Am I trying to justify my homosexual sins?

Here’s a letter I got in this weekend:

Good day John. I’d like to say I’m really ecstatic that I came across your blog.

I’m a lesbian (a dyke, butch, a girl who looks like a man) and I’m a born-again Christian. I was an active worker of the church back home in my country (Philippines), where my dad was a pastor. I was in a worship team. And I really find joy in serving our Lord Jesus Christ—singing praises to Him, feeling His presence and being filled with the Holy Spirit. I see people being blessed by what I do for God’s glory.

But I sometimes wonder what they would think if they knew that I am a homosexual—which I think is pretty obvious, because you would never see me being girly, wearing a dress, putting on make-up, and doing all those “how-a-Christian-girl-should act” things. I was always true to myself, but not so truthful that I’d stand up in front of the congregation and confess “Hey! brothers and sisters, I am gay and love Jesus!” I dream of doing that though, of letting the people know, or the church know, who and what I really am. To somehow let them know that as a Christian homosexual God can still fill me with His spirit.

But you think I should really do that, come out that way? I’m just curious.

It was not long ago when I started asking myself if being gay or lesbian is not okay? Is it a sin? An abomination? That it is a given, once you’re gay, that you just go straight to hell? Doesn’t matter if you love Jesus, doesn’t matter if you serve Him: you are a homo and that’s a sin, so it’s either you repent and be straight, or continue your homosexual acts and burn in hell!

It scares me, John. The idea of changing myself because it is the right thing to do—it is what they say what God wants me to do—is scary. It’s like giving up my life. My whole life. And I’ve been like this since grade school. Though I know that’s what serving God is all about. Right? About surrendering your all to Him.

Every year we have our youth camp, and last 2006, during our Holy Spirit Baptism, I had this incredible experience with the Holy Spirit that I thought I would never feel because of the fact that I’m gay. After that night I felt so blessed that I felt something had changed in me. That I was lesbian no more! But I still did not wear a dress though. A month after that encounter, though, I got involved with a girl. We go to the same church, and were both active in our ministry, so we kept this of course from everyone. My relationship with her lasted about three years. She broke up with me because, you know, our love was wrong. So I was devastated and depressed.

And that’s when my journey began of seeking the truth about homosexuals. Do you think I am seeking for more knowledge about God and homosexuals just because I just want to justify my sin?! Or am I doing this because there is really is something about homosexuals that the world should know about?—that the Christian world should know about? Was it God who lead me to your blog??? Because I never actually thought that there would be a fellow straight Christian who is not against homosexuality. And as I scan through your Facebook page I found more Christians who are not against homosexuality. And that gave me hope. Hope that I can be myself.

I honestly don’t wanna think anymore about whether or not being gay is a sin. I just wanna live and be myself and serve God. But there are circumstances that requires me to find out more about the whole thing. My mom has these books about homosexuality: how to come out of it, how to pray for your homosexual daughter/son. And there’s this website she always visits, I can’t remember the site or the speaker’s name. But it teaches that there is hope for gays and lesbians to be straight. And it hurts me. And confuses me at some point. If God did not want me to be this way, I should have just been straight in the first place. Why would God create gays and lesbians? Or did He really create us to be this way? And If He did made us this way, is it just to prove that there is hope for change for people like us??

I don’t get it. It does not make sense. It’s a torture, for me, as a Christian gay, to feel this way. Because I really don’t think that it was my choice to like girls. What can I do? I never dream of having a man by my side. Just like a straight guy who would never dream of having a guy as his partner for life. I think it’s the same thing. You are straight: Do you ever dream of having a man by your side? Am I even making sense here? Forgive me. My heart is bursting in tears. I am actually heart broken again right now. So I asked God, am I really not allowed, am I really forbidden, to love someone??

God said whatever our heart desires, ask and He will give it. And my one true desire is to love and be loved. And that who I am and love would be okay for my family and the family of the person I love. My desire is to be free and have no one  judge me.

