She tells me she understands. That she had to deal with the politics of Christian schools and churches: that her life had been tossed about on the churching sea waves of their capricious expectations. She doesn’t get it. This isn’t being passed over for a job because someone else wanted it. This is back biting or favoritism. This isn’t being held to ever changing standards. That is a human problem, a problem that we can and do experience every where. It happens within and outside of the church every single day. It’s life’s unfairness. That can be handled without railing against God, questioning the foundations of a faith you’ve built your life on. Your person can survive that. Church hurt isn’t about that. It’s about a pain that only the church can cause and that that pain is caused in the name of God. That is what makes all the difference. Those other people wouldn’t argue that God insists they gossip, they wouldn’t claim that God is the soul of the reason they treat you like shit. The LGBTQ community, people who don’t ascribe to gender dualisms or ‘norms’, patriarchal culture, or purity culture [people in short who control their bodies] know exactly what I’m talking about. It isn’t personal preference or church politics or any of the other petty stuff that is hurled at these people it’s Godself. The church (hell yes I mean the massive majority of the American Christian church) flings God at these people like an epithet. How could we not grow to loathe the sound of it coming out of your mouth? It’s one reason God listed taking God’s name in vain as one of the commandments. Hate spewed from a mouth in the name of the Almighty poisons the very name. It sickens it. It graffitis a God who self- identifies as Love.
Lil Nas X did an interview where he briefly addressed his church hurt. While discussing his “Satan shoes”, he made the comment that church people told him he was irredeemably headed for Hell but got all bent out shape when he decided go there. He also said “I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the (expletive) y’all preached would happen to me because I was gay. So, I hope u (sic) are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.” This kind of hurt is unique to the church because it’s an abusive tactic that not only employs gaslighting and self-loathing in the name of God. They are being called to the door as they are and when they approach, they are not turned away but sucked into a world where they are the bad guy because God says so. Lil Nas X uses the quintessential medium of the repressed black American in music specifically rap. It’s long history of signifying, symbolism and invocation to syndication adding weight to his criticism of the church. Instead of bending our pious judgment to the words in Romans 5:8, the church has caused irreparable harm to the entirety of the lgbtq community and called it righteous. Each church body is just looking for a sin which they don’t feel guilty of so they can be superior, as if God is a bear and we must simply outrun our comrades to escape being consumed in the flames of Hell that inhabit the mouth of God.
What a cruel image of God. And how contrary to Scripture. Who is a lion seeking whom he may devour? Is that the biblical view of God? The church needs to do some serious soul searching because it has lost it way. If people walk away with this impression of God, I believe, God will judge those who caused this harm quite harshly. They were shown love, they were given grace, even the grace of God’s loss of the One most precious and taken that grace and hoarded it as though God doesn’t love anyone else. There is nothing less biblical. There is nothing less godly than to deny others grace. God would sacrifice even Godself to show us the breadth of how we are loved. How dare we not do not the same and then say that’s because of God.
Additional reading: https://www.savannahnow.com/story/news/2021/04/02/ga-rapper-lil-nas-x-controversy-sparks-conversation-black-church/4844976001/