Religion vs. Sexuality

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    Jul 01, 2007 9:11 AM GMT
    Hey guys!

    I sort of hate to make this my first post...

    Basically, I'm 18, I live in what would be considered an extremely religious family (hardcore Conservative Roman Catholics), and... well obviously I'm gay. My mother is especially homophobic, while my dad seems more neutral about it, but then in some ways he's even more hard-core Catholic than my mother is :).

    I've been flip-flopping for the last two years pretty seriously when it comes to remaining Catholic vs. being Gay/dating men. I wish I could make up my mind, but it seems like the more I learn on either side, the more confused and upset I get.

    Right now I'm on the 'verge' of not technically being a Catholic any more... I go to mass every Sunday, but I haven't received communion in almost a year. I feel like I should make up my mind, and it's especially strong now. A part of me very definitely wants to be the 'good Catholic boy,' while another part very strongly just wants to stop feeling guilty about what I want, and to pursue my interests.

    I'm also confused because several months ago, when I was convinced that I didn't want to be Catholic any more, I felt fantastic for the first time in a really long time. That lasted for a few weeks. Then last week I was convinced that I was going to be a Catholic and suppress every sexual thought I had for men... which lasted for a few days. And I felt fantastic. But now, as always, I'm back to feeling unsure.

    I -am- convinced that there's a God. I'm quite solidly 100% on believing that. But a lot of the teachings and such seem... argh, I don't know. I can't even think or write about this kind of thing because I get so upset and nervous that my hands start shaking and I can't think right.

    I guess right now I'm sort of looking for advice from anyone who might've gone through this before and ended up on either side of the... debate, I guess you could call it.

    Right now I'm also trying to... not 'come out'. But... geeze, I don't even know. Express who I am, more? Things like submitting a profile picture, even though there's a tiny chance someone from my community/church might see it.

    Any advice anyone can offer would be really welcome.
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    Jul 01, 2007 10:09 AM GMT
    Being born into a heavily religious family and raised in a community which is entirely religious (or close to it) can certainly warp your view of the world. There are oodles of people out there who are not Catholic, or even religious, or supersticious at all who live lives just as fulfilling, meaningful, and wonderful, if not usually more so (in my humble opinion).

    If you want to read some good, popular, and recently published books targeted at people like yourself, that is, people with doubts but not quite sure where they stand yet, read End of Faith and Letters to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Both are quite well written and appropriate for someone who is just starting to break away from whatever religion they happened to be raised in.

    I could write a lot about the merits of reason and logic vs faith and superstition but i think in your case it may be more prudent to discuss strategy. Do your parents know you're gay? Perhaps coming out as a gay man and coming out with your non-religiosity at the same time may be too much for them to handle? Perhaps just one at a time? Really not sure how much much they can take at once, but a piecemeal approach may be better. Let us know how it goes!
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    Jul 01, 2007 11:05 AM GMT
    Do not rush into anything or listen to guys advice on here.....I am a Catholic too and not out as parents would go mad.
    ..u must be not rush into anything...I am happy to chat here on or my email.........I am thinking of your very much and would love to chat with you
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    Jul 01, 2007 12:43 PM GMT
    Check out the thread "Can gay people believe in the Bible???" Lots of good things were said on both sides of the coin regarding faith and sexuality. I think you might find some insight either way by reading some of the posts...

    Good luck to you. It's so hard reconciling your faith and sexuality. My boyfriend is a practicing catholic. It is possible. I'm a practicing Christian as well...

    Just remember, God loves you no matter what you do...

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    Jul 01, 2007 1:22 PM GMT
    I struggled with the whole sexuality vs religion myself, myself also being a Roman Catholic. What it took was not trying to find it in the religion I was bred with but also what other religions believe.

    Studying beliefs and looking for the counterpoints that all religions come to. What do you think life would be like without religion? Where would we be without faith? What would the world be like if there there was no concept of order or a higher being to strive for?

    These are the questions I started asking myself and came to many realisations but I also discovered that in a lot of faiths they all seem to be translations of texts that are not always clear. There is no real definitive answer on how we should live our lives or who we have to love. In most beliefs, religion is there to create order where chaos once reigned. But they all believe in a higher being, one who loves us and is our creator or at least has a part in our creation.

