Aniblogger Testimony: Faceplanting into Religion

This is the fourth in a series of Aniblogger Testimony posts, where select writers will discuss their personal faith.  Today’s post is by Arianna of Otaku Life.  The previous posts in this series were written by Lauren Orisini, R86, and Nikko.

I was not a religious person. I really had no intention of being a religious person. Sure, I had friends who were, and I didn’t mind or anything, but for me…to be honest, religion scared me. When I was younger (think five—eight range) I’d been stuck going to my grandmother’s church, a Mormon church. Now don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with Mormons. But that church was solemn and quiet and it seemed like if you dared to breathe during the sermon, there would be some old lady glaring at you. Even the kid-time, whatever it was called, post-sermon was somehow terrifying. Once I didn’t have to go anymore, I basically ran from religion for a long time.

Years went by, I settled myself firmly into otaku-dom and was entirely removed from anything religious. Heck, I found my way to being a yaoi fangirl, so religion clearly wasn’t one of the top things on my mind. Then, in the summer between seventh and eighth grade, one of my best friends invited me to a festival for a radio station—a religious radio station.

Now, the thing about me is that I’m non-discriminatory when it comes to my music. I may not have been at all into religion myself, but that wasn’t going to stop me from listening to a certain variety of music. So I agreed to go, and I sincerely enjoyed the bands that played. After the festival, there wasn’t time to take me home and I had to attend church services with her. At the time, Ashland Baptist was sharing a building with another church after some issues with their old one, so the services were Saturday evenings.

Honestly, I didn’t mind going. Her church was a pleasant surprise. Everyone there was super-friendly, the pastor cracked jokes during his sermons, there was singing (I did not sing) and clapping and…it was fun. I couldn’t remember ever having fun at church before. I ended up telling her at school on Monday that I might be interested in going again.

Fast forward some months. I’d started attending Ashland every week, we had our own building, I’d taken part in moving in and a million other church activities, and I loved it, but I still didn’t see myself as a religious person. We had a great youth group which met Sunday evenings, with a completely wonderful youth pastor who was an all-around wonderful guy.

One night, I can’t remember which part of the Bible we were discussing (my knowledge of what is where in the book is sorely lacking), but it involved the question of, “if someone said to renounce your faith or you would be killed, what would you do?” I surprised both myself and my best friend by offering the answer that, “I would be killed, because the Lord is there for me whether I’m dead or not.”

When we were done with the talk, and just waiting for our ride to come get us, my friend and I were talking about what I’d said. That night was when it sort of just slapped me in the face that I believed in God. Soon enough, though not that night, I was asking Rob (the youth pastor) how I went about being baptized at our church.

In March of 2008, I was baptized during the church services at Ashland. I joined the church as an official member about two months later.

However, just because I realized I’m religious doesn’t mean it’s always easy for me. I’m still a yaoi fanatic—heck, I have a collection of Shizuo/Izaya pictures that’s presently in the vicinity of 700. I play games like Absolute Obedience, which is as hardcore yaoi as it gets, really. I do a lot of things the Bible doesn’t especially recommend. I’m not faithful to what the book says I should do; if anything, I’m far from it. I do believe in God, I do love Him, but I don’t allow that to change who I am.

The thing I struggle with most is a result of my love of anime, I believe, though it’s not of direct relation. To be honest, I’m pretty sure I won’t be condemned just for enjoying yaoi. With anime though, I became more open to other things, to other sexualities and oddities and just all-around more accepting. I never questioned my own sexuality—I was straight, thank you very much—until the same year I was baptized.

I realized one day that I was developing romantic feelings for another girl. So, okay, I was bisexual. It turned into pansexual after a time, but the point is, I wasn’t straight. And according to the Bible, that’s something of a sin. I never considered trying to fight my attraction to people of my own sex—it was just there, and it was what it was.  I haven’t been with any boys since then; I still like them, but all of my strong feelings have gone to girls. The person I’m in love with right now is a girl, and it’s a struggle for me.

Not because I think there’s really something wrong with my feelings for her. I feel as if whomever I love should be okay with my Lord. That isn’t exactly the problem. The struggle comes from just hearing that it’s wrong in the book I’m supposed to use as a guide for my life. It gets stressful sometimes.

There are people of my own faith who disgust me, who make me wonder about Christianity and what is wrong with people. I think those people have missed something. There are people working on their ninth divorce, people getting married in Vegas and ending the relationship a few hours later, people abusing the people they’re supposed to “love”…and with all of that going on, somehow it’s wrong for me to just be in love with someone who happens to be designed the same way I was? I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s right.

So when I’m stressed by my religious beliefs, I bury myself in anime and don’t think about it for awhile. While religion and anime are generally unrelated topics for me, they do keep me from each other and each give me comfort. Thoughts of God comfort me when it comes to topics like the recent earthquake/tsunami disaster, and anime brings me back down to my normal self when I’m looking for a distraction. That is the only relationship between the two for me.

That’s all I can really say on the topic of religion in regards to myself. But I enjoyed letting it out a little more than I usually do.

