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