Monday, April 11, 2011

Inner Walls

I got a job this week a The Boston Language Institute in Kenmore square. My bosses there are Sikh, and extremely devoted to their tradition. In my interview we fell on the topic of my post-grad goals, and they were happily surprised to learn that I want to be a pastor in the United Church of Christ. From there, we compared our different faith traditions and discussed their similar aspects. At one point my new supervisor said something to the effect of, "I feel so sad when conversation about faith practice is walled off because my evangelical Christian friends believe I am going to hell. Though, of course, I make that wall myself."

Her intuitive statement surprised me. I have struggled for a long time to love the people who probably think I am soiling the Christian name by simultaneously worshiping Jesus and embracing other faiths, sexualities, and political ideals. In fact, I really resent people who adhere to the strict one-path method to achieving salvation, because they must think I'm going to hell too. The question is, though, who does this resentment hurt? The people it's aimed toward? No. They're mentality and happiness is not marred by the dark cloud I see looming over-head them when I see them. I am the only one building the wall and the tension inside myself against people who essentially don't have the same beliefs I do, though we are supposed to be in the same religion. Christianity is the simple umbrella under which all of our more complex ideas reside.

This past weekend, the new Marsh Associates had a retreat where we talked about the concept of the way doubt has affected our lives. I spoke about the time I doubted whether my faith and my sexuality could coincide harmoniously. My freshman year of college, at University of New Hampshire, I joined a chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ, and got lunch with a girl from that student group. This person proceeded to tell me that, while she thinks homosexuality is a sin, she loves all sinners, and while she does not struggle with homosexuality herself, she too sins in other ways. I had a minor melt-down after this lunch because I realized that I was no longer in the "safe-zone" with God. I can claim, with some validity, that it's because of their intolerance or ignorance that I resent right-wing Christians, but I think I truly resent them because their beliefs make me doubt my security with God. This is a wall that I create for myself, and from now I'm going to work to recognize the tension I create within myself, rather than the tension people build for me.

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