Melissa’s Series Part 2: Research 101

Part 2 of Melissa’s story, Unwrapping the Onion, is now posted. This one is titled Research 101. Here is an excerpt:

Many of these links said that they could help fix people with these perverse tendencies, but I still struggled to match what they were claiming with my Hunnie. These groups claimed that they had all the answers as to how these “perversions” were started, so I investigated, but all of the questions I bombard my spouse with met dead ends. He had never been sexually abused. He had never been exposed to explicit sexual materials. He had not had an abusive or absent father. He had not had an overly controlling mother, or a mother who wished he was a girl. I asked if he was gay, but while he admitting to having had same-sex attraction at times, he had always been more sexually attracted to girls, which had given him hope that maybe the gender dysphoria would magically go away if he just got married and had kids and had that role to fill, except it hadn’t. Even wracking our brains together, we just couldn’t get to the bottom of what had caused this problem, it just was.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • charlesbartley

    I don’t want to derail her comment thread with my atheism, so I am posting here. I feel physicially ill when I read comments like the first one in this posts’s comments thread:

    “I am a Christian, and there is no denying that god is clear in saying that all sins are the same in his eyes. A sin is a sin, no one sin is lesser or worse than another. They all break Gods heart the same, and Jesus Christ died for all of them.”

    It brings back so many feelings of guilt, of remorse over things that I couldn’t control that I just feel sick to my stomach.

    I was basically taught that lesson in church: “all sins have the same penalty (death/separation from God) and therefore they are all the same in God’s eyes.” (except for sexual sins which are sins against your own body, which is the temple of God, and therefore are worse somehow that is never explained).

    This caused me endless suffering over my thought crimes. “Oh noes! I just looked at that girl and noticed her breasts, that means that I have lust in my heart. I therefore comitted adultery–a sin both against my future/currrent wife and against God!”

    I would be so overwhelmed by this that I didn’t stop for several years to ask myself “If, as a hetero male, I can’t help but noticing a cute girl’s breasts, then how could that actually be a sin?, Why should I feel guilty about that?” When I finally did, I realized that this creator literally made me that way, and then says (in Jesus’s own words) that it is a sin when I am that way? How does that work? Why is that Good? I quickly extrapoplated from this realization to see the silliness in the “Catholic” view that Melissa talks about. How in the world can it be a sin to be true to how your creator made you? If he didn’t want you to be sexual with people of the same gender, or to feel like a diferent gender from what your body/chromosomes express as then how come he made you that way?

    Bollocks I say! Rubish! This whole view of sin is wrong. The whole concept of sin is evil.

    Now, I want to ask Christians “Really? Lying about what I had for lunch is really the same as mass murder? Do you really believe that? Why do you think that this system is just?” Futher, the whole Christian system of original sin, Hell, Human sacrifice to pay for those sins, is built on top of this. And then belief!!! (aka endorsement) of that sacrifice is what cures all of this? This whole system is barbaric and offensive–when viewed from the outside. It boggles me that I ever believed it in the first place, but I have to remind myself that I never was exposed to any other way of viewing the world.

    Now, I firmly believe in right/good and wrong/evil, but the whole concept of “sin” as expressed into the bible now falls cleanly into the “wrong” category. It abstracts and deminishes responsibility for real evils, and in turn punishes people for things that they can’t control. Also, the whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” meme always somehow ends up indistinguishable in outcome from “hate the sinner.”

    I know that my parents really hope and pray that I will come back to Christianity, but I just can’t ever see that happening. Even if I still thought that that system was real/true, I couldn’t participate in it again. It would be choosing slavery to an unjust tyrant.

    As an aside: do you have any options on this blog for enabling previewing comments, or for subscribing to comment threads? I miss that from when you were at FTB.

    • Melissa @ Permission to Live

      Thanks Charles, I’m hoping people will stick around to read the whole thing, so I am not starting commentary debates. And don’t worry, this post on research is early on in a 2 year journey, so we eventually grow past this point.

