Sexual Attraction and Religion

There are a few things that I hardly ever speak about or write about because they are simply not culturally acceptable. Sometimes that means they are not acceptable in society at large, and sometimes it means they are not acceptable to my immediate culture surrounding me on a daily basis. Homosexuality, gender dysphoria, and sexual attraction are all things that are not culturally acceptable for me to talk about here, or anywhere else really.

I avoid these topics for a few reasons. One reason is that this blog posts directly to my personal Facebook page. I made the difficult decision to do that a few years ago because I realized how much people don’t talk about the hard stuff, and I wanted them to. I wanted to not feel so alone in what I was feeling. So I decided that if I wanted to see this, I had to start doing it.

I do not know how many of my friends know about my mental illnesses, disorders, or feelings toward gender or sexual attraction. I do not know who will read this today and learn something about me that I never would have told them in person. This puts me in an incredibly vulnerable place, but someone has to do it. Someone has to talk about the hard things to make it easier for others to talk about hard things.

So… Here it goes…

I read a post on Facebook that said sexual feelings are from God so we should not be ashamed of them. Since this was a post on a religious page, someone then asked why churches can discriminate between homosexual feelings and heterosexual feelings if they are all from God. How can we say that homosexual feelings are not from God if we believe heterosexual feelings are from God?

I don’t believe we can. I do not believe that we can honestly say that attraction in any form is unnatural, an abomination, or any other form of condemning language often used in religion to denounce the practice of homosexual behavior. If sexual feelings are from God, you cannot say that the direction of those feelings negates that statement.

However, believing that homosexual feelings are from God does not necessarily mean that acting on those feelings is sanctified by God. God gives us certain desires or tendencies that may or may not be for us to act upon. I have had depression for as long as I can remember. I have had the desire to die for as long as I can remember. I do not believe God wants me to act on this desire. However, I do believe that I should not be ashamed of this desire because it does come naturally to me.

We have a tendency in society, and often even more so among church members, to judge feelings as bad or people as bad for having these feelings. If you express natural feelings that are not common place or considered socially acceptable, you can be shamed, isolated, and abandoned by those around you. I do not think anyone should be ashamed of their sexual feelings. Whether you are attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex, the feelings that come naturally to you are not anything to be ashamed of. Again, that doesn’t mean you should act on these feelings (either heterosexual or homosexual) because there are bounds that have been set. But I believe that we need to break out of the mindset of being ashamed or shaming others for their natural feelings and inclinations.

I do not have sexual feelings naturally. Thinking about kissing or other sexual touching is not something I enjoy, and my body has an adverse reaction to sexuality in any form. Does this mean that my sexual feelings (or lack thereof) are not from God?  I cannot believe that to be true. I believe that God has given me these feelings for a purpose. I do not know that purpose, but I do know that it has helped me to better understand those around me and that it connects me on a more spiritual and emotional level with those around me rather than a sexual or physical level.

Because I feel no sexual attraction towards another person, I am more emotionally attracted to them. I feel the desire to get to know others because I feel their hurt or their goodness or their love or potential. I want to get to know people because I want to connect with them on an emotional level. I want to share their burdens and partake in their capacity to feel joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. I want to be friends with people because I like knowing and experiencing how others feel.

This makes me a good listener. It makes me more understanding of others. It makes me more compassionate when someone is hurting. It also makes life harder in some ways because I am more emotionally involved with others so the potential for emotional damage to myself increases. And it makes it harder to desire to date or find a companion because most people want a physical connection in romantic relationships rather than just an emotional one. In fact, romantic hardly seems like an appropriate term for me because how much romance is there if there are no sexual feelings?

The point of this though is that I believe we need to stop labeling thoughts as good or bad or people as good or bad for having certain thoughts or feelings. People are often quick to judge someone who does not fit their standard of normalcy. But if you believe that we are all created equal, that we are children of God, and or that God is no respecter of persons, I feel it is a contradiction to condemn another person for feelings that come naturally to them. We need to make discussing natural feelings normal if we ever want to understand how people feel and why they do the things they do.

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Grateful for Faith

Sometimes believing in something bigger than yourself isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes everything in you to believe that there is something better than how things are right now. In the desperate times though, faith has been the one thing that I have been able to cling to. Faith is what I am left with when everything else fails or falls away. Faith is my constant. Faith is my core.

I am so grateful for the faith that has guided me through difficult circumstances. I am grateful for the faith that has stayed with me when hope seemed to slip away. Life gets complicated and difficult and even unbearable at times, but that faith that there is something else helps me through the rough times. I may not have anything else left in me, but I am grateful that I can still keep a glimmer of faith no matter what happens.

The God Connection

God isn’t just my father. Jesus Christ isn’t just my brother. They are my best friends. They know the good I’ve done and the not so good. They know how much I beat myself up for my mistakes and how much I crave to feel loved and like I belong. They see it all and they love it all. They have held me on broken nights when all I wanted was to die so I could be with them again. They have shown me they loved me, but that they want me to stay in this world until my time is done.