    We can debate all day long about science and religion and may never come up with a final answer on which is to be believed or followed. But I know that I believe in a higher entity, someone who looks over us all.

    Why should someone criticise your feelings for another person? Are you hurting someone? Are your actions causing some irreversible damage? Is someone going to die because your love a guy? Many people feel uncomfortable with the unknown and sexuality is one of those things that is a big unknown to many people. For many sexuality is an instinct, if you deviate from that instinct how do you think they feel? A rule bred into them that is now being challenged.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that in todays world religion is not easy to weave into life especially religions based on texts written 2000 years ago. Humans evolve, cultures evolve, faiths evolve. I guess we need to do what we do best and that is to evolve.
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    Jul 01, 2007 1:43 PM GMT
    It is clear to me that you will always be a Catholic. The fact that you are not taking communion because you are "unsure" at the moment suggests to me that you care deeply about the religion. I can tell you, as a Catholic, how many people do not put such thought in to the Eucharist.

    Before you worry about what your parents would think--because you ARE gay, and you will never be able to repress it--just get comfortable with the religion and YOU. I'm the only kid at my college that goes to church every sunday, which some see as ironic because I'm a gay catholic. But all in all, the mass moves me, and if it does the same for you, then be the best Catholic you can be.

    Hope that helped.
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    Jul 01, 2007 2:12 PM GMT
    Very similiar boat I am in. Mother born and raised Cathaholic. (Yes, I spelled it wrong). Dad is a converted Southern Baptist to Catholic. My family is very conservative and deeply entrenched in their faith.

    While born and raised a Catholic I don't attend Mass, haven't received communion in I don't know how long. Confession...First Confession was the last confession.

    I deeply believe in God, but have no faith in most organized religions. How can you profess to be open to all but exclude many at the same time? Catholic Church is very hypocritical in that aspect and I blame the old farts that run the church.

    You must always do what is best for you. We here can not make that decision for you. I honestly believe that God did not make us who we are only to condemn us to some fashion of hell in the end. Republicans do that. (sorry, had to toss that jab out there).

    Be strong in your beliefs and don't feel you need to be swayed by some archaic middleaged belief that we are not as worthy or deserving of Gods love as a 'straight' person is.
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    Jul 01, 2007 2:28 PM GMT
    Agree with what everyone else has said. For me, the biggest hurdles were:

    1. Getting past an interpretation of the Bible that selectively condemns homosexuals. Having gone to seminary for eight years (four years training to be a Roman Catholic priest and four years training to be an evangelical pastor), I'm constantly amazed at how people can mistake and twist scriptures to affirm themselves and exclude others.

    2. Getting past the idea of having to leave the family and community you know and love. I'd spent 10 years leading the singles group at my church, and they were me life--not easy to walk away from that or to deal with what they would think/say about me.

    3. Getting past the self-doubt. I went through a series of group and personal counseling sessions trying to "go straight."

    At one point I woke up and realized that I couldn't live a half-life anymore--I figured that if God created me and I'm gay, then that's got to be all right and my purpose was not to reshape my sexuality but simply to be a good man.

    There was a period of years my parents and I didn't talk. And I have no friends from the "church" days and consider myself a bit of a spiritual mendicant. But I'm happier now than I ever was back then, and I'd make the same decision again in a heartbeat.

    Good luck, CoffeeCup!

    P.S. ComeOutside made some very good points about being careful about the hows/whens. Make sure you've connected to a support system and that you've planned appropriately ...
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jul 01, 2007 3:04 PM GMT
    You're going to get very different views on even on here and good for you that you're thinking about these things now...because it's better now then after you've settled into what we like to call adulthood
    I need to ask you first if your parents know anything about you being gay...I didn't see that in your post
    Because all of this is going to have to do with you becoming your own man and separating from your parents

    I was raised a Catholic...and now I am as anti-religion as you can get
    But don't go by me or anyone else on that matter
    Religion is a very private matter and that's where I have my problem with it...the constant prostilatizing that goes along with it
    Keep asking what you get out of it
    If you answer comes up short...
    then you don't need it
    but if being Catholic helps you in anyway then stay with it