17 thoughts on “Aniblogger Testimony: Faceplanting into Religion

  1. “I do a lot of things the Bible doesn’t especially recommend. I’m not faithful to what the book says I should do; if anything, I’m far from it. I do believe in God, I do love Him, but I don’t allow that to change who I am.”

    Somehow I seem to be missing something. Maybe you perhaps shouldn’t consider yourself a Christian? If you’re just going to do what you want anyway, there’s no point of causing distress to yourself by trying to marry two different philosophies.

    1. Exactly. You don’t have to be Christian to believe in the teachings and/or principles of Christianity. You can have your own spirituality, and all you are sacrificing is the hyper-religious community (which, to many, is a sacrifice they are willing to make).

      I think a lot of people stress out overmuch about this, because they were raised to think it is “wrongful behavior”. Heck, some societies kill you for it. But frankly, if you have the option to exercise your religious freedoms, then you should do so.

    2. Justice, it’s not really that simple, on a few levels. Rick Warren tweeted something this morning to the effect that he believes the Bible is inerrant, but our interpretation of the Bible is not. There’s that, and there’s also a battle between flesh and spirit – what we want and what we know to be right.

      We become Christian as a response – we are compelled to follow God because we believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. We believe this to be true, and we respond by dedicating our lives to Him.

      1. I’m not sure I quite understand. I am not the one telling her she is not following the Bible, she is saying frankly that she is going against what it says.

        The battle between flesh and spirit only really counts if there is an actual battle – if you are admitting to yourself that you don’t allow the Bible to change you then that cannot really apply can it? I agree with you that an interpretation can be very wrong, but there are many things that are clear cut and its down to the individual to choose to ignore them or not.

        You say a Christian dedicates their life to God. What does that mean? Is no sacrifice required in it? What does the baptism mean if you don’t change?

        Is all that is required is to believe that Christ died for your sins? Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

        Interpret as you will. Nobody is perfect; we all have our failings but the important thing for me is the want to change, the desire to be better, even if it is to an impossible extent.

        1. True enough – I used the battle and interpretation ideas as two reasons why our personal lives and the Bible may not match, and they don’t necessarily apply to Arianna.

          I do think it’s harsh, though, for you to say that maybe she shouldn’t consider herself a Christian.

          Some Christians have an immediate, almost 180 transformation in their lives when they repent. But many, myself included, have difficulties accepting and acting on Biblical principles, even after accepting Christ. Does that mean that person is not a Christian? I don’t know – it becomes tricky and weird and maybe hypocritical and wrong for us to judge that person’s faith in Christ. It’s an individual process among a greater Christian community, and as such, each person needs to work out his or her relationship with God. And all of our journeys are at different points – Arianna may feel differently 10 years from now, 1 year from now, or one week from now. Christianity is dynamic, and lordship isn’t something that doesn’t come quickly for many of us.

          1. I’ll just point to C S Lewis again, who says all Christians are on a journey toward Christ-likeness. However, we all start at different places and walk at difference paces. Unless we are invited to help by a person to help them on their path, all we can do is accept their confession and encourage them.

          2. She walks in faith, wrestles with God, and accepts Christ. What is she if not a Christian? A wise man once told me that the Church is not a country club for the saints, but a hospital for sinners.

            You two, Justice in particular, just seem like Pharisees who have missed the point of the Great Commandment. How does this show your sister in Christ love? You are dissuading her from the path because she doesn’t subscribe to your definition to what a “true christian” should be after converting? This is foolishness

            Arianna is very brave to share her testimony with the rest of us. I cannot understand how some brothers in Christ could be so judgmental when ours is to give encouragement…

            1. I’m delighted that Arianna shared so much with us and I hope that we’ll encourage (or continue to encourage) her.

              Turning to a more positive note and still on topic, I think Arianna brings up another great point when she talks about those who would judge her despite their own sins. Of course, I’m reminded of removing the planks in our eyes and of the sinful woman – that wonderful story that shows the power of forgiveness and the universality (word?) of sin.

        2. The Dedication, then, is a promise to LIVE by GOD’S STANDARDS, IN WORD AND IN DEED. No matter where you are. Even on the internet, where it’s easy to hide behind a screen and hurl insults at people who don’t know what’s going on behind their backs.

          This SACRIFICE is to CRUCIFY our innermost DESIRES. Even those that tell us to CALL A FELLOW CHRISTIAN HURTFUL THINGS.

          CHANGE then is a VERY HARD thing to ACCEPT for people. The DAILY SACRIFICE of our SINFUL NATURE is not just trying to tolerate people at church or at the workplace, it is about TREATING THEM with the DIGNITY and RESPECT befitting of GOD’S CREATION.

          And I’m not too sure what your interpretation of the Bible is, but what I just said was the gist of the latter bit of the New Testament (Paul’s letters to the churches) and probably at least 3 of the 5 books of the Pentateuch.

          So I’m not too sure why would anyone go against those.

