I Believe that Homosexuals Should not be Discriminated

My belief is that god made us all equal therefore who am I to look down on someone else’s choices, decisions, or character? I have been raised to acknowledge homosexuality as a sin. I do not frown upon one’s sexual orientation because we all sin. I believe that homosexuality is a sin; however, I do not believe that homosexuals should be discriminated. They should be viewed as equal members of society no matter what their sexual orientation is.

I can imagine that whoever reads this will say wow! There is no way this girl is a devote Christian because she is advocating homosexuality. The reason I am compassionate for the homosexual community is because of how I have seen members of my own church react and comment on homosexuals. I have often heard statements such as “I don’t get why they have to be flamboyantly gay.” Statements like this influenced me to be a Christian that accepts, and loves all of God’s people. People often say members of the church are hypocrites, and in all honesty they really can be. When I hear members of the church and community makes those types of statements it only influences me to strive to be a difference within the church. If homosexuals love god, but the people within the church discriminate against them, where will those members of the gay community turn to for church if no one accepts them?

 

My mother and older cousin have always been important people in my life. They have influenced me to believe that homosexuality does not have to define a person’s life. My mother has instilled in me the values to care for others no matter what their sexual orientation may be. She has been my guiding light since I was young so of course I admire her, and take heed to all she says. My older cousin is a homosexual male, he stopped coming to family cookouts because our family treated him differently when he “came out”. He influenced me not to discriminate the homosexual community because I watched him cry many times over something that he says he has, “no control over.”

Members of a religious group will disagree with my beliefs about homosexuality because we (they) have been trained to identify that homosexuality is a “sin” or a condemnation of the soul. The church wants to inform people that homosexuality is a sin. I do not believe however that it is any church’s intentions to ostracize or demean anyone. Religious people should love everyone, and encourage them to read the bible to learn about what god says about homosexuality rather than shunning them from the church community because the bible says it is a sin.

Lastly I believe the bible influences others to disagree with my acceptance of homosexuals. Although I have not taken the time to find the exact scripture or chapter where the bible talks about homosexuality, I know that others have taken the time to read, and educate themselves about the matter. If an individual has been taught from the bible all their life I can understand why they may have a radical opposing view, however, I strongly believe that as a Christian we all are equal because there is no sin that is big or small.

