Jas’ Story – Please. Be. Kind.

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.

 

 

This entry was posted in Conversion Therapy, Human Sexuality, LGBT Stories, Spiritual Abuse. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Jas’ Story – Please. Be. Kind.

  1. Vicky martin says:

    Hi Jas, thank you for sharing your story. I would like to urge u to look closer at local churches as some won’t have ‘affirming’ etc written on the board/website even though they are. Ask the minister. Also, we as ministers need you, and people like you to come to our churches so we can work together to challenge homophobia in church. All the time our gay friends stay away, our congregation doesn’t learn. I wish you lived near me in East Sussex!!

  2. MIchelle Hayter says:

    Jas – thank you for sharing your story. For being brave enough to speak out and say how you have been made to feel. On behalf of church leaders, I want to apologise for the ways our comments, thoughts and beliefs and ignorance have made you feel. Ignorance is no excuse for such appalling treatment. Please know that God made you – just as you are – and is proud of all that he has made. He loves you so much that he sent Jesus to die for your mistakes (which do not include: the colour of your eyes, your sexuality, your gender or your nose length). I hope and pray that you will continue to speak out so that more and more of us who are just learning what it means to be a rainbow ally might speed up our education. May God bless & empower you every day. MH

  3. Eleanor Newton says:

    WHAT A SHOCKING STORY – IT TAKES SO LITTLE TO BE ACCEPTING OF GAYS MY HEART BROKE FOR THE TROUBLE THIS GIRL HAD

  4. Revd Canon Dr Michael Blyth says:

    Dear Jas, your story beggars belief and some of the ‘Christians’ you have met and who have heaped shame and guilt upon you are frankly extraordinary. One of the fundamental reasons behind following Jesus is that it should actually make us nicer human beings: not turn us into Pharisees. You have more allies than you think. Many are in the closet because their local churches could not cope. More and more LGBTI worshippers are realising that the Church of England is not a safe place for them – any more than it is for survivors of sexual abuse or people of colour. In fact it has now become a major safeguarding issue: vulnerable adults. The church has to wake up to the inexcusable spiritual abuse to which it subjects any of God’s children who are different. Never let any church define who you are or make you feel less than you are and were intended to be. God loves you unconditionally – and I hope he will soon direct you both to somewhere where you can both flourish and offer the many gifts you so obviously have together. Don’t compromise however: either total acceptance or you walk. Every blessing for your future.

Any thoughts?