          1. Hey – thankful for your comments as always. I’m not sure who your comments were in response to – this little thread of comments has gotten complicated. 😛

            Anyway, I agree with you. A Christian life is about crucifying ourselves and letting Christ reign in our lives. My point is that it’s a process – although we are justified before God when we come to know Him as Lord and Savior, sanctification is a longer process and we’re all at different points in it. Arianna considers herself a Christian, and I don’t think it’s our place to judge that part of her relationship with Christ. If she believes her sexuality is NOT biblical but is not willing to turn over that part of her life to Christ, than she’s admitting she is sinning – that’s something she and God will deal with. As her brothers and sisters, I’m not sure what our role is – how much of a church are Christian anibloggers? That’s actually a really good question.

            Anyway, back to my point, which is that the original commenter said she maybe shouldn’t consider herself a Christian, and I felt that was a discouraging comment that I felt wasn’t a helpful one.

  2. I don’t know how old you are. Your essay suggests that you’re still pretty young, but also pretty mature for your age. Most young people can’t analyze their faith or share their testimony in a way that’s as intelligent as this. And you’re at least honest about the struggles that you’ve been going through. Most young people, as well as most Christians (heck, most people period) are hesitant to admit to what they’re really going through when it comes to their personal life and their faith.

    I think, with time, you’ll find a way to reconcile the parts of your life that you feel are in conflict. You’re still growing up (not to sound patronizing or anything) and finding out who you are and what’s most important to you and how your belief in God shapes and reflects that. I don’t know if God will lead you to your answers, or if you’ll figure it out on your own, but I think you’re on the right track.

    This will probably sound tremendously condescending, but I really don’t mean it to be: I think it’s pretty common for young people to question their sexuality. I wouldn’t feel terrible guilt for the feelings that you’ve been having toward girls (or towards the one girl in particular that you’re referring to) but I would remind yourself that this is one of the most emotionally intense times of your life, and that you’re going to come out of it a changed person in more ways than you can imagine. I think you’ll find plenty of Christians that don’t condemn the kind of thoughts you’ve been having (which sound pretty pure compared to those of most people your age, to be honest), and that the Gospel doesn’t take issue with such matters. In other words, don’t torture yourself over it like I did when I was younger.

    1. I’m eighteen, but my grandma’s been saying my entire life that I’m wise beyond my years. Thanks for your apparent agreement, haha.

      I don’t think you sound at all patronizing or condescending, especially compared to some people I know IRL. All I can say is that I really don’t think my sexuality is going to change at all as I get older—I have every intention of spending my life with the girl I mentioned. Now can I say that will happen? No, of course not. I’m young, she’s young, things can change in our situations and feelings specifically for each other, but that doesn’t take away my current view of wanting to have her sitting next to me five, ten, thirty years down the road. The sexuality thing for me is more a matter of…well, it’s as I said in my post: when there are people out there having five hour marriages, I refuse to believe I will be condemned just for liking someone with the same bits. There are worse sins.

      It’s the comments of other Christians that hurt me. I know I believe in and love Him, so when I hear that I can’t love the person I do, and love God at the same time? From the same people who are preaching acceptance? That’s when things start to bother me.

      Thanks for the response 🙂

      1. Here’s the strange part that people don’t like to admit, no matter what they think.

        Judas betrayed his Master.

        When Jesus was in Gethsamane, praying, his friends didn’t accompany Him.

        In front of Pontius Pilate, the people He came to save were jeering at Him.

        Peter denounced his relationship with Jesus thrice. The third one right in front of Him.

        On His Deathbed, 10 of His disciples ran. The guards gambled for His clothes, the crowd just stared at Him and hurled taunts and threats at Him. Even one of the condemned was taunting Him.

        We are Judas. We are James, John and Andrew. We are Peter. We are the guards, the people, the taunting crucified, and Pontius Pilate.

        It goes without saying that we are all the same, stumbling, groping and generally being unable to see the path before us. Even as a Christian, we’re only equipped with torches and can only see a little bit of the path. And as Easter comes, we need to be constantly reminded that our salvation and God’s mercy came at a terrible price. And that we don’t deserve it and should have been a bloody smear on a rain of meteors.

        Pardon my language, but we all that shit to Jesus. We hurt Him so bad HE had to DIE. There was no two ways about it.

        There is nothing wrong with doubt. Doubt can lead to a renewed faith when approached correctly. The more dangerous thing is blind IGNORANCE rather than doubt.

        Well, there’s also the funny thing about God. He really, really doesn’t like that, and wishes you’d drop it. Personally, I don’t really mind it, and find it hilarious. Be glad then, that you are young and have time to pull back before bad things happen. Then again, God has always allowed U-turns. (Not from Him, mind.)

  3. *thumbs up* I love you much more after I read your testimonies, Arianna!

    Religion is a guide not a law. You have to take it and adapt it to fit with yourself. That way, you are happy and you are not lost.

    And don’t listen to those who try to judge you or make you change into someone you are not. I know many people who take the Bible far too literally and too strictly. Those people makes things worse by making religion sounds like getting locked up in a cage. Leave them in that cage of theirs. And enjoy every moment of your life 🙂

  4. Great post, Arianna!
    I can’t say I agree with everything you wrote (okay, so I might really disagree with some of it), but thanks for being honest. You drew me into your testimony within the first few sentences. I had to go pause my anime so I could finish it. 🙂

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