When I look at the vast number of ways people can be divisive, I feel even more like I don’t belong anywhere. Whether it’s political, religious, or anything else, I don’t tow the party line anywhere. I don’t believe in any extremes. I hate labels. I sometimes don’t know exactly where I stand on things, but if it in some way makes people more distant from each other, there’s a really good chance I don’t want any part of it. The only thing I’m definite about is my relationship with God- not how others view their own Christianity, but MY relationship with God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit… and those don’t need to be flashy and highly viewable. I shouldn’t have to advertise it; and I shouldn’t have to hide it.
Because of my ‘religious’ beliefs (I detest the word ‘religious’- it screams of empty rituals and mindless devotion), I don’t like when people are labelled and judged by humans. I don’t believe we have the right to do that to other people. We’re human, a.k.a. fallible, and need to focus on our own shortcomings instead of being hateful (Yes ! Christians are some of the most hateful people on the planet for those Christians who haven’t figured that out!). Check out Matthew 5 & 6… great chapters in the Bible. Do I have specific feelings about specific issues? Yep. But I don’t think many of those things need to be put up for public approval. Some things are between the person and God. And, most really aren’t worth making illegal to clog up an already stagnant legal system even more. We need to keep the violent people contained…not someone who had an abortion after being raped, or something else that is seen as a violation against life and God. When Christians use God to back up their own beliefs, it makes me sad. God can speak for Himself- and He has. He told US to love each other, and to leave the judgement to Him.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have my own beliefs and views on things. I do. But I just can’t stand the fighting about issues that are really very personal. How does any Christian think that people who don’t have a relationship with God are ever going to see the benefit of knowing Him if Christians spend so much time belittling those they disagree with? Is it not possible to have a personal (and deeply valued) belief system and relationship with God, and still reach out with an open hand to someone who thinks and believes differently? Does being a Christian mean avoiding everybody who doesn’t show up at church 3-5 times a week? That old ‘go ye into ALL the world….’ ? I guess that was only for the olden days, eh? Seems that folks only want to be with like-minded folks, which is fine, until it becomes exclusive.
When I hear the far right talk about the ‘free’ entitlements such as Medicare, it makes me so sad. Because of things outside of my control, I’m disabled and on Medicare (and have been since I was 44 years old). I worked as an RN for 20 years, and paid into Medicare and Social Security. It COST me. That ‘free’ Medicare costs me about $500+ per MONTH, to pay for premiums/co-pays so that I do have full coverage and more for copays to cover the medications/supplies I need. Medicare is very deficient in many areas. Medicaid is extremely difficult to qualify for; it’s not something that a person just goes and gets in line to receive. It’s portrayed as the medical care that anybody can get if they don’t have something else, and that is absolutely not true. For me to qualify for Medicaid help (during the times when I had a different Medicare supplement policy that left me with thousands of dollars in copays), I had a $2200/MONTH ‘deductible’ (called a spend-down). That didn’t even leave enough for rent, let alone premiums, food, utilities, medications, etc. I agree that there have to be requirements to be met in order to qualify…but I also know that those who find Medicare and Medicaid to be such ‘freebies’ just don’t understand. It costs me well over $6000/year for the privilege of having ‘free’ medical care that I paid into while I was working. I don’t belong on that part of the ‘right’.
When I hear the far left speak of ‘conservatives’ as people who generally hate most of the planet, it saddens me. Many of my beliefs are conservative (stiflingly so to some), and yet I have met so many people from so many backgrounds and belief systems that I want to be inclusive. Excluding people (who are not dangerous to themselves or others) from any part of society damages the whole of society. There is room for so much more than the black and white thinking that predominates every ‘side’ of any issue. I don’t belong with the ‘left’ either, because of some things, but I’m more comfortable with them as I get older.
I’ve been rethinking a lot of my personal views on a lot of things. For the most part, that means that the people I grew up with probably see me as being wayward at best, and a heretic at worst. I don’t fit anywhere. I just don’t think that I know enough as a human to judge many of the ‘hot topic’ issues. And I’m not afraid to admit it. Yes, I believe the Bible. But I also know that there are things that are known now that weren’t known in Biblical times, and changes in social and scientific ‘norms’ that cause me to step back from judgement and wait until the day I can ask God for myself, instead of categorizing groups of humans, or specific activities- and in the meantime, try not to cause more divisiveness. In the end, the nitpicking isn’t going to help anyone. What is in my heart is what matters- and I’m OK knowing that God sees that better than anyone.
I’ve discussed my views on homosexuality with people who know me from the church I grew up in, and with those who have no specific religious views, and it’s not surprising which group verbally beat me up for my beliefs. I believe that being gay is biological. There. I said it. I don’t think it’s a choice. Or a ‘lifestyle’, like being a jet-setter or redneck, or something. I’ve also talked before about the kids I saw when I was working as a pediatric RN, who had ‘ambiguous genitalia’ (that is a diagnosis based on biology)… those kids literally had either both male and female sex organs (internal and/or external) , or the only way to determine their gender was by sending their blood for genetic mapping. Gender is determined by the X-Y chromosomes from the sperm, and are affected by the mom’s hormones while she is pregnant. If the mom is carrying a genetically determined baby girl, and for some reason has some surge of testosterone during the pregnancy at just the right time, why is it so hard to understand that the baby is affected? If the baby can end up with externally visible gender ambiguity , why is it so hard to think that there can be biological changes in the brain that determine sexual orientation? Regardless, I don’t know enough to judge someone. I’ve had many gay and lesbian co-workers, one transgender co-worker who was in the process of reassignment, and assorted friends and relatives who are gay or lesbian. God loves them. I love them. SO, I don’t fit in anywhere. On same-sex marriage- I don’t see why anybody wants to be chained to anybody, so my views on any marriage are skewed to “what the hell for?”. I’ll have to take a pass on that one- but I do know that if i baked wedding cakes and a same-sex couple asked me to bake one, I wouldn’t bat an eye at doing their cake. Why be mean? Why be judgmental? Why not show that Christians can be decent?