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    Jul 01, 2007 5:05 PM GMT
    God doesn't care about your sexuality. And any relationship you have is between you and him, no one else. You can have both, this doesn't have to be a one or the other type thing. So think about your religion and if it doesn't work for you find another way, but most of all be comfortable with whatever you choose, but don't think being gay means you have to give up religion.
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    Jul 01, 2007 5:08 PM GMT
    They say:

    I get upset, irritated, angry or depressed if I am not worshipped or treated as if I were better than everyone else.
    I am thrilled when I am called “o great king,” sung to, adored, and told how wonderful, perfect and marvelous I am and that everyone is unworthy of even looking at my face.

    They say
    If you don’t do what I say, you will be sent to a horrid prison-like place or a lake of fire and made to suffer constantly - after your death.
    This dark kingdom is governed by a Darth Vader type character and an army of ugly monsters equipped with horns, claws, and sharp teeth which bite very hard.

    If you do everything I say without question, and basically become my personal clone, you will be rewarded - after your death - by going to the most wonderful place you could possibly dream of.
    This place is governed by me as some kind of flawless king, and an army of perfect people dressed in white.
    There is also a special group who follow me around falling on their faces 24-7 while saying repeatedly “how great you are.”

    The armies of both these kingdoms sometimes have wars against each other using metal weapons, spears and others that hurt badly.
    They also even have flying horses!
    (By the way, please tell me why weapons which cause pain or death, or scary creatures that can bite, scratch or poke if we are all supposedly already dead and no longer able to feel pain?)

    They say I divided people into 2 categories; the chosen and the un-chosen - or “sheep and goats.”
    After death the chosen ones would be able to sit beside me in my great king throne, and the un-chosen would be disposed of like burning weeds or put in the trash.

    They say I had my only son tortured and killed as a human sacrifice, for a mistake the first two humans made thousands of years ago, and of which everyone on the planet is still guilty.
    This execution fixed the problem somehow because of the seemingly Aztec-tribal or cannibal ritual of an exchange of blood for error.

    But worst of all - this is only the tip of the iceberg of all the strange things they say I am or do!

    They are not talking about Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, a mafia godfather, corporate plutocrat, or some other politician with a strong VIP complex.
    In fact anyone with who thinks or talks like this would be medicated, and locked away in a safe place.

    But damn! This is the strange role humans place on me - or that which they call their God.

    Mother earth, please save me from my followers and their morbid mythologies.

    - God
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    Jul 01, 2007 5:19 PM GMT
    I am a devout Roman Catholic myself. Born and raised. You do not have to choose between who you are and what you believe in. I used to be an altar server and a CCD teacher. Now I'm the singer at my church. I believe in the Roman Catholic Church with all that I am and could never stop beleiving in it.

    Yes I am gay and I have to deal with that. But after a couple years of it screwing me up, I finally decided that I just wasn't going to deal with it. I was who I was and what I was.

    Yes I have sex and I hope to find one guy some day and settle down and adopt a kid or two... and you know what? I would love to send them to a Catholic school!
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    Jul 01, 2007 5:27 PM GMT

    All I can say is, EXACTLY!

    It is that illogical. It's why in coming out, I was faced with exactly the decision that CoffeeCup which which CoffeeCup says he is faced. (CoffeeCup, I had an observation about the anxiety and panic attacks I felt when I went through this as a devout Roman Catholic in my the Anxiety Attack Forum thread).

    For me, the awful homophobia permeating the Roman Catholic church made me consider whether a supreme being would not only care about sexuality, but why would it need to be worshipped. Why would it create hell? Heaven sounded awful too.

    So while I was coming out I also had a much more profound revolution against the whole concept of God as it is taught in every organized religion.

    CoffeeCup, you do need some help, perhaps a counselor familiar with the issues confronting young people coming out. I agree that while what we say in this forum thread may be interesting, or somewhat comforting, you are the one going through this, with your own special issues. You'll need some support from someone familiar with them at a professional level.

    My best wishes.

