This piece is cross-posted from my old blog from last year, but in posting my previous blog, I think it wise to post my personal journey away from and back to God.  Forgive me if you're a member to both places.

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When I first realized I was gay and had my first crush, Adrienne, I was a little southern Baptist girl living in a small town insulated by the ideas of the church, handed down to me by the imposing hands of my foremothers and forefathers.  Adrienne came to hand me a revision, something that I had to cope with, something that changed my life forever, and something that I’ve forever grappled with.

I’d grown up between the four worlds of my mother and my grandparents, each of whom had starkly different value spectrums.  My mother attended church off and on when it fit the bill, but after falling in love with a woman when I was six never reconciled her faith and her beliefs.  My grandma, the pianist for the First Baptist Church where she lives, is fiercely religious.  My grandpa however was a sci-fi loving, discourse-engaging skeptic.  It’s like living with Cynthia Nixon, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Bill Maher.  My mom was conflicted on being gay and conflicted on religion.  My grandma was convicted—staunchly anti-gay, pro-religion.  My grandpa was anti-religion, anti-government, and anti-labeling.  Rightly I’d be a little confused by the time I’d hit puberty.  And when one party, likely the one with the most sense, my grandpa, passed away when I was 13 I was left with little to no comprehension of how to navigate between the four worlds I was floating in.

My first problem was when I heard a repeated message from both sides: gay kids don’t come from gay mothers.  Assuredly, I was straight and I didn’t have to worry about grappling with my sexuality.  I took on my religion as my main focus, hosting a bible study at school and going to church every Sunday.  It was after a night of reading my bible that Adrienne came to visit.

I spent hours reading my bible and praying after Adrienne left.  I knew every church I’d ever been to had condemned lesbians to hell.  I knew that’s why my mother hadn’t gone to church for years.  I knew Jesus didn’t love gay people.  I knew in my mind that if I chose to listen to my body, I’d be sent to eternal damnation, away from my Father in Heaven, away from my grandpa who’d just passed away.  I quit the bible study.  I read my bible daily, I searched for clues to why I could be a lesbian or how I could be a lesbian and ignore it, or how I could just get rid of it.  I searched for ways to make it go away.  I searched for a religion that could promise I wouldn’t be gay anymore if only I’d follow it to the letter of the law.  I learned a lot about religions.  I went to so many churches that I couldn’t count them on ten hands.  I’ve had hands laid on me, prayed for, anointed, baptized, and condemned.  Nothing made me any less a lesbian.  It wasn’t from a lack of trying.

After accepting that there was nothing I could do and entering a relationship with a girl my senior year of high school, the personal insults began.  Those who had previously loved me to death started threatening me.  I received hateful looks, dirty comments, and condoms on my tailpipe of my car, broken CDs scrawled with nasty words in my driveway at home, and multiple voicemails with condemnation on my box at home.  It was insanity.  These were Christians who professed love.  Were they so “afraid” for my soul or so afraid to be “wrong” that they would resort to threatening me to save me?  Did that ever work?

I grew up and fell in love with the idea that Christianity was a four-letter word. I had become so fed up with the way I had been treated in the past that the future without Christ was a better option.  I attended a reform synagogue for several years, and what I learned there was invaluable.  Tradition, love, and good works are the ties that bind us to each other.  I saw myself not as a Jew, but as a faith seeker.  I found myself furthering my progress toward rectification and healing.

It was Christmas of 2010 that I entered a church of my own volition upon invitation of friends for a candlelight service.  The calm and peace of the familiar hymns and carols echoed back to my soul somewhere down deep to the Tammy Faye Bakker side while the Cynthia Nixon side sat holding the candle still, keeping face.  It wasn’t long before the smudged eyeliner of Tammy Faye could be seen on the outside, running down my face.  Finally, I could feel peace in a church.  Finally, I felt home.

Christ never spoke about hellfire and brimstone for lesbians.  He spoke about acts of loving-kindness and radical love for neighbor and enemy.  He spoke about the evils of being rich and judgmental and the blessings of being merciful and meek.  My God is a loving God, who wouldn’t send His creation away because of the way she was made in His image.  My church is one that understands my need to question faith in order to have faith.  My four-year relationship with my partner is based upon the biblical principles of respect and mutual care.  It enhances my life tremendously.  When I have enough money for a wedding I hope to have a traditional church wedding.

