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Advice for an Angry Gay Atheist - Comments

brighterstill's Avatar Comment 1 by brighterstill

Well, I'm afraid I can't say much, except that when I finally discovered I was an atheist rather than just a very, very, very liberal christian, I was also very angry - at everyone who was so comfortable with the terrible institution and the unbrelievably awful thigs it had to say. I was worried for a long time that I was turning into a bigot who wouldn't be able to be in the same room as an overtly religious person without engaging in a heated argument - this was a problem for me as some of my close family and friends are clergy. I was wise enough to put some distance around myself until the anger abated (it took several months) but eventually it didn't bother me so much anymore. I still sneak in some seeds of doubt when speaking with religious people (my secret plan of letting the inconsistencies of their dogma do the work), but I'm not angry anymore.

It's incredibly helpful to have someone close to talk to who agrees with your point of view, otherwise it can start to feel like the whole world is against you, which will just make you angrier and depressed. It sounds like F is coming from the right place, so I say just give it some time. When reason goes up against superstition, as F is going up against P, reason has the great advantage of being true. It may turn out that P is going through a hyper-religious phase which, for me, directly preceeded abandonning all the nonsense. I was the most popular, outspoken and charismatic member of my church, ready to use all my wits to defend the nonsense - and then one day I was free.

Now when people say "bless you", I consider their motive, not their words. I don't think they consider their words either - faithspeak is three quarters uncontrolled reaction, like a sneeze.

In conclusion, I hope you make it through the dark time without doing anything you'll regret, and that you and F are happily married. Come to Canada, we'd love to marry you!

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 20:16:10 UTC | #929944

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 2 by VrijVlinder

First off , you are a normal human being. Why do I say that? because homosexuality occurs naturally in nature. Part of evolution and diversity. it is not a choice.

I know men like your closet friend. He may not be homosexual like in spending your life with a man. Sexuality may be the coefficient here. He likes to have sex with men but does not see himself living a gay lifestyle. In his case he may not have been born gay, simply get's off with men too. That is a choice.

This conflict is what makes them religious. Imagine the low self esteem he may have veiled with his beliefs! Some even get married to women and secretly live on the low down.

it is very sad to see someone drowning in delusion. Don't help to perpetuate it , remember he is trying to convince you in order to convince himself.

When to draw the line? as soon as you can, otherwise they think they are making ground. Look at the threads on this site are filled with arguments to prove your point. Does not mean you will, they also have selective reading and hearing syndrome.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 20:28:56 UTC | #929946

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 3 by AtheistEgbert

I share your hatred of religion, but not people who are religious of course. They have an annoying saying "hate the sin but not the sinner" or something equally obnoxious, but the truth it is a very human thing to hate people, and that is a problem. Hating ideas or opinions that are evil, is most definitely not problematic. It only shows a sense of a healthy moral sense.

It sounds like you are close to destroying something good in your life, because of your own honesty and authenticity. My advice, don't do it, but bite your tongue and avoid this person completely. Get away, make your excuses, but don't let a poisoned person ruin your life.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 21:25:32 UTC | #929957

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 4 by alaskansee

I am bigoted against sexism, homophobia and racism, I feel quite comfortable.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 21:28:43 UTC | #929958

Lapithes's Avatar Comment 5 by Lapithes

I don't see a solution to your (our, all of ours) problem, Kohadril, but before you decide to bottle up your anger there are two points I'd like to make:

  1. Denying one's feelings doesn't work, as you know, never mind how fearful you are of becoming curmudgeonly.

  2. There is always a risk of judging someone––a religious person, say––unfairly but it is not better never to judge at all; a suspension of justice is injustice, there is virtue in deterring harm of others as well as in not doing harm yourself.

You can do more good not by being more judgmental but by being a better judge: put your anger in hunting facts and try to gain the perspective that uncovers tabloid hype and apathetic complaisance.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 21:29:53 UTC | #929961

papa lazaru's Avatar Comment 6 by papa lazaru

First of all, chill out. You have to keep in mind that antagonising people who hold a deep irrational belief only exacerbates the problem. A 'wake up' call rarely works.

