Category Archives: Church

To my former Church, to my former pastor

Dear Former Pastors of my Church,

I never thought I would write this letter to you.

But here I am, writing this with a loudly beating heart and tears in my eyes.

Dear Pastors: This isn’t going to be a ‘Thank You’ or a ‘Blessings upon you’ letter. This letter will probably be an angry one; at least it will be full of pain. Pain that you have caused, pain I have finally decided to call you out for.

You know me as well as I know you. I was born into the Church, I was raised in it. I went to Sunday children groups since I was a toddler. You know my mother and you know my father. My mother even worked for you as a secretary for a while. You know about my parents’ separation and apparently you tried to stop it, but that isn’t the issue. This isn’t why I am writing this letter with shaking hands.

Between the ages of 9 to almost 12, I was sexually abused by my father. I repressed the horrible experience for 3 good years, but when I was 15 and had my first boyfriend it all came up again. After the former youth pastor and by then pastor of a different church found out what was going on, he contacted Social Services for me and I was put into care. Eventually my mother found out. She decided to disclose what was going on the former pastor.

I don’t know how the conversation between the two went and what was said. But I do know one thing. Instead of protecting me, instead of doing the right and decent thing, Jens decided to do nothing. Instead of excluding my father from the church, instead of to at least try to prevent him from going to the same church as me, he did nothing. Instead sat tight.

And of course my father used our Sunday Service as part of his plan to reach out to me. To brainwash me, so I wouldn’t press charges against him. He even used the church to force me into forgiving him publicly and privately. But did the pastor do anything, anything at all to stop this? No, nothing happened.

Instead you let a man, who you knew was a child molester go to your church every Sunday, be around me and around other children every Sunday. You let a man, who you knew was manipulative, abusive and dangerous carry on his abuse and his manipulation. You, Jens, you and your family did nothing. Nothing to protect me, my siblings or anyone in the entire Ichthys church.

But you know what instead did, or better what you let others do to me? You let other church members, like our Youth Pastor and his team accuse me of not being a real Christian; for questioning the historical accuracy of the Bible. Apparently it is greater sin to question the literacy of the Bible in the church than to sexually abuse a helpless child. Apparently it was also a greater sin of me to have sex before getting married, or for me to smoke. For which I was heavily criticised and ostracised.

Don’t you think that this is hypocrisy? How is any of this biblical or even Christian? How dare you turn your back on me, the moment I might not agree on some of your teachings, but think it is okay to not protect me and let a child molester go to your church?

How dare you? You are not worthy of calling yourself Christians, you are not worthy of calling yourself a church. You have failed to protect me, you have failed to protect the church. You have driven me away from your church, because I didn’t fit your image of a Christian any longer, but maybe you are not fitting that image. Maybe you are the ones who have lost their ways. Maybe you are the ones who have lost their way in Christ. I am 26 now and I am still suffering, still recovering from the abuse, the manipulation I endured. And a part of me thinks, that this wouldn’t be the case if someone would have done something or at least tried.

A very angry former church member

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A letter to some churches out there

Although this probably won’t be my last post concerning LGBT topics, it will be the last part of my series, concerning my personal experience and hardship with my sexual identity. I never had the chance to talk to someone from my former church, but feel that now might be the time. I therefore decided to write an open letter to them,  not only them but also other churches out there and are like them. I hope that some of these churches might take this letter as an opportunity to change.

To my church,

It feels weird writing this letter to you and all the members. I grew up amongst you all. I know a lot of you people personally and played with all your second generation when I was your child. I went to Sunday school and enjoyed every minute of it. All my friends during my childhood and teenager/ adolescent years where members of this church. You were my second family, the place I called ‘home’.

And I’m ashamed that I never told you in person why I don’t call you ‘home’ any longer; why I have left. Why I decided to make a complete 180 degree turn and become Catholic. I never gave you any reason, but I always believed you somehow knew any way why I left. And if you didn’t, then a lot of you just proved my opinion, my reason for leaving.

