“Why should any of us choose to be part of a group that condemns us?”

Some of you may recall, from just a couple of weeks back, the story of A’isha Leslie Marbach, and the terrible tragedy that befell her. (See The Frost and Freedom of Death.) About a week ago, A’isha wrote to tell me that, in her grief, she had taken to spontaneously writing, which she found cathartic. I encouraged her in this means of healing. I also said that if ever she wanted, via my blog, to share with you all anything she’d written, she had only to say the word. Yesterday she sent me the below, and asked if I would publish it. Please forward it to anyone who continues to cling to the ignorant, toxic belief that being gay is a choice for which God condemns people. (And to the people who in God’s name are STILL condemning A’isha? Save your souls: stop using Jesus to justify your own fear and hatred.)

I’m a Christian—and Gay

“God, please make me pure. Take these feelings from me and make it so I can like boys instead of girls. Amen.”

This is the prayer I prayed so many times I lost count. Throughout high school my one goal was to live a life pleasing to God. I’m not sure exactly where I got the message that it wasn’t okay to be a lesbian, that God didn’t approve, but that is the message I got loud and clear. So I pushed all those crushes, all those tingly feelings I got when I saw a pretty woman, deep inside me, and pretended to like boys. I needed to be accepted by people around me, and I wanted God to approve of my life.

In college I decided that if I had sex with enough guys I’d eventually become straight. Warped thinking? Definitely. Of course it didn’t work. Eventually I came to the point of thinking that there was no denying that I was truly a lesbian. That’s the make-up of my brain, my very being. I have no choice in that. It’s as natural to me as using my right hand or having blue eyes. What I did have a choice about was following a God that I thought hated me. The message from God’s followers is pretty blatant: grace is only for straights; salvation is only for heterosexuals. Fellowship is not for fags and dykes. So I gave up what I did have a choice about, and kept the part of me that I didn’t. I quit being a Christian.

For years I tried to push all thoughts of God away. I called myself an atheist or an agnostic. I agreed with people when they said God was a fairy tale. But throughout all my denying God, he never denied me. I can look back and see the times in my life where God was there, working, never leaving me. The problem was that I still believed God had no place for me as a lesbian. I decided to try again to be straight. In my mind, being straight was all about sex (which is weird, because obviously being gay isn’t only about sex). Trying to be straight meant having sex with a man—so that’s what I did. I tried having a relationship with him, but there was always something missing. Other than ending up with two wonderful children, the relationship was an utter failure. Then began my era of true searching.

A point came in my life, when my children were in preschool, when I realized that I didn’t like life without God at its center. I started some emotional and spiritual healing, and in the process discovered how incredibly much God loves me personally. There was still this issue of my sexuality hanging over my head, though.

I began praying, asking for wisdom. God says he will give us wisdom liberally if we just ask. During this time of searching for the truth I always began by praying that I would be willing to accept whatever truth God presented to me: that if lesbian relationships truly were sinful, then I would be willing to stay single and celibate for the rest of my life. I found that being single wasn’t particularly difficult for me. Especially as I became stronger and healthier emotionally, I was very content with the concept of being single forever, devoting my life to God and his people.

My studies took me all over the the place. Learning Greek years before came in handy as I explored words used in the Greek New Testament. I jumped from one section of the Bible to another and back again. Books, commentaries, blog posts, scientific research—they all began to collect in my mind, and lead me to the conclusion that God’s word, the Bible, does not in any place speak about consensual homosexual relationships as we know them today. For me to try to have a heterosexual relationship is entirely unnatural, and goes against the way God created me. Once I learned this a peace settled on me that was almost palpable. Finally I knew that I was okay with God, and that He was okay with me.

Still, I was quite content in my singleness. Most people closest to me knew I was a lesbian, but, being single, I never felt the need to announce my sexuality. I knew some people would view me differently once they found out, and maybe I wasn’t ready for that.

This past spring I began praying to God about my relationship status in a new way. I asked God what His will was in my life. I said I wouldn’t look for a girlfriend, but that if it was His will that I meet a woman, I asked that He make it entirely obvious to me. I wasn’t praying fervently, but occasionally I would talk with God about this situation. Above all, I prayed to be content with whatever His will was.

In July it became clear to me that God brought Rene into my life. Circumstances were such that it was more than mere coincidence. I’d known Rene for a number of years, but hadn’t seen her since she had become single. Our intention was to start slowly and see how the relationship could grow. We weren’t in a hurry, but quickly it became entirely clear that I loved her and she loved me. We began making plans to share our lives together, to get married next year. Almost every hour of every day we were either together or texting or talking on the phone. We’d go to sleep talking to each other. I’d wake up with a text saying “Good morning, Babe. I love you.” I knew in my heart that Rene was the woman I wanted to spend every day with for the rest of my life. That’s when we decided it was time to start getting our kids together, to start building those extended relationships. We made plans to attend the fair with all three boys. But before that, we decided to go get ice cream with just my two boys. Rene knew my kids already, but they didn’t really remember her. Once they were together, they really hit it off. When my sons asked her to have a “conference” with her at another table, I knew things would work out. I told her she didn’t have to go, but she said with a smile, “Yes, I do. They want a conference.” The boys seemed to easily accept us holding hands and didn’t think anything of it when I kissed her goodbye in the Dairy Queen parking lot. Less than twenty-four hours later, Rene was killed.

One of the things I shared with Rene early on in our relationship was my commitment to living a life honoring God and following the teachings of Jesus. Shockingly, to me, she loved that about me.

