A fundamentalist closeted lesbian worried about her porn addiction


Got this in:

Dear John,

I am a lesbian in a very fundamentalist church. No one knows that I am gay in the congregation and I often join in the damnation whilst I save the tears for bed time. I can’t explain to them the truth and I can’t find a way out. I go to church and confess and repent and beg for forgiveness, yet I don’t get the forgiveness I crave, instead, I get a push on my heart telling me that everything will be okay but I can’t believe it.

I watch a lot of pornography as at first I thought it was a good outlet for my sexuality to begin with. I thought it was better than getting involved with another woman. I thought it would hurt less. But now I find myself watching porn a lot, reading it a lot, thinking about it a lot. I’m starting to watch it every day. I attend a church that teaches purity and bombards us with chastity, yet I am making a mockery of those teachings and internalizing my guilt whilst outwardly lying to the people who care about me.

I feel like my sexuality is being warped. I’m fantasizing about things that I didn’t even know existed before I watched my first porn film. It’s like I’m producing the bad fruit that Christ talked about, eating it and letting the sin swell in my gut.

I stumbled across your blog the other day and I saw the advice you’ve to others. So, I thought I would have a go at penning a letter to someone who has very different views to my pastor.

Heartbreaking. Let me do that thing where I run the letter again, this time with my comments/reactions to it inserted in bracketed blue.

I am a lesbian in a very fundamentalist church. [Yikes. Not good.] No one knows that I am gay in the congregation and I often join in the damnation whilst I save the tears for bed time. [How painful. I don't know why you're in it—and this isn't by any means advice I give lightly—but you need to leave your church ASAP. You belong in that church like a cat belongs at a dog show.]

I can’t explain to them the truth and I can’t find a way out. [If you mean "I can't find a way out of my church," I say go out the same way you came in, and never look back. (If you're a dependent young person in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church, or some other insane Christian cult where you almost literally can't get out of your church, and want help with that, write me at mrjohnshore@gmail.com .) If you mean "I can't find my way out of being a lesbian," you're right. You can't. And there's no reason why you should want to. Homosexuality is not a sin.]

I go to church and confess and repent and beg for forgiveness, yet I don’t get the forgiveness I crave, instead, I get a push on my heart telling me that everything will be okay but I can’t believe it.  [That push on your heart telling you everything will be okay is God responding to your prayer. That you're not feeling any forgiveness from God is God's way of telling you that you don't have anything that needs forgiving. Being gay is no more sinful than being blue-eyed or left-handed. (Tweet that.)]

I watch a lot of pornography as at first I thought it was a good outlet for my sexuality to begin with. I thought it was better than getting involved with another woman. [Ah. So you've been Wounded by Love. That's ... never fun. Sorry you had to go through that. Though, as the poet Tennyson wrote: better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.] I thought it would hurt less. [Yes: porno does hurt less than love. But it's also hard to go out to dinner with porno, and then come home with it afterwards and snuggle up with it on the couch to watch a movie. So, you know. Not really comparable.]

But now I find myself watching porn a lot, reading it a lot, thinking about it a lot. I’m starting to watch it every day. I attend a church that teaches purity and bombards us with chastity, yet I am making a mockery of those teachings and internalizing my guilt whilst outwardly lying to the people who care about me. [Everybody who pretends they don't routinely ... grind their gopher is lying like Donald Trump talking about his full head of hair. If by chaste and pure you mean mean never ... sleeping with Hands Solo, then no human being has ever been even slightly chaste or pure. Feeling guilty about ... killing Mr. Tingley is like feeling guilty for breathing. Don't. It's part of being alive.]

I feel like my sexuality is being warped. [Well, it may be a little. Porn is ... well, I recently wrote a piece called Pornography and Who We Really Are, which you might want to read.] I’m fantasizing about things that I didn’t even know existed before I watched my first porn film. It’s like I’m producing the bad fruit that Christ talked about, eating it and letting the sin swell in my gut. [That's too extreme. First, read my porn piece. Also, don't sweat your sexual fantasies. They're fantasies, not reality. Everybody sexually fantasizes about all kinds of stuff they don't really want to actually happen in real life. That's what sexual fantasies are: the freedom to be sexually insane. The human imagination is, or can be, one tweaked puppy. It runs around like a werewolf on steroids. So what? Let it. You can't stop it anyway. And there's no reason that you should. If whatever sexual fantasy you have (young people, close your eyes now) gets you off, then let it. No harm: no foul.