Maybe P. should try buddhism. Else, it looks like he has a great future in the republican party.

And of course, South Park does it best..

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 00:02:14 UTC | #930005

zengardener's Avatar Comment 7 by zengardener

Religion, and God are not things. They are not people.

It's OK to hate religion, just remember, the religious are both victims and perpetrators of their insanity.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 00:24:12 UTC | #930010

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 8 by QuestioningKat

I was wondering what state do you live in? The fact that this man has singled you out and your future husband suggests to me that he has an some awareness of who he is. You said he admitted that he is attracted to men. He has been taught to hate himself and and is looking for acceptance. I'm not a shrink but his trying to save you is a way of projecting that he wants to be saved from the torment of his homosexuality. You will not be able to convince him of there being no God, so my advice is to focus on how his sexual attraction to men is natural. First let him know that you accept him for being who he is.

The question is, how much time do you and your future husband want to spend helping this person? None, then let it go. A lot, then here is a bold and scary course of action. Tell P. that you are concerned that he is a gay man polluted by the religion he was raised in and considering that he is concerned about your soul, you have a proposal for him. For the next three months, each Sunday, the three of you will go church visiting as long as you do not go to a church of his religion and you get to pick the church. No conversations about the service will occur after the service. No proselytizing either. He could go to church twice if he has a problem with missing services at his own religion. Start with a church like the Methodist church for 1 to 2 weeks, then go to United Church of Christ for about three weeks, then go to a Unity church for about 4 to 6 weeks, then go to a Unitarian church for another 5 to 6 weeks. Notice that you are getting progressively liberal in your choices. Use your gaydar to single out couples attending church and then approach them and introduce P.

You will be killing two birds with one stone. All the anger and frustration that you have about religious people will be replaced with actual faces. Imagine all the bizarre stuff you will hear. Take notes and blog about it. Secondly, the tormented young man will start to shed some fundamentalist views since ten weeks in a in an ultra-liberal church is sure to change some of his neural pathways. Churches like Unity and Unitarian are extremely gay friendly.

Yes, I can see your jaw dropped to the floor. I can also hear you think that I'm nuts.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 01:27:02 UTC | #930020

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 9 by VrijVlinder

@QuestioningKat: Would this method be compared to weaning someone from substance abuse like say methadone instead of heroin? Then diazepam, after some marijuana for permanent support?

I tried taking that trip to churches as you describe, in my head, and I am nauseated . If I ever go to a church it will be to admire the architecture and be certain there is no ongoing services while I am there.

I seriously doubt this man P is actually homosexual. I almost think he is pretending to be one in order to assimilate you. Twisted as it sounds, I have had people try to find what I am about then pretend they are just like me to justify their evangelistic attempt at assimilation. Or he is bisexual, or just bicurious, in any event if he is sincere and you believe him it is a better idea to help him with his homophobic view of himself. I can't help but think of Freud. Sexuality is more complicated than religion since it deals with "real"issues.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 01:48:20 UTC | #930024

sbrogdon's Avatar Comment 10 by sbrogdon

I am an atheist as well as a bisexual. I am also an anti-theist. I hate religion and think it is nothing more that a tool to trap the minds of the susceptible, much like it has young P.

The only advice I can give you; be yourself no matter what. If people cannot accept you for who you are, do not remain a part of their life. Many people disagree with me on that, but it's a hard truth. I lost many friends when I came out with my atheism and some of my family when I came out as bisexual. I came out as an atheist 20 years ago, so I have made plenty of new friends since then. I only came out as bisexual openly 6 years ago. Luckily, my wife understands and we have a great marriage (I came out after we were married.)

Just be yourself.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 04:55:33 UTC | #930057

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 11 by debonnesnouvelles

"More than that, I fear becoming a bigot. How long before visceral revulsion at certain religious beliefs turns into irrational distrust of or disdain for the religious? I was brought up in a very tolerant family. I was taught to believe in the value of pluralism. I was taught that the cardinal sin of man, the single worst emotion that a human being can feel, is hatred. But there it is: I hate religion, and I don't know what to do about it. I'm sure many of you have been where I am and have managed to calm yourselves back down. Do you have any advice? Is there anything I can do to claw my way back to rationality?"