The Christian community has for so long excluded gays and lesbians that it is very difficult for any LGBT person to come to the realization that God loves them and wants a relationship with them. Even if not every Christian spouts, “God hates fags,” like Fred Phelps does, that is indeed the message we get, as long as every Christian doesn’t stand up and say, “No, that’s not true. God loves you.”

Because of this history between LGBT people and many Christians, it’s very difficult to meet gays and lesbians who are also Christians. Honestly, why should any of us choose to be part of a group that condemns us? Fortunately there are many like me that are coming to realize that it’s God’s followers who mistakenly condemn us, and not God himself.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • tim conard

    god loves you!

    (&so do i)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thank you, Tim. I know A’isha will appreciate this.

    • A’isha

      Yep, I do appreciate it. :)

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Thanks, John. I’m still a little shocked when they say they’re not judging me. How can what they’re doing be perceived as anything but judgment?

  • Amy Atchison-Fisher via Facebook

    A’isha – I’m so sorry for your loss. May peace be with you always. Sending a hug your way…

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Yeah–as you know, “Hey, what can I say? It’s not me that’s saying you’re condemned to burn in hell forever. It’s the Bible,” is the ultimate in passive-aggressive toxicity. Oh, well. As we’ve said: Better to suffer such a person than be one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheryljohnston Cheryl Johnston via Facebook

    I can only say that… as a Christian, my love for you has to be bigger than your hate of me and those like me….

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    ??

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Peryam/100000746253028 Liz Peryam via Facebook

    Lord save us from your followers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheryljohnston Cheryl Johnston via Facebook

    lol still drinking coffee – answering the question as to why any of us should choose to be a part of a group that condemns us… I work to remain a gay Christian because as a Christian, my love for those who condemn me has to be bigger than their hate or condemnation of me and those like me….

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Cheryl: Beautiful. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Peryam/100000746253028 Liz Peryam via Facebook

    I call myself a Jesusian to distinguish myself from that big ship that has become fouled with bigotry.

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Cheryl, that’s brilliant. I try really hard to respond always in love but it’s been pretty hard lately. If you could just see the comments on my fb page right now. Ugh!

  • Eric Spitty via Facebook

    @A’isha: Thank you so much for sharing your story. Yes, there are many of us out here who love God and want a relationship with him but who happen to be gay. What we fail to remember, and I do this as well, is that we answer to GOD not to “MAN”. “Man” isn’t the one who forgives us or gives us salvation, it’s found in Jesus.

    I pray many blessings upon you and your family. May the peace of God embrace you and always remind you that you are truly loved by the Almighty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheryljohnston Cheryl Johnston via Facebook

    A’isha – I understand more than you know… I’m so sorry for the pain. I don’t always manage the “loving” response, but in those times – I try to let God be the responder. Peace be with you, sister.

  • Jill Joiner

    You are my sister and that makes you a most precious being. You are a beautiful unique woman that serves as reminder that God Is Love.

  • Mindy

    Beautiful, A’isha. Just beautiful. Your strength and spirit are beyond inspirational. Hugs -

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blake-Parker/32601632 Blake Parker via Facebook

    @Liz I’m changing my religion status right now!

    @John How about “Well the Bible clearly states…” as a response to a well thought out and detailed analysis of certain Bible verses that they pretend doesn’t exist

  • http://williamgcook.wordpress.com William

    Make me cry in the middle of work why don’t you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blake-Parker/32601632 Blake Parker via Facebook

    I apologize for the above, akwardly worded sentence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blake-Parker/32601632 Blake Parker via Facebook

    Hope I didn’t seem insensitive. Really frustrated with fundamentalists right now

  • Marlene Lund

    Thank you so much for sharing A’isha’s story with us and posting this follow-up. I have been on my own journey of Bible study to try and have a solid understanding of the passages from the Bible that are quoted as condemning homosexuality ever since I met several gay couples in Colorado who did not fit the image I had been taught to expect. My heart and mind began to question what I had been taught and I began to ask questions about Biblical interpretation that no one seemed to be able to answer to my satisfaction. So, as my husband and I did many years ago as we struggled with the issue of abortion, I have been reading books by Biblical scholars and listening to stories like A’isha’s and talking to people who are gay. In my mind, there has never been a question of God’s love for all people, it has been a question of Christian’s love for each other and people’s understanding of what the Bible is really saying in “those verses.” It’s funny, I remember when I was young we were taught that divorce and especially re-marriage after divorce were sins, but now no one in the church bats an eye over those. Our church actually has a senior pastor who was divorced and is now re-married, and he frequently talks about how God worked through the pain of his divorce and the gift of his current wife and their children. So, how long will it be before we can hear stories like A’isha’s in our church services and see God’s blessing on her life, as well?

    • Mindy

      Soon, I hope, Marlene. Soon. I love reading comments like yours – hearts that have been moved, minds that have listened and learned. What a gift.

  • Christy

    Thank you A’isha for being you and sharing you with all of us. We are better for it.

  • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

    God loves you with an inseparable love……I love this passage..let me share this with you A’isha in this time of pain and mourning

    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Based on this passgae, lesbianism won’t separate you from God’s love either, no matter what any fundie may claim….

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Sure, Brian. Go ahead. Choke me up. No problem. Men cry too, I know. Apparently.

    • Melody

      That may be one of the most beautiful comments I’ve read from you here. I don’t cry easily, but I’m crying on the inside.

