Love The Sinner

“Love the sinner hate the sin” not much can get my blood boiling faster than this phrase. It is only a reminder of how far we have to go in order to breakdown the barriers between the church and the LGBT community. I think that generally, the church is still pretty lost in its stance with the LGBT community. There has been some progress and there are churches that welcome LGBT people with open arms… but then there are those who are still confused. They find themselves questioning how to love. Which seems pretty strange for a religion that follows Jesus; the most loving and accepting  man to have ever walked this earth.

The biggest problem with the phrase “love the sinner hate the sin” is that it was created without people ever really learning how to love. It takes out any personal connection, it’s vague, distant, and hurtful. Just because your view of theology doesn’t agree with someone else’s, doesn’t mean you can’t see the good in someone and fully embrace them with love first, just as Christ embraces you first. He doesn’t wait until you get your get your act together. He embraces you just as you are. Broken, and a sinner. You do not have to agree with the way someone lives their life in order to completely embrace and show that same love. Focus less on how to “live right” and more on how to love right.

There is a very specific type of venom that Christians spew when they feel they are defending God. Unfortunately the LGBT community has fallen victim to this venom for many years now, and it has led to a lot of pain, hurt, and anger. So how do we fix this? What is the anti-venom?

Love, empathy, and respect.

I think one of the biggest fears that Christians have is that fully embracing someone who is LGBT will create this image that they condone their “lifestyle” ( this word makes me cringe. ) Or that it is doing the other person a disservice by not keeping them in line with God. But, here is the thing. That is not your job. Other people’s salvation, is not your responsibility, nor is it in your hands. God is always doing his work in you, do you not have faith that God is also doing his work in others? Embrace with love before anything else.

I think it is pretty easy to enforce your convictions on someone else if you don’t personally know someone who is gay, or transgender. I feel like many people in the church hold certain assumptions about the LGBT community because they have never really had a personal encounter or experience with it. Believe it or not, but we do more than just frequent the local gay bars and parade through the streets with rainbow flags. Our community is more than just one big gay pride parade. We are your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. Most importantly, we are human beings. Just. like. you. We are human beings that need and deserve love and respect. How would it make you feel if people just made assumptions about you without truly knowing who you were as a person?

I think people have gotten so caught up in their own fears , assumptions and insecurities. Barriers that seem impossible to break down have been built off of a lot of misunderstanding…but I don’t think it is too late. So how do we break down the barriers?

It may seem too simple, but remember when you were little and you did something that hurt someone else? Your mother, teacher, or etc would hold you by the shoulders, bring you face to face with that other person, have you look them in the eyes and tell you to apologize.  ( twice if it didn’t sound like you meant it ) It was never a pleasant experience but necessary to move on.  Unfortunately apologies don’t get any easier in adulthood…but they are just as meaningful. Perhaps, this could be the best way to start.

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An Open Letter

It was brought to my attention that there is a local church here doing a sermon series called “Battle for the Black & White Choosing Christ Over Culture.” I was curious so I decided to check it out. Here is a video preview about the sermon series.

You can listen to the sermons here. or through iTunes.

I have listend to all of the sermons in the series so far, but I can no longer keep quiet. I have decided to write an open letter to the pastor. Here it is:

Dear Pastor Phil,

I am writing to you today regarding your recent sermon series called “The Battle For The Black and White. Choosing Christ Over Culture.” First off I wanted to thank you for teaching love and compassion. Often times these things are over-looked and forgotten but they are some of the greatest reflections of Christ. I admire you for standing up for what you believe is God’s voice.

In your sermons you speak about all humans being broken, and focus on those who may have been born with certain bad inclinations or that are “walking through the waters of same sex attraction”. I am one of these people. I am transgender.