-Ja’Nae

Fate vs. Predestination

I believe in fate.  Which isn’t to say that we can’t all make our own decisions, or that our destiny isn’t up to us, but to say that we were fated to end up in certain places at certain times.  What we choose to do in those places and at those times is entirely up to us, but arriving in those particular circumstances has a hint of the divine behind it.
I was raised in a conservative Christian household.  I went to church all through my formative years.  I spent the first 18 years of my life in a conservative Southern Baptist environment.  My father is an ordained minister.  I was told that everything was preordained, that God foresaw it and planned it and was omniscient going forwards until the end of time.  That struck me as bullshit.  Especially, when you think about it, the entirety of Christian belief hangs upon the idea of humankind being given the ability to choose.  Free will is integral to Christian faith, yet we’re supposed to believe that even our free will doesn’t matter because it was all determined what we would choose ahead of time.  I think if that were true, God would be a calloused asshole, for knowing all the terrible stuff human beings would choose to do to one another, yet do nothing to stop us.  I think He sees our paths and gives us choices everywhere we look to change our path, or keep going on the same one.  Fate, to me, means stepping into a situation that was orchestrated for me to have an opportunity, then to make my choice of my own free will.
Much of my questions began appearing in my teenage years when I started encountering people outside of my beaten path who had different experiences and beliefs.  I’ve always thought you learned more by keeping an open mind, so I listened.  The best part of listening, is that you can sort the information you receive and choose which sounds good and which sounds bogus.  And so I did.  I took a class at a technical college taught by an Anglican priest that had briefly studied at the Vatican.  Yeah, that Vatican.  He spoke a lot of the spirit of God, and the nature of biblical myth.  It’s important for us to understand what things come from culture and what things come from God.  He helped me make sense of questions I had about my faith, and this was a guy who knew A LOT about the subject.  I learned the most about my beliefs, not from the faith of my father, or from my mentors, but from looking within and questioning everything I was handed.
A lot of people don’t believe in fate.  Between evolution, natural selection, and the injustice of the indifference of an all-powerful, all-knowing being, I think a lot of people don’t believe in a higher power.  Maybe even they’re unable to believe in something orchestrating anything.  A lot of times when things don’t make sense, it’s easier to assign them a random probability or chalk it up to science we can’t explain yet.  But, every so often, something comes along that seems to be way too big to deny as anything but providence.
Is God apathetic?  No.  Far from it.  He cares enough about us to let us choose for ourselves, often to our detriment.  But, more often than not, that’s our(or someone else’s) choice.  If I get raped, was it destiny?  No.  That was the choice of the attacker.  But maybe I was destined to be in that spot at that time.  I view it as Wheel of Fortune.  By giving us free will, God spun the wheel of chance.  Does He determine where it lands?  No.  But He is the one that keeps it spinning.  I remember an episode of Futurama, a show that is satirical in nature but, often, very prodigious as well.  Bender encounters God at one point, who he characterizes as lazy for not being more active in people’s lives.  The last thing “God” says is something to the effect of, “You know you’ve done something right when no one realizes you’ve done anything at all.”  Does He present us with opportunities to greatly change our own paths?  Yes.  Does He pave one single road for us so that we can only walk in one certain direction.  No, I don’t believe so.
I understand when people don’t believe in fate.  I understand that, ever since the big bang, how everything else could be random collections of particles and energies that collide in different forms.  Natural disasters, diseases, crazy accidents out of nowhere; it’s easy to think nothing could be fated.  A lot of people cite the horrible things that happen to people as a reason not to believe in a fate arranged by a higher power.  People who have lost a loved one, or gone through personal tragedy like illness or rape- these people have every right to be angry and question how fate could engineer these things.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Fate is either engineered by a malevolent God, in which case, what’s the point?  Or, the more simple explanation is, there is no such thing as God or fate.
My English professor turned me onto the movement this concept falls under: Compatibilism, or the belief that God presents us with opportunities but allows us to choose.  Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher that helped champion the issue into the public consciousness, would state that, “I hold that ordinary definition of a free agent, namely that a free agent is that which, when all things are present which are needful to produce the effect, can nevertheless not produce it, implies a contradiction and is nonsense(1).”  Hobbs means here that to determine that there is no God simply because we are allowed to make our own choices is completely foolish.  The concept of a creator is what allows us to have an existence, much less a choice.  Meanwhile, arguments against compatibilism would suggest that an individual might choose something completely at random and mess up the probability matrix of “fate.”  Hobbes might argue against this, that there are no unpredictable outcomes, and that the consequences of said outcome can yield an infinite number of other possible choices presented by a divine power.  Think of it as finding yourself on the wrong road after taking the wrong turn.  But rather than seeing it as a dead end(which, if it were, you would be afforded and opportunity by God to do a U-turn and return to the given path) it’s a highway.  You can get off on the wrong exit, then get back on at a later exit and continue on the path toward where you need to be.  You’re not predestined to take any one way, and can choose whichever way you like, but you’re always presented with more opportunities provided by an all-knowing power.
The premise of free will is one of three components affecting action.  There is action out of necessity(which it might be argued that God causes), chance(which is by definition, completely random, but, again, might be argued to be God’s hand) and free will, which, under any definition, is the choice of the willful alone.  The Catholic church came to accept free will as a philosophy inherent in man’s choices, but this was actually redacted by the Protestant movement, citing that Saint Paul himself did not support the notion “that disputes that question largely and purposely, never uses the term of `free-will’; nor did he hold any doctrine equivalent to that which is now called the doctrine of free-will, but derives all actions from the irresistible will of God, and nothing from the will of him that runs or wills.” (1)  Now we’re into the meat of the issue that starts to smell funny.  In doctrine, I have no grounds for my argument of compatibilism, which also factors in logic.  The Catholic church came to recognize free will, but Protestantism denied it.  Ironic, since I was raised in a Protestant church.  Which merely emphasizes the Enlightenment ideals that we cannot simply believe what we are handed and not analyze and form our own opinions of it.  We must think for ourselves, and question what it is we truly believe.  A theologian might argue based on doctrine that my beliefs are wrong.  I would argue that, based on me taking into account all the information, if not solely for the fact that I believe in them, make my beliefs accurate.  And this, the fact that my opinion is dissenting from the “Holy Word of God” handed down to the church by Divine inspiration, may be my strongest evidence yet in the case for free will.
But doesn’t the existence of free will itself preclude the existence of a higher power? When you start to account for men choosing their own destinies, what if the concept of God was merely invented by man to explain the things they couldn’t explain, or take credit for the actions they themselves didn’t want credit for.  The harder choices we make are much easier when we justify them by the ordination of some magical puppet-master in the sky, telling us we have no choice in the matter.