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    Jul 01, 2007 6:11 PM GMT
    Hey, Chuckie, I love that! "Cathaholic" Very funny.

    Chuck and I have had some discussion on this, and I have been coming to terms with it myself. You see, I'm Mormon, and the minute I divorce my wife and come out, I'm excommunicated.

    I have mapped out a strategy which will take about a year to complete, which will break this to my wife very gently, make it partially her idea to divorce, and will allow me to come out fully. It's slow, and it's deliberate.

    I have lived for nearly 52 years on this earth, and have developed a love and reverence of God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son. That will not change. I've learned so much from the LDS Church, and grown beyond my wildest dreams, as a teenager (I'm a convert). I'm very grateful for my Protestant upbringing, teaching me to believe in Jesus Christ, and I am doubly grateful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, because it not only built upon that basic belief in Jesus Christ, but taught me the mechanics of faith, repentance, and redemption, and also taught me how to live my life in fullness, preparation, and service. in fact, I daresay that the church, ironically enough, gave me the strength and fortitude to examine myself inwardly and decide to come out.

    Nevertheless, I am sensitive to the pain and heartache this will cause, but also understand that it will be better for my wife, as well. I really do love her, it's just that I can't love her, if you get my drift.

    My very narrow and uniformed opinion is that you should lay out a strategy that will cushion everyone as much as possible. In the end, you have to choose for yourself how you will live your life - no one can choose for you. You're 18 and a legal adult, so it's all up to you.

    I believe that if you decide to suppress your homosexuality, like I did for 45 years, that it will drive you nearly crazy, like it did me, and chances are you may suffer depression, anxiety, and an untold amount of stress, which will also (possibly) cause you to gain weight, like it did me.

    I'm now at peace, even though the road ahead is going to be rough. I feel like I have integrity, now, instead of feeling like I'm a liar. I have a positive self-image, now, where before, I felt like I was the lowliest form of life on the face of the planet.

    Take it slow, be sensitive to the feelings of others, gird yourself for pain, make a plan and work it, and pray for the courage to pull it all off. Then, above all, "To thine own self be true."

    Yes, this scares me shitless, but sometimes it takes that to make you realize that you're alive, and always, you have to know the bitter in order to know the sweet.

    Good luck. If you want a sounding board, just email or IM me. I won't make decisions for you, you have to do that, but I can help you to see alternative that you may not have thought of, and I can validate your feelings. That part of it will be easy, because I have been going through it, and am almost through.

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    Jul 01, 2007 6:19 PM GMT
    Much of what is called "religion" are theories/ideas created by men to consolidate their own power. It has nothing to do with true grace, spirituality, or creating harmony within one's soul. Is there any other force that's done damage to mankind over the past 500 years than religion?

    I consider myself a deeply spiritual person and an avidly anti-religious one. I was brought up deep in the pentecostal church and to this day am trying to recover from all the bigotry, superstition, and hypocricy pumped into me by their filth. This is not to say I got nothing from the experience, but the majority of what I got was not the best for me. I don't think one has to renounce one's sexuality for religious beliefs; Religion (as opposed to spirituality) does however put many restrictions on the individual, many of which do nothing to nurture the individuals soul. Sorry, but I think if you wanna live a sane life then at some point, you've got to find the divine on your own: no book or group can do that for you...nor should they for the benefits once found are manifold.

    2 cents.
  • trebor965

    Posts: 200

    Jul 01, 2007 6:52 PM GMT
    yea alexinrio! yes yes yes yes yes!!!!! coffeecup live as fully as you need to. escape the prison of the church. and actually i bet you my left nut, and half my right, your church is crawling with lesbos, and homos. look at your friends parents, could you imagine them having sex, if not they probably arent either. sad people stuck in a sad system, surrounded with like minded fearfull people, in an unbrave timid congregation. dont be a sheep, be you and walk away and do whats right for you. find a support system, mine was usually a lesbot a couple years older, they are fun.
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    Jul 01, 2007 7:15 PM GMT
    Everyone will tell you religion is a personal choice you have to make for yourself, but you also need to maintain critical thinking skills when evaluating religious beliefs. What are the chances you were born into the one, true religion? Consider the set of religions (the number of which is N), and a no-information prior probability distribution that attaches to each one an equal likelihood of being true. (This assumes that one and only of them is true.) The chance you were born into the correct religion is 1/N.

