I’m Christian, gay, and too angry to even read the Bible anymore.

Got this in. My answer follows it:

Dear John,

I love your blog. I’ve been out as a lesbian for several months now, and both before and after the coming out process, I have found your words comforting and challenging.

I’m having some trouble with my faith. I know that you must get so many requests for advice and people just pouring their issues out to you, and I hope that this is not draining for you. But I often find your answers make me think of things in a new way, so I’m going to add my own question.

I’ve been a Christian for most of my life and my faith has been an integral part of who I am since I was a teenager. It took me until the age of 29 to figure out and be honest about the fact that I am gay. I had internalized the belief that Christians couldn’t be gay, and since I was a Christian, clearly I was just confused. I thought that whatever other people had inside of them that allowed them to fall deeply, ridiculously in love was somehow left out of me. Until I did feel those feelings myself—for a woman. Once that happened, my denial fought hard and ugly, but its days were numbered. I couldn’t even honestly try to “pray away the gay.” The words would stick in my throat; I didn’t want it to go away. This was love. It was one of the purest, most beautiful things I’d ever felt. It felt like an insult to God to pretend that I thought it was anything other than a gift.

So now I’m out and I’m blessed with loving friends and family. I have found a wonderful, affirming church community. I really should not be complaining. But I’m still struggling with a lot of internalized homophobia, and with the fact that I feel that I can’t love God the way he deserves to be loved.

I don’t know if the homophobia and faith issues are related to each other, but I know that I can’t read my Bible. I try sometimes, but I feel my stomach tighten and my heart heart rate increase, and I feel like a trapped animal. I used to spend hours reading that book, and now I want nothing to do with it. It doesn’t feel safe for me. I wish that it did.

I had trouble praying for a while, but I’m doing that again. And I’ve been having dreams in which God, who is good and loving and gentle, beckons me to return to him. This God is so good. He deserves so much love. But I still have so much anger over the years spent denying who I was: over the books I read in an effort to love God which told me that the best of who I am is inherently broken and disordered, over the sermons and seminars I attended where speakers would talk about being “healed” and “delivered” from homosexuality—all of that, which I swallowed uncritically, even though that every instinct I had was screaming at me to run from this teaching.

I know that anger and love are not mutually exclusive things. But I don’t know how to separate out what is God and what is my religion. And even within my religion, I don’t know how to save what is good, and let go of the stuff that is harmful. I love Jesus, but some days I’d like nothing better than to turn my back on Christianity.

Any advice that you can give me on how let go of the bad and hold on to the good, and on how to love God like he deserves to be loved, would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

Dear woman who wrote me this:

Remarkable. This is just … unbelievable. You spend twenty-nine years immersed in a system that from the most impressionable years of your life onward was forever telling you that you’re essentially garbage—disgusting to God, an abomination to nature, an affront to dignity and honor—and now, despite all of that—despite the harm done to your psyche, the endless blows to your self-esteem, the ongoing negation of the very core of who you are—you are still moved toward, and compelled by, the love of God.

You still want God. You still want Jesus. You still believe in the divine love to which you have always been told you have no right.

Your heart just … kept its truth. It kept its vision. It continued listening to God. You continued to believe in the strength, power, and righteousness of God, when everyone around you speaking for God told you that God was ashamed of you.

The Holy Spirit within you was stronger than the hatred outside of you. That’s remarkable. What a testimony to people’s … innate and inviolate knowledge or God, basically.

Anyway, it sounds like you’re experiencing stuff quite new to you—that you’ve only been out for a few months. So, in coming out, you have claimed yourself in a way that you haven’t before. In a sense, and in the most positive way, coming out means objectifying yourself: it means presenting yourself to yourself, and by extension to the world, as a fully independent, fully integrated, fully whole person. It means bringing to the fore, for the first time ever, a fully realized you.

Yay!

But then of course it’s also only natural—and a sign of just how powerful coming out is—that you then question everything that has ever attempted to define you for you. You’re fully on deck now: finally, you are the captain of your own ship. And as splendid as that is, it’s also bound to be a bit unmooring. It’s not particularly easy to have your entire identity reshaped. You’ve experienced a revolution. And in revolutions all kinds of stuff happens. Things fall and crumble everywhere. In real revolutions, a lot of babies get thrown out with a lot of bathwater.

So I say: Wait. Feel your way into the truths of what you’re going through. There’s no rush. If you’re angry with God, be angry with God. I think it’s safe to say that s/he will understand. If you are angry with God, think how angry God must be with the people who made you feel that way. (If you’re ever around any of those people, be sure to always remain a few feet back from them. Why should you get your clothes singed when lightning strikes them?) If you don’t feel safe reading the Bible, put your Bible away. I imagine you’ve had enough of the Bible in your life to last you awhile. If you’ve found a church that nurtures and affirms you, go to that church. (And please give my love to anyone at that church who is treating you right.) If praying is bringing you peace, pray.

