When I was coming out, I did what seems to be the typical former evangelical process: I read every book about the Bible I could get my hands on. I read articles about the so-called “clobber passages”, I read interviews with theologians, I asked questions of pastors.
I wanted to be able to explain, backwards and forwards, how I could “justify” my queerness with the Bible. I wanted to be able to answer every question and accusation. I wanted to be confident and secure. I wanted there to be no question in my own mind and to be able to erase every question in my conversation partners mind.
I began to see the Bible as a shield to be used to defend myself from those who would use the Bible as a weapon. I wanted to protect myself.
But the problem is that I let other people define the parameters of the conversation. I let them set the agenda. I let other people decide the rules of the game. I let other people’s questions define my search.
Here’s what I have learned: I don’t have to let other people set the rules of conversation. Not only that, I have never seen someone convinced or changed by the perfect argument. I have seen people change because of relationships and stories.
I hear this question a lot from people who write in to Queer Theology: “How do I explain my faith and my sexuality to people?” “How do I justify my queerness?” I understand those questions—I asked them myself in the past!—but now I’ve found a more productive way to frame these issues.
There isn’t just one way to be a Christian. There isn’t just one way to read the Bible. Throughout the centuries and in other countries and in all of the various churches there is a multiplicity of belief and thought and practice that all fall under the very large banner of Christian.
You can claim Christianity and be queer or trans. It’s your church. It’s your Bible.
You don’t have to answer their questions or defend yourself. You don’t have to allow other people to set the limits of conversation or define what is acceptable discourse. You can walk away when the conversation makes you uncomfortable. You can prioritize your emotional and mental health over and above answering every question asked of you. “I am not going to answer that” is an acceptable answer!
You can also change the conversation. Instead of letting someone else define how the conversation goes, tell them how your faith makes you feel, how it gives you life, how it changes the way you live. Tell a story of how God has deepened your faith because of your queerness. Show how you see yourself in the Scripture.
It’s your story, too. They don’t own it or get to define it. And if your answers aren’t good enough to convince them, then trust that they wouldn’t be convinced even if God appeared in a giant glowing light and told them they were wrong.
It’s time we stop allowing other people to control the conversation. It’s time we start telling our own stories, in our own way.
It’s our Bible, too.
Good news! We will be holding a How to Read the Bible course in mid-2020. To get first dibs on updates and details regarding this course, join the waitlist here.
Photo by Vicki’s Pics