Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I choose honesty over belief

I watched Brokeback Mountain recently. It inspired many thoughts regarding homosexuality and about living life honestly. The two male characters in the movie fall in love, and the whole story revolves around their attempts to keep their love for each other hidden over a period of twenty years. They opt for living heterosexual lives: they each get married and have children; but they still can’t rid themselves of what they really are, and the love that they share for each other. The movie shows how easy it is to live a lie rather than dealing with the truth, especially if what you really are – in this case, being gay – is something that can attract hatred from others in society.

I've thought about homosexuality a lot over the years, and I often wonder if human sexual orientation is less rigid than we think. Is it possible that no one is 100% heterosexual or 100% homosexual, that each human being has a mixture of both? Maybe
a number of factors – such as genes, upbringing, social context, etc determine if a person becomes dominantly (but not entirely) heterosexual or homosexual. I've often thought that extreme homophobes who brandish those "God hates fags" signs actually realise the homosexual part within themselves, but instead of accepting it they lash out at those who are comfortable with their sexual orientation. In other words, extreme homophobes don't hate 'fags'; they hate themselves.

I think that, if I had a slightly different life consisting of a slightly different set of life experiences, it is possible that I would have turned out gay. And I would have been totally comfortable with it, because I've learnt that one of the pillars of good psychological health is to be honest with who you are, and to be yourself despite what society may think.

And this last point applies to my lack of belief in God. My atheism is a part of who I am, and one thing that I decided long ago is that I won't pretend to be something I'm not. I think it is far more honest to live out what I really am, rather than trying to force myself to believe in virgin births, parting seas, talking donkeys, and people rising from the dead – things that are so alien to my natural way of thinking that I find them extremely difficult to accept. If the God Christianity really exists, and if I one day stand before his throne, would he not accept the fact that I lived honesty, over and above the fact that I did not believe in him? If he decides to send me to hell because of his bruised ego, is he truly worthy of worship at all? I find more value in honesty than in belief or in conformity, and for this short life I choose honesty.

9 comments:

scott vieira said...

It's interesting how moving away from Christian thought allows for you to look at questions like sexuality differently. You can be much more open to where experience and science lead instead of trying to make such uncomfortable facts fit with the Bible. As I read more on this subject, I too wonder if sexual orientation is much more fluid than the black and white categories we impose upon it. I think that to some extent these categories are constructed. If we lived in a different culture and time, perhaps Ancient Greece, we would have a different experience and understanding regarding sexuality.

I concur with your view on honesty. I have tried to be honest with my family members about what I believe. This hasn't always been easy, but I think it is fair. We have a lot to be grateful for since we both live in countries that allow freedom in expressing dissenting opinions. Yes, there's criticism. And there might even be some retribution, but we don't have to worry about being burned at a stake for heresy, even in Kansas. --scott vieira

Rocketstar said...

I think your right sven. Although our base attraction is to the opposite sex, otherwise the human race would not have evolved as quickly as it has, I think we all are still attracted to the oppsoite sex in some way. Maybe not physically, but we are attracted to other traits like maybe the strength or sense of humor. After all, we all admire our friends for the same reasons we may admire our lovers.

Rocketstar said...

sorry, you are not sven, I was wondering why you said you "might" have turned out gay. ;o) I thought I hit the link for Svens
's blog.

Anonymous said...

Honesty vs. belief is a false dichotomy. I prefer an honest belief. My guess is that God would be as unimpressed by an honest disbelief as He would be by an dishonest belief.

"If he decides to send me to hell because of his bruised ego, is he truly worthy of worship at all?"

As I read the Bible, God's isn't looking for whether we've been honest or not. He's concerned with whether we've sinned or not (and since we all have, He's concerned with whether or not we have a redeemer). Given your background, however, I think you know this, and are intentionally misrepresenting the Bible's teachings of who God is. Not very honest of you...

Cheers,
Ethan

CyberKitten said...

Ethan said: My guess is that God would be as unimpressed by an honest disbelief as He would be by an dishonest belief.

But it makes little sense - at least to me - for God to give us Free Will and then punish us for exercising it. If we have honestly come to the conclusion that God does not exist and then happen to be wrong... why would He feel the need to hand out punishments?

