Saturday, April 21, 2012
Queers and Christianity: Notes on Spiritual Injury
I had a hard time coming out as a queer Christian. When I first realized I was gay, I wanted nothing more than to hang on tightly to my Christian faith. I decided that however bad things got with prejudice in my church, I would love God & follow Christ no matter what. It mattered to me. It made sense to me. It was something I cared about, and my sexuality did not change or affect my faith.
Life didn't work out that way. I won't share the details of the stories, but they were hard & heart-breaking. The way I was treated totally turned me off to the church that I had once adored, as well as to the religion that I had once placed 110% of my hope in. No matter how fake I felt sometimes as I tried to fit in to the church's political ideologies, I had previously believed wholly in Christ & the Bible & the power of prayer. I had believed that God loved everyone. However, when I was treated so poorly, it fractured that faith.
Here are some of the symptoms of spiritual injury that I experienced. I had an incredibly hard time trusting people, or taking what they said at face value. Even more than before, I read into people's words things that they may or may not have intended. I felt like my faith had to be perfect to "make up" for the fact that I was gay. I hated God. I hated myself, to an extent. I grew excessively proud of my orientation. I found myself obsessed with the concept of myself as a survivor or warrior. There were depression issues: sadness, insomnia, odd eating patterns, intrusive thoughts. The question of, "Does God love me?" haunted me. Prayer was painful and worship, which I once relished, reduced me to tears. I came to youth group and cried in the bathroom or in the corner the entire time. I felt wrong. I felt guilty. I felt unclean. Whether or not "God" existed was a question that was constantly on the tip of my tongue. My fears of mortality came back tenfold.
It wasn't until someone looked me in the eye and told me they were sorry that I had been treated that way, that I honestly realized that what had happened to me was not okay. Lines had been crossed. Good people had said things that were wrong. If it helps you... I know what it's like to be treated like a second-class citizen for displaying who you are, and if you also know that feeling, I am so, so sorry. No one deserves that. It happens, but that doesn't mean it's okay.
Your faith doesn't have to be challenged by your church. Your sexuality does not have to define who you worship. I'll try to write more on this later, but this is what I want you to know for now: you can be whoever you want, believe whatever you want, and marry whoever you please. Christianity and homosexuality or transgenderism are not incompatible. God loves you. I promise!