Unlike most Christians (and ex-Christians), I grew up in a secular household. I now thank Ranginui, Māori god of the sky, that this was the case. In my opinion, what drew me to the Christian faith in the first place (for eight years) was my innate need for spiritual exploration, influence via Christian extended family members, and desire for answers to all of life’s big questions. Oh yeah, and I met various hot women along the way who happened to be Christians.
Settling into Humanism just over two years ago has brought me more rangimarie than the Christian faith ever did. That is not to say that there isn’t value in Christianity, nor that Christianity is wrong in the slightest: it just messed me up a lot, personally. This is why I have ended up a writer, a musician, a poet. I feel the micro-sensitivities of life, emotions, kare-ā-roto that the average person overlooks or doesn’t ever grapple with to the same depth. This is why I started exhibiting depressive and anxiety symptoms from very young, why I didn’t know how to have deep and meaningful friendships when I was a kid, why I would struggle to sleep as a 9 year old and sincerely ask my father existential questions such as “What’s the point of life?”. I remember worrying about money as a child, even though my family has been fortunate enough to have never struggled financially; having suicidal thoughts at Christian camp as a 12 year old; feeling the burden of having to convert my family to the faith; making myself mentally sick and wired from stress… and all the while, repressing all homosexual attraction towards anyone, ever. Because that stuff was gross, taboo, a choice, and against god’s heavenly plan for my life. I literally signed up to a mailing list as a 15 year old that aimed to prevent marriage equality in New Zealand, when that same year I had been squeezing my friend’s breasts and then proceeding to ignore her out of shame for two weeks. Buried deep in the closet much?
How could anyone ever believe my homosexuality is a choice, or is a demon inside me? That it could be controlled, that I am experimenting or just want attention? That I am a lesser person, or that I should just be abstinent? That’s not fucking fair. I do not think I will ever be against religion, but when cultures and faith groups suppress sexuality and/or gender identity, they mess people up. I am living proof of these problems, and my case is only a mild one. Some people suffer seriously from a disorder known as Religious Trauma Syndrome, and many need professional help in order to heal.
On a semi-related note: Watch the documentary Jesus Camp (2006) and you might just flip out. Childhood indoctrination is not only scary, but it is dangerous. I still feel guilt at being part of the indoctrination of children as a young teenager, even though my intentions were always good-natured, and I faithfully believed I was doing the good lord’s work.
Again: while this content is heavy and may (unintentionally) offend some of my Christian readers, it is my truth. I respect your beliefs, but they are no longer my own.