My First Queer Church

Do you know what it’s like to be in a church where there’s only one heterosexual couple? If you’re like most of us, you don’t.

What you probably can relate to is being excluded by the church. Like me, you’ve been refused communion, been refused the opportunity to use your gifts, and just generally not invited to church functions that are not outreach oriented.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend The Lighthouse of Hope Christian Fellowship. I was insecure, skeptical as to what everyone being welcome meant, and was so hurt and broken by the Body of Christ that it seemed easier to avoid new things than take a chance. My friend Tori, a trans woman not that it matters….but let’s face it, it does, invited me for the weekend.img_1434

I was housed by her friend Jack, a trans man who has hand written scripture verses as artwork hanging all over the house. I was able to decompress from the past decade of suppressing my sexuality, be validated and be cared for.

On Sunday, we went for brunch like a bunch of cliche LGBTQ friends….but no, I did not have mimosas.  Then we went to help set up for church. Church happens in an old banquet hall at 4pm every Sunday. It’s a place where the motto is “Everyone is Welcome, and we mean it!”. This phrase is displayed on the overhead projector for all to see, and they really do mean it! There’s people from all walks of life, pets and an online church following. No one singles you out but everyone makes you feel welcome. There’s hugging, worship, prayer and communion.img_1439

Two things from my time at this church brought me to tears and healed my wounded heart for the first time in a very long time.

First, I was invited to play the piano after soundcheck was completed. See, my friend Tori that I mentioned before knew that I used to be a worship leader. She knew that I had been missing that part of my life within the church, and we got there early specifically so that I’d have that opportunity. At first, I felt awkward, and then something beautiful happened. I let my guard down. I played like I hadn’t had a two year break from the piano. I sang from the depth of my soul–from my pain, from my joy of belonging, from my burden of being one of the marginalized at the edge of the church. In those moments, I felt close to God again, I felt his love, I felt that my calling had not changed, and I felt at home.

Second, after listening to Sarah (a trans woman) bring a glorious truth filled word about God’s generosity and obedience in giving–we had communion. As the helpers passed out the wafer and the juice, I watched in awe as there was zero trace of pretence and awkwardness–as we sometimes notice in Contemporary Church. Each member of the congregation was keenly aware of the preciousness of those around them. I began to tear up. Each one of these folks believes that I am perfect as made and perfect in Christ. At no time were we asked to examine our hearts before taking communion. At no time were pet sins mentioned requiring repentance before God as a preemptive deed leading up to the Eucharist.

We were covered by grace, created in the image of God and therefore invited to remember how that good news happened. It was the first time I was invited to participate in communion since April. I didn’t realize how important those rituals, of remembering Jesus together with other believers, were. I didn’t realize how much I was in survival mode. Mostly, I just didn’t realize.

I’m going to go back.

More importantly, I am going to help the same thing to happen here.img_1430

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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

Hot Topic : The Use of the Word Homosexual in the Bible

As you might imagine, I’ve been receiving many emails, messages and questions asking how I interpret the verses in scripture that condemn homosexuality.

Rather than speak from my point of view, I would like to provide readers with the same information I read and allow them to come to their own conclusions.

 I believe that we are all responsible for our own theology and faith –and it would be a great disservice to only know one way of thinking before weighing the evidence.

Our Spirit Now addresses what are widely known as “the clobber passages” among LGBTQ Christians. These are the verses in scripture that are translated in English containing the word homosexual or homosexuality.