    • erika

      thanks for this.

    • Christy

      Bless you.

    • Mindy

      I knew you had it in you, Brian. And I knew you knew the truth. Bless you for saying it now.

    • DR

      Wow this verse is so perfectly beautiful.

    • Donald Rappe

      Good Bible quoting Brian.

  • Dirk

    When we are in Europe, I gladly self-identify as Christian. This is a bit interesting as intellectuals, academics and other thinkers (“Oooohs, nooooes – Dirk ain’t a thinker. Stinker maybe”….there said it, now nobody else need do so) are the group least likely to self-identify as religious, much less Christian in Europe.

    When I am in the ‘States, I call myself a follower of Christ or Jesus (depends on how Latinate my mood). I vigorously reject being identified as a member of the most hateful, harmful group of people in the country. There are simply too many who either actively support torture, support the death penalty, refuse women equal status, actively support rape, torture, murder, beating and bullying of gays and the transgender. As for those who do not support those oh-so-Christian goals, well, Qui tacet consentire videtur.

    Blogs like this are important. Books on the topic of Christian reconciliation with the post-Galilean world, such as he writes, are essential.

    In the end, though, the harm remains. We need only look at the hate being poured forth on Jamie’s family after his death and the virtual silence of all those good Christians to see the truth.

    There is an irony to all this, a fatal flaw if one will. Through the condemnation of gays, the hatred and beatings of the transgender, not one is ‘saved’ through his or her soul being bought and paid for by the conservative Christian Jeebus, that idol they worship instead of Christ.

    Just the opposite.

    • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

      Dirk,

      Could you detail a bit more the differences you find with Christinaity (or Christians) in Europe compared to those in the states?

      • Dirk

        Sure, Brian.

        OK, first of all, obviously, I am speaking of Central Europe, the UK and Eire, Northern Europe.

        Definitely not Europe east of Germany or the Orthodox Christian majority controlled areas.

        Let’s see.

        First and foremost, Christians in these countries have no social pressure to be Christian. There is, indeed, a fair amount of explanation demanded of one in intellectual circles (again, I hereby acknowledge having been educated far above my IQ) as to how a rational person or one responsible for shaping young minds can participate in a religion at all, much less that one.

        This means that those who are Christian in the areas of Europe (like me), while not actively persecuted, absolutely do not do so for the social advantages which drive being Christian for the vast majority in the US.

        Second, the Christian faith in these countries is still strongly influenced by the horrors of communism and the atrocities of the Nazis. To see the treatment of gays, lesbians and the transgender based on ‘biblical teachings’ over here produces a reaction of outrage. I don’t know how often colleagues have told me that Christians in America use the same passages to justify torturing and persecuting gays as they used against blacks.

        Christian belief here is seen as a strong witness against such hatred and marginalization of minorities.

        Third, the anti-intellectual dumbing down of Christianity in America simply never occurred here. Because the only Christians are those who genuinely believe and not the vast majority for whom it is a necessary aspect of being a gen-u-whine ameriKan, church leaders are free to focus on those two nasty commandments from that bearded, sandal wearing, hippie-freak of a carpenter…what was his name again, something traditionally Jewish, now what was it, he was a God, too, in his part time, drat…just a moment it’ll come to me…oh! Right, Yahshuah . Another one of those trouble making ultra-traditional Jewish Rabi types. Here’s those stupid rules of His:

        Mt 22:36 “[Jesus], which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

        Dumb, huh? I mean, nothing counts which Paul didn’t write himself. Every good American Christian knows that. The rest is poorly translated.

        That about sums it up, I guess. My husband and I were, as we all are, first married by civil union. That is the state recognition of our marriage and all heterosexual and gay and lesbian couples must do so to be legally married. Then we were married in a little church which has stood in the village of my ancestors for centuries.

        The local Catholic priest was among those present, sitting in the pews. Didn’t sit well with the Archbishop, of course, but, then, the Catholic church over here is fighting tooth and nail to defend herself against the unbelievable rape of children which has come to light in Ireland and Germany and elsewhere. I wouldn’t have gone for such a big wedding, but everyone in my family has been married there for centuries and it would have been seen as rude and a slap in the face to a lot of family and local friends.

        One last thing. It seems contradictory, is, however, just the opposite. We don’t have nearly the legal bulwark against church and state in most European countries which Americans have. In exchange, however, churches don’t advocate for the oppression and persecution and torture (the Mormons still have their children subjected to electro-shock therapy to ‘heal’ them from being homosexual, for instance) as do the American churches with the most power.

        I guess that’s about it. If you wanted a simple rule by which to discern the difference, I guess you could say our Christian belief in Europe is Johannine and

        American Christianity is Pauline.

        • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

          Dirk,

          Thanks so much, I just never realized there was such a gulf between the two continents, especially when one studies Christian history and the vital role Europe played, with men like Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wycliffe, Owens, Spurgeon and on it goes. Please, do say more.

          • Dirk

            Brian,

            Most people say ‘please, say less, do, really.’

            So, I will say thank you and let others here have their say.

          • Dirk

            OK, maybe one little comment more. Brian, if I had to chose two media two describe what being a Christian feels like for me in Europe and how I perceive it in the US, these two links would be it:

            Europe:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSIs1MHdFQY

            US:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bDjkKnO_cM

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Dirk,

            Thanks for the links

          • Diana A.

            I love the links! Thank you, Dirk, for the links and for your explanation of the differences between Christianity in Europe and Christianity in the States. I wish I could say that you were wrong, but unfortunately, you’re all too correct.

