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Have you been shamed because of who you are or what you believe? How so?
We were shamed for daring to think we could possibly offer anything on this topic that our straight, white, male theologians before us could have missed.
I was told that I was proof of why women should never be pastors.
We were told we were driving our family off a cliff.
We were told we were leading people into hell.
The conservative church believes that to question them is to question God! (pretty arrogant...)
To explain how I've been shamed, I need to provide some historical context. Back in 1975 when I was 20 years of age, I had an encounter with the police that has remained with me through my life. You need to understand that until 1985, being gay in New Zealand was a criminal offense punishable by up to seven years in prison, although I don't ever recall that sentence being passed in my life-time. However the police would still often harass Gay men and on one occasion when I was with some friends one officer chose to throw his weight around. At that stage I was not out and it reinforced as sense of being gay is not natural.
I was heavily involved in my evangelical church, and their understanding of the issue was no better. I finally gathered sufficient strength to talk to my minister about it. His response while sympathetic demonstrated how inadequate he was to deal with this revelation and equated the news with being like someone who pinches women's underwear off clotheslines. I kid you not!
Then in 1985, my church The Salvation Army decided to launch a national campaign to fight legislation for Law Reform. They successfully collected 850,000 signatures. While they did not succeed in stopping the law change, at that time there was considerable ignorance and lack of scriptural understanding. I was told some pretty awful things by senior church leadership including references to HIV/ Aids being God's punishment on gay men and people making assumptions that because I was gay, it meant I had to be engaging in penetrative sex. Rather than see this as shame however, God's intervened and called me to be a voice of knowledge and freedom. The other thing I recall was a real sense of calling that I was to be the voice, feet and hands of Christ and as I interacted with church leaders and people who may come out to me, my role was to share the love and peace of Christ and remind them of the basic truths of the gospel.
That was over 30 years ago. And I had little idea where this ministry would take me. That's leads on to the next question.
When I first came out, I was shamed a lot by my original worshiping community. My beliefs about the Bible, about God, sexuality, gender roles, justice, most everything I had held on to was either changing or I was letting go. And that community would treat me as if I was being "deceived" by the literal devil, as if I was an idiot, as if I had not agonized over these questions for years before finally allowing myself to get free. I internalized a lot of their words. And even though leaving that space was healthier for me in the long run, initially, I carried that rejection as a mark against my character. I felt like I had done something wrong.
It took me a while to recognize that my old church was not the voice of God, that the things they rejected me for are the same thing God celebrates me for.
Laura Beth Buchleiter
Shame comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be from direct comments or for a lifetime of being told something inherently true about me is offensive to God. Most of my shame came from believing God created me with a complex gender while being told God would never make such an “error”. Apart from gender identity, a healthy heaping of shame came from never living up to the ideas of what is meant to be a “man of God” in my home or in my community. God gifted me to lead in different ways and it has taken years of working to overcome the shame of my perceived failure and live into God’s work through me.
When I was first coming out, I experienced shame in so many ways. Some of the
harshest shaming came from people in my life commenting on God’s impending
judgment for pastors like me who “lead their congregation astray”.
So much of my identity and values came from my family and when I came out, I was shamed for the “choice” I was making to not be a full member of the family. It was extremely painful and led to a major period of deconstruction and reconstruction of my identity in Christ alone.
I’ve experienced shame from all communities I’ve been involved in. No exception. Because I am gay, I received shame during my evangelical upbringing. Because I was conservative, I received shame from the queer community when I came out, even the gay Christian community. It is a hypocritical thing really, none of us want to be shamed yet no matter where we go, we are likely to be shamed.
When I became sexually active, one thing I was surprised to find within the queer community was how judgmental the community was about what my limits or lack of limits were. I was shamed for not wanting to have sex before marriage. I was shamed for not being comfortable with one night stands. I was shamed for not being kinky enough. This was all within the context that I was holding back because I felt ashamed over my sexuality. It was reasoned, if I was truly unashamed, I’d be sexualiy liberated visiting the bathhouse regulalry. Though not entirely wrong, the shame that was put on me by my queer siblings was shame nonetheless.
Yes. In many ways, particularly my sexual orientation and my ethnicity. Like many LGBTQ+ persons, I have had a litany of experiences that have left me feeling shamed. But to be honest, the most profound is for being an ethnic minority. I am 40% Spanish and 40% Native American from Mexico. I often experience colorism by people of color and prejudice in White spaces. I often feel as though I belong only when I code switch, something that I have had to perfect, sadly.
I’ve encountered situations my entire life when I’ve been shamed for speaking up about what I believe. Even over matters that extended beyond the reach of sexuality, time and time again I’ve seen leaders in positions of power silence and diminish the voices of minorities. It occurred when I saw staff members of a religious institution lodge twisted narrative complaints against me and I, a lowly member, had no opportunity to defend myself. It occurred when I was given no voice at a hierarchically organized church where parents were able to accuse me, a staff member, of being a pervert and a rapist simply for being gay. I’ve constantly been mistreated by people in positions of influence or authority who disregard the needs of the people.