I’ll tell you one thing: if I were Jesus, I can’t imagine anything that would bring me more pleasure than to have someone say, “I love Jesus, but some days I’d like nothing better than to turn my back on Christianity.” Because I’d know that’s a person who actually gets me, who hears me, who knows what I’m about, who received the message I gave so much to send. That person I would know to be a true friend of mine.

You asked how you can let go of the bad and hold on to the good. I don’t think that’s a concern. Because I think that, as it always has, the good is holding onto you. And that means the bad, all on its own, will continue to fall away from you.

Bless you, girl. Write us every once in a while as you continue down your road, and let us know how you’re doing.

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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 co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. 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.

  • Dana

    Wow! If you could see me, you would see me fist-pumping the air big time. My heart is so with you. I’m the mom of a teenage boy who came out last year. He was expelled from his fundamentalist Christian school and we were basically “ex-communicated” from the church. As an “out” mom of a gay child, I have been struggling with same feelings you have and my son has turned his back completely on God. I was a daily Bible reader and I’ve also had a hard time reading it again. What I do instead is pray constantly; not long involved prayers, but little prayers while I’m driving, or doing laundry, or cooking, etc. Just little prayers to let God know that I want to do His Will and to please show me how to do that. Right now, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to “church”, but I’m ok with that. As long as I’m working on my relationship with Jesus, that’s the most important thing.

    You sound like such a strong woman. With all of the destructive words that have been said to you by “Christians”, they haven’t managed to turn you away from God. God knows that and proudly calls you to Him. Maybe you and I will both pick up our Bibles again one day, but in the meantime, let’s just concentrate on our prayers and living the greatest commandment: Love God; love your neighbor as yourself. I’m so happy you found love.

  • http://www.scottneric.com Eric Hays-Strom

    “The Holy Spirit within you was stronger than the hatred outside of you. That’s remarkable. What a testimony to people’s … innate and inviolate knowledge or God, basically.”

    You’re words are always very meaningful to me, John. But, I gotta tell you today… this one…. it made me cry.

    Good tears. Cleansing tears.

  • Matt

    Excellent advice, John. As per usual.

    Letter Writer, maybe you’re feeling like you’re the only LGBT Christian who feels this way. I can confidently say, nope!

    Coming out is intense! Basically every relationship in your life is affected and shaken up, even if the response is mostly positive. Lots of changes happen pretty much all at once. Lots of feelings surface. And the Bible, at least in my experience, is a book that can’t really encompass or help you out with all of this. There’s just too much that the Bible’s writers didn’t know about or understand back in the day. So when I was in the middle of my own process, I just cut out the middle man and went straight to Jesus and God. It seemed to work out pretty well.

    And to make the Bible even less helpful, it has of course been used to hurt the LGBT community for a long, long time. So it’s normal to be angry. I was for a while. The thought of even holding a Bible made me a little sick. It’s a natural (if sad) consequence of the spiritual damage that is inflicted on us. Whether you crack a Bible ever again or not is just fine. It won’t make you any less of a Christian, if that’s where you’d like to stay.

    There’s a deeply personal process happening inside of you, and it’s very tempting to want to place limits on it, or want it to go in a structured and linear fashion. Do your best to just relax and let things happen as they will. The rewards are immeasurable.

    So, welcome to the community! Glad to have you here.

    • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

      Well said Matt!

    • Jill

      This, exactly.

      This blog is life-changingly amazing.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    John, as I read her letter I tried to formulate a response–as a supportive straight person. However, your answer is so wise and well written that I am sure I could say nothing more helpful than you did.

    Thank you for being available to those who hurt.

  • Jill

    “…the good is holding onto you. And that means the bad, all on its own, will continue to fall away from you.”

    Nothing short of brilliant, John. Thanks always for your unflinching kindness.

  • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot.com JOHN

    I often see people throw around the word ‘Christian’ and yet in the same breath appear to live as something that is ‘traditionally’ opposed to the nature of God. With this article it would be homosexuality. Yet, what does it mean to be ‘Christian’ anymore? What does Christian mean to anyone? It is do unto others as you would have done unto you? Is it living ‘right’? Is it believing in God? Who is that God?

    What does being Christian encompass in a persons life that says they are Christian or are a Christian?

    • Allie

      For me it means believing that Jesus Christ is the savior, loving God, and trying with all my heart to do what he told me to do. Which includes standing up for the oppressed, which in this time and place means LGBT people whose rights are being threatened by fundamentalists calling themselves Christian.

