catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 5 :: 2012.03.02 — 2012.03.15


The shame for which I weep

You didn’t really think that you were that different from anyone else. You felt safe and happy in your home. You loved your church community. You adored your Sunday School teacher. Didn’t everyone? When you became a teenager, you had a crush on your Youth Leader. Didn’t everyone? Maybe not.  That was your first clue that perhaps you weren’t quite like the other girls. Your Youth Leader was a vivacious young woman in her twenties. She made following Jesus seem like the most exciting thing on earth. You wanted to be just like her. You learned quickly not to let anyone else know this.

But the other girls were more interested in talking about the boys. They liked to flirt with them. And you just couldn’t figure out where the attraction was. At first you didn’t think much about it, but then you realized that you were really attracted to another girl in your high school. And a deep fear settled deep within your gut.

This couldn’t be happening to you. You were a good Christian girl. You were supposed to grow up and meet a nice boy and get married, have a couple of children, live a normal life. But you knew that you could never do it, that you could never fall in love with a guy.

You were scared. You knew that if you told your parents that they would probably tell you to leave and never come back. You knew what your church thought about people who were lesbians. They were sinners. They were the worst kind of sinners.  You were a sinner.

Unless of course you decided to be alone. Unless you decided to live a life without a partner, a single life. A lonely life. Then you could follow Jesus. Then you could be welcomed. Then you would be loved. Maybe.

You knew that there was no one you could talk to about this. No one talked about this, except to say how wrong it was. You carried your fears alone.

You knew that one day you would have to make a decision. Either you would have to deny your sexuality, or you would have to deny Jesus. You couldn’t have both. You could decide to deny your sexuality and stay in your community. Or you could leave, go to Toronto and become part of another community. A community that welcomed lesbian women like yourself. They might not be so happy to hear you talk about Jesus, but you weren’t sure you had a choice. You weren’t sure that you could live a life of loneliness.

Sometimes you felt like these were impossible choices. You felt that no matter what happened you would be torn apart. You felt that living a whole life was impossible for you. And then you wondered about whether you could continue to live at all.

For many years I attended a church with many gay and lesbian couples. They had children. They taught Sunday School. They were followers of Jesus who lived faithful Christian lives, committed to each other, their children and their community. Most of them had come to Toronto from other churches in smaller towns. They had grown up Brethren, Christian Reformed, Mennonite, Baptist. They had left their churches under a cloud of condemnation. And, by the grace of God, they had found a Christian community that welcomed them.

They were the lucky ones. I now attend a church like the ones that they left. No one talks about the teenagers in our midst who are gay and lesbian. One day they will leave. They will not know that they can continue to follow Jesus and accept their sexual orientation. They will only know that they are sinners. They have no one to talk to. No one even to ask about who they are and how they can be followers of Jesus.

They may decide to be celibate. More likely they will go to Toronto. They will find their way to the gay and lesbian community. They may meet fellow Christians. More likely they will not. And so they will abandon their faith in order to be able to find the companionship and love that it is impossible to live without.

I am deeply grieved by the silence of my community — even more grieved because I know that there are those in our midst who have gay and lesbian children, children whom they have rejected. Others have siblings who are gay and lesbian. And no one is allowed to speak of this. Each carries their hurt silently. Each lies awake in the night alone. No one is allowed to even consider that there might be grace and hope and a place for these children of God.

Everyone is hurt by this silence. This is the deep shame of my church.

The above article deals with the dynamics of silence in our churches. For a PDF file of an article by the same author that argues a biblical case for the acceptance of committed same-sex relationships, click here

your comments

comments powered by Disqus