Thank you for taking time to read this John. I have so many questions and running across your blog made me think, maybe this is God’s answer.

Oh, Lord. When is this caustic, toxic, hateful, homophobic bullshit Christians do going to stop already?

Look at this girl. Look at her love. Look at her desperate yearning to do nothing more than love and be loved.

She wants to love, be loved, and know that God doesn’t hate her. That’s it. That’s her heart’s desire. That’s what she needs. Same as any other person (of faith) in the world.

And there’s Christianity — which is supposed to be founded on the unconditional love of God — breaking and tearing apart her heart. Shredding her sense of worth. Devastating her confidence. Ruining her relationships.

Destroying her life.

And still she loves Christ. This girl is so deeply wedded to the very heart and soul of Jesus that despite two thousand years worth of ignorant and poisonous institutionalized Christianity being leveled against her and everything she knows about herself, still she clings to God, still she loves Jesus, still she seeks reconciliation between herself and the God who calls all to his side.

Phenomenal.

And there’s her poor mother reading books on how to “heal” her, and praying that God will fix her.

And her crime? The thing that makes her anathema to the faith that she champions, that she continues to love despite its condemnation of her?

She dreams of having a woman by her side instead of a man.

And so Christians, hating the way she loves, do everything they can to make her hate herself.

And see its effect! Look where she’s at now. Looks what’s happened to her. Her letter drips grief and confusion.

The moment I read her letter I answered her back this:

It’s okay that you’re gay. God loves you no less for that. Some PEOPLE decided to translate their fear of gays into Biblical texts, but those are translation errors, not reality. And then SOME Christians decided to believe in that translation, not because they were listening to God (who invites EVERYONE to come to him/her), but because they were listening to their own craziness.

I pray she hears that.

Are you out there, girl? Hear that! God doesn’t care if you’re gay. God made you gay. God likes you being gay. God likes girls; you like girls; I like girls; everyone likes girls. It’s perfectly okay for you to be perfectly lesbian.

The only people who don’t like homosexuals just because they’re homosexuals are dented in the heart. Something awful happened to them. They (very often) were inculcated with a version of Christianity that sickens God. Someone gave them the awful anti-gay virus, and they sneeze and spit that nastiness onto others, because they just don’t know any better.

But you do. You know better. You hear God telling you that he loves you as he created you. You know your church is wrong. You know your mother (God bless her loving heart) is wrong. You know the love you can feel for a woman is every bit as strong and pure and right as the love any person ever feels for another.

All you have to do is accept with your mind what your heart already knows. That’s it. Just accept it.

As to a few of your specific questions:

No, I don’t think you’re under any moral obligation to come out to your church, or to anyone else you don’t want to. Who you are and how you love is nobody’s business but yours.

No, I don’t think you are seeking for more knowledge about God and homosexuals because you want to justify your sin. I think you’re doing it because deep inside you know that being homosexual isn’t a sin, and you’re seeking (and deserve) confirmation of that.

No, I don’t ever dream of being with a man in the way I am my wife.

And finally — and again and again and again and again: No, you don’t go straight to hell for being a lesbian. That anyone is automatically condemned to hell just for being gay or lesbian is absolute, one hundred percent medieval bullshit that you can with great relief and joy toss out like the fetid old garbage that it is.

You love. What could be less of a sin than loving? Loving is what humans are supposed to do. When you love, as God made you to love, God wins. You win. I win. Even your church (though they may not yet realize it) wins.

God is love — period, end of story, forever and ever.

So love! And love, even, those who would condemn you for that love. For (as someone once said) such people know not what they do.

 

(This post was originally published in June of 2011.)

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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. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • James

    This! This! This, John. Thank you.

    I’m going to go weep under my desk for a bit now.

    • Jill

      If I could give every gay and lesbian and transgender and every other person who feels ‘other’, who has been shunned, ignored, judged the biggest, most affirming, most healing hug ever, I would quit my job, put up a sign in my front yard with an arrow pointing to my front door, and just give hugs of support for the rest of my life. My greatest wish.

