So what is this pull of spirituality and religion? For many months now I have been estranged from organized religion, disgusted at the hatred and hypocrisy I see in so many organized bodies of believers. A great deal of the history of Christianity in particular has disturbed me. I wonder, why do I belong and believe in something that so many have used and still continue to use for what seem to be narrow and ultimately destructive ends? The ignorance and hostility towards certain groups of people by Christians is embarrassing. The recent nonsense with Chic-Fil-A and the notion of “Biblically” based ideas on marriage are a recent example. Now, people are free to believe whatever they want, but when someone invokes the Bible as source of what is right and what is wrong in marriage, it is clear that the Bible itself has all sorts of different types of marriage. Polygamy and concubinage were common in the Old Testament. People might say, “Well, that is the Old Testament, and we don’t follow that anymore.” But why? If you are going to invoke the Bible to support modern day laws against homosexuality, then why not invoke the Bible to support polygamy? Or prostitution? Furthermore, the Bible supports slavery. In the nineteenth century many a Christian pastor, especially in the Old South, quoted the Bible quite often to defend slavery. It is this sort of mindless adherence to the Bible by so many fundamentalist Christians which often turns me away from Christianity.
And yet, despite all this, despite what I see as so much anger and hatred coming out from so many Christian communities, I still feel that powerful pull of the divine. I struggle with faith. I struggle with God. I ask too many questions. I doubt. I find many Christians quite distasteful. But, despite these issues, I know there is something more powerful than myself, something greater and benevolent and wonderful, the creator of the world and the universe, and I feel drawn to this. When I pray, I am happier. When I attend Church, I am happier. When I seek peace, I feel more peaceful. All of the different religious traditions of the world, despite their constant bickering and fighting and even hatred of one another, can at least attest to the positive and life affirming effects of prayer, meditation, and seeking God. They can all attest to the power of spirituality. Perhaps some people cannot understand this? Or perhaps some people will ridicule this? Who knows. But religion is part of our genetic DNA, it has existed in every society since the dawn of man, for whatever reasons, and most of us need some sort of sense of the divine to help us through life. Perhaps it is merely a coping mechanism developed over millions of years to help us deal with our own mortality. We are, after all, the only species on Earth that understands death and our own life limits. Or perhaps there really is a God out there who is calling us to closer union with Him. There is no real way of knowing, which is why faith is what it is, a trusting, a letting reason and common sense go to believe in something we cannot see or feel or hear or smell but something which we know still exists. As with the body, we can also see and feel and touch and smell with our souls, with the inner eyes and ears and fingers of our being, and this brings us comfort and stability in the realm of the spirit and divine.
So, despite my recent posts of how much I have been turned off from religion, I still believe, and have come to understand even better my own personal need for spirituality, redemption and salvation. My own particular tradition is Christian, and Catholic. I know I could never leave these to join another faith or religion. With Christians, there are many holy, orthodox believers out there who have attacked me with great venom for writing about my own beliefs and questions. My writing about spirituality and eroticism in particular has labeled me a non-Christian, a heathen, a sinner who is destined for hell. I admit, these holy and orthodox Christians do bother me. But I just need to ignore them. Out of all the religions of the world, Christians can be the most hateful, bigoted and oppressive (I suppose Islam is a good competitor with Christianity for the honor of having the most hate filled members). Such is life, and human nature. I cannot let this distract me from my own spiritual quest and edification. My need for God is too important.
In the end, I can’t help but believe. I need to believe. It is just part of my nature. I need the beauty of faith and spirituality in my life. Faith is too important to ignore. God is too great to reject.