    • DR

      What’s happening, John, is through education and maturity, we are seeing Jesus more clearly. The “traditional” parts of Christianity are always going to be tested as they have been tested through time and through that filter of education and maturity, some things considered sacred are realized as something decidedly other than that. This is one of those times. So was justifying whites and blacks not getting married. So was the Biblical justification of women not working outside of the home. Sacred cows are meant to be challenged. The ones that are of God stand the test of time.

    • gimpi1

      Not so many years ago, in the American south, Christianity ‘traditionally’ believed that the nature of God was opposed to integration. They had bible verses, pastors, study-groups and churches firmly assuring them they were right. They were wrong. Most people now know that.

      It’s more likely than not that, within not so many years, most people will decide the belief that gay people are “disordered’ and opposed to the nature of God is a mistaken belief. The bible verses, pastors, study-groups and churches who have made that belief a cornerstone will lose credibility. They will be considered wrong.

      As to your question of what makes a Christian, as an outsider to your faith, I haven’t a clue. However – the, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” idea can make you a good person. That’s worthwhile, I think.

  • Jon B. Penrod

    I hate the Bible , sorry !, but not !

  • Ted Warkentin

    Her story resonates with me more than most. I came out at 25. That was 20 years ago and I still can’t read the bible. I love God, though.

  • LindsayC

    Hi John, (or anyone else that can answer this for me)

    I’m just really confused by this one sentence you said and I’ve been trying to unpack it myself, but I just can’t get it.:

    “Because I’d know that’s a person who actually gets me, who hears me, who knows what I’m about, who received the message I gave so much to send. That person I would know to be a true friend of mine.”

    I just can’t wrap my head around why Jesus would like someone that wanted to turn their back on Him? Or am I going about this the wrong way and missing a key part?

    -Lindsay

    • Eric Hays-Strom

      It’s not Jesus the person is turning their back on… It’s the Christian religion. And there is a difference.

      • Matt

        I don’t think you’re going about it wrong at all! You’re asking more questions. Keep ‘em coming, as far as I’m concerned.

        You’re pretty clear on the fact that Jesus loves you, I hope? And wants the best for you? So think it through–if Jesus saw that leaving Christianity (or turning your back on Him, as you put it) would give you more peace, freedom, and joy, then what’s not to like? Full and compassionate love always considers what’s best for the other person. That’s true for ordinary human relationships, with all of their messiness. Think about how much more magnified it is for the sacred relationship between you and God.

        • LindsayC

          I like your way of thinking too Matt. You seem pretty cool :)

          • Jill

            Oh he SO is, LindsayC. Stick around. :)

      • LindsayC

        Oooh! I see. Too early in the morning for proper reading comprehension it seems :) Missed the differentiation between Jesus and Christianity.

    • Owengirl

      She is not turning her back on Him but on Christianity. Kind of like the Gandhi quote about liking Christ but not Christians. This writer was told she was wrong to be gay and could not be a gay Christian. Many Christians do not act from a place of love and grace.

      • LindsayC

        Oooh! That makes sense. That’s where my flaw in understanding is. So she loves Jesus still, but Christianity as it is practiced right now is leaving a foul taste in her mouth. And Jesus probably is feeling the same way.

        Cool Thanks!

        • Owengirl

          :)

        • Allie

          Just wanted to add that even though your original question was based on a misunderstanding about what she was turning her back on, Jesus still doesn’t turn his back on people who turn their backs on him. He’s Jesus. He’s better than ordinary people who only love the people who love them. Jesus specifically pointed out that even sinners love the people who love them. Christians are called to love even the people who HATE them.

        • Donni Steen

          I would also like to add, Christianity and religion, are not biblical. Those are man made things. I’m a follower of Christ, but I don’t like to associate myself with a lot of so called christians.

  • Sharon

    Powerful stuff here!!! I am so very impressed with this writer’s innate ability to work through all the ‘wrong’ and come to a place filled with ‘right’ … since that seems to be how the human mind works. Right and wrong. Who decides which side of the fence you belong on?? It has always been society … but, I am thrilled to see that changing to a large degree. People are starting to accept THEMSELVES for who they are, rather than letting a group of strangers define them out of hand!!

