From gay-hating fundie to righteously angry lesbian. Now what?

Got this in:

Hey John,

I grew up in a Christian environment since I was little. I went to a Pentecostal fundie school from age four, and I graduated from it at age seventeen. I then went to a liberal all-girls college, and didn’t enjoy it because of my fundie upbringing.

When I didn’t get a job after graduating college, I ended up back at my fundie school, volunteering at their Bible college and the church associated with it. About a year later, they offered me a job to work at the college full-time.

Here’s the thing. I’m a lesbian. I have known this since I was nine years old, but I always hid it. I started to believe that I had gotten over it around age twelve, but then when I turned seventeen it hit me with full force, because I fell madly for one of my fundie teachers. After high school, I went full ex-gay (books, tapes, videos, articles, etc.), and believed all the psychobabble that they say at NARTH (distant mother, lack of internalized femininity…blah blah blah).

I was in this ex-gay world for five years—until last year, when I fell madly for another woman. This time, I couldn’t continue to say I was still ex-gay, because it was very obvious that I wasn’t.

It was last year that I begged God to help me reconcile my faith with my sexuality, and after a few weeks of emotional turmoil, I finally realized that God really does love me, and that He is fine with me being both really gay and really Christian. It was a peace I had never felt before.

Now, here’s the issue. Initially, I was so thrilled about being accepted by God, that I couldn’t care less what the people in my life thought about me. But then, as the months passed, I found myself in a crazy situation. I was attending a church that was staunchly anti-gay. I was working at a job that was the same. All of the people I know were and are anti-gay. As of late, I have stopped attending my church, and I find that I am slowly separating from the people I know. But my main issue is that I am overwhelmingly angry all the time. I am so damn pissed about how I grew up believing that I was not okay. I am pissed about how they lied to me about God. I am pissed that they have no one to answer to for how badly they hurt me and people like me (yeah, at least four of my graduating class of twenty five are gay).

I live in Maryland, and as I was walking through the sanctuary of the church a few weeks ago, I saw a petition against the newly instituted Civil Marriage Protection Act. These people are trying their hardest to stop loving couples from getting married. The whole thing tipped me over the edge. Now I don’t even know how to function because of the anger I have.

What do I do about this anger? I want to cuss everyone out and leave, but I know that won’t be the best decision. I would love to read your thoughts on this.

You know, I think of myself as an HAL (Honorary Angry Lesbian). [UPDATE!]

So if I can ask: Why wouldn’t it be the best decision for you to cuss everyone out and leave?

Well, maybe not the part about cussing everyone out. But the leaving part sounds good to me. If I’m a cat at a dog convention, I’m all about the exit door.

But maybe you have to stay amongst the fundies, because of your job? That’s rough. (Excellent novel title, though: Amongst the Fundies. I would read that. I would write that!)

Of course, having to stay Amongst the Fundies because of your job would mean that the fundies are paying you. And I do very much like that. No amount of money is worth living a lie, of course. But it’s fun to think of you coming to work with a sweet Like a Dyke Today tote bag, or whatever, and going, “That’s right. And this place paid for this bag, bitches!” (Sorry: lately I’ve been watching Breaking Bad.)

Except if you did say that you’d summarily be unemployed. Which would defeat the whole purpose. So never mind.

So the whole deal with anger is that it comes in exactly two flavors: good and bad. Good anger results—or at least has the potential to result—in something positive out in the world: improved living conditions for the poor, improved educational system, interest-gouging money-changers being thrown out of the temple, the legalization of gay marriage, etc., etc. Bad anger, on the other hand, can only result in something negative for the person harboring it: heart attack, ulcer, having to attend an anger management class, having to go to jail because for flunking anger management and strangling someone, etc., etc.

What’s the deciding factor that distinguishes good anger from bad? But of course: it’s whether or not anything can be done to change whatever it is that’s causing the anger. If I can do something to change whatever it is that’s making me angry, then my anger can be used by me as a good and healthy catalyst toward making the world a better place. But if I can’t do anything to change whatever is angering me, then my anger is doing virtually nothing but hurting me; then it’s just a self-destructive waste of time.

So can you do anything to change the thing that’s causing you anger? It seems to me that you cannot. You certainly can’t change the past; you can’t change the fact that you grew up learning and believing terribly caustic lies about yourself and others. So that’s done already. So you can let that go. And you should let that go, too, because you’ve risen above that old noise. Your whole life proves just how wrong those people were. So now you can actually and truly feel sorry for those people–because, after all, they were not born smart enough, or compassionate enough, to shed the lies that you have been able to. They stubbornly remained on the leaking and creaking Good Ship Stupidpop, while you hopped on a lifeboat and paddled safely away.

You found who you are. They’re still lost.

You win.

And that leaves all the jagweeds who are currently in your life. And what you do with them is your call. If you believe that you can change them—or even one of them, if you think that might be worth it—and want to do that, then stay where you are, and do your best to be a beam of light in the darkness. And if that is the choice you make, then God bless you for it. That’s the kind of everyday heroism that ends up making the most important kinds of changes in the world.

Without knowing anything more than I do about you or your situation, though, I personally would recommend getting out of where you’re at. I don’t like people being in situations where they’re vulnerable to getting hurt, maligned, stressed out, or becoming the object of concerned, sanctimonious Christians seeking to change them. You’ve spent enough time in the belly of the beast, says me. Let someone else take the next shift; you make like Jonah and fly on out of there. Life is hard enough without having to work eight hours every day with people whom you know believe you to be morally inferior to them.

If you can’t just walk away from your situation, because of money or whatever, then I say smile, make happy noises, get along, cultivate a rich private life, and then the moment you can get the freak out of Dodge.

But give yourself permission to lose your anger. Half the people who early on tried to turn you against yourself are already dead—and you wouldn’t want to trade places with the small-minded, mean-spirited lives of the ones still living. As for the ones right now living right around you, why waste your time being angry with them? Your anger won’t change them. All it will do is hurt you.

They’re just scared. They see their world changing, and it frightens them. And frightened creatures usually snap-out and just start fighting back. That’s all that’s happening with all these anti-gay initiatives we now see popping up everywhere. Conservative Christians are used to having the power, to being right, to being constantly affirmed that their relationship with their genitals is exactly as God desires it to be. If God is okay with people being gay, then their cages get rattled hard enough to shake their teeth loose. So they’re trying to make sure nobody thinks God is okay with … well, anyone being fundamentally (ha, had) different from them.

And if you let their efforts to do that anger you? If you let anything about them anger you?

Then they win. Then, because of them, the quality of your life is greatly if not severely compromised. If they couldn’t get you from outside and above, they’ll then be getting you from inside and below. But either way, you go down. Either way, they win.