Still, the opposition is out there.  My partner’s brother and his wife are adamantly anti-gay and we worry about every holiday and what her nieces and nephews will call me.  It breaks my heart.  Churches preaching that we are evil, sinful creatures who deserve to rot in hell, that we’re demons, that we’re going to take down America every Sunday across this country when I couldn’t even finish my dinner much less ruin the nation.  We’re all afraid of what we don’t know and what we don’t understand; we’re all also afraid to be wrong.  America is such a culture of being right.  But can we really afford to be right all of the time?

I’ve only met a few Christian lesbians, but we’re out there.  Don’t assume lesbians are all godless heathens.  We all have a lot to learn from each other if we dialog and get over those assumptions.  And if there was nothing else I learned from spending years as a non-Christian, I learned a few things from Rabbi Hillel, standing on one foot, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do unto your fellow man.  That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary.  Go and study it.”  And if you’re not ready yet to accept the words of others, listen to Jesus, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  All of your neighbors—gay neighbors count!

Views: 448

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on January 11, 2013 at 8:54am

i hold w everything kosh says here abt religions and their institutions

Comment by Arthur James on January 11, 2013 at 8:58am

`

Post like this deserve Respect.

I almost read this yesterday.

I am glad I waited until now.

`

We all have our hardships.

Anguish can zap us quickly.

War was my pain awaken.

`

Harper's Maazine has a article.

It is a Courageous Testimony.

He was abused as a child.

`

I heard a 'Fresh Air' Interview.

I didn't read the essay yet.

It wasn't my experience.

He mentioned ` Abyss.

Then, entrance` Light.

I wish I recall his name.

It's This month's issue.

`

This is not related . . .

I remember a war vet.

He went to bars for woman.

Then, he visited churches.

`

He mentions he met two Lovers.

Lesbians invited him to their Pad.

He said he was never so aroused.

They even shared their marijuana.

He said he feared he died. Heaven?

He thought he went to thee` Heaven.

Serious. If You ever heard him speak?

Whatever. The Lesbians rid him? War.

Of course, Life always will be Strife.

Wars . . .

We are at War with ` Self. Passion?

Reason . . .

These are Always in ` Tense Conflict.

Thanks for sharing. I'll read Comments.

We Testify.

We Learn.

Compassion.

Non Judge.

Comment by Arthur James on January 11, 2013 at 9:06am

` Aye . . 

` Grace

` Thanks

`

My ` One of my Favorite Therapist (not-paid)

Recommended a book with a Pleasant Smile:

`

Marcus Borg - MEETING JESUS AGAIN FOR

THE FIRST TIME - In Therapist Office use

One tissue for eyes - But no use on toes,

ears, behind, spills - And Clean Home Up.

`

I Plan to Visit a Home Improvement lace.

I an too Lame to finish Tile Work etc;, and

I had to throw away Couches. Dog Hair Stink.

I am Living alone as If Alive. I mean ` Blessed.

If I wake wp I Moon Gaze or read old Ancients.

Comment by Catnlion on January 11, 2013 at 2:05pm

CC:

Churches preaching that we are evil, sinful creatures... “. This part of your statement I'll agree with. Where do you think we get the line that “Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven” comes from? I know when it's my turn to go through the gates to Heaven, and I have to confess, I'll be holding up the line.

I do know that if I'm looking for someone to do something I'll take someone who has a belief system. It doesn't even have to be one that I agree with. People who live their life by a belief, IMHO, tend to lead their life with a purpose and with some “guidance” instead of what ever they believe today.

JW:

I grew up in the Episcopal Church. I was an Acolyte and the whole nine yards. Just down the street from where I lived a few years ago is an Episcopal Church where the Priest and her partner minster to the congregation. The change to the policy of ordaining women and openly gay and lesbian priests. This has become such a large rift in the church that about six, I think, don't quote me on this one, of the Dioceses have left to form their own association with a “traditional” stance on matters. I do know that he church has come up with an official liturgy to bless those unions.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on January 11, 2013 at 2:08pm

Cat   yes; I'm aware of the rift.

Comment by James Mark Emmerling on January 11, 2013 at 3:19pm

Christ never spoke about hellfire and brimstone for lesbians. 

