Yesterday my friend Jason asked on his blog about our spiritual paths - how'd we get where we are?
I can attribute a lot of my personal faith journey to my relationship with my big brother. He's six years older than me, and I had all proper admiration and adoration for him growing up. One year, (age 4?) I asked for "boy toys" for my birthday - I wanted everything my brother had - Star Wars toys for example. (I always had to be the bad guys in our games - always Darth Vader, and he was always Luke Skywalker. Totally unfair.) I listened to the music he listened too, which, at the time, was quality stuff like White Snake, Poison, White Lion - the bigger the hair, the better.
When he went to college, I was very sad to have him so far away, right when I was entering the pit of life that is junior high school. And then when he came back from his first semester declaring himself an (angry) atheist, I was devastated. This was one place I wasn't ready to follow him. I've kept journals since fifth grade, and my journals from that time are filled with worry about the eternal fate of my wayward brother. Today, we are both in different spiritual places, and very close. But when I think about things that shaped my faith, that time was definitely important.
At one point, I actually wrote out in my journal what I believed about several 'key' issues. My brother was a philosophy major, with very little mercy for the age difference in our debating skills, and I knew I needed to prepare to hold my own in conversation with him. I'm very private about my journals, but 14 years later, I think I'm ready to share most of this entry with you all, which is very funny.
Saturday, November 21st, 1992.
"Jim really confuses me. He makes me think and that is good - thinking I mean . . . But he has made me want to define values.
"Believing in God is a choice of my own. Yes, I was brought up that way but I'm 13 and I've made my choice now. Why do I believe in God? Because now and then, at camp, church, JCSuperstar, Christmas, Easter, I feel this overwhelming presence of love, peace, and joy that can only be explained by God. That's all I need to explain myself.
"I believe abortion is wrong in general. I understand if you are raped. I would not like it but would accept it if the girl was so young that labor would cause harm to her or the baby. I have no compassion for teens, prostitutes, or those who sleep around. Abortion is not birth control. If you have sex, pregnancy is a risk you are taking.
"I believe premarital sex is wrong because that's what my religion is . . ."
"I'm not sure how the Bible stands on homosexuality. I, however, think I'm accepting of it. I believe our God is loving of everyone. I believe he made us all different and unique. Sexual preference does not make you less or more a person. What if homosexuals became a majority? Who are we, certainly not perfect people, to judge others. That's not a responsibility I'm worthy of.
"I think the death penalty is wrong. If killing is wrong, who could rightly kill someone else? it isn't anyone's decision to take away life. I do belief in life in strict prisons but no one should be killed, even if they deserve it. But I have to wonder how I would feel if someone killed a family member . . . "
There it is, my own little "Social Principles."