“Where in the Bible you might find the word homosexual used incorrectly:
  • The Hebrew word kedah means temple prostitute and is sometimes inaccurately translated at sodomite or homosexual.
  • In 1 Corinthians, sodomite or homosexual are sometimes used, but they are incorrect translations of the Greek malakos which means something closer to effeminate or the Greek practice of pederastywhich is older men having sex with boys and is not consensual gay sex between peers.
  • 1 Corinthians also refers in Greek to arsenokaitai, which appears nowhere else in the Bible or in Greek writings about homoerotic sexuality, but probably means male prostitute.
  • Jude 7 sometimes refers to homosexual flesh that the Sodomites pursued.  This is an inaccurate translation of hetera sarx which means, literally, strange flesh to describe the flesh of the angels who were sent by God to evaluate Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • In Timothy 1:9-10, translators sometimes use homosexual for the original Greek words, pornoi, arsenokoitai, and andrapodistai, meaning male prostitutesmales who hire male prostitutes or the slave dealers who procure them.”
Taken from www.ourspiritnow.org, Friday , June 3, 2016.

For me, one of the interesting things to consider was the lack of examples of same sex sex outside of prostitution, idolatry, sexual abuse of minors or slavery. It also came as a surprise to me that the word homosexual didn’t exist at the time of English translations. It was coined in 1869 by Dr. Karoly Benkert by combining the Greek term “homo” for same and the Latin “sexual”. It was after his studies in the field that translations started to have the word included. 

Equip.org states:
Theologian Mel White agrees that the Greek word arsenokoitai, used for “homosexual” in 1Corinthians 6:9, seems to refer to same-sex behavior. He argues that Greek scholars don’t know exactly what it means, however, and that this simple detail is a big part of this tragic debate.
He explains, “Some scholars believe Paul was coining a name to refer to customers of ‘the effeminate call boys.’ We might call them ‘dirty old men.’ Others translate the word as ‘sodomites,’ but never explain what that means.”
According to White, in 1958, a translator for the New Amplified Bible set historical precedent by translating this “mysterious” Greek word into English as the word “homosexuals,” even though no such word exists in either Greek or Hebrew. It was that translator, according to White, who “placed the word homosexual in the English-language Bible for the very first time.”
White blames this bad translation for the inability of many NT scholars today to make the proper, culturally relevant application of this passage in 1Corinthians. He adds, “In the past, people used Paul’s writings to oppress women and limit their role in the home, in church, and in society. Now we have to ask ourselves, ‘Is it happening again? Is a word in Greek that has no clear definition being used to reflect society’s prejudice and condemn God’s gay children?’”

Mel White is also a Christian minister and filmmaker, who describes how he reconciles his homosexuality with his Christian faith in his book Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America (New York: Plume Books, 1994).

The reason I like this particular article is it shows the translation process and before concluding mentions that Paul was likely referring to Leviticus when speaking to the Corinthians. They also note that “nothing in 1Corinthians, or for that matter in any other biblical writing, speaks directly of the biological or psychological condition of homosexuality or homosexual ‘orientation’ as this is understood today and as it concerns believing Christian gay persons intent on worshipping and serving God.” (Theologian John H. Elliott, Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco.)
While Equip is not in favour of LGBTQ Christians, its researchers do understand where the argument is coming from. It’s important to note that scholars are debating these issues trying to reconcile science, psychology, culture, history and theology while millions of people are navigating the tense waters in the meantime. 
gaychurch.org does a great job of presenting the inclusive argument. By focussing on the main passages Rev. Justin Cannon gives a detailed reasoning for his stance. I recommend anyone who wishes to seriously understand what inclusive affirming churches believe to read the Rev’s research. 
I think it’s unfair to assume that because someone professes Jesus and identifies as LGBTQ, they would automatically know all these arguments. I didn’t know about the deity of Christ when I received him as saviour and Lord, I didn’t know about creation, or the flood, or baptism or the Holy Spirit. All of these things I needed to study. Think carefully before engaging in debate with one another, give space and time for reflection and above all don’t attack someone with your point of view (or mine for that matter) and say you’re doing it in love. Love is patient, love is kind, it is not self seeking, it keeps no records of wrongs ect. (1 Corinthians 13).

Untitled Poem, written in church

In the shadow of the cross
are the broken and lost
the weeping and weary they come.

To the place where the Son
did what must be done
so they could forever know love.