Because when I left, I not only lost a great church but also most of my friends. All of the sudden people stopped talking to me. And a lot of church members behaved unfriendly towards me. And that is why I left, my former church. I couldn’t participate and be witness to the church’s legality, self-righteousness, bigotry but most of all the church’s behaviour towards LGBT people and none church members.

From the outside, you seem to be the perfect charismatic church, but you struggle like so many other evangelical churches with the same problems. Sure you have a great worship with modern songs. And your Sunday service is very charismatic, modern and almost never boring. And all the leaders try to engage personally with the church members and everyone tries to have a personal and friendly relationship with each other. And all this is great and undoubtedly your strength. Many Catholic, Protestant/Anglican churches are not like that.

But all this isn’t going to save you from your faults. For years the memberships of your church have been declining and all you can think of preventing this, is by modernising your Sunday Service more. But people don’t leave because your service has become boring. They leave – and that is why I left because you have become a church practising legality over love. Your leaders and the powerful in the church have created an atmosphere where everyone is a fair game for wrong and hateful judgement by others, especially by the elite. Once someone seems to do something that goes against the bible, even against the old rules of the Old Testament, they have to face your judgement, some heavy group pressure and a bad image as a burden.

No one is save. A woman only needs to wear a shirt that shows too much cleavage and she already is in trouble. But it’s even worse how you handle the LGBT and Sex topic. You tell your teenagers and young adults that they will lose part of their soul when they have sex before marriage. When I confined in a church member that I had sex before marriage, she betrayed my trust, told everyone and I was punished. I was told to repent and that I was not walking with God any longer. I didn’t even dare to indicate that I’m bisexual.

Your church doesn’t even teach children that they are LGBT people out there and parents are advised to only talk about the topic when asked. I didn’t know anything about homosexuals until I was 12 because of this praxis. But what is even worse is how you condemn the LGBT community. When you preach about this topic, you always have the same message: Love the Sinner, hate the Sin. Do you know how this sounds to such a sinner? After a while I couldn’t hear it any more. After a while I felt not accepted any more and knew I have lost my second family; my second home. And although you tell to love the sinner, you don’t really keep to your own word. You openly and publicly endorse conversion/ ex-gay therapy and have advised some of your own members to complete such a therapy. This therapies are dangerous and every existing health organisation in this world warns and advice against them. Instead of treading people in your church that believe that they might be homosexual with the care they seek, you tell them that they need to be freed. You offer them to pray against their temptations and help them to get back on the right path. If someone doesn’t want to change, you accuse them of making the wrong choice and that they will have to pay for their decision one day.

I once believed all this crap and let this hatred control me and every part of my live. But then my eyes were opened and I couldn’t participate in this way of life no longer. It is not right that I as a respected member, who grew up amongst you, have to suppress what I am by nature. It is not right that you tell me that I made a choice, that I was able to choose which gender I feel attracted to. It is not right that people are uneducated and afraid and only know the one side of the story. Your suppression, your message is damaging to the people concerned and to yourself. You indirectly fuel homophobia and directly brainwash church members like my mother, who still believes in your message. Your behaviour, your legality leads to the declining membership that concerns you. LGBT people amongst you probably suffer from depression and self loathing. They either hide their orientation and pretend to be ‘normal’ or even enter conversion therapy to change. The ones who won’t change have no future in your church and have to leave it behind, like me. And like me this people are probably bitter about the experience they made.

Dear Church, I am bitter, enraged, sad and hurt. All this feelings stand in the way to be objective towards you, to forgive you. I battle with these feelings for years now. I know they are not right, I know I should forgive you. And maybe by writing all these things down, by letting my anger out I’m able to. I wish that this becomes reality. I’m sorry for being angry at you but I’m also sorry for the way you behaved and maybe still behave towards the LGBT community.

I admit that I’m weak and far from perfect, but that is why I’m a Christian. Because I know I need Jesus and his unconditional love. I know that without God I wouldn’t be here. But are you able to admit your faults? Are you able to look at your teachings and behaviour a bit closer? Are you able to see, that we are all made in God’s way, no matter if we are straight or gay? I left because I felt not save any more, because I couldn’t see God any longer. He loves me the way I am, this I know. He told me so personally. I don’t need to change for him, so why should I for you?