    (As an aside, this probability is independent of the number of births each religion has. When you’re born, the religion you were born into is fixed, and its likelihood of being true does not depend on the birthrate. The chances you will be born into the correct religion is also independent of the population distribution. For example, let’s say there are two religions, A and B – and their no-information likelihood of being correct is 50% each. Religion A accounts for 75% of all births. Then, the ex ante chance you will be born into the correct religion is 0.75*0.5 + 0.25*0.5 = 0.5 – independent of the population distribution. Of course, the likelihood that both religion A is correct and that you’ll be born into it is 0.75*0.5 = 0.375, but that’s just the ex ante likelihood of one particular outcome occurring.)

    Sorry for the nerd attack.

    Anyway, the point is, it is unlikely the religion you were born into just happens to be the correct one, barring some particular information that could update the prior probability distribution in some way. Some people subjectively update the prior through personal religious experience, or through science education, or by maintaining the axiom (like AlexinRio) that an unethical religion cannot be true.

    You say you’re 100% sure that God exists. That’s great! That falls into the first of the three possible updating strategies I listed (which isn’t exhaustive, to be sure). However, that still leaves the possibility that Catholicism is not the one, true religion. You should consider the set of monotheistic religions, numbered M; Catholicism’s likelihood of being correct is then only 1/M. You should then consider updating this prior based on subjective factors important to you. Do you think the God that exists is ethical? If so, then do you believe Catholicism’s homophobia is ethical? Do you believe that Christianity’s tossing souls into Hell is ethical? Have you had a personal revelatory experience showing you Catholicism in particular is true?

    Many gays who maintain their spirituality believe that the deity that exists wants them to be happy, and that he/she/it created them to be gay, which precludes positive probability mass on religions such as conventional Catholicism. (There is a gay Catholic group, the name of which is eluding me, you may want to check out.).

    I went through the above analysis and concluded I was an atheist (which is not to say I think there is a 100% probability that a spiritual realm does not exist, just that there’s a substantial likelihood it doesn’t exist). If it leads you to a different conclusion, that’s great – but don’t just assume that because your parents were Catholic that Catholicism is the one, true religion. Hopefully the conclusion you arrive at will allow you to be yourself and not mandate that you alienate yourself from your sexuality. Growing up a fundamentalist Protestant (sometimes Pentacostal, sometimes “non-denominational”), I’ve been there and done that honey, and it’s not a happy life to lead. As others have noted, trying to suppress your sexuality leads to mental problems and unhappiness.

    I wish you a wonderful life =)
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    Jul 02, 2007 11:08 AM GMT
    Having been raised RC myself, in my life I've gone through many life changes both small and catastrophic.

    Based on my experience, and observation of guys I've known going through similar development, here's what I can say:

    Religion is for those who fear going to Hell. Spirituality is for those who've been there.

    I tried to remain Catholic but in the end I realized I couldn't because every gay man I've known who remained staunchly Catholic was either profoundly unhappy or profoundly judgmental (or both). The other issue was I simply couldn't belong to a church that perceived my core being as wrong and as a choice. I'd never understood the 'choice' concept of sexuality until I realized that it was applied by those who needed the concept in a fundamental way to justify thier judgments.

    I left the church and all religion (without loosing my core beliefs) twenty years ago. I rejoined a different church that wasn't judgmental and not focused on money. Simply put, they help me become a better person by developing my spirituality, helping others with casting judgment, and not prosletyzing. If they encourage me to become a better person without having to become a predefined person, then that is a good choice. This works for me.

    If you believe in God, it doesn't matter what religion you are (or even if you belong to one at all.) The issue is how you express that belief. The RC Church, like many others, teaches it's members that their way is the only true way. It's important to remember that that aspect of the church was written by man and not God.