      Maybe they could bring a dish to pass.

    • Maria

      Just wanting to sit with you under your desk. Silent company. Letting you know you are loved.

  • Eliot Parulidae via Facebook

    Ah, the accusation that one is “rationalizing” homosexuality! The ironic denial of what the Holy Spirit is telling the individual – the “sin” is lack of subservience to the community.

    This kid may be a better Christian than myself.

  • Valarie Ross via Facebook

    <3 <3 <3

  • Elizabeth

    “Do you think I am seeking for more knowledge about God and homosexuals just because I just want to justify my sin?! Or am I doing this because there is really is something about homosexuals that the world should know about?—that the Christian world should know about? Was it God who lead me to your blog???”

    Speaking from the choir: No, yes, yes, and yes.

    I’m not particularly girly. I prefer dresses (one piece, no matching) and I like boys, but I do my make-up on the subway and blow-dry my hair about four times a year. (The average woman spends three years of her life blow-drying her hair. Please, I’ve got other stuff to do.)

    The point is, as you know, it’s not the ‘girliness’ that makes you gay. Nor can you ‘convert’ to girliness anymore than straightness. I know a bunch of femme dykes WAY more into lipstick than me. It’s who you’re attracted to, who you trust, who you love. God is proud of the women you choose to love, and S/He’s proud of you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heatherjeanne Heather Dube via Facebook

    Been here before. May still be there to a certain degree – justification of sin, or truly, honestly searching for the truth? And is the search okay. I’m not sure the feeling every fully goes away.

  • Melissa Russell via Facebook

    breaks my heart that the church wounds people so deeply.. all in the name of God.

  • Joshua Laflin via Facebook

    In tears right now. Good words. Love wins.

  • Kristi Outler Byrd

    Best thing I’ve read this year. What is tragic is that this woman is only one of many who are tortured this way. And it is torture when the church tells you that a fundamental part of who you are is an abomination. Yet, Christians continue to flippantly spout off nonsense about hating the sin and loving the sinner. How is labeling an indelible part of a human being a sin loving them? Or requiring that they be alone and lonely for a lifetime? If that is loving the sinner, then please don’t love this sinner! With love like that…….

    Thanks, John, for calling it out as the bullshit that it is. And to the letter writer, MUCH true love to you. Bask in God’s love and continue to serve Him with peace in your heart.

  • Melody

    Thanks for this, John. I’m straight, but I can relate to the “girliness” aspect. I’m something of a tomboy and have a fairly low, deep speaking voice, and I often don’t wear makeup unless I’m “going out.” Indeed, I’ve had a few narrow people question my sexuality. The stereotyping and limited roles have gone on for too long and need to stop.

  • Jill Hileman via Facebook

    @Heather Dube– humbly submit that we’re all gonna feel a bit ‘broken’ in life, so you are not alone in your feeling that never really goes away. BUT if we begin at the beginning: God is love, there’s more wisdom wrapped up in those 3 words than is obvious on the page. Sin v. truth is challenging to sort through, but Love is clear, consistent, and wise beyond our doubts and fears. If you allow Love to guide your search, I believe you’ll find your answer.

    • Maria

      “LOVE”

      yep!

  • Joanne Elliott

    Thank-you as always John. My heart really goes out to this lovely, Spirit filled girl. Take heart – I am a straight believer but I do not condemn you in any way at all. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.j.kazmierczak Sarah Jane Kazmierczak via Facebook

    I can understand the justification question, it’s why I’ve asked about premarital sex over on UC. I just can’t understand why God would care about what two loving, committed, monagamous people do in private, especially if they are expressing love for each other.

  • http://mothercluckerseggs.blog.com/ Jenn Nashoba-Brown

    John,

    This was me 16 years ago… after a miserable 9 year marriage (because the pastor said it could “fix” me), and just as many years of church sponsored “orientation change” therapy, made me nothing but a suicidal, self loathing individual. I figured, if I was going to Hell anyway, I might as well make the journey shorter. I’m grateful today that I didn’t act on that thought, like so many people have. Instead, I stopped letting others tell me what they interpreted was the only truth and started questioning those opinions with an open mind and the God given curiosity I had.