And screw with a bottle brush that noise. Either physically, or in your heart until you can do it physically, kiss those dinkwads good-bye, wish them God’s very best, and get on with living the great and happy life you deserve.

You might also want to read my Christian woman: “She’s pulled the plug on her own son, whom I love and cared for. How do I deal with my anger?”

Best to you, sister. Let us know how it goes.

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.

  • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

    Solid advice, particularly re letting go of anger. The past can never be undone, but we can take steps to keep it from poisoning the present. The young lady is entitled to a good, happy, joy-filled life.

  • Susy Crandall via Facebook

    Well, NOW what’s she pissed about???? Hahaha, not really, I can imagine. She’s probably pissed about all the conditioning she got to hate herself in the first place….

  • Kim A. Johnson via Facebook

    My heart aches for you and I will certainly keep you in my prayers. I have a fundy family on my mother’s side. I am fortunate because they love me and my partner. We’ve been together going on 19 years. They care and they do want us to go to their church and I just laugh. We attend an Episcopal church and are welcomed and loved. John, your advice is spot on and wonderful. Get out if you can. In the beginning, I had to put distance between myself and my family. It turned out good in the end, but it wasn’t always so. Therapy saved me. You are in my prayers!

  • Gordon

    In my own experience and the experience of many of my friends, anger is a rite of passage as we accept, embrace and celebrate our true sexuality. I was raised in a very fundamental evangelical religion too and I know the harm it can do. Coming to terms with the harm done to us at the hands and minds of those people can naturally generate anger. It’s sort of like grief. You’re going to go through various stages and anger is one of them. Don’t be afraid of it; sit with it, process it and then, just like John said, move on. If you get too mired down and stuck with it, the only person who ends up hurt is you. And you’ve been hurt enough.

    Thankfully I didn’t get involved in any ex-gay “ministries”, but I did marry a very sweet girl and hid in plain sight in my own life for almost 12 years. I suppose I was ex-gaying myself. I was an ex-gay ministry of one! One of the amazing things about your story, my story and millions of others is the sheer tenacity of our own spirits. No matter what decision we make to try and suppress our true selves, our true selves will NOT be suppressed! And it is a glorious day when you realize you’ve been lied to and start loving yourself. Welcome to the light, sister!

  • Chris Clement

    Like John said, Congratulations on finding yourself!

    I’d actually offer a slightly different solution to the one John has put forth. Might be a little more costly, but it will satisfy your anger’s desire for a fight in an imminently acceptable fashion. Tho, you will want to make sure your other half is up for it.

    First, go see a lawyer. Check on the nuances of your local and state anti-discrimination laws, and after engaging them at least for this inquiry, fill them in on the game plan so that a law suit for wrongful discrimination could be filled “same day” after the rest of the plan goes into action.

    Second, give a “Testimonial” at an upcoming service at your church. Be sure to thank them for all support over the years and the loving and accepting community in Christ. And come out. Possibly introduce your love. And say you appreciate their continued support as the two of you seek to keep a Christ-centered relationship.

    Third, if they even hint at firing you within “x” months of said testimonial, have the lawsuit papers filed and delivered by the end of the same day. Possibly even hint that such an event is already planned. That way, you have a good bit of employment while looking for a friendlier place of employment.

    But then, I always enjoy healthy methods of venting justifiable anger, and I get that not everyone else shares my opinions on these particular matters. Just a thought.

    • Paula

      Great advice from John. I think there are many classes of people struggle with what we might call “the wasted years.” The years you lived in denial. Or abuse, or your own addiction. We all know life is short, and we’re angry at anybody we think robbed us of any part of it. Including ourselves.

      But maybe we can remember that “life is short” isn’t actually a Bible verse, and that maybe no time is really lost time. Maybe you’ll find “gifts” in your past, ways in which this long experience has gifted you –perhaps to understand others, I dunno.

      Here’s to you, and to your future– the really important question is, “what’s next?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/valeriebarlowhorton Valerie Barlow Horton via Facebook

    “Verily, do you rocketh.” And so you do!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.kratzer Lisa Kratzer via Facebook

    Anger can be used for good…but better it be released, lest we become hateful like “they” are – lest we become the type of person with whom we struggle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.chrust Sharon Dolson Chrust via Facebook

    John, I’m putting in an order for that HAL certificate for you. I think this will be the first time it’s been awarded to a male. But you deserve it.

  • Wendy

    My prayers are with you, my sister in Christ.

    You must always remember what a beautiful and amazing soul you are, created in the very image of God. You are exactly who HE wanted you to be.

    I know how difficult it is to let go of the anger, but in the end, the only one you’re hurting is you. Don’t allow these small-minded bigots to take up any more of your thoughts and energy.

    Blessings~~

  • Jack Scruggs via Facebook

    Great response, John. Kim, I’m in an Episcopal church too, and was elected to Vestry after I came out. We recently hosted a forum about Amendment One, and I have felt such support from our clergy and parishioners. I agree that she should get out if she can, and hope she finds a loving and affirming faith community.

  • Rachel G.

    God has already blessed you and He will continue to do so. You live in the very Nanny Blue State of Maryland – get that lawyer! You might end up OWNING the church buildings!!

  • Soulmentor

    That’s way cute. Trouble is, everyone of us who “gets it” is dating ourselves!!!!!

    Oh well………

    • Soulmentor

      Ummmm…….That was sposed to be a reply to a commenter named HAL9000 who responded to John’s HAL certificate request with a response that sounded like the original HAL9000 in the movie “2001″. When I clicked to enter my reply, HAL disappeared!!!!!!!

      What happened to HAL9000?

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

        I deleted that comment. It was just too obnoxious.

      • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

        Dave turned him off.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          LOL!

  • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

    I grew up fundy, too, and worked at a fundy Christian school for six years. I, too, am a lesbian and tried the exgay thing for about a decade. Then I left fundyism behind and came out of the closet. I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Hang in there! It does get better. I’m at school getting a *real* degree now, replacing that useless piece of paper they gave me after six years of Fundy university. And I have a girlfriend who is amazing. And I found a church where my orientation is a non-issue. :) If you want to chat, ask John for my email address. :)

  • Laura Bradley

    Favorite line: “He is fine with me being both really gay and really Christian.” Although I think He would use stronger words than “fine.” Like “rejoicing,” “celebrating,” and “one proud Papa.”

  • mike

    I like to offer another option, but I need to first insert these disclaimers:

    1) I am really angry this week because I find myself living in North Carolina, where anti-gay Amendment One will, barring a Fundie Rapture, pass this week; 2) my usual response to these kind of situations is, “why burn a bridge when you can blow it to smithereens?”; and, 3) I am, admittedly, one of John’s more “high-strung” readers.