        • vj

          Thanks for this background, Dirk.

          There are interesting parallels between your descriptions of Christianity in Europe, and my own experiences in South Africa, especially the bits about people here not gaining any particular social benefit from identifying as Christian (often, quite the opposite!), and a particular sensitivity to the way Christianity was used to bolster an oppressive regime – notwithstanding the persistent and courageous opposition to Apartheid from many church streams, the ruling class was definitely motivated/inspired/misled by the teachings of the Dutch Reformed Church (which has since publicly repented).

          It’s really quite an eye-opener to me to read on this blog how very different ‘traditional’ American Christianity can be….

          • Christy

            All, the differences illuminated by Dirk are worth noting. It seems culture and history clearly play a roll. Having lived in Germany, I agree with his assessment about the sensitivity to discrimination in a post Nazi Europe. (Though it still exists, particularly among Turks – at least when I was there). There is also a sensitivity to Nationalism….at least in Germany. Our raging American patriotism is somewhat of an anomaly compared to them, as they understand how it was used negatively to spread and worsen the rise of the Third Reich. The link between American faith and politics and faith and patriotism, for this reason, seems ill-advised (ie: Good Americans are good bible-believing Christians and Good God-fearing Christians believe their country is the benefactor of God’s Divine Providence through American Exceptionalism.) The whole notion that a country is more “in” with God than another should make us all shudder. It’s like saying God has a favorite child, and I’m the favorite. (It’s the worst kind of hubris, which can lead to the morbid Nationalism we have seen in the past).

            I’m curious if Dirk thinks the education of the clergy plays a role in these differences. Coming from a working-class/rural American Fundamentalist background where education of the clergy and the populous is completely optional and not only *not* encouraged but often shunned (all I need is my bible and a calling by God to preach the word and mainstream universities teach humanism and are anti-God. ie: “I don’t care that you have a doctorate in theology from Harvard. Harvard doesn’t teach the real Bible.”) as well as their self-admitted anti-intellectualism, I believe the anti-science, anti-rationalism of some segments of Conservative Christianity plays a role in how scripture is viewed, interpreted, and lived here on this side of the pond and has proliferated, especially among my fellows who have not been to college or who have only been educated in the theological worldview of their own denominations (ie: Nazarene, Baptist, Christian Union, etc.).

          • Dirk

            There is nothing for me to add, Christy. You and vj have described the situation perfectly.

            Sigh.

  • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

    A’isha,

    I am so sorry for the hurt you’ve experienced. Like you, I also realized early on that I was a lesbian. Like you, I realized that somehow Christianity, as it was shown to me, and the life of an LGBT person did not mix. Unlike you, I tried to give up my orientation in order to embrace God instead. It doesn’t work any better than giving up God to embrace one’s orientation. Keep writing – we’re all listening and we’re here for you. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    It’s a beautiful, heartfelt essay. It’s just so tragic that it had to come from such a terrible set of circumstances.

  • Allie

    I’m new here and hadn’t heard your story. I’m so sorry about what happened to Rene.

    To my mind, saying that God is or does evil is the worst kind of taking God’s name in vain. The God who hurts his children because he doesn’t like the way he made them, the God who you have to obey even though he’s crazy and bad because if you don’t do what he says you will burn in Hell… that’s not a real God. The real God loves his children and wants them to stop hurting each other. God loves you!

    Praying for wisdom is good. I need to do it more often. Thanks for reminding me. God bless you and bring you peace.

  • erika

    A’isha.

    i have tried to write something meaningful and poetic. but the words just wont come out. so i am sending you a hug and holding you in the light and love of g*d.

  • Anne

    I have no words other than that my heart weeps with you, A’isha. To have been through so much, found someone to love so deeply, then lose her to senseless violence…. Cyberhugs to you; wishing I possessed words that would ease your pain!

  • A’isha

    How do I respond to each of you who have brought tears to my eyes today by the amount of love you’ve shown? It honestly is overwhelmingly heart-warming.

  • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    The main thing that I get from this entire mess is: Courage. Rene was very brave, you are very brave. That’s all I can really say beyond offering hugs.

  • Michael Eric Hund

    God bless you, A’isha, for sharing your story!

  • Gary Blinn

    Very insightful essay. I am very much in your camp. I have officiated a same sex marriage myself and it was the most beautiful event, I was totally blessed. May God bless you hugely.

  • Tisha Galindo Mestas via Facebook

    Why is it so hard for them to not understand the scriptures and then like to blame us for condemning their lifestyle? it is their choice I don’t get it.

    • Molly by Golly

      To come away from scripture with an understanding that runs contrary to the core teachings of Jesus is equally baffling.

    • Melody

      What a completely heartless, irrelevant thing to say after such a beautiful story.

    • Dirk

      To which scriptures are you referring?

      On what basis are you authorized, as a Christian to condemn anyone?

      Define ‘lifestyle’, please.

      Seriously, I am curious to see your responses.

    • Nora

      “them”…?

      Well, that pretty much says it all.

      It’s no more a choice for gay people to be gay than it is for you to be hispanic. And you know those hispanics — all illegals and drug-runners. Thieves and gangsters. Why is it so hard for them to understand Scripture, and why do they blame us for condemning their lifestyle? It’s their choice to enter this country illegally, sell drugs, and join gangs and engage in a life of crime. I don’t get it.

