As long as I can remember since my early childhood, the concept of Christianity has been the cornerstone of my identity. My parents raised me with conservative southern Baptist values and I attended Christian school from kindergarten through high school. My love of God and presence of the Holy Spirit moved me to gently share the message of Christianity to others in need. In fourth grade I began having feelings for a female classmate that were unlike what I had experienced with other friends. I was unable to pinpoint what those feelings were, but knew that I thought of her at every waking moment and longed for her closeness.
One Wednesday morning, the school attended a chapel gathering and the speaker got on the pulpit and began to preach to us against homosexuality. Sweat dripped off of the pastors’ brow as he angrily listed Bible verses that appeared to condemn same-sex attraction and behavior. His message was clear; anyone who engaged in any type of feelings or sexual contact with the same gender were condemned to permanent separation from God and sent to a future of eternal burning hell and torment. He was emphatic that being gay and lesbian was a choice and that no one could have a relationship with God and also be a homosexual.
After the chapel service, some classmates appeared unaffected as if they had already heard the doctrine of the “dangers” of homosexuality. Others became hyper vigilant against any closeness between each other and shouted out “homo” and “faggot.” That morning, our young minds were taught and programmed to hate; this would be followed by countless episodes of homophobic brainwashing.
My heart sank after I heard the message. I knew that the pastor had been speaking about me and my homosexuality. I felt unworthy, shameful, defective, guilty, self-loathing, and worst of all, damned. I was an abomination before my Lord. I immediately sought to reject this “evil” part of me and discontinued communication with the girl that I had felt such intense attraction. I prayed every night for God to lift my feelings and change me to have “normal” feelings for the opposite sex. Prior to fourth grade, my yearbook pictures displayed a bright eyed girl with a wide smile. After that year of hearing my impending doom, the following photographs presented a girl with a broken self-esteem, tearful eyes and a painfully fake grin.
In high school I fell deeply in love with my female best friend. After my mother read my diary and learned of my feelings for her, I was forced to break off all contact with her and transfer to a different school. My mother told me that the love I felt for her was “counterfeit” and “derived by Satan” and that my sins were “comparable to child molestation.” I was immediately sent to a Christian therapist with intensive sessions twice weekly to cure me of my sinful illness. I was so fearful that my parents would disown me if I were a lesbian that I began to date men to ease their discomfort. I was deemed as cured and a successful “ex-gay.”
Going against my natural feelings made me feel raped of my true identity which brought me into a deep depression. Once I moved out to college, I met a lesbian and decided to give up my Christian identity so that we could be in a relationship. Part of me felt free and happy, but another part of me longed to be accepted by God. Being with women felt right, but in the back of my mind I felt I was damned to hell for my actions. Just as I had tried to push my attraction to women away, I tried faithfully as hard to push God away. The struggle was nearly equally as difficult.
After much internal torment to deny part of my identity, I began to question everything I had learned growing up in the Church. I felt angry at God and thought that being damned for loving another person was a contradiction to the message of Christianity. After all, did not Jesus teach that to love others was the second greatest commandment aside from loving God? How could genuine love between two committed adults be a sin? I began a quest to extensively study the scriptures that seemingly condemned homosexuality. I learned the meaning of many words in the Hebrew and Greek language, studied the cultural atmosphere of biblical times and examined the nearest to original texts of the Bible. To my surprise, I discovered that much of the verses that seemed to blatantly deem homosexuality as a sin were interpreted differently and changed over time in translation. In summary, it appeared that the original words currently defined as homosexuality were discussing inhospitality, rape, male prostitution, pagan sex rituals, and child molestation (Read my first post for more information: https://moanti.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/gaychristians/). Even the Greek and Hebrew words for abomination and unnatural meant socially unaccepted and out of the ordinary, not gravely sinful or deviant. I found not that the Bible was wrong, but that I may have been reading it incorrectly.
My upbringing had taught me to view this new information as a lie and I still felt discomfort of possible deception. I faithfully did research for years and prayed to God to reveal His word to me in my heart. I had realized that my guilt for being a lesbian was not personal conviction, but derived from the Christians who viewed this action as a terrible sin. My ability to feel joy in my relationship with God and feel His love was being blocked by my overwhelming worry of going to Hell for something that I was programed to believe was unforgivable without changing. This feeling came from humans and I believe that Satan took advantage of this to make me feel unworthy of being a Christian and separate me from God.
Thankfully, questioning my seemingly conflictual identities of being a Christian and a lesbian has led me to a deeper relationship with Christ than I could have ever imagined without having to go through this struggle. I realized that all of my prayers to take away my attractions to females were not answered because it was not something that was necessary to change. Through prayer and a thirst for God, I now feel a warm sense of peace that He loves me and accepts me as He created me; a lesbian. With this knowledge, my bright eyes and wide smile has returned.
Perhaps the most amazing thing that has happened in my life since reconciling my sexual orientation and faith is finding a church that is made up of a body of gay and lesbian believers. Previous to this, I felt there was still a small part of me that was spiritually blocked when I was inside of a conservative church that I knew did not accept me as I am. When I entered this new church, I was engulfed with the Holy Spirit to such a strong degree that it felt like I did when I was baptized. After hearing the lesbian speaker talk about how she was healed from two types of stage four cancers by her faith and seeing her love for God, I knew that the Lord had a purpose for her life and kept her around to spread the loving Gospel to other gay and lesbians. Why would God heal her from the edge of death and use a “practicing homosexual” to spread Christ’s love if He did not accept her as His child with a Heavenly purpose? Would God use her and then discard her to Hell? I certainly think not! The Lord knows our hearts, and one who seeks to serve Him will not be denied of salvation! This moment for me was life changing and I have been blessed with an assurance that I am Heaven bound! God has done so much for me and has allowed me to find the most amazing Christian life-partner. I am certain that our relationship is blessed because it is God-centered.
I have since encountered many other gay and lesbians with different religious experiences. Most that I have met have rejected religion entirely due to the hate that they had experienced from members of the church and family members. This saddened me and I feel overcome to share the message that I have learned with others that are struggling to help them realize that they can be both a lesbian and gay as well as a Christian. God loves His creation and longs for a personal relationship with all, including you! If you are interested in forming a personal relationship with Christ, you can find a gay affirming church in your area worldwide at http://www.gaychurch.org/Find_a_Church/find_a_church.htm To hear a recording of other Christian testimonies from gays and lesbians, visit http://www.gaychristian.net/audio/testimonies05.mp3
Remember, “Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the law demands. In the law there are many commandments such as ‘be faithful in marriage,’ ‘do not murder,’ ‘do not steal,’ ‘do not want what belongs to others.’ But all these are summed up in the commandment that says ‘love others as much as you love yourself.’ no one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the law demands.” – Romans 13:8-12