    During the painful struggle to ‘rationalize’ your feelings, and the confusing messages given to you by fellow Christians and a Bible filled with translations and symbolism from a time long gone … you held on to the primary message of God!! YOU are why Jesus died on that cross. LOVE!!! He never left you, He doesn’t want you to be confused and in pain. He isn’t judging WHO you love …. He is just thrilled you love. That you are capable of loving and receiving the eternal gift of love. In the humble opinion of this reader … let go of the negative, the painful, the confusing and just dwell in the emotions you have discovered. There is nothing wrong or missing in you … there is nothing you need to seek forgiveness for … just LOVE. Feel the power, the comfort and the closeness to Him that comes to you when you simply allow yourself to love without guilt or question. God is love. It is THAT simple. Release the past and rejoice in the future that awaits you.

    As a straight woman and a Christian … I applaud your courage, your strength and your ability to overcome. Now, my dear … it is time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor!! Be happy.

  • Bill Hooson

    John, both the letter and your response are beautiful.

  • Brian Meadows

    As A Christian, the right-wing Pharisees positively ENRAGE me as slanderers of God and desecrators of His house!!

  • Valerie Barlow Horton

    I love that she has a supportive family and church AND was able to keep her faith even though she says she can’t read the Bible. So many in her position turn their back on the church and God and become angry and resentful. Keep the faith, sister, God is willing to wait as long as it takes.

  • Jo

    I know exactly where you are coming from. At 19, I came out to almost everyone. I was still loved however once my sister had a “spiritual” awakening, she then “lovingly” thumped me with the bible for 6 years. Once my mother found out I was a lesbian, she never confronted me but laid out bible verses and had a perpetual frown on her face for 2 years. The guilt was too much and without going into detail, I renewed my faith in God and denounced my homosexuality.

    I had been raised in the church and loved God with all my heart and soul but was being told over and over again that I couldn’t be gay and be a Christian and go to heaven. Fear can make you do some crazy things.

    In the long run, I married and had two children. Ii wasn’t a terrible marriage but there was no passion on my part from the beginning and I felt guilt over that and prayed and prayed that I could find that desire and passion for my husband because I knew it existed because I’d felt it before for women.

    It never came and I had continued as I always had. Masking my true self, playing the part of a good Christian wife, Sunday school teacher, youth leader, women’s bible study, etc, etc.

    I’m a very happy person and worked so hard to make my marriage work in spite of my sexuality. 16 years go by and finally the fateful day when my husband confronts the elephant in the room. This had not been a secret between us because he knew me when I was out but we hadn’t spoken of it in 15 years. He ask me why I didn’t desire him and I told him the truth. It was me, not him but I loved Him and didn’t want a divorce. Apparently he had other plans and left within a week. I was devastated. One teenager and one 11 year old to raise.

    I began to pray and seek God and in know time I was freed of the religious bondage I had subjected myself too. I prayed for a partner that loved God, had a sense of humor and loved kids.

    I met her within 8 months of my separation. We had been friends before, and only friends but sparks flew and we have been together ever since..(9years).

    Things have changed a lot since 1977. My siblings are all affirming, love my partner and my children also are affirming and couldn’t be happier for us. My folks don’t know but it’s a don’t ask don’t tell situation. That’s ok… I know they love me but some of their fears have yet to be resolved.

    The biggest and greatest thing I learned is that God loves us no matter our sexual orientation, he sent his son to reconcile all mankind and he has never condemned me. I’m not a church goer anymore and my partner is the biggest Jesus freak you’ve ever seen! Life is so good at 56 and I have no regrets, two great kids came out that marriage and a new life that only God can give.

  • Barbara Heller

    Faith, Bible, and Religion: Three sides of the same coin? Excellent answer to a beautifully written letter. As always, thank you so much!

  • JoAnn Forsberg

    Amen.

  • Lymis

    Wonderful, John. Beautifully said.

    To the Letter Writer:

    I’m not surprised you can’t read the Bible right now. That’s been the mechanism in your life for the system of beliefs that have been getting in the way of your relationships – as who you really are – with God. Not that all that came before was wrong or invalid, far from it, but you had some walls up, and that was the only way you and God could speak to each other until now.

    But those walls are down now. You know how convicts have to talk to their visitors by phone on each side of a glass wall without ever touching? That’s an important way of having that contact when the wall is in the way. But when that wall isn’t in the way, people don’t sit next to each other and talk by phone. They talk directly. And they can touch each other, hug, laugh, cry, have arguments, go for walks, and all the other wonderful things that make up relationships.

    Your wall is down. For a time, you don’t need that phone. I’m not surprised that the Holy Spirit is inviting you to put the book down and look at the world, at yourself, and at God in new ways.

    I suspect two things. One, that someday, you’ll be able to pick up the Bible with great joy and with new eyes. And two, that you’ll find that all the time you’ve spent with the Bible so far will allow you to integrate it into your life, remembering important passages, and developing new understandings and interrelationships between parts of it that you couldn’t currently do by trying to use it the way you were taught.

