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Views & Voices

‘I no longer identify as a Christian . . .’ — they often write

Friday, December 9, 2011

“I no longer identify as a Christian . . .”, so many letters begin.

The reasons will vary, but only slightly.

Because I am a straight Evangelical Christian who advocates for equality and against injustice, I get mail from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and friends and family who love them. Reading those words is painful to me.

I treasure the gift of faith in my life.

I know the peace and joy with which it massages my soul and the comfort it brings to my head when I spin. I know how valuable I feel to the God of the Universe when people near me don’t appreciate me or understand me. I know what it feels like to experience the pleasure of God as I serve Him, and there is no better “high” for me.

Yet, I get letters from people who walk away from that, not because they don’t want the Jesus at the core of it all. They walk and run and get tossed away by Christians who make it so damned difficult to get near Jesus.

It is monumentally hard to find the crack in the wall to the Throne of God when the way is blocked by rules specifically designed to bar your entry, when the path is as complex as a pinball machine and the bumpers are Christians telling you to change who you intrinsically are to gain passage.

Last Sunday, I sat in services with a loving, kind-hearted, mature body of Jesus followers in my non-affirming church. The day before, I had seen the documentary on AIDS entitled “We Were Here.” Oh my goodness, it was heart wrenching to watch the history of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the US thirty years ago.

“Thirty years ago,” I thought, as I watched the movie, “Where the hell was I and why didn’t I care?” I was raising my kids, leading Bible studies and ministries and huddling with the other holies and loving my God. I loved Jesus and “they” were dying. I looked around my church family on Sunday and felt intensely sad. Tears-about-to-bust-out sad.

I love Jesus and “they” are dying. The “they” is the LGBT community at large now. My belief system, right or wrong, is one that offers eternal life or death. I looked at all the fellow-acceptables and hurt for the LGBT people who also love Jesus or loved Him once or never met Him to see if they even would love Him.

We, the straight folks, are free to worship and come together weekly. Not so in the majority of churches for the LGBT community, and certainly not so in the Evangelical church with which I identify.

I am growing weary of the Christian community saying our faith is being attacked and we are being persecuted.

Is there any non-gay, non-trans person in this country that is not free to walk in any church on any Sunday and publicly praise God? No straight person is barred from marrying the person they love or even a person they do not love. No one has ever stopped me from reading my Bible or praying as I walk along a public trail. I am not persecuted.

As unpopular as it is to say, many of those I religiously identify with, have become the persecutors.

God specifically tells His people in Isaiah 58 that He is not interested in their external piety and conformity to rules of service, worship and discipline. He tells His people that if they really want to serve Him and have Him listen, they need to “loose the chains of injustice … and set the oppressed free and break every yoke.” He further tells His people to “spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed.”

Injustice means treating people unequally; oppression is exercising authority or power in an unjust manner. Is the LGBT community oppressed and treated unjustly? Of course they are.

This country is ruled by a Constitution that guarantees all of us equal treatment. All of us. Being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender is not a choice or a behavior or something that needs to be or can be changed. Gay and trans people are a class of people. When people of faith lead the charge to withhold rights from a class of people, then they have indeed have become the oppressors.

I love my faith tradition. I love Jesus. And I hate what is happening to the public presentation of my faith and my God.

He is not an oppressor; He is a Redeemer of the highest level. I am so tired of hearing “I no longer identify as a Christian . . . ” knowing the reason is not that God/Jesus are not worth the honor of identifying with, it is many of the people that represent Him badly that have caused the turning away.

We are set to have faith duked out in the political arena in the next year — “I represent God” “No, I am a better Christian.” “No, I love God and the faith more because I will not allow those gays to take away our religious freedoms.”

If part of a person’s expression of faith means treating people unequally, denying rights of others and making them a target of their fear, that faith is not aligned with the God of the Bible. They may be aligned with a God of a party or a denomination, but they are missing the heart of the Father God, the One who created and loves His children. Every one of them.

