This post happens to be my 600th ever written, and my first written or published for 2016. I never planned it that way -- actually, I didn't plan to write this post until just now, at one a.m. in bed -- but I guess God knew I was ready for a big one.
About a year ago, I came out online as bisexual, through a blog post that shared a journal entry from the previous November.
I told a handful of people before I posted anything. When I did have my "coming out," it wasn't really a coming out. It was just part of a series sharing many thoughts and struggles I'd had over my first college semester, which happened to include sexuality.
Since then, I've referenced my sexuality in certain Facebook posts, maybe a few blog posts, a handful of conversations with friends. I want everyone to know I'm bisexual, because it's part of my identity -- like writing, or Christianity, or my family. But I don't want to shout it from the rooftops, because it's not more important than any of those things. So figuring out how to naturally let everyone around me know I'm not straight is still tricky.
But that's not what today's post is about.
The first book I read in 2016 was Torn by Justin Lee. It completely surprised me. I cried. I laughed. I found someone whose story I could really relate to. And I found a lot of answers for questions that have plagued me since before college.
I really, really don't want to write this post. I've put off writing this, or anything like this, for months. I've self-censored on Facebook like never before. As I write this, my heart is beating, my stomach is flipping, my hands are shaking. I know the ramifications that follow this kind of blog post.
I know I will lose friends. I can list dozens of Christian teachers and mentors and leaders and churchgoers I love and respect who will shake their heads and sigh and feel so burdened and so sad that I've gone the way they see as the prodigal son's. I know my school disagrees with me, a school I love and feel privileged to attend every day I'm there. And worst of all, I know not a one of my closest family members and only half of my best friends are going to agree or understand. They will be hurt by this and think less of me for it.
But when God calls a writer to write something, they can only put it off for so long.
Right now, I'm reading Love Is An Orientation by Andrew Marin. I don't know what position he will take or what direction the book is going. I'm only on chapter one. But I've already cried reading this book three times, over the same things that made me cry twice reading Torn. I've reached a breaking point.
The LGBT community and Christianity are painted at odds in today's culture, in America. My churches tell me to love the sinner and hate the sin; they make Adam and Eve vs. Adam and Steve jokes; and they poke fun of anyone who likes the same sex or acts/dresses/talks in any manner considered similar to the opposite sex. Meanwhile, the LGBT community reviles religion, speaks rather scandalously of Christianity and churches, and refuses to so much as converse with anyone that has a Bible in hand or the name of God on their lips.
Jesus said, "Love your neighbor," and then told the Jews their neighbor was the people group they hated most.
Christians call homosexuals the enemy and have the nerve to feel hurt when LGBT individuals spurn their attempts at "ministry."
Jesus said, "They will know my disciples by their love," while the Pharisees he rebuked were known by their logic and rhetoric and commandments.
Christians preach boldly about hell awaiting all homosexuals and have the nerve to question why some LGBT individuals refuse to attend church even once.
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." LGBT individuals form the largest percentage group of homeless youth in America.
Christians proclaim that God created AIDS to punish homosexuals and have the nerve to insist that they love homosexuals.
Jesus said, "Love your neighbor." He never made exceptions.
Christians wonder why millenials are leaving the church, but if anyone tries to tell them they're not handling LGBT issues well, they proclaim their critics in league with the devil and double their efforts in "God's work."
Christians, as a fellow Christian and a bisexual woman, let me tell you: You are doing more to hurt the gospel in this generation than those who persecuted believers in our early days.
I no longer believe gay marriage is a sin, and I came to that conclusion through intensive prayer and study over several months. But you know what? That's not really the point of this post. The point is that, after I came to that conclusion, it took me months to work up the courage to tell anyone. The point is that I'm terrified of how many people I'll lose if I ever enter a same-sex relationship. The point is that I could fall in love with someone smart, and funny, and creative, and loving, and everyone will cheer the relationship on unless they discover that someone is a woman. The point is that I'm lying in bed crying over conversations I haven't even had yet because I know how many people I am going to hurt or disappoint just by saying these things.
The point is that, if a good Christian girl from a good Christian family like me can feel so scared to accept and tell others what God has taught her... what is this hatred and misunderstanding and lack of listening doing to the LGBT individuals that haven't grown up with the God I know?
How many thousands of believers no longer believe because God never made them straight, and the church says anything else is a sin, so God must not exist?
How many thousands believe but refuse to attend worship because churches refuse to listen to their stories or understand their experience?
For every friend that I lose and family member I disappoint, there are hundreds of LGBT individuals who will be kicked out of their house just for coming out. For every church or school I let down with my views, there are dozens of LGBT individuals out there considering suicide because every person they've trusted or been taught by has told them they're sinful and wrong.
Living in sin is one thing. Living with an orientation you're told is sin, desperately wanting to be rid of this and get right with God, and praying every single day for weeks into months into years to be straight only to wake every day still gay or lesbian or bisexual or anything other than straight... it reaches a point where you think either God must not be real or hell can't be any worse than this.
I never got there. I was surrounded by enough support to hold onto the truths that God is real and He loves me while I figured the rest out. I had the resources and the friends I needed to do my own research and live in a place where even if I didn't have my answers, I would find them eventually, and until then, God and my support group were enough.
But thanks to today's church, most LGBT people don't have that. No wonder they're leaving the church. The gospel never fails them, but Christians surely have.
I came out once as bisexual, but I glossed over it. I was still ashamed. I wasn't sure what to make of my sexuality. Part of me still wanted it to go away. I was seeking a way to live in spite of it.
Today I'm coming out as a loving, confident, Christian bisexual who will love whomever she wants. Today I'm coming out as a channel of God's agape love to everyone I meet, regardless of what they think or say or teach, regardless of what they believe or look like, regardless of how they feel about me.
Today I'm saying in no uncertain terms that I am a Christian and I am bisexual, and I am equally open and confident and proud in both of those things.
Today I'm letting the world and God know that my Lord can use me how he wants, in whatever community he wants, and I am going to follow him even when he takes me places I never thought he would.
Even if he takes me to a same-sex wedding.
Because where two or more are gathered in his name, he is with us. No matter who we love.
My Jesus loves all.