When your faith clashes with reality

I’m hoping to post about some real life experiences that led me to question my preconceived religious notions. The biggest factor was my experience with LGBTQ people. I came across an interview with David Gushee in Religion Dispatches today that I found very fascinating. The entire interview was great, but this part especially spoke to my experiences:

The last chapter in the book talks in the most detail about that leap, that change in loyalties that has happened; it certainly includes learning about my sister Katy and her suffering as a deeply repressed lesbian unable to claim her own sexuality and identity and learning more recently that a major factor for her was the fear of the disapproval of her church—and actually of her brother, me. I didn’t know all that.

I would say I managed to live the great majority of my life without a lot of exposure to the actual lives and journeys of LGBT people. That speaks very much to what happens in the evangelical world—if you create an environment inhospitable enough you drive people out or underground. That’s how I could manage not to have much exposure until I came to Atlanta and started to be in a seminary setting and in a church setting—neither of which were flag-waving kind of pro LGBT environments, but they were open and safe enough that people began coming.

So, friendships began developing, notably in my church setting and Sunday school class over time, and I went from zero to a fairly decent understanding of what it’s like to be an LGBT person and a Christian in America.

I would say that beginning to learn more and more about the suffering of wounded and closeted and exiled LGBT young people really began to affect me deeply, beginning with Katy. But obviously there’s a literature out there I had never studied; I began to read some of that and began to hear stories of the cruelest kind of rejections from families and churches.

It’s amazing how drastically getting to know LGBTQ people can shatter your world. I think that had I not come to know a few LGBTQ people well, there’s a chance I’d still be a traditionalist. I plan on delving deeper into this in the near future.


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