I grew up devoutly Christian. My family went to church at least once a week, if not twice with a bible study thrown in for good measure. I sang in the choir with robes and all.
Even though the Anglican church doesn’t have as much dogmatic or fundamentalist doctrine preached from the pulpit, it is still based on the same book as Catholic or Evangelist churches which contains elements that can be used to persecute others.
But what is “other”?
According to some of the less tolerant Christians I have met, “other” is basically anyone who isn’t straight, white, middle-class, Christian and conservative. In some cases, you may also be required to be a man to be considered human.
I gotta say, that excludes a rather large proportion of the planet.
So why do we live in fear of the scorn from such a closed-minded minority?
I guess its hard to undo centuries and even millennia of persecution in such a short amount of time. It’s like we’re conditioned to feel shame, fear and guilt for something which is perfectly within our free-will to exercise. After all, the Witchcraft Act in Britain wasn’t repealed until 1951. That less than 100 years of being free to open call oneself a witch without potentially being sent to jail or executed.
The pagan community and the LGBTIQ community have a lot in common. We’re all considered “other” and we all fear coming out of the closet. In Australia the last state to “decriminalise” gay sex was in 1997. That’s far too recent to be easy for a lot of that community to feel comfortable in their own skin.
My brother came out in 1998. He was already in his mid-20’s by that point and no doubt his reluctance to tell his family was entirely based on the religious aspect.
However, no one can deny their truth forever. It’s too heavy a burden to carry for so long and it tarnishes the relationships around you, not just because you’re keeping things from them, but because you can’t be sure that they love the real you.
In my last article on empaths I talked about having to find the courage to interact with a world which is overwhelming, not just for your own benefit, but for the collective good. Being yourself and openly speaking your truth is one of the hardest things we ever do as human beings. We’re all social by nature because it offers protection and emotional connection.
The fear of being rejected by your family, your friends and your society as a whole is a very daunting prospect. And lets be honest, there are no guarantees that the people you love will love you back enough to change their views on topics like religion.
You might be afraid of not being deemed worthy of their love, but if that turns out to be the case, have they been worthy of your love?
In my opinion, turning your back on a loved one just because they’re being themselves goes against everything Christ came to sort out thousands of years ago. He explicitly tells his followers to love one another and to hold that above all other commandments.
When in doubt; Love.
When my brother came out there was no doubt in my mind who I would choose, regardless of how much the church played a role in my life. Anyone who had an issue with him, had an issue with me.
Sometimes its easier to stand up for someone else than it is to stand up for yourself.
The courage I found to defend someone I love is the courage I also need to find to speak my own truth and to stand by who I want to be in this life. I need to love myself the way I love my family; no questions asked, no limits, and no judgement.
When we get to that point for ourselves, it has a flow-on effect of encouraging others to also be themselves and to also speak their own truth. Standing up for yourself does matter and anyone who tells you differently doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
So don’t be afraid of losing those relationships. If silence and repression is what it takes to be accepted, you don’t need it. The love of the divine, in whatever form you choose to connect to it, is limitless and can be found in so many ways and so many places. You just need to be open to other possibilities and new horizons.