Criticizing the President… Oy. I shared some anti-Obama things on FaceBook during the campaign, and I regret it deeply. He was/is our POTUS. The office deserves respect, and once again, judgement isn’t my role. The entire political atmosphere scares me, but instead of being so negative, I need to wake up and do more appreciating of the person in office when they’ve done nothing to not deserve my appreciation and respect. I also cringe when stupid things are criticized, such as the sleeve length of Mrs. Obama’s dresses…. seriously? Does it matter? She always looks great. When every last thing is torn apart (instead of trying to see the positive), what good comes of it? POTUS has been a chill, solid president, with a cautious approach, based on common sense and getting input from others in his Cabinet. How can that be bad? But the people I grew up with don’t like him, and I listened to them too much during the early years. I no longer think it has anything to do with his politics- but something too 1600s to think about. Their hate is the antithesis of Christianity. I was personally thrilled to have a black man in office. The whole family is the sort I’d like to have as neighbors. Worst neighbors I’ve ever had were SEVERAL white middle-class jerks in various apartments who blew their stereo speakers to shreds every night. Or that old bat who stalked me to the point of needing to tape up the space between my mini-blinds and the area that could be seen into my apartment. She was obsessed- my landlady let me break my lease over that one- she’d seen her watching my windows and patio door. I’d go to sit on my patio, and she’d be standing there- staring at my door when I opened it at 10 p.m.. Creepy, and glow-in-the-dark white.
Another hot topic issue that I do have some personal opinions about is abortion. Specifically, post-rape abortion was in the press this last year, and some really ignorant politicians made some incredibly stupid remarks. The body doesn’t ‘shut down’ and prevent pregnancy after ‘legitimate’ rape (is there an illegimate rape?). If a woman is ovulating when she is raped, she can very easily become pregnant. I’ve been there. I had an agonizing decision to make, and I found out very painfully why women consider abortion. I get it. I couldn’t do it. And I couldn’t talk to anybody about it. I was told I was just stressed out because of the rape, and few people would even talk to me about the pregnancy. I was blessed to have miscarried, though I feel horrible for those who miscarry that are want a baby. For me, it was the best outcome for a traumatized 23-year old brain that was terrified of not being able to raise that baby without prejudice of being the spawn of a rapist. I’ll never forget that morning- both the horror…and the relief.
Adoption isn’t always the ‘perfect’ answer, either. I was adopted, and I have had positive experiences with my adoptive and biological families. But I couldn’t give a baby away- and how could I raise a child of rape without prejudice? How could I tell a baby it was conceived in violence with someone who terrorized me, and have that child ever believe his/her existence was a good thing? Even if I truly did the best I could to be loving (and with my love for babies and kids, I probably would have done OK, but the whole thing was terrifying and not something to leave to chance). As an adopted child- who was always told that my being placed for adoption was a wonderful thing for my adoptive parents- I understand that underlying feeling of being a ‘mistake’, even in the best of circumstances. I later found out that I was conceived with an abundance of love, which meant a lot to me. But growing up, especially as I entered and went through adolescence, I did feel like a fluke. Being the product of a rape can never be something that can be smoothed over with later information should I have met the child (if I’d carried it to term and relinquished it), or managed to raise it with some degree of actual love and affection. I don’t ever think abortion is an acceptable form of chronic birth control; there are responsible ways to address pregnancy prevention. But I ‘get it’ when someone is raped and just can’t emotionally deal with a pregnancy. I also understand feeling like a woman is backed into a corner by a pregnancy. I don’t like it. But I get it. Once again, I don’t fit with so many that I grew up with. And I’ve taken care of those post-abortion as a nurse; they got the came consideration and care I’d give anybody.
The ‘morning after pill’… it does NOT terminate a pregnancy. It prevents implantation. Without implantation, even a fertilized egg will not result in a pregnancy. It’s simple biology. The ‘morning after pill’ is not the same as abortion. There are pills that do terminate pregnancies. It is good to know the difference. There is also a difference between delivering a pre-term baby to save the lives of the mother or both mother and baby AND the incredibly rare late-term termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of eliminating the baby. No credibly MD would do the latter. The former saves lives. But, nobody at my old church seems to comprehend that. SO, I don’t fit in.
The more things there are to divide people, the more I don’t fit anywhere. I can see many sides of an issue, and I don’t understand why others can’t do the same. Am I just stupid? I graduated with honors, and did very well when I worked as an RN. Am I naive? Maybe. Do I just want to feel like it’s OK to not hate one side or the other in order to ‘belong’? Absolutely. That’s really all I want. And to not be belittled for wanting that. I’m glad that humans aren’t my Ultimate Judge. I’d like to belong somewhere that doesn’t weaponize God or the Bible.