I’ll Do Whatever it Takes- Jessica [Love Letter Series]

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I’m unsure of how to perfectly describe my deep appreciation of Jessica’s blogFaith Permeating Life. It’s unbelievable. She has a deep, God-given passion for the LGBT community and I don’t know how often we, sexual minorities, thank those for putting that passion into action. The posts she has written have given me so much encouragement and hope and, a little itch for activism myself. She has put together the greatest list of resources on Faith and LGBT issues that I have come across, along with resources on privilege and her favorite books and comments (see if you can get yourself featured on the comment carnival!) 

 

I cannot stress enough how important her blog is. Follow her, in all honesty you’ll be happy you did. 

 

Here are her words to the LGBT community. I truly hope they move you as much as they did me. 

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Man aiming bow and arrow at man on tightrope

image credit

“I hope you aren’t receiving communion,” the comment started.

 

It was on the monthly column I write for my local LGBTQ community center’s blog about issues of faith and the LGBTQ community. I don’t remember if I actually stated my support for gay marriage in the post — I try to write about current events and keep my personal views out of it — but it didn’t matter, because this guy had gone to the trouble of Googling me and had found my personal blog, which lays out my views in no uncertain terms.

 

The comment went on to say how my support of gay marriage was in direct contradiction to the Catholic church (of which I am a part), and then some ramblings about how the fact that I myself had saved sex for marriage didn’t make it OK to support gay marriage — a convoluted argument I’ve never attempted to make anywhere.

 

As a blogger writing about controversial topics, I’ve attracted haters, trolls, and angry dissenters before, but it was that opening statement that punched me in the gut. It’s one thing to tell me my beliefs are wrong, but to tell me you hope I’m not receiving communion?

To tell me, essentially, that my beliefs are so abhorrent that you hope I’ve separated myself from Jesus?

 

After I’d stopped shaking, I wrote to the blog’s editor asking that the comment be deleted under the blog’s guidelines, as it was a personal attack. He’d already caught it and apologized that it had even gone through.

 

As I reflected on this incident, I realized that I’d had a taste — just a taste — of what my LGBTQ sisters and brothers go through all the time.

 

When you write about things like faith and sexuality on a regular basis, you get used to people telling you that you are wrong, wrong, wrong, or even that your beliefs are sinful. But as a straight ally, it’s rare that people attack me so personally as to make sweeping judgments about the state of my soul or my relationship with God. I’m more likely to be seen as horribly misguided than as being an abomination unworthy of even receiving communion.

 

Not that it’s easy, having your beliefs viciously attacked. Sometimes I find myself not wanting to write about the very topics God places so strongly on my heart, particularly the call to all Christians to show love and understanding to LGBTQ individuals. But every time I think about walking away from the conversation, I remind myself that my LGBTQ friends don’t have that option.

 

And after catching that one stray, painful arrow that pierced me to the core, I realized that no matter how hard I fight, no matter how much of an ally I try to be, I will never be on the front lines. I will never have the experience that too many of my LGBTQ friends have had of having their personal faith identity, their very worth as a child of God, constantly questioned or openly mocked.

 

So what I want to say is that I will stand with you, in whatever way I possibly can, knowing that it will never be enough. And I hope that every arrow I do attract is one that I’ve saved someone else from getting that day.

 

I will speak out as much and as loudly as I can, not only so that I can continue to challenge people and to change minds, but also so that I, in my straight privilege and secure in my faith identity, can redirect some of the trolls who might otherwise go after someone else that day, someone struggling with their sexual orientation or wavering in their belief that God still loves them.

 

I know it’s not enough, and that I’ll still never know what it’s like to get more than a stray arrow once in a while.

 

I just want you to know that I would take them all, if I could, if it meant that nobody ever again had to question whether God loves them.

Love,

Jessica

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Check out the other Love Letters here

  • Ford1968

    Jessica. Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. I spend a little time hanging out in spaces where Christianity and sexuality intersect. Here’s the top ten most annoying and offensive things I here on a regular basis…

    10. I love the sinner but hate the sin. (Or version 2.0: it’s God’s job to judge, it’s my job to love.)

    9. God doesn’t make people gay, sin does.

    8. [after telling me I’m rebelling against God] I’m not anti-gay.

    7. You can’t be a Christian; if you were, you’d be convicted of your sin and repent.

    6. You are defining yourself by your sin – something God calls an abomination.

    5. [After angrily or gleefully condemning me to hell] I’m just speaking the truth in love.