  • DR

    I don’t know what to say. I just know that I adore you, respect you, learn from you, am sad and bewildered and angry with you and also clinging to the crazy, irrational and steadfast belief that Abba loves you and is made of Good.

    • cat rennolds

      yeah, this:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/love.sanchez Love Sanchez-Suarez via Facebook

    seriously in such a moment they are still saying stuff like that?! wtf kind of people?!

    • L.SS.

      sorry, didn’t mean to be so rude here, but was just shocked/mad that people wouldn’t even respect your grief enough to cool it with the condemnations, even if they still think like that.

      thank you for telling your story of how you made sense of things. i hope it helps a lot of people to understand.

      • A’isha

        I know, shocking, right? BTW, I don’t think you were rude.

  • Connie

    Thank you A’isha for sharing your struggles and thoughts with us here. And a gay Christian who is more and more frequently questioning my support of an institution that (for the most part) hates me you and this whole John Shore website gives me some slight hope.

    This is my favorite part of what you wrote:

    The Christian community has for so long excluded gays and lesbians that it is very difficult for any LGBT person to come to the realization that God loves them and wants a relationship with them. Even if not every Christian spouts, “God hates fags,” like Fred Phelps does, that is indeed the message we get, as long as every Christian doesn’t stand up and say, “No, that’s not true. God loves you.”

    • vj

      With the greatest respect, Connie, I don’t think you need to support any ‘institution’ in order to pursue your relationship with Christ. As so many have concluded before me, a church that spews hate instead of the love of God is not exactly the kind of Bride Jesus had in mind…..

    • http://kenreads.wordpress.com KenLeonard

      You’ve got that right.

      While they might not have a “God Hates Fags” sign, if they preach that God hates homosexuals, then the difference is really just terminology.

      If I walk around saying that all African-Americans are criminals, it’s still racist … even if I didn’t use the “n-word” and instead used the politically-correct term. The same thing applies.

      By the way, it’s not true.

      God does love you. He loves you very much, indeed.

  • Lili

    A’isha I agree with Shadsie, it must take such courage to reach out and share your pain, let alone lessons from your own spiritual journey, when you are reeling from such grief and loss. You write with such grace and openeness. I’m glad you welcomed Christ back into your life, and I pray that His Spirit will be a great source of comfort. I hope that the many kind words of support here are a source of strength for you, and that you have many friends and loved ones around you who are loving you and holding you up through this awful time.

  • Hashberry

    A’isha, my heart is with you…thank you for sharing your story. I have a friend who is a lesbian but is truly terrified of even beginning to think that being gay is not a sin. She fights so hard against herself in this area. When I try to gently bring up the possibility that God accepts her just as she is and that being gay truly may be genetic and not condemned by the Bible, it really stresses her out. Do you have any suggestions on how to help her? Or should I just continue to love her and support her as she finds her own way?

    • Hanna

      Hashberry, just support your friend. Let her know what you think without pushing, letting her know it’s up to her. My mom always said to me, “God respects an honest search.” Let her know God won’t condemn her for seeking or for thinking, and that she’s loved by God unconditionally, throughout her time of searching. Remind her of 1 Corinthians 13, which says that knowledge is imperfect, and let her know that God won’t judge her for not having all the answers. Remind her that the love of God is unconditional, and she doesn’t have to know what is going on. Support her and let her know you care. Let her talk, and also give her a safe space where she knows that whatever she believes or however she lives, you will be her friend and love her. I hope God will eventually guide her to being at peace…will be praying for both of you.

      • Hashberry

        Thank you, Hanna. I really appreciate it.

    • A’isha

      I agree with Hanna…just keep supporting your friend. I think often times God uses us as a stand-in for himself so people will have a flesh and blood person to show them his love. If you keep loving your friend and accepting her, she’ll begin to realize God loves and accepts her as well.

      • Hashberry

        Wow, that’s powerful. Thank you, A’isha! Love and prayers to you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/arlene.bakerfortin Arlene Baker Fortin via Facebook

    I’m sorry…new here, but I couldn’t let it go, as I’m a friend of A’isha’s.. Tisha, who is “them” and “us”? I certainly hope it isn’t like it sounds. Because the Bible requires us to study the Scripture. It also calls for us to love and not judge one another, since that is God’s job. It doesn’t say that everyone’s interpretation of the Bible has to agree, but it does request that we all love one another. By referring to LGBT as “they” (and I truly hope I am misreading your post), and “their lifestyle” (really? It’s a CHOICE? Is it YOUR choice to be heterosexual?), a person is being judgmental and combative. At least give “they” a name….sorry, backing out now, since this is my first post and I don’t want to stir the kettle too much. I just had to come and defend my friend.

    • A’isha

      I was wondering the same thing, Arlene. But there are always people like that popping up here on John’s blog. Normally it’s best to ignore them and just interact with nice people—lots of those here! John’s readers are probably the finest group of people I’ve ever encountered on the internet. :)

  • Wendy P.

    Keep seeking and praying, girl! God will give you his strength, in your weakness!

    One thing that jumped out to me:

    “I needed to be accepted by people around me, and I wanted God to approve of my life…

    In college I decided that if I had sex with enough guys I’d eventually become straight. ”

    Sex outside of marriage, hetero or homo, is not approved by God… so having lots of sex to try and turn yourself straight is not pleasing to God.

    I encourage you to guard your heart – read and study the Bible, meditate on scripture, memorize scripture, go to Bible study, pray, etc!