    Option 1: Follow John’s most excellent advice. I can think of no better or healthier course of action.

    Option 2: If that just isn’t satisfying enough, first, find that new job. The new job is key to your new life.

    With a new job locked-in, go thermo-nuclear on their asses!

    You’ve worked with these people for years, and I suspect you’ve witnessed a lot of hypocrisy and worse: the affairs, the divorces, the abusers, the bullies, the liars, the cheats, the gossips, and the people who are just plain mean.

    Even as a middle-aged white guy, I think my Gay Card allows me to snap a finger and say, “Girl, you’ve worked in their garden your whole fukkin’ life … it’s time you consider dishin’ their dirt!!”

    I found myself standing up during Sunday services and letting them have it with both barrels, but that’s my style. You need to figure out your own best medium. I see some good constructive suggestions in the comments here.

    Just prior to Prop 8, I was visiting California and went with some family to their semi-conservative church. I grew up in small town where everybody knew everyone else’s business. So, when the minister spoke out in favor of Prop 8 because gays and lesbians want to hurt children and destroy marriage, I waited for the fair-minded people who knew me and my partner, and who were sitting all around me, to speak out against him. But my friends and family just sat there! Then, I lost it, big time. I stood up and started pointing fingers.

    I vented my anger at the minister, who was/is on his second marriage. At the team-leadership couple who had years earlier had an affair, then divorced their spouses and left their children behind to get married. I vented at the church Elder/divorced&dead-beat Dad. At the “lovely” couple (everyone would always say, “they’re sooooo nice!”) who had thrown their 17yo HS Sr. son out of the house when he told them he was gay. I even laid on a few choice words for some of the old biddies who had years earlier spread a known-to-be false rumor that I had AIDS. (omg, I picked on old ladies …. and LIKED it!)

    Finally, I took aim at my own friends and family for sitting there silently at my side while this putz at the altar said rotten, untrue, things about me and my partner. I ungracefully found my way out of that church and ran to the quiet of my home church, an Episcopal church. There, my shaking tremors stopped.

    When I returned to our family gathering that afternoon, it wasn’t pleasant and wasn’t fun. But over and over again the same comments kept being throw at me, “I hope you enjoyed that,” “i hope you’re happy,” and “I hoped you’re satisfied, now.” And guess what? Once my hands stopped shaking and I stopped crying, I was happy! I was satisfied! And yes, although it left me shaking and in tears, I wouldn’t change a thing about that day!

    I can’t say what’s right for you, but sometimes letting people know how they’ve hurt you is really healing. Sometimes shining a bright light on others’ hypocrisy is really fucking satisfying. And on at least this occasion, my massive explosion of anger became a cleansing expulsion of a toxicity that would have otherwise resided inside of me.

    (and yes, I can still go from happy-go-lucky to angry-gay-man faster than an Indie car, but that’s because the right wing is constantly fueling my tanks! As the immortal Jake Blues might say, “It isn’t my fault!”)

    NOTE to all: NARTH has been wholly discredited, even if one ignores the “rent boy” scandals. Just a month ago, Dr. Robert Spitzer renounced his own 2001 study, oft quoted by NARTH, that “motivated” gays can become straight. http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/04/24193/

    NOTE TO JOHN: if you put a HAL badge up, I hope you’ll post an Honorary Angry Gay badge, or a HAG Badge, if you will.

    • Gordon

      We high strung readers need to stick together, mike! This was great and very funny. Thanks!

    • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

      That sounds to me like a pretty good example of a time that going nuclear is well justified. I think that using the religious pulpit to spread hate and malicious lies about people is just as much a sacrilege as the moneychangers in the temple were guilty of.

      And it’s entirely possible that it helped. It’s very possible that somebody woke up and realized that they can’t always be cruel and hateful and get away with it.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Go Mike!

    • Mary B.

      Mike – thank you for sharing – your story did my heart good. I don’t even know you, but can picture you going nuclear on these people. Good on you!

    • LSS

      Applause

    • Jill H

      lovelovelovelovelove

      love

  • Lymis

    I was raised Catholic. Or, as I have been coming to understand lately, I was raised what I thought was Catholic at the time – in what many other Catholics would absolutely recognize as a valid experience of Catholicism, but not what most of the people in the pews around me were doing. Long story, best saved for another time.

    I never went the ex-gay route, but a Navy career put me in a situation that was similarly rigidly closeted, with the added joy of enforced celibacy. Rah. I went on my first date in my early 30′s. I can relate. And oh, the rage. I remember the rage. One of the things that shocked me was how much of the rigid control I learned in the closet had to be redirected to squash the rage back down so I could function.

    But that’s been nearly 30 years now. So here’s some observations and suggestions, not in any particular order. Oh, to be able to have the conversation over beers or wine in person!

    First, hatred and anger are two different things, and chances are they are completely intertwined for you, at least in anything remotely connected to this. And shame is mix of both and is particularly toxic. Picking apart all the different threads so that you can deal with them individually and on a case basis takes time, perspective (which also takes time), and compassion – for yourself now, for others as you can manage it.

    If you are like I was, you’re likely getting hung up on the idea that being angry, hating people, feeling shame, and everything else you are dealing with is “wrong.” That part of dealing with being angry is starting from realizing that it is bad, and that the goal is to stop it. Whether or not that’s an accurate or valid end goal, it isn’t a useful game plan.

    The first step isn’t realizing that it is wrong. The first step is realizing that it is real. All this is what you feel right now. Your personal history is your actual history. Who you are right now is who you are right now, and what you have gone through is what got you here. That’s where you start.

    I had a “should” addiction. Everything about me had to be filtered through a “should.” I wasn’t allowed to let myself feel something unless it was what I “should” feel. I wasn’t allowed to do anything unless it was what I “should” do – and when I did it anyway, I had to judge myself how I “should” condemn myself, based on what I “should” feel about what I had done and what I “should have” done instead. People? Feelings? Attitudes? Mannerisms? Home decor? Sex life? Behavior in public or in private? Should should should should should.

    Go cold turkey, and for now, eliminate should from you life. Your shoulds are broken, and they aren’t the sort of thing to patch on the fly. Deal with the “is”. What you feel is what you feel. What you want to feel is what you want to feel (and is often different from what you “should” feel.) What you want is what you want, and what you choose it what you choose. Trust yourself to put the brakes on before you do something morally wrong, because it will feel wrong in the moment. You don’t have to know who you are going to turn into.

    The single most important thing I ever did was tear down the box I had God in. When I did things that I was ashamed of thinking, feeling and doing (which were insanely tame and innocent), I put God in that little compartment in my head and locked the door from my side. (I’m sure God chuckled.) Then when it was time for church, or prayer, or other things that God would approve of, I stuffed all the gay things into their box and locked it and then unlocked the God box.

