Learning about Lent

My church is currently observing Lent – a season of spiritual discipline that leads up to Easter. We are encouraged to “give up” something during this time, apparently as a way to relate to the 40 days of temptation that Christ endured.

Although the denomination that I grew up in didn’t observe Lent, fasting and other forms of self-denial were commonplace. Regardless, the idea of denying myself something for an extended period of time every year feels both foreign and compelling.

I guess I like the idea more for carnal reasons than spiritual ones. I think it’s good to practice forms of self-discipline, whether that means pushing away the plate or turning off the television. Even so, in the four years that I’ve been attending my church, I have yet to participate in this tradition.

I think the main problem is that I can’t decide what to give up. Most of the things that people commonly abstain from seem downright silly. Surely giving up chocolate or soft drinks doesn’t really give one a deeper understanding of Jesus’ suffering, but I can appreciate how difficult it is to choose something meaningful.

Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent, was last week, but I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to abstain from. Maybe my hesitancy is evidence that I don’t want to give up anything, because deep down, I really don’t. I don’t want to stop checking Facebook every ten minutes. I don’t want to quit Dr. Pepper, or stop watching “Big Love,” or order a salad instead of french fries.

But I guess that’s the point. Jesus went through hell in order to enlighten the world and save humanity. Surely I can give up something I really like for a few days.

Glutton for punishment

Over the past month, two people have attacked me via Facebook because of my sexuality. Apparently my honesty about my lifestyle is irresistible to those hiding behind computer screens and religious dogma. Both people claimed an interest in saving my soul, but both used rather unusual tactics to express their concern.

One person contacted me privately to tell me that being open about my sexuality was creating an inappropriate influence on children, that I should follow the real Christ instead of a false Christ, and that they didn’t want to go to the judgment with my blood on their hands.

The other responded to a mutual friend’s post about gay marriage that I had commented on. He asked if AIDS is a plague or a cure, before launching into a diatribe about the evils of homosexuality that took a very personal and nasty turn.

God did not make you queer he made you just like everybody else…you have brain washed yourself into believing this stupidity because you want to. Even your parents have taught you better than that….You are looking for justification for your grotesque life style….DO NOT BLAME ANYBODY BUT YOURSELF. IT IS A CHOICE!!

Both people ended their messages by expressing that they love me. I find it ironic that someone could imply that homosexuals deserve to die from AIDS one minute, then tell me they love me the next.

I wonder why I even have a Facebook account, as it provides a means for people to say things to me that they would never consider saying in real life. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

As if I haven’t been beaten up enough lately, last night I checked the comment queue on this blog to find the following message: “You sound like a f***ing homo.”

Short and to the point. At least it didn’t include any religious condemnation or hollow expressions of love.