A black Christian woman wearing a Christians at Pride t-shirt
Shutterstock

How do queer Christians live with religion and sexuality?

Many queer people are religious in their own right, but there is a clash between their choices, scripture's rejection and other queer people's contempt of organized religion.

Queer people are often seen as merely sexual beings instead of many-sided individuals who can also be spiritual and religious. This is mainly because of the church's stance on homosexuality being abnormal and a carnal sin, based on certain passages from the Bible.

The six main passages regularly used are: Genesis, 19:1–28; Leviticus, 18:22, 20:13; Romans, 1:26,27; I Corinthians, 6:9 and I Timothy, 1:10, have been used to support this contention. The same Bible, however, also states in 1 John 4:16 that, 'God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them'. It also states that 'all of the children of God will achieve a place in Heaven'.

These dualistic messages of intolerance, homophobia, faith, and perseverance have, for time immemorial, created a sense of confusion, self-loathing, and despair in queer people.

Is it possible to maintain strong faith while firmly and proudly owning one’s non-normative sexuality? And why do queer people go through such an ordeal to remain connected to a religion that shuns them?

As if it were not enough to face rejection from the church, the LGBTQI+ community also holds strong anti-religion sentiments and disdain for organised religion which they view as homophobic, heterosexist, and patriarchal. This leaves religious queer people with little support and in a constant battle to validate their queer and religious identities.

We spoke to some individuals struggling to find balance and self-love.

Constant Conflict - You cannot Pray the Gay away

Most people believe that for religious queer people the main fight is with our identities, but we also experience constant anxiety due to this conflict.

As a Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader, I am a prominent member of my local church. Not only was I raised in the church, but it is my home away from home and where I anchor myself. I firmly believe in scripture and my faith is one of my best qualities. I am also a gay girl.

Every girlfriend and fling I have had has had to endure my active conflict. I make them pray with me whenever we get physical and find it difficult to engage in conversations about the future. But the thing is, I’ve known I liked girls since I was 5 years old and I know nothing will change that. Actually, for a long time now I’ve accepted it as a part of who I am.

This took a lot of self-work and ironically prayer. A different kind of prayer. When I was younger, I thought I could ‘pray the gay away’. I thought fasting and deliverance were my tickets to a life ‘worthy of Christ’. I would emotionally and sometimes physically punish and torture myself whenever I ‘backslid’. Then, slowly by slowly, I started being kinder to myself. And my prayers changed. Now I ask for the strength and forbearance to love myself as I am. All of myself.

Wawira, 28

 

Living with Dissonance - We all have our crosses

Honestly, I don’t see the harm in it. ‘God is Love’ and that’s really all there is to it. Women are beautiful and divinely made. I can’t help my attraction to them but it’s also not worth the agony. Why would I risk losing my family, my church and my community just to own my sexuality? Should one facet of my life affect the whole? I think not.

So, I love them in private because it’s no one’s business but my own. Some of them even come to church with me and agree that the idea of same-sex partnership and parenthood is ‘unnatural’. The bible says marriage is a union between a man and a woman and having children through scientific intervention seems against the natural order.

But I also know I could never marry a man or bear one child… I guess I am destined to live unmarried and childless. We all have our crosses.

Namunyak, 24

 

Accepting stigma - Activist Church-Going

I got outed a few years back in a very public way. An ex-lover vindictively shared our sexting and love messages on the church WhatsApp group. It was mortifying and the worst invasion of my privacy, but it was out there making the rounds. I stayed away from church hoping it would all somehow disappear, and life would go back to normal. But it didn’t and the whispers will probably follow me forever.

Eventually, my need for connection and spiritual nourishment brought me out of hiding and I started going to church again. If they could have stoned me, they would have. Instead, I was met with silence and in some cases outright hostility. But I persevered and took it up as a form of ‘activist church-going’- I knew I would not be accepted but I wanted to remind them that queer Christians do exist.

Some days are harder than others, I find myself defending not only my presence but my humanity. It’s incredibly demoralising and draining. Other days I just go through the motions and let my actions demonstrate that I continue to observe the word of God, even in isolation.

Samuel, 34

 

Did you learn something new?

Comments
Add new comment

Comment

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang>