The reason I despise fundamental Christianity, as revealed to me in a dream

This is the second post in a series of Discussions on Conservatism.
Part I | Part II

Recently there has been a series over at the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog, called “Voices of Sister-Moms”. I began reading the introductory post, but could not finish. My entire body was having a negative reaction. I mentioned this to some of my fellow LGBT Homeschooled friends, and they wisely suggested that I step away from the article till I could calm down. I was seriously angry, and had beginning symptoms of a minor panic/anxiety attack.

I was surprised at my reaction to the article. After all, I am a male, the eldest in my family, who, in the patriarchal/quiverfull system, is in a position of privilege. It’s true that I was expected to do a lot of housework and helped homeschool the kids (see last Friday’s post), but I went to college, got a job, and was allowed to live my own life. (And by “my own life” I mean going to work and coming back home and going to church with the family and sometimes hanging out with friends.)

Well, in the last two years, I’ve come out of the closet, left the fundamentalism my family calls Christianity, meet many new kinds of people, and discovered that what I was taught isn’t necessarily the truth. I am in a relationship with another man, which is for me a clear illustration that the traditionally taught family dynamics are not the one true way. I have even begun to question Christianity itself.

But I couldn’t put my finger on either my anxiety when reading about the mistreatment of Christian girls or my strange negative reactions to other generic mentions of Christianity. Why did I cringe when I saw a post on Twitter recommending a book about God’s love? Why do I skim past the tweets with Bible verses and references to good times at church? I believe I got my answer in a dream I had Saturday night.

In my dream, I was visiting my father’s childhood church, which my family had begun re-attending. Mom was in a small-group discussion, and brother T was in the main sanctuary. I walked up to T, but he distinctly turned away without acknowledging me. Once Small Groups was over, Mom came back into the sanctuary. I began following her as she straightened the pews, talking to her. She was upset with me for living openly gay, and I was getting more and more angry with her as the conversation continued.

Then I exploded at her. This is very much out of character of me, as I have only raised my voice at her on a few occasions. I almost tremble in reverent fear of my mother, who has power to unleash unheard-of retribution. Or at least, that’s how I feel. So for me to yell at her actually takes me by surprise in retrospect. But what I said to her showed me exactly what I had been feeling but had been unable to express before. It was the very innermost turmoil that I had not been able to understand.

Do you know what I hate about Christianity?” I shouted at my mother, standing in the very sanctum of the religion I was at that very moment criticizing. “Do you know what it is that makes you unable to accept the fact that ‘I’m gay, and it’s OK’?” My mother just stood there, not replying. And then I said the word. Just one word, a simple 8 letters that encompass the root of my dissatisfaction with the religion in which I was raised, and which has caused irreparable pain to so many people. I opened my mouth, and with conviction, the word thundered through the church:

“Misogyny.”

According to Wikipedia, “Misogyny /mɪˈsɒɪni/ is the hatred or dislike of women or girls.” When used in a religious context, it usually refers to the belief that women are the “weaker sex” (see I Peter 3:7) and are under the authority of men (see I Corintians 11:3 and I Timothy 2:12). In practice, this means that women and girls are to be humble servants to men. Girls are groomed to become wives and mothers, and should not aspire to be successful on their own. They are to submit, never questioning their fathers, husbands, or pastors.

When I awoke form my dream, I was surprised at what my mind had expressed while I slept. Upon reflection, however, I realized how so very true it is. Misogyny is at the heart of much of the pain I have experienced in my life. It is the root of the agony that countless other women and gay men have felt.

Wait, sure, you can see how misogyny has caused incredible pain and discrimination for women, but how dare I include myself and other gay men in that category? This is the question I asked myself. But even though I did not express it verbally in my dream, I knew what the answer was.

One major argument used against the union between two men is the call to remember God’s biblical definition of marriage. Thus, marriage is commonly interpreted as the union between one man and one woman. Traditionalists maintain that the proper balance of power places the man in the position of leader and the woman in a submissive position. Women are expected to fill the roles of taking care of the home, cleaning, cooking, shopping, teaching, raising children, making life easier for men, and providing sex on demand. Men are expected to go to work, provide money and housing, spiritually lead the family, and lead the family into ministry work.

With this in mind, it’s not hard to extrapolate the effects of misogyny onto gay men. If two men are in a relationship, who has what duty? Men aren’t supposed to do the women’s work. Who leads the family and makes the decision? Which one goes to work and which one cleans the house? In short, which one is the man and which one is the woman?

So many straight fundamentalists can’t grasp the idea that gay men are still men. A flamboyant gay man is called effeminate and looked down on. When I came out to my mother over the phone, she prayed for me. In that prayer, she cried, saying that she didn’t want me to be her daughter; she wanted me to be her son. I have had several people ask me who is the man in Paul’s and my relationship.

Besides being entirely misguided, such notions and comments are very hurtful. I have been completely cut off form my family. My old friends have told me that we cannot fellowship anymore. They see me as a deviant from the natural order and desires. Because I don’t want to be with a woman. Because I don’t want to exercise headship over my partner. Because I like to engage in “feminine” pursuits such as sewing. Because I care what I look like and plan my outfits to coordinate. Because I wear earrings. Because I am “acting like a woman”, when I am really a man.

I admit I am not sure where I stand on the issue of Christianity. The pain and hurt I have received from the church has made me very wary of the religion of the Bible. When I see others facing the same discrimination I have, I become enraged. It is hard not to be bitter against the very religion that brought me up. It’s a world of pain, hurt, and rejection, all because of one word: misogyny.