I Believe in Monogamy , by Andie

The institution of marriage has very strict guidelines in my eyes. It is an institution based on commitment with two, and ONLY two, people. The idea of monogamy has been drilled in my head since day one, both directly and indirectly.

As a young church-goer, I learned very quickly that it was monogamy or the highway. My sunday school teachers would say “Now everyone, say the 10 Commandments: Honor the mother and father; Thou shall not murder; Thou shall not commit adultery…”. I assumed (internally), of course I would never love another man or be with another man when I get married. People who do that are not loved by God! This constant repetition Sunday after Sunday ultimately led to my ‘brainwashing’ of certain morals in my head. In fact, I had never thought about any possibility OTHER than monogamy until right now.

As I continued to grow and learn, I began to encounter negative experiences as a result of people breaking this monogamous structure: parents of friends divorcing due to affairs, wives finding out about their husbands’ second family and even girls cheating on their boyfriends at a  party. Although this seems to be going off-track from monogamy, it’s really not. There are many definitions on monogamy: marital, social, sexual…and all of these are standards we must uphold in our society. If you love another man other than your husband, you are a social outcast to him and his friends (and maybe some of hers, too). If you are given the opportunity to experience something sexual with someone else, your girlfriend will break up with you in a heart beat if you act on it. I don’t know where the root of it is from, but we have been taught that monogamy is the ONLY way a healthy relationship or marriage works.

These people who have experienced these situations probably do not directly question the institution of monogamy, but they definitely subconsciously take a stance on it. I, of course, cannot speak for the cheaters, but it would be safe to say that they do not fully agree with the practice of monogamy. The victims of cheating, after going through this experience, also let go of the “ideal” idea of monogamy, because they usually end either their marriage or relationship because of their partner’s actions. One could bring the whole factor of trust and honesty in the mix, but in most cases the existence of the  “other man” or “other woman” plays a big role in the victim’s decision making as well.

The real question is: do the actions of these parents affect the mindset of their children? I know several kids who do not want to take their future husband’s name due to divorce. I also know people who don’t even want to get married at all as a result of it. A close family friend of mine, for example, grew up in a rough household, filled with negativity, hate and eventually divorce between the parents. She, as a result, does not believe that marriage works. She refuses to get married, and has never had a long-lasting relationship dedicated to a single man.

The way we are raised and the situations we encounter develop our opinions on monogamy. Fortunately, monogamy has proven to work for my parents, but it has unfortunately led to disappointment and hurt for many other people in my life. I’m sure the only reason I believe so strongly in it is because of my situation, and I do realize that many factors have completely changed the mindset of the people around me. No matter what we all go through though, there is only one type of marriage structure. Is that possibly part of the problem?

It is illegal in the United States (and most of the world) to practice polygamy, the opposite of monogamy. We have outlawed the option to marry two or more people if we wanted to, therefore something must be wrong with the practice of polygamy. Why must we, by, law, only marry one person and one person only? Seahorses and other random sea creatures mate for life with one partner, but dolphins, who we are so closely related to intelligence-wise, do not. Why is this law installed? Of course the institution of marriage as a whole can be brought into this, but that’s a whole other belief in which to discuss.

Are People Inherently Good?

Even though some people have done things that make them end up in jail for life, I still like to view all people as inherently good overall even if they sometimes don’t act like it.  I think the people we view as “bad” are hurting in some way or have been badly mistreated at some point in their lives, and that these “bad” people can become good people through rehabilitation and healing.  Many of the people seen by society as being “bad” or as a criminal are treated differently than someone who society views as good.

