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.

 

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Shame

Shame is something we all learn at a young age. Perhaps you were once told “shame on you” for something you did wrong. Or maybe you recognize it as that queasy, gut wrenching, heart pounding, nervousness right as you debate whether or not to confess to your mother you broke one of her prized possessions. Can you glue it back together? Will she notice? Or should you confess now and hope for the best? It was an accident after all, maybe she will go easy,  or maybe if you don’t say anything she won’t notice…but that feeling of shame will remain if you don’t tell her. Surely if you do not tell her, God would know. God always knows. Better fess up.

I have struggled with a lot of shame over being gay. The moment I learned what it meant to be gay, that familiar feeling of shame rushed over me. I felt as though I had done something wrong. I had been taught that I was immoral, and would be boxed into the same sexual perversions as bestiality, incest…etc. This was worse than accidentally breaking one of my parents belongings. This could break their hearts. It became my deepest darkest secret. There was no way I could be gay, so denial became my lifestyle of choice.

Denial only works for so long. When my marriage ended I had a choice. I could either start living true to myself, or I could keep living in denial. It was a hard confusing process but I chose to start being true to myself. The hardest part to get through was the shame. Even though I had stopped living in denial, I constantly worried. What will my parents think? Will they still love me? Will they be ashamed of me? What will my friends think? What if they don’t want me around their kids?

My secret was eating me up inside. I couldn’t keep this all to myself any longer. I finally built up the courage to come out to my counselor. It wasn’t exactly the best first coming out experience. When I told her I was gay she asked me. “Well, is this something you want or don’t want?” I was confused. I replied “Who would want this?” She proceeded to tell me there were groups out there for me where I could “beat this.” That there was hope for change. But what could these conversion groups do that I hadn’t already tried? I prayed to God, and I got married. To a man. If that doesn’t work I don’t know what will. Then she said something to me I will never forget. “You will never be the woman God wanted you to be.”

Those words stung worse than any other words I had ever heard. I left her office and never looked back. She tried contacting me multiple times through text message saying that she hoped that I hadn’t given up. Well, I had. I had given up lying to myself and believing that I had something to be ashamed of. I realized that all of this shame I was feeling wasn’t from God. It was from people. How does she know who God wants me to be? I already tried to live how I thought God wanted me to, and I failed miserably. I was living a lie. Doesn’t God say thou shall not lie? I believe this means  you shall not lie to others… or yourself.

For a long time I thought being gay meant you could no longer believe in God. That I couldn’t be a christian and be gay. I no longer believe that, and I no longer feel shame. I know God loves me, and he doesn’t just love the sinner and hate the sin. He loves all of me. No person can ever tell me who God wants me to be.