I was a member of the New Testament Church of God in Jamaica as recently (?) as 15 years ago – an ardent believer of the gospel; a practising Christian who attended church regularly [and by church I mean: Sunday school, divine service (Sunday worship), family training hour, bible study and youth fellowship]. My favourite church service was bible study because I was infinitely curious about the Great Book that guided the doctrine of the church and the lives of those who called themselves Christians.
Church was everything to me. It was the place I discovered my (former) singing talent. It was the place I developed friendships. It was the place from which I found mentors. It was the place I learned the maxims of the Great Book. And it was certainly the place I experienced the power and joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
BUT it was also the place that aroused my curiosity – my philosophical curiosity.
Why was the Great Book so controversial?
Who really wrote those stories?
Was everything in the Great Book really gospel?
Did the Great Book possess the most supreme predictive power known to mankind?
Why was the Great Book so confusing?
Why could I use the Great Book to justify and argue against every assertion it contained?
Was the Great[est] Book (of all time?) just a collection of excellently penned stories edited by his worship King James?
Was it culture, money/goods, indoctrination, war, slavery or greed that allowed the Great Book to become so powerful in many societies across the globe?
Who is Jesus?
Where was he during creation?
Was God a magician who played a once in a millennium trick on us by reincarnating his old son into a baby of humble beginnings to be slaughtered as sacrifice for the not so privileged bastards?
Is God benevolent or malevolent?
What is the role of the devil in our quest for eternal happiness where we all become lactose tolerant and immune to teeth decay?
The list of questions expanded as my faith in God, the church and the Great Book evaporated. Not even the learned minister had practical answers to my questions, because faith was at the centre of the New Testament Church of God’s dogma.
So with all these unanswered questions and with a little education, as the years progressed, I discovered that I was quite theignostic1. Sufficient conditions do not exist for me to affirm or deny the omnipotence, omniscient, and omnipresent character of God; neither am I able to affirm or deny the science/evolution of creation and the universe. In my opinion, religion is just a pseudonym for culture. Therefore, although Christians around the world are guided by the principles set forth in the Great Book, the practices are nothing but transparent two-way mirrors.
It is against this backdrop that I write about the relationship between religion and sexual identity and expression in Jamaica. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the church plays a critical role in how LGBTQ people are perceived in Jamaica. So although this may appear to some as an attack on the church, it is not! My own sexuality and experiences will be explored within the framework of a larger LGBTQ context. And I hope the views and stories I share here will be mutually beneficial and contribute at least in a small way to the development of a tolerant, diverse Jamaica, where Christians can pray for LGBTQ people to change and LGBTQ people can exist free from hate and discrimination.