by Jas, a former drug addict, Bible College Student and now married lesbian
I was in prison when I first encountered Jesus.
I had been a drug addict but when I met him, everything changed. It felt like I fell in love, spending all my time reading about Jesus and getting to know him. When I left prison, I started to attend a church. I loved it. I became a serial volunteer – if there was something needing doing, I was the first person with my hand up. I got involved with loads in the church: stewarding events, running teams and serving however I could.
I wanted everybody to know about Jesus (I may have been a bit annoying with my over-excitement!), so I took my girlfriend to church. The quiet whispers all around when we walked in of “Are they together….?” was the first time I realised that being gay might be a problem. The vicar sat me down the next day and explained that being gay goes against scripture and that I shouldn’t “do” it. I promptly split up with my girlfriend – I wanted to be God’s girl and if that meant being single, I was ok with that.
I moved to another area to attend Bible School to learn more about God. I went on missions, I learned scripture and served the church. I became chief steward at a national event, spent my summers trekking around the country volunteering for Christian festivals and felt genuinely happy. The only problem was that I was still gay, and I felt so bad about it.
I had the odd slip up where I would meet a girl and would then repent, full of guilt and shame and feeling terrible about myself. I would spend night after night on the floor of my room, crying and begging God to make me acceptable. It never changed. I spent years poring over scripture, trying to understand why being gay was so bad, trying to understand the original context and what the clobber passages really meant. I never really understood how this God who loved me so much would begin to hate me just for loving someone with the same genitals. It made no sense.
Eventually I was honest with my church about my feelings. It did not go down well.
Initially I was asked to meet with the elders of the church – all 12 of them – while I tried to justify my theological position. It was frightening, being completely alone and on the spot, trying to explain why I felt being gay was not a sin.
Then followed the deliverance ministry. I was given three exorcisms by different groups. I don’t know which was worse – the dramatic one, the quiet one, or the shouting one. All of them scared me. I started to question if I really did have Satan living in my heart and if I was, as they told me, an abhorrent stench unto the nostrils of the Lord. They offered me therapy to overcome my desires, which I took. I was so desperate to be acceptable to God I would have done anything. I begged God, I tried so hard to be straight, I did the therapy and the group prayers, I tried to believe that the exorcisms would heal me. Nothing changed. I felt awful, I hated myself for being so immoral, I hated that I didn’t (as they told me) have the faith to be cured.
Then I met someone special.
We were both volunteers at a summer camp, serving coffee in the big tent. She had just come back from mission overseas and was so full of Jesus. She inspired me, pointed me towards Jesus and really excited me about what we could do for the kingdom together. The more time I spent with her, the more I fell in love with her and we decided to get married. When we announced our engagement, some church people were angry. They felt that I had betrayed God for lust and said I was a disgrace to Christianity. Then we met with the vicar of my church who told me that he could not condone what we were doing and so banned us from the church. I was told that my services were no longer required for many of my volunteering roles, not just within my own church but also for the bigger summer events. My chief stewarding role was taken from me as it would be ‘inappropriate’ for me to be in leadership while living in ‘such obvious sin.’
Many people I loved did not want to be near me as they said I could contaminate the community with the way I embraced sin. Through getting engaged I lost my church, my community and my vocation. It was awful and I was left feeling that I wasn’t good enough for God. I worried that every time He looked at me, He saw something dirty, sinful and worthless; someone who had given up for carnal desires, who had turned their back on Him and had grieved the Holy Spirit.
We found a church that would marry us and we were married a few years ago. Since then I’ve really struggled to go to church. We don’t live near an accepting church and so we are told that we may attend churches but can’t do anything other than be passive observers.
All we want is to belong to a community where we can know God more, where we can serve, where we can take Jesus into the world. Unfortunately, we are not allowed because we fell in love. I struggle to even look for God without being filled with guilt and shame and regularly question whether He would even want me back.
What I would say to the church is that gay people are still people. We hurt and we break and words and actions can do a lot of damage.
Please. Be kind.