People usually struggle with faith. They struggle with doubts that God is really real and if he really is there for them and loves them. I struggle with the opposite. I struggle with knowing how much God loves me. I struggle with feeling a connection to him so strong that I constantly want to die. I struggle with wanting to be with him so much that this world seems to lose all color and beauty because I forget to see him in it. I don’t struggle to know God exists. He has been the most real thing in my life. Night after lonely night, I would pray to a God I not only knew was listening, but I knew loved me. God has always been and will always be my best friend.

Sometimes I ask God how much longer. I ask him how much more I will need to endure. This world holds no beauty for me without God in it. If I didn’t see God in the world around me, if I didn’t see him in the people who love me, I don’t know if I would ever feel light or at home. I feel at home when I feel God’s presence surrounding me, when I feel his love through other people. I see beauty in the world around me because I see God in it. I see his hand, his love, his creativity.

I know God. I know God so well that I want to die to be with him. I talk to him like I would talk to my best friend. I tell him how I feel and how sad I am and how grateful I am and how happy I am. I tell him about my friends and my worries for them and my love for them. I tell him how much I miss him and how hard, yet beautiful life is. I talk with God and I sing to God and sometimes when I lie in bed, he feels so close that I’m pretty sure he holds me so I can fall asleep.

Maybe this all seems strange. This relationship to someone or something you can’t see doesn’t make sense to you. But this world doesn’t make sense to me. This love people have for money or power, the way people can hurt others, the things people say and do to each other, doesn’t make sense to me. God makes sense. We don’t feel pain because he’s not there. We feel pain because he’s not here, because we’re not there. This world is broken. It’s flawed and imperfect. God is the only one that can change that. He’s the only one that can make it right. I hold onto him. I cling to him. I love him. I know he holds me when I’m hurt and cries with me when I break and loves me at all times.

I don’t know what it’s like to struggle to have faith in God because God is the only thing that has felt stable in my life. But I do know what it’s like to struggle. I struggle to have faith in this world. I struggle to have faith that things will get better. I struggle to believe that people love me, that I do good things, that I have worth in this world. I struggle to fit into a world where I feel like I can never belong.

Maybe you struggle to believe in God, maybe he seems far away and distant, maybe his love seems difficult or out of reach, but I want you to know that he loves you as much as he loves me. I may feel him more because I have an undeniable connection to him, but I know he loves you too. Believe in God. Hold on to hope. He is there. He does love you. “Things will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.”

Resolutions/ Gift to God

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you should wait for a particular date to make positive changes in your life. I do, however, like the idea of giving a gift to Christ when we celebrate his birth.

Last year, I gave the gift of prayer. Christ has always been my best friend from the time I was a child, he was the only one I could turn to in the darkness and loneliness. I realized though that I had neglected to really talk to God like I used to. I still prayed. I just didn’t really communicate with him. Throughout this year I focused on rebuilding that relationship, on getting to know my Father again, and allowing Him to be a part of my life. I have gone through amazing changes this year and hardly recognize who I used to be.

I wanted to do that again this year, give a gift to Christ and then focus on it all next year. However, as I asked for feedback on what I could give, the feedback I received indicated that I may be focusing on the wrong things. It is good to want to be better, but maybe the gift I need to give this year is to myself. Maybe this year I need to learn to love myself. It’s still a gift to God because I know he wants me to be happy and love myself, but maybe it’s also about time that I do something for me.

The truth is that I really don’t like myself. I look in the mirror and think, “how could anyone ever love you? You will never be enough. You could never be beautiful.” No wonder I want to die so much… The only good thing I ever say to myself is “you do good things.” And I repeat it over and over because it’s the only compliment I can actually believe.

Maybe this year I will give the gift of changing that- changing how I talk to and about myself. In all honesty, it will be hard to give up hating myself. I don’t enjoy hating myself, but I don’t see any reason to love myself and coming up with reasons seems like a daunting task. Is it possible to love someone you hate? I have already proven that is possible this year, I just have to prove it to myself this time.

Christmas

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I’ve never really cared much about getting presents, but I love the feeling of Christmas. I love all the lights and that people are usually happier and more giving. The thing I love most about Christmas is that it gives me hope.

I love the lights because they bring light to the darkness, I love the spirit of Christmas because it shows that peoples’ hearts are still good. And I love that people turn to Christ because it helps us remember that the best gifts are the ones of love.

This year I am very excited about Christmas mostly because I feel like I have awesome presents for people and I can’t wait to see how they like them. I love that we get a rush from giving presents that we think people will like. I wonder if heaven had that kind of rush when Christ was born. Maybe that’s why angels went to the shepherds to declare “glad tidings of great joy”. They couldn’t and didn’t want to hold their excitement in that Christ, the Savior of the world, was born.

I can’t imagine how excited I would be that the Savior was born. I don’t talk about religion very much on this blog, but Jesus is a very big part of my life. I don’t think that I could have made it through life with autism if it wasn’t for God. I don’t think autism is a horrible thing and I wouldn’t change that I have it, but it is hard.

I’ve spent many lonely nights crying myself to sleep because I just wanted to be like everyone else. I just wanted to be able to make friends or say hi to someone or let people know how I felt about things. And the only thing that kept me going through all of that was that I had a God that was listening and that understood. I know not everyone believes in God, but I hope that this Christmas season gives you hope like my faith has given me.