please note that the following is my personal relationship with faith and queerness. my intention is not to convert but rather to share my own experiences. please keep that in mind and remember to be kind (and to accidentally rhyme)
To be a Christian meant that I could not be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. That was what I was taught by my Lutheran church. Which was connected to my Lutheran schools from preschool all the way through college. I know the passages in the Bible my teachers and pastors would use to point out that homosexuality is a sin. I can find the parts of Luther’s Catechism that condemn the homosexual, the transperson, anyone who isn’t cisgender or heterosexual. And because I have a deep and personal relationship with Christ, I believed it. It didn’t feel right that a loving God would say that one person’s way to love someone else or to love their true self was wrong. But who am I to question an all-knowing God?
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that, while at times I may question God, my questions didn’t lie with God but I was questioning the church. Questioning archaic tradition. Recently I read the book “God vs Gay” by Jay Michaelson (he/him). In this book, he talks about how the word “Sodomy” originated with the 11th Century theologian Peter Damian and meant for those called to priesthood. It was specific to priests who were supposed to remain celibate (God vs Gay p. 163). Then the the church did a 180 so to speak at the end of the 12th Century possibly due to the crusades against Islam; there they saw more same-sex eroticism) (God vs Gay p. 163). If you really look into those passages used against queer people in the Bible, most of it can be boiled to poor translation and misunderstandings. If you are curious to read about this further, I recommend two sources. The first being God vs Gay by Jay Michaelson (he/him). Be warned that there is a lot of theological jargon used, but he goes very in-depth into the translations and the historical context surrounding those passages. Another similar but more concise source is “The Bible Doesn’t Say Homosexuality is a Sin” an article by Janet Edmonds (pronouns not found) made in 2016.
Having this knowledge helped me come to terms with my attraction to women. When I was young, I pushed those thoughts down. I asked God to take this “sin” away from me. I suppressed a part of myself that was fearfully and wonderfully made by him. Out of fear that God would stop loving me, forgetting that nothing can separate me from his love (Romans 8:39). What a blessing and comfort to know that my sexual orientation does not have to conflict my Christianity.
We’ve discussed how my gay sexual orientation can be and should be attached to my faith. Now, it’s time to tackle a more recent discovery: my being non-binary. As I said in my previous post , my closest friend came out to me as non-binary a few years back, my first ever experience with a term other than male or female. I was assigned female at birth, but that didn’t mean that I necessarily resonated with feminine things. I was a tomboy, playing football withe the boys at recess, wearing baggy basketball shorts, hating pink and makeup. My being a tomboy was seen as something to be praised, look at that “girl” not being like the other girls (an idea that is deeply rooted in misogyny). Just yesterday morning, I listened to a podcast recommended to me by that close friend of mine called Blessed Be the Binary Breakers. In it, Avery Smith (they/them) had this to say about their relationship to their gender:
“And like, one thing that people will tell trans men and nonbinary people who were assigned female at birth, what they’ll tell us is that… we don’t wanna be girls because of internalized misogyny, that we just hate womanhood, we’ve been taught to hate ourselves, so we really are girls but our internalized misogyny is so bad that we… don’t want to be girls any more.Blessed Be the Binary Breakers (ep.1 start 18:15)
And – while I get where they’re coming from, because it’s true I have absorbed a lot of misogyny just like anyone in this society, that’s not why I’m trans. I’m not a girl who hates being a girl. I’m a nonbinary person who, through realizing that I am nonbinary, has actually come to unpack some of the misogyny I’ve absorbed.
I feel like, in exploring my own gender identity, and my femininity as it exists apart from womanhood, has helped me really come to respect women. For my own gender, I tend to say that I identify strongly WITH women, even though I do not identify AS a woman. So, I think that’s, you know, that sort of something that cisgender people, transgender people, we all need to work through the crap that society tells us about gender, um… and that’s part of my calling.
While gender is a personal experience and not every non-binary person will have the same relationship to gender, this quote really resonated with me. Learning I was nonbinary but could still have a relationship with femininity was so freeing. Misogyny really is rooted in the idea of a gender binary, males behave this way and females behave that way. So breaking away from misogynistic tendencies helps explore the idea that there’s more than one way to express yourself through gender. I don’t have to be a “girl” to enjoy “feminine” things. And I don’t have to be a “boy” to enjoy “masculine” things. Being nonbinary gives me the freedom to blur those lines and live as my authentic self!
So how do I break the binary so to speak between being trans and being a Christian? First and foremost is to remember as I said that nothing, not even my trans-ness can separate me from God’s love (Romans 8:39). Next, I need to find a queer affirming place where I can live as a queer Christian. For Avery (they/them), that meant breaking away from the Catholic Church. They talk about this in their first podcast episode around 24:11. They mention how it was hard to leave Catholic traditions because those traditions were precious to them. And I have the same feeling when it comes to my Lutheranism. I love how doctrinally sound the Lutheran church is, that its central message is of salvation by grace not by works. But if you dig deep into the other doctrine they preach about women, homosexuality, and trans-ness, it doesn’t serve me or my relationship with Christ.
Though I cannot choose my sexual orientation or my gender identity, I can choose how I see my relationship with Christ. I choose to not see it through the lenses of those archaic and hateful traditions but as I believe it should be seen, through love and acceptance.
Until next time. Drew.