Dear church, I’m sorry for all of this and for never telling you the truth. I sometimes miss that great place that I called home and all the people I called friends and I so wish that these people could just try to understand.

Your former Church member

Sinners in the name of the Lord

This is my second blog now and it’s leading on from my first one. In my first blog I already mentioned that I’m a Christian. Some of my former and present friends were sometimes surprised by thus fact. Not many of my friends are Christians and those who aren’t often had some negative experience with Christianity. I don’t want to sound too egotistically, but I try to be a good example that believing in God can be a good thing. My faith and God always carried me when I was feeling bad and that since I gave my life to Jesus as a child. Although I had a very strong faith, I also went through many crises of faith and had/have problems with the religious and legalistic aspect of Christianity. For a very long time I had problems to unite my faith with my sexuality. Because many churches still think and preach negatively about homosexuality and bisexuality.

I literally grew up in a charismatic church, since my mum worked for this church as a secretary for many years. I loved it to go to church as a child. Our Sunday services had good music were very lively and we children had our own little Sunday services (like Sunday school just more fun). All my friends were from the church as well since my parents preferred me to have friends inside church and I was bullied in school. At home we had to follow strict rules, could only listen to Christian music and read Christian friendly books and so on. But my parents made these rules not my church. No church can fix a broken family, with parents that exchange love with rigidity and false legality.

I was 6 years old when I decided that I was mature enough to give my life to the Lord and become a Christian; therefore accept his forgiveness of my sins. Only later did I really understand what Jesus death on the cross really means, but I already knew as a child that I only wanted to follow Jesus and God. Since I’ve been very little I witnessed how sick people were healed through prayer and how people got new hope through their relationship with God. I witnessed an active and lively form of Christianity, where everyone could be set free through Jesus death on the cross. Everyone was entitled to his love and could be strengthened through God.

But even my church wasn’t perfect and very obedient to law and often hypocritical as so many other churches are as well. I have no problem with Rules or laws, not even with the ones that structure your faith. I can understand many of the rules you can find in all the churches because some rules are good. Especially those you can find in the Bible, in the New Testament.

The most important rule out of the New Testament is: LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF. Our whole Christianity is based upon this rule and I mean any form of Christian faith or believe. Another important rule is that all the rules of the Old Testament become obsolete through Jesus death at the cross.  These are the two most important rules in my opinion you can find in the New Testament.

As a teenager I had problem with the rules and laws that weren’t that clear, that people made, based on interpretations. More and more I witnessed that my church wasn’t only about God’s love. My church –like many other churches- created a system that made it easy for church members to judge over other church members.

If someone was working on a Sunday they were bitching about that. Someone had a Tattoo and this person already received the judgement that he had ruined his body/temple and so on. And so is it no surprise that my church war also very judgemental and imperative with the topic of homosexuality.

My former church like so many free churches, the Catholic Church (which I’m currently a member of) and probably many protestant churches viewed the topic of Homosexuality as something negative. There are exactly 6 passages (Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 19:4-5, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1: 21-31, 1. Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1.Timothy 1:9-10)   in the bible that mention Homosexuality, not many if you ask me. If we follow the traditional interpretation of these passages than we have to believe that all these passages are statements against Homosexuality. That is why so many churches view sexual orientation, if it is not heterosexual, as a sin. They believe that the bible is very clear about this and my former church didn’t believe any different.

My former church as well preached, that being gay or a lesbian is a choice, a choice we make consciously. A choice we make against God and against the forgiveness of our sins. No homosexual who is living as such, can fully be a Christian according to my former church’s teachings, because a real Christian lets go of all their sins of their past and of the present. But since people who don’t give up on being actively gay, or lesbian, or in my case bisexual live in sin, they can’t be real Christians.