    4. Gay Christian is an oxymoron. There is no such thing.

    3. I can be your friend, but I can’t accept you as a brother in Christ.

    2. You need to make your identity in Christ not in your sexuality [a rule that evidently only applies to people who are gay]

    1. Your “marriage” is not a real marriage.

    And a bonus just because I’m on a roll…”this isn’t God’s design, the parts don’t fit.”
    And here’s another because this list just doesn’t stop…”being gay is a sin like any other- alcoholism, pedophilia, or kleptomania”

    Jessica- thank you so much for being an ally and sharing your story so generously in hostile spaces. It’s not something you’re compelled to do, but it’s powerful and important.

    All my best to you.
    Ford.

    • Here’s another for the list: “Well, we Bible-believing Christians believe…” That one really got to me recently despite the fact that I know it is sort of a term commonly used in the Evangelical community.

      Praying that one day there can be a “Top 10” list of loving and affirming comments heard on a regular basis.

      1. Although I may not yet know you as a friend, I can and will accept you as a brother in Christ. <3

      • Holli –
        You made my day! Thanks! Also, popped into your blog. GREAT STUFF. I’ll be by to visit again.
        Ford

    • What is most disheartening to me is that people say these things and actually think they are being loving! It is much more difficult, in my experience, to deal with someone who thinks they are doing the right and loving thing than someone who knows they are speaking out of hate.

      Thanks for your kind words, and I will keep doing what I can to help other people understand why these things they say are not helpful or true!

  • Ford1968

    iPhone typos abound. Sorry. I HEAR these things, of course; I don’t here them. 😉

  • Jessica- this is kind of exactly how I feel, like I could walk away any time and be fine, but my LGBTQ friends don’t have that option. Like you, I’ve only gotten a tiny bit of criticism- an occasional “concerned” facebook message attempting to correct me by quoting Romans 1, you know, that kind of thing.

    And like you said, anything we can do as allies to deflect that hatred away from our LGBTQ friends, we need to do. But it’s a small sacrifice compared to what they face every day.

    • The people who quote the Bible and say nothing else always amaze me. I saw someone tweet at Rachel Held Evans and Justin Lee the other day, in response to his comments about Exodus, recommending that they read 1 Corinthians 6. As if the only reason they would be supportive of LGBTQ folks is because they just happened to miss that part of the Bible.

  • I follow both of your blogs, so I was quick to hop over hear to read when I saw your post on FB. I can definitely relate to your words here. I am also proud to be a Christian ally, and yes, I do get my share of “stray arrows” from time to time. But, as you said, it is surely nothing compared to the less than loving messages constantly bombarding our LGBT community. I try to remind myself of this and continue to write…for my friends, my family, and my faith.

  • Jessica, the imagery of the stray arrow- so very true. Thank you for that picture.

  • RR, thanks for the opportunity to contribute to the series. You found the perfect picture to go with it, too!

    • registeredrunaway

      thank you for all the work you do Jessica. Seriously 🙂 I think a lot of LGBT folks besides me appreciate your blog so much! And I know! I was way too excited when I found that picture.

  • Nice piece Jessica…I do appreciate all you do as an ally. I can’t believe someone even questioned your ability to receive communion. They’d probably have a stroke if they knew this lesbian partakes in communion as regularly as possible 🙂 I stopped caring about what people think of me and my “lifestyle” a long time ago. Unfortunately, the Church has done a lot of damage in the name of “love”. My heart hurts when I think about it.

    Just over a week ago, my friends and I were sitting at Veggie Grill in downtown Portland after Pride had finished. We were chatting about how we all knew each other. Three of us mentioned knowing each other from Gay Christian Network, which then led to another discussion about faith, the Church and how hurtful Christians can be and have been to some of us. Later on that evening, we were at Voodoo donuts when the cashier asked my friend if we had been at Veggie Grill earlier. She said “Yes”. The cashier then went on to explain she had overheard our conversation and was deeply troubled by our experiences in the Church and wanted us to know that not all Christians felt that way about LGBT people. That meant soooooo much to us! Allies, we appreciate when you speak up!!! Thank you and God Bless!

    • That’s great! The GCN conference, and the things people said to me there, really drove home for me the importance of speaking up as an ally. Recently I left a comment on the blog of a lesbian who talked about being rejected by her Christian mother, telling her that I was a straight Christian who supported her, and I was touched when she wrote a nice post about what the comment had meant to her.

      Thank you for reminding me again that speaking up can make a difference!