I see no wrongness in you hating religion as long as you are clear in your mind that it is the religion that you hate and not the individual people that you meet who are religious. This distinction would then help you to remain friendly towards religious individuals, at least by your own standard.

There is a lot to be said for feeling compassion for the deluded. After all, we all make mistakes of judgment in our lives and in our thinking, so someone like P is from our point of view maybe just a tad less lucky than someone who's wrong assumptions are more benign.

How can you best assist P on his way to be free? I believe that naked honesty is a good option.

WIth a surprised, almost childlike naivety I would say to P "well, of course there is no god, as there is no evidence whatsoever supporting his existence, but all the evidence for the bible being made up by humans. no reason to take anything written in it as gospel". Maybe also something like "it really isn't that important what day of the week we choose to rest or what hand we eat our food with etc. Humans really are not the centre of the universe, once you look at it up close."

The matter of his sexual orientation, intertwined with the religion, is so fragile a question that I would leave P figure that one out for himself once the idea has entered his mind that there is no need to obey religious dogma. Which, of course, can take a very long time.

And let's do away with the "ah, we can't know for certain, therefore we must respect that people believe in god and thus make their lives miserable". Enough of that. Too much misery and unnecessary suffering is condoned by that attitude.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 05:33:29 UTC | #930069

Sjoerd Westenborg's Avatar Comment 12 by Sjoerd Westenborg

My advice is to stop lurking. And start writing. I don't feel qualified in giving you advice on how to handle P. but I bet that writing posts like this, reading and responding to the comments will be a relief in itself. Communication is never a bad thing.

Good luck, and a good life to you and F. (and troubled P.)

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 11:19:28 UTC | #930134

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 13 by Cartomancer

I must say I share your revulsion when it comes to the kind of self-loathing that homophobic religious ideas foster in vulnerable LGBT people. Even comparatively mild examples of it make my skin crawl. I found myself actively enraged the other day when some pitiful gay but catholic-indoctrinated quisling was wheeled out on a TV programme to oppose marriage equality - a young man in his twenties who seemed to believe that his sexuality was somehow wrong and less valid than that of straight people. No fire-and-brimstone you're-all-going-to-hell puffery, just a sense of pained unease that his religion had taught him to see his fundamental nature as lesser. It was truly horrible to watch.

It must be even more horrible when it's not someone on TV but someone you know and (even vicariously) care about. There's no shame in it being that which finally turned you into an outspoken critic of religion - immediate personal relationships are very important to human social existence. There would probably be something wrong with you if it hadn't brought you to the surface.

Indeed, I suspect that as gay people who have had to struggle with societal homophobia and the self-doubt it at least suggests to us if not in all cases inculcates, we are made particularly sensitive to this kind of travesty. I have never been religious, but even the lingering social conservatism and societal homophobia of 1980s-90s England made me very nervous and uncertain about my nascent sexuality, such that it took me until I was 22 to finally admit it to myself and come out to others. I suspect that this struggle to come to terms with ourselves and the understanding of how fragile the psychology can be adds to the revulsion we feel towards those who seek to perpetuate the anxiety and make us feel awful about ourselves on purpose.

Now, personally, I wouldn't get too worried about despising religion. Some things are so vile that hatred, contempt and disdain are the only valid and morally appropriate responses to them. I would actually think a lot less of someone who didn't hate vile religious homophobia. I'm not sure you'd be having this problem if it were murder or sexual child abuse or commercial exploitation of the vulnerable that were at issue. Then again I don't actually know any religious people, so outspoken criticism of the phenomenon isn't really a social problem for me.

