Rejection in Jesus' Church: Perception or Reality?
Hello everyone. I am a 40 year old single woman who has been a faithful Christian for almost 20 years, and who also happens to be same sex attracted. In years past I served in the United States Air Force and today work as an instructor and trainer for the American Red Cross. As well, I am actively involved in my home church family as I strive to follow Jesus daily. If you want to read more about my life and how I've gotten to where I am today, Click Here.
It was on my heart to share with you something that I have experienced throughout my years as a same sex attracted Christian that I hope will aid you as you attempt to help others who are struggling with sexual identity issues.
No Man or Woman is an Island
Let me start by saying; we (same sex attracted disciples) need your help. None of us wants to be on a "spiritual island." We welcome and need your love, fellowship, friendship, wisdom and discernment. But, if you were to look across the landscape of our churches overall, you would find that most disciples who live outside of the heterosexual mainstream when it comes to sexual orientation, live lives of isolation and loneliness, even within the walls of Jesus' church.
The issues of same sex attraction certainly carries with them some unique "sensitivities" that I want to bring to your attention, and it is my hope that my thoughts in this brief article will help you understand, even if it is in part, the challenges that disciples who live with this reality daily often face.
In short; Satan lives in the dark. He hates the light. As Christians, we really do want to live in the light; however, as same sex attracted disciples, it is often very tempting for us to hide our sexual identity problems in the dark because of our fear of how other disciples may respond to us.
"Fag" and "Queer" Jokes in the Church??
Our fear is that many Christians have carried into Jesus' church worldly and sinful attitudes that will only leave us being un-righteously joked about, judged and looked down on. Now to be fair, we cannot paint everyone with the same broad brush. There are many Christians who truly have been tremendous ambassadors for Christ in this regards, treating us with love, dignity and respect. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that there are others who have responded in a hurtful, un-Christ-like manner that has left us confused and dazed, wondering how this could be occurring in the church.
Many Christians tell "fag", "dyke", "queer", and "gay" jokes. Many speak with disdain when broaching the subject of homosexuality in our communities, almost as if the issue has much more to do with a "subject" as opposed to just real people. And many disciples have next to nothing to offer except that homosexuals will go to hell and must repent. There seems to be little room for compassion, education, and sensitivity. Again, it's not fair to paint everyone with the same broad brush, but these attitudes absolutely have been present in the church by many.
To be Fair . . .
I suppose the real truth of the matter is this; whether Christians respond in a smug, joking, uncompassionate and judgmental manner or not is not the primary point. The point is our perception, and our perception says that most Christians are not safe; most congregations are not safe places for us to journey to wholeness in Christ. Our perception is that the cruel jokes and mistreatment that we have previously received in the world, will also be a reality in Jesus' church. To be rejected in the world was bad enough, but to be rejected in Jesus' church; the one place on earth where we should feel safe and protected, is just too much to face. The only alternative to this fear and perceived reality then is to keep things hidden in the dark, exactly where Satan wants us to keep it; obviously not a beneficial or biblical standpoint to take, but one that is often chosen in the face of fear of rejection.
And so we need your help
In my life, every sister who knows me from any personal point also knows that I am same sex attracted. Because of this, there is no embarrassment and Satan cannot hold me back in fear. Whenever I encounter a sister with an issue about it, I just lovingly let her know that she has nothing to fear from me. I've never had to take it beyond that. I'm not saying that it never happens to others, but, I think sometimes the worst part is in our own mind. We are probably all guilty of this.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
Why do many Christians see our struggles with sexual identity issues differently than other people's sins? Would we as God's people tolerate the prejudice of brothers and sisters if they responded with disgust at a fellow Christian who struggles with alcoholism or lying? Would Jesus? Then why do we have such low standards for brothers or sisters who continue to have ill feelings towards those in the church who are same sex attracted?
Galatians 5: 19-21
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Notice that Paul tells the brethren in Galatia that dissensions and factions are just as evil as sexual immorality and impurity.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
I believe it is our responsibly to lovingly and patiently help our brothers and sisters who struggle with prejudicial thinking and to help them grow beyond this sinful attitude and to better love as Jesus loves.
That being said, I'm not advocating that we wrap ourselves in a rainbow flag and march up on stage during closing announcements either! What I am saying is that no one should ever allow Satan to keep us in darkness because of fear.
We need to lovingly, and with great humility help to change the culture of our ministries. This will not only help us and our current brethren who are same sex attracted to end the cycle of fear, but it will also benefit friends, family and future generations as well who are yet to come to Jesus' church for healing.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
No Need to be Afraid
This will take a great amount of prayer and education. I hope you will use this website and other resources as well, to learn all you can about this fringe issue of same sex attraction.
You do not need to be afraid of us. We love Jesus, we love His church, and we long, just like you do, to be righteous and Godly. Fear no longer. Satan is the only one who wants this sinful cycle to continue. Pray about what I am saying. Do not act out emotionally to "show that person what's what". Please be Christ-like when approaching this subject that is so multifaceted and complex at best. Allow that reality to have you respond with hesitancy and kindness, and make sure the person with whom you are helping knows that you are a safe person in Christ, that they can be themselves and thereby be authentic and honest about their struggles, allowing them to mature in Christ in a safe and trusting friendship and environment.
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Let us together make our fellowship a safe place for all.