    What I started doing was specifically inviting God into my anger, into my sexual feelings, into my confusion, into every aspect of my life that I felt I was supposed to sort out before I was good enough to spend time with God. Which included my anger at God. I had more than a few shouting matches with Him about how screwed up things were and how mistreated I had been. All the feelings my “shoulds” were in conflict with. Turns out He’s a big guy and can handle it. Who knew?

    You’re pissed. Good for you. Pissed is better than passive. Pissed is better than victimized. Pissed is the uncoiling of all the energy and all the agency and all the possibilities that you never let yourself feel before. The way out of it is through it. If you don’t let yourself feel it, and deal with the fact that you are the kind of person who can be angry, and become the kind of person who deals with anger (rather than the kind of person who isn’t angry or isn’t allowed to be angry), then you can move past that into whatever comes next.

    People think it’s a road or a line – that you move out of helplessness into anger, and then out of anger into confidence, and so on, leaving the other feelings behind. It’s more like a series of concentric circles – at your most constricted, all you can feel is helpless. When you start allowing your anger, it doesn’t eliminate the parts of you that can feel helpless, it adds to your options for your own experience, and you can now choose anger. As you expand, you’ll be able to add confidence, compassion, and forgiveness. The anger will still be there, but you’ll be able to better choose when to feel it and what to do with it, and when to let it go.

    • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

      Thank you, Lymis, thank you thank you thank you. I am in the middle of an anger situation, though it has nothing to do with sexuality. I am extremely angry, and I even have some wishes that would probably make most people cringe. (Like wishing other people would die wishes.)

      I am ashamed of this anger and this hatred. I know that it is “justified” because I am the victim of abuse, but that doesn’t make it right. I just want to get out of this anger and this hatred and I really am wrestling with it. It’s been a few years now and I have completely disconnected from the abuser, but I still feel all of this. I try to pity her, for that is what she deserves, because she experienced her own abuse, but I still end up steamed. Probably because she truly believes that she is perfect and can do no wrong. (Isn’t that always the way, though?)

      When will it end?! I ask God to help me through it, to help it end, but it just keeps going. I don’t want to be in the cycle of anger where all it does is destroy me.

      • Lymis

        I compare it to a thorn. You don’t heal until you acknowledge that both the thorn and the wound are real. You can’t even start to heal if your starting point is being ashamed of the pain, and try to deal with it by convincing yourself that a good person and a strong person would just ignore the pain and move on.

        You have to pull the thorn out. You have to clean the wound – which sometimes means letting it ooze, which can be nasty and unpleasant. You have to surround it with support to keep it from becoming infected, and you have to give it the time to get better.

        We assume that anger means we have to either act on it or stuff it. That feeling anger means acting violently, or at least nastily. We don’t. We can say, “Yup, still pissed. What’s for lunch?”

        Trying to make yourself feel something nicer is the equivalent of poking at a wound or picking at a scab. Leave it alone. Tell God that you aren’t rational about this person or situation and that you are turning it over to Him. When it comes up, don’t try to feel pity or try to feel love, or try to feel forgiveness. Remind yourself that it’s no longer any of your business, let yourself be angry for a while, and then move on to something that doesn’t make you angry – not because it’s wrong to be angry, but because it’s no fun to be angry, and unless you have some useful channel for that anger, it’s pointless.

        The feelings don’t heal because you change them. They change because you let them heal.

  • http://culturesniper.wordpress.com culturesniper

    Hi there

    I’m not sure how to describe myself spiritually so I’m not sure how to contextualise my feelings about this.

    Essentially I’m agnostic. I got out of mainstream Christianity a long time ago largely because I was involved in a benignly homophobic church and though I myself identify as straight, I had too many queer family and friends to continue to associate myself with an institution that quietly told me they were going to Hell, but that was OK because they’d pray for my friends and family at Bible Study on Friday. Eugh.

    Anyway. Last year I went on a bit of a search, because I met someone like you guys – a rare gay-friendly NICE Christian. And I was shocked to learn he came from one of thos big flashy mega church things. Granted, he’s not a particularly critically minded chap, so the Church could be as quietly homophobic as the Presbyterian congregation I left, but it was at least refreshing to find someone with a functional relationship with God and Jesus and no stupid anti-gay BS to tout around.

    So I took myself off to Church. Another Church, one closer to my home, one attended by an old friend.

    First service I attended… 1 Corinthians 6:9… oh dear.

    For the first time in years, I prayed. ‘What do I do when I find this hatred? How do I face people who have taken a message of love and twisted it?’ And, unmistakably, God or something like God (agnostic integrity, sorry) said, ‘You stay. You try. You speak about love. And if they refuse to hear, then you leave. One day the sense you spoke will come back to them.’ So I did. I went back, a number of times, got myself into some fierce debates, and eventually took my leave.

    Nothing changes if the people who can see the problem bolt. But certainly, there comes a time when you have to bow out for your own sanity.

    Granted, fundie evangelical churches in my area are not nearly as destructive as they are in some parts of the USA (I’m in Australia. They’re pretty mild by comparison). But that’s my experience. Take it or leave it.

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

      very well done. thank you, CS.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      “You stay. You try. You speak about love. And if they refuse to hear, then you leave. One day the sense you spoke will come back to them.”

      Well said, culturesniper! Sorry, I mean—God or something like God (but who/what is like unto God?)!

      What a beautiful pearl of wisdom! And it just so happens, that’s just what I’d expect God, or something like God (perhaps a distinction without a difference?), to say!

      As Jesus said to his disciples, “‘Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’

      “So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” (Luke 9:4-6)

      • Sarita Brown

        ‘Proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere’

        Now isn’t that a lovely thought …

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrtmahan Judy Raye T. Mahan via Facebook

    Cried, got angry, and sad for all who have suffered. The Thanked the Lord for your response and for YOU.

  • Bible Don

    Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. (Eph. 4)

    • Don Rappe

      If I am so angry at someone that I cannot sleep, I need to drive by their house to see if they are awake too. If I am the only one awake, I need to work on my own spiritual condition. God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

      • mike

        I understand what you’re saying, but believe me … evil people can sleep as well as the good.

    • Lymis

      I think that’s a lovely idea, when it is possible. When we are in a situation where being angry or not is a choice, where the circumstances and our own abilities allow it, yes, processing anger and choosing otherwise before nightfall is always better.

      Peace, when it can be chosen, is almost always the right choice, even when firm or decisive, or even drastic, action is still required.

      However, weaponizing this, and making it a violation of the commands of God not to “get over it” within 24 hours, and the very real liklihood of shaming someone for not getting past something before bedtime, is purely and simply wrong.