    God is not the Bible. The first Christians – the ones Jesus called by name, didn’t have the Bible as we know it – certainly not the New Testament. Jesus told the apostles to lay down their nets and follow him. He may be telling you, through your very inability to read the Bible just now, to lay down your book and follow him.

    When Jesus was asked how best to follow God, he told people that the answer lies in other people, not in a book. He told us to love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. You now have a whole vast new world of new ways of loving yourself, an consequently, new ways of loving your neighbor.

    You’ve been taught that without the Bible, you can’t know God. You’re being invited to see it the other way, that without knowing God, you can’t know the Bible, and you’re being invited to get to know God better and more honestly than ever before. That may or may not involve the Bible. It may or may not involve going to church. It may or may not involve formal church affiliation. But it most definitely will involve God.

  • Sara

    Thank you. So much. Both to John, and to all the commenters.

  • John Payzant

    Woman who wrote this:

    Hand all feelings over to God and visualize putting on the Full Armour of God are good articles by Dr Charles Stanley

    Rom 12: 2

    Putting on the mind of Christ

    • http:allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Read those articles years ago, found them too non-specific for real world scenarios, and too much like “follow this list and all will be right in your world.”

      Like that is most of our realities. (of course its not!!)

      Instead, letter writer, just take your time, allow everything to gel in your head and in your heart, give yourself permission do whatever it is you need, embrace your life, this one, right now. Its a gift. The rest will come in time.

  • Steve C

    Wow. I don’t know which touched me more deeply, the letter or John’s answer. Thanks to both of you for a beautiful declaration of love and truth. I’ve journeyed through a similar situation, so I’ll say to the reader: “It’s okay to stay away from the Bible for a while; you have some things that need to heal, and your prayers and your faith community can be your nourishment. You may come back to the Bible at some point in the future with a wonderful new perspective.” To John I say, “Thanks so much for all you do for me and all my LGBTQ family everywhere. This response was especially meaningful and helpful.”

  • Erica Cook

    I’m not a Christian, I’m actually Wiccan, but it pains me to see when people feel that their faith is one that they can’t follow and be gay. To me that’s the same as saying their religion is one of hate. I have trouble believing that a religion of hate could endure as long as Christianity has. I’m not going to talk about “the right religion” because I don’t think that’s the point. What I’d like to say is, if she feels at some point she can look over her bible again a good story to read is Sodom and Gomorrah. That might sound strange considering the reputation that story has, but it’s seriously misunderstood. We read things into it because of our perception. Yes, there is an attempted gay rape, but that wasn’t to condemned gays, but any forced sex on a guest was unthinkable.

    And that is what the story is about. I bring this up because that is the teaching churches have missed. Read the story and think of the lengths taken to try and at least be good to the visiting men. Grace and respect are the lessons meant to be learned. I’m sorry your church never saw that.

  • Anakin McFly

    I love the letter and the reply.

    I’m glad I read this; I relate to a lot of it, and it has been a point of struggle – fearing that my continued traumatic reaction to the Bible and wanting desperately to avoid church meant I was losing my faith or something, even though I still think Jesus is awesome and my faith in God only grew stronger after coming out and finding myself. My mother has been greatly supportive of me, for which I’m thankful, but she doesn’t seem to understand at all the pain that I’m trying to get away from, and that her constant encouragement to read the Bible more regularly and attend church is actually only pushing me further away from God. I’ve never dared to tell her how I really feel because I’m afraid she’s going to jump to conclusions that there’s some demonic force at work or something that’s making me scared of the Bible, because what genuine Christian would be scared of the Bible or church. and I just really don’t want to have that conversation, because I’m afraid I might start to believe it myself.

    But I was at an LGBT affirming church for a while, and during that time I dove completely into everything church related. I loved the place. It made me feel safe, which no other Christian space had done in ages. I felt loved by God and the people there. I wanted to love my neighbours and enemies and help them in any way I could. I wasn’t scared and angry and hateful and guilty and on edge all the time, to the extent that I wondered if I was following a self-serving delusion because church from my experience wasn’t supposed to make me feel this good. I volunteered for all kinds of church activities. I went for Bible study every week, and it never felt like enough. I slowly got the courage to read the Bible again when among those people, knowing that they would keep me safe.

    and then I got home, and back to my family’s church; and all those fears crept in again after the first few subtle jabs from the pulpit talking cryptically about family values and a world that’s increasingly accepting evil as the norm, seeing the Creationist stuff advertised in the bulletin, hearing people talk almost-gleefully of sinners burning in hell, and all that usual stuff. It’s not a bad church, honestly, compared to many others; they’re of the opinion that LGBT people should be accepted and loved because we didn’t choose to be this way, but that we should ideally also stay celibate. 95% of the time there’s nothing bad being preached – heck, I know at least one lesbian who sometimes preaches there at a non-English service, and others I know to be straight allies who disagree with official church stance – but the 5% is enough to make me constantly on the lookout for attack. I’m grateful to have since found another LGBT affirming church here which has been similarly great and healing, but it’s a bit far from home and it means going somewhere different from my family (who have friends and commitments at the current church), so I don’t get to go there every Sunday.

    urgh i have to go and can’t end this off as well as I’d like. again, thanks you, letter writer, for sharing your thoughts. Take care of yourself, take time away from the Bible if you need to, and I hope everything works out great for you.