    I stopped reading only the things I’d been spoon fed up to that point, and delved into language, culture, and context… learned a LOT about how the book that is today’s Bible came into being, voted on by groups with their own agendas… copied by hand by individuals with the same… More importantly, I looked at the historical and biblical figure of Christ–what he did say, just as importantly–as what he didn’t. Its a very long story, and a journey that continues even today. However, not as a frightened womyn afraid of the fires of Hell, but as one secure in her belief and knowing that God(dess) is Love. (Fifteen years ago I was given my help-mate, and I love her more with each day.)

    I wish I could scoop up this hurting and searching soul, and assure her that she is beautiful the way she was made… and NOBODY has the right to tell her the status of her love of her Higher Power. It is a message I needed so much when I was on her leg of our journey.

    Jenn in WA state

    • Maria

      “I wish I could scoop up this hurting and searching soul, and assure her that she is beautiful the way she was made”

      This!

    • Susa

      Amen to that!!

      And thank you so much, John, for your post!

  • http://oygbo.posterous.com/ Oygbo

    Thank you for your response to the girl, John! I can so understand what she’s been going through. I grew up in a Catholic country where homosexuality is still considered an abomination by the majority… I had gender identity issues from early childhood and always was attracted to women, and because of the ever present hatred of homosexuality as sin, I grew up hating all the feelings I was feeling; loving God deeply and begging Him to change me; to help me find a husband that would help me not feel what I felt…. Years went by and I did find me a man – I did not fall in love; I just loved his faith in God and thought that would be enough to have a successful heterosexual, accepted by the Church, marriage…. Things were not working between us – intimacy for me was like a duty and I felt like a prostitute; as I was giving him my body to use without having pleasure in it; just to make him happy.. I felt more and more lonely in the marriage as I had no emotional closeness or affection from him, not in the way I need… So, 7 years, and two children on I fell in love with a woman, and I told my husband about it; I came out to him. Naturally, what followed was extreme anger from him, which I understood – he comes from Africa where homosexuality is an even greater taboo. He was not worried that we need to get a divorce, but that the children would be brought up by a sicko mum…

    Now, a few months ago, when I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, a few of my Christian acquaintances suggested that the illness is God’s punishment for my homosexuality… My ex-husband initially was of the same opinion. Fortunately, God is merciful and can touch the hardest of hearts and my ex-husband seems to grow less and less hostile towards me and has even began supporting me in my battle with the cancer.

    The homophobia and hatred among Christians towards their homosexual brothers and sisters is much much worse and more painful than cancer; in fact it is somewhat like a cancer of spirit, eating away the love that is the very core of the faith we profess; the very heart of God we want to get to know, worship and spend eternity with…. What must happen for us to just love one another?!

    • Maria

      Oygbo,

      I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard journey. I want to wish you lots of love and for many blessings to come your way.

      • http://oygbo.posterous.com/ Oygbo

        thank you :-) my trust is in God and I know He can make away….

    • http://comingintothesoul.wordpress.com/ HJ

      Prayers and hugs and love to you and your family. I’m so glad you have found a nice woman. Thinking of you as you fight your illness. <3

      • http://oygbo.posterous.com/ Oygbo

        thanks – all prayer are very much welcome :)

  • Maria

    Jill,

    Taking your hug and returning it a hundred-fold. Thank you.

    Maria.

  • Maria

    John,

    Beautiful post. Just shows how much YOU and your ministry are still needed! Thank you.

  • Lymis

    Thanks, John. This is wonderful.

    I wish these people would understand how much they poison the possibility of a deep and loving relationship with God for so many gay people. They say that they only possible way to experience God is through a church they aren’t welcome in, and as a result, a lot of gay people turn away and never look back.

