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An Observation

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Penguin

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This is something I wrote in the "Sex & Christianity" forum, but I wanted to share it here, as it really goes beyond sexuality (though it is hinged on it, I believe).

Lust was always a hangup for me as a Christian. As I've stated elsewhere, I am a virgin, but I became addicted (truly addicted) to pornography and masturbation. The problem was that I hated myself for it. Most of my prayers were in penance for my sexual sins. Now that I'm an agnostic/atheist type (still working on that), I have been trying to burn out my guilt. The problem with that has been that sexual things become an autopilot response to certain triggers, rather than something to be enjoyed.

When I admitted I was an agnostic, I realized that my morality did not change so much. The difference between my life as a Christian and now is that my morality is mine, not God's. In other words, I do what I believe to be right because I believe it, not because God demanded it. With bipolar disorder, lust is a cycle. I feel "high," so I engage in lust because--hot damn--there's nothing quite like that high. When I crash into a low, I engage in lust because I want to feel better about myself. Somewhere in between, lust is briefly uninteresting.

Instead of trying to burn out my guilt, I'm trying a different tack as of today. I choose not to look at porn every day. Christians, of course, would say I'm still addicted; they think of any involvement with pornography as an addiction, and claim that you cannot look at porn without becoming addicted. It does not disrupt my life. I don't need to look at porn. Now, I choose not to make a point of looking at it. For the past year, I have learned that your thoughts control your emotions, your emotions influence your behavior, and your behavior reinforces your thoughts. Instead of looking at lust from my admittedly fragile mindset, I'll avoid entertaining lust until my mindset is stronger.

For instance, I need to sort out whether I'm an agnostic or an atheist. Instead of going overboard with the blasphemy, I need to take a more mature stance. It's really a more scientific approach. It's kind of like Satanism. There are juvenile satanists who think it's about praising the enemy of God and slitting rat throats in a cemetery at midnight on Halloween, all in an effort to break from the norm and feel "the rush of disobedience." More mature Satanists study the concepts put forth by such people as Anton LaVey. They can sit down with someone and have a reasonable, rational discussion as to why they believe what they believe.

When I was a "baby Christian," I went through that phase of being overzealous. No one, I thought, was a Christian. I had the monopoly on the Good News, and I needed to share it with everyone. As I "matured in my faith," I came to realize that jumping into a mosh pit and shouting the name of Jesus was not the way I should go about things. I got to a point where I would have rational discussions with people. Of course, my own personal struggles brought me to this point of realizing I wasn't getting support from the Church or from God, so here I am. I'm starting over again. I'm a "baby atheist/agnostic/whatever I am," learning to be mature again.

It was okay to taste the "rush of rebellion" for a bit, but when I look at myself, I'm a 29-year old man who has acted like a 12-year old boy. I don't need to sprint to the opposite end of the spectrum and stay there like an angry little kid. Yes, I have issues. I was abused. I was hurt. People made me angry. But my (lack of) faith doesn't need to suffer because of it.

Just something I've been thinking about today. I realize this is an abrupt change from this I said only hours ago, but I think we're all entitled to our epiphanies, and we should all have the chance to say, "no, that's not quite right." So there it is.

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Penguin,

 

This is an important subject. One's sexuality is part of one's personality -- one's personhood. We tend to lose ourselves in our religious experience, and our religious identity. When a person leaves a religion, there is a need to rediscover oneself, including sorting out one's sexuality again. Being free from the cycle of works-righteousness, failure, and guilt will lead to new personal insights. Each person's experience is unique. I think your candid and thoughtful remarks will encourage other people who are going through such a rediscovery of self.

 

Peace,

Human

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