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Religion, Meet Intersectionality...

When I use the word "intersectionality," I still get strange looks from my husband whom I believe has no idea what it means. It's definitely a buzzword that sets conservative folks on edge. There's actually several of these words which contribute to conservative anxiety and they played a role in my choice to abandon my long-held beliefs.

The more I opened my heart to others who were different from me and tried to have empathy and understanding for them, the more I realized I was not very conservative at all. This was a fairly easy transition seeing as how conservative christianity is rarely sustainable or logical anyways. Ultimately, there's no acceptable degree of being conservative - in the christian community, at least in my experience, you can never be conservative enough. It doesn't matter if you start wearing turtle necks, give up all alcohol, and never utter a swear word. The minute anyone finds out that you watched an R-rated movie, it all goes out the window because you have obviously not read enough of your bible to come to the same conclusion as the person judging you. The argument that you have read the bible and simply came to a different conclusion is met with its own degree of delightful shrewdness.

"You are twisting scripture to fit your agenda."

"Then you need to ask the holy spirit to discern for you because you are being mislead."

"If you don't like it, take it up with God. It's His words, not mine."

All the authority and respect you command as a capable adult is stripped from you by the people, sometimes strangers, who are infinitely more holy and better christians than you.

This isn't meant to be a dig at christians by any means. I myself have followed this same narrative. It's what a large portion of the christian community is trained to do - there's answers to everything and you are taught to follow a very specific script to keep everyone on the conservative path. It was somewhat of a revelation when I realized I'm not conservative anymore. I would be ridiculed and harassed if I ever claimed to be any type of christian who wasn't conservative. I could never really say I was a liberal christian, or a progressive christian. It's very obvious in conservative circles how the words "liberal" or "progressive" are responded to. It simply wasn't an option for me, and I found myself feeling fairly confident that there was no place in religion for any deviation from that standard.

Things became more complicated when I finally developed the courage to be honest with myself about my own intersectionality.

The short version is that I do land on the intersectional spectrum even though it was something I stifled and denied for years due to fear of judgement. The long version is something that will make a entire separate post so I will spare you for now.

Ultimately, how does one come to terms with being less than straight and less than a cisgender woman when religion teaches you that it is wrong and sinful? For the record, "cisgender" is another of those buzzwords that conservative people, regardless of their spiritual affiliation, seem to hate.

I am, by nature, a religious person. I have always been and will always be a religious person. The disservice I was done is not that I gravitate to religious practice but that I was taught only christianity. Because of this, I had really no concept of any other religions. The misconceptions that abound are not only irritating, but irrational. The common "I hate religion" trope is most often born from those who have only been exposed to the toxic forms of christianity. I have seen so many expressions of religion being a crutch, religions being about violence, religions allowing this or that, all religions being a cult, etc etc. This could not be further from the truth. While many religions do perpetuate violence, and cult-like behaviors, you can't lump them all into one. Some religions don't even have a deity. Some religions are founded on peace above everything else and would never condone any violence. Some religions teach you tolerance for everyone just trying to go about their own way. It's an unfair assumption that all religions are created equal.

That being said, I suppose I assumed that Judaism was an old, stuffy religion with more rules and conservative values even than christianity. Needless to say I was very wrong. Reform Judaism in particular is very big on social justice issues, and seeing the representation of a need for things like marriage equality was somewhat shocking for me. Judaism in general (maybe the Orthodox sect a little less so) is very liberal in ideology. Imagine my surprise while exploring Jewish facebook pages and finding pride flags and transgender people being not just represented, but respected and loved as people. There was no "fear" that their "sin" would be condoned - the only message being preached was love and equality.

Personally, I believe that's the way it should be. What I have felt in the past from the conservative community, no matter how it was conveyed, was anything but love. I also don't believe that you can "love the sinner but hate the sin" but I digress.

Again, I don't want to imply that this was the entire deciding factor in pursuing a Jewish conversion, because obviously it is a huge decision and a lot goes into it. I can't deny though that immediately feeling like there was a place for me made a very big impact - because there hasn't been a place for me in christianity for a very long time; and I am one of thousands who are beginning to feel the same way.

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