What I would say, though, is that it pays to keep in mind that "religion" isn't a terribly helpful banner term to rail against. We have this idea in our cultures that there is this special category of ideas called "religion" that is somehow special and different and protected from criticism simply by dint of being a special category of ideas. This is a defence mechanism that generations of religious people have colluded in, it's not a reflection of the ideas which are labelled "religious" being in any way special or different from other ideas. If you take away the artificial label then you're left with just people's cultural foibles, and don't have to maintain any kind of jarring parity between things like the wishy-washy injunction that treating people nicely is a good idea and horrible neuroses like the you'll-all-burn-in-hell mindset. Those two things don't come from the same place. The whole gamut of ideas we traditionally label as "religious" are not a coherent thing. They don't really belong together in the same category of experience. They come from all over the place, and are inspired by, changed by, influenced by all sorts of personal, social and cultural factors. And we need to start treating them as such - as we treat every other kind of cultural idea - not coming up with a special set of protocols just for dealing with examples of "religion".

If you start to view the world in this way then it quickly becomes apparent that you don't hate "religion" per se, you hate (among other things I would guess) those particular nasty, homophobic, self-loathing mindsets that cause people great harm. Whether they're religious or not. I imagine you are not terribly fussed by someone who does charity work thanks to a vague notion that some disembodied deity likes it, and I imagine you would be similarly repelled by a self-hating gay man the root of whose self-hating psychology lay in a strong commitment to very old-fashioned and restrictive ideas of masculinity. Hating "religion" would be like hating "culture" or "ideas" - it's far too broad a term to mean much, and hating everything that is (arbitrarily) lumped in under it is indeed irrational.

The thing is, religious people WANT us to treat religion as a separate, special category of thought. It serves their purpose of prohibiting critical examination of their ideas very well. But we mustn't fall into that trap. And I don't think it is enough to just say "there is a valid category of thought called religion, but it's up for criticism", rather we must abandon the category wholesale because it was constructed, maintained and serves no other function but to keep ideas away from rational criticism. The only commonality between "religious" ideas is that they have had the label slapped on them. It's not taxonomy, it's branding. And we shouldn't fall for it.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 13:37:39 UTC | #930159

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

More than that, I fear becoming a bigot. How long before visceral revulsion at certain religious beliefs turns into irrational distrust of or disdain for the religious?

You should not confuse the reasonable opposition to bigoted views with bigotry! Bigots often try what I call the theist-mirror reversal, reflecting their own irrational bigotry on to others who oppose their views. You should remember that while rational people consider evidence from numerous sources and view-points, the closed minds of bigots usually only see two views: Their own dogmatic one and "the inconsequential wrong one"! Hence they do not even bother to think about alternatives before rejecting criticism.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 14:39:50 UTC | #930164

kohadril's Avatar Comment 15 by kohadril

Thanks guys. I've been quiet but I've been reading every comment. Sjoerd, you're right: I feel immensely better having even put my thoughts in words, and the rest of you are right that 1) it is not unreasonable to despise objectionable views and 2) that is not the same as hating the people who hold them. I think Cartomancer's point that "religion" is a cover used to legitimize otherwise obviously unacceptable beliefs is a productive one: while I find superstition ridiculous, it is sexism, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism that I find actually enrage me, and I feel that way about those things in nonreligious contexts as well.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 15:03:51 UTC | #930172

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 16 by xmaseveeve

Hi and welcome to The Forum. I hope you and F. keep safe and sane. Maybe P. isn't ready to think for himself yet. It's difficult to see your own thoughts when you've been indoctrinated, but they can filter through eventually, with good friends such as you and F. Tragic that such a powerful religion classes gay people as inferior. Then call themselves after Jesus, who didn't. Go figure. Good luck!

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 23:32:42 UTC | #930273

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 17 by aquilacane

But for the first time in my life, I feel that I cannot honestly say that I do not hate his religion. And not just his, in fact, but all fundamentalist religions, and by extension the moderate wings of those faiths that give cover to extremists and which enable the preaching of some of these revolting ideas to enter the mainstream. I am possessed (to use an ironically religious term) by a desire to see the whole edifice demolished, to see theism argued into absolute extinction. Even the most incidental instances of faith-speak (God bless you!) make me bristle of late, and I fear that sooner or later, caught at a bad moment, I am going to say something caustic and destroy a long-term friendship or other important relationship.