      Some wounds are deeper than that. Some pain simply cannot be processed that fast, and it isn’t healthy, much less Godly, to pretend otherwise. Stuffing an emotion to pretend you don’t have it isn’t the answer. Being human and taking longer to get over real and serious hurts is not demonic.

      • Don Rappe

        I have sometimes been angry for years and know what you mean. I do not think these are words of command, but rather, advice. It is never healthy to stuff it. But if we can accept the serenity to turn what we cannot change over to God, we can avoid exposing our hearts to the demonic. The wrong doers sleep well because our anger isn’t bothering them. Once we’ve decided not to kill them in their beds, our anger only endangers ourselves.

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      Could this not be a metaphorical sun-setting? Like “Don’t let anger get the last word.”

  • charles m

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    — Mahatma Gandhi

    its not much of a Christian quote. but it is the recipe of insurgency.

    • Sarita Brown

      I really love this whole thread, which has been encouraging and respectful. And I love that Ghandi quote. Possibly my favourite.

      well done, everybody!

  • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

    I like the advice about letting go of the anger, combined with Lymis’s advice to accept that it’s real. Try to let it go, but at the same time understand that that won’t happen overnight. Emotions don’t really respond well to our “shoulds.”

    I also think that while John’s right about the distinction between good anger and bad anger, that there’s always *something* you can do to turn bad anger into good. Not something that necessarily addresses the specific situation, but some way to channel that passion to make things better for yourself or someone else. (If you get into a place where it’s not going to jeopardize your job, telling your church about how this whole thing has hurt you might be an option.)

    I think finding a church where they accept you as you are would be a good start. Not sure where you are in MD, but if you find a good one, let me know. (I can recommend a really awesome Quaker meeting, but that’s far enough away from Pentecostal to be a pretty weird culture shock. And I would be willing to bet that the other church I attend is not LGBT affirming, though they might be a lot less negative than your fundie church.)

  • http://Www.trihardist.com Jamie

    John, HALs get toaster ovens, not badges. I’ll be sure to send you one :-)

  • Matt

    I grew up in an ELCA church, which, while nationally liberal, my neck of woods was not particularly so. My home church’s congregation is rapidly aging, and becoming more rigid as the years pass. Many of the folks I see every Sunday have seen me since I was a 4-year-old getting baptized. They know me as a heterosexual female.

    However, I’m not. First I realized I was bisexual, then that I was transgendered, female-to-male. I am a boy, a man, and this won’t sit well with my church family, though I know they love me. The love of my life, who I want to grow old with, is also transgendered.

    I stay away from my church, though it is painful to, because it’s just one more place to be heavily closeted at. I go by myself sometimes during the week, when the sanctuary is dark and quiet and it’s just me and God. Although my job is in a secular field, I am completely closeted there as well. I spend a good 3/4 of my life pretending.

    And I have learned, at the ripe old age of 20, that some kinds of love have limits.

    Now, maybe if I were bulletproof, and had no feelings, and had unlimited time, and diplomatic immunity, and my partner was the same, I’d just be out and that would be that. But it wouldn’t be healthy or safe.

    Is it sad? Yeah. Does it make me angry? Yes, very. But it’s not healthy for me to hold onto it.

    I do what I can to be healthy, happy, and safe. I do everything in my power to keep those I love healthy, happy, and safe.

    It’s all I can do. It’s all you can do, letter writer :).

    • Allie

      I’m very sorry you can’t be who you are openly. No one should have to be afraid like that.

      Just gotta ask, baptized at four? I’m an Episcopalian and we do infant baptism (although with the understanding that it’s really a promise on the part of the godparents to see that the child is educated at gets confirmed at a later age). My husband was raised Baptist and they don’t baptize until the child reaches the age of understanding, which in their church is usually around seven or eight, about the time we Episopalians do first communion. How do you end up getting baptized at four? Is it a really late infant baptism or a really early age of understanding baptism?

      • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

        I seriously do not get the infant baptism thing. Even seven or eight seems ridiculously early for most.

    • Don Rappe

      Frequently a 4 year old child joins a church with her parents. Sometimes they are all baptized at once. Lutheran churches have the same baptismal teachings as Catholic and baptize infants.

  • tc

    Hello Righteously Angry Lesbian, I want to share my daughter’s struggles with you.

    On the day she was born I held her in my arms and promised her that I would always be there for her. Then I whispered in her ear and told her this truth, life is hard ,it’s not easy, but come what may we’d make it through, together.

    When she entered grade 5, a friend invited her to a Pentecostal Junior High Youth Service. She was hooked. Weekly she’d come home and tell me what was ‘taught’. Weekly I’d try to expand her view. Didn’t work, so I stared attending church with her so I could hear first hand to the wisdom what was being doled out. Her youth pastor and I had many a discussion, and while he agreed with some of my arguments, he didn’t want to lose his job.

    At age 9, I knew my daughter was gay. But she was a fundie’s fundy.

    She slowly left the church community and when she was 18 I outed her. During a nice dinner and a glass of wine I spoke to her, statistically of course, about how within our family between her and her cousins at least one of them (probably two) was gay.

    I talked about the challenges a few of our friends experienced as loud and proud, fully outed gays. Then I put on the movie Milk. As the movie ended I looked at her and said, anything you want to tell me?

    She laughed. She cried. Finally she said, how did you know? Then I laughed.

    I apologized for the lies she heard about being gay while being part of the church. I told her I loved her unconditionally, and I reminded her that on the day that she was born I told her that life wasn’t easy, but I was with her and would support her, unconditionally.

    Over the past few years we’ve worked through the anger and hurt feelings that follow her because of her church years. But I lovingly remind her that she wanted the inclusion of supposed acceptance of the church, that she wasn’t willing to question the exclusionary elements that permeated the Pentecostal church that we attended.

    Now in hindsight she’s able to look at the good and the bad of her church years. But she knows that regardless of how some people in the church community use scripture for their own purpose, she remembers in the deepest part of her heart that not only is she a child of God, but she’s also my child, and she’s loved unconditionally.

    So my friend, insert your name into her story and know that God is all about love, and that he loves you very much. And if you can’t hold on to that because of what other’s have projected on to him/her, know that as a ‘mom’, I love you and am proud of you. Why you ask? because you’re being true to who you are. you were made to love.

    I’ll leave you with the words I’ve said to my daughter. Find love. Treat each other with respect. You deserve it.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Love this! Thanks for sharing your story, tc!

    • DR

      You are the DREAM MAMA.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Hi, Righteously Angry!

    “[M]y main issue is that I am overwhelmingly angry all the time. I am so damn pissed about how I grew up believing that I was not okay. I am pissed about how they lied to me about God. I am pissed that they have no one to answer to for how badly they hurt me and people like me…”

    I totally get why you feel that way! But I assure you they WILL have Someone to answer to for it, and I think they’re going to have a really tough time trying to come up with satisfactory answers in the end.