I know that I am broken, but I don’t believe that being transgender is what makes me broken. I grew up in the church and went to a Christian school. I believed the same things that you teach about in your sermons. I spent years of my life trying to fight these “inclinations”. I did everything that I thought God would have wanted me to do. I went to church, I prayed, I read my Bible, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, and I saved myself for marriage. I fought this “battle” as hard as I could only to find that it left me feeling empty, depressed, and incredibly angry at God. I can guarantee you that the years of my life I spent fighting and trying to do what I thought was right, was the time in my life that I hurt the most people and was the most destructive.
I thought that I had to make a choice. I either had to choose God or to be Gay or to transition. Since coming out, medically transitioning, being transparent, and living as authentically as I can, I am seeing clearer now more than ever how God has worked in my life and that I don’t have to choose. The God I was taught to believe in valued our souls over anything else. My soul was created in his image, and it remains unchanged. I know in my heart that God cares for me, he loves me, and he supports me. I know that your concern for other people’s salvation and morality is coming from a place of love but battling for the black and the white doesn’t get rid of the gray areas. It only creates secrecy and shame. I spent so many years of my life hiding due to shame. It was some of the darkest times in my life and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

I am not writing you this letter to argue Biblical interpretation or science. All I have is my own story and life experiences to share. You spoke about caring for those of us who are homosexual or transgender. You prayed for us, you encouraged your congregation to get rid of any prejudices, to invite us over for dinner, to have compassion, and to love us. You shared your message, and your beliefs. I challenge you to listen. Let us share with you our stories, and our journeys. Get to know us on a more personal level, immerse yourself in our community and practice empathy. We are all human. God gave us all a soul, and each soul has its own unique journey.

 

Know My Heart

I was driving home from work the other night, trying to be careful to keep an eye out for deer or any other furry road bumps that could lead to my premature death, when a thought popped into my head. What if I were to crash and die right now? What would God say to me? How would he judge me? Would I go to hell like I have been told I would because I’m gay? I got nervous and began to think of what I would say to defend myself from the fiery pits of hell. Then suddenly a sense of calm came over me and the words “God knows your heart.” came to mind. God knows my heart. It is that simple. I don’t have to defend myself to God, I don’t have to explain myself, or try to convince him that I am still a good person. He created me, he knows me. He gets me. We’re tight like that.

I admit, there was a long period of time where I was very angry with God, and sometimes even questioned his existence. I have reached a point where the anger is no longer there and I am more much more open to his presence. I know he is there. I know he exists. But I don’t entirely know what it means.

I am finding that my views of God don’t exactly align with the faith that I was brought up with. I don’t think I should have to choose between gay or God. I used to think that this was my only option, which is what made me so angry and resentful towards Him in the first place. According to what I was taught, I would either have to choose a life alone, or go through some sort of magical conversion therapy to turn me straight. I feel like conversion therapy should be called denial enforcement therapy. Denial definitely didn’t make me straight, it made me a liar, and it made me miserable.

In one of my last therapy sessions with my therapist that was trying to get me into conversion therapy I told her how I didn’t think that someone who was an “ex gay” that married someone of the opposite sex would be able to be fair to themselves or their partners. I asked her. “Would you marry an ex gay man?” She hesitated and thought about it for a minute and then went on to tell me that some people have done it and now have families with kids. Hate to break it to her but that means absolutely nothing. Procreation, or a legally binding document stating you are married to someone of the opposite sex does not mean that you are cured of homosexuality. I may know this from experience.

I think one of the things that people don’t get about homosexuality is that it isn’t all about sex. ( So get your mind out of the gutter ). It’s about love. Sex and love are two different things. I can NOT fall in love with someone of the opposite sex. It just isn’t there. There are no butterflies, no excitement, no emotional connection or yearning for affection. I feel nothing. Absolutely nothing. People have sex with people they don’t love all the time. It is called meaningless sex. I happen to be someone who can’t do this. I am just not wired that way.

If there is one belief I have that I find still aligns with the faith that I was brought up with it is having a personal relationship with God. I still feel I have that, and sometimes it is the only thing I have left to comfort me when I am exhausted with trying to show that I am still me. I am still a person that just wants to love and be loved.