    Lastly, if you wish to deal with this issue in regards to your family, I would say to wait until you're sure and solidly grounded in your beliefs. Otherwise you'll lose the fight that will ensue. It will be easy for someone to convince you the sky isn't blue unless you truly believe your own eyes.

    Use your head and your heart to discover for yourself the place of religion and spirituality in your life. See what's going on outside the church. God gave you a brain and an open mind so don't let anyone close it for you. You can then find happiness in your life and beliefs.

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    Jul 02, 2007 2:54 PM GMT
    CoffeeCup: Perhaps with time you will find that you can have both: you can be gay and you can be Catholic.

    I was raised Catholic, but with no great zealousness. It was just part of being Italian-American, so there is, for me, a great cultural/community aspect to church. I went through the usual questioning period, too, when I was younger. When it came right down to it, though, the questions became secondary to the community.

    I go to mass almost every Sunday. I light a candle in the chapel each time I go, because that's what my grandmother did, so there's a connection over space and time that is, for me, a big aspect of attending and being part of this. Do I believe everything I hear there? Well, no. I have to take some of it with a grain of salt, but I'm okay with that. History--even contemporary history--gets peppered with mythology ("story" is a part of "history").

    A lot, too, will depend on your church and pastor. The pastor of the church I attended during my questioning period is one of those Catholics who are more accusatory and divisive. There are plenty of them, for sure.

    The church I attend now--which I happened upon quite accidentally--is also Catholic but the atmosphere is entirely different. I am out to my pastor (as are many other gay men there) and he is entirely accepting, as is the rest of the community. Father Seamus is more inclined to discuss with us what he calls "sins of ommission" (the good we fail to do) as opposed to "sins of commission" (the not so good things we've done). He's created a community that is accepting and genuine. What's important is what's going on where you yourself are at, and not what the elected guy in Rome is saying... because even that changes over time. It's just takes a lot longer.

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    Jul 02, 2007 3:11 PM GMT
    The Catholic church is like the farmer who was looking at his overturned cart of apples and said “I simply can’t do the subject justice.”
    Statue worship dating way beyond the dark ages,
    Add rituals, - most of which were taken from old forms of ceremonial magic,
    24 tablespoons of a neurotic fear-based God who has a worship complex
    100 cups of distorted forms of emotional, physical and sexual denial
    Add abundant whippings and blood mixed with bread,
    Cook in a lake of burning fire
    Pour a frosting of “it all doesn’t really matter”
    And there you have the Catholic Church.
    Here is a religion that has wiped out entire peaceful civilizations, and dragged morbid behavioral patterns all the way into today’s society through a fear based mythology.
    Even the celibacy rule was installed as a way to keep the monetary inheritance of the priests inside the church.
    A business that has been operating tax-free for 2000 years
    Even today governments of countries have to run around chanting to statues and take dictums from the mother church or lose votes.
    There is tons of rotten garbage that is simply covered by fear and ignorance but it’s starting to leak and surfaces in obvious hypocrisy, paradoxes in the belief system, and the sexual perversions they themselves condemn.
    Realistically it is just another historic monument that belongs in a museum. - A monument to intolerance, superstition, and how humans can be controlled through mythological fear.
    Sorry - but thems the facts...
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    Jul 02, 2007 4:06 PM GMT
    If catholicism belongs in the museum, how come it seems to be surviving so well?
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    Jul 02, 2007 4:21 PM GMT
    catholicism is struggling out my way from a financial perspective- and the Vatican doesn't give a rats ass. Go figure.
    it's been said before:
    what other religion has a man kneeling before another man with his mouth open?
  • trebor965

    Posts: 200

    Jul 02, 2007 4:24 PM GMT
    wrerick that is a new forum post. you know that! we are trying to help this kid, not defend a curse.
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    Jul 02, 2007 4:25 PM GMT
    Catholicism is doing well????
    Its dying faster than the ozone man. Wake up!
    Until humans dump religions that are dragging us back into a value system that is 1000,s of years old we are helplessly screwed.
    If you want to follow a nut wearing a dress go ahead.

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    Jul 02, 2007 4:28 PM GMT
    Oh I forgot - an EXTREMELY wealthy and POWERFUL group of nuts wearing dresses and chanting to statues.