Now, all that said, if your sexual fantasies do involve bodily harm to yourself or another—if you've in any way sexualized true violence of the sort that breaks bones or results in blood—then that really is unhealthy, and you'll want to get help with that. If that's what's happening with you, write to me, and let's see if we can find you a good counselor to help you unbuckle your sexuality from dynamics it shouldbe hooked into. But outside of that, don't sweat your fantasies. They're private; they're allowed; they're fine.]

I stumbled across your blog the other day and I saw the advice you’ve to others. So, I thought I would have a go at penning a letter to someone who has very different views to my pastor. [Yeah, if your pastor is a Christian fundamentalist it's safe to say that he and I have radically different ideas about ... well, pretty much everything. His God is a petty, vindictive, egomaniacal maniac. Mine incarnated as human by way of doing everything he/she could to prove to us that he/she loves us absolutely, and that the best thing we can do is love ourselves and others as he/she did us.]

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. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Ted Garvin

    I second Mr. Shore. Change churches.

    The Episcopal church welcomes you!

    • Hth

      I grew up in the Disciples of Christ, who recently voted at their general assembly to affirm that gays are welcome in full membership and equality. If the Episcopalians feel a little too high-churchy vis a vis what you’re used to, the DoC might have a more down-home vibe to make you feel at home (the “vibe” can vary greatly between congregations, but lots of them are relatively close to their frontier roots *g*).

      I really do hope you find a church home that wants you, Letter Writer. It might take some looking, but I know there’s one out there for you. (Now, if only I could go back and visit my family’s church without everyone there bugging me about when my girlfriend and I are going to get married… *g*)

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    I find it so so sad when the church seeks to quell the absolutely beautiful diversity that is humanity, as if existing in God’s image means that there is little in the way of dimension or variety. Such a mindset denies all that is good in what we are as uniquely and beautifully made people.

    Please letter writer, think about how beautiful you are, as a creature adored by God, who is whispering to you that you are good, you are of exceeding value, to God and to the world around you. You are as you were meant to be, that there is a gorgeous life ahead for you, You’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve not harmed anyone by being the person you were created to be.

    I advise stepping away from religion for a bit. Just rest, a shabbat, if you will. Step away from the noise, the sermons, the admonitions, the rituals, and the feelings of inadequacy. Then when you are ready, consider it again, but on terms that insist of being as Jesus said…to come just as you are…God already knows that, and hasn’t found it lacking, neither should anyone else..

  • Happy2BGay

    Dear Letter Writer……my heart breaks for you. I was never in a fundamentalist church, but I was in an evangelical one that taught that any sex outside of marriage was wrong. Let alone porn and the Big M Word. I left that church and have never been happier. I found a better church. I too denied my orientation for too many years. Actually, for about 15 years that I tried to bury it in Bible studies, conferences, and anything else I could find that was “churchy” to keep my mind occupied. At some point, though, we have to realize who we are and allow ourselves to accept that person as being wonderfully and fearfully created by our loving God. It takes courage….a lot of courage. And it takes help. Maybe you have friends outside of your church whom you could talk to? PFLAG really helped me. (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). You can hopefully find a local chapter by Googling PFLAG. Go to a meeting…..I promise that everything will be kept in confidence. At some point, you will realize that the porn you are watching actually does serve a purpose. Contrary to everything you’ve been taught to believe, if it awakens your sexuality, then it is telling you who you really are….but you know that already. I too felt that feeling in my stomach as I tried to pray it all away. I kept hearing “I love you as you are….I created you to be who you are…..I accept you and it will be OK.” I finally asked God to show me that it was OK, and he did via books that popped up out of nowhere, news stories, etc. It takes courage to trust that voice, but you really won’t have peace until you do. Once you begin the life long work of confronting your own inner-homophobia, it becomes easier to come out to yourself and others. Often it was in the acceptance of others that I was able to accept myself. And once you embrace yourself, and start living your life openly and honestly, your “addiction” to porn will most likely go away. I believe it was in my life to confirm to me who I really am. Remember that perfect love casts out fear. Lean on God…..the one you hear within your own heart, and run as far away as possible from the corrupted version that your church is shoving down your throat. I pray that you find the peace, joy and love that you truly deserve.

