That which we have faith in and are personally faithful to vary from person to person. Even within a religious framework, variation will happen because our faith is not actually governed by our religion. Faith comes before religion, though it can help to guide along with our hearts, our minds, our lived experiences, our learning, our cultures and our gut. Faith is the initial belief, before it gets organized into a set of beliefs and groups of people. In practice, faith is a tricky thing. It can govern our actions, but it is not transferable or truly explainable to those without it. Faith in anything seems crazy to those who do not have faith in that thing.
Some believe that faith is a choice. For others, faith is an unavoidable, undeniable truth that everyone else just has to get with. One person’s faith and the enforcement of their beliefs on others can be horrible or great, but it depends more on the disposition of the person than that which they have faith in. The person decides how to be faithful to the thing, deity, or person that they have faith in. Faithfulness is performed by the individual toward the object of their faith and a problem when enforced upon those who do not have faith in the same thing, do not believe the same thing, or do not choose to practice faithfulness to it all or in certain ways. These differences cause problems in secular communities and variation in systems of faith that causes religions to separate into denominations.
But faith is not gendered. In terms of religion, it is the part of your self or soul that tells you that something bigger is out there, that you are not alone in this world, or that the world itself has greater meaning than is perceived. It does not discriminate based on gender, that’s why people of all genders have felt this way about something. Not everyone has faith in a deity, and that’s fine, but most people have had faith in something, and that’s the part of them I’m referring to. No one answer is correct, no one sense of faith is right for everyone, nor must faith be stagnant. It can change as our lived experiences conflict with our original beliefs which is how people sometimes have a “crisis of faith.” If a lived experience is not cohesive with their feeling of faith, it must still be reconciled somehow.
When discussing faith and gender, the best thing one can do is the same as the best way to treat sexism. When someone tells you of their personal experience with it, believe them. Believe that their experience in both faith and religious spaces is true to them and that the object of their faith is delivering a message to them that is true for them. Not everyone’s truth is the same, we shouldn’t treat them like their message from God (or the object of their faith) is not true and specifically for them.
It is their message. It is not up to your interpretation or judgment.
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