Growing up in suburbia, one does not see many people that society would consider “bad” and from childhood to the beginning of college, I thought that all people were inherently good because all the people I really knew could be considered “good.” A major reason for believing this probably comes from going to church as a child, where I learned that God forgives everyone for their actions on earth supposedly, and this idea probably led to believing that all people are good.

Another reason for believing this is just my hope that people will choose the good over the bad in their daily lives. My parents also led me to believe this, but I think their motivation was religious.  A huge factor in me believing this was that nearly all the people I associated with could be considered to be good people overall.

Religion could also have the opposite effect on people in regard to this belief.  Some religions view people, and themselves, as being inherently “bad” or sinful, which is the reason why they have to ask God for forgiveness. A person that is influenced by a religion like this would not view people as being inherently good but the opposite instead.  A child raised under these types of views would be told by their parents that they are inherently “bad”, along with everyone else.  Being repeatedly told that humanity is “bad” could eventually influence the person into believing it.  If one’s church tells them every Sunday that they are sinners, they may possibly end up believing it.  The parents can take it one step further also; to punish the child physically solely because of their belief in man being inherently “bad.”   I knew a kid whose parents were like this.  He was very skittish around other people, which is probably due to the fact that his parents abused him.  He viewed people as “bad” because his parents and church basically made him believe this or he would be punished otherwise.

A person who was teased as a child would probably disagree that people are inherently “good”.  Being teased would cause them to view others in a negative light.  If they constantly see other people as a type of threat to them, then they would not believe that people are inherently “good”.  The constant fear of being teased could also make them afraid of other people in general because anyone could tease them. If other people only cause you fear, then that would probably influence you to view others as “bad”.

Life is a Path, and Things Happen For a Reason

I believe that life is like a path. If a person has good intentions, they will continue their journey on the path. If a person fails to pursue their “life,” they stray from this path, and hit a dead end. It is possible to live forever in a “dead end,” and never get back on the path once you have strayed away.  I feel that everything we encounter works towards getting us back on the path or leading us further down the path. The concept of free will is still present in my belief, in the form of a person’s choice to get back on the path or to remain in the dead end. In this sense, I believe that everything happens for a reason.

I think that this belief sprung from my constant worry about the future, and a need to “place” this worry somewhere, and turn it into a possibly positive thing. I grew up in a lower middle-class household, where I felt trapped by my “means.” I felt like a financial burden, so I yearned for independence from a young age. I have one sibling ten years older than I, who went to college when I was eight. I formed the idea/belief that in order to escape the situation I felt trapped by, I would have to follow her example and stay on a “path” of sorts. To me, success could only come from escape, and escape could only be found by following specific guidelines. I think that I came to believe that things happen for a reason because of not being able to fulfill all of my goals, but gaining satisfaction and understanding from the things I did achieve. For example, when I did not get the SAT score I was hoping for it pushed me to work harder in other areas of my school life like extracurricular activities. This pushed me to be what I consider a more well-rounded person, and I felt “guided” in the right direction by what first seemed to be a failure.

I think that in my particular situation that class, family, and experiences as well as how I dealt with the experiences lead me to my belief. Variations on any of these variables, as well as someone’s natural personality could lead them to a different set of beliefs. For example, to grow up with a very comfortable amount of money or means would not drive someone to worry so much about their future, and therefore would not invoke much future-related thought. It seems as though many people in my generation subscribe to the “YOLO” doctrine. Current culture seems to detest thinking before acting in many cases. Someone who does not believe in assessing a situation, placing faith in the effects of the “random,” would not simultaneously believe that their acts will guide them in any specific direction. Some other arguments posed against the notion that things happen for a reason include the “reason” for acts of terrorism, and completely random tragedies. If I were to share my belief with a person who, for example, had recently lost someone very close to them in a car accident, I would not expect that person to “buy into” my ideas. Hearing that “things work out” and “everything has a purpose” when life has dealt a painful blow offers no peace of mind. I would expect this person to call me a world-ignorant and sheltered brat for suggesting that anything good be derived from their tragedy. It may be brought up that the person who died was an especially good person, so never did anything “wrong.” Society’s loss of this type of person would not make sense unless events were random and senseless. The influence of extreme loss, current culture, and being raised in a different environment could steer someone to believe that there is no purpose in particular events, and that whether or not things “work out” for someone is entirely up to chance.