    Many of us find another path to God, because we can’t give up, and God doesn’t give up either, but many people are so poisoned by the hate that they can’t even conceive of asking the question any more.

    I wish people could just understand that being gay is not something we do. It is something we are, and our path to God has to include and embrace that huge part of who we are. We come to God AS gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, not in spite of it. And yes, in a lot of ways, our path takes different forms that the path of straight people. But we’re still beloved of God.

    These homophobic haters really need to hope that the Bible isn’t true, because if Jesus really does judge people based on how they treat their downtrodden neighbors, they have a LOT to answer for.

    • Jill

      Lymis, I work at remaining hopeful (sometimes I fall short) that people will get it, that they are getting it.

      I once didn’t get it, but I was led to open my eyes. In my case, I became all too willing to walk away from a jerk god who didn’t care about who you are, but how you front. The sexuality and gender conformity part also played a role—my experience with awesomely loving, individualized, self-actualized people didn’t relate to my experience with haughty, arrogant straight, cis-gendered God-fearing types.

      In my case, I was willing to sacrifice whatever I believed as my eternal rest to get here, past fear. Past the blindness. (That was a very ugly, angry conversation I had with God.) Still haven’t fully defined what I now believe about all that other stuff—but the humanity, the divine connectedness in our uniqueness, I know this like I know how to breathe. It’s a natural unfolding of knowing that everything you have said here is true.

      But, to be frank, I care less about others who are hard-hearted ‘getting it’ and more about the healing of those who, as you say, have been poisoned. Yet both of these things matter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heatherjeanne Heather Dube via Facebook

    Thank you Jill. Something to keep in mind. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/susawagner Susa Wagner via Facebook

    As I have already said on your blog: Thank you so much for posting this!

  • Carol B.

    I spent a lifetime buying into the “homosexuality is a sinful choice” thing….twice I tried heterosexual marriage, and although I’m eternally grateful for the two children I have, I realize now that those relationships were doomed from the start. To the “well-meaning” Christians I have known who will die believing that sexual orientation is a choice, know that I have spent 56 of 57 years believing the same thing….we are/were BOTH wrong…I am ecstatic to finally be “living in my own skin”, and free of the weight of secrecy and the resulting pain and depression. To the letter writer…keep looking for your own path, get to know the real Creator and his/her love for you, and give up any notion that you are obligated to come out to anyone if you don’t feel the need to….hugs to you….I will be sending love and light your way in the coming days…..

  • Steve

    Seeing what religious brainwashing does to people is truly terrifying

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

    Fantastic comments, you guys. Great to hear from each of you. (Lymis! You’re back! How are you?) All you guys are so … wise and helpful and kind and cheery and freakin’ smart. Anyway, just to let you know I read these, always, and appreciate them. Humping on the book just now, so … responding here instead of as I’d certainly prefer, which is individually. Best to you guys.

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

      (“Humping on” probably wasn’t the exact phrase I was after, but you know what I mean. I hope.)

      • Anne

        Maybe not but it was hilarious!

  • Anne

    It’s really amazing that this beautiful girl can have any love left in her heart. And my heart aches for her. I want to tell her, “You are exactly the beautiful, unique being I created you to be. You are already hearing and listening to Me. Please know that the meanness, cruelty, and naysaying doesn’t come from Me nor does it have anything to do with you. I am love and you embody that.”

