In a previous post I expressed my lack of time for religion and even bothering with debating religious persons.

However one thing I do care about is providing advice to the LGBT community and I do that in person or on a popular Q&A website.

As the title suggests, this thread is about guilty gay theists. What do you tell a gay person who feels guilty for being gay due to religious beliefs?

Do you tell them to drop their religion? To perhaps reevaluate their faith? All of these anti-gay beliefs contradict reality, no matter what way you look at it.

But I can't help but wonder that dealing with giving advice to such persons may cause worse problems in the process. We all know how emotionally attached most theists tend to be towards their beliefs.

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And then there is the delightfully obtuse Ken Cuccinelli on his beliefs about the "personal challenge of homosexuality", running Republican for Governor of Virginia.

What a wanker!

(doesn't "cuccinelli" translate as 'little cock"? I do hope it does)

I just want to tell them, "Don't you get it? THEY DON'T LIKE YOU! They also believe in the existence of a magical sorcerer they call God, which is just fucking ridiculous. They're stupid. Why would you want to be like them anyway?"

I was in a relationship with a Catholic lesbian. No matter what I tried, I couldn't stop her from feeling guilty about sexuality. It was really sad. I've sworn never to date another Catholic again. She even went so far as to accuse me of rape because she could not deal with the thought that she was consenting to lesbian sex.

Whoa. So sad. Stay away from that one. There are many shades of Catholicism, and some Catholic lesbians might not have that extreme amount of guilt. I would still tread carefully with anyone from a strong Jewish/Christian/Muslim religious background.

Speaking as a friend to gay Christians, and only for the ones that I personally know, what they are drawn to about Christianity is not the religion, but the personality of Jesus.  Specifically, many of them like to refer to a number of his teachings that can be found in the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew.  Some are drawn also to the ritual of the church service - it giving them some sort of nostalgic feeling from childhood before they were burdened with the discovery that they were an "abomination" in the eyes of their church community.  Many of them have the same attitude that Gandhi supposedly had regarding Christianity, as he is popularly believed to have said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians."  So, in this case, I have not encountered guilty gay theists, as the case would extend to a Christian one.  I have encountered gays who have left the church and the religion over this issue - particularly because it made them guilty, and they could not reconcile what they were taught as a good, loving, and accepting God rejecting them, but never a guilty gay theist.  At least not yet.

I don't think it's our job to counsel them.  There are therapists and general social workers who would be better for them than whatever non-professional advice we could ever give.  I'm willing to listen to anyone, but I withhold from treading on grounds I'm unfamiliar with.  And I don't want to draw any false equivalencies, but giving them advice --- either for or against --- seems close to trying to de-convert them (which is never my intention as an atheist).  Then again, them being a part of an institution that categorically dismisses them as "less-than" is something I'd feel terrible about not helping them with.  

Ugh, this is why I despise religion.  There's just no upside to it.  It instills fear and causes so much unnecessary doubt, shame, and guilt unto it's members; yet, somehow, this is all to test their faith.  It's probably something introspective that they must deal with --- not alone, but they must decide to live with knowledge that many theists hate them (or as they call it, "hating the sin" --- which is B.S.; they hate homosexuality and otherness) and make peace with that...or leave it.  I don't see too many other options other than that for them.  

The idea that it might be best to encourage someone to leave their religion is one I struggle with, too, especially when it's obvious how much it's making their life so much harder. Sometimes I just want to smack people upside the head and say, "damn it, you don't need this shit! Don't hold on to it!" I end up having to treat it like I do with anyone else with a relationship issue. I ask them if they want some advice from an outside perspective.

In this case, I'd say that it when broaching the topic of homosexuality and religion, it might be best to explain what different religions say about homosexuality and how they treat homosexuals in their congregation and clergy. Unitarians are of course a very gay-friendly religion. Anglicans/Episcopalians and Lutherans seem to be the most welcoming of the mainstream Christian groups while fundamentalist churches and Islam are completely opposed. The eastern religions differ based on cultural influence because there isn't really anything in their scriptures to condemn homosexuality, but that doesn't mean their various communities aren't opposed to it.

I'd go on to explain about what we know about homosexuality vs. heterosexuality via biology especially when it comes to the differences in how the brain works. Twin studies have indicated that there is a genetic component, and there is evidence that a variation of hormone levels during pregnancy contributes to the sexuality of the offspring. And if that doesn't sway them that what they are experiencing is natural and not "sinful" then maybe the fact that measuring pupil dilation on people watching explicit videos can determine where the fall on the spectrum of sexuality.

And to wrap it up, give a personal story regarding someone who struggled with their sexuality because they were religious and became an atheist because of that struggle as well as someone who still remained with the religion and the reasons that they both made their decisions.

Maybe the right answer for them at the moment is just find a different community where they are more accepted. Whether that community is secular or religious doesn't matter as much as getting them out of their currently bad situation.

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