A friend of mine, who describes herself as progressive christian, a minister, and queer (among other things), recently entered into relationship with another woman. This other woman was a pastor who was rejected by her christian denomination when she came out honestly to them about her sexual orientation being other-than-heterosexual.
My partner and I spent time with them one recent Sunday. Their intent had been to attend a church service before arriving to meet us for brunch. They were on a quest to find a community that aligned with their spiritual journey and that also accepted them as a couple. They seemed bruised and disappointed with the fruits — so far — of that search.
They are both somewhat seasoned members of various christian communities. And they both had long been aware of their own respective sexualities and of the largely polarized rulings in christian communities on other-than-one-man-one woman-heterosexuality. Yet, they were surprised, almost a little shell-shocked, at the difficulty they were experiencing in finding a community in which they didn’t feel like they were in fishbowl.
It was heartbreaking.
It also gave me something to think about. I’d had countless conversations with one of the women in particular about my partner’s and my story of rejection from our former church and friends, and our journey since. I’m pretty sure she knew of other stories like ours. But the experience she was having now still surprised her, gave her insights she perhaps didn’t even realize she didn’t have.
It’s not until we truly stand in another’s shoes that we understand fully.
I would like to say that this gives me understanding and compassion for those who don’t understand the damage that christian rules can inflict. But in the interest of honesty, I will instead say that I wish all those who have rejected my partner and me, or refused to understand the intensity of our pain and anger, could walk for real in our shoes.
photo credit: F.Porkka