 He spoke about acts of loving-kindness and radical love for neighbor and enemy. 

 He spoke about the evils of being rich and judgmental and the blessings of being merciful and meek.  

~

mercy and meekness are the way to go in this idiotic world, 2o centuries later, indeed.

unfortunately both words got a bad rap. linguistically. meek and mild go thee thru the world.

absurdity is the keystone to a world gone wrong, and there is an abundance of riches.

~

My God is a loving God, who wouldn’t send His creation away because of the way she was made in His image.

~

cept He is a He?/She? ...he/she,...kinda entity.

    • Play to Live : Lectures of Alan Watts (1982)
  • If you awaken from this illusion, and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death — or shall I say, death implies life — you can conceive yourself. Not conceive, but feel yourself, not as a stranger in the world, not as someone here on sufferance, on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke, but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental. What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. So, say in Hindu mythology, they say that the world is the drama of God. God is not something in Hindu mythology with a white beard that sits on a throne, that has royal perogatives. God in Indian mythology is the self, Satcitananda. Which means sat, that which is, chit, that which is consciousness; that which is ananda is bliss. In other words, what exists, reality itself is gorgeous, it is the fullness of total joy.

Comment by Constant Calliope on January 11, 2013 at 3:34pm

Keith:  Thanks.  I should think so.  

koshersalaami:  Your statements couldn't be more spot on with my previous blog.  I reposted this in response to posting it, and it expounds on my ideas here to a certain degree.  It may not be as concise and pretty as this one is, but I couldn't agree with you more.  And how many schisms and fractions will it take in denominations just over one concept (Lutheran vs Lutheran, Missouri Synod for example and gay inclusion) before churches decide that members will disagree with concepts but still hold true to the overall ideas at heart without threatening their sense of faith as a whole?  It's a terrible fate, divisive, and leads to sorrowful outcomes instead of banding together and sitting as one at the table... all faiths, all nations, all tribes, all peoples.

Arthur James:  Thanks for reading and leaving your messages.  :)

Catnlion:  I know what you mean.  Growing up, my grandpa would invite the mormon missionaries/elders into our house, pretend he was devoutly religious, compare the book of mormon to the bible, tear apart their faith base bit by bit, and try to convince the mormons they should come to church with my grandma.  Though he had no real doctrinal belief system, he valued belief systems enough to study them (even if just to prank the mormons), marry into a very devout family, put up with hearing hymns on the piano constantly, and teach religious tolerance to his granddaughter.  He always taught me a saying that I'll remember forever, "If you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything."

Jonathan and Catnlion:  By the way, there is a church now being erected here specifically because of this rift you guys are talking about interdenominationally.  The Anglican Churches in North America specifically is the split-off group due largely in part (or maybe perhaps entirely in part) to the disagreement over gay acceptance in the church.  Since my city is so anti-gay, they have decided to start up their church here and fund many new projects, one being the blocking of a GLBT addition to the city non-discrimination ordinance.  We're the only city in the state to not have one, and thanks in part to being the headquarters for the largest pentecostal denomination in the world (and their quick and ample funding of lobbying against the bill) and for the start up of the antigay church mentioned above.  However, if you want to see the rest of our local churches in action... take a look at Phil Snider.  http://youtu.be/A8JsRx2lois

Comment by Constant Calliope on January 11, 2013 at 3:51pm

James Mark Emmerling:  I love that piece by Alan Watts.  Concepts of God get sketchy and more diverse as the wind blows.  Putting a pronoun on it seems to help others read it better, I think.  Maybe that's the concept the bible implies.  The Hebrew language of the bible does the same thing, giving multiple genders to the name of God.  Therein, gender implies role.  But must we have a role to understand the concept?  For those of the concrete ability, perhaps.  For those with critical thinking ability, the possibilities of the concept of God are endless.

Comment by James Mark Emmerling on January 11, 2013 at 4:08pm

But must we have a role to understand the concept?  For those of the concrete ability, perhaps.  For those with critical thinking ability, the possibilities of the concept of God are endless.

which suits God.

god , being what?

god is being and be-ing.a Noun and a verb

Comment by Poor Woman on April 28, 2015 at 7:40pm

Coming late to this thread. 

Way late! LOL

Keith got it right. I think Kosher did too.

I cannot top those two, so simply say R&L

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