O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Conversions: Catholic to Southern Baptist to Gay Follower of Christ

posted by Jason Boyett

Today’s conversion story comes from Adam Morris, a Texan who was confirmed in the Catholic church, converted (with his family) to a Southern Baptist congregation, became a Southern Baptist youth minister, and then lost his job when he came out of the closet. It’s by no means a simple conversion story, but Adam believes the process has strengthened and simplified his faith.

Here’s Adam.

—————-

Bio:

I am Adam Morris. I live in a small town in Southeast Texas called Beaumont, or as its residents fondly call it, “Boremont.” I am 22 years old and just graduated from college with a degree in political science and am working in retail.

I actually grew up in small towns outside of Beaumont, one called Fannett and then Sour Lake. All through high school I was the good, smart kid. I was at the top of my class and a leader in my youth group at the Baptist church I attended. I never partied or did drugs, I started teaching the junior high boys’ Sunday school class my senior year, and was the president of the Christian club at my high school.

The August after I graduated, our youth minister resigned and left. By the following January, at the age of 19, I was voted in as the Interim Assistant Youth Director (however, it was treated more as a co-youth director position). I taught a class every Sunday and the whole group every other Wednesday. I planned the trips and fundraisers, and I was there to counsel the youth. I was convinced that this was the job for me — the calling on my life from God.

The position kind of put me on a pedestal of sorts, partly by myself, and partly by others. I had become the shining star of youth, the model young Christian man. I did everything from serving in the nursery to the media team to helping the secretary. I was even the Vacation Bible School director. Church WAS my life.  Then it all started to come unraveled…

Please describe your conversion experience or process:

My conversion road has been a winding, mixed one. I went from being Catholic altar boy to associate youth director for a Southern Baptist church to an almost dropped-out, “emergent,” gay Christian.

I still consider myself a Christian. I just don’t claim a denomination, or go to church on a set-in-stone basis. I follow and believe in Christ. I base my life on the “red-lettered” parts of the Bible.

What events led to your conversion?

I was born into a Catholic family, and not just “Christeaster” Catholics. We went to church every Sunday and to CCD during the week, and even some of the special services. By first or second grade, I had become the youngest altar boy. And then we went to church even more. Sometime around the time I was in fifth grade, my parents started to have problems with the teachings of the Catechism and had begun listening to other preachers like James Dobson.  Soon after, they converted to being Southern Baptists. And of course, considering my age, I converted also and, as they did, “became a Christian.” Looking back now, although I had never “walked the aisle” or said the special prayer, I think I was a Christian. My life and beliefs were the same, for the most part. One main difference was I read the Bible all the time, especially the Old Testament — thus ensuring that I could dominate at Bible drills and trivia.

Once Baptist, we continued going to church. We went to service on Sunday morning and evening and on Wednesday. My parents started volunteering more and joining committees. And, as I came of age, I did the same. I took an active role as a student leader in the youth group. And as stated earlier, my church commitments grew and grew until eventually I was in almost every aspect of church life. I was there more than home and school on some days. It was, very much so, my life. And that is where my second conversion began.

It started off as a growing distaste for organized religion. From the inside, church is not pretty. I quickly learned that church people are some of the meanest, most two-faced people. The gossip and laziness and complaining that went on started making me rethink my “calling” to youth ministry. To be honest, I was never a hardcore Southern Baptist. I got in trouble for using Rob Bell’s NOOMA videos as lessons, I drank [alcohol], and wasn’t all that fond of potlucks. But for the most part I was able to ignore my misgivings and move on. But the doubt began to pile up, and doubt was not encouraged. In fact, when I expressed it, I was told to stay firm against the devil’s attacks and pray because any doubt was from Satan. I was taught that God didn’t like doubt and I needed to avoid it.

But hiding it just made it worse. And things began to happen that caused my doubts to grow. First, my pastor asked me to resign from every position at my church because he found out that I was gay. My parents made me go to counseling for the same thing. I went from being the golden boy of my church to barely being greeted. That was the final straw. So I left, I tried other churches, even worked at another, larger Baptist church as part of the media team for their televised services. But the doubts were still there and it felt like God had disappeared. I never quite became agnostic, but for a brief period, I was close. I began to doubt if God loved me or was even there because all the Christians — who were supposed to be his ambassadors here on earth — were hateful and judgmental and fake.

How was I supposed to believe in a God who hated me for something that I could not help or change? [Being gay] wasn’t a choice. I never chose it. Why would I choose to ruin my life and make it harder? But through the writings, blogs, and videos of several authors, I began to realize that God was there, welcomed my doubts, cared for and loved me, and was NOTHING like those Christians who claimed to represent him. God is truly love.

And that brings me to where I am now. I am a Christian, I love Jesus, I am gay, and I still do go to church every now and again. But I don’t like organized religion, nor do I need it to know God. I don’t feel guilty if I miss a Sunday. And I don’t claim a denomination — or any label really — though I am often labeled by other Christians as “emergent” or “liberal” in my theology. I simply believe that Christ is love and loves everyone as they are, and I, as his follower, should do the same.

