I write a lot about religion for someone who has no religion.
I was thinking a lot yesterday about churches and the messages they either blatantly or subtly give their communities about homosexuality. I have a lot of Christian friends who are deep in their faith but – in no way – believe homosexuality is a sin. And a few yesterday spoke out in my social sphere and one even went so far as to say, “If your church preaches that homosexuality is a sin, you need to walk out.” They used the tragedy in Florida as an open door to address the problems some religion can cause in blocking acceptance.
It’s hard though, to challenge your church.
I had a friend publicly separate from her church yesterday, calling out homophobic attitudes and while part of me was like, “HELL YEAH!” another part of me had a broken heart.
I spent a very long time trying to stay committed to a church with dogmas I didn’t support. My parents were the first in my class to get divorced and for years I felt very ashamed of that. I went to Catholic schools so “religion” was a 1-hour subject in school every day. There were a LOT of religious discussions during my 12-years in school. Any time divorce came up in religion class I flinched. I learned that since my parents didn’t (or couldn’t) get their marriage absolved in the church, then any future relationship would be a sin and in my heart I knew that was wrong. I had gay family so every time homosexuality came up, my heart broke at the internal struggle I felt over loving my family but fearing for their soul. I was having premarital sex and felt very judged even though I couldn’t understand how I was expected to marry someone until I knew if we were sexually compatible. And let’s don’t even discuss birth control.
But for a very long time I tried to stay committed to the church with the different views. I tried – as many of my friends and family do today – to stay with the church but be the voice of change within the walls.
And then I lost Faith so being in any church, even if I was hoping to be the voice that pushed it into acceptance, was useless.
But I still know the struggle. The desire to make the church the church I wanted it to be. I also remember the struggle in looking for a church home that maybe matched my heart better. I remember the pain in both situations. It’s like trying to make a bad relationship work, you know in your heart they’re never going to change, but you’re scared of life without them.
And I just want my religious friends to know I cherish them so much. I cherish them for still fighting the good fight in churches they don’t want to give up on. I cherish them for giving up, and finding churches that don’t need change. I cherish them for speaking out and NOT being silent. The saddest stories I’ve crossed as a parent of an LGBTQ child are the stories of teens struggling with their Faith. There are stories of suicidal kids who were sent off to camps to make them straight. Stories of closeted kids terrified to tell their religious family what their friends and their friend’s families already know. The pain I’ve seen always traces back to religion and it’s hard for me some days not to get bitter at the institution of church all together.
But then I have friends who publicly proclaim their church’s support of the LGBTQ community so that their friends know they have a church home that would welcome them. And there are friends who publicly call out their church’s behavior. There are friends who loudly say, “I DISAGREE WITH MY CHURCH!” but who continue to be the voice in the silence that hopes to push the church to change. All of you, your pain is not lost on me. Your struggle is something I know and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for speaking out. You may not know anyone directly in the LGBTQ community, but you know me. And there are other people like me in your sphere – people who need to see that there are churches who will welcome the people they love so that we don’t always association church with hate.
I just wanted you to know that I know your pain. I gave up the fight a long time ago, but I remember it and I cherish you for sticking with it. Your voices on Facebook on days like yesterday, your voices proclaiming your unwavering support for a community sentenced to Hell in my religious institutions, your voices mean more than you’ll know to people who will never publicly thank you. Have Faith in that on the days that the Faith in your church is difficult.