    • Jill

      Anakin, I hope that you find a place back at home that will allow you to feel *at home* every day of your life. Maybe it’ll be you that will help others where you live to feel at home and slowly build your own community.

    • Matt

      This may sound odd, but thanks so much for sharing, anakin. It’s very gratifying to know how many tentative but worthwhile steps we’re taking. I’m glad that you seem to be finding your feet.

  • Allie

    Letter writer, I think John’s advice to give yourself time is excellent. But if and when you do feel like opening your Bible again, your letter reminded me of the sermon on the Mount. The part where Christ is cussing out the Pharisees. He really tears into them. You can tell Jesus was a man who was angry, as angry as it’s possible to be. And he was angry because of exactly the sort of thing that was done to you – people claiming to be righteous, claiming to be the voice of the church, telling others that they were sinners, laying burdens on them that God never laid on them. Jesus saved his strongest language for those people.

  • http://fidesquaerens.org/ Marta L.

    God bless you, Ms. Letter Writer, and thank you for your faith: in yourself, in who you are, in God, and even in the institution many people engage their fellows and God through. Your desire to keep meeting with God and the rest of us is inspiring. Keep on keeping on!

    Also, I wonder if you wouldn’t find Rob Bell’s Love Wins helpful as you try to figure out how to approach God after being hurt by institutional Christianity? That book’s not about sexuality, obviously, and Rob Bell isn’t perfect on this issue. But in that book he talks a good deal about people who literally cannot “see” God because they’ve been blinded by the church. He talks about how God still loves them and wants to draw them near to Him, and how such people aren’t to blame for the fact that their experiences have created a kind of impasse for them. He’s talking about people who flat-out reject belief in God, which I don’t think is you, but some of the same concerns seem to apply. Might be an interesting approach to think through.

  • https://www.facebook.com/jimmieleecappella Jimmie Lee

    Dear woman who wrote John the letter:

    I am glad to hear that you have moved forward and are able to be yourself and love another human being, who happens to be the same gender as yourself. What you are going through now sounds like an inability to comprehend God for yourself.

    For the longest time, someone else has been telling you who God is, what God accepts, what God hates, etc. Even further, you have, seemingly been believing what you have been told. Many people who are gay have grown up being told all of the negative things about homosexuals and how God feels about them while, at the same time, realizing they themselves are homosexual. What you have to do now is repent or change your way of thinking. What you (and gay persons in general) have been told regarding how God feels about them is incorrect information. I do realize that this is just my humble opinion, but, of course, I believe it is true and I am faithful regarding it.

    It can be difficult to change how you feel about yourself when there are things in the bible that, seemingly, support all of the negative views some outside voices have said to you and they use the bible texts to support what they say. I pray that you can find a way to change your way of thinking. It can be done!

    I have some books by one author that I would like to suggest for you. They have helped me tremendously. You can find them online:

    1. Paul On Homosexuality by Michael Wood

    2. Pauline Parodoxes Decoded by Michael Wood

    3. Breaking The Romans Code by Michael Wood

    4. The Jesus Secret by Michael Wood

    5. The Jerome Conspiracy by Michael Wood

    6. The Hidden Bible by Michael Wood

    The first four books, I believe, would benefit you immensely. The last two books are more like novels, but they incorporate the recent Dead Sea Scroll and Koine papyri findings that reveal what is believed to be what the bible actually taught, in its original form. One of those teachings being that being gay or lesbian or trangender is not a violation of the requirement for entrance into heaven. I believe you will be blown away by what you read and you will experience a change inside of you that will manifest itself withing your faith.

    I say all of this to you as a gay man who grew up realizing he was gay, having heard many negative things said to me and indirectly to me about how God feels about someone like, as well as where I will end up. Some who say these negative thing mean well. They are only saying what someone said to them. They may even be simply saying what they believe after having come to their own conclusions. But, you have a mind of your own and, I think, inside, you know God loves and accepts you. You just may not be able to, at the moment, reconcile what you know inside with the voices you’ve heard (and may still hear) on the outside of you. To do that, you must pray and believe in a different way. The books I suggested to you will be a blessing to you. Again, I speak from my experience after having read them. And, the most interesting thing is that before I even became aware of the books, I knew inside that some of what I had been told growing up was incorrect, but I didn’t know in what way the information was incorrect. Now, I know.