I get how you feel about the bless you bit. Here's a very quick scribble for you. Bless You

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 00:16:23 UTC | #930284

road_runner321's Avatar Comment 18 by road_runner321

The natural enemy of superstition is new information, and we live in the Information Age. The climate is slowly changing into one that is actively resisting the influence of religious thought, and the availability of information makes it difficult to sequester people inside of a bubble of religious dogma. This trend will continue and speed up. Already they have lost their grip. The world is changing too quickly for Iron Age myths to keep up, and they will break themselves apart on the shores of the cosmic ocean we are just beginning to explore.

Though you may feel the intensity of emotion that would make you lash out and become hateful of others, know that this trend toward what is real will continue, as it is our nature to discover what is real, rather than be comforted by what we believe to be true. You are not a bigot to eschew the easy answers of religion, instead preferring to know and accept your own mind. To prefer the vastness of the unknown world and what it may hold to the cloistered mind, wrapped up and trembling against the immensity.

Let the knowledge that fear drives these people -- fear of the unknown, fear of their own potential that they must resist, fear of others whom they cannot understand and so must convert -- convert your hate into pity. Pity, but never complacency or acceptance of their methods. They are not to be hated or feared, only resisted, uncompromisingly, until their time passes and is utterly forgotten.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 00:53:46 UTC | #930290

Net's Avatar Comment 19 by Net

Sexuality may be the coefficient here.

what does that even mean?

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 02:41:08 UTC | #930313

mmurray's Avatar Comment 20 by mmurray

Comment 2 by VrijVlinder :

First off , you are a normal human being. Why do I say that? because homosexuality occurs naturally in nature. Part of evolution and diversity. it is not a choice.

Rape, murder and killing your partners children by another person also occurs in nature. Surely the point is that amongst humans homosexuality is a variation on the majority heterosexuality just like left handedness is a variation on the majority right handedness. Neither should have attached to them any moral judgement. Morality should relate to how we treat people not what we do with various bits of their and our anatomy.

I know men like your closet friend. He may not be homosexual like in spending your life with a man. Sexuality may be the coefficient here. He likes to have sex with men but does not see himself living a gay lifestyle. In his case he may not have been born gay, simply get's off with men too. That is a choice.

If he is sexually aroused by men doesn't that make him homosexual or bisexual ? The OP says

(that is to say, he is attracted exclusively to men--he admits this but refuses to self-identify as gay)

Why is this a choice but the OP's homosexuality is not a choice ? What one is sexually aroused by is a very difficult thing to change and definitely not a choice.

Michael

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 03:42:12 UTC | #930321

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 21 by VrijVlinder

@Comment 20 by mmurray

Rape, murder and killing your partners children by another person also occurs in nature. Surely the point is that amongst humans homosexuality is a variation on the majority heterosexuality just like left handedness is a variation on the majority right handedness.

Ye thats what was meant Having sex with same sex or being attracted to same sex is not always homosexuality. Just because you have sex with a man does not automatically make you gay.

Being gay It is more than just sex it's a lifestyle. If I had a sex experience with another woman does that make me gay? I don't think so. I can't see myself living a life with a woman as my partner. It was just sex.

@Comment 19 by Net Sexuality is what they should help their friend sort out. He is a closet gay or so he thinks. It is better to help him with something you all ready know and have accepted. This guy is confused as hell. Religion will not fix him gay or not.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 04:49:58 UTC | #930325

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 22 by justinesaracen

<>Ye thats what was meant Having sex with same sex or being attracted to same sex is not always homosexuality. Just because you have sex with a man does not automatically make you gay.<>

Well, if you did it willingly and you liked it, it makes you gay-ish. Homosexuality is both in your emotions and in your genitals, with the percentage on either side up for argument.