  • Sugarbush43

    Letter Writer, please pay close attention to this part from John:

    “That push on your heart telling you everything will be okay is
    God responding to your prayer. That you’re not feeling any forgiveness
    from God is God’s way of telling you that you don’t have anything that
    needs forgiving. Being gay is no more sinful than being blue-eyed or left-handed.”

    That forgiveness you feel you’re not getting is not from God, but from you. It sounds like you think you should feel bad and that you need forgiveness and maybe you haven’t forgiven yourself. There’s nothing to forgive. He loves and accepts you. He made you just the way He intended.

    • JenellYB

      She says that she “joins in the damnation.” I think that is very connected to as you observe, Sugarbush43, she thinks she should feel bad, hasn’t forgiven herself… If she is joining in the damnation, then she is removing her own “way out” by passing the condemnation upon herself, validating the condemnation of others she is joining with. If one is actually condemning oneself, one sure can’t at the same time ‘forgive’ oneself.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        That is something that struck me as well. Maybe by her realizing that God sees no need to condemn her, then why should she, and then why should she accept the condemnation of her church? God’s opinion is more important, then hers and lastly, everyone else’s.

  • JenellYB

    Something that keeps snagging for me here, is the “join in the damnation.” With whom is she “joining” in the damnation? And, that no one there knows, but then, “I confess and repent…”? To whom is she “confessing” that therefore does know?Those things are more puzzling to me than even why this person would continue to go to such a church. Sounds like a terribly confusing situation.

    • anakinmcfly

      Confessing to God, I think.

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

    Hi LW. I have tons of LGBT friends. I know everyone says that, like “My best friend is African American! I can’t be a bigot!” In my case, it’s true. Barely no one I know hasn’t tried, experimented, switched teams, or otherwise transgressed sexually. Some of them found their true selves. Others didn’t. We don’t regret trying it.

    Porn is convenient but, as you’ve discovered, it’s a black hole. It’s no replacement for people (in your case, women) in all their beautiful complexity and contradiction. God wants love for you. Leave yourself open to it.

  • harrisco

    Dear Writer – Yes, please step quietly out of that church by the nearest exit. When you get to the parking lot, take a deep breath, get in your car, and put that place in your rearview mirror. Why? Because when you go to that church, you are getting a weekly fill-up of self-hatred–and, well, that takes you nowhere good. You deserve better than that. Next Sunday, break the pattern. Find a new church–not a building or a service, but a group of people that lets the real you come forth, in all her imperfect glory. Look in unexpected places–for people who offer more grace than piety, for people whose hearts break knowing what you have been through, for people who stir your laughter more than your shame. They are out there–these ‘bad-asses with a heart of gold’ as one song lyric pits it. They are your new church–and they want you just as you are.

  • Jules

    This reminds me so much of my story, sadly. I’ve struggled with my gender since I was around 10 years old. I remember playing with my mom’s makeup when no one was home, and lying in bed praying that I’d wake up as a girl the next morning. I had no understanding of why.

    As I grew up, I wondered what was wrong with me…however, surrounded by “Christian” media, with the radio, TV, magazines, books in our house (as well as the pastor on Sunday) railing against gay and trans people, calling them abominations, condemning them to hell, calling them out as the enemy…I knew that I could never voice these feelings.

    So I attempted to repress them. Of course, they didn’t go away (they never go away). They simply manifested as a fetish. A shameful, dirty thing that no one had to know about. So I acted on these desires through pornography, cross-dressing for erotic stimulation, etc… And while I hated this part of me, at least no one thought I was one of those dirty transsexuals who go around tricking good, honest straight men into “gay” sex.

    I came out to very few people over the years. One was an ex-girlfriend…who wasn’t overly religious, but was emotionally abusive, and called me a pervert when I told her I liked to crossdress, and used it as a weapon against me.

    It wasn’t until I confessed to my wife, (years into our marriage), and she accepted me with no judgment, only love, that I began to examine these desires honestly. I realized these feelings ran so much deeper than I’d allowed myself to believe. I got into therapy and began to explore and probe and ask questions. Now I am starting transition.