    If you choose not to read the books, I pray that you find some peace and answers to your questions and internal conflict and homophobia. You are loved by God and those who show that love to you in your life. Remember that and go forward, seeking.

  • ian

    Woman who wrote the letter. I somewhat disagree with the sentiment expressed in the response to you.

    I personally have a tiny notion of your feelings being that I have, at times in my life, sufffered from OCD. Over the last few years the OCD got so bad that it completely altered my feeling with god at times. I would project God, and assume how he feels about a situation or my OCD would tell me to pray and I would end up “praying” yet with no faith and a sorrowful heart. I had this stern man in my head instead of the loving unexplainable spirit i felt, instead of envisioned ,when i first became saved. I would feel that “dread” feeling in regards to reading the bible or going to church.

    There is a verse in the Bible that was very important to me in all this and it said: God’s word is not a burden. If you feel any burden in regards to God’s word, it is not him, it is the world poisoning the word. Like the seed sewn in thorns. Disregard the world. Know that God loves you. Dont ever force yourself to read the bible, dont force your self to go to church, dont force your self to pray. You force yourself to do burdens, not love god. Do these things when you are inspired. Ignore the things in your mind telling you anything other than god loves you and you make him happy if you keep his word. Gay or straight, sin is what hurts our soul, not the feelings you are born with (unless someone born a sociopath, in which case you need god’s healing).

    I would say release all of the guilt and anger or whatever you feel. Do not project god. He wants us to be happy when he is not putting us through a trial and there is a reason you are the way you are. Stop thinking about God and start feeling God. But never force it. Faith is not forced.

    I was walking my dogs today and I realized, the idea of Church was totally good for me this sunday, not a burden. I have been letting all my projections of God slip away as easy as they arrived and I see a difference. I pray the same will be for you.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      Hi ian. Thank you. Me, I’m probably OCPD. The difference is, as you probably know, that perfectionism and mental and interpersonal control seem to me rational and desirable. Other symptoms are a preoccupation with details, excessive devotion to work, overconscientiousness, religious obsessions, hypersexuality, and stubbornness.

      That’s how God made me and a bunch of other people. Think Joan of Arc, Augustine, or Mary Magdalene. I don’t think I need to be fixed. I have a hard time praying. I have a hard time turning off my monkey mind. I go to church when I feel the Spirit. It’s a gift every time. When I don’t go is a gift, too.

  • Steve

    It strikes me that there is a lot of room between saying, “You are a person who is persistently tempted into a use of your sexuality that you ought not engage in.” And saying, “You’re an abomination!”

    The truth is that everyone is persistently tempted into using sex in a way they ought not. Heck, there’s tons of things besides sex that people are persistently drawn into. Everyone’s got their own challenges, but that doesn’t mean everyone is an abomination. The true message you ought to give this woman is that her temptation doesn’t make her any more broken than anyone else.

    Further, YOU reduce her human value by saying that the “core of who you are” is what you want to do with your pelvis. Call me crazy, but a human being is more than that. The core of our identity is that we are children of God, made in the image and likeness of the Father.

    • Mary Tilley

      Well, we are ALL abominations…hence the reason why Christ had to come and die for our sins…

      • Andy

        Saying that we are all abominations sound really misanthropic. I prefer to think positively; I acknowledge that humans are flawed (deeply in some cases) but overall humanity is a good thing. I personally don’t like it when people harp on things like “God hates sin and we are all sinners and yadda yadda yadda sin sin sin” instead of things like “God loves us and wants us to love each other.” But that’s just my opinion.

        • Mary Tilley

          I would NEVER say that about ANYONE simply because I’m hardly the symbol of perfection and I have no right as does anyone else, to point the finger at anyone. I love all people… :-) Most people are pretty loveable… :-)

          • Mary Tilley

            In response to what I said…I meant “abominations” as “flawed” …which we all are. It wasn’t meant as an attack on you or anyone else, for to do that, I would be attacking myself. You’re right, that word was used inappropriately. My apologies Andy…

          • Andy

            I realize what you mean now. I might have been a little hasty replying because, well, the word “abomination” is almost always a red flag and I usually react thusly. I hope I didn’t sound like I was being too hard on you; that wasn’t my intent.