    “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

    -Proverbs 4:23

    KEEP YOURSELF PURE! In a previous comment, on a different article, somebody commented that sex doesn’t hurt anybody… but God says differently:

    “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

    -1 Corinthians 6: 18-20

    Lastly, when you follow Christ, the world will hate you – you will not always find that acceptance by people that you wish to have:

    “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

    -John 15:18-21

    “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    -Matthew 5:11-12

    God’s Word is powerful! Read it, study it, meditate upon it! Be in union with Him before you have union with any person!

    • Dirk

      Wendy, there is nothing worse than someone who does evil in the name of their god.

      You have made an idol of the Bible, adherence to what you interpret as being God’s will has become your true master.

      That’s a dangerous place to be. The next stop is to claim you know God’s mind.

      This is precisely why you conservative Christians are so willing and happy to torture, rape, murder, beat and disenfranchise us gays, lesbians and the transgender.

    • A’isha

      Wendy, I was trying to make a point that I thought being straight was all about sex and that back then, when I was very young, I made some crappy decisions. One bad decision was letting Christians tell me what God thought about me.

      • Diana A.

        “One bad decision was letting Christians tell me what God thought about me.”

        Good answer, A’isha. And again, I am sorry for your loss.

    • Allie

      Also in the Pauline Epistles – Paul says that the head of a man was created in God’s image but the head of a woman was not, therefore women should cover their heads – Paul says that anyone who can possibly manage it should not get married – Paul says a lot of things which are twisted, sick, and strange.

      Paul also said some lovely things. “In a glass darkly” is one of my favorite passages. As is his meditation on charity. But he was a man of his century, a profoundly flawed man, and his opinions are not God’s law.

      • Diana A.

        So true.

    • L.SS.

      seriously?! yes, ideally, promiscuity is not a great idea. but we’re here about A’isha’s story of thinking she couldn’t even belong with GOD at all and finding out she could after all. and finding out she didn’t have to be alone but then losing her love. that’s BIG LIFE STUFF. don’t you think that’s more important than picky details of morality?!, plus, the events in question were a long time ago when she had different ideas.

      note: i was still a virgin when i got married in my early 30s so i’m writing this from a perspective of having done what you are preaching, and at least somewhat on purpose. but i STILL don’t think it’s that big a deal compared to really important stuff that has to do with the contentment of your soul.

      • L.SS.

        it’s not clear by the formatting here but my previous comment was @ Wendy P.

        • Wendy P.

          There is a direct correlation between keeping yourself pure and the contentment of your soul.

          When you have sexual immorality, you are sinning against your own body, where the HOLY SPIRIT is DWELLING!

          Your soul will not be content if sin against your own body is grieving the Holy Spirit!

          • L.SS.

            you miss my point. whether or not we agree about the magnitude of importance of sexual purity for getting right with God, it makes no sense to preach against a person’s actions of decades ago, especially when they are telling a story of (A) how those actions were part of a long confusion that they are now out of and (B) how they overcame a lot of those confusions in their life and got right with God.

          • Christy

            Exactly, L.SS.

            Wendy P, Do you think perhaps you could broaden your assertion that there is a direct correlation between keeping yourself pure and the contentment of your soul, as you say…… to seeing that there is a direct correlation to replacing selfishness in our life with love and compassion for God, self, and others and the contentment of our soul? The people of Jesus’ day were trying very hard to keep themselves pure and yet failing at the heart of God’s message. He came to show them this.

            Many focus on Christ’s sinless nature, his purity, as the example we are to follow….and yet, so many of humankind’s purity rules are concerned with the outside of the cup. Jesus said true change (repentance) had to do with the inside of the cup – inner transformation. Because of this, others within the faith look to Christ’s compassionate and selfless nature as our example shown to us both in his teachings and his action. Perfection isn’t the goal. Living in relationship with God and each other is.

            So, in that regard, there *is* a direct correlation between living a selfless and compassionate life by following the way of Jesus and the contentment of one’s soul.

          • Dirk

            Wendy,

            There absolutely is a one-to-one correspondence between purity and contentment of the soul.

            I wonder, though, whether your definition of purity is the same one as every single individual soul has?

            Actually, no, I don’t wonder. I was trying to sound all PC and sweet and nice, but, having tried it, decided it isn’t worth the effort.

            Look, sexual purity is between every single one of us and God. It is not given to you to make the determination of what is and is not pure between two consenting adults.

            We can, though, derive just how sinful your concepts are from the number of murdered GLBT children our country is finally beginning to admit to.

    • Christelle

      I don’t understand HOW… out of EVERYTHING A’isha wrote… The fact that she is going through a huge tragedy and loss and is hurting… A’isha shared her heart, her story and somehow a tidbit of her story **which showed pieces of her life journey in learning to fully accept herself and realizing that God loves her exactly as she is *** somehow the conversation turned into one of sexual purity… REALLY?!!!! How about stating something like: A’isha, I’m sorry for your loss. I’m thinking of you. I”m sorry you are hurting… Listen, I’m definitely not a specialist in loss… BUT I do know that when someone is going through a loss- This type of conversation should be null and void…

      A’isha- You are brave. Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry you are hurting. I’m sorry that in the midst of your pain you have to read ridiculousness such as this. You ARE teaching many of us about LOVE… I’m listening/reading… thank you. Thank you for sharing your heart…

  • sylvia

    Hey at the Episcopal church ‘All are welcome’ we have lbgt people in all positions of our church from bishops to the most average person in a pew. Check us out. God love you No Exception

    • Christy

      We UCCer’s are also an all are welcome crowd and we love the Episcopalians. =) Thanks, Sylvia.

