Hello Papa Bear!
I read your letters to furs sometimes on your site and you have answered one of mine in the past. So thank you for the advice! School is awesome now that freshmen year of high school is long behind me and each passing year seems to get better and better. Now I even have a mate and overall I'm having a good life. But what's on my mind constantly is religion.
I grew up Roman Catholic and am still being raised this way. I went to a Catholic grade school where it seemed like the traditions and teachings are forced into you like math class. (There actually are religion classes if you go to a Catholic school no matter where you attend.) And every class seemed the same. It's not just "this is the Bible and you must follow it." Not at all. Catholicism actually doesn't focus that much on the Bible as much as one might think. It's still important but Catholics focus much more on the morals that it teaches more than anything else which I have been grateful for.
But what the religion classes actually taught was how to be a good person (aka not sinning,) and following the beliefs and traditions. Sounds good and harmless right? Ha ha, no. Absolutely not. Don't get me wrong, there were good qualities that taught, but The older I got and the more I submitted the more I realized this: the Catholic church teaches petty perfection, guilt and a lemming-like following. One teacher even taught that if you didn't follow the traditions you weren't Catholic. I seem really biased and like I'm digging at Catholics by laying it down like this but this really is how I see it. Growing up by the Catholic teachings has made me timid of making any mistake. Any. It makes me feel guilty every time I so much as think of sinning (or whatever seems like it.) The more I saw this about myself the more I began to wonder if that's really what God would want out of us. Would he really want us to be perfect? Would he want us to be cringing in fear of him every time we make a mistake? What my parents told from a young age is that God is merciful and loves all his creations. I believe this because I was given a blessed life with a loving family friends. But it seems like the Church is trying to teach the opposite.
Especially when it comes to the Church's stance on homosexuality and same sex marriages. I was always told in school and at church that marriage was meant for a male and a female only with no exceptions. I was ok with this for a while. But being bisexual myself I'm not so good with this idea anymore. First of all if someone is homosexual or bisexual it isn't their fault. God made them that way for a reason right? And as I've learned over the years: love is love. God always loves his creations no matter who they are. God would want his creations to love and be loved wouldn't he? So why can't the church realize this? I say tradition is too deep rooted in their minds.
But really all my thoughts on Catholicism begs the question. Is Catholicism really for me? Do I really need it? I kind of found myself growing out of it. I learned and am still learning all about morals, and good character and such outside of the church. I don't know if what's left for me in Catholicism. I'm not worried about what anyone else thinks about my decision. Really I'm worried about myself here. But at the same time I'm really wondering if I should stay.
Despite all my thoughts on it I'm having a surprisingly hard time deciding whether I should stay or go. My early "training" might be holding me back naturally, but I'm not entirely sure. I don't know if I want to leave Catholicism or if I want to stay with it. I don't think I can use my own input on this any longer.
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Far be it for me to tell you what religion to follow. That’s an extremely personal choice. Reading through your letter, it’s pretty clear you have come to some conclusions about life and spirituality that no longer mesh with your Catholic upbringing.
In my opinion, this is a good thing. Not because you are drifting away from Catholicism (a religion that gives millions comfort) but because it shows you are thinking for yourself, not just mimicking what you have been taught all your life. Probably what brings a lot of this questioning about is the fact that you’re bisexual and the Catholic Church considers bisexuality and homosexuality a sin, although Pope Francis recently said the following about gay people:
“A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him?” The pope added, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this (homosexual) orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby.”
Which is interesting in that he seems to be saying the Catholic Church should be tolerant about gay people, as long as they are not lobbying for their rights. Hmm.
I personally feel that religions make a relationship with God more difficult, because they put a lot of rules, rituals, traditions, and laws in the way. This is done purely to create a priestly/authoritarian class between you and God so that certain people will have power over you and define your Faith (a paradigm even more powerful than nationalism).
All you really need to know is what you have already said, Dawnstar. God is love, and loves all His creations, flaws and all. He is not sending you to Hell because you are bi. Frankly, I could not believe in a God whose sense of compassion was inferior to mine, and since I can find love in my own heart for people of all races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations etc., I believe that God’s compassion is infinitely greater than my own. Therefore, He loves you infinitely more than I do, and infinitely more than the Church does.
As for the question of didn’t God create gay and bi people? Depends on your point of view on the topic. Some people think that gay and bisexual people choose to be that way because they are sinful, not because they were born that way. I—and I’m sure you—am of the opinion that we were created this way, with our sexuality ingrained in us; therefore, why would God create an “evil” creature just to get His jollies to condemn him or her to an eternity of suffering? He wouldn’t.
Please note, this is just my opinion. I also feel that, since I do not know what [insert deity/deities of your choice here] plan is, it would be very presumptuous of me to say I know. Perhaps God really does like rosary beads and old men wearing funny hats. I find the notion ridiculous, but I cannot say differently with any sense of authority.
Perhaps this question would have been better answered by my mate, Yogi, who was raised Catholic. But my feeling about all formal religions, in general, is that they make spirituality far more complicated than it needs to be. If we all simply loved each other and were kind to one another, and loved God, as well, we wouldn’t need anyone telling us when to go to church, which way to bow, and whether or not we can eat a certain food on a certain day or need to fast or need to go on a pilgrimage. It would all be utterly unnecessary because we would be living in a paradise on earth. Also, I must assert here, the fact that we have different religions and people telling us that THEIR religion is right and YOUR religion is wrong has caused more wars and human suffering than anything else in human history.
Dawnstar (by the way, lovely choice of a name), you’re feeling anxious because you fear disapproval from family and society if you explore your own direction to find your own spirituality. Yes, that is scary, indeed, and it will take courage for you to do this. But, in your heart, you have already done it. You have already decided that a lot of the religious teachings you have received are not right for you. The rest is really just formality.
You are also hesitant because you are afraid of distancing yourself from what has long been familiar in your life, even if you feel what is familiar is wrong. This is understandable as well. You must decide whether you wish to live a lie just so you can fit in, or whether you wish to be true to yourself and find a life that fits you rather than the other way around.
I applaud you for awakening to your own truth and to the wisdom that God loves you for you, as you are one of his beautiful creations.
Good luck! Be brave!
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