Being an LGBT Christian, or an LGBT person in a Christian environment, can be a literal nightmare. I know. I was there once.
Abomination, reprobate. Broken, confused, degenerate, pervert. Going to hell, going to get AIDS, child molester, child recruiter. Fix yourself, fix yourself, better fix yourself or you’ll burn in hell.
I heard it. I felt it. Even as a secret apostate in an Evangelical high school, I knew they were talking about me. I was scared. I was confused. I was afraid that someone found out, I’d lose my home, and my family, and all of my friends. No one wants to be a queer lover.
By all the gods I didn’t believe in, I was so scared to be gay.
There were times I thought I was straight. Times I was afraid I was turning gay. I wasn’t afraid because I believed that there was some devll in a white suit waiting to string me up on the rack after I died. I was afraid because I thought the halls of my high school were the world. I was afraid because there was no one there to tell me, “It gets better.”
(And then I grew up and I found out that bisexuality was something other than the porn my roommate liked to watch and oooooooooh).
I’m not afraid anymore. I escaped. I grew up. I left that abusive environment and found out the truth. I found out that I wasn’t broken. I found out that I didn’t need to fixed. I discovered that what I felt, who I loved, wasn’t less normal, just less common. No longer ashamed of myself, no longer hiding myself, and no longer afraid.
Instead, I’m angry. I am angry at the spiritual environment I grew up in. I’m angry at the Christian Church. The organisation that claims to be the most loving, most generous, most caring group of people in existence.
I’m speaking up.
I’m angry at the lies, and I’m angry at the abuse, and I’m angry at the whitewashed vernier of piety and moralism that has justified the abuse of LGBT people for decades. I’m angry that there are people who defend it and people who facilitate it, and people who justify it. I’m angry that Christianity has had 2,000 years to put its claims of loving your fellow man into action and they still can’t get it right. Or perhaps they don’t want to. And I’m angry that there are LGBT people in the Church who continue in this path of terrorism against other LGBT people.
These are problems that deserve anger, and they’re problems that deserve to be addressed.
These are the reasons that I am saying this to LGBT Christians. I’m saying it as I would to any other individual who is in an abusive environment or an abuse-facilitating environment.
Leave your church.
Leave that environment,
Get out. Stop promoting, stop facilitating spiritual abuse against other people. Against yourself. You can leave and you should and here’s a few reasons why.
1. Christianity is based upon an immoral and horrific theology of abuse against LGBT people.
The so-called ‘clobber verses’ are repeated ad nauseum by anti-gay Christians in their quest to stigmatise LGBT people. But they’re worth repeating because they carry an altogether nasty and monstrous message. Remember, if you’re LGBT (or as LGBT as they understood it a couple of millenia ago), the Bible states that:
You are an abomination (Leviticus 18:22)
The crime of being gay is punishable by death (Leviticus 20:13)
You are unnatural (Romans 1:26-28)
You are incapable of salvation and will be eternally tortured because of your gayness. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11)
And before anyone jumps in to say that no one truly believes this, check yourself. I’m sure most of you have encountered the vile recent sermon by Baptist Pastor Steven Anderson claiming that if we executed all LGBT people like the Bible commands we would have an AIDS free Christmas, (I refuse to post any link to his material here). I’m sure many of you are aware of people like Peter LaBarbera, Bryan Fischer, and Tony Perkins who openly advocate for the recriminalisation of homosexuality under ‘sodomy’ laws. I’m sure the name Scott Lively is familiar, the man who helped facilitate the bill in Uganda that mandated the death penalty for LGBT people.
These are the people who are following the words of the Bible the most accurately. These are the ones who are taking it seriously, and that’s extremely telling. And these are not anomalies. These people represent a huge amount of American Christians who believe that persecution against LGBT people is a Biblical mandate. And they’re right.
In the interest of fairness, there’s a growing revisionist movement among some Christians to reinterpret the clobber verses. People like Matthew Vines argue that the verses were misinterpreted, that they’re taken out of context, that it doesn’t really mean what it says. You know, what Christians do whenever there’s something in the Bible that’s uncomfortable or inconvenient. I understand what Vines and others are trying to do. I really do. And I appreciate it. I appreciate that they’re trying to create a world in which queer kids can sit in a pew and not hear that they’re broken and doomed to hell because of the natural orientation. It’s a worthy goal.
But it isn’t going to change what the Bible says about people like me, about millions of people. LGBT Christians are part of an organisation that’s based on a theology and a scripture that commands their execution. No matter how many reinterpretations there are, any LGBT Christian can open up their Bible and find exactly how they’re going to suffer eternally. This is wrong. It’s wrong as the Bible was wrong about slavery, and genocide, and rape, and the roles of women in the house. Christianity is abusive because the Bible itself is inherently abusive.
