once burned, twice shy… and hopefully never bitter

I sure didn’t expect to come to the topic of rejection from Christian friends so soon on my new blog. But the topic came to me. An old friend found me on facebook last week. I was delighted to hear her voice from so many years ago and I accepted her friend request. On her wall appeared scripture quotes, passages that offered (as I read them anyways) particularly little grace. Sprinkled through her comments was praise for John MacArthur, a preacher who says things like: “And then that very most heinous expression of sin, the sin of homosexuality, points up the utter fallenness of man.” (see the original here on MacArthur’s website).

Caution. (Danger, Will Robinson!)

I dropped her a note containing both delight and clear boundaries.

I’m hoping your Christian faith includes room for same-gender couples. If not, just let me know. There will be no hard feelings, it’s just that I have no room in my life for pretense or unecessary pain and rejection.

If your faith is not too fundamental, I’d love to hear where life has taken you. I have very warm fond memories of time spent with you, you are a special person with a generous heart.

She responded to the delight, sharing appreciation that I would even ask and expressing a desire to chat more. She didn’t acknowledge the boundary though, so I still didn’t know where she stood on the topic of (ahem) my salvation. I decided to open up and share with her more deeply:

That church where Sandy and I met couldn’t hold the tension between their theology and our relationship, and we were asked to go. It had been Sandy’s family for 10 years and they had literally saved her life. I loved it, deeply, for the two years I was there, and learned so much. It was excruciating to be rejected. Some of Sandy’s long-time friends shut her out with cruelty and viciousness. Called it love. “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” We were compared to adulterers, addicts, murderers and Muslims. Told we were being shut out in hopes that the pain of Satan’s touch would drive us back to purity. I have compassion for those who were trying so hard to follow what they thought God through scripture was commanding them to do: judge us, correct us, to save us, according to their belief about what it means to be saved. Not all were so certain, tho. We still have a relationship with a few people there, including several of the pastors. The senior pastor has shared with us that he would handle things differently today than he did 2 years ago. I love him very much, but am wounded beyond measure by what happened.

The experience has also enriched me beyond measure. Wounds open us up to much treasure.

I’m not sure how much you know about the fundamental Christian stance on same-gender love. Sandy’s and my story is one of many, not a few of which have ended in suicide. Jesus is used to justify a lot of cruel judgment. I do not believe humans have a right to judge each other, and I do not believe God/Jesus calls us to do so.

I pondered for some time how much to share with you before writing back. I know first-hand the joy of being a new Christian — the worship, the fire, the brightness in my fellow Christian’s eyes and hearts, the leap in my own, the wonder at submitting to a King who loves me so much He was willing to give up His own life, the deep and awesome sense of belonging…. and I wouldn’t want to take that from another no matter my opinon of how much of it may be authentic. But I do know it is not in my power to take it away, to even tarnish it for another. (I am not that powerful.) The story I tell is real, and it shines a light into the dark corners of Christiandom, where murky motives and pretense and ego thrive. In the end, I decided to share it, to not protect you.

Do you know, fully, the theology of those who’s sermons you listen to?

If you are still wanting to continue chatting (or having deep conversations, lol!), I look forward to hearing back from you.

Last night I received her reply. I’ll post that tomorrow.

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5 Responses to once burned, twice shy… and hopefully never bitter

  1. Lisa Ailshie says:

    I love your honesty, and it enlightens me every day.

  2. Benjamin Lin says:

    I love your blog so far. I have received some of the greatest hurt from those that (I thought) were my church family. Your response to your friend showed much more grace and restraint than I think I could give. I look forward to reading her reply.

  3. That was a beautiful letter, abundant in grace and hope. Your light shines so brightly, thank you for sharing that.

  4. Pingback: once burned… finis | a word in small letters

  5. Pingback: once burned… part 2 | a word in small letters

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