Personal Religion

The 20s are all about sticking to your laurels and going with what you know. Religion is a big part of our lives, whether we're aware of it or not. Everyone, even those who don't believe in religion (which doesn't make sense, because it exists regardless of your denial of its actuality) have religion. Religion is the basis of how we function. It's our daily rituals, our morality, and the basis of our opinions. Everyone and I mean everyone has their own personal religion.

The hardest thing I found about college was figuring out how to answer people's questions about my lifestyle. My college is so liberal that any mention of religion, much less being a Christian gets you the "oh you're that kind of person" looks and exclamation. So I'm going to stop you right there. Contrary to popular belief it is possible to be educated and have faith in religion but even more so a higher power, and in my case, namely big G aka God. Not all religious people are the same, and call us what we are, Christians. People automatically assumed I was some bigoted, conservative, homophobic, pro-lifing judgemental evangelist (the judgemental part is correct I have to admit). But let dispel all the rumors and let you know my beliefs. Keep in mind that my opinions, thoughts, ideas, and the way I think the world works is not a reflection on anyone else but myself. Again, everyone has their own personal religion. It's how we make sense of the world, how we cope, and how we justify our actions. Your central dogma, whether the traditional Abrahamic religions or one of the thousand others like Buddhism, Pantheism, Hedonism, Atheism etc. all play a crucial part in how your opinions of your world are formed. So if you're wondering kind of Christian I am, it's Pentecostal (in the Bible, in the Book of Acts, the day of Pentecost is when the Holy Spirit *part of the Holy trinity comes from the heavens and stays with the people who start speaking in tongues *the language of the Lord, and displaying other gifts). That means my church (which I attend every Sunday when I'm home) is loud, we dance, sing, weep, and pray passionately, fervently unto the Lord. If you're thinking, this kid is one of those crazy Africans, well you're forgetting that just because you believe something different does not make my beliefs wrong, rather wrong for you. At this point I usually get questions of spirits/souls, the validity of the Bible (how could you take it literally), and the whole eternal torture known as hell. It is possible to believe in evolution and creation simultaneously, the Bible may be a metaphor or it may have actually all happened (it'll take too long to explain here) but all I know is that so long as you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior, all sins can be forgiven, only those that do not know him will face hell. Don't shy away just yet, there's so much to be said, especially about personal religion.

Then there's all these other beliefs that I'm used asked to give my ideas on, same-sex marriage, abortion, premarital sex, alcohol, and drugs. Same-sex marriage, while Bible wielding pulpit lovers may be vehemently against homosexuality and the uniting of a same sex couple, often quoting passages from the old testament, I'm aware that the rules of the past are long gone, and an acceptance of JC is all that is needed. First and foremost, my opinion of someone's life is irrelevant, and literally should not matter. Secondly, as a Christian I'm not supposed to be judging people and condemning them to hell fire (that's not my job). Thirdly, if that's your life, that's up to you, and totally has nothing to do with me. I say let people whoever they want, it's not for me and that's it. Abortion, you'd think I'd be a pro-life. As a future neonatologist or OB/GYN, babies are literally going to be my life, and while I'm definitely against terminating pregnancies, again it's not my decision. I'm not a woman. I'm pro-choice because if you want to have an abortion, that's up to you, and you deal with the consequences - it has nothing to do with me. Again, this whole second coming of Jesus and final judgement thing is in the back of my head as the basis of this whole personal religion thing. Last but not least, the big three, sex before marriage, alcohol and drugs. They're not for me. I don't have anything against people who actively partake in any of them (I'm in college, not under a rock), and I don't care. If it's right for you, do you, it's just not right for me and that's all that I'm about. Let me stay abstinent, sober and drug-free, just like my opinion of your choices is unnecessary, it goes both ways and I physically could not care less about people's thoughts on my lifestyle choices. My personal religion is one of hope, faith, and compassion. 
College is the place where your personal religions are tested. So many things are thrown out you and especially if you're like me, people's choices can definitely shock you. Almost everyday on campus I think to myself I would never do or say that. That's me. What's okay for me, doesn't have to be okay for everybody. I am not of the world. It always makes me laugh when people find out I'm Christian, like they're surprised and I'm like you couldn't have guessed. Of course that's the reason I act the way I do. I'm obligated to help anyone and everyone who needs it, or walk away feeling bad that I could have aided in some way and didn't. It's why I follow the rules and rarely stray from them (unless that make no sense or hinder me too much). It's why you won't catch me at a party. It's my clear basis for what's right and wrong. If and when I mess up and do something wrong, I'm wholeheartedly aware of it and it plagues me for days. It's an interesting existence, one I've chosen not to stray from. So many kids who grow up in religious households rebel in college or completely turn their backs on their parents religion, that's fine for you but you're then tasked with finding yourself a new personal religion to abide by. Every time people interact, it's their personal religions bumping up against each others and the boundaries of each are tested. When things happen, your personal religion gives you instructions on how to react. For example if someone passes away (or gets "called home" as we say in my culture) I cry, and grieve, but take comfort in the fact that I believe in the afterlife where all will be reunited. Without that sentiment all the restraint I show in indulging in worldly things would be useless. But people say, what if God doesn't exist. I can only tell you from my personal experiences that He most certainly does, whether you believe me or not is not my concern. If it turns out I'm wrong then I still lived my life the way I wanted to and I'll cease to exist or be reincarnated as a cloud or something. I will continue to pray in public, pray for people, and believe in what I believe regardless of what people think. I'm a religion major nowadays and all these tough questions come up. I don't have all the answers, but I'm figuring them out. Predestination (problematic because of sin) and omnipotent/omniscient God (are we just puppets, is there free will) and so many of life's other mysteries like where do we come from, do we have souls and what happens when you die have to be taken on by your personal religion. If your personal religion can't give you satisfactory answers, then it's time to try a new one. 

The 20s are all about coming to terms with what you believe. It's important to check your personal biases, evaluate yourself and your beliefs. You have the power to decide what you believe, but there are irrefutable facts to be mindful of. Personal religion is a powerful thing if and when used correctly. When your religion starts enforcing its beliefs on other people, that's when you may run into a problem. Personal religion is jut that, your personal religion.

My blog post question for the day is ... do you think it's possible to have morality without religion? Uhm, I don't think so. America was founded upon Protestant Anglo-Saxon ideals so nah.

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