LGBT Pride events in smaller cities are growing. They give members of the LGBT community who do not live in large cities a sense of belonging and safety. Such an event was recently held at a community park in Lubbock, Texas, a city in the middle of nowhere, five hours from Dallas and four from Albuquerque. On that day, some 600 people came together to celebrate the bond they share and enjoy a true day of the rainbow.
That is, until Pastor M. showed up, began accusing the churches who were there of false teaching and telling people they would go straight to hell if they did not “repent for their sins.” Of course on a day like this no one listened to him. He must have felt very unimportant because on the same evening he posted this to the Facebook page of a local news station:
As a German, I fiercely believe in the separation of church and state. I fiercely believe in an individual’s right for self-definition. And, as a Christian, I passionately argue that God is love and love does not discriminate.
So I replied to his post with nothing more than a link to my educational blog about the LGBT community and Christianity. Not even an hour later he sent me a message. What followed was a somewhat civil exchange, where I tried to tell him that love does not judge, nor hate, nor reject. He, however, threw Bible quote after Bible quote at me and, once he realized that I would not back down, he showed his true opinion of me:
It shouldn’t matter. I shouldn’t get upset. Even my close friends told me so. Remarks like his are still common, they said, and I shouldn’t waste my time. Well, they are not common where I come from, nor is speaking out against ignorance and hate a waste of time. So, this is my very public reply to Pastor M.:
Dear Pastor M.,
I have called you brother once in our Facebook exchange because I believe that is what you are: My brother, despite our differences. Still, I call you brother and still I do not make your name public. After all, I mean you no harm. Nor do I want to harm your child who is openly gay and in the process of getting married which “pains you every day” as you stated publicly on Facebook. You called me a “child of hell” and “an instrument in the hand of the devil.” You called the love I feel for my wife “lascivious and vile affections.”
In my European and enlightened ears your accusations, yes even your choice of words, sound ridiculous. If I didn’t know better I would have thought I somehow time-traveled back to the Puritan days, or even further, to the Middle Ages. Back then you would have probably burnt me as a witch for having the audacity to work as a teacher. A woman! But where I should have laughed and turned my back, you managed to actually hurt me.
First of all, how dare you abuse the Bible? How dare you twist the love letter that my God wrote to me and turn it into something against me? I can take it. But what about the countless others who cannot? What about all those growing up, or living with pastors like you? How dare you poison their minds by telling them that something they were born with makes them wrong in the eyes of a God they love? You are damaging souls. You are committing psychological abuse of the worst kind. Yes, I can take it. But I stand here helpless and mortified knowing that there is nothing I can do for the silent members of the LGBT community who suffer from your kind. My thoughts are with you, beloved siblings. You are not alone.
Secondly, it amazes and horrifies me at the same time, that your world is entirely black and white. Words like religious freedom, a right given to the people in this country by the US Constitution, mean nothing to you. Remember? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”(First Amendment). Do you understand that all your talk of repentance, sin, and hell fire doesn’t mean anything to a good part of the people you condemn? Furthermore, are you able to understand that that is ok?
You accuse me of abusing the ones that look up to me. Now that hurt. You despise me for holding the crying and comforting the despairing. You call me a “child of hell” for speaking words of encouragement to those deeply wounded by people like you. Why? Because you start to realize that your words do not fall on fertile ground? Or is it because you have a child within the LGBT community yourself and you are seeing them blossom and grow in acceptance and love even though you try everything to prevent that?
Brother M., I know you will not listen. My words are nothing but whispers from the devil for you. But know that you have been heard. I know you are out there in this town I now call my home. Thank you for your words. Finally, I understand how important my work as an LGBT advocate and LGBT Christian here in Texas is. I never wanted to believe it until now. Not in my wildest dreams could I have thought up a character like you.
Next Sunday in church I will hug the young lesbian who is just now leaving her oppressive Christian past behind and welcome her once more to the family.
Brother M., now that I put my anger into words I begin to understand you. I force myself to see more in you than a monster devoured by hatred. Your beliefs, however wrong they are in my eyes, force you to be afraid. Actually, you must be scared half out of your mind because you genuinely believe that your gay child will go to hell, that you will lose them. How painful that must be. So why don’t you come over to my church? You know where we are. Let’s talk about your pain and your fear and maybe we can make it better. Maybe there is healing for all of us. Maybe one day you will see the destruction and wounded souls you have left on your road. On that day, call me and I will weep with you.
Photo via Unsplash and Pixabay.
About Franziska Garner
Franziska Garner was born and grew up in Germany. In September 2015 she moved to the United States and married her partner Lisa. Together they are building a ministry (www.wetfeetministry.com) with a special outreach to the LGBT+ community.