Ethan said: God's isn't looking for whether we've been honest or not. He's concerned with whether we've sinned or not (and since we all have, He's concerned with whether or not we have a redeemer).

As an Atheist I don't believe in Sin - and since that is an honestly arrived at position (since I don't believe in God) we're back at my original question....

Kevin Parry said...

Ethan wrote:
"As I read the Bible, God's isn't looking for whether we've been honest or not. He's concerned with whether we've sinned or not (and since we all have, He's concerned with whether or not we have a redeemer). Given your background, however, I think you know this, and are intentionally misrepresenting the Bible's teachings of who God is. Not very honest of you..."

If I interpreted the scriptures incorrectly, then I admit that that was an honest mistake ;-) But seriously, if I interpret your comment correctly, then what you are saying is that it doesn’t matter what I am or what I do in this life, the only criteria that God will use judge me is whether I’ve accepted some nebulous idea of sin, or a 2000 year old story of a human sacrifice. I don’t believe in your claim of a redeemer; I don’t accept your belief regarding sin. But I aim to live an honest life; I aim to live consistently with what I believe; I aim to treat others as I would like to be treated; I aim to contribute positively to society. For me, this is more important than trying to placate a supernatural being who has an unhealthy single minded obsession with this concept of sin. The fact of the matter is this: accepting or not accepting the idea of sin doesn't make the slightest difference to how I live as an individual. Is it then just to use sin to determine my eternal fate?

Is it not more just, and more moral, to judge someone for what they have done? People might be infested with sin, but what is important to me is: (1) how do people live (i.e., do they live life honestly and responsibly), (2) how do they treat others, and (3) do they contribute positively to the well-being of society?

Thanks again for all your comments; they have spurred my thinking.

All the best
Kevin

James V. West said...

Excellent post. I'm with you 100% on this one.

On a local forum my wife and I have had many little "debates" with locals on this and other related topics. It's nice to read honest posts like this and be reminded that human thought is not dead in the world.

I enjoy your blog very much.

Roger Saner said...

"I find more value in honesty than in belief or in conformity, and for this short life I choose honesty."

Interesting you set up "belief" and "honesty" in opposition to each other and make it an either/or choice. Once you've created this dichotomy it's obvious which one you have to choose! I'm not convinced the dichotomy necessarily has to be true.

By the way, I don't see "Belief in God" as the central tenet of Christianity, and I think it's ok to be a Christian and not believe in God. In fact, sometimes Christians need to disbelieve God so that they can find God.

I posted on this last year, on giving up belief in God in order to find God.

--x--

So I'm in the neighbourhood now! I arrived yesterday and slowly the others are getting here. We start orientation for 2 weeks (which I think will be quite an introspective time, so not much getting out and meeting people stuff, but after that... :)

Kevin Parry said...

Hi roger

As usual, thank you for the thought inspiring comment. This is a late reply, but I hope it is still relevant.

Roger wrote:
Interesting you set up "belief" and "honesty" in opposition to each other and make it an either/or choice.

You have a point here. I guess what I was trying to say is that belief and honesty should compliment each other, and this implies that a person’s beliefs should be consistent with how they live their lives.

Roger wrote
In fact, sometimes Christians need to disbelieve God so that they can find God.

I read the post that you linked above, and if I read it correctly, you are referring to two types of belief: the first consisting of your ideas of God, the influence of the Christian church on your thinking, the Christian status-quo, culture, theology, etc; and the second is simply God himself. Is this right? You post has clarified my view of your own spiritual journey.

For me, my own spiritual journey started out with doubts about the first type of belief. After many years growing up in a conservative Baptist Church, my view of God was this bald, old, white male in a suit, and with a cane in one hand - your typical authoritarian model for a someone growing up in apartheid SA. But this view conflicted with my own supposed personal experience of God: a God of love who didn’t care if I believed in young earth creationism or if I prayed everyday. Anyway, although my journey started out by questioning this ‘first type’ of belief, it went even further to question the ‘second type’ of belief in God himself. I guess I have moved one step further than you have. I’m not saying this is necessarily a good or bad thing, but if I look at my own journey, I guess I am at a place that fits the second person that M. Scott Peck describes in your post: the issue of God is becoming less and less important.

Hope this all makes sense.