What kind of impact did your conversion have on your friends and family?

My first conversion from Catholic to Baptist really had no effect on me. I was young and largely sheltered from any negative reactions. I do remember that my extended family, who were mostly Catholic, were confused as to why we made the switch. But as far as I know there were no real negative reactions from family or friends. With that said, however, I do remember one negative reaction…from our priest. He was very old-fashioned and we were one of his favorite families. When he heard we were leaving he asked to come visit, and was not happy at all. I don’t remember much other than him using one word that scared the hell out of me: anathema. Basically, he said, we were committing the ultimate sin by leaving the church and we were doomed with no hope, a form of self-imposed excommunication.

My second conversion — when I left the church, and when I came out — was completely different. I lost friends and got many a thinly veiled negative reaction. My pastor, of course, asked me to resign. My discipleship partner, who was a strict Calvinist (and lover of pastors like John Piper and Mark Driscoll), stopped meeting with me when I said I was gay and couldn’t change it. He even argued that he had to question whether I was really saved or not. A close friend said she could no longer include me in her circle of close friends because my lifestyle was not one she approved of. My parents first made me go to counseling to be “healed,” but I grew tired of hiding and denying my homosexuality to keep the peace. Eventually they asked me to move out. And although I am still on good, speaking terms with them, it hurt that they would do that to me. Many friends supported and stood by me and loved me for who I was. They were there for me when I needed to cry or vent. Some even convinced their parents to open their homes to me. But I did lose a few. To this day, I still get texts, emails, and Facebook messages and comments telling me to turn back to God and that every bit of bad luck is because He is trying to get my attention. To this day, I still find it’s hard to deal with the fact that people would change or leave me because of a part of who I am.

What advice would you give someone going through the same experience or contemplating a similar conversion?

1.  Always know that it is OK to doubt. No matter what your preachers or Sunday School teachers or anyone else may say, it’s OK and even normal. God welcomes those doubts because it helps us grow in our faith as we look for the answers. Never feel guilty for that.

2.  For those who may be gay, or know someone who is gay, I want you to know that God loves you. He doesn’t make mistakes and has not, nor ever will, turn his back on you. It is possible to be a Christian and be gay. Jesus loves and accepts everyone. Those who judge and condemn and hate and say that it’s a choice will have to answer one day for the disobedience of what Christ called one of the most important commandments, love thy neighbor. One day the Church will look back and realize that this issue is just like when they suppressed African-Americans and women and, just as with those issues, they will be ashamed of their wrongdoing.  The Church may have turned its back, but Christ never will. So don’t turn from Him.

3.  You don’t have to be part of a church to worship God. All that matters is your relationship with Him, and you don’t need a building or a routine service to do that. What you do and how you worship and grow in your faith is between you and Him. And you should never feel bad or wrong for that.

What are three things you have learned in the process?

1.  I have learned to live my life with no regrets. I have made mistakes, but I don’t regret them. I made them and learned my lessons, and those lessons and mistakes are part of what have made me the person I am today. And dwelling in the past, and regretting, simply holds you back and keeps from living today to your fullest. God intended us to live full, happy lives. Not lives filled with regret and pain.

2.  I don’t have to apologize for who I am, nor should I ever. God made me and loves me, and He doesn’t make mistakes. For those who judge and don’t get to know me, they are wrong. God loves me for my good and bad, my flaws and mistakes, and everything else that makes me me. The people who truly love me will be in my life no matter what I am or do. I don’t need fickle friends or people who say they love me, but show otherwise with actions because they aren’t true friends and won’t be there when you need them the most.

3.  My faith is between me and God. I learned that I don’t need a set of rules like in Leviticus or a denomination or even a church building and worship service. You can be Catholic, Baptist, emergent, or a church drop-out and still be a Christian. We worship where and how we feel is best. Being a Christian isn’t about where you go, what you sing, or what “brand” of Christian you are. It’s about whether you follow the basic example Christ gave us in the red letters:  love, hope, charity, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. That’s the code of conduct we should live by, not a certain denomination’s or preacher’s ideas.

—————-

Thank you for sharing your story, Adam. You can get in touch with Adam on Facebook.

Previous posts in the “conversions” series:

Trav Fecht: From Contemporary Worship to Liturgy
Christy: From Fundamentalism to Non-Religious Spirituality
Ryan Hadley: Christian to Atheist
David Johndrow: Congregational Church to Charismatic Episcopalian
Jeremy Myers: From Senior Pastor to Church Dropout
Mike Wise: Christian to Agnostic to Christian
Jessica Gavin: Universalist to Seventh-Day Adventist
Torie Brown Hunt: From Southern Baptist to Mormon



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Comments read comments(9)
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David N.

posted April 1, 2011 at 9:14 am


Thanks, Adam. Even though you already expressed this to others who might be in a similar situation, I want to assure you that there are plenty of your fellow believers who DO want to love and worship with our brothers and sisters who are gay.

