined to do that (as mine is not); I just don't think it's a universal requirement. 

As far as what God looks like, for now I think I may as well continue picturing him/her as a man and a woman, as heavenly parents, though I'll confess that I no longer feel very confident about the idea of that being literal, and us being literally their children (because what does that even mean? God sex? Actual pregnancy and delivery of billions of spirits? Seems unlikely). But right now this doesn't seem very important to me. I needed to know that the God I believe in is not sexist. I needed to prune some of those unhealthy beliefs I've been carrying around since childhood. With those gone, maybe it doesn't really matter what God looks like or how we came into being. For the moment, at least, I have much more pressing questions to answer, so I'm happy leaving this where it is.


  1. I think that after I read about Fowler's stages of faith I became more ok with this aspect of my doubt. I think I saw doubt as good. That that darkness of the soul and the feeling of sorrow for my questioning were less. I think that questioning who God/s is is part of the process. That it is part of knowing what I will choose and how I will act outside of a religious context. And that I choose good because good is what I am, but for some eternal reward. I think that religion could do a much better job at helping us see that and not creating this idea that doubt is equal or worse than sin. But they don't and it is sad.

  2. So much I agree with, Jessica! Thanks for sharing. I've decided recently that I don't even believe in sin the way it's taught in Christianity, and I love what you said about choosing good because good is what you are, not because you're trying for some eternal reward (I'm assuming you meant "not" there, instead of "but" :) ). In fact I'm not even sure right now whether the benefits of organized religion are enough to outweigh all the negatives that seem to come with it--one of which is that doubt is so often seen as an indicator of unrighteousness. (What an absurdly arrogant belief, if you think about it! How can we judge people for admitting that they don't know everything??) I think there are so many things that religion should do, and the religion I grew up with doesn't seem to do a very good job of any of them.

  3. To me this reads as you finally giving yourself permission. The moment I gave myself permission to reject what did not work for me and accept what I always really knew in my heart was a point where I was able to throw away a lot of pain I was hanging on to .

    I always think of the word "leap of faith." Faith is not meant to be logical or rational and I am often bothered by the "I know" tendency in Mormon testimony because if you are sure "without a shadow of a doubt" (gag) then where is the leap? I have to leap often in my faith and I am comfortable with that.

  4. I must add to the gag category, "with every fiber of my being." I hate both of those phrases, not least because of the trite repetition, but also because of exactly that point--how is that faith?

    I think I am giving myself permission. That's a good way to look at it. Unfortunately I think I'm finding that the parts that don't work for me, the parts I'm going to reject, are pretty substantial... It's not unfortunate for me, because I'm really feeling great about being able to just say, "Nope, sorry, I don't buy that." I'm just not sure where it's going to leave me with the church. But then, that's something I haven't been sure of this whole time, so I guess that's nothing new.

  5. In my life, when I got to the place that I could say, "I don't know," and that was okay, was awesome. Very freeing. There are days I totally believe there is a God and I define God a certain way. Other days, I just don't believe because it doesn't make sense to me... And I'm pretty much okay with whatever I think... I don't need to know. God existing doesn't change the way I want to live my life, because I just don't believe God wants me to live in fear. (It would be fear that would cause me to go to church or to live my life differently than I am living it now...)

    Good luck as you continue on your journey. :)

  6. "Because I thought of myself foremost as a religious person, for the next few months I concentrated on coming to terms with heaven, on making some weighty decisions about God. First I decided to continue to believe in the existence of a supreme being, because I wanted to. That is all any of us does--chooses to believe or not to believe. I chose to believe."

    From Housewife to Heretic, by Sonia Johnson. I just read this and realized that's exactly what I've just done, too. It feels really good.

  7. I believe th same things about God as you. I too wish the church weren't so patriarchal, but I have to say the way the church treats women isn't the make or break deal for me. If they had a Proclamation giving the women the Priesthood, I'd be so glad for the women I know who want it, but I just don't know if I believe in it enough to ant it for myself. It may be dumb, but one of my biggest issues is what you mentioned in your last belief statement: I believe that God doesn't care what religion you are."

    I just don't buy "the only true church" idea anymore. I don't like hearing people HAVE to be baptized to get into heaven. I'm mad that members don't respect the wishes of the Jewish faith to not perform baptisms for the dead for Jewish people .

  8. That's pretty much where I am too, Megan. Definitely don't buy the "one true church" business—I'm actually in the middle of writing a post about it right now. The patriarchy isn't the make or break point for me anymore, either—or rather, it was the breaking point, but not the... making... point. (Which just sounds weird.) What I mean is that the place of women in the church was the thing that woke me up to all the other things. But even if they did allow women to hold the priesthood now, I don't think it would make a difference for me. It's broken and there's no remaking it. And I'm okay with that.