2. The church has a deep, long history of spiritual abuse against LGBT people.
This one point could go on for pages. It would list how the Christians have been at the forefront of every civil rights violation concerning LGBT people. It would talk about DADT, about the Briggs initiative, and about the AIDS crisis and Jerry Falwell. It would talk about Matthew Shepard and Rebecca Wight. It would talk about the 40% rate of LGBTs among homeless youth. It would talk about reparative therapy. For pages and pages it would talk about reparative therapy and the psychological torture and abuse heaped on LGBT people, children, justified by the lie that ‘change is possible.’
Consider this. There were no LGBT affirming churches before the 1970’s, at least none that weren’t created specifically for LGBT people That means that every single Christian denomination and congregation that existed for more than 40 years has been, on some level, abusive towards LGBT people. That’s a pretty damning statement. As support for the civil rights of LGBT people increases, Christians are left scrambling to catch up, lest they be faced with empty pews. In their desperation, both affirming and non-affirming congregations struggle to convince LGBT people and allies that they’re not abusive, that they’ve never been abusive, or that they’ve evolved. That they’ve changed.
Anything with such a heavy history of often horrific abuse should be approached with extreme caution, whether that’s an individual or an institution. Saying “I’ve changed” doesn’t cut it. Trying to whitewash an abusive history is even worse.
Why should LGBT people leave the Church? Because Christianity has hardly begun to make up for it’s years of abuse. It hasn’t washed the blood of hundreds or thousands of LGBT kids off its hands. It’s about time the Church learned to live with the consequences of its actions, rather than bleating “But we’re not like that NOOOOOW!”
3. ‘Non-affirming’ is spiritual abuse.
You are not ‘non-affirming.’ You are spiritually abusive. You are not a ‘Side B’ Christian. You are spiritually abusive.
Pressuring, advising, or teaching people that they must remain celibate to stay ‘right with God’ is spiritual abuse. Telling people that their sexuality is flawed, that their families and relationships are disordered, is spiritual abuse. Destroying families, making people hate an intrinsic, natural part of themselves that they cannot change, is spiritual abuse. And its monstrous.
That means that even nice-seeming people like Jen Hatmaker who insists that she really, really, does love gays but just theologically opposes their lives and families, is complicit in spiritual abuse of the LGBT community. The people who insist that they’re warning you about how broken and terrible you are because of love are spiritually abusive.
There is no reason to stay in such an environment. It’s dangerous. It’s harmful. It’s especially harmful for gay youth. When they see LGBT Christians minimalising and trying to reconcile themselves with ‘non-affirming’ abusive Christians, it validates the spiritual abuse the Church is so awash in. It sends the message that non-affirming Christians hold a legitimate alternate view in that LGBT people are inherently disordered and need to fix themselves. This facilitates further abuse.
4. Even ‘affirming churches often have an agenda.
Consider the NALT (Not All Like That) Christians Project. The NALT Christians Project is a sort of Christian version of ‘It Gets Better.’ It’s run by straight Christian John Shore. Christians upload videos affirming LGBT people and their relationships and assuring any watching LGBT individuals that ‘not all Christians are like that.’ ‘That’ being abusive, bigoted, anti-gay Christians, of course. A worthy endeavour? It could have been.
But take a look at NALT’s ‘About‘ page and the true motive behind their affirmation is revealed. On the page are listed NALT’s goals. The first goal, the very first and most important point on the list, reads a such:
“To refute the widespread belief that Christianity is synonymous with anti-gay bigotry.”
Forget helping LGBT people escape abusive environments. Forget their needs at all. According to John Shore and his team, the most important mission of the NALT project is the reputation of his religion. It’s not about LGBT people, it’s about Christianity. It’s about how people think about his religion. It’s about countering the popular opinion that the Christian Church is bigoted after decades of the Christian Church being bigoted. It’s selfish, it’s egotistical, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to call a man like Shore an ally when that’s the first item on his site’s manifesto.
But it doesn’t stop there. For example, this recent article from Bedlam Magazine. Another straight Christian man, Cory Copeland writes that the Church needs to target the LGBT community and get them back inside and into the pews. Why? Because they have so much to offer!
“From bringing the AIDS virus to national attention to fighting for their equal rights to joining forces with other maligned groups to ensure the future they’re working so hard for will welcome them freely. That’s what our Church needs: that fight, that passion, that drive….The Church needs the LGBT community today. Right now. We need that fire. That passion. That commitment. That loyalty.”
