(Throughout this blog, I’m gonny be referring to Catholicism quite a lot. This is only because I am a Catholic, and it’s the one I have most experience with. I am wholly accepting that other faiths might pose different challenges for young men and women, but since I’m not experienced in any other religion it would be wrong of me to refer to such and try and represent their main beliefs and values)
Expressing religious beliefs in this day and age can be scary man. Especially in Scotland, sectarianism is a very real problem. When I tell people that I am a practicing Catholic, they’re usually a wee bit baffled. “Thats quite unusual innit, for somebody so young?” “What, so you go to mass n that?”. I welcome these sorts of comments, and any opportunity to share the values of my faith and learn about others – it’s exciting! My faith is important to me, but another thing I hold dear is my devotion to feminism. I’m aware that for some people this is a bit of a conflict of interest, as I’ve been challenged more than a few times about how I can be a practicing Catholic as well as a feminist. I get it. I get why it can be difficult for people to understand. This generation seems to be more open minded and clued up on ‘taboo’ issues than generations before. People aren’t scared to talk about hings like sexuality and abortion, which is amazing since people were and some are still oppressed when it comes to these hings. However, when you compare this newly liberated generations views and ideas to the historic writings of the Church and some of it’s arguably rigid beliefs, it’s quite a stark contrast.
It’s this stark contrast that I think can estrange young people from their faith. People are arguably more accepting of other sexualities beyond heterosexuality, and talking about contraception and abortion isn’t as condemned as it once was. So I get it. I get why people are asking themselves whether they want to practice a faith or even not at all when their social views and religious beliefs conflict. I’m not here to tell anybody to go to mass and I’m definitely no here to preach! What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Religion aside, I think that applies to everything. We’re often taught that hings are black and white, “you can believe in this but that means you need to steer clear fae that”, “aye but if you’re intae x you canny be intae y” – You can, make your own rules!
I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. I made all the relevant sacraments for my age group throughout education, and now at 20 I still go to mass. Going to Catholic schools means the teaching is based off a Catholic curriculum – I’m grateful for the curriculum, it taught me a lot about my faith. However, it could be seen as dated. I know that for me, sitting in a Catholic classroom hearing the Church’s traditional view on homosexuality and abortion made me quite uncomfortable. I loved my faith, and almost didny want to hear about the parts of it that conflicted with my views on sexuality and women’s rights. I’d hate to think that there’s young people whose sexuality is anything other than heterosexual, going through school feeling they can’t be themselves because of the prevalence of religion throughout their school. Or even young people that have had an abortion, feeling like they are abnormal because they are being taught abortion is wrong.
It doesny have to be as black and white as this. I can understand the Church’s views on sexuality, abortion and contraception, but I don’t agree with them. I think we’re all a bit guilty of forgetting that you can understand things without agreeing with them. It’s okay to acknowledge that people think differently from you and no give them hassle! I can understand why folk think the Church’s stance on a number of issues are dated and even problematic. It’s okay for religion and personal thoughts and opinions on other things to conflict, it doesn’t mean it has to be one or the other. This is why different faiths are prevalent around the world, to offer solace and to help us deal with the things we don’t understand. Anything that’s troubling me, anything I don’t understand about the world or the Church or myself, is part of my own relationship between God and I and my own faith journey. Even if you’re not intae religion at all, even if you’re no on any sort a ‘faith journey’ thats cool as well! The main hing I’m trying to say here is that don’t let folk lead you to believe different parts of your life and your different beliefs and ideas all have to stay in their own box – let them overlap! For me, faith and feminism were the two important presences in my life that I thought had to oppose each other for a long time – but I was wrong. Feminism should be intersectional and inclusive of all classes, sexualities, races and religions and in order to achieve such a goal, we need people from all backgrounds to be involved. God isn’t gonny turn round at the gates of heaven and be like “no the night, mate” just ’cause you support gay marriage, and are pro-choice, or you’re homosexual or you have the copper coil or you’ve had an abortion. Just be the best person you can, whether you’re religious or not, do your hing! Religion and sexuality don’t have to be polarized!
“The Lord your God is merciful; God will not abandon or destroy you.”