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Why I Came Out

TheNandoLife ~

A few months ago I posted my coming-out video on YouTube and Facebook as both an Atheist and Gay. It was a very polarizing day for me. It was very stressful, to the point that I thought I would throw up my own bloody intestines from the strain and the uncertainty of what would follow. But it was also very freeing. They could accept me, or they could not, but the choice would no longer be in my hands. I am now who I am, and that ain’t changing.

I was a state leader for the Foursquare Church in the State of Baja California, Mexico. Later a student, then staff and missionary of Azusa Pacific University, the second largest Christian university in the country. I traveled the world and mobilized thousands of people in Christian ministry. I then became head of youth and young adult programs for the California-Hawaii region of the United Methodist Church.Until finally the questions and the doubts broke through, and set me free. Away from religious indoctrination and brainwashing, an area of my life which had been pushed back for years was allowed to come forward and grab my attention. I am gay.

It took my some time to process my identity until I was finally ready to come out to the rest of my religious community.

And the responses came forward… And I noticed three groups:

One, the silent ones. I heard from the grapevine of the“ripple effect” it had around the water cooler—understandable. The shock. The disapproval. Prayer requests. Better to not say anything than publicly recognize what some may see as judging, but privately discussed: He is living in sin, he stumbled, he is going to hell.

Two, the supporters. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. I did not expect such array of acceptance and encouragement. Publicly and privately people told me they loved me, and many even ignored the religious aspect, and focused solely on caring for my humanity. I thank you. Some even came out to me about their atheism, sexuality, or questioning. I’m glad I gave you a space to explore and express who you are.

Three, the patronizing. Several times I started typing, red in the face, a response proportional to the disbelief I had by reading some messages on my timeline and in my inbox. People that felt they owned my life, or people that thought they understood it through the lens of their particular religious view. Was it pain? Was it tragedy? People apologizing for not being in my life during a time of crisis, but giving no space, perhaps to protect their own internal balance, to the possibility that there is some truth to my question of “Even though you can’t see it, it is still there. What?!” But I took a deep breath, with everything in me pulled back, and later thought, “You used to be there, not that long ago.”

A book with my journey was just released on November 30th--. In it, I share in detail of how my journey to the cross and back really took place. But there is something I can make clear, now, for those willing to listen.

And here is the punchline: I did not become a Humanist, an atheist, because I am gay, nor because of some great tragedy (such tragedies, in their time,actually inspired me to hold on longer to the “loving god”idea—because I needed one). I stopped being a believer in a deity, and the structure built around it, because the evidence in nature and humanity filtered out the possibility of an invisible being behind natural phenomenons, and psychological and biological processes.

I came to realize that under the influence of religion, we all tend to do a couple of things that seem to undermine intellectual evolution. One, the ever-so-easy answer that “God did it” stops intellectual and scientific questioning, hence preventing critical thinking and actually finding answers. I realized that the term “God,” throughout history, is the concept we used to explain anything we couldn’t understand with our limited knowledge, and that religion was the system created to teach morality based on our cultural expectations. Second, I feel it betrays the sacrifice in the process of discovery and progress that our ancestors have done by moving away from the cave and heading onto the path to the stars. People using reasons such as“well, for me…,” or “as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody,” or “if you can’t prove it, there is a possibility,” allow themselves to exist in a reality where it’s OK if people believe that 2+2=5, because as long as “it doesn’t hurt anybody, then who cares?” But intellectual shortcomings and moral boundaries do have consequences. Crack open a history book, google it, wikipedia it. War, gay-bashing, torture, humiliation, segregation,belittling, because “our God” thinks you should, or shouldn’t, do X.Furthermore, where would we be if we were waiting for a god to cure an illness, predict natural phenomenons, solve territorial disputes, or take us to the moon?I read the bible several times from cover to cover, preached it to thousands, and went to Christian college so I could know what I was talking about. And I know both sides of every argument, and then some. But what I came to understand were two things:

It took my some time to process my identity until I was finally ready to come out to the rest of my religious community.

And the responses came forward…
One, there are good things and bad things in the bible. If people love God and the bible, they will focus on the good things to say it is true and good. If people don’t like the God idea and the bible, they will focus on the bad parts of the bible to say it is false and evil. But the truth is that both the good parts and the bad parts are in the bible, it has both the good and the evil, regardless of us wanting to focus on a particular part.

Two, and most importantly, it is IRRELEVANT whether the bible has good parts or bad parts.Why? Because the bible was written in a time when people were living in caves, thought the world was flat, and didn’t have an understanding of biology, psychology, astronomy, geology,meteorology, chemistry or physics. They didn’t know what caused an eclipse, a tsunami, an earthquake, an eruption, a meteor shower. They didn’t know that the sun, which is actually a star, doesn’t rise nor set. And when they couldn’t understand what happened in nature, in the sky, in our bodies or minds, they did, what any of us would do—they formed a hypothesis that would try to answer the great unknown in a very confusing world: “there must be a higher power.” What else could explain why the sun went dark, the mountains pitting out fire, water rising above them? “A god, something bigger than us, must have done this.”

Then the next natural question, “If a higher power did this, why would he have done it?”

And just like a father scolds a child for being bad, it made sense that such god was punishing them for something bad they had done. And they started hypothesizing. Because we made a golden calf, because we haven’t sacrificed enough virgins, because you didn’t give us the land we wanted, because a man had sex with another man, because you didn’t free the Hebrews. And each civilization in the world, trying to understand nature,created a god of their own, and attributed certain morality to that god that correlated to their interpretation of righteous behavior.
And as humanity, we continue that trend. If a particular culture, be it local or nation wide, is against gay marriage, their god hates fags. If a particular culture, be it local or nation wide, is against premarital sex, their god hates the fornicators. And so on and so forth. But intellectual growth and scientific fact should be independent from personal preference. Things should be true or false, simply because they are, not because we desire them to be. We can be good and we can be bad, independently from religion—so religion is NOT needed for good or bad behavior. We can be loving and we can be hateful, independently from faith in a deity—so faith in a deity is NOT needed for attitude towards others.

I am very thankful for the support of some. But to those who took the time to apologize for their shortcomings in making God more real in my life, I had to ask, have you really never wondered that if we have to act like God in someone else’s life, it means he is not there to begin with? Stop fearing that if you, or someone you love, questions faith or the existence of a god, will turn into the Antichrist and burn in the lake of fire. Question simply because you can. Stop asking the atheists to come up with the answers to the universe simply because you stopped at “God did it.” A search for evidence is not sinful. And stop believing that love, or hate for that matter, is correlated to faith in a god. It is not. We choose to love or choose to hate, simply because we are human.

And this human chooses to love, but he also chooses to think, both of them freely. And free I am.