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.