    “I live in Maryland, and as I was walking through the sanctuary of the church a few weeks ago, I saw a petition against the newly instituted Civil Marriage Protection Act.”

    In the sanctuary? Talk about setting up the abomination that causes desecration in the temple! And I think they may be jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

    Most religious organizations receive IRS code 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, which does allow them to get away with a little bit of lobbying (how much exactly is one of those fuzzy legal interpretive matters that keep lawyers well employed), while specifically prohibiting (in case you find your church to being this) involvement in a political campaign, by openly supporting or opposing any particular candidate(s). (You can read more at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf.)

    Information regarding reporting them to the IRS, in the event that you think it might be right to do so, may be found at: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=178241,00.html

    The laws regarding the property tax exemption in Maryland, however, are bit stricter (see http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/exempt.html): the property must be “used exclusively for public religious worship, a parsonage or convent or educational purposes”. Signing secular political petitions would surely be quite an unorthodox mode of worship (I hope they have a practice of ritually washing their hands before taking up the pen, and as they sign it saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” after which they prostrate in the direction of the General Assembly house in Annapolis), and (unless it’s real purpose is actually just to give us a chance to practice our penmanship) I don’t see it qualifying as an educational activity either.

    I believe that to report them for a property tax exemption violation, if you choose to do so, you would have to get in touch with your local county assessment office, the locations, hours, phones, fax, and emails of which are given here: http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/county.html

    • charles m

      I cant imagine that Martin Luther King, or Jesse Jackson, or Jeremiah Wright would ever say something construed to be political from their pulpit….

      • Matthew Tweedell

        They could certainly take positions from the pulpit on issues that also have political implication, and my understanding is that they’re still sure to be in the clear as long as they didn’t favor or oppose any personally identifiable candidate(s) when acting in their role as a member of the clergy and didn’t utilize anything owned by a tax-exempt religious organization in conducting political actions (such as petitioning the government), or if they were simply willing to pay the taxes (if they earned enough that it wouldn’t be burdensome to do so and generally supported the purposes towards which their governments would likely distribute their monies, for instance).

      • Matthew Tweedell

        By way of further explanation: I recently moved to Wisconsin, where last fall petitions were circulated to recall our governor, and I know at least a few churches whose congregation and leaders leaned fairly obviously NOT in the governor’s direction which were actively instructing congregants NOT to circulate the petitions on church property. I could only surmise that concerns over jeopardizing their tax exempt status were the reason. So that was what immediately came to mind as I read Righteous Angry Lesbian’s letter to John.

    • LSS

      I always thought pastors were being chicken when they wouldn’t give a political opinion from the pulpit. Now i know they were avoiding lawsuits. Huh.

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      We have different types of laws here for that stuff, so this has no bearing on legalities elsewhere, but as an example:

      I am normally wholly against political (partisan/ideological) anything in churches – understanding that most issues are in some way political issues and those issues do often belong in churches. I would normally see petitions as falling into the partisan/ideological type of political. A church I was attending recently was circulating, announcing and advocating for a particular petition. It was to removed a clause from pending legislation that would disadvantage refugees – refugees that the church works and supports directly. The tone of the petition was respectly, demonstrating it’s only objective as being the welfare of those directly affected, and in no way implied a partisan allegience. This seemed a perfectly appropriate political activity for that church.

  • nicola moloney

    Dear sister. Have you asked God which fellowship he wants you in.. sometimes he says stay and sometimes he says go but wonderful thing is he will tell you. Please don’t hide yourself whatever he tells you to do. May God strengthen you and give you wisdom. You are his beloved. Much love

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

    Yeah, I’m going through a similar situation. Except it is completely different. My wife and I are currently searching for a new church community. We finally had to leave our conservative evangelical contemporary church for a host of reasons. But their stance on homosexuality and the emails to go to Annapolis to “defend marriage” was my final deal breaker. Although a capital campaign to build yet another a multimillion dollar campus and the senior pastor hiring his son-in-law may have fed into my decision process…

    But I was never financially dependent on them, so yeah, very different. Take John’s advise and bolt at your earliest convenience.

    We went to another church and wouldn’t you know it, 1 Corinthians 6:9 reared its ugly head. The pastor struck me as being, well gay. The world is upside down right now. But John is right, half the people who liked it upside down are now dead. “Where there’s death, there’s hope.”

    Said more positively, sanity is prevailing, just as it has so many times throughout history. I mean, you can vote! A woman!? I understand this pisses off some folks at Fox News. (That’s gotta make one feel better right there.)

  • dan(chicago)

    I too have anger issues regarding my time in the charismatic church(which I joined when I was 18 and left when I was 36) and I understand that there are times when you just have to speak out against the awful things that are being said and the bad behavior in the church world. I am basing a novel on what I saw. Sometimes it takes well focused anger to change things.

    That said, I’ve come to realize that the best revenge is living well. There will be people waiting for you to unravel without their teachings/guidance. When they see you in the supermarket, smiling, or at the university taking courses, or even just in your front yard planting petunias, it drives them bat shit crazy. They can and will dismiss your anger as being rooted in sin, but your good life deeply disturbs them.

    Send them a box of heart shaped chocolates on Valentines day.

  • Leslie

    Middle of the page on the right. And once I saw it there, it is on every page.

  • N

    Of course you’re angry! You have every right to be angry.

    So be angry! And listen to some Ani Defranco (If you don’t like her music, pretend you do, because it will get you the girls, and listen to other angry woman power music), and scream and rage in privacy.

    Then be sad, and grieve for the losses you’ve suffered and will suffer. For the years of self-hatred, for the friendship of some of your old friends and family (probably not all! Don’t underestimate their love for you.), for the injustice of the world.

    Then make a plan for making money some other way. Take out loans and go back to school if need be. Make some other friends, join a support group. Quit your job, and come out.

    You will still be angry at times, and sad at times. At times you will be joyous, even manic with how crazy amazing the real you is once you let her out.

    And eventually take John’s advice, and let go of that anger. But first let it play it’s role in your life as the impetus to push yourself away from the people who would harm you. Righteous anger can fuel your strength to do what needs to be done. You can do it.

  • Jill Joiner via Facebook

    Wonderful article and I have a very dear friend who is going through this and is in therapy for it.

  • charles

    Civil Rights take a while….. for the longest time, Slavery in America was just fine with “God” (at least as far as a lot of Christians were concerned). The point being, it sucks to be at the tip of the spear. but in the end, it has to be done, and we can know that God does honor the sacrifice.

    cool post John….