  • Jessica, thank you for writing this. Thank you so much, and thank you RR for giving her this space on your blog. If you can spare a moment and if it’s alright, I’d like to share a little snippet of my own story:

    To be honest, I left the Catholic Church because of being told over and over again that because I even thought about kissing those of the same sex or even considered a life long partnership, that I couldn’t have communion. People kept urging me to confess this in reconciliation, so I can go back to receiving communion. I was told over and over again, by so many different Christians (Catholics and Protestants alike) that they did love me but they just hated my sins, except their words and actions never seemed to be loving. Being yelled at by family members about how being gay is wrong and that I would go to hell if I married someone of the same sex, doesn’t seem loving to me. Being told by friends that I could only be with someone of the opposite sex, and that I was hurting myself and everyone around me, and allowing the devil to speak through me, didn’t seem loving. Being told that I led people astray because I was gay, didn’t seem loving. Being told that I could no longer be their ‘friend in Christ’ because I’ve lost the way, didn’t seem loving. Being told that I needed to ‘change’ in order to be with Christ, wasn’t loving at all. But the most painful one of all was being told over and over again that because I was gay I couldn’t receive communion. I couldn’t receive our Lord Jesus Christ. I would sit in those pews and watch people pass by me, many of them looking at me with a frown, and some of them even outright judging me after Mass. Everyone knows that if you don’t go up then you have done something horrible and are waiting to repent, that was what I was taught over and over again as the reason why you should not go up to received communion. If you have sinned – especially a mortal sin, then you should not receive communion until you have gone to reconciliation. That was what I was taught as a Catholic by my family and the priests at Mass. And I was told that thinking gay thoughts, kissing someone of the same sex, and especially sex were all mortal sins. I was told even masturbation, especially if I was thinking of someone of the same sex was a mortal sin. I was told that if I dared to go to communion I could damage my soul, perhaps forever.

    I became terrified of communion, of going up there. I can’t even walk into a Catholic Church now.

    There was no love in their words. And here I thought Love was the basis of the entire religion. Didn’t Christ come to us and died on the cross to save us from our sins out of LOVE? Was I wrong in believing such a thing?

    One friend told me that wasn’t why Christ did it. Someone actually argued with me that Christ’s action wasn’t out of love. If it wasn’t love, then what was it? That person never gave me a straight answer. Probably because there can’t be. Christ himself said that “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 I think), and that is exactly what Christ did. How can that not be love? If we want to emulate Christ, should we not be acting out of love?

    Everyone who sought to condemn me, to try to change my mind, to attempt to turn me straight — none of them listened to my story, and often they wouldn’t even let me finish my sentences, interrupting me and not allowing me to ever truly explain where I came from and where I stood with God and myself. They were never interested in me as a human being, and that is their downfall I think. You can’t love anyone unless you sit down with them and listen to them. Like Christ did with the woman at the well, when he sat down with her and listened to her story, and then gave her something so beautiful that she left with joy in her heart and steps. If you cannot listen to another person’s story, hear and see them as they are, then how can you show love? How can you say you love them and actually mean it?

    You, Jessica, showed that you truly love. You listened and when you spoke, you spoke like Christ at the well with that Samaritan woman. Thank you. Hearing how you work hard to help us, to love us as we are, and stand by us in what ways you are able is so heartening and so wonderful to hear. Thank you for that. You are an inspiration, and you are a reminder that there are people out there, people of faith, that are safe to talk with, safe to be myself with, and will still accept me with open arms. Thank you.

    • Ford1968

      Aibird.
      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am tremendously moved by it and it is a blessing to me and, I hope, to anyone who reads it.
      Please know you are not alone. We are children of God, created in His image and worthy of the blessings that come from loving and being loved. lIl wish I’d figured out earlier what you so beautifully express – God’s love is not conditioned on living an inauthentic life.
      I’m so moved. Your words are a gift.
      All my love to you
      Ford.

      • Thank you so much. I am glad my words helped you. Your words in turn have helped me.

    • Aibird,
      I am so sorry that you experienced this kind of rejection and lack of empathy from your fellow Christians. I wish it were not a common occurrence, but unfortunately it still is. Your instinct, that that which is not loving is far away from Christ, is right on. We are told that love is the highest commandment, that whatever we do, it is nothing without love. And nothing you can do can separate you from God’s love, ESPECIALLY being the authentic self that God created you to be.
      Thank you for sharing your story, and may God pour blessings into your life.
      Jessica

      • Thank you for your reply and your kind words. I sat on your words for awhile, and I’d like to start a new journey for myself. One where I find Christ again within a community of people who see me as a child of God. A person who tries to live a life of love. I’ve sat in pain, shame, and agony for a long time, and I’ve been trying to crawl out from under it. You and RR have helped me a lot on this journey with what you have written here — and what you share on your own website (which yes, I have checked out and I have it bookmarked now!). So thank you.