It’s entirely possible that when we start to lay claim to our belonging as children of God, it will feel scary and perhaps even painful as we expose parts of us that we have hidden away from our friends, families, and churches in order to win their approval. We will feel our world breaking up- rocked by a seismic acceptance of self- and under the shifting layers will emerge a new existence, gleaming with God’s goodness and ready for the world to behold and celebrate.
When Jesus looked at the multitude, he saw people as being harassed. I used to believe this was just about personal evangelism—that we needed more workers in the harvest field who would help people pray to receive Christ. But now I see that Jesus was asking for more workers who would stand in the gap to guard and advocate for people who were being harassed. For Jesus, love took the form of helping to protect vulnerable people.
Religion and faith are neither inherently “good” nor “bad”. Religion and faith are powers to be used responsibly. As a pastor I am not opposed to religion. I am a student of Christianity and our neighbors of many faiths. As a pastor it is my duty, privilege, and calling to actively resist violence, especially violence done in the name of religion.
Shame was burgeoning throughout my body like a viral disease because I thought my version of ‘God is Love’ and gender nonconformity were inherently damaged. But while I tried to smite out the authenticity that produced my shame, I was in fact compounding my shame. In fact, the more intensely I embraced shame, the more convinced I was paying an appropriate penance unto God. Needless to say, I was fixing the wrong mechanism with the wrong remedy.