    I’m scared to death, and it’s going to cost me my marriage (there’s no animosity between us, she can’t change her orientation though)…but I’m no longer letting fear and condemnation rule my life. I’ve actually decided not to attend church anymore, but my faith in God is stronger than ever, because I know what I believe and why.

    • anakinmcfly

      I wish you all the best.

  • DonRappe

    Sometimes the KJV says it best:
    “12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

    13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

    14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

    15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

    16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet
    there was none of them.”

    (from psalm 139)

  • Lance Schmidt

    Dear Writer: I hardly know how to respond to you, but let me start by saying that I myself am a product of fundamentalism. I know your heart in a way that others here can never know – no matter how much they may empathize or try. They are of another realm, another thought, a false faith – suspect and to be dismissed in every way when measured against real faith and truth. They are blasphemers and heretics who “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” stand in contradiction of what you know and believe to be absolute truth. No matter how much they appeal to your logic and want of understanding they contradict the standard that has been presented to you as unchanging, eternal truth. In short, as sincere as they are, they are nothing more than meaningless platitudes that offer a temporary hope of assuage for the soul……..

    ….but yet in spite of everything you inherently “know” that is wrong about them, they have so much to show you about an unknowable God that is so much bigger and powerful than anything you were ever told and an understanding of a life in Christ that is far beyond your wildest imaginations……..if you will only let them.

    As unimaginable as it seems is that is not you who are broken – you are perfect, complete and whole as a human being. Rather, it is the environment you are in that is broken.

    I could write pages more, but I’m going to stop here. The path from fundamentalism to the light of the truth is not an easy one, but remember this: faith cannot operate in the presence of absolute truth – rather, it is realized in our uncertain and often faltering steps as we dare to take a step into the vast unknown while we choose to believe in spite of our unbelief.

  • spinning2heads

    You are not stuck in that church. I promise. It feels that way, it does. All your support system is there, probably including your family. But you yourself are not stuck, you can get out. And here’s how you do it: Next time you’re supposed to go to church, don’t. Go to a room in your house & pray, if that feels better than just skipping. Tell family, friends, whatever, that you are going to do some personal bible study, or tell them you are sick, tell them whatever it takes to get them off your back. And the time after that, skip church again. And again. One step at a time. Eventually, you’ll likely want to find another church. But for now, just skip. Feel the freedom from the weekly dose of hate, and feel your will strengthening as you continue to resist going back, even when you family/friends/pastor/whoever tries to tell you you have to. This is the same strength of will you’ll use when you eventually decide to come out. But that’s in the future. For now, just start with the first step: skip church.

  • BKB

    My heart goes out to you and your suffering. Hopefully, I can share a perspective that may be helpful. I’ll focus on the pornography part. While some may say that the porn viewing is not harmful, recent research shows many negative consequences of porn use. It impacts your ability to love another person deeply. It impacts your self-esteem, your ability to build and maintain relationships and many other aspects of your life (www.poweroverpornography/consequences has a longer list of consequences). You may want to consider trying out a 12-step program or cognitive behavior program to address the pornography viewing. You’ll be amazed at how much better your life is without porn.

    • spinning2heads

      That may be true (I’m personally skeptical), but the porn is clearly not the central issue for this lady. Her church is shaming her, she’s in the closet, she’s shaming herself, and all these things are much MUCH more pressing than whether or not she watches a little porn.

  • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

    With dour churchgoers completely missing the moral of Jesus’ story about the woman caught in a sexual dalliance, i.e., the concept of suspension of judgment, I’d say Doug Stanhope is way closer to what Jesus was teaching than fundamentalist churches.

    “I can’t believe I died for these stories; these stories are fascinating!”
    ~Jesus, as told by Doug Stanhope

    What do you think?

    Doug Stanhope? +1
    Fundamentalists? __

  • anakinmcfly

    “Now, all that said, if your sexual fantasies do involve bodily harm to yourself or another—if you’ve in any way sexualized true violence of the sort that breaks bones or results in blood—then that really is unhealthy, and you’ll want to get help with that.”

    Dammit, and those were one of the few ones I didn’t feel guilty about. Though I’m uncertain why the bloodletting physical violence is the differentiator; how is fantasizing about beating someone up worse than, say, fantasizing about rape and pedophilia, which arguably do far more lasting damage to their victims than someone who got bloodied in a fight?


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