      • Charlesbartley

        I can’t wait to read more. I love these stories (and want to give everyone involved hugs) because they help me understand my journey better. My journey involved my ex’s mental illness. We all have “life got real on us, it shook our beliefs to the core and we have had to slowly rebuild from there” in common.

        Libby Anne is one of my must- read blogs and yours is quickly becoming the same.

    • Libby Anne

      Glad to give you a place to vent. :-) I had the same fears of thought crime as you, because I was also taught that all sins are equally bad, and I now have the same revulsion to the idea. I mean really. Little kid steals a gumball and now she’s just a bad as Hitler??? Heck NO. Some “justice,” that!

      I asked and there’s no way to do comment previewing. I’ll double check on subscribing to comment threads, though. And let me know if there’s anything else!

  • Ibis3

    Thanks, charles. I felt like that comment needed a reply. I still might give one but you’ve provided some vicarious catharsis. Seriously, after reading about this poor person’s struggle with gender dysphoria (I mean can you imagine what her childhood must have been like? And then having to tell your spouse this inner secret, knowing that she was raised in the same hateful world as you?), to respond with “you’re sinful and Gawd hates every kind of sin equally because it just breaks his heart” seems so callous and evil. Melissa and her spouse shouldn’t have to read such unambiguously vile comments.

    • Melissa @ Permission to Live


    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Count me as another person that had to bite my tongue (my fingers?) at that comment to prevent a derail into fighting.

      I mean, responding to someone’s brave decision to make herself vulnerable by sharing this deeply personal journey with someone she loves by saying “Don’t worry, God isn’t any more offended by your spouse’s nature than he is by all the other inadequate people who suck” is just incomprehensible to me. I don’t know WHAT exactly that’s all about but it sure as hell isn’t about offering support or about anything that has to do with Melissa. It has to do with that poster. And his/her passive-aggressive need to register his/her discontent about the fact that certain types of people exist. Seriously, if somebody puts herself out there to talk about something highly sensitive and the only thing you have to offer is a bunch of self-absorbed pontificating, just shut up. Seriously!

      /end rant

  • James Sweet

    I basically decided I’m just not going to read the comments over there.

    I only feel slightly better about the comments along the lines of, “I’m sorry you were treated that way, I subscribe to a type of Christianity that is totally down with trans people!” I’ve come to understand the value in that viewpoint (it’s appropriate that Libby Anne just recently had a post about For the Bible Tells Me So) but I also sorta agree with Natalie Reed about it. You don’t need God’s approval to be who you are. Skepticism is inherently flexible, whereas dogma — even a seemingly loving, tolerant dogma — is not.

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Yep, they don’t always sit well with me either but as much as their point of views seem disgusting and absurd to me, I try to understand that they are actually trying to be nice and tolerant (and compared to other people with their same beliefs they actually are) and maybe reading the whole story will give them a best understanding or knowledge of the subject and change their minds a little bit and the middle of the story isn’t the ideal time to start engaging them. That’s it, when the story is done, I’m sure the discussions are going to be very interesting ^^

    • Ibis3

      Which of Libby Anne’s posts are you referring to, James? I think I might have missed it.

    • MadGastronomer

      The theory of skepticism may be inherently flexible (although I think that’s debatable), but actual skeptics are just as likely to be misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, racist, ableist, and all kinds of other shit as any religious person, even if they phrase it differently. Bigotry is a people thing, not a philosophy thing. People use their philosophies and theologies to justify their bigotries.

      Need proof, O Skeptic? Try checking out Elevator Gate, or that thing with the teen girl on Reddit, or the use of words like “lame” and “gay” as negative terms on plenty of atheist sites.

      Denying that these things happen doesn’t make them go away. Admitting they happen and working to see that they don’t keep happening, though, can.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Well-said. Additionally, I would argue that more accepting, liberal forms of Christianity (or any religion) are not actually that dogmatic. Certainly not doctrinaire.