  • Sonny Bellotte

    Thank you, John. I “happened upon” (really I was led to) your books and your blog by a subscription page created on Facebook by my pastor friend Mark Sandlin of The God Article. I am, as I wrote you earlier on FB, interested in reading Unfair. I also loved reading the letter from the lesbian girl, and your answer to her. I came of age in the 70′s – and in the Deep South – where, at that time, you kept these things to yourself and tried your best to be “the other way”, regardless of the fact that that always ends disastrously. It is so wonderful after the passage of 35 to 40 years, that we no longer have to accept what I was brainwashed to believe. It did a royal number on me. But, although I couldn’t explain it to any who disagreed with me, I came to the conclusion that God in fact DID create me this way and that He loves me this way and created me this way for a reason. I have not always lived “right”, even aside from the question of gays being Christian. There is more there that I think comes from the church’s traditional attitude towards gays and may take more decades to change. But for the last several years, at least, I have lived in the knowledge that God does not hate me for being gay. That in itself was a big hurdle to overcome. The other mistakes I made in living the life after “coming out” are washed by the blood of Jesus and covered by His grace. I thank God that His Amazing Grace becomes more Amazing to me year after year. Thank you for your love for us, and your ministry to try to reach as many of us as you can – and to hopefully try to get through to more straight Christians at the same time. God bless you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brlasonny913 Sonny Bellotte via Facebook

    I left a comment on the page where you have this letter and your response listed. I have been blessed to find you this morning. Thank you, and God bless you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brlasonny913 Sonny Bellotte via Facebook

    I left a comment on the page where you have this letter and your response listed. I have been blessed to find you this morning. Thank you, and God bless you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brlasonny913 Sonny Bellotte via Facebook

    I left a comment on the page where you have this letter and your response listed. I have been blessed to find you this morning. Thank you, and God bless you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brlasonny913 Sonny Bellotte via Facebook

    I left a comment on the page where you have this letter and your response listed. I have been blessed to find you this morning. Thank you, and God bless you.

  • Kelly

    When people say “it’s not natural,” they’re saying that THEIR natural is the ONLY natural. Because to a gay person, straight sex is “not natural.”

    So, who gets to assert that their “natural” wins? If all men are created equal, then I would say “no one.”

    • n.

      it’s like that thing that Einstein said about talent or intelligence…

      for a fish, it isn’t natural to climb a tree.

  • Matt

    Early in my relationship with my now-fiancee, I went to my church on a Wednesday (when the sanctuary was empty) and basically asked God if I was sinning or turning away from Them. And if I were making the wrong choice, I would stop. I feel that I got my answer that day, and from then on I could go in peace. How could any human words compare with the God?

    I didn’t have to ask Them about my decision to life my life as male. God reached down and gave me my name, I am sure of it. I could never change it, I could never choose anything else. It rings with the truth of it.

    If I could give one Bible verse to the Christian LGBT community, it would be Psalm 139:13-16:

    “13 For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

    15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

    16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.”

    Words can still hurt, but never forget, Letter Writer, that you are well, fine, and perfect the way you are.

    • n.

      if you later transition (i think you wrote on another post that you hadn’t yet), do you figure that you’re just basically following who God made you (inner you, like your soul/mind/etc.) to be, by fixing your body to match that… the same way a person with an injury or birth defect might get an operation to have a more functional body? have i understood this right, or is it not like that?

      • Matt

        Yes, I do believe that by transitioning, I will become on the outside what God made me on the inside. I’m not sure if I believe I have a birth defect. In the eyes of the medical community I have a condition to be treated, but I don’t experience myself that way.

        The process has already begun–although surgery and hormones are the most visible and discussed aspects of transition, it all really starts the moment you really admit to yourself who you are. It’s a fresh, calming and freeing feeling. After that, everything just naturally flows. You know what to do next, and you go do it.

  • Lymis

    To the letter writer:

    “Why would God create gays and lesbians? Or did He really create us to be this way? And If He did made us this way, is it just to prove that there is hope for change for people like us??

    I don’t get it. It does not make sense. It’s a torture, for me, as a Christian gay, to feel this way. Because I really don’t think that it was my choice to like girls. What can I do?”

    God made us this way because he loves us and sees us as his eternal creations, his beloved children, and wants us to participate in the wonder of his Creation. You’re beautiful just the way you are, and through the working of the Holy Spirit – which is very clear in everything you write – called to an ever deeper experience of God’s love, which you can then share with those around you.

    That’s your relationship to God. God most certainly does not hate you for being most fully who he created you to be, and the single most powerful guide to what that is in your life is where and how you experience love. God is love, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. If your love includes romantic love for other women, then that is one of the ways God speaks in your heart.

