Enough of the Religious Shame

Hello again Friends,

To begin, a disclaimer: please forgive me (and correct me so I continue to learn) if I use any language that is not appropriate, accurate or inclusive (in terms of sexual orientation, identity or religion).

I have been writing on another topic, but I have detoured to address something more immediate. Earlier this week, when I read about the Pope’s decision not to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions, I wanted to scream “ENOUGH!!!! ENOUGH of the DICTATING and ENOUGH of the SHAME!!!” I am so incredibly sick of how religion shames people. And I now have a few things to say on the matter.

While studying Christianity a couple months ago, I saw more vividly than ever how living in a Christian, white dominant patriarchal society has created such deep shame cycles for women around sex and reproduction: such issues as abortion, miscarriage, motherhood, infertility challenges, choosing not to have children, post-partum, and the list goes on… I will address this more another time, but I’m sharing it now because I know these are not the only topics that create religious shame. And of course LGBTQ+ rights are among them.

I personally don’t believe that anyone is better than anyone else. That anyone is more worthy of love or acceptance or “salvation” than anyone else. Not only do I believe this but I’m learning  that it’s often not actually what the religious teachings say either.

I started seminary wondering if perhaps all religions are really based on the same foundation and that everything that made up the actual “religion” was different man-made interpretation of that foundation. I feel that is largely true. This can be summed up in one stunning quote from this video that a Muslim classmate shared while we studied Islam:

“The history of religions is the history of their egos and not of their soul.”  – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

As I’ve been studying the traditions, it seems that the foundational spiritual teachings of most of the religions are based in unconditional love, connection to God and interconnectedness as a whole.

So what happened? Well, as I see it, man/the ego got involved and things went a little haywire. To give some context, I will use Christianity/Catholicism as an example (since it’s the focus in the news this week). Here are just a few of the ways this has happened:

  • What went into the Bible as we know it today was chosen by a group of men that were assembled 350 years after Jesus’s death. There were SO MANY gospels left out, including the Gnostic Gospels and notably, the Gospel of Mary, written by Mary Magdalene, whom the Catholic Church has finally recognized as the Apostle to the Apostles, but her message and her love was strategically silenced and shamed for 2000 years (she was discredited as a prostitute). Her teachings are amazing and much more aligned with what I see as truth. If you’re interested, check out the book “Mary Magdalene Revealed” by Meggan Watterson.
  • Each of the gospels were written by people who were trying to appeal to the people of the time and region where they lived. Many of the Apostles were in different regions and socioeconomic factors were at play; what was written was written to appeal to “their people”. If you want to learn more about this, I recommend the PBS Frontline 2-park Docuseries From Jesus to Christ.
  • The Bible has gone through countless interpretations and translations from what it was originally. And those translations and interpretations are sponsored and paid for by people who influence the outcome. Think of all the humans (mostly men) who had their hands and minds and opinions in  the final product. Not to mention the fact that MANY of the words in Aramaic and Greek that were translated don’t have directly translatable terms. Like for example, the term of love that is used in Aramaic is actually more translated to “Mother Love” and yet, God is a man in all these interpretations. If you want to learn more about, I recommend anything by Dr. Wil Gafney, including this video.

Again, these are small pieces of what has helped me to see this all in a new light. And similar to the history of religions having been affected by ego, the Pope also has an ego – he is, after all human. He is the leader of one of the most influential organizations in the world. But I do not believe he speaks for God.  So many power dynamics are at play in the church that it’s hard to know what’s up and what’s down. But, I do know in my heart that what he dictated on Monday is not true – the God or Spirit I know does not condemn or judge any love or any connection as lesser than any other.

On a positive note, I have been encouraged to find many religious leaders and believers of all traditions who align much more with the original teachings of their faiths. They are not about dogma or exclusion or oppression or supremacy. They believe in and fight for love, connection, community and more. And because it is the topic at hand, I saw this in Catholicism as well, in Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest and scholar trying to enact change. And Vatican II priests are much more liberal, including the priest who spoke to our class, who has been an avid gay rights activist for many years.

I do believe change is coming, but in the meantime, I want anyone who was affected by the Pope’s/church’s statement on same sex unions, and anyone who has felt shamed in any way by a religion (whether they prescribe to that religion or not) to know: This statement comes from the ego of the religion, not the soul of it. You and your love are unconditionally worthy, loved and saved. Period.

In unconditional love and light,

Devin Green
The Connected Way

P.S. Amazingly, it’s been almost a whole year since I sent the first email to all of you about this new path. I will be hosting a free call on Monday night at 8PM EST to mark the anniversary and connect with anyone who wants to join. The call will include rituals to honor and release the pandemic year past and to focus on connection for the path ahead. If you’d like to join me, please sign up here.