“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”          ----Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I've been rolling in the muck lately.

Several years ago, my cousin (with whom I was very close) told me he was gay. This was an incredibly difficult & courageous thing for him to do. We both came from Evangelical backgrounds, we were both Christians. But he knew exactly what he was risking in coming out to his family. To my knowledge, I was the first family member he came out to, and I fucked up the whole thing pretty royally.

I will never forget that moment. He told me he was "struggling with homosexuality." I gave him the generic, white bread Sunday school answer: We all "struggle" with sin in our lives. We just need to lean on God & ask him to help us & heal us. Blah blah blah. Yadda yadda yadda. It literally sickens me to think about what I was throwing back at him at a time when he needed unconditional acceptance  & support.

I truly believed what I was saying was the best thing I could say--the best way I could love my cousin at that moment. I never wanted to hurt him, but looking back...there's just no way I couldn't have come across as judgmental and just the grossest human possible.

Turning away from Christianity has been a very gradual process for me, but the first building block of my faith that was crushed under the foot of reason was the horrid conviction that homosexuality is a sin. That it's unnatural and against God's plan. I'm so glad that my cousin never completely wrote me off as a loon-loon. It's a real testament to his character. 

I've since become a very strong supporter of gay rights & I vocally support my cousin & his partner. But I've never had the opportunity to really apologize to him and to other people who I know that I hurt by my proselytizing. I plan on "making amends" with him when the opportunity arises. He now lives out of state & we only see each other for family events and that would SO not be the time or place! I've thought about a letter, but I don't want to come across as insincere--like I couldn't say it face to face.

This situation has haunted my steps for years. Even when I was saved there was a niggling feeling in my gut that I really screwed that moment up, though at the time I couldn't figure out why. I'd read directly from the script after all. There are other painful & cringe-worthy times I can recall when I handled situations with Christianity & not humanity.

Has anyone else felt the need to apologize or at least come to some sort of reckoning/closure/etc about the way they acted when they were religious?

Views: 113

Comment by Strega on July 11, 2013 at 1:54pm

Man, you're burning up over something he has almost definitely dismissed.  You probably gave him a good heads-up as to what he was going to have to face amongst friends and family at the time.

I strongly suggest you simply post him a link to the thread here, and ask him to read your post.  I think he will be touched, and I think you could not get your message across to him any clearer.

I think it is you that needs to let go of this.  I'd bet money on the probability that he has never blamed you, and that your inner remorse can be put away, having served its purpose and made you free.

Comment by kris feenstra on July 11, 2013 at 2:02pm

I can't be certain, but it's probably a way bigger deal to you than it is to your cousin at this point in time.

You can probably keep it simple. No matter how you tell him, it should be fine as long as he understands that you feel you let him down in that moment; you've long regretted not having been more supportive and sincerely apologize for any hurt it may have caused; and that you love/ accept/ support him now. A letter, a personal talk, an email, an aside at a family gathering -- it probably doesn't matter how you say it. I doubt it would be considered insincere; you could have gone your whole life without uttering an apology and no one would have said boo. It should be apparent you are being genuine. Maybe it won't be perfect, but it's still a giant leap forward from continuing to say nothing at all.

Comment by Kairan Nierde on July 11, 2013 at 11:35pm

No, most of the legitimately shitty stuff I've done hasn't been because of my religion but because of who I am. 

One thing to keep in mind is whether apologizing will benefit your cousin or mainly just make you feel better. 

If you do apologize, I'd recommend doing it live--in person, on the phone, or video-calling.

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. You had good intentions. Your cousin probably understood. He probably knows you don't think that way anymore. However, showing your support is never a bad thing.

Comment by William Boyd on July 12, 2013 at 3:04am

Sincere apologies for being wrong are more than often accepted with open arms. It's never too late to speak your peace. If nothing else, you will feel better inside.

Comment by bongani muthwa on July 12, 2013 at 8:11am

Why most ulgy things most of us did when we were religious had to do with sexuality. There are many beautiful men and women, innocent boys and girls that I have prayed over and "counselled" because they "were possessed by Sodom and Gomorrah demons". I cannot apologise to all of them now, all I can say guys, fellow neighbours in this lovely green unimportant planet, Bongani was under the influence of a very dangerous drug when he uttered those words to you. You are very intelligent, very good humans beings. Being born or choosing to be gay or Lesbian had fuckall to do with me. I was just a fucked up self righteous dildo. Especially to cousin Sipho's family who ended up commiting suicide because we could not accept him to be who he was.

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