    The rest of it isn’t about your relationship with God, but your relationship with your neighbor. And yes, a lot of people, and sadly, most of them religious people, feel that they have a right to tell you what your relationship with God is supposed to be.

    A lot of things changed for me when I allowed myself to be in the place of turning the question around. Instead of listening to the voices of people telling me how flawed my relationship to God was, I came to realize how powerfully I could be a force for God’s presence in the world simply by being most genuinely myself without shame. I found that when I let go of my shame and judgment, other people found me a place where they could be free of judgment, too. So much of the hate directed at you is people projecting their own fear that if they are who they are, with all their flaws, they will be shameful and unlovable. You can prove to them you don’t become lovable by “doing it right,” you become lovable by loving.

    God made you to be who you are, and to be in relationship to him. At the same time, God can use you to do God’s work in the world. God didn’t make you “to be” a force for love and diversity, but you can choose to act as one in God’s name.

    And yes, it sucks, but it’s possible that by being most genuinely yourself and following Jesus where the Holy Spirit leads you, you may find yourself unwelcome in the community you want to have as your home. Some of us have found that God has plans for us in other communities where our voices were more desperately needed, and we had to leave communities where our voices were being silenced in order to serve.

    Some of the people who most deeply need to hear the voice of God in their lives are the least able to hear it when it is spoken in the language of “Church” – and that means some of us have to be able to speak for God using other languages. Sometimes your light is best displayed as one of many candles in a grand candelabra. But sometimes your light is most needed as one of the few candles in the darkness.

    This hostility, confusion, judgement, and, yes, pushing away of you may not be God working to force you to change. It may be God working to strengthen you for what comes ahead.

    I’m assuming from the tone of your letter to John that at some point (likely LOTS of points) in your life, you said to God to use you as God needed to use you to serve his people in the world. This may be God’s answer to that prayer. I know it was in my life.

    God is Love, and you are God’s Child. Hold onto that, and the rest will follow.

    • n.

      i read a buddhist idea once (i can’t remember which author) that the reason there are all different people is that the Universe experiences through us and so without our little drop in the bucket, something would be missing. so maybe everybody represents a facet of God’s experience of the Universe… or vice versa? it’s all a bit too infinite for me to process, but i thought it was interesting.

  • otter

    I thank this letter writer for her honesty and courage. Reading her quandry, I realized how lucky I am. When confronted with the choice to either believe in the crap I was reading about gay immorality, or believe in the goodness of my love and my being, I never for a monemt believied in the bullshit superstitions of sheep herders dead for 2000 years.

    Spirituality is not what you believe, it’s the quality of your consciusness. If you can’t be who you are where you are, find another path.

  • Terry

    It’s wonderful that there are truly compassionate, loving christians who have rejected the awful hate and bigotry that has contributed to the wounding (and killing) of LGBT people. For me though, it is way too little, way too late.

    I am 55 years old. Gay, male, married (legally now) to the love of my life. We have been together for 17 years. We have raised three daughters together (from previous marriages to women). Our daughters are wonderful women. Educated, strong, loving, compassionate women. None of us are aligned with any faith.

    I was raised an evangelical christian. With experiences much like the woman who began this thread, I barely made it out alive. Example of where I come from: My mother (lovely christian woman) not only did not attend my wedding three years ago (after my partner and I had been together for 14 years), but tried to ruin it from afar. My question/statement to the faith community is this: Why would I want to come within miles of a christian church ever again? I will always have post-traumatic stress from what the church did and tried (and is still trying) to do to me. I have a brother-in-law who preaches anti-gay sermons regularly. I can only imagine the damage he has done to the gay kids sitting in his congregation. For me, returning to any kind of christian church would be returning to an abusive relationship. I simply don’t understand why any LGBT person would continue to embrace christianity. It seems sick to me.

