Tonight I read an article that I came across in my newsfeed on Facebook. I have to admit, it seemed more angry than I personally feel towards the church, at least right now. Yet, to be completely candid, the article DID bring up some pretty good points, and focused on many of the things I have personally gone through in my own walk as a LGBT Christian.
This article did get me thinking, so I wanted to share something with you regarding “church”. It’s a struggle for me, and perhaps you may be surprised as to why.
To knock out the obvious, going to most churches is awkward for my family. More often than not, we can’t just go to a church to check it out. No, instead we have to vet it out; check out their web page, see if there are any notations about homosexuality on their “what we believe” sections, and I usually email the Pastor and straight out ask if it would be a problem if we attended. Only about 40% of the respondents indicate “no, please don’t come” (or variations of the context, some not in a mean way though some of which are pretty aggressive about sin, though those happen only about 5% of the time). 45% struggle with what to say, hoping not to offend but still unable to respond in a positive way. These sound more like, “wow, of course we hope you come over, though we have never had any such people in our church and we are not sure how the congregation would respond.” Some ask if “we look gay”, wonder if they could meet with us before we attend, and that sort of thing. 10% have been affirming, and 5% have been predominantly LGBT churches.
I have to say, however, that it isn’t “easy” to go to a gay church, really. I mean, our kids aren’t gay, you know? And, in relation to OUR experience, more often than not when we attend the 15% gay or affirming churches, they are less conservative. And, really, we like a more conservative, non-denominational church. But the more conservative churches that are around are apt to not want us there. So, can you imagine the struggle? To sum it up, we really don’t fit into either church.
But even beyond that, what I REALLY, REALLY wish for is to just be able to go to church with my family. Period. I would LOVE to not even have to talk about the fact that Deana and I are LGBT. In BOTH scenarios, we just want to worship our Lord and Savior, get into the Word, be fed and recharged with brothers and sisters in Christ, and not have this layer of “us” that truly just gets in the way. It’s like having an extra layer of clothing on each time we go to church that makes it difficult to enter into the holy of holies. It’s like walking with a scarlet letter on our lapels and everyone focuses on that letter instead of what we really are attending church for……and that just seems so wrong. So, personally speaking, I avoid that. Because it just seems like a circus to me, in both types of churches. And yet, when I do that, my very spirit suffers for it as I remove myself from fellowship. From worship. From what I believe I was created to do. So I attend and work though it, but the cycle continues.
So, my heart of prayer often says, “Lord, let me be authentic, yes. But can’t it just be about You? Can’t we just assemble and BE? Can’t we just kneel and sing and pray and listen and encourage and interact and follow? Can’t it just be about learning to be more like You?”
So, in most ways I’ve tried to forgive, yes. I don’t sit here hating evangelicals or wave my fist at those who condemn me to hell. It hurts, I won’t lie, but I don’t despise the ones who say that so much today. But what I miss, what my soul yearns for, is to just be able to worship. Without asking. Without wondering if my presence is offensive or bothering someone. Without thinking the LGBT brothers and sisters with me are more interested in getting more churches to accept us. Without even thinking about sexuality. I yearn to just see the face of Jesus, to hold the hand of someone hurting as I pray with them, to laugh at a Pastor’s anecdote during a sermon, to cry with joy as I consider the vast love that God provides you and me for each moment of our lives, to be more like Him, and to do it not as an LGBT anything, but as a sister in Christ.
And, well, I am still praying.