Thinking about church this Sunday. Definitely not sitting in the walls of a church, but thinking about them from a distance. A local pastor gave a tirade, I mean sermon, against the evils of homosexuality recently. That’s painful. More painful, watching as local commenters on Facebook defend him. One commenter could not even understand an article criticizing him – the writer would post quotes as examples of his cruelty and the commenter was like, “I don’t get it. He said that. It’s true, what’s the big deal?”
What’s the big deal? The big deal is that traditional evangelicalism says a core piece of my identity is broken. They would quickly say, well, we are all broken people in need of Jesus. But the difference is that they would say that the nature of my brokenness makes me ineligible (I hear unworthy) for love. According to traditional Christian sexual ethics, my brokenness disqualifies me from being a parent, having a family, having a spouse. And just to be safe, I better make sure I maintain a low level of intimacy in all my relationships. So what I hear there is that until/unless I get this “evil” worked out, I am worthless. In the very religion that advertises a place to belong, grace and forgiveness, unconditional love; I hear the message that none of that applies to me. I’m too broken for that, unless Jesus “fixes” me.
I have done an awesome job of following those guidelines. So much that I don’t even know how to have people in my life. I don’t know how to have close friends. I don’t know how to have romantic relationships. And according to tradition that means I have successfully resisted my brokenness. Yay! Good for me! And yet I hear from the pulpit that I’m supposed to be in groups where we can have intimate friendships. But that’s not for me. I’m not wanted in those groups.
I just can’t do a theology that on one hand encourages communities and relationships for everyone else and isolation for me. That’s why I’m not in church on this Sunday morning. Because it’s for everyone else. Not for me.
I stumbled upon this post a while ago, and it’s an easy choice for this week’s weekly reader. Even though the weekly reader idea has been a little bit less than weekly I suppose. Bi-weekely reader? Occasional reader? Anyway, here’s something I found on the internet that you should read. The post itself is a guest post at Little Did She Know, a blog I don’t actually follow all that often.
In this post, Julie Rodgers shared her story. The one where she came to terms with the reality that she was not as ex-gay as she had said she was, rather publicly. At this point she had been so involved in Ex-gay ministry that people knew her. What people knew was that she had been attracted to women and that she or God was changing her orientation. Except that she knew that she still liked girls. And she said this:
It’s difficult to say very much about the experience of LGBTQ people in the church without bumping up against this idea called shame. In fact, even LGBTQ individuals who have never set foot in church have likely come up against people who caused them to feel as though there was something inadequate about their sexual identity. These people hang out at school, the gym, a restaurant, a sports field, really anywhere people interact meaningfully with other people. Often in my experience the shaming happened without ever being acknowledged. It can be as simple as sharing an opinion that gay people are <insert negative adjective here>. Often they don’t even know there is a LGBTQ person in the room. That’s when I have felt shame. Based on what they just said, if they knew the truth about me, they would give me that negative adjective. At best they would reject me, at worst lash out against me in anger.
For me the shame is worse in church. When a pastor alludes to the fact that people like me are somehow more flawed than the average church attender. When people who seem to be good Christian people express serious concern over the fate of my soul. These are times when shame is quickly linked to hopelessness, isolation, despair. Continue reading
Cloghane: St Brendan’s Church © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons
I find myself embarking on a Church hunt yet again. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this in the future, but for now I just want to express why it is that I felt a need to leave the place I was attending in the first place.
I was raised to believe that Church membership is a commitment not to be trifled with. That could be why I’ve never joined a church. Growing up, my parents were members of a church that practiced believer’s baptism (as opposed to infant baptism), and would baptize teenagers, but reserved membership for those over 18. So I was baptized, but went away to college before I joined that church. That fellowship of churches is rather limited to certain geographic areas, so I find myself now living in a region that doesn’t really have any of those churches. Other denominations I was around growing up practiced believers baptism linked to church membership. Some of these churches had standards of dress and other guidelines for their members – head coverings and plain dresses for the women, restrictions on the colors of cars, no TV, and various other guidelines. It was obviously a big deal when my friends decided to be baptized and join their church when it meant they would be submitting to these guidelines. Continue reading