Everyday I check the Facebook section of what happened on this day, usually full of laughs of my former old self. I came across a status expressing how excited I was to go the bible study that night and I saw my old youth pastor, Travis, commented. I removed him and several others from my friends list a while ago, but I decided to check in on him.
He seems to be doing alright, he’s still working for the church, extremely passionate about his job, and him and his wife are expecting a baby next month. I’m incredibly happy for him.
Scrolling through some of his most recent Facebook posts and I see one that says “Remember when your life didn’t suck so much back when you use to go to church?? Yeah maybe you should go back.” I doubted this post was directly at me, after all Travis was the kind of guy who would send out massive texts to the community inviting them to church saying” Be there or be square.”
Yet I imagined that it could be about me. After all I ,by his definition, have I become one of those former youth kids he mentioned in one of his sermons that have run away from God. I didn’t attend church anymore, I don’t listen to christian music or give my weekly donation to the church. However, to be quite honest that didn’t bother me as much as I’m sure it would have 6 years ago. So I began reminiscing on all my old church days I look back on the 10+ years I spent in SeaCoast Grace.
There isn’t a time in my childhood I don’t remember learning about God or attending Sunday School. Each week I would arrive in a dress and a bible in hand, reciting the verse I had learned the week before. Most of my memories at my church were good ones, carnivals, pizza parties, vacation bible school filled with the simplest, yet most important lessons the bible could teach. God loves you, and he wants you to love others.
Time went on, and the lessons of the church intensified, I met young aspiring pastors, such as Travis, with a passion for bringing the community to the church. I wanted to befriend them, and be just like them. Travis and the other pastors were telling us every week to invite friends, throwing lavish events with young modern music, and wild games trying to attract the youth. It wasn’t long before my classmates started to show up to my church. I gained a hierarchy when they entered my sanctuary, I was better than them, they weren’t true Christians. They partied and played while I prayed, volunteered my time with children and to the church. I wrote journals during the prime christian years of my life. The entries now are good for a laugh; my friends often quote it, one even used a passage as inspiration for a monologue. Reading back on them it’s hard to imagine how incredibly closed minded and judgmental I was.
I don’t read my old journals to necessarily make myself better , nor am I here to write about my transformation from a hateful christian to someone who is a feminist who supports burning down churches. Instead I keep them as a reminder of why I’m fighting as hard as I too make sure the message of love and acceptance is the main the one I’m trying to spread, like Christians are suppose to do.
Let me be clear as well, a person filled with love and acceptance is not the person who rants on Facebook about boycotting a movie with a gay agenda or screams at planned parenthood for murdering babies, but then adds ” I love all people” to sugarcoat their post. Saying “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” is nothing but a person using God as justification for their own hateful and judgmental prejudice.
Yes of course, not everyone with a religious background is like this, however the sad reality is an extremely loud majority of people are. 60 million people voted for Donald Trump, regardless of their reasoning, there are self proclaim Christians who believe that he is the candidate God would have wanted America.
This not only contradicts the idea of freedom of religion in this country and the separation of church and state, but there’s literally a whole book, that explains why Jesus would never support a man like Donald Trump- it’s called the Bible.
And while I’m bringing up the holy text itself, if one were to read it carefully they would see: Jesus is a feminist
Jesus would have supported the BLM movement, and he would have looked at the LGBTQA community and say “You’re welcome here, I love you, I’m sorry people have taught you otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with your love for another human.” He takes the women who have bee hurt by men and reminds them of their value. And he would have undoubtedly found room and hospitality for Syrian Refugees. Jesus frowns upon those who protect their wealth over humanity and has called out hypocrites who criticize others for acting as if they are better than anyone else. He spent time with the sick, the poor, the outcasts, the ones that the so called Christians would not dare come close too. He shares love equally despite age, gender, race, sexuality, and wealth.
Intersectional feminism is about the political, economical, and social equality of the sexes, regardless of sexuality, religion, etc, if you don’t think that God isn’t supportive of a movement such as that, then quite frankly, It’s not a God I would want to worship.
Just because you go to church does not make you a good person, and in the past 4 years, I’ve met more accepting humans outside my church community, who have supported me and everyone else more than the church ever has. And I don’t believe me pushing my Christian background onto them will make them a more valuable human, because they are amazing exactly how they are; and I don’t wish to change that.
Being a queer, a feminist, and a Christian can be a lonely feeling, because it seems like the you can’t be both. I have found despite the endless hatred I have been shown by the Christian community, love actually is all around. I see it in my Grandmother who taught me that being gay can’t be a sin because how can love for another human ever possibly be wrong, I see it in my manager who hugged me and told me not only they were proud of the person I had become, but God was too; he knows my heart and no one ever gets to tell me otherwise. Above all I find God’s love in the children I once worked with, and the children I get to meet everyday.
Jesus once said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
For a child lives their life with open-mindedness and love. They soak up things like a sponge, and grow up unaware of the evil around them. So they love before one is taught to hate, to look at colors and see one as good and the other as bad, or to think that we must value lives of certain people over another. It was the years of my early youth, where I truly remember having a wild imagination seeing everything in bright colors and with happiness. To often it’s when a child grows up they lose their sense of acceptance, but I truly believe that Christianity is meant to restore that childlike feeling and let it shine through the world.
I’m eternally grateful to have to opportunity to continue to grow into the woman that I know God wants me to be, but I know I wouldn’t be this passionate if it wasn’t for the powerful women that have empowered me through my life. The greatest lesson I’ve learned was one the church never taught me; it is not your religious belief, the amount of times you pray, the hours you spend at a sanctuary that makes you a beautiful person, but it is your treatment of others around you and of lesser privilege. It’s standing for a movement that reminds people that matter who you are, where you’re from, how any person has ever made you feel, you are so incredibly important to this world.