When I started this blog, I was concerned about what the reaction would be. Obviously this is a subject that people have a lot of emotional ties to and I had no desire to be inflammatory or divisive. That said, I had come to the point where my need to live authentically far outweighed my need to avoid conflict or my fear of others’ disapproval, so there wasn’t much of a debate to be had. It was time for me to come out of the closet.
I think any time someone comes out of the closet, regardless of the closet, they are risking losing some relationships. This is never the intention, but its always a possibility. I know that some might find this to be an impossible hurdle to overcome and that saddens me. But if the result of me being honest about who I am is that you reject me, then what have I lost? And those that stand by me are my true friends because they know and love who I really am, not what they want me to be.
I know that there are those of you that are still searching for a way to respond because you wholeheartedly disagree with me. This might take a while for you to sort out, but I’m okay with that. In the end, it isn’t a requirement that you agree with me. I just hope that you don’t equate accepting me as a person with endorsing all of what I believe. We can respectfully disagree and it doesn’t have to restrict our relationship. Sure things might look a little different then they used to, depending on the context of our relationship, but authenticity is the life blood of all healthy relationships.
Overall the response has been amazing. I really appreciate all of you that have commented, emailed, called, or found other ways to engage with me. The feedback and conversations have been so great, much more so then I had hoped for. I’m excited to continue the conversation. Either way, there’s certainly no stuffing me back in the closet now.
***Update: In my final edit of this post, I didn’t catch that I missed one very important word in the title. I knew something was going on when I saw that I had more hits in the first three hours then ever before in a full day. Sorry for the confusion, but hopefully most of you understood that I was referencing the agnostic closet. I must say though, that this is my favorite typo of all time!***
All joking aside, what do I mean when I say that I’m an Agnostic? It’s a great question and one that I’ve been asked often. Different people have a different understanding of what the word means and it applies to each person a little different much the same as every Christian is not a carbon copy of the next.
First and foremost, I’m not an atheist and that is an important distinction to me. By definition an atheist would say there absolutely is no God and an agnostic would say that we cannot know for sure if there is a God.
…that felt very patronizing…we all know the basic definitions involved here…I apologize. Let’s move on and pretend that didn’t just happen.
To get back on track, the question was, what does it mean that I have chosen this label for myself?
Let’s start with what I’m not. As I mentioned, I’m not an atheist. Is there a God? I don’t know. But I have no problem with others believing that there is a God and choosing to live their lives based upon that conviction. An atheist, by very definition, is diametrically opposed to those that believe God exists. I’m not. My father and both my grandfathers are pastors and have spent their lives dedicated to the service of others and the teaching of the Bible. They are three of the most honorable and upstanding men I have ever known and I have the greatest amount of respect for them and the selfless love they have shown to me and so many others. They taught me what it means to be a man. They pray for me every day. They are true men of conviction and I would die to defend their right to live out their faith and share it with others. In short, I’m not anti-Christian or anti-God (and if you ever talk shit about my dad, I’ll kick your ass).
So if we covered what I’m not, then what am I? Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a person of conviction, morals, and integrity. That hasn’t changed. I’m also still the gangly accident-prone goofball that some of you had the pleasure of growing up with. What has changed is the basis of my moral code and the motivation for the decisions I make on a daily basis. As a Christian, I consulted the Bible and lived my life according to it’s teachings. While that’s no longer the case, I still agree with much of it and my worldview is heavily influenced by my Christian upbringing. For now, I won’t dissect that further. That’s the whole purpose of this blog, telling my story of what it means to be an Agnostic PK.
PK is slang for Pastor’s Kid…DANG IT…Why do I keep doing that! We’re not a bunch of idiots here, DIETZ! End on a high note with a pithy tag-line tying it all back into the name of the blog, not by insulting their intelligence…stupid…
Back when I first began this journey towards agnosticism, regular church attendance was noticeably lacking until eventually it stopped all together. Whenever I would run into a Christian friend, the inevitable “So, where are you going to church now?” would rear it’s ugly head. The assumption being that, obviously, I was still attending somewhere, the only question was where. When the relationship warranted more than a cursory “I’m between churches right now” response, I would whip out my “Spiritual Colon Cleanse” analogy.
While it’s a little scatological and will certainly lend itself to numerous poop jokes throughout this post, I had no idea at the time how apt an analogy it would prove to be. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here’s the basic gist of my shitty analogy. I was feeling very bogged down in my faith. I couldn’t tell my faith from religiosity and I was tired of Christianity as an organized religion. As a pastor’s kid, I had seen the inner workings since the day I was born, seeing all the nonstop dysfunction and because of it I was spiritually constipated. Nothing was flowing for me because everything I did felt liturgical. I would be praying in church and think, “Why are we talking to God like this and why does this pastor find it necessary to say ‘Father God’ at the beginning of every frickin’ sentence?”
So I figured a Spiritual Colon Cleanse was the only way to get things moving again. I needed to strip everything down to its basic elements and lose all the extra crap. Basically, if the only reason I did something was because that was how I had always done it, then I wasn’t going to do it anymore until I could do it for a genuine reason. I desperately needed my faith to be genuine. Why? Because much of the stuff that I had been taught growing up didn’t apply to the world outside of my little Christian bubble (i.e. gay people are porn-addicts or were sexually abused as children or are pedophiles, etc.). And now that I was outside of that bubble (bartending while trying to find a big boy job) I needed to flush out all that shit and find a healthy functional faith that could work in the real world. If the things that I was stepping away from were genuine, then I would miss them and I would go back to them and embrace them because they had value and not because they were a comfort blanket that I had always carried. I refused to be a spiritual Linus.
Here’s the thing, I don’t miss most of it! Especially all of those things that told me who I should be instead of helping me see who I am. Now that I can see who I really am, I can embrace all of it, the good and the bad. I can play to my strengths and work on my weaknesses. And all of the other beautiful things about the church…community, morality, love, joy, generosity…guess what! They don’t belong to Christianity. Christianity co-opted them and tried to tell me that I can’t have them unless I tithe and go to church and call myself a Christian. But it’s a lie and all those feelings of constipation were just my heart telling me the truth. Over the last couple years, I’ve seen so many beautiful parts of humanity that operate outside the realm of Evangelical Christianity that I was blind to for so many years. And I feel more content and at peace now then I have in a very long time.
In the end, my little cleanse worked in a way I never anticipated. While I thought I was flushing out religiosity, I was actually flushing out Christianity.