As the years pass, I think more and more of the one openly gay kid who used to ride our bus; and how he was driven to take his own life because of all of the relentless bullying he received. Sometimes I feel guilty about not saying or doing anything to stop it, my one co-worker I discussed it with said that “you were just a kid”. True, but so was he.
He didn’t deserve that.
I grew up in a rural area where Evangelical Christianity had taken a strong foothold. I was constantly feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome in the church because I didn’t like how they said God was a God of love, and Jesus said to love their neighbors and yet they could hate and be so contemptuous of people who were different. They acted as if anyone who was part of the LGBTQ+ community was a demon or something.
I saw them protect people who had abused others under the guise of them being good men instead of holding them accountable for their actions.
Women had to watch what they were wearing and be aware at all times of what was going on, but there were no consequences for the men who didn’t control themselves or their own urges. There was no punishment for men who couldn’t regulate their emotions, but should a woman be angry or upset then it was unnatural and the end of the world. I was even told once in church that it was unnatural when a woman was “wicked” or “evil” because it went against their nurturing nature, but it wasn’t so surprising when it came from a man because they were more predisposed to being cold and out of touch with their emotions.
I didn’t think too much of it then, but I think about it now and wonder why that’s okay.
Why are women so demonized? Why are people in the LGBTQ+ community demonized by the church, too? Why?
Because at the end of the day women and queer people just want to be seen as people. They just want respect, they just want to be treated as human beings, they just want to have the right to exist in the universe without being hated or discriminated or sexualized for simply being alive.
Maybe the church has helped some people, but you cannot deny that they have hurt a lot of people, too. Churches need to hold their congregants responsible for what they do, and hold them accountable when they hurt people because this isn’t okay. Using your religion as a weapon to harm others from oppressed and marginalized communities isn’t okay.
If we are all made in God’s image then that includes all the people that you hate or dislike, that includes the people you don’t understand, that includes the people who you don’t think deserve to be sitting in a church pew, that includes people whose cultures you don’t know or understand. In the meantime instead of supporting legislation that harms women and queer people you could help the poor, you could help the widowed, and you could look inside of yourself and see where you need to grow as a person because none of us is perfect but by the sanctimonious way some of you behave – it would have me believe that perhaps you think that you are above the very rules that you say that we have to play by.
Love people not rules. Love people not being right. Love people even if they don’t have your faith and never will, love the people who walked away from your faith, love people as they are where they are and don’t love them simply to change them. It’s not hard. If your religion commands that you love people then please love them properly not with condition and terms.