  • Scott Amundsen

    Back in the late Eighties I landed a job as Music Director at a Charismatic (Fundie) Church, an irony in retrospect since I was already out to everyone I knew and would spend the next three years living openly with the exception of the six-to-eight hours spent in the church either conducting a choir rehearsal or one of the two weekly services.

    Which proves nothing, I suppose, except that musicians (and actors and others whose aim is to earn their living through the arts) are whores and will do anything if there’s a paycheck attached to it. And in my own defense I needed that paycheck; it wasn’t a lot, but it made the difference in getting the bills paid and keeping food on my table. Beggars and starving musicians can’t be choosers.

    So I stayed, pretending to be someone I was not, for three years. Until one morning I was driving to the church for the Sunday service and the moment I saw the building I became physically ill and had to pull the car over and throw up in the grass, after which I turned around and went home and called out sick. I did not make the connection until it happened again three days later when I was heading there for choir and band rehearsal.

    It was all quite obvious once I looked at it, really.

    For three years I had spent two hours on Friday and again on Sunday listening to hateful words against LGBT people from the pulpit. I knew we were not exactly their favorite kind of people but even I was shocked at how totally OBSESSED they are with us and our private lives. I thought I was doing a good job of just ignoring it for the sake of the paycheck, but at the end of the day my body said, “Enough. If you are not smart enough to stop putting yourself in this situation I will get sick every time you go near the place until you get the message.”

    I got the message. I went to the church the next day when no one was there, left my keys and the music that belonged to the church in the office, took the music that belonged to me out of the office and the piano bench, walked away, and never looked back.

    I might add that I doubt the pastor was sorry to see me go because he begrudged me every paycheck I ever collected; in his mind the music program should have been all-volunteers despite the fact that the church was paying for him to live in at least half a million dollars worth of house and drive expensive German imports that even back then were pushing six figures.

    We live, we learn. In retrospect I rather enjoy the idea that they helped support me financially while at the same time spewing their garbage from the pulpit. And I must say that once I walked away I was able to let go of the anger that I did not even know was there until it started making me ill. And the peace that followed was enough to make up for what went before.

  • http://castlerockbear.tumblr.com Keith Walsh

    Wow does this sound familiar….Unfortunately sometimes to make the best of it you must disassociate with family, all the while they claim you are being selfish. Been there…feel better that it’s over! :) Thanks John!

  • Jan

    This is the type of post that keeps me reading absolutely everything you write, John.

    You, verily, rocketh.

  • Barbara Rice

    Anger like that is part of the process of healing from the wounds that were inflicted upon you. Recognize it as normal, healthy (though not particularly fun), and as something you will eventually move away from into the next part of your life.

  • Kay Jee via Facebook

    I was the one who wrote the letter. Thank you, John, for your insight. Thankfully, marriage equality passed in Maryland, so it was extra delicious to walk into work the day after the election with a HUGE smile on my face because they LOST their fight against us. I am no longer nearly as angry as I was when I wrote to you. I realize, as you said, that they are a dying, losing zealous breed who lives in fear. That has helped me tremendously. I’m in the process of leaving my job, and as each day goes by, I’m becoming more and more hopeful about the future. Thanks so much.

    • http://www.judiegade.com.au Judie

      Hi Kay,

      I love in Australia, am straight but some of my best friends are gay. I came across a young, courageous man who outed himself, last year, in what could best be described as Gay Hell if you want to come out of the closet in Australia and are male … an Australian Rules Football (AFL) Club. Like Grid Iron … The most macho culture in Australia. Guess what happened?

      His WHOLE club supported him. His story is amazing. The Power of One can change the ‘whole’. It didn’t stop at his local, grassroots club either. Have a read and put a smile on your face :)

      http://judiegade.com.au/2012/09/24/afl-gay-pride-round/

      Cheers

      Judie

      • Gordon

        What a great story!

        I like what Morgan Freeman said: “I hate the word ‘homophobia’. It’s not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole.”

        • Annie

          Thanks for that quote Gordon – made me laugh out loud! Morgan Freeman – what a star!

          Hi Kay – thank you for your update. I’m so pleased for you that you are able to leave and follow your heart, knowing that our wonderful God is with you, and will be, always. Never forget that he loves you as you are. Bless you!

  • dlcw59

    Your anger is honest. Your anger is righteous. Your anger is good. Your are certainly entitled to your anger. The important thing is that you find a way to express your anger – release it from your body so that it doesn’t tear you up. People who find a way to successfully do this feel lighter, healthier, and happier. Writing about it, like your letter to John, is one excellent, healthy way to express your anger. Sometimes just saying the words, “I am so angry about this,” as many times as you need to, to as many people as you need to, can be very healing. Artist expressions are also very, very good. Express your anger in safe, healthy, and productive ways. Do not deny it or try to hide it. It is yours, so claim it! If you take charge of it rather than letting it control you or hurt you, it can be a useful tool in your ongoing self discovery. You are a wonderful and courageous person. Blessings to you in your journey to healing and wholeness. And never forget that you are loved and you are worthy of that love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/natalie.jones.3348 Natalie Jones via Facebook

    All out of HAL certificates.

  • Stef

    John, you are truly a saviour. Just when I am going through the same experience in church and ministry, as well as in a period when a pastor of a megachurch, representing a group of churches, making rhetoric about how a repealing of a law where it is illegal for males to have consensual sex with the same sex would lead to a greater call for rights for lgbt and that would lead to a restriction of freedom in practising his religion and demise of my country, reading your post again did wonders in clearing my head and anger.

    You are truly Godsend. Thank you, John.

  • Marlena McNew via Facebook

    I just found you … <3. Carry on, you wise, funny, eloquent man :)

  • Sarah

    This woman has courage and I can totally understand her anger.

    I’ve been there too! What helped me was when years ago I was told when I hold on to a resentment that I am reliving the pain of an experience from the past over and over again, bringing it into today and the future, even when most other parties involved are off not even thinking about it. (though I like to think I haunt their thoughts! : ) )

    The best revenge is to be free and full of faith. These people are doing all that they do, out of fear. Underneath their anger is fear. My suggestion is for this woman to ask herself what fear is fueling her anger.

    Please don’t spend anymore of your life allowing these people to waste anymore of your precious life. Her experience could be a powerful tool to help others in her situation.

    Life is so much more rewarding when we focus on helping those we identify with, rather that butting heads with those we don’t.

  • Peet

    “If I’m a cat at a dog convention, I’m all about the exit door.” Oh, how many times have I needed to hear that from someone. I’d also pass along something a career counselor told me once: if things don’t change, would you be happy doing the same thing with the same people in the same place five years from now? Quick answer: meow.

