Self-inflicted Battle Scars

Every week I try to write about a different Christian buzzword and today’s buzzword is same sex attracted/love the sinner, hate the sin. I have been struggling to come up with something to write all week as the reasons to ascribing to this philosophy are as varied as the people that Christians are bred to oppress.

People love to hate LGBT people because they assume that we’re all non-monogamous. It is true that a lot of LGBT people will hook up and have more than one partner in their lifetimes. A lot of them will have illegitimate children, as well. A lot of LGBT people, though, know the sting of being rejected by a parent, and because of that they will work to love the children gifted to them, either themselves or by giving them to a set of parents ready for the responsibility of child-rearing and ready to unconditionally love that child.

People love to hate LGBT people because they’ve been told that LGBT people are at war with Christianity. They’re right, there is a war being waged. The Christians attacked first when Homosexual acts were outlawed because of what the bible says. It became, after that, that LGBT people began fighting not to make the bible obsolete, but to understand how it should be applied in a world where people of many faiths and backgrounds coexisted. LGBT people were not trying to remove Christian rights at all, but rather even the playing table. I have heard hateful things spewed by both sides – two wounded animals fighting to protect themselves. I am not saying that one side is right and one side is wrong – both view the same world but only see what they have been conditioned to see.

People love to hate LGBT people because they’re different. People love to hate Christians because they’re peculiar. Both have a very rich history, though, full of events that shaped how we view the world today and full of people who changed the realm of human thought. For a long time I thought that if I were a Queer person I could not be Christian, but they’re fighting for the same thing, though. Both sides are fighting to express the love that they have been taught to show. Both the LGBT person and the Christian belong to these vibrant communities full of God’s creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours. Both will fight for those that they love, but more than that, they will fight for those in their communities.

It’s time to stop trying to find our differences and instead look at where we are the same. Instead of trying to vilify each other, why don’t we try to build each other up? We were all created unique, but we were all also created in the image of God, with an incredible capacity for love. It’s even been scientifically proven that when we try to love each other, even those people that we disagree with, we become happier. We were wired to love. It hurts to see this war that is being waged – because in the end, I know that we’re doing more damage to ourselves rather than each other.

In this war, can I be Queer and Christian? It’s hard to be Switzerland sometimes. It’s the disappointment when my LGBT friends won’t come to church with me even when I’ve shown up at their apartments because they’ve said they’re coming. It’s the awkward silences at church when I mention disasters like Pulse, and things like Trans* day of remembrance. It’s bible studies with the Pastor because apparently I’m deconstructing my faith.

It is so much more than that, though. It’s quiet moments where I pray with my LGBT friends and watch the Holy Spirit touch them. It’s in the questions that come from Christians who genuinely want to understand how they can love me and my communities. It’s in joking with drag queens when they catch on that you’re kinda straight-laced and being the only Uncle in church who hand makes birthday presents.

Navigating the Queer Christian world is less about what you ascribe to, and more about what you stand for. It’s less about what other people think about you, and more about what you think about yourself. Being a Queer Christian is about knowing yourself, and loving yourself, and letting the love of God shine through you on to anyone that wanders across your path, regardless of age, gender, race, beliefs or sexuality. In some ways, I think Queer Christians are the ones that get it right. They are the rebels – but wasn’t Jesus a rebel? They are the outcasts, belonging to two worlds but never resting in either – and wasn’t Jesus both man and God, the bridge between man and God, fully God and fully man?

In the end, Christians and LGBT people are fighting for an ideology that they can hold on to. Jesus said I came not to abolish the law, but fulfil it. Jesus contains everything needed to make us whole again, and I think we forget that in our scramble to be right. Following Jesus is not about being the most literally right – you’re not going to get to heaven based on how many scriptures you know and how many rules you follow. You’re going to be asked, “Did you love the least of these?”

Did you?

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My First Hate Mail: LGBTQ+ and Christianity Part 2

I wasn’t intending to write a follow up entry to the lovely post about my mom, but less than twenty four hours after I praise her for being unconditionally loving and supportive of me–someone professing to be a follower of Christ said some very rude, hurtful and shameful things. Rather than repeat those things, I would like to take this moment to turn it around for praise.

Thank you for being concerned enough about my salvation to publicly humiliate me. I forgive you. This is not sarcastic or tongue and cheek–I mean it. Rather than turn me away from the Christian faith, those hurtful words highlighted the importance of love and grace when delivering truths to one another.