    If your christ is god, why does he let this continue? If he is all powerful, and compassionate, why do gay people kill themselves everyday because of christianity and christians? From my perspective, if there was a god, a christ, who is loving and compassionate and powerful!?, the torture of LGBT people by his followers would not be happening. I am alive because I rejected everything I was raised to believe. The moment I rejected those beliefs, I began to live. Live honestly, genuinely, hopefully, and happily! I didn’t realize I had the ability to be happy until I threw off the yoke of christianity.

    I know, there are those christians who are not bigots, are not judgemental. Please though, understand that some of us can’t embrace the religion that did us so much harm. Let us go on our way. We are healthier and happier away from christianity and we don’t want to be associated with it.

    • Matt

      I am a closeted transgender man, living in a (legally) lesbian relationship with a transgender woman. My partner and I pretty much statisfy every letter of LGBT. And I still believe in God. I still attend church.

      Am I angry at God sometimes? Yes, unspeakably so. As I try to go back to the church that raised me, it’s a difficult road. That church doesn’t even speak of LGBT issues. There is utter silence, as if the struggle doesn’t even happen. I can never decide if that’s better or worse than shouting from the pulpit. As far as I know, I am the only LGBT person in the congregation on Sundays.

      But all throughout my journey, I have never not felt God’s presence. Where I have gained peace is in realizing that it is God that I follow, not my church. People can say what they say, but at the end of the day I have only to answer to God. And I believe They are pleased with me and love me. God knows every tear I have shed, knows the searing anger in my heart, but They can’t take away others’ free will. That would not be loving. People do those hurtful things, not God. I don’t know why God made me transgender, but I think They wanted to teach me something, and I trust They have a plan for my life. That’s why I haven’t turned away.

      If you are healthier and happier away, that’s so wonderful. Go in peace, and be happy. I am so glad you have found a life you love.

    • Ken

      Terry, your theological and philosophical question about why God allows humans to be cruel to each other has been answered by many writers far more wise and eloquent than myself, from Aquinas to Augustine to Merton. But it all comes down to this: God created us with free will. We are free to do what we want. We can follow his advice and love and nurture each other, or we can blow each other to bits, emotionally or physically. He won’t force us to do anything one way or the other, because that is not the nature of his creation. Could he have created us all as automatons who do nothing but good all day long? Yes, he could have. But he did not. Why? God only knows. So everything that we do is by our own choice. We truly are created in God’s image, because we ourselves are creators. We create our own reality every day.

      God did give us the potential to be good all of the time; we are able to choose to do this. Our experience with our fellow humans, though, teaches that vast numbers of us utterly squander this potential to varying degrees, from those who are merely careless with the gift of God’s grace to those who are aggressively violent toward his creation.

      And yes, a lot of that violence is carried out in God’s church and in his name. That’s a tragic reality that clearly informs your experience of Christianity.

      But there are Christian communities, like my little Episcopal parish here in Rhode Island, where all are accepted and loved and supported equally. We fly a rainbow flag, we participate in Pride Day every year in Providence, and our new bishop is working vigorously to solemnify the blessing of same-sex unions in the church, even if the RI legislature still can’t seem to get its act together to pass a marriage equality law (RI is kind of the caboose of New England). We even do an annual drag show as a fund raiser for the parish.

      I’m not suggesting that you should run out and try to find a parish like mine. If the pain you associate with Christianity is too great to overcome, then it would be futile for you to try to build a healthy relationship with a faith community. God will love you the same whatever you decide to do, so long as you yourself are living in love. God dispenses abundant grace to all, regardless of church attendance.

      But do know that such communities exist. The LGBT members of our community come because they receive love and support and acceptance from all parishioners, and they find joy in a community of worhip, praising God, breaking bread in the eucharist, and striving to live the love taught to us by Jesus Christ.

  • sashasmom

    What I do know for a fact is God loves this woman exactly as she is and that Jesus was sent to us to teach us what unconditional love is all about. I our own judgements and fears that get in the way this simple and beautiful truth.


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