      • Steve

        I agree with Andy, insofar as we never stop being made in the image and likeness of God – even when we are in sin. Likewise, we must also affirm the terribleness of sin. These two truths must be held in tension – as they are both manifested on the cross. The same God who says, “Your sins are this bad” also says, “I love you this much.”

  • Johan

    I am stunned to see how many Christians there are still today who simply do not understand the preliminary of basic exegesis: to understand that the Bible is fully Gods Woprd and fully human word. That means that in analyzoing we have to consider cultural and linguistic factors in order to udnerstand the text. Too many GLBT have been bashed by texts without even understanding them in their cultural and linguistic context. May the Lord comfort you and help you finding people who trul;y follow the Lord and give you the love for the Word back which was cruelly taken from you. And I know it by experience. An otherwise very wise pastor and truly a man of God, loving and integer, could not handle gay persons. I am convinced that he has the heart in the right place, And yet this amiable man could miss the point completely and therefore cause harm to those he was truly concerned about. I truly pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us to full freedom in Christ. And that is a lot more important than sexual orientation. I found with many gay friends that the Lord provided a fitting partner and seeing that happiness I am convinced that love is more important than a lot of things taught us in church. In learning to read Scripture that way I learned to love Scripture, no longer afraid for condemnation for being the person I am. In friendship, Johan.

  • Mary Tilley

    This is the way I look at it. God IS Love…and we are ALL in need of a PERSONAL relationship with him. That said, if you’re gay or lesbian and you’re struggling…the ONLY person who knows how much, is our Heavenly Father who created you. It’s not about what I believe or what someone else believes regarding these things, it’s that I have no right to tell you or anyone else for that matter, what you choose to do with your life. That’s between YOU, GOD, and the Fencepost. Not, me, You, and everyone else. I think people are fearful of what they do not know. I’ve heard people say all kinds of things in my 40 years of living. One thing I hear a LOT, is that all of this gay/lesbian business is all “new age” boloney. Well, I don’t know. Is it? I mean, perhaps people are more accepting today as they were in the 40′s 50′s and 60′s. I do know ONE thing. God has never changed because he is the same today as he was when he created all of us. I certainly am confused about why it is people are gay or lesbian; however, I’m not them. Perhaps they are just as confused as to why it is I’m not or why it is I choose not to go to church but instead read my bible from home. I don’t know. I know that God loves me just as much as he loves anyone else and I have my demons. We all struggle with sin and desires and whatever else out there. But, God already knows all of that. He isn’t a God of confusion and while he may make it abundantly clear we are to steer away from anything immoral, he knows the hearts of men and women and he knows they struggle. Look at Paul…He was always quoted as saying, “I do the very thing I want to do but I don’t want to do…” Clearly, this was a very conflicted apostle! The bottom line, all the apostles of Christ were motley crues…we are no different. If you are gay/lesbian, bi-curious or whatever, that’s between you and the very Father who made you and gave you a free choice. In the end, we all have to answer to what we’ve done with our lives, how we treated each other, what was the state of our hearts…but that isn’t going to get us into heaven. What gets us there is a personal relationship with him (one that he doesn’t expect will be perfect) and the accepting that he died for ALL of our sins, past, present, and future. Our struggles are not our own…we are all brothers and sisters…and as such, need to support one another, give our shoulders to those who need one, and pray for those who struggle with whatever issues they are going through in their lives. That’s what we are called to do. It doesn’t mean giving up your moral compass or your beliefs when you extend a hand to another whose beliefs are different than yours…it simply means acting like Christ is in you. :-)

  • shaun

    To the woman who wrote the letter – Friend, be not decieved by the inclinations of your heart. The Bible is God’s word and is the final authority. Not the man who responded to you. He is lying to you. Because the love of Christ compels me I declare to you to flee your lesbianism and cry out to Christ for mercy! Repent and trust on Christ. The bible teaches that our hearts are desperately wicked and decietful above all else. We cannot trust our feelings or emotions, the only sure anchor of truth is the Word of God. Friend, you know this, certainly you have heard this. The truth of Jesus makes you free from the bondage of sin. I pray you would look to God and believe his word. In his wrath he gives people over to such sins. O I plead that you would turn back to him. Don’t let the spirit of this world decieve you, one’s sin is not to be coddled but exposed for what it is and removed. Repent and believe the gospel. Homosexuality is sin and thats a fact. Nature itself testifies to this. Gods wrath abides (like a cieling) over anyone who practices sin. His angry indignation rests on this world. Only in the refuge of Jesus do we have forgiveness and grace. But we must worship him in spirit and in truth. Please do not believe the lies these people are telling you. My prayer is that God would open your eyes to the truth of his word and that the lies of the spirit would be far from you as you would submit to the Sovereign Lord. Blessings.