Paul said, 

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (NIV, Biblegateway.org )

If I or my brothers and sisters in Christ cut one another down in effort to stand for truth or righteousness–we are missing the point. Jesus said :

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High,because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36. (NIV Biblegateway.org)
In my understanding, regardless of which side of the great debate you find yourself on, you’d do well in the sight of the Lord to be merciful, to love those who mistreat you and treat others the way you want to be treated. If you can say with all integrity you wish believers to slander you publicly and treat you with wrathful disdain if they believe you to be sinning–I will certainly pray for your view of God and of justice. 
Jesus was moved by compassion, the only harsh words he spoke were to legalistic religious leaders. Look at the woman caught in adultery, the conversation with Pilate, the tax collector, the leper who told everyone Jesus healed him when instructed not to, look how he treated Peter after his denial of Christ…compassion is the rule of the day. 
 
They will know we are his disciples by our love for one another–not by how loudly we oppose one another.
~Cheryl

Radical 2.0

This is a post I wrote when I felt like I was at the bottom of a dark pit and the only way out was honesty. With LGBT issues taking centre stage in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, now more than ever, it’s important to share our coming out stories. It’s important to offer hope, to offer solidarity and to hold one another up with love and respect. If you’d like to share your story, visit the Contact link in the main menu.

517bf-img_0884Just over a year ago, I came out as Bisexual to those who know and love me and then on social media. For the sake of Christian connection, I put myself back in the closet so to speak in order to avoid hard conversations, criticism, isolation and potential loss of relationship. In doing so, I became judgemental, defensive, angry and isolated. I ended up perpetrating all of the things I was afraid of happening to me to others.

Friends and family tried to reach out and be close with me. They called, texted and emailed regularly. I shut them out. I kept telling myself “they won’t understand” which really meant “they won’t accept me”. What I was forgetting is that many of these people already love and accept me…what’s more, is many of them suspected I was struggling with something that was bigger than my anxiety.

I’ve been a part of The Gay Christian Network for almost three years now, to learn more about them click here. At GCN, I’ve found people on all sides of “The Great Debate” as they call it. There’s a spectrum from allies and parents of LGBTQ+ believers to married and committed same gender couples. There’s opposite gender couples in mixed orientation marriages trying to make it work. There’s celibate Christians who take a literal approach to scripture. And there’s dating LGBTQ+ Christians who take a more liberal approach to scripture.

Here’s what isn’t there….judgement. There’s no inquisition. No need to defend one’s existence or choices.

There’s room to ask questions, find answers from all sides and chew on the heady stuff with Jesus. There’s many resources for scriptural analysis for both Side A (Same Gender Marriage) and Side B (Celibacy). There’s resources on how to have the conversations that are hard. Theres a community full of love and support.

What does that leave me with? Hope. Hope for reconciliation between the marginalized and the church at large. Hope for me, that I have a place to fit without feeling like a leper or having to have it all figured out. Hope for the kids that are holding back from relationship with Jesus because “Christians hate gays”.

I would love to have a discussion about how to support people who are marginalized rather than how to support that my existence (as someone who is Bisexual and a Christian) is okay with God.

I’ve chosen to remain silent for the last year because I’ve not wanted to argue. I don’t want to defend myself when people say “it’s not who you are”, “God didn’t create you this way” and so many things that are meant to be encouraging but really aren’t.

If you’d like to know more, I can hook you up with some resources:

The Great Debate-Side A and Side B
Kevin Garcia, LBGTQ Speaker and Writer, Lover of Jesus
My Personal Hero, Vicky Beeching +Vicky Beeching
Believe Out Loud, and movement removing the stigma for LGBTQ+ Believers +Believe Out Loud
Matthew Vines and I are not on the same page, but here it is anyway. I take more of a Side B approach. +Matthew Vines

Feel free to share and comment. If comments are hateful, they will be deleted. Let’s move forward in love and respect.

Since the original publishing of this article, many hurtful and vehement comments have been made regarding LGBT hate crimes. Hate crimes are never okay. They are never God’s judgement on people. Reading the Bible, we see that Jesus took the full wrath of God against sin on himself when he was nailed to the cross. To say that God is doling out punishment on people for simply existing as an LGBT person (even though I personally don’t believe it’s a sin), is to limit the power of Christ’s atonement. There’s nothing we can add to make that payment more complete.

“Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, my sin was but a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.”

~Cheryl

Fan Friday: About Sex

I had a great conversation with a friend last night about the place for sex in a relationship. At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I’d like to take the time to address what I believe on this sensitive subject.

In a culture that is sex positive, and belonging to the LGBTQ culture which is dramatically sex positive, I come across as archaic and old-fashioned IMG_1658in my beliefs. I believe that sex was designed by God to take place
within a committed covenant that over the centuries has evolved into what we now recognize as marriage. I word it this way on purpose. Marriage wasn’t always a state recognized union, and is some places it still isn’t.

In North American culture, our covenant unions are surrounded by  ceremonies and paperwork. In other cultures, if you sleep together you’re married. One thing h
olds true along this spectrum, sex is sacred and our culture has lost that.

IMG_1386I’m not here to shame anyone, I can only speak from my experience and my convictions. I believe the Bible is true, which is why coming to terms with my sexuality as “other than
straight” and Christian doctrine was so hard—is so hard—in the first place. There are more verses about covenant, marriage and faithfulness in scripture than I can count. Marriage is so important to God and to the LGBTQ community.

What are we gaining by promising to be with someone we haven’t really treated any different from the last person we were with?

We gave the last person(s) our heart, our mind, our body…we probably thought we’d be with them longterm too (unless it was casual sex—which I’ll leave for another discussion). What makes sexual intimacy intimate is that it’s sacredness isn’t for everyone to enjoy. It’s a promise to be vulnerable and fully open to another person. If you wouldn’t trust someone with your life, your heart and your future, why would you trust them with the most tender parts of yourself?

Ultimately, if you’re a Christian, you need to figure out where your convictions are in light of the Bible. Do you believe it has authority or is it a nice book to you? No judgement. My sincerest heartfelt hope is that you learn what your convictions are and live a life of integrity. Don’t feel pressured to feign someone’s idea of holiness and don’t feel pressured to be sex positive simply because the people you identify with most are doing it. there’s glorious freedom in knowing who you are in Christ and living accordingly.

IMG_0045

Cheryl

Firsts and Lasts

Tomorrow is the first ever #NanaimoPrideWeek, not only is it the first week, it’s the first ever public event to recognize diversity and equality in our city.

I watched a beautiful video this morning of the crosswalk being painted. Community members stood conversing and recording this historical event. The spokesperson for the Nanaimo Pride Society spoke about diversity and inclusivity. He spoke about community, support and family friendly events.

This was a far cry from the stereotype we see portrayed in the media.


I was struck with excitement and also a little fear. Would the rainbow remain untarnished from vandals and nay-sayers until the conclusion of the events on Sunday? I’m praying for love to win the day as people choose to either participate or remain silent.

This next week is not about the “gay agenda”,  it’s about equal rights to be as human as anyone else. I once watched a TED talk about the gay agenda. I cannot remember who was speaking, but his words stuck with me:

“What is the gay agenda? As a gay person, I would like to know. I don’t wake up in the morning and have my gay coffee, my gay breakfast and drive my gay car to my gay job.”

If I had to put this hypothetical agenda into words, I wouldn’t suggest that LGBTQ people are trying to make everyone, everywhere, in everything queer. We’re trying to make it so that people don’t have to come out anymore.

Wouldn’t it be great if youth stopped taking their own lives because they no longer have to choose between a half-life or a lie? Wouldn’t it be great if weddings were about love and not about politics or religious legalism? (I could go on about this, but I won’t, maybe another time). Wouldn’t it be nice to go to the bathroom without someone checking your genitalia?

How about eating in a cafe? Wouldn’t it be great to be treated like a human instead of a disease? It would be great if not every conversation was about who you do or don’t sleep with, I mean do straight people get asked about their sex life (or lack there of) by any well meaning concerned citizen?

Fact is, people in civilized society are being refused medical treatment, hospitality, services, funding, protection and insurance–to name a few. Pride week isn’t about making out with a pink pixie and tie dyeing your poodle–it’s about saying “we exist, we’re human, do something about it.”

On this first Pride Week celebration, I am looking forward to the day when I can share with my loved ones “and that was the last time it was legal to hurt a person for who they love.”

“That was the last time I was afraid to bring my boyfriend/girlfriend home to meet my parents.”

“That was the last time the church fired their youth pastor/worship leader.”

“That was the last time fear spoke louder than love.”