  • gretchen

    So sorry for your loss. I’ll be praying for you. Keep writing!!

  • Ken

    I know somebody who found, and then lost a few weeks before their wedding, the person that she had planned to spend the rest of her life with. I once, when I was feeling particularly down, presumed to ask her how she managed to get on with her life in the face of what, to me, had been such a terrible loss.

    She said she felt fortunate because at least she had met “the one”, while so many of her friends had never met their soul mate, not even once, not even for a minute. But at least she had. And she’d loved him. And he’d loved her in turn. And they’d had the time together to know it. And so that alone made her feel so blessed.

    Like me she’s watched as some of our friends got married, or divorced, or had kids, or not, or passed untimely – all the things that come with the years. And through it all she has found a life full of purpose and joy, of friendship, professional success, and, in a measure, contentment.

    A picture of the two of them together holds court above the mantle in her living room. Her favorite photo of him stands on the night table by her bed. I suspect she’d much prefer if things had not happened the way they did. But they did happen. And she has not let it stop her from living life fully. It’s been nearly twenty years.

    Persevere.

  • Tisha Galindo Mestas via Facebook

    Listen Arlene……. I get so tired of hearing the same thing over and over…are you a christian? who’s judging who? I have an opinion and you feel the need to correct me? listen I am a christian and I know the scripture and I study it really well so don’t tell me.. I am tired of so called people like you who call themselves christian and are not living it as they should and then turn around and blame us for condemning and judging..Defend all you want.. I don’t care..I know God is the our judge and I also know that I have the freedom to say whatever I want.

    • Melody

      No, you don’t get to say whatever you want when people like you are responsible for violence and injustice against LGBT people. Especially on a post about this courageous woman’s story. That is incredibly tacky and insensitive. If what you’re saying is true, that God is a judge and he judges the heart, I’d be more careful if I were you. In the mean time, this is a place where love and gingle and kindness are practice. Go spread your hate somewhere else. Or, better, stop spreading your hate.

      • Melody

        Dunno where gingle came from. Darn Swype.

      • A’isha

        You’re absolutely right, Melody. I’ve been recently amazed that people like Tisha…but even more, people who say they’re my friends IRL…have ignored the actual pain I’m going through after Rene dying only a month ago and have come after me with condemnation. How on earth they can tell themselves that’s love is beyond me.

        I appreciate all the people who show me support and defend me in cases like this. Your words and those of so many others really do give me the strength I need right now. Thank you.

        (and gingle sounds like a good word to me!)

        • Donald Rappe

          I agree. May God shower his gingle upon us, one and all!

    • Arlene Baker Fortin

      In answer to your question “are you a christian”…it’s none of your business WHAT I am. I will say, though, that it is attitudes like yours…and the combatant and condemnatory way of passing judgment on others…that has kept me out of churches like yours and led me down my own path of spiritual enlightenment. Everyone IS entitled to their own opinion. However, they are NOT entitled to come to a place that is meant to provide healing to a fellow human who is obviously in pain…and spew hate, venom, and “Scripture” intended to hurt and malign. With that…I bow out, because this is about A’isha, not you, and not me.

    • Christy

      Tisha, in your original note you wrote: “like to blame us for condemning their lifestyle”

      Condemn: To confer eternal divine punishment upon. To scold sharply; to excoriate the perpetrators of. To judicially pronounce (someone) guilty. To damn. To rebuke.

      The antonym of condemn is to save.

      Having an opinion and condemning someone are two entirely different things and this is what John and the readers here point out on a daily basis. If you are so tired of hearing that, one might consider that the problem does not reside with the message.

      Those that have ears, let them hear.

    • A’isha

      Tisha, I wasn’t going to address you personally, but now not only are you attacking me and all LGBT people, you’re attacking my friend of 30 years, Arlene.

      If you have to tell people you’re a Christian, then there’s a problem. Jesus tells us we will be known as his disciples by the love we show. What love are you showing? Jesus is also the one that tells us how we judge others is how God the Father will judge us. How are you going to be judged by God? Exactly how you’re judging us all now.

      What you and so many don’t seem to understand is that the interpretation of those very few verses in the entire Bible is highly disputable. You claim to know Scripture, but I can assure you I know it as well. Maybe you didn’t read what I wrote in my article, but for 3 years I’ve studied these verses, prayerfully, humbly. None of them…none….speaks against consensual, adult, committed homosexual relationships. If you can show me how they do, then do it. You can’t. Instead you and others like you just keep repeating the same verses over and over as if I and many others haven’t already read them. And we’ve read them more than you and in context, historically, culturally, Biblically, linguistically…you name it. So if you’re left without actual proof that God condemns me (and short of Jesus returning and announcing to the world you’re right there is no proof) then you’re left with the rest of the Bible. You know, all the many verses outside of the 6-8 that kind of, sort of, sound like they’re talking about homosexuality. The rest of the Bible. Read it. It talks about loving God. God loving us. Jesus commanding us to love God. Jesus commanding us to love each other. Feeding the poor. Taking care of widows and orphans. And a whole lot of other great stuff.

      Get past yourself here and see that your actions and words are hurting a whole lot of people, people God also created in His image, people God loves.

      • Arlene Baker Fortin

        Bravo!!! Well said! I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of you, Leslie, for the fire and passion with which you speak. I am so honored to know you!