What is your plan regarding church in the future? Do you plan to seek out a permanent church home that will be accepting?

Thanks again.



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Adam M.

posted April 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm


Thank you David, that is always good to hear people say. I do go to church on a semi-regular basis at different churches. I am from the deep, conservative South, so very few, if any churches support it, even if there are members that do. So I go, and just don’t advertise my personal life. However, if I were to find a church that did, yes I would consider making it my home and getting involved again. I have been trying to relocate to Austin and will actively search, with more luck I’m sure, for a church that accepts, to make it my home church.



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fastthumbs

posted April 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm


I never understood why anyone who is LGBT would want to be (willingly) part of Christianity (or Judaism for that matter) when there are anti-LGBT scriptures such as Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. One would have to cherry-pick bible verses to accommodate being LGBT and retain a sincere belief in Jesus. The majority of the religious feel that homosexuality is a sin. From Pew forum (http://pewforum.org/PublicationPage.aspx?id=645#4):
“Nearly nine-in-ten (88%) highly committed white evangelicals say homosexual behavior is sinful, and 64% of committed white Catholics agree. Nearly three-quarters of black Protestants (74%) see homosexual conduct as sinful. But just 18% of secular respondents feel this way.”

Being LGBT and Christian makes about as much sense to me as being a Jewish Nazi or Black KKK member…



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Carla

posted April 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm


I don’t want to open up a can of worms, I don’t think the way you were treated was right, but I do have a lingering question or two from you testimony.

You say you don’t like labels (I don’t like labels, either), but you still use the label gay/homosexual. Why? Do you feel this defines you? And do you feel it defines you more than Christian defines you? Or is it just more defining than Catholic or Baptist?

Also what are your real thoughts on the Bible? Do you only read/believe the “red-lettered” parts? Just curious.

I hope and pray you find a church family that suits you. You may not need a church to worship or learn about God, but it is a pretty important tool in fellowship.

Blessings to you,
Carla



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Adam M.

posted April 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm


Carla in answer to your questions:

I do not like labels. And I refuse any one label because I feel as if nothing truly define mine person with just one word. I just felt as if the fact that a small part of me is the fact that I am a gay man helped to give light and direction to my story and why certain events/beliefs came about. And as far as denominations go, there are just none that capture fully my beliefs.

As far as the Bible, I have bee asked that often. I do believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible word of God. BUT, that said, I do believe that the Bible is often misinterpreted, much like it was in regards to race and gender. I think it must be read and interpreted in the light if the the times and cultures in which it was written. I also believe that the New Testament, and the Red Letters, are what we as Christians are supposed to live by based on the New Covenant. The Old Testament was the basis and a part of the Old Testament, which was done away with when the New Covenant was began with Christ. The Old Testament is a source of history for understanding, as well as a source of wisdom and inspiration (i.e. the Psalms and Proverbs).

Thank you and hope that answers your questions :D

God bless you as well,
Adam



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churchmouse

posted April 12, 2011 at 2:07 am


Adam,
I am curious as to how your lifestyle fits with the scriptures. You said you lived your life by what Christ said. But Christ backed up the Genesis account of creation…one man for one woman. He talked about divorce, between one man and one woman. To my knowledge there is no example of a same sex marriage in the scriptures. And sin is any sex outside marriage and that goes for heterosexuals too.
I am not pointing this out to be cruel..but I do not see evidence that supports what you are claiming in any way. People today want to justify their behavior. Sin has always been the same in the scriptures…different times and cultures do not matter. It is sin to add or take anything away from the Word. And the Word is crystal clear what sin is.



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Jessica

posted April 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm


Thank you so much for sharing your story, Adam. As I was reading all the experiences that you have been through, I was constantly reminded of myself. The only difference is that when I was told by the Mormon chuch that I needed to change my sexuality in order to be accepted, I turned my back not only on them, but on God and everything I used to believe in. For the last seven years I have been trying to make sense of myself and find a new purpose in my life, but there has been an emptiness in me that was only filled by God and Jesus Christ. I have recently suffered a terrible loss in my life and have started to wonder if I should try to build a new relationship with God. I feel that your article, with it’s expression of faith and hope in spite of all the trials that come with being homosexual, has helped me to realize that I may have been wrong when I thought that God rejected me.



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 11, 2011 at 10:37 am


Adam, have you tried the Metropolitan Community Church yet? I believe there’s one in Austin. I have been to worship with them in Houston and Dallas, and in Oklahoma City and Tusa, so I know there’s a presence in America’s Bible belt. Their worship services are not unlike those of the Southern Baptists. You will know all the hymns, but you’ll hear a far more uplifting message from their pulpits than you ever will at a SBC or an RCC. It will be relevant to YOUR life experience. Please, I entreat you to ignore those that would reduce your very life to a “lifestyle”. That is a diminishing, demeaning and debasing LIE that is exposed by your love of Christ and the Church universal.

Please do not linger with the haters and bearers of false witness.



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