I am a 72-year-old Christian mother and grandmother. I had a wonderful career as a teacher for every age, from pre-school through college. I served as a member of our church council, as a Sunday school teacher, as a Vacation Bible School superintendent, and I have been on mission trips to every continent. My hobbies are studying, reading, travel, genealogy, gardening, and dogs.
I am a lesbian. For most of my life, I hid that part of who I am, deeply in denial. I did not choose to be a lesbian, but I did choose to deny that part of myself, in the belief that I had to choose if I wanted to follow Christ. From the time I was seven years old, I wanted, most of all, to follow Jesus. As a young teen, I wanted to be a pastor, but I learned that “girls couldn’t do that.” I got married because that was what was expected of me, and I tried for fifteen years to make that marriage work.
Then—out of the blue!—I fell deeply in love with a woman with whom I worked in ministry at our church. The day came when we spoke to each other about our feelings. As we shared our hearts together, we learned that we both had felt something of these forbidden feelings since childhood, and had kept them hidden. But we felt so perfect together; and we began to believe that God had brought us to the place we were.
Oh! Then we were found out! We were threatened with losing our children (my four children, and her son). Our children were told that we were filled with evil spirits, that we were an abomination to God. We were counseled in ways that filled us with fear and shame. We were convinced that we had to choose God and our children, and give up our love for each other.
With broken hearts, we went our separate ways. We began to try to restore our children’s trust, along with our relationship with God and with our church. We moved to different towns so that we couldn’t see each other.
For the next thirty years I lived alone. I was never fully successful in restoring my children’s love after what they went through, but I was able to develop a good career, and to serve in Christian ministries in my church. As a single Christian woman, I was free to do volunteer work, travel, and work on genealogy. Although my heart ached for the loss of my children’s love, I was able to go on, trusting and loving God, and continuing to hope that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
For all of my adult life I spent New Year’s Day in prayer, seeking God’s direction for the coming year. Each year I ended the day with a strong impression of someone for whom to pray, and some special need for ministry. I would write it in my Bible, and at the end of the year, I could see how God had worked.
But on New Year’s Day four years ago, after a long day of fasting and prayer, I sensed God’s message: “This time it’s not about someone else. It’s about you. You need to be honest with yourself about who you really are.”
And I knew it was time to do something I had ignored and denied for thirty years. I walked over to my computer and Googled “Gay Christian,” not knowing what, if anything, would appear.
And suddenly the pages opened up. I read for hours, learning about better Bible translations, learning about organizations for welcoming gay and lesbian Christians. With tears of joy and relief I learned that I didn’t have to hide that part of who I am anymore. I could admit to God, and to myself, without condemnation, that I am a lesbian. A huge burden was lifted from me.
I had no intention of changing anything of my outward life or relationships. I was single and content. But I decided to tell my children, and they made the decision to remove me from their lives and from the lives of my grandchildren. They continue to believe that being gay or lesbian is a terrible sin, and that they must protect their children from me.
Now, little by little, I am beginning to realize that I need to “come out” as a lesbian Christian. While I have lost my family, I have found a church that is welcoming. I am still not out to most of my neigh- bors and friends. But I am beginning to understand that coming out as a Christian lesbian may be a new way to love and serve others. And I continue to hope and pray that someday my family will be restored to me.
R.W., Seattle, Washington
This woman’s story, titled “I lived alone 30 years,” is one of twenty-seven stories from gay Christians that I collected, edited, and included in my book UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question. The titles of the other letters are:
“I did not want to exist anymore”
“Is my pretense worth it?”
“An aching loneliness”
“A better world if I was dead”
“I was in unsafe territory”
“My son and I aren’t welcomed”
“I was scared”
“I lived in terror”
“I am torn”
“I was the worst of the worst”
“Lying and hiding”
“The fallout was horrific”
“Deep pain and rejection”
“Years of feeling lost”
“Desperate to not be gay”
“I destroyed my parents’ dreams”
“My life fell apart”
“I hit bottom”
“On Sundays I’m alone”
“I’m an abomination”
“It would be all over for me”
“I begged God”
“I attempted suicide”
“They publicly prayed for my death”
“The Church hated me”
“Angry and ashamed”
Each of these letters is more affecting than the last. Taken all together they’ll tear your heart out. I’ve watched four different people read the letters while I was standing there. One of them was a pastor. Each of them cried.
Included in UNFAIR are sixteen of my best/most influential essays on the matter of Christians and LGBT people—including Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality, which you can read here.
I’m not posting this just to hawk a book of mine. But I am proud of UNFAIR, which is the culmination of six years’ worth of my work on this issue. I’m proud of what UNFAIR is; I’m proud of what it’s done; I’m proud of its painstakingly designed cover and interior pages. (Thanks to designer Dan Wilkinson for the love he showed this book.)
But what I am easily most proud of is knowing that with UNFAIR I have something that I or anyone else can give to any person who is wondering what, finally, is the right—the most moral, the most honest, the most manifestly and provably biblical—position that a Christian should take on the LGBT question. It’s a real pleasure for me to know that there’s no way on earth I could make a better argument than this book for why the Christian church and all of its members needs to renounce the idea that God condemns homosexuality, and embrace the truth that God cares no more about a person’s sexual orientation than God cares about the color of a person’s hair or eyes.
That’s why you work: so that you can have something that you can … use. And UNFAIR, for me, on this issue, is that something.
(I just now saw that Amazon has the paperback edition of UNFAIR on sale, down from its usual $12.99 to $11.25. I have no idea why such Amazon sales occur, nor when they might end. You can also buy UNFAIR directly from me, autographed and inscribed according to your directions: scroll down a bit on this page for the order form. It’s also available in both Kindle and Nook editions. If you purchased as a Kindle book the first edition of UNFAIR [UNFAIR: Why the “Christian” View of Gays Doesn’t Work], go to your Manage My Kindle, where you will find waiting for you a free update for the new edition.)
Thanks for reading/buying/caring/sharing. Together, the Unfundamentalist Christians community has made a difference in this crucial matter. And we’re not done yet; I’m now involved with a very exciting project, which I’m looking forward to telling you more about. Stay tuned.