I Believe…. Whatever I want

I believe that “believing” is a choice. As a child I was
told to what to believe, and that there were just some things in life that I was
just “supposed” to believe. My upbringing in a Christian household lead me to
believe that there were inherent truths or beliefs in this world that everyone
should have and if they didn’t have those beliefs then they were wrong. I think
that’s a load of shit nowadays.

From religion to education to politics people pick and choose
what they want to believe. Some people choose to believe that President Obama
wasn’t born in America even though evidence has been presented against it. Others
choose to believe that the moon landing was a hoax even though evidence has
been presented against it. I believe there are few cases where one can actually
say “I believe this or that because it is true”, perhaps only in simple math. However,
there may still be someone somewhere in the world trying to get others to share
his belief that 1+1=11.

I don’t believe that
we as humans are capable of even fathoming what “absolute truth” or “absolute
knowledge” is, let alone achieving it. For years philosophers have asked the
questions “what is knowledge” and “what makes something true”. I finally have
the answer- it doesn’t exist. Our quest for knowledge as humans will always
stop there. Metaphorically speaking, I think that inside our brains millions of
beliefs and notions float around and we decide which ones we want to accept as
truth and which ones we want to dismiss as false. As children we are raised to
believe that some things are true just because our parents say they are. This translates
in our everyday lives and causes people to blindly put faith in scientists, politicians,
religious figures, and professors. We take the information that they give us
and automatically assume it to be true when instead we should first filter out
the bullshit for ourselves. When history teachers teach different versions of
the same story, how do you decide which one’s claims are more accurate? When you
analyze literature how do you know that your “farfetched” theory of what the
author meant is really so “farfetched” at all? When someone tells you a rumor and
someone else denies it who do you believe? There is no absolute truth, there is
no right and wrong only what you choose to believe.

I Believe in Embracing the Past

I believe in approaching technology with a retro state of mind. I enjoy playing my music on vinyl records. I drive an eighteen year old sports car. I love to play old video games. These choices are just a few of the ways I apply my retro mentality to daily life. Though some see my perspective as ill-considered, numerous circumstances have influenced my choice of a retro lifestyle.

One reason I chose to live this way is the large amount of technological change that has taken place in my lifetime. I have been around long enough to watch the world move from analog to digital in most of its technology. New cars with manual transmissions are becoming increasingly hard to find. Seeing the world change so much made me long for those “better days.” I began to believe that the old stuff could be as good as new stuff.

My obsession with technological simplicity is also rooted in my parents’ love of new technology. This fad-oriented attitude toward technology often frustrated me because of its complexity and the unreliability of new technology. I saw my parents as slaves to the shoddiness of new tech. Why have a touchscreen instead of a button? Why have voice control instead of a switch? While the world progressed, I felt compelled to stay behind.

The final push in my development of a retro attitude came from my best friend. Like me, he held a love for the old ways. He showed me his old technology and shared ideas with me about the importance of the past. He made me see the world in a different way. Without him, I never would have had the courage to pursue my retro lifestyle.

I do believe that under different circumstances my retro attitude would never have existed. Age is important. A person who saw less dramatic technological progress when they were growing up would welcome progress for a change. If I had gone to a public or private high school, I would probably embrace technology as a status symbol crucial to “fitting in.” If I had lived in a lower income household with less money to burn, I would not have developed a hatred of technological trendiness. Even geography would play a large role in embracing technology. A remote area far from civilization, rather than my suburban neighborhood, would make me savor every infrequent chance to check out the latest tech. I think that the binding theme between all of these is technological deprivation. While latest technology in these circumstances is a seldom enjoyed privilege, I suffered from a technology overload. Technology took over my household, and I loathed it for doing so. I became aware of its allure and shrugged it off. I don’t waste my time with moving forward when I am content to be where I am. Though I could have easily gone in the opposite direction, I think that I made a wise decision to embrace the past.