My burden

Upon arriving home from church yesterday afternoon, I noticed a slip of paper stuck in the door. It was a letter from someone that I’ve known for years – a girl that I grew up with at the church of my youth. The well-intentioned letter described her “burden” for me and my soul, begging me to repent and “come home.” One sentence felt strangely like a warning, telling me that she doesn’t know what the future holds, but that I needed to seriously consider my fate. I was a little taken aback by the letter and the wording, but I realize that she is doing what she feels she has to do, and I harbor no resentment. She is genuinely concerned about where I’m going to spend eternity.

I was immediately reminded of a recent visitor to this site who called me a “sodomite” and told me to change my wicked ways, informing me that God had used her words as a final warning for people before. I’ve also received this type of letter in the past from my own grandmother, stuffed with gospel tracts and pleadings to repent and be saved.

While I consider these letters and writings to be little more than scare tactics, I will admit that they make me uncomfortable and even slightly nervous. The paranoid part of my brain tries to convince me that they are somehow connected – that it’s not mere coincidence and that I must be headed straight for hell. Then the intellectual part of my brain kicks in and I realize that these are the same kinds of things that people have been doing and saying to me for years. That’s when I get a little angry.

Even though these attempts by others to make me see the error of my ways may be out of true concern, I am being disrespected in the process. My feelings about religion and God are completely disregarded in a brazen manner when I’m told that I must “come home”, a clear indication that I should return to the church of my youth or one like it. The fact that I’m already going to church is completely ignored. I fall victim to their narrow scope of what it means to be saved or a Christian.

To them, homosexuality and Christianity are incompatible; as long as I’m gay, I’m going to hell. They believe I would be transformed by a born-again experience, redeemed and made straight in one fell swoop. They don’t know about the hours in prayer and the tears that I’ve shed as I begged God to save me and make me straight. They don’t understand the fear that comes from being told who you are, not what you do, will send you to a lake of fire.

Yet, they also don’t seem to understand that religion is a personal thing between a man and his maker. No one else is responsible for my soul, except me. I am trying to figure all of this out for myself – through reading, studying and praying. Maybe I’m not supposed to “lean on my own understanding”, but I figure God gave me reason and I should use it. It’s ludicrous for anyone to assume that I’m not concerned about my soul or where I’m going when I die.

One thing that really bothers me is how my rejection of this type of behavior is sure to be spun as my rejection of God. If I die this week from a heart attack or an automobile accident, there will be those who stand in church and use me as an example of what happens to those who turn God away. I can imagine the funeral, where my true friends mourn my passing while acquaintances lament my terrible fate. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to escape such sentiment, no matter how I live or believe.

While the writer of the letter described her “burden” for me, she has no idea of the burden it is to simply be me. Perhaps if she came to that realization, she might understand that there’s nothing that she can tell me that I haven’t heard before and that she isn’t responsible for my salvation. That’s between me and God, and that’s one “burden” that I take very seriously.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 11 years and three fabulous felines.

8 thoughts on “My burden”

  1. If you’re going to hell ‘cuz you’re gay, I’m going to hell ‘cuz I’m not. See you there! I want to part of a god or a religion that is so judgemental.

  2. I admire you for the conviction you show. I’m really impressed. You are blessed with your understanding and it’s a shame that your life has to be this hard just for listening to who you really are. Don’t give up and always stay true to yourself. =)

  3. “Even though these attempts by others to make me see the error of my ways may be out of true concern, I am being disrespected in the process…
    No one else is responsible for my soul, except me… It’s ludicrous for anyone to assume that I’m not concerned about my soul or where I’m going when I die…One thing that really bothers me is how my rejection of this type of behavior is sure to be spun as my rejection of God.”

    Brian,

    I’ve waited for a while to post this because I wanted to give a thoughtful response. You are a Godly man. That has nothing to do with your sexual orientation, it has to do with your heart, it has to do with the way you chase after God. You want the truth, and you’re not just going to take someone else’s word for it. You wrestle, you question, you dig, you pursue God–you want to get this thing right. I love that about you–more importantly, God loves that about you. You don’t embrace religious ideas because that’s what you’ve always been taught, or because of family traditions, or because they are popular–and you don’t reject them because they are unpopular.

    “You will seek me and find me,” says the Lord, “when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

    Since reading your post I’ve been thinking about Peter and Cornelius (Acts, Chapter 10). God had to work on Peter to get him past his lifelong-held religious convictions to realize that God could work in the heart of someone Peter considered “unclean”, impure, unholy, unacceptable.

    Cornelius was a Gentile. “He was rigtheous and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” (Acts 10:2)
    He was a good man who was chasing after God, desperately wanting to know the truth and to get it right.

    When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home he said, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. (Acts 10:28) Peter became a law-breaker in order to befriend Cornelius.

    Many Christians need to learn the lesson that God taught Peter. Well-intentioned Christians would have a lot more impact if we just focued on loving and accepting (not the same as approval) people, trying to help people move a few steps closer to understanding, loving and obeying God, and leave the convicting and judging of sin up to Him.

    I get blasted by many Christians for my “liberal” stance, but it’s more effective in the long run, and more Christ-like in the process. “God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean” or unacceptable. I pray that Christians everywhere can better learn to “share the truth in love”, to show genuine concern, without disrespecting people in the process. And it is a process, a journey, and God is at work in people’s hearts. We would do more good if we helped people progress on the journey toward knowing, loving an obeying God rather that condemning them for not yet having arrived at the destination.

    You friend,

    Pastor JimT

  4. JimT,

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words and the story about Peter and Cornelius. I can’t recall ever hearing it before, even though I’m sure I’ve read it at some point.

    This has been a rough week in so many ways and I’m very thankful for your kind words.

    Peace, my friend.

  5. Brian,

    I am beginning to understand better why being gay is hard for you. You’ve made a courageous choice — you are out and proud in your home town; one that is seemingly dominated by social conservative Christians. I feel for you. Not sharing your beliefs, I can’t quote to you the Bible to bolster yourself. But I can offer some empathy and encouragement. The adage that anything that doesn’t take you down makes you stronger — is true. This episode, painful as it is, will now help you in life further down. You’re becoming stronger and stronger through this.

    I’m very encouraged that you recognize their disrespect for you, for your beliefs, for your personal relationship with your god. I’m glad that, although being hurt by them, you have rejected their opinions and held fast to your own. That’s so great!

    My other little trick (although it truly isn’t a trick — I believe it whole-heartedly) is to rejoice in the fact that I am not them! They can have their petty views, then can have their burdens to make all others believe like themselves — I am so glad I do not share their outlook on life! This makes me smile.

    Peace to you.

  6. Oh my , Brian—I could have cried when I read this. What that person wrote to you is absolutely false.

    I can tell you with 100% certainty, that you are loved by God, and going to heaven!!

    That person is misguided, but I can tell you though, that she will see one day when she meets God, how wrong she was. At that point she will feel the pain she may have caused you.

    I have read many, many, many, many books on near death. There is a common denominator among them all. People regardless of religion type, financial backround, heritage, education, gender, all came back from death telling similar stories. It matters NOT WHO you love, but THAT you love.
    We are here to learn love in all of it’s many forms. We judge ourselves in our life review, at death.
    Love, goodworks, kindness, service, are what matters.
    We are attracted to what it is that we need in life.
    Hold your head high, for you are perfect just the way you are.
    love, Kelly

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