Until those of us who understand that oppressing others is not the way of God and are willing to speak up and reclaim the holy expressions of our faith, people will see our faith as poison. For just one month, I would like to not receive a letter that starts, ”I no longer identify as a Christian . . .”

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21 more reader comments:

  1. I think I’m a far better Christian because I don’t discriminate others.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 11:54am
  2. Christians shouldn’t turn their back on their faith and beliefs just because there is a vocal group of people using their religion as a weapon of hate. Christianity is a great religion, and it’s sad that some people use it as a way of fueling their bigotry

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 12:04pm
  3. every religious person thinks its own religion is great, whether their beliefs are true is the real question, don’t forget homosexuality was/is against christianity

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 12:25pm
  4. Love this. Very powerful.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 12:49pm
  5. if you hate a group because of what you are, who’s the real monster here?

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 12:58pm
  6. Lady, you remind me a great deal of my mom. She’s a Christian, though not of “Four Walls”, as she’s put it so many times. When I was growing up, we’d spend Sundays out on the trails in the mountains in our hometown.

    I’m an atheist. My reasons for that are my own, but my mom and I love, respect, and care about each other. Just so happens I’m gay, too. In fact, three out of three of her biological children are…go figure. She loves us all, and no less for any of it.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Eventually, hopefully, people will get tired of listening to hate-mongering, and will seek peace on the trails, too.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 1:00pm
  7. Homosexuality is and was never against christianity!

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 1:15pm
  8. This is beautiful, incredible, and will hopefully be well received by more than just me. I am a Christian lesbian, and I agree with everything you’ve pointed out here… You remind me very much of my mom as well. She is a straight Christian, but she is AMAZINGLY open-minded and always has been. Her brother, my uncle, is gay, and she absolutely adores him, so I knew when it came time for me to come out to her that I had nothing to be afraid of. Now, she and my fiancee are fast friends, and my mom is looking forward to my wedding to the woman I love almost as much as I am. I couldn’t have asked for a better family, and I know I am blessed.

    I pray for you and your ministry, that you can reach and help many more people who need it. Those who were Christian and left it (entirely understandably), those who never have been, and even those who never will be who hate Christians, at least to show them we aren’t all bad.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 1:29pm
  9. Amen brother. i’ve been saying that for years. the core message of Jesus was to love one another and love God. How can a God reputed to be Love itself, condemn someone for who we love? i don’t think He would. i think He would condemn rather, those of us who reject love. it was His love that saved eveyrone. to reject love is to reject God. it was love that Jeus died for. to reject love, is to reject Christ.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 2:27pm
  10. The sad truth is too many places in this country have been taut that being a christian means being against everything that’s not like you. It’s not the fault of the faith, but those who follow them.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 3:28pm
  11. Thank you for sharing this LGBTQ nation. I am Canyonwalker, the author.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 5:35pm
  12. I similarly find it sad that people would lose their faith not because of the religion itself, but because of those who practice it in name only. The Mahatma Gandhi said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I find this indeed to be the case more often than one would wish.

    I myself am not Christian. I identify myself as traditional Celtic “pagan,” practicing the religion of my ancestors as it was before the arrival of Christianity in western Europe. This is not because I dislike Christianity. It is not because I dislike the Christ; I feel that, had I met the man, I would have felt he was a great person and worthy of all the hopes placed in him.

    My sole reason for believing as I do is that I feel in my heart that the truth is there are more than one god in the world, and that the Father of Christ is one of them. I believe that where most Christians see “Thou shalt not worship false gods and idols” and “Thou shalt place no other god before me” it is true, but not in the sense that all other gods are false. I believe He was saying that it is wrong to confuse the real gods with fake ones, and that idols are not gods at all; and that he demands respect from his followers to come first to him before his fellow gods received any.

    I do not intend to sway anyone’s beliefs. I simply believe this way myself, and I fully respect others’ right to believe I am wrong. For all I know, I could be; but I have faith in my heart it is true, and those are the same words used by every Christian when asked how they “know” that God is real.

