Throughout most of my life, the Bible was something I had never thought to question. Now, I see it merely as a book that one of the most greedy organizations in history pushed to maintain. Since I was born, the Bible had defined my morality. I prayed on a nightly basis, being, as my great-grandmother put it, 'A Good Christian Boy'. Sadly, I learned the hard way just how unforgiving revealed religion can be.
I was born in a town in Nebraska. For all of those who don't know what a town like that would be, imagine a homogeny in every way. Nearly all of us are white, generally friendly, Christian, all-American football lovers living in small homes surrounded by corn. While partly true, needless to say, outside of Omaha and Lincoln, you'd be hard pressed to find anything other than a stereotype.
One of these stereotypes is being Christian. This was the family I was born into. My Dad was a devout non-denominational Christian, and for the longest time I never knew what my mom was, but she did go to church with us. After they divorced, my mom went to church for about one more year, but stopped not long after. My dad still goes to the same church every Sunday. Church was such an important thing to him, that he also put a lot of that on me as well. I had been raised so close to our church, for the first part of my life, I wanted to be a pastor.
This part of my life continued all the way up to my last years in middle school. Living in Nebraska, my life was largely uneventful, and I went to church on a regular basis. My sister also took to faith like a moth to a flame, and she was just recently baptized, and has become the talk of the family. My mom, on the other hand, had another boy, and then remarried another man. This was among the darkest point in our lives. The man she married was a drunk, abusive, and horrible. My dad and my mother's dad hated him. He was such a drain on us, we often went to bed hungry when we were staying at our at our mom's.
This was when I first began to doubt my faith. I had spent my life living as a model Christian, and I had now been put in a place where the people I loved were suffering a veritable hell. Even my sister, who was more devout than I was, suffered more than anyone with the exception of my mom. This doubt in my mind haunted me, and with this doubt I began losing sleep to violent nightmares. It felt like God had cursed me, and I had no idea why. My mom thankfully was able to divorce safely, and things became better, but she is still struggling with debts he created to this day. The point is, my faith had begun to crack. It would shatter in high school, when I discovered my sexual orientation.
On my dad's side, he had a cousin that was completely lesbian. I had personally never held anything against her (I thought it was cool), but I heard many vile things said behind their backs. Her parents were only nice to their face, and her sister hated her to the core. The people I saw as my family had estranged them in all but name. My dad and grandparents accepted her, but always with confusion.
With that environment and my faith, I can't really do justice to the pain and stress I felt at that time. I am a polyamorous bisexual. Christianity doesn't tend to look kindly upon either of those, at least in modernity. Due to the faith I had, I began having violent night terrors, and would frequently wake up in cold sweats crying, having vivid dreams of Hell. I pretended I was fine, but I was internally wracked by fear and despair. This compounded with desperately rereading my bible to find something that would free me, but it only sunk me deeper into despair. I was stuck in a position where I genuinely believed God had made me just to send me to Hell. Why would an all loving creator, one with boundless love and power, make someone just to send them to Hell? Why would he decree the affection I craved punishable with an eternity for torment, especially when he was the one that geared me that way on a biological level?
For a moment, I thought Atheism would be a way out of my hell. But my Dad is on the more intelligent side, so he taught me the Anthropic Principle and the Idea of Guaranteed Creation. Our current universe is too ideal to be random, and if the universe repeated ad infinitum, a universe birthing god would be inevitable. While I love those principles even more now, at the time, they drowned me further in sorrow and fear.
Around my junior year of high school, while I was studying Religious Philosophies for Debate, I noticed a name that stood out. It was what was once a heresy of the highest order, a religion born from the ideals of Philosophy, and not Faith or Blind Science. As I read the first Wikipedia article, the moment I clicked that link to Deism was a moment that, as it felt to me, saved me from damnation.
As I read further, I came to the World Union of Deists' website. I checked the entire site for articles on people like me, and while I could only find one, it advocated for people like me. At that moment, my mind and heart had made their decisions. God hating people for things he made them to be would not be a God of Good.
The Gnostics were right in one regard, and that is that YHVH would be a God of Control, Tyranny, and Evil. There was no reason for there to be any beauty if such a god existed. One that was Absentee Creator however, one that does not discriminate, one that only asks that we enrich humanity and live morally, that makes sense. Providence caring about who and how many I take to bed with me is pointless. The Abrahamic God is unreasonable, and cruel. Providence, the God of Creation, simply is.
And now, I no longer wake up at night muffling my screams. I no longer hide my sexuality. As I stand on the cusp of adulthood, I am no longer bound by shame and fear. I can, for the first time in my life, live free. Not as Theist, not as an Atheist, but as a Deist. The God I worship is not a God of Tyranny and Control. The God I recognize is the Creator, the Divine God of Wisdom and Nature. One that won't damn me for those I love, and instead judges me on who I am. As one of the first LGBT Deists, hopefully more like me will follow suit, and be able to live lives free of fear, lives in Deism.