My friend, Steve, sent this to me yesterday about his experience as a gay man growing up in the church. He lives in Berkeley, California.
Like Chad’s account on Monday, it’s worth reading:
When you’re desperate to fit in, you’ll do just about anything. You change your hairstyle, go
to the gym five days a week and collect music because you think others might like it. You laugh
at things that aren’t funny, you take up hobbies that are boring as hell and you hang out with
people you think are creeps. You embellish stories, tell lies and pretend interest when you have
none at all.
You memorize loads of Scripture, get up at 6:00 in the morning for two different “accountability
groups” and attend church any time the doors are open. You get baptized three times, go
forward to rededicate your life six and keep track of how many you’ve “saved.” You learn how
to pray out loud with just the right sprinkling of spiritual words like “amazing”, “great” and
You swear you believe things you don’t, you try to sound sure when you’re not and you learn
how to BS so well that often you can’t keep your own stories…um…straight. Doubting
can’t be part of your repertoire — unless of course, that cute new guy is a doubter, too. “Lord,
please have him be doubting about the same things I am.”
You change how you walk, or how you move your wrists when you talk, or act like you want
to make it with every hot girl so that no one guesses you’re secretly a hell-bound f—-t. It’s
enough that you know it. God forbid that anyone else should find out the dark, dirty secret that
you’re attracted to boys more than girls.
Sometimes you slip and one of your friends catches you looking at him longingly, which always
requires damage control by acting a little more manly or making a joke about some kid in
school who acts really gay. You ache to tell someone the truth and be open about what you
feel. But you’ve learned the church is not the place for that kind of honesty.
Your prayers seem to fall on deaf ears. You decide that either God isn’t there, doesn’t care or
is ignoring your pleas. The proof is in how heartlessly exclusive and cold Christians are toward
others like you. You hear “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and “the Bible calls it an abomination”
— which quickly translates into “there’s no place for you here.” Stories in the news about young
people taking their lives are often met with stabbing comments like “maybe they’re better off”
or “their parents must not have been paying attention.”
So you leave and your gut wrenches because you want to believe in a Jesus who cares about
those like you who don’t belong and who don’t fit in. Following Jesus and loving like He loved
makes such sense. That kind of compassion saves a place for me at the table.
But why is it
that believers often behave so differently? If you’re listening, Church, answer me. Why are
Christianity and following Jesus often two very different things?
How do we answer struggling believers like Steve?