In one of my online groups for LGBTQ+ Christians this week, someone shared a story about one of their friends who was at the receiving end of homophobic theology from a pastor. A member of the group wrote this letter in response; it has been adapted from the original (by the author) and is reproduced here with permission. If you have ever heard toxic theology from a pastor or spiritual leader, especially because of your LGBTQ+ identity, this is for you.
Dear Beloved Child of God:
You may not know me, and I do not necessarily know you, but I see you and your pain. I know that you are first and foremost a Beloved Child of God. Grace and peace be with you in these times of pain and struggle. I’m sorry that your pastor betrayed you by spreading lies about God and yourself. I know that when toxic theology is thrown in your direction by someone that you trust, it’s effortless to allow that to shake us to our core. It’s also easy to gaslight ourselves and enter into a series of thoughts starting with the question, “what if they are right.” I wanted to share two pieces of scripture and a process that I find really helpful in moments like this.
Take a moment to breathe. Scan your body from head to toe to see where you are currently holding your stress. Is it your neck? Your shoulders? Your clenched jaw? Your tightened fist? Do what you need to become comfortable again in your own body. Your body is made in God’s image. It is a gift from God, it is Good, and you can trust it. This includes your gender identity and sexual orientation.
As you read the following passages, pay attention to how the Spirit moves within you.
Think about the words of your pastor or spiritual leader and how they manifested in you. Did they bear the fruit of the Spirit?
Now think about a time when you embodied your gender identity or sexual orientation fully. Think about a space where your gender identity or sexual orientation was known fully by others.
Does your gender identity and sexual orientation bear the fruit of the Spirit?
You are not alone. The Spirit of Christ is with you just like they are with all of the other countless Queer Christians around the world. May you be empowered by the Spirit of God here and now.
You are beloved by God and by us. We are here for you and with you in your journey.