        • A’isha

          Thanks, Arlene. :) For those of you who know me here on John’s blog or at TWC, Arlene and I met in elementary school, so umm, yeah, 30ish years ago. Not that either of us are nearly that old! We live across the country from each other now and spent a bunch of years out of touch, but I now consider her one of my dearest friends. I am truly blessed with wonderful friends!

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    “If I know the scripture and study it really well, but have not love….” Yes, we all have the freedom to say whatever we want. But is what we say kind, necessary and true? Or is it otherwise? With Arlene, I hope I am mistaking what Tisha is saying. But if we are mistaking what you are saying, Tisha, why not come out and say so? Why not clarify instead of lashing out?

  • http://transparently.ca Lisa

    A’isha, a few weeks ago I was defending myself in an exchange I was having with a fundamentalist person who questioned whether or not I was simply diluting myself that God accepted me as a transsexual. As far as he was concerned, I would always be a man in God’s eyes and not the woman I am today. I was angered my the comments he made about me, and by extension about all transgender persons. He used one particular verse to say it defined me and if I was wrong in how I interpreted it, I would have to give an account to God. I started my response with “There are more important verses that define who I am.” I was going to continue with a list of them, but I was using my new iPhone and accidentally pressed “send,” and off went my rebuttal. “Shoot!” I thought to myself, but then I realized this man was not going to appreciate any of the “jewels” I was going to cast before him and left it at that. The first verse I was going to quote was “I am my beloved’s and he is mine,” from the Song of Solomon. The following Sunday after church I went for prayer in the side chapel and one of the pastors who prayed withe me leaned into me and whispered in my ear, “Lisa, I hear the Lord saying ‘you are my beloved, you are my beloved, you are my beloved’.” Talk about an instant meltdown. A’isha, you too are His beloved. (And I love you too!)

    • A’isha

      Lisa, was that the conversations you shared with us on fb? I’m constantly amazed when people like that guy get into these “debates” with us and they constantly bring out the same old verses that are always used to condemn us. They repeat them and repeat them, thinking if they say it loud enough and often enough we’re going to finally see the light or something. I always want to say, “Gee thanks for showing me that verse. I’ve never seen it before. Now I know the truth.” (Of course with total sarcasm!) Every verse they use to condemn has been disputed in my mind, and I think John’s in the middle of writing about all those “clobber” passages.

      But that’s not even the whole point. What I was trying to get across to my recent judges, and what I want people like Tisha below to understand is this: When you forget the spirit of Scripture (love) and come after us with condemnation, all you’re doing is seriously pushing people away from God. Would God want you telling people they have no access to Him? Wouldn’t it be better to treat everyone with the love of Christ and then walk with them as they seek God?

      • Diana A.

        “When you forget the spirit of Scripture (love) and come after us with condemnation, all you’re doing is seriously pushing people away from God. Would God want you telling people they have no access to Him? Wouldn’t it be better to treat everyone with the love of Christ and then walk with them as they seek God?”

        Beautiful. This is the truth.

    • Dirk

      Lisa,

      You were born into the wrong body. You have taken steps to fix that.

      It’s that simple.

      It’s absolutely nobody’s business which body you currently have, which body you once had and what ever you choose to do with your body in the future to bring it more closely into alignment with who you truly are.

      It’s just that simple.

      I gave up long ago trying to explain that the earth isn’t flat, the sun doesn’t circle the earth, dinosaurs didn’t live with us when the earth was brand new, oh, about 5,000 years ago and, well, you get the point.

      When some conservative Christian monster tells me I can’t be gay, I’m too masculine, nowadays I just snap down at him: I’m more man than you’ll ever be and more woman than you’ll ever have.

      There is nothing to defend, you are as you are because you are. We gays and lesbians have put far too much effort into fighting for ourselves and not enough into fighting for you these last years. It’s the reason I dropped my support of the HRC.

      Be you, to Hell with the conservative Christians. The ninth ring of hell with them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arlene.bakerfortin Arlene Baker Fortin via Facebook

    Hmm. Who’s judging who? You have no idea who I am, yet you said “I am tired of so called people like you who call themselves christian and are not living it as they should”. Can you tell me exactly WHAT it is that I’m doing that isn’t “Christian”? I asked a question and made an observation…that is it. “So called people”? Last I checked, we are all human. As for your last sentence…”I know God is the our judge”…yet you turn up here and pronounce yourself judge of not only ME, but everyone who doesn’t interpret the Scriptures the way YOU do. Who’s the judge again?

    • Arlene Baker Fortin

      In reply to Tisha’s response.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    Sidebar: I recently heard the acronym “quiltbag” (for Q – Queer and Questioning/U – Unidentified/I – Intersex/L – Lesbian/T – Transgender, Transexual/B – Bisexual/A – Asexual/G – Gay, Genderqueer) and figured this would be a good place to ask if this is an accepted term in the GLBT community.

    • A’isha

      I’ve never heard that one, Buzz. Sounds good to me. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/LostInSpaceMan SteveCampsOut

      It’s certainly easier to say and remember than LGBT and more inclusive!

  • charles

    God’s commandmant that we love one another didnt have qualifiers (unless you consider the whole Bible’s notion that we are unworthy on our own merits for Salvation) so ultimately it doesnt matter “why” we have an LBGT section of our class of animals- what matters is that we see everyone through the prism God see us through- that we are his creation, that he loves and cares about all of us, and as Lady Gaga once said, God doesnt make junk.


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