That is way I kept my bisexuality a secret for such a long time. To big was the fear that my parents and my church would abandon me. I also couldn’t accept myself that I was bisexual. As my church I had the firm believe that I somehow had made a choice. That growing up in a broken family had let me to make the decision to be bisexual. I felt like shit.

As much as I wanted to actively live my faith, stand up for it, I couldn’t I strongly believed that God didn’t love me and that he couldn’t accept as one of his children, because I was bisexual. I thought that I committed a very big and bad Sin, that I never could have the relationship with God that I wanted and witnessed around me. I was very disappointed of myself and hated/loathed myself for being bisexual.

As soon as I know that my sexual orientation was ‘not normal’ I tried to fight it. Any feeling of Love or any crush for a girl or a woman was actively supressed by me. I tried to get rid of my supposedly wrong sexuality through daily prayer.

I even considered a so called conversion therapy, a “healing method” my former church endorsed to cure homosexuality (many Christians and churches believe that conversion therapy can help LGBT people to become straight) I tried everything, really everything I could think of to get rid of disposition (eat least I thought of my bisexuality as that at that time). But nothing worked and I ended up being very depressive and also suffered from eating disorder because of my troubles. I wasn’t even 14.

I was at the end of my strength and because I thought that God didn’t love me and that my faith had deceived me, I gave up Christianity. That’s how strong I felt that God or my church and family wouldn’t accept me because of me being bisexual.

But God didn’t give up on me so easily. I was 16 and a half years old when I went on another Christian Youth camp, this time it was an international camp. I was brave enough at that time to openly admit my struggles with Christianity. And it was during that time that I met people that seemed to respect and accept me more than the Christian in my closer environment did. Even though they still viewed the whole topic critically, they seemed to show some respect for people like me.

We also had a prayer room that was open 24hrs a day. One night I couldn’t sleep and decided to go to this prayer room in the hope to meet someone there I could talk to. The only person I found in the room was sleeping and I was therefore practically alone in a room that I once could associate with, but that was so foreign to me now.

First I sat down and read through all the prayers all the others had left there anonymously in a notebook.  The love I could find in these prayers brought back old memories. I once was like these people, full of passion for God. I once wanted to become a missionary, wanted to serve God with all my heart. And now I was just pretending to have faith, was thinking that I practised magic and in addition was still bisexual.

What had happened? Why couldn’t I be heterosexual? Why couldn’t I give up ‚my choice ‘for God’s love? I completely broke down. I was crying and silently asked God: „God why? Why can’t I give up this little flaw of mine? I mean I tried.  Why can’t I be the person I want to be for you? Why is bisexuality a sin? Why can’t I talk to anyone in my church about this? “I asked God so many questions. I just couldn’t any more, I was finished. Silence surrounded me and pain filled my heart. Everything seemed to so hopeless, as always. I was ready to leave again because of me being tired from all the crying, but then I heard a voice.

God has talked to me before this day, but never in such a way as he talked to me in this night. I couldn’t move, all my pain was gone and instead I could feel God’s voice and love inside me. God talked to me and his words were very clear when he said: „Tashina I LOVE YOU AS YOU ARE. YOU ARE BISEXUAL BECAUSE I MADE YOU THIS WAY!!! You have never sinned against me and that is why you shouldn’t hate yourself. I made you as you are and I make no mistakes. I SET YOU FREE TASHINA. YOU ARE FREE!!! Your love for me is enough. I don’t want you to change because I love you as you are.”  

I was free. All the self-loathing was gone, all my doubts were gone. I cried again, but this time because I finally knew that God loved, that it was ok to be bisexual. That he was a good father to me.

I only tried once to tell this story, to one of my Youth pastors. But as soon as he heard the word bisexual he silenced me. Since then I kept the whole story to myself, until today. I know share this profound event of my life because I want to bring hope to all the Christian LGBT people who struggle. You are loved, you mustn’t be ashamed. God doesn’t hate you because you are who you are. You are a part of his plan and no one of has to ever change, EVER. You are like me Sinners in the name of the Lord.