Ultimately, the designations homo/heterosexual are themselves flawed, since humans in fact have a wide range of sexual interests and healthy genitals are apt to react -- shall we say-- joyfully to stimuli that our heads disapprove of. We usually end up making a declaration of sexuality based on the circumstances of our social lives as much as on the tingling in our trousers.

But if we have to stick to our posters (for purposes of political argument and pride marches) I'd say that if you had sex with someone of your own gender and it was fun, then a certain part of you IS homosexual, and it seems silly to disavow it.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 07:34:53 UTC | #930333

Mee Peestevone's Avatar Comment 23 by Mee Peestevone

Some men in prison will have sex with another man pretending he is a woman - using that man as a facsimile. I'm guessing they create the suspension of disbelief to enjoy it.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 07:46:59 UTC | #930334

nick keighley's Avatar Comment 24 by nick keighley

where Mitt Romney's bishopric in an insane cult has barely made the news;

um, he's a Mormon. Is the RCC an insane cult? What's the difference between a religion and an insane cult?

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 11:28:29 UTC | #930352

nick keighley's Avatar Comment 25 by nick keighley

religious fundamentalism is the primary generator of political violence worldwide

North Africa, Syria, Burma, Probably China

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 11:32:30 UTC | #930353

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 26 by VrijVlinder

@Comment 22 by esuther: Well, if you did it willingly and you liked it, it makes you gay-ish. Homosexuality is both in your emotions and in your genitals, with the percentage on either side up for argument.

I disagree. Sexuality is a primal urge not having to do with reasoning or emotions. It is a chemical attraction and gender is not important. hence the term , wild sex.

When a couple feels deep emotions like love, dreams of a family and future together, this has nothing to do with sex, gender is not important.

Men have a better grip on this reality. Women attach sexual to emotional and confuse primal with Love.

Religion further complicates matters when they disperse the notion that primal sexuality is a sin and you can only do it after married and can't touch your own body for pleasure and so on. Making us hate our bodies and think we are dirty and be awful in bed from hangups.

Sexuality has more to do with the brain than with genitals...

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 19:02:06 UTC | #930404

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 27 by aquilacane

Comment 26 by VrijVlinder

Sexuality has more to do with the brain than with genitals...

I don't know. My genitals are almost always involved; whereas, my brain's involvement has been proven questionable.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 20:40:56 UTC | #930427

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 28 by Peter Grant

Hating religion is entirely rational.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 21:08:52 UTC | #930436

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 29 by QuestioningKat

comment 9: Yes you are essentially weaning him from his destructive beliefs. Atheists can best reach people who have liberal or moderate beliefs. We are less effective with fundamentalist beliefs unless the person is naturally more inclined to think critically. Being nauseated at this idea is precisely why you should try doing it. I think by the time you get to Unity and then the Unitarians you will be completely surprised how God seems to be missing.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 21:31:04 UTC | #930444

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 30 by VrijVlinder

@I'd say that if you had sex with someone of your own gender and it was fun, then a certain part of you IS homosexual, and it seems silly to disavow it.

So if you have sex with someone of the same gender and don't enjoy it then you must not be homosexual.

That makes no sense at all!! I have had plenty of hetero sex that was not enjoyable. A total disappointment with lack of fulfillment . That does not make me gay, it makes me unfortunate. Having a sexual experience with the same gender does not automatically make you gay. That is preposterous. That is silly. It's like saying going to church one day with a friend makes me Catholic.

Gay rights are not about getting approval to have sex with each other!! They are about obtaining equality and acceptance that their way of life is legitimate and deserves the same benefits non gay people automatically get if they say they are not gay. Like Marriage. Purchasing or a home, Opening a business , Operating a business ,Making life and death decisions for your partner in the event of catastrophe. there is much more to being gay than sex. Is there not more to hetero life than sex?

@aquilacane: yes sex with you probably would fall under the category of not enjoyable , coz you are not there lmao!!! But it is an example of how males can separate themselves from having sex and thinking about it as it happens. Ever hear or say "Oh that? She means nothing , it meant nothing, it was just sex!!!"

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 21:47:16 UTC | #930449