You are the one laid on His heart
while hanging on that tree
He cried out to His Father in pain

Thinking of you the King of the Jews
looked up to the Heavens and sighed
He breathed His last breath and He died.

The enemy rejoiced
at the death of the Christ
he regaled his defeat with the grave

Jesus had promised He would return
from the tomb did He rise
to ransom they that were slaves

Listen you lost, you broken, you weary
that’s where your story starts
from before your very beginning
you were written on the Father’s heart.

Come out of the shadow
out of the darkness
come claim what’s been restored.

The debt has been paid
you’ve been set free
come here, take it, it’s yours.

Rejoice my brother, my sister, my friend
you’re now the child of the King
lift up your head, your heart and your voice

Let the praises ring!

Following God in Faith

As I was wrestling with the clear impression to move to Vancouver Island last year, God again brought to my mind and heart the story of Abram—one that He has used repeatedly to guide me.


12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
 I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
12:1—The Lord called Abram. He did not give Abram specific details. But in His command there is a promise, “to the land I will show you”. God went before Abram, had a place already in mind for Abram and His family.
God has already told me where to go, he is going before me and setting all things up according to His plan. I simply must follow in faith.
12:2-4—God followed His command with a promise. We know this promise well, it is something we learn again and again and come back to. We use it to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness, and in Hebrews to remind us of Abraham’s faith.
God has called me, and He has given me a promise. My efforts in obedience will not be wasted. 
I was talking with a friend and I thought about walking blindly by faith. As I chewed on that thought, I realized that I never walk blindly if I am truly walking by faith. My gaze, when walking by faith, is ever on the Lord. As long as my eyes are on Him, and I am seeking His will and guidance, I am never walking blindly.
Think of driving without a map. You may not know exactly where you are, where you are going, or when you will arrive. But looking out the window, you can see ahead of you. You see the road signs, the weather, the scenery. You see the speed limits, the other travellers and around here the wildlife. You never truly drive blind. And if you do, maybe it’s time for new glasses?
12:5-7—So what then? Abram followed the Lord immediately. He took his wife, his nephew and his possession and began the journey. When the journey was not yet complete, he built and altar to the Lord and worshipped him.
I am amazed at Abram’s attitude and faith. At this point, what was Abram thankful and worshipful for?
He has just left his entire family behind, he left behind all that defined him, his livelihood, his home, his status, even his culture. He did all this at the command of God in return for a promise.
He is probably really smelly, sleeping with the animals, his wife is more than likely irritated with him for dragging her across the wilderness to the middle of nowhere. And yet, he pauses to worship and to remember God’s goodness to him.
The most common question I have been asked is “Why Vancouver Island?” and the simple answer is “Because the Lord commanded be to”. Is this answer enough? Looking at the life of Abram, the calling of the father of the nation of Israel, I would say yes, it is.
Then the question begs what does following look like?
Abram did not know the full scope of his journey. He knew the starting point, and he knew the ending point. The stops in-between departure and destination were at best vague.
I feel a little like that myself. I know that the starting point is University so far the stops in between have included Clearwater, Sexsmith, Grande Prairie, Kansas City, Missouri, Vietnam, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Ohio, McBride and many other places. I trust that the Lord is using this to refine me to the woman He needs me to be to effectively minister to the His people. And even more than that, to be willing to follow the Lord anywhere, is truly freedom indeed.

A good friend once asked me, “If Jesus pulled up beside you in a car, and offered to take you anywhere you wanted to go, what would you say?”
My initial response was “Who cares?! It’s Jesus. I would respond ‘Lord, take me to your favourite place.’”
Upon more reflection, I realized that Jesus is already taking me to his favourite place. In scripture we find Jesus with the lost, the poor, the broken and the needy. Here is that place, and the more I walk with my eyes on His, the clearer my calling becomes.
***Edited from a message I gave in 2013 regarding following God’s call.