In hindsight, I see problems in the way I was treated, in the way my parents saw me, in the way I saw myself. Instead of embracing me, telling me everything was okay, telling me God still loved me unconditionally, telling me I could hope for a beautiful, wonderful life just like my siblings did, they let me wallow in the hopelessness of being unaccepted and feeling unloved by God. Maybe if they’d known how I felt, they would have said something. But when it comes right down to it, their ultimate hope for me was heterosexuality. Still is, really. And the sad thing is that, for many queer teens living in evangelical communities, depression, self-loathing, and hopelessness is the most comfortable place, because it’s the place all their friends are comfortable with them being in. Which, whether this is what is meant to be communicated or not, teaches a child that they are broken, and diseased, and cursed, and can only have a lovely, happy life if they turn straight. This leads to a higher rate of suicide in the LGBT community, which evangelicals then blame on the simple fact that queer people are dangerous, God-hating rebels, so of course they’d kill themselves, in fact, maybe that’s God’s judgment on them, maybe everything bad that happens to gay people is deserved. (And of course, if gay people seem happy, they’re deceiving you!) Clearly, these are a bunch of lies that must be silenced if anything is to change.

But through it all, no matter who I lost, God was there. With God’s returning Presence, God affirmed God’s love for me. Me! Queer, doubting, depressive Levi. God loved me! And when I really knew that for sure, when I could see God’s hand guiding my path, I realized I didn’t have to care what “Kim” thought of me, or what my old friends thought of me, or what my pastor thought of me, or even what my parents thought. And that is really what a relationship with God is about: putting away fear of man, and embracing healthy fear of God—The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—and now He is at the right hand of our father, interceding for us.”

This is Who we have to love. This is the One we have to fear. And He is lovely, and kind, and warm to us.

God used my queerness to draw me to Godself in a way that not much else could have. I was so dependent on others—even good, Christian people—apart from God, that in order to get me all to Godself, God had to ostracize me from even those people, and teach me to pursue my faith solely as a relationship with God. In addition to this, without my being gay, I’m almost certain I would have been a judgmental nitwit. So, through this journey, which continues to this day, I’m humbled and pulled closer to the side of Christ.

It bothers me that so many people doubt my salvation simply because I have embraced who God made me to be. But we are all on journeys. If you personally feel that you cannot honestly affirm queerness as a part of the world, affectionately and intentionally crafted by our Creator God, I would ask that you treat myself and other queer folks with respect, as you seek out answers yourself and acknowledge the fact that none of us have this all figured out. Thank you for your love, your hugs, your prayers, and your support.

Levi

This post was written in August of 2018 and originally published in February of 2019.

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