“It was terrifying for a young girl just beginning to realize that she was a lesbian.”

Woman looking at doorway in large book

Okay, I’m still not blogging this month. But I got in (another) marvelous, self-contained email  that I wanted to take a quick moment to publish (with the author’s permission of course), because we’re amidst the season of hope and gratitude, and it practically showed up in my inbox gift-wrapped with a bow. And since this is also the time for sharing great things:

Dear John,

I just wanted to say thank you. I’ve had a really tough few years, and your blog has helped me find some peace.

When I was younger, my family attended an Evangelical church in Nebraska where I learned (among other things) that being gay was just about the worst thing that a person could be. That message was reinforced by the surrounding community: LGBT kids were bullied at school, the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) faculty supervisor at my high school was forced to resign after hostility from parents and coworkers, and even my own father refused to let me associate with gay kids outside of school.

A good friend of mine was beaten by his grandparents and kicked out of the house when they discovered a love letter from his boyfriend.

It was terrifying for a young girl just beginning to realize that she was a lesbian.

I fought against who I was for years, praying every night that God would change me to be what I was supposed to be. I spent most of my teen and young adult years depressed and suicidal. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. The faith that had previously been a comfort started to feel like torture.

By the end of college, my perspective had changed drastically. I started to question what my church had taught me, and no longer believed that homosexuality was the evil I had always been told. But it’s not easy to unlearn years of self-hate, and it took 5 more years for me to finally love myself and embrace my identity. My parents – who have always been more progressive than the church they attend – had a change of heart over the years as well, and easily accepted me for who I am. And while all of that was certainly a huge relief, it didn’t bring me the peace I was expecting.

A lot of that hurt from my youth was replaced with anger. I felt betrayed by God and resented the church for misleading me for so long. Even while the community around me has made strides towards tolerance, it’s been hard to dredge up any forgiveness. “Love the sinner, hate the sin”* might be a step up from outright hostility and hate, but it still sets up a clear “us v. them” divide between the church and the LGBT community. I felt like I had to choose between my faith and living an authentic, full life, and that broke my heart.

I found the Unfundamentalist Christians Facebook page a couple of years ago, and through the resources provided there and on your blog, I started to realize that I wasn’t facing an all-or-nothing decision. I was still cautious, and full of doubt, but seeing the compassion of you and your readers gave me hope that I might find a place to belong in the faith community once again.

One quote in particular from your October 13 post galvanized me: “When someone pees in the pool, you don’t blame the water.” It just suddenly hit me: God didn’t hurt me, and God doesn’t hate me, and maybe it’s time to stop blaming him for what people have done in His name, and for me to find out what His peace means for me.

My faith is still bruised and shaken, but I feel like I’m finally ready to re-enter a faith community. I’ve found a church in my neighborhood that belongs to the Reconciling Ministries Network, and I’m planning on checking it out Sunday. I know I wouldn’t be at this point if it wasn’t for this blog, so once again – thank you for giving me hope, and for reminding me that, above all else, God is peace.

Thank you so much,

S.

(Oh, and Merry Christmas!)

Merry Christmas, S!

* See What Today’s Evangelicals Are Telling Gay People.


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

unfair-cover-xsmallPaperback. Kindle. NookBook. Signed and inscribed by me according to your direction.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • BarbaraR

    At a time of year when the days are short and dark and there is little light…. this letter is a torch in the night.

    Blessings and happiness to you, S.

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

    Holy mother, Unfundamentalist Christians has been around several YEARS. I am old. Christmas came early with this email. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

    By my recollection it started around the end of 2010. So…4 years and counting.

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

    That long? Wow. Time flies when you are having fun.

  • cjs

    I am grateful for welcoming congregations, but in my own journey, I find that I cannot reconcile some of the doctrines (trinity, original sin, etc.) with my own beliefs, separate from the issue of homosexuality. And I tend to withdraw from an outstretched hand from those professing affirmation and welcome. A combination of re-evaluation of my own theology, and then the beating over the head with the gay issue has made me reticent. Weddings and funerals are pretty much the only times I will step inside a house of worship, or when someone has a secular performance musically that just so happens to occur at a church. I remain theistic in my outlook, but can’t attach “Christian” to my belief structure. I am thankful to those who are friendly, but I can’t go back.

    I don’t want to be one of the LGBT chorus of people who continue to bash all Christians no matter their outlook on the issue of sexuality and gender identity. But it’s really hard not to.

    And I really don’t want to be told to just “get over” what happened in my life. I don’t think the intention here with this letter was to be condescending in that manner, but it could be taken that way.

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

    I don’t think the letter writer is advocationg a “just get over” it idea at all. I think it was a glimpse into their personal journey as a person and as one who finds faith important to them.

    I see it as this:

    Religion is limited by one key thing…humans. Religion attempts to understand and represent the divine, while working within various frameworks to demonstrate that attempt. Humans being tangible beings have a long history of not quite understanding the intangible, and God certainly fits there. So we’ve used tangible tools, as inferior stand-ins for what we think God is or represents.
    Its not really God doing all pain causing, and its not even religion. They are just tools in the hands of people, people who because of ignorance, fear, bigotry, anger, pride do and say some really terrible things, and use their tools as their justification.

    Which is why humans so often suck at religion. And why I love The Oatmeal, who produced this very apt illustration.

    http://imgur.com/gallery/qcPsr

  • cjs

    Fair.

    People in general can give in to their capacity to be horrible.

  • Patricia Anne Brush

    As a cradle Anglican, I always found difficulty with some of the doctrine. Like you, I am uncomfortable with the idea of original sin. It didn’t jibe with the idea of a loving God. It was a great relief to me to attend a weekend workshop on Celtic Christianity led by J. Philip Newell, where I learned that the doctrine of original sin is not universally held in the Christian church. That was a life changer for me. Mr. Newell has many fine books available if you cannot attend one of his workshops.

  • Bones

    It doesn’t exist in the Orthodox Church either. Protestantism is just another form of Catholicism. It inherited many of the the medieval church’s doctrines.

  • Brandon Roberts

    Loved this :’) nice to see more welcoming congregations. I’m going to be honest I think there are a lot more welcoming congregations than not even among fundies

  • jlosinski .

    “God didn’t hurt me, and God doesn’t hate me”.
    This is often the final hurdle to overcome when one (such as myself) comes from a background of trauma. I’ve just reached the point where I trust that god will allow for exploration as I try to discover who he is, and how he relates to the people he supposedly loves. If he is as loving as he claims, I trust he will allow me to search without fear of punishment.

  • Johnny25343

    This is what it means to bring the Kingdom of God into someone’s life, John thank you so much for being an example.

  • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

    Thanks, Johnny.