Finding myself and Jesus all at the same time
When I started to think I might be gay… I immediately started to doubt my faith. How could something about myself feel so good and true but also be so wrong in the eyes of the religion I grew up in?
Determining whether or not I was gay or if I was on a different area of the sexuality spectrum was something that took me a long time, and if I’m being honest is something I’m still figuring out.
What I did know, however, was that what I was feeling and doing was against everything I had previously believed in all of my thirty-six years. Discovering these new things about myself at an older age really shook my identity.
I had always dated men and I had been married for fourteen years before I fell deeply in love with a woman. The love I felt with a woman was nothing like I had ever felt with a man. It was something on a new level. Deeper, more intimate, soul-level love.
Along with being incredibly joyful and exciting, it was also strange, confusing, and downright scary.
Because I had been taught Chrisitan values and the sin of homosexuality my whole life, I began reading everything I could about what Christianity really taught about gays.
But, as I read, I kept being drawn to what Christianity really taught about Jesus.
I couldn’t find anything in all of the Scriptures I read that showed Jesus shutting out a particular group of people. The Jesus that I saw, was one that included people of all different races, social statuses, political viewpoints, and yes, even sinners.
He touched those that society had named unclean. The lepers, the women with issues of blood, the beggars, and those possessed by the devil. But the thing that really hit me was this.
Knowing what we know now, we realize that these people weren’t unclean.
The society they lived in at the time called them unclean. Were they? No. Were women who were on their periods unclean? Were the cramps and pain that came with menstruation punishment from God? Um, no. Did Jesus know this was crazy talk? Yes, I think he did.
So, if those that were unclean actually aren’t… maybe those that were called sinners aren’t either. Maybe, just maybe, being in a loving intimate and sacred relationship with someone of my same-sex isn’t as bad as I used to think.
Maybe, being Christian is less about the guidelines society set out for us long ago, and more about how we actually treat each other. Maybe the test is less about following the strait and narrow, and more about what is really in our hearts.
This view on love and rules is why, through everything that has changed about me, I am still able to call myself a Christian. I don’t believe in everything that is taught by institutionalized religion, but I believe in Jesus. I believe in accepting people how they are. I believe in sitting with them as they suffer, in crying with them when they cry, and in rejoicing with them as they rejoice.
And, I believe that Jesus died for all of us. Not just for those that live by the rules.
Jesus himself was a rulebreaker. He was a political activist. He spoke out against oppression and injustice. I believe, that if He were on the earth today, you’d see him peacefully protesting with Black Lives Matter. And marching with a smile on His face, alongside his friends at a Pride Parade.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean following all of the rules. It means that we look beyond the rules of society and follow the rules of humanity. Just like Jesus did.
He didn’t blindly accept the oppressive laws set forth by society at the time. He felt deeply enough that he was able to see people through the lens of love, not through social acceptability.
Because here’s the thing. Society has taught us that some pretty messed up things are acceptable. If we continually base our beliefs based on the laws of the land, we wouldn’t have ever abolished slavery or given women the right to vote.
We wouldn’t have allowed a black person to own land or accepted interracial marriage. And we wouldn’t be in the continued fight now against systemic racism and oppression of the LGTBQ+ community. These laws were changed and are still changing because good people are challenging society based on what they know about humanity.
Now, I’m not saying this is easy. Being a gay Christian can be hard. We aren’t sure where we fit. People who are supposed to love us unconditionally, instead call us to repentance.
The same people who have preached love and kindness to us, are now only trying to save our souls.
But I am here today asking you to do something for me. If you are a gay Christian, stay. Don’t give up your faith in Christ because you don’t fit the mold or follow the rules. You are needed and wanted in His kingdom just the way you are. Don’t let the rule followers scare you away from your faith. You don’t have to turn your back on Christianity because you feel unwanted. Plant your feet and grow.
And, if you’re not gay but still Christian here is my plea for you:
That is all. Leave your righteous judgments at the door and love God’s children. He doesn’t need to lose any more of His babies because they felt unloved or unworthy.
His gay children have a purpose here that you know nothing about. Their story is not your story. Their calling is not your calling. Love them. Build a bridge. Step out of your comfort zone and into theirs.
Be brave enough to set down the guidelines set by our society and pick up the guidelines that Jesus set. The ones that tell us to live by listening to our hearts rather than what’s in our heads. The guidelines that might make others watching us uncomfortable, or even angry.
Be brave enough for that. Be Christian enough for that.
Being Chrisitan is more than being a good example. It means acting like Him. It means loving, accepting, and befriending those that are different than us.
Not loving from afar. Not the “I love you but I don’t agree with you” type of love. That is empty. Those are words.
The love that sits next to someone who looks, believes, and acts differently than you do and breaks bread. The love that says I see you and I want to know you. Tell me who you are.
This is the love of Jesus. This is being a Chrisitan.