It’s been a long 4 weeks now, of first finding undeniable proof that the six “clobber passages” are mistranslations, and then understanding this past week just how much our LGBTQ+ predecessors have suffered thanks to the hypocrisies of Evangelicalism.
I’m emotionally exhausted, and it’s partly because I’ve had a hard time setting boundaries on what I investigate. Take for example this clip I found, of Jerry Falwell Sr. asserting his slanderous belief that “gays and lesbians” were part of the reason God “allowed” 9/11 to happen.
Look, may he rest in peace, but how dare he. How dare he not only commit false witness against us, while also purporting the dangerous lie that God behaves just like him. Um, God isn’t selectively merciful, and would never decide to let over 2,000 innocents die horribly because of gay relationships.
The crux of what’s led to me being so burnt out from anger this past week is the realization that everything we’ve faced over the years has been for nothing. I’ve never once thought that God approves of the persecution His LGBTQ+ kids face. Its been made clear to me that everything we’ve dealt with has all been because of the condemnations of other people, never God.
This means that no longer do I feel bad for my anger over stuff like Kim Davis trying to deny gay marriage licenses, and the praise she got afterward.
This pic above is from the comments section, and this comment here is the embodiment of the religious hypocrisy that’s worn us down.
You need to respect my opinion, which is that gay people “aren’t normal” and “need help”. 🙂
I think not. My goal from here on out is to remain kind, but objectively honest. And under no circumstances will I respect the belief that we’re “not normal” and should “seek help” (aka conversion therapy).
Something in me snapped this past week, after watching the Pray Away documentary about how godless “ex-gay ministries” are, and then reading Julie Rodgers autobiography Outlove, which expands on her part of the doc. She faced so much guilt-shaming for eventually refusing to condone the damage done by conversion therapy, and saw for herself that the pain they’d suffered at the hands of others wasn’t God’s will.
God and I
I’ve never felt ashamed about who I am in front of God. In fact, it was He who I came out to first, right on the heels of asking Jesus to enter my heart. He was the reason I had the courage to come out to my family, reminding me that they wouldn’t turn their backs on me. And not once have I ever had reason to believe that He might “abandon” me for being gay.
It’s because of my bond with God that I have a perfect standard with which to weigh other people’s treatment of me. I know my worth in His eyes, which helps me stay anchored when I face malice from others.
Shaming Isn’t Holy
I’ve been reflecting, maybe too much, on my own personal experiences with homophobia, looking back at them with what I know now. I still remember being a junior at college, walking across campus in the middle of a crowd at night, and hearing a spiteful girl whisper behind me, “All gay guys have AIDs.”
I can tell the Devil influenced her to say that, but that means they’re both responsible.
Perhaps the most triggering moment I’ve experienced was the cruel shame my supposed “friend” gave me when I attended a home church that I later discovered was connected to Xenos (an infamous Columbus-based Christian group). When I confided in her one night all of my hopes for a loving gay marriage after saving myself for that beautiful moment, she openly scorned me for ever wanting to enter a gay relationship. Even though I immediately assured her (to appease her) that I would never shame her if she chose to have sex before marriage, she remained dismissive.
Oh, and I trusted all of them with the knowledge that I’m gay. I had no reason to believe that this home church group I was momentarily part of would not support me. That was until a member of another home church stopped by our place one night for a chat, openly used the “f” slur, and none of my “friends” blinked an eye.
It took a few years to realize that I’d had no memory of her pulling that on me because I’d repressed it. I had to repress it in order to justify still wanting to belong to that community. But God ended that repression to stop me from suddenly wanting to go back to them, by giving me a dream-vision of how inhospitably I’d be received by them.
I also realized in hindsight that her shaming me was part of what led to me freaking out to God one night about the natural desires I’d been feeling. This, after He’d already made it clear beforehand that He wouldn’t scorn me like she did. Oddly enough, that means I can thank her for helping me meet Jesus in that dream that night. The shame she instilled in me momentarily malformed into self-hatred, and Jesus showed me that it broke His heart to see me in such needless turmoil.
Finding this triggering letter and response in this Focus on the Family article about a gay Christian college kid giving his mother his testimony has been a necessary find. It was enraging, reading them refer to him as a “painful, exasperating situation” for asserting that God revealed to him that there’s nothing wrong with being gay. That’s pretty much how God’s always spoken to me, and it’s so gratifying to know that there are others out there with that same spiritual experience.
I’m so tired of us being expected to sit there and tolerate the shame they throw at us. Especially when they refuse to shame the people who adhere to their agenda and sin without accountability. Looking at you, Donald Trump.
Hope in Empathy
I found hope this afternoon by looking at these YouTube testimonies and reminding myself that no matter how much cruelty we face, so many others have empathy they happily choose to offer.
And then, this one.
Isn’t that beautiful? If only adults would make that same choice.
I think, as part of me letting go of past unhealthy coping mechanisms along with fighting through my depression, I’m now addressing anger as it comes instead of saving it for later. That would explain why I’ve been so angry this week. I’ve been letting myself feel it and validate it. I also heard God tell me this when I told Him I was concerned about being “merciless” with my anger:
“Anger at injustice isn’t mercilessness.”God
I also know that it’s important to have balance, to not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26). With all of the prayer talks I had with God this past week, I’ve been able to channel my anger into these blog posts. On a tangent, holy cow, this is the most blog posting I’ve ever done in rapid succession! With this one, that’s six posts in two weeks. Wowza!
Now that I’ve ensured that my anger has been released in a healthy manner (and not being recycled, which has always been a recurring problem for me), I can feel the sadness behind it. I finally cried a bit today after the scathing blog post I did yesterday, about realizing to the extent I did how much we’ve been made a scapegoat by Evangelicals. It’s exhausting, being falsely equated with child molesters and shrine prostitutes, the real targets of the six “clobber passages” used to call us godless abominations.
I wept for everybody who’s come before us, and for those of us who are still trapped in those nightmares. It’s heartbreaking to know that “ex-gay therapy” is still seen as a valid practice when it’s led to despair and suicide. It’s a godless practice, and I know that God doesn’t shrug in indifference when His LGBTQ+ kids suffer from it.
I grieve for these brothers in Christ, who I fear are victims of religious-based shame. I won’t presume to know their stories, especially the two men in this video who are survivors of the horrific Pulse Club shooting. But my heart hurts at the possibility that they’re unfairly punishing themselves.
I begged God to make me straight when I first came out, especially if He wouldn’t be pleased with it. I learned that while being gay surely isn’t my whole identity, it’s still an important facet. And God’s made it repeatedly clear to me, especially in my loneliest of moments, that He has something wonderful planned for me in the future.
My goal going forward is to be like the tax collector in Jesus’s parable of the Pharisee and tax collector praying to God.
I know always that God’s my confidant, always listening to me and never invalidating me when I’m angry or upset. I also know He needs me to be humble.
Under no circumstances do I believe for a second that I’m somehow “better”, “holier”, or “more righteous” than the religious people who demonize us. That would be the same as asserting to God that I’m somehow “above mercy”/”above the need for grace”. Uh, no. I’m still a sinner, still struggling to temper my anger with God-directed actions and words.
That also goes for any religious person who looks down on us. They, too, need to remember that no matter who they think they are, they are likewise in need of mercy, just like the rest of us. May each of us remember to avoid ever speaking like Judge Claude Frollo from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Featured Image by Connor Brennan
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