    I practice my faith, and offer praise to the Father of Christ as well; I do not consider myself a Christian, and I personally believe that the stricture not to place any god before him is a rule to his followers. In every polytheistic religion there are gods that either rule the others, or entire groups of people that hold a specific god as their patron and only acknowledge the others, not actually worshipping them.

    In the end, even being a non-Christian, I fully support Christians who truly follow the spirit of the word of Christ; to say you follow him, and refute everything he teaches, only to “repent” and believe you are saved, is not to be a Christian. But on the other hand, to lose your faith when surrounded by heretics who pay no more than lip service to God while daring to speak in His name, that is the mark of someone who would have been a great Christian if only their faith had held.

    Remain strong, friends.

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 7:20pm
  13. Thank you Kathy for this wonderful article. I am gay and I struggle with my faith in God and my sexuality. But I no longer call myself a “christian”. I am a CHILD OF THE MOST HIGH GOD! :d

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 9:07pm
  14. that was suppose to be :D, lol

    Posted on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 9:08pm
  15. “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” — H. L. Mencken

    Posted on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 6:25am
  16. Kathy,

    This website might help you a lot in teaching other evangelicals about homosexuality: http://www.PaulOnHomosexuality.com . It has the best videos I’ve ever seen for teaching Christians about the LGBT community. There’s also a lot of documents to download and share.

    Thank you for this wonderful article. You are a Godsend.

    Posted on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 9:45am
  17. I walked away from Christianity not because of my sexual orientation and not because of all the hypocrisy in the church. I walked away because I stopped believing in mythological omnipotent beings. I don’t believe in gods in the same way that I don’t believe in Mother Goose. People do not need to buy into this fantasy to know how to treat each other with dignity, compassion and respect.

    It’s that simple.

    Posted on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 11:48am
  18. Unfortunately, Jesus is a democratic and got plunged w/o approval into a republican fear based God model called Judeo Christianity, where one has to fear God hence blocked of God’s love. The two “don’t know each other”. Jesus didn’t die for anyone’s sins, he died because the Jews were not about to stand for a full rewrite of “God” as they wrote it, a completely fear false interpretation. And we wonder why there is so much conflict within religion. There is the smoking gun, Jesus is love, God is fear. Bang you’re sidelined.

    If you want Jesus’s first person message about the true God the Father, he had it scribed in a 1400 page doc circa 1972 called A Course in Miracles. There, Christianity is corrected. And it is spot on. Enjoy.

    Posted on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 11:16pm
  19. “Until those of us who understand that oppressing others is not the way of God”

    LOL you’re an idiot. just another christian who has never even read their own book.

    Posted on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 4:49pm
  20. “Faith” is the assertion that things are to be believed without evidence, based on spiritual apprehension, not on fact.

    Why would anyone allow this philosophy to govern their lives? It’s ludicrous.

    Posted on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 9:10pm
  21. “Injustice means treating people unequally; oppression is exercising authority or power in an unjust manner.” Whaaaa?

    Is it not God who sits in judgement of people? Winnowing the wheat from the chaff? Deciding who goes to heaven and who burns in the eternal fires of damnation? What about the billions of people who have never heard of Jesus Christ? What about the millions of people who lived before he came from heaven to be sacrificed (scapegoated) for our sins? What about the millions of children who die each year from sickness and poverty (that an almighty god allows)? How more blatantly unjust could you get?

    And who exercises this power: god! He is an omnipresent, omniscient and all-powerful god who monitors your thoughts, watches your every move and knows from before there was time that you were born in sin and commanded to love him or face hell forever.

    That is just completely twisted. And completely wrong. No thank you. I reject this categorically in favor of enlightenment, science, skeptical inquiry and the inherent reason of man himself. I do not need an explanation for the creation of heaven and earth (though science offers the best explanations I can imagine). I am OK with not knowing.

    In other words, I do not need faith to believe that life is worth living. And I do not need a god to be moral.

    Posted on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 9:22pm