Growing up, I was raised as a good Catholic girl but when I took my first religion class in college a professor asked me, "Why do you believe in Catholicism?" I looked at him and said, "Because I do. I was raised-" He cut me off and said, "Why do you believe in Catholicism?" I stared at him...stuck. I couldn't come up with an answer, other than the fact that I was raised to. That wasn't the nail in the coffin for my change of heart, though.
I went to church with my brother one Sunday and we had a guest priest. We had a pretty open parish because our regular priest was once married and had kids but turned to God when his wife died. This guest priest bashed the LBGTQ+ community, making some of our members upset because they identified with the LBGTQ+ community, calling them mistakes and that they would go to hell. In that moment, I thought about what my professor said and I realized I did not believe in this close-minded priest's words at all; who I believed in had changed, I had changed. I believe in me and what I feel is right and wrong I believed in equality and the right to love any human being you want to. I realized that I didn't want to be in that room any longer so I got up in the middle of his rant and left, all while hearing him yell at me that I had evil in me and that's why I couldn't stand to listen to the word of the lord. No God I want to believe in would condemn people for their sexual preferences, no God I believe in would take women's rights to their bodies away, and no God would think that sex before marriage (a created ceremony) would deem a women less.
For my brother's wedding, I was asked to go to confession because it was a Catholic wedding and I was the maid of honor. I agreed but at this point of my life I identified with the ideology of agnostic, so I let the priest know and he, of course, set out to change my mind. When he failed at that, he tried to guilt me. He went through all the commandments and tried to convince me of the sins I was committing. Here are all 10:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
This was my first sin apparently. I loved mythology (English major, duh) and loved the idea of Greek gods. If I could have my pick, hell yeah the Greek gods are the gods I want over us, not because they are better but, I mean, they are super honest about being assholes. The God I was told to believe in was supposed to be all knowing and pure but these Gods are flawed and relatable. Apollo got a woman to turn herself into a tree because she wanted to be away from him. I totally relate to the tree nymph because I think being a tree wouldn't be so bad to get away from dumbass college boys.
2. You shall not make idols.
Well, shit, there goes my love for Demi Lovato. Just kidding, I'd totally go to hell for Demi Lovato. People need idols and role models to survive. Your parents, celebrity, siblings can all be role models and idols. God doesn't have to be the dude you model yourself after because honestly, he seems kinda dull. So here is sin number two, having a role model that saved my life. I'm just so terrible, clearly.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
God damn it! Jesus Christ. Oops, my bad, stubbed my toe. In all seriousness, though, they are just words. Who came up with this rule? Clearly, this person never walked around in the dark and tripped on their dog's toy. If this is sinning then I'm going to be in hell for a long, long time.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Someone help a girl out here...what is Sabbath Day again? Sinned again. Damn. Give me a second to google it... WOW. I feel dumb, it's Sunday, the day you go to church, and also the day I sleep in. It's a day of rest. Honestly, I can get behind this one. Everyone should get to sleep in on Sunday's because Catholicism says if I don't I'm sinning. But sadly, that is not how it works, you have to get up and go to church and dress nice and ugh...too much work for me. I'll pass.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
I give honor and respect to those who deserve it from me, not by default. So, maybe I am sinning for this but they don't always deserve honor. I won't feel bad for that, even if it is a sin.
6. You shall not murder.
Well, according to that priest, I'm killing my possible, unborn children by taking birth control so there's that. I mean, I need to abstain. Ugh. I'm good, thanks, I'll keep up with the times and go to my gyno because it's healthy. And I'll plan my family the way I want and if that's a sin, then again, I'm cool with it. Apparently, I don't care about this sinning thing. I'm going to have sex and I could give a shit about being married.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
Well...yeah. About this one, I am a bad for participating in this but that doesn't make me a fully bad person. I wasn't the one committed to someone but that doesn't make it right and I'm sorry for hurting another woman. Though I promised to live my life for me and that is not wrong. I did not break a vow I made to someone, though if I had, I would own up to it and realize while adultery is wrong, it is not always so black and white. Each side makes mistakes and I happened to get caught in the cross hairs. Remember ladies, don't blame the other girl (she owed you nothing), blame him but understand that anger won't solve anything. Let go and move on, peacefully.
8. You shall not steal.
I stole things as a child but not in a malicious way, I just didn't understand how money worked so I thought it was okay to take things. As an adult, I never steal but not because I'm afraid of sinning that, on the moral standpoint that someone worked really hard for that thing they own and it's not mine to simply take. I mean, I do steal some extra food from my friends' plates but that's not wrong, right? My size zero self can pack weight away so maybe I also steal fat away. Who knows?
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Lying is such an interesting phenomenon. People lie all the time, whether about serious things or not. It's human nature and while lying can be wrong there are lies that protect people. Telling your children about Santa is a lie but it brings magic and joy into their life, though my mom told me when I was five and it wasn't a big deal to me as a person but I did miss out on the excitement. There are other lies, like lies of omission because sometimes it easier not to tell someone something so not to hurt them. That isn't sinning but rather it's doing a bad thing for the right reason. Who knows, maybe I'm lying about lying, you can never know who to trust.
10. You shall not covet.
I yearn for things like anyone else. It doesn't make it a sin, though. I want a nice house and a good job. I covet these things because I want a good life for myself and that is not wrong. Jealousy can be a positive emotion, because it causes people to work on themselves and covet the traits they like in others, for themselves.
So to the priests and people who tell you that you are sinning, you aren't. You're living for you. Be a strong, independent version of yourself. Religion isn't terrible but it can make you feel terrible, so know that while you can believe in whatever you want, make sure it's what you believe and evaluate your morals for yourself. Don't let some ancient book do it for you. I'm not the same girl I used to be and that's okay because I like this version of myself better.