Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Homophobia in the church, part 2

   In June of 2014, I had the privilege of attending the Hope for Wholeness Conference in North Carolina. Hope for Wholeness is a Christian ministry for people that are dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions. I can't put into words what it was like to be around so many people who were either dealing with the same thing as me, or was with someone who was. There was no shame, no need to hide, no masks, and fellowship on a level I had never experienced.

  It was a far cry from what I had experienced growing up in the church. In the church, I had to hide in the shadows. In the church, there was never any deep level of fellowship as I had to hide the real me. I'd hear people request prayer and longed to ask for prayer for my struggle, but was terrified of people knowing. I'd hear testimonies of how God helped people in certain areas, and wished I could stand and say what God had helped me with, but instead I just settled further back into the shadows.

    People dealing with SSA need love and understanding more than the average person in the church. We tend to be more vulnerable than other people. It is common to have a hard time believing God loves us. We tend to feel we don't belong anywhere, and feel like we are on the outside looking in. I often looked around and felt I was the most messed up person in church, and no one there could possibly relate to what I was dealing with. Then you get remarks like I mentioned in my previous post, and you retreat more into the shadows. Many never come out of the shadows, but spend their lives hiding their hurt and struggles, wishing they could get help. Many others walk away from the church and live the gay lifestyle, never again to darken the church door. Others live a double life - good Christian guy where everyone sees him, but meeting other guys for sex on the side.

  We are your brothers, your sisters, your spouses, your best friend, your pastor, your children, your parents.....And we are watching you. We hear how you talk and joke about gay people, we see your blatant homophobia and your lack of Christian love and caring...so we continue to hide. Yes, I realize many Christians don't understand this issue, nor do they understand we who deal with it..... but that just shows that the church needs to learn about it.

  Homosexuality is not a special sin. Yes, it has ramifications and consequences that other sins don't have. Yes, there is a segment of the gay population who has an agenda that would destroy all religious freedoms and silence Christians..... but those are not  the ones in the pew beside you. The ones in your church and family are lonely, hurting, confused, and in need of love and friends. We aren't child molesters, you can't catch it from us, we aren't going to attack you.

 This is an issue that is not going to go away. Somewhere, some day, someone you love may admit they deal with this issue. What will you say? What will your reactions be?

  In the last couple of years, I have ceased worrying what people think of me. I have discovered that my true friends are going to love me and be my friend knowing the worst about me. If anyone in my church fears or dislikes me because of my same-sex attractions, I don't know of it.

  And the result? The truth does indeed set you free. As I have, for lack of better term, "come out of the closet", I have become freer and have a better relationship with God. My self esteem has gotten better, I have come to like myself better, and I don't feel like I am hiding in the shadows anymore.

 We are doing people no favors if we make any issue so big and bad that they fear getting help in the very place they should be able to find it: in the church and Christian community.

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