  • http://joeschilibarn@blogspot.com Joe Hayes

    I had a lot of these same issues, and similar results. What’s interesting about fundamentalists is that, the ones who are really good at what they do, can make you hate yourself for heterosexuality as well as anything else :-)

    To the angry writer, I would offer the following:

    I’ve found that Buddhism has more to say about the mechanisms of forgiveness and of dealing with and handling anger than anything else I’ve encountered. Christianity is great at saying “you must forgive.” Buddhism is great at saying “here’s how”. As a fundie, I steered clear until I’d jettisoned fundamentalism. It’s very Christ-like. It provides the tools and the work-out. Something to look into, perhaps.

  • Todd Rogers

    You know, Mr. Shore, I grow to like you more and more and more with every passing thing you say.

    It is you who are the beacon of light in the darkness of bigotry that is the world of Mainstream Christianity, and I am so glad that I found someone that, while heterosexual, GETS US and our issues.

    My thoughts on your blog post:

    Sister, you go with your bad self.

    You are strong both in God and personally.

    You are blessed and have found acceptance that I too have found by God and what joy that is!

    See, I too was angry at my church for YEARS for letting me serve God in music by being a member of my church choir, but talking behind my back all the time and asking my best friend, whom they’d hoped would turn on me to side with them, those gossipping little hens, and my best friend just looked at them and said he pitied them that they are blind to the gift that God had given me, to both sing and serve Christ in Music Ministry and be gay at the same time (I never hid my homosexuality from my church. They’d known me since I was 8, and were hard pressed to come up with any sort of catalyst that ‘made me gay’, but that one day, I just WAS).

    In my American Baptist church, I had to suffer through the indignity of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality with some people.

    And one year, in 1996, my church, a member of the American Baptist Churches Of The West, voted to disfellowship 7 Bay Area churches because they included gay affirming language in their church mission statements.

    So, simply for saying, “We accept homosexuals as sinners and in need of God’s love and Acceptance like any heterosexual person” they were told by the President of ABCW that they would all remove any and all gay affirming language from their mission statements lest they feel the wrath of the entire ABCW Community.

    My pastor, a man who privately t0ld me that he has no problem with my being gay, but doesn’t feel that his personal feelings on the matter would change anyone’s mind, he felt forced by necessity to urge our church to disfellowship those 7 churches.

    He did, thankfully, stand out as a beacon of light and hope that fateful day, and say that while he believed in his heart of hearts that God made homosexuals as he made heterosexuals, and that homosexuals need God’s love as much as anyone, he had to urge the church to vote YES, and I was very surprised how close the vote really was.

    I saw SO MANY people in my congregation that day with sad faces, some crying, some angry like you’ve been, sister, and like me, just aghast that we as people of God would even be DOING this to others of our faith that chose to live their creed and commandments including ALL people and not excluding gays just because of Leviticus.

    The vote percentage was 51% in favor, 49% against disfellowshipping.

    I had people pulling me aside and telling me that they voted no in support of ME, being the only gay person in the congregation.

    They said that they saw that in spite of my homosexuality, I continued to pursue God, to serve Him and to honor His Commandments as best as I (or anyone) could. And they said that I have brought my boyfriends to service a few times, and I always brought the nicest people as guests, and how could they in good conscience, vote against those churches when that was as good in their minds as voting against ME being able to worship God freely.

    It was a very uplifting and powerful message I got from God via these people who were straight but felt that ALL have sinned and ALL have come short of the Glory of God, and who are these people in power to tell anyone that certain people are not worthy of God’s Love and Forgiveness.

    Long story short, sister, I spent a sum total of 24 years in Westlake Community Baptist Church in Daly City, CA. My anger over being treated as a 2nd class citizen by some while being accepted and loved unconditionally by MOST in that congregation, was not productive, but self destructive.

    I became depressed. I became angry. And like you, I didn’t know how to let it go and stop it from eating me up from the inside out.

    But prayer, the love of my closest friends and allies in my church, made all the difference. I was able to banish my anger and leave my church home behind to find greener pastures 12 years ago. I am no longer a church goer, but I love God no less, perhaps even MORE today.

    One day, when I find another church home, I will give myself to it and its ministries as I did at WCBC. But until then, I am content to have a personal one on one relationship with God, who continues to bless me.

    I am happy. I am strong in Him who gives me strength.

    Most of all, however, I am patient. The tide is turning, sister! Gay Marriages are very very close to becoming legal or at least the two largest laws acting as barriers to our right to marry the ones we love to be relegated to history as dark footnotes on the road to Equality.

    When the religious establishment sees us flocking to marry and to have our unions blessed and acknowledged before God just like our heterosexual counterparts, and time goes on, and the children we have through those legal unions grow up to become honest, law abiding people who are no less well rounded from being raised by two mommies or two daddies than their friends who were raised with one mommy and one daddy, and the tide will change even more, and the church will be forced to grudgingly if nothing else, accept that they’ve had gays figured out all wrong all this time.

    That day will certainly be a day I will rejoice and its all possible to happen in our lifetime.

    I wish you God’s Love, His Enduring Strength and Perseverence and I pray for God to bless you and keep you and yours, sister!!!!

    You are welcome in my house.

  • Budd

    What a great letter, though somewhat painful to read. Because I am ‘straight’ (NOT the opposite of ‘crooked’ or ‘bent’, as I am also both of those most of the time) I can’t really imagine the writer’s life surrounded by such ignorance and fear (well, maybe a little sort of, since I live in Idaho). You’re response was dead on! You the man. Well, not THE man, but you’re pretty good. Thanks.

  • Susan

    Sometimes, when you have had so many years of self-denial and the emotional conflict of being told “that an infinitly all loving God loves You!” by people you KNOW would tell you the exact opposite if they knew who you were, who God MADE you all the way through- well, there’s a lot of backlog and anger. And since life is short, and anger stops being very fun after a while (seriously, how many furious bathroom-mirror monologues about the past can you stand?) it’s good to get a little help moving that energy out so you can make room for all the love that’s heading your way. Happily, there are two newer methods of therapy that can help with that. The first is EFT- which is a form of talk therapy that uses tapping pressure points to release old emotional patterns. Works fast and tend to be the cheapest “bang for the buck”. The next is Network spinal analysis- it’s a form of chiropractic that releases old emotional patterns without talk therapy. It can run from $40-$100 per session, and takes longer, but the practitioner I go to in Los Angeles has a large following in the gay community here, because it helps release the years of self-loathing that non-acceptance can grind into our kids who are born gay. Be proud of yourself- you are a strong woman who had the courage to discover and accept herself despite a toxic community growing up. I am in awe of your courage and fortitude. You are so brave, so honest. And I pray that for every year of self-denial and anguish, God will bless you with love, acceptance and plenty. Peace, sister.


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