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About Seanny

I'm a gay actor, director, gaymer.
This entry was posted in Dealing with Family, Dreams, From the Heart, Misogyny, Sexuality and Gender, Thoughts on Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The reason I despise fundamental Christianity, as revealed to me in a dream

  1. ramblingtart says:

    I’m truly, deeply sorry for the pain and rejection you have felt from your family and church. I’ve felt the same, not because I’m gay, but because I’m a woman. Wishing you much healing, courage and strength as you build your loved and loving little spot in this world. 🙂

  2. Friend says:

    Sean, I think you might really appreciate this book. I believe though it may hurt, it also may heal some of these wounds. Hope you find it as interesting as I have.

    http://www.amazon.com/Washed-Waiting-Reflections-Faithfulness-Homosexuality/dp/0310330033/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377565806&sr=8-1&keywords=washed+and+waiting

      • Friend says:

        Thank you for being so quick to judge my intentions.

      • kbrightbill says:

        That’s what you got from this? Me judging your intentions? The reality is that LGBT people who grew up in the church have been told time and again to read Wesley Hill, and those posts are an attempt to explain why that’s a singularly unhelpful suggestion.

      • Friend says:

        In the links to the articles you posted the author expressed frustration that Christians don’t talk directly to their gay friends.
        This is why. When we do, we’re met with venom and frustration when all we’re trying to do is help.
        If you would rather us keep our opinions to ourselves, then fine. But you can’t have it both ways. There is too much pain in the world already for more hurtful, ranting words in those articles. Where is the forgiveness and understanding?
        And I would also like to point out, that while I understand your reaction to defend Sean as your friend, this initial post was not written toward you or to make you angry, but it was written to him out of love for him as a fellow hurting Christian who is also struggling, like myself, coming out of fundamental Christianity and questioning much of what we were taught to believe.

      • kbrightbill says:

        But see, when someone is hurting because of their experiences in fundamentalism, a book that tells them that the best, most godly thing they can hope for is a life of constant struggle and aloneness isn’t comforting. What you’re saying by recommending the book is that you think Sean should break off his relationship and spend the rest of his life alone. That’s not helpful.

    • Friend says:

      Based on your generalized comments, I find myself wondering if you have read this book or merely read reviews on it – or, if you did, how open-or-closed minded you were to it.

      Also, if you read my first comment, you will notice I never *told* Sean to do anything. I respect Sean. He is a grown man, able to think and judge for himself and make his own decisions. He can read the book or choose not to. He can read it, and choose to ignore it. There was nothing overly-spiritual, judgmental, or parental about my comment. I never told Sean anything by recommending the book – please, do go back and read the first post! Read my words, not what you *think* I am saying. What I actually said was, ” I think you might really appreciate this book. I believe though it may hurt, it also may heal some of these wounds. Hope you find it as interesting as I have.”
      Did I tell him what to do? No. Did I tell him what life decisions to make? No. Was I trying to help this great, gaping hurt that he has? Clearly, *yes*.

      If I offer a suggestion on a book (because I am actually halfway through it and it has already greatly encouraged me in my own struggles) out of love for Sean and identification of similar struggles, and then you (who I now realize is probably the author of those criticizing and singeing posts) shoot me down, please don’t hatefully and condescendingly condemn those of us who do ACTUALLY care. It’s the people who react like that which keep the ones who actually care scared to talk to the people they care about because they know how likely rejection actually is.

      That being said, I do realize how easy it is to misunderstand another person when your own heart is so full of pain. I regret that you did not find my words to Sean helpful. However, please let him make his own choices instead of jumping in the middle.
      I can’t apologize for my words to Sean because they were not directed at you, and I have no control over whether or not someone chooses to read more into my words than what I write, but I can express regret for the fact that they were mis-taken, and I can promise you I will never go to your site and make any so-called “helpful” comments.

  3. Dawn says:

    Yes. A million times yes.

  4. Pingback: And they keep us in because we don’t know better | Of Pen and Heart

  5. “Why do I skim past the tweets with Bible verses and references to good times at church?”

    I’ve felt the same way many times this year, and I’m a Christian blogger/tweeter! I know how frustrating it can be, and I’m so sorry for that.

    Also, I have dreams similar to yours pretty often. Like you, I come from that homeschool quiverfull background. And I keep having these dreams where I’m screaming at my Mom, telling her that I’m done with her domineering rule and I’m going to leave. It’s weird, because I never did that in real life and i’ve been married for four years now, but for some reason there’s a part of my psyche that wants to go back and set myself free again from that controlling authority.

    • Sean-Allen says:

      Thanks for sharing, Micah. I actually had another dream last night where I was yelling at my mom. (I don’t remember what about.) It’s quite unsettling, actually, but also relieving in a way. Maybe some day I’ll have the courage to tell her the things I’m too afraid to say now.

  6. Scout Finch says:

    I so relate to this. Why is it that well meaning Christians are so quick to meet pain with “here is… what you haven’t read/are doing wrong/the church you should visit/the sermon you should listen to.” Deep pain most wants to be met with “I’m sorry. What would most help you right now?”

  7. Sean, I recently wrote a piece on fundamental & evangelical chauvinism. I agree with you that a man is a man no matter how diverse his orientation. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it to make my point clear), even homosexuals. There is a little thing in christian culture called “ontology” that the majority automatically subordinate to the thousand nasty permutations of christianity that are all saying the same thing which is “We will determine if you are acceptable.” Thanks for sharing your experiences. http://pomozone2011.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-benevolent-chauvinist.html

  8. Pingback: The Reason I Despise Fundamentalist Christianity, As Revealed to Me In a Dream | H . A

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