I saw a video on being gay and religious the other day. One of the key comments the guy makes is his feeling of belonging and connection with thousands of years of traditions etc. He mentions that at the end of the day it’s all about doing good to humanity and loving people.
But here’s the catch. The Jewish scriptures (the Old Testament for Christians) are absolutely clear about many things. For LGBT+ people it takes a lot of unraveling to sort out the scriptures that talk about homosexuality being an abomination and that God commanded their death. Most Jews who exhibit compassion and empathy tend to sweep all that under the carpet, or create doctrinal work-arounds, as any sane human would.
But there’s a bigger point to be made in all this — religious comfort.
Religion’s primary concern is with providing security, comfort, assurance… a sense of “belonging”. We can make it about “the truth” if we want, but there isn’t a single thing about any deity that can survive the tests of rational scrutiny and scientific methodology. That’s not to say there is no deity, it’s just there’s zero proof.
Despite all that (and all it implies) it comes down to comfort in the face of the unknown, and this is something that no compassionate person would deny anyone.
For me, my relationship with Jesus was all about finding a “place” of love and compassion, comfort and hope. I loved Jesus. He was my friend. I knew he listened, and if I could get my crazy brain to slow down enough, I could hear him!
For some, it’s more about feeding the ego and the “comfort” obtained from that. This is especially evident with people who enjoy the feeling of privilege from knowing something others don’t — of holding the key to salvation. They love the thought that they are special, to the exclusion of others — because feeling special implies that others are not. If we are all special it no longer has meaning because special is just normal. What most Christians fail to see is that most of us have this to greater or lesser degrees. It becomes apparent in fundamentalists of course, but it’s very insidious and creeps into our attitudes far too easily.
But I digress…
Religious comfort is easy. That’s why we love it so much. It’s not that it’s “wrong”, but it’s the easy way out. So I get it, and I certainly embraced it for all it was worth, and it kept me alive and relatively sane.
But what’s the alternative?
Being brave enough to face the problems that religion attempts to solve and finding peace in that place. It’s about accepting that we don’t know what the next second may bring, let alone the next 20 years, or eternity. It’s finding peace in being here and now, and exercising empathy with ourselves and everyone else in this moment.
This allows us to be 100% “here” in every way. No concern for the past or the future, and free to love everyone — because we are all in exactly the same position whether we accept it or not (and no, it doesn’t mean we don’t make plans etc, but I’ll save that for another blog). Our gods can only provide some escapism — enough delusion to feel OK about life and the future.
But finding the “guts” to face the reality is not an easy task. I might sound very confident as I write this, but the working out of this is slow and requires a determination to break the addiction of religious comfort. The one thing I (and countless others) can assure you of however, is that it’s worth every ounce of effort we can put into it.
We don’t need religion or deities — but we do need to find a way to live at peace, with love and compassion, and that genuinely includes every other human being.