Again, nothing about ministering to LGBT people or remedying the evil culture of abuse that Christianity fosters. It’s all about what LGBT people can do for Cory Copeland. It’s about what the Church gets out of them. It treats LGBT people like baubles to adorn the Christian Church with their ‘passion’ and ‘commitment.’ Conveniently forgetting the LGBT people don’t owe Copeland, or any Christian for that matter, shit.
These are not isolated incidents. These are prevalent views in the more progressive church. I’ll be blunt, I’m never anything else. ‘Affirming’ does not mean ‘safe.’ It does not mean ‘healing.’ It does not mean that you are not still an agenda, a goal, a target, or a decorative feature. And LGBT people continue to deserve better than what Christians like Shore and Copeland are offering.
5, The Christian Church is more interested in ‘reconciliation’ than actually helping LGBT people.
I’m no opponent of reconciliation in general. I’ve spent as much of my time and resources as I can working in programmes meant to foster reconciliation in my home country. I understand how tough of a battle it is to bring together two groups of people who have despised each other for so long. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. I’ve fought to make it happen.
But the reconciliation that Christians are advocating for is not the sort that’s happening back in Ireland. It’s not between two groups of people who spent three decades literally slaughtering one another over real or perceived slights. In the relationship between the Christian Church and the LGBT community, there are two different dynamics; the oppressed and the oppressor. There can be no reconciliation between these two groups of people until the oppressors are taught that they cannot continue to malign their victims and they learn to accept that.
So as I’ve said before, there is no ‘Third Way’ on the LGBT ‘issue.’ There is no coming to the table with these people. If it is more important to Christians that Side A and Side B are able to worship and commune together than insuring that LGBT people are in a safe and non-abusive environment, then LGBT lives will continue to be second-class. And people will continue to die because of the sneering hatred of those they’re supposed to rub shoulders with. If they cannot find a safe place at the Christian communal table, the table should be abandoned.
6. They celebrate the people who make a living off abusing us.
I’m talking about Franklin Graham who claims that the homosexuals don’t adopt children, they recruit. I’m talking about John MacArthur, who encourages parents to abandon and ostracise their gay children. I’m talking about Mark Driscoll who mocked and maligned ‘effeminate’ men. I’m talking about people like Alan Chambers and Julie Rodgers who literally ran and was a spokesperson for a torture clinic that destroyed thousands of lives and now, in the case of Rodgers, actually councils LGBT youth at Wheaton College. Counsels them, when she used to speak on behalf of the people who made a living psychologically torturing them.
There is so much LGBT blood on the hands of Christian leaders. So much. And they will never be held accountable for it. They will never have to answer for it. Christians have demonstrated this time and time again. They will always have support in the Church. And they will always have a voice. And these voices mingle in an unholy chorus that foster this wretchedly spiritual abusive environment.
The only way this is going to end is if LGBT people stop fucking listening to them.
So what’s the point?
I can’t save the entire LGBT community from spiritual abuse with one blog post, and it’s not my place to. If you’re an LGBT person who’s happy and comfortable in your Christian faith, this post is not for you. Well, not like you think. I am speaking to the people who are trapped or tricked into this sort of environment, through spiritual or emotional manipulation and abuse. I mean to make it clear that it is abuse. That it’s not love and it’s not care and it’s not a simple disagreement. It is abuse. And you should leave. A battered wife doesn’t need to wait for her husband to come around. An abused child doesn’t need to stay and try and fix things. And neither do you. You can leave. You should leave. For yourself, and so others might have the courage to follow.
And to all Christians, LGBT or otherwise who promote and advocate Christianity, this post is for you. To tell you that you don’t have an excuse anymore. To abuse, to facilitate abuse, to minimalise abuse, or to portray abuse as something that victims can co-exist beside. You have no fucking excuse anymore. There’s so much blood on your doorstep that you have to clean up first.
And to those who might say I have no right to tell LGBT Christians what they should do or how they should live out their faith because I’m not part of your community? Seriously, go fuck yourself. I don’t need to be a chef to know when food is shit, and I don’t need to still be a part of a community to call out abuse in that community. I swore that I would never let what happened in the nation of my birth happen in the nation of my adoption without speaking up. I’m not that helpless ten year old gypsy kid anymore.
The wonderful news is, LGBT people in America have a much higher percentage of secularism than other communities. 47% of LGBT people in America identify as non-religious. This is amazing. This is a triumph over the Christian abuse culture. This number needs to be higher. The separation of Church and LGBT community should be encouraged, fostered, and advocated for, because each person out is another one saved from all that abuse.
You had 2,000 years, Christians. You couldn’t get it right. You’ve lost this community, and you’ve lost most of them for good. And for every stride you make, for every LGBT person you try to keep a hold of to control, manipulate, and misuse, I and people like me will be there every step of the way to say it again and again.
It gets better, it is better, and you are worth more.
Picture via heidlblog.net