Searching for Faith During a 'Night in the Woods'

Finding, maintaining, and questioning belief in Possum Springs

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

It easy to blame faith for bringing out the worst in people but only when it being misused by people with bad intentions or those with misguided views. Faith helps us understand how to better oneself in understanding others and to push forward in life.

On the Night in the Woods scale, I’m definitely on the end of the spectrum where I find faith as a concept has not been in my life very much, but where it has been, it has consistently let me down.

I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious environment, but it also wasn’t one where religion was routinely questioned. It was just there, most of the time not noticeable, like background radiation.

As a result, as I became more my own person, I just no longer paid too much attention to religion and decided that it wasn’t something I needed in my life to be the sort of person I wanted to be, but I didn’t really begrudge anyone else who wanted or needed that and weren’t impinging on anyone.

It was (perhaps unsurprisingly) my sexuality where it started touching my life in a way that really made me start to question whether there’s something salvageable about faith that is worth the hurt it can cause. I still don’t know where I am on that answer.

I remember having a really good IRC friend, back when even the concept of having ‘Internet friends’ was still kind of in its infancy. We bonded over music, and one year she decided to come to the UK from the US to visit. I knew she was studying for a doctorate in Theology, but we didn’t speak about her faith very much, it just didn’t come up. But this was around the time that I had come out to myself, at about 16-17 years of age and was starting to open up to other folks on the Internet about it.

And so one day I decided to ask her, flat out: ‘Do you think I’m going to hell?’ And she said that no, she didn’t believe that to be the case. I pressed a little, eventually saying, “But you know, right, that right now in this country I am not legally allowed to marry another guy. And at some point I’m probably going to have sex.” And she paused for a moment, then said: ‘Well, I can’t protect you from sexual sin.’

And my heart sank a little. Not because I thought I was in some kind of spiritual trouble. But because I could tell she’d completely missed why I’d reached out for her. I wasn’t looking for her blessing, or permission or whatever else. All I wanted was to look her in the eye as a friend, at a time when I didn’t have many real friends, and hear her reassure me that deep down, she didn’t think I was wrong to act on my desires, that she didn’t think I was broken in some way.

We were still friendly afterwards, but it never felt the same to me, at least. It hurts when you know no matter how someone likes you, or how friendly they are, they can never fully, wholeheartedly accept you.

And I’ve had the same sort of thing, with various kinds of justifications as to why they can still think I’m being sinful and be my friend, and I always land on the same conclusion:

If your faith leads you to believe that I am doing wrong by being with the person that I love, but you do not wish to enact laws to stop me, and you do not wish to impose those beliefs on me, then maybe we can be friendly. But I don’t think we can ever be friends.

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That is not at all true. I had a friend who, despite being the one who got me to confront my homophobia when he came out as bi, became homophobic and transphobic when he converted. And while it might be easy to blame that on it being orthodox catholicism he converted to, the simple fact is that such beliefs are built into the new testament, and him seeing that was totally what got him outright saying he would use the name and gender a trans acquaintance of his did not want people using.
Faith can for sure bring out the worst in people, not from misuse, but from proper use.