This is the second part in my series, “Soul Wounds of the Queer Christian.” Check out my first post, “Defining the Soul Wounds of the Queer Christian.”

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

Of all the soul wounds in my life, the one associated with my sexuality comes to mind more often than I care to admit. Working with the Lord through this wound for many years, I know its roots run deep, going as far back to when I was a boy. Like many others in our community, I know this is the main wound that must be dealt with if we, as “Side B” Christians, are to move past the pain dealt to us.

The unforgiveness and bitterness resulting from such a wound prevent us from being able to partake in the unity of the Body of Christ, His Church. This is something I’m still working through.

I grew up in Georgia, firmly amidst America’s “Bible Belt.” For those unfamiliar, the Bible Belt is a collection of Southern states with traditionally held, Christian, conservative beliefs. These beliefs greatly affected Southern communities, with a great emphasis on involvement with the church while supporting traditional values. Almost everyone you knew went to church, and there was a church on nearly every corner in nearly every town.

This is where I grew up — where attending church, believing in God, and holding Christian family values were the culturally expected norms.

With these cultural expectations in mind, there was also the flip side; namely, anything different than the “main culture” was looked down upon with the greatest scrutiny. Subjects like alcohol, tattoos, and even secular music would garner the disapproval of the people around you — a disapproval made worse by the heavily legalistic nature of my home church, where some people were pushed out if they didn’t meet the accepted cultural expectations.

Being gay or queer, for example, was considered among the most egregious of sins. Homosexuality wasn’t something people talked about, and if they did, it was either mentioned with great condemnation or used as a homophobic slur or joke: “That’s gay.” Likewise, people used passive-aggressive language to talk negatively about the queer community, using phrases like “the gays” or “them,” or saying things like, “We’re not as bad as those people.”

From a young age I knew that gay people, and by extension all queer people, were not welcome; they were the antithesis to what it meant to be a Christian. And so, I grew up surrounded by this tension, with even one of my childhood Bible study leaders explaining the reason for the decline of our nation’s education system was because of “the gays.”

I realize now that he’d declared this to at least a handful of boys who would come out later in life.

My childhood experiences taught me how many Christians viewed the gay community, and that something was very wrong with you if you struggled with this.

Later in high school, struggling with gay lust, going online where I shouldn’t have gone, I finally found the courage to confess to my Bible study group to seek help. Instead of being helped, though, I was called into the middle school pastor’s office and told that I needed to “be careful” about what I said “in front of the younger guys,” because he was getting calls from parents about what I’d shared.

Although I looked up to and had worked with this pastor for several years, helping in the middle school ministry, he lost all my respect that day. He didn’t even offer to help me, a child, through this issue; instead, he would rather I keep my mouth shut. Likewise, the other Bible study leader never spoke to me again after this event.

I learned that it wasn’t safe for me to talk about or process through any of this struggle. Not at this church.

And that is just what I did for the rest of high school. I didn’t talk about my sexuality with anyone at that church again.

After leaving for college, I found myself needing to take ownership of my faith. Throughout this process, I could feel God calling me to wrestle once more with my sexuality, which terrified me. Throughout the first three years of college, my faith grew, and my trust in my brothers and sisters was slowly being repaired as I felt God’s guiding hand to be vulnerable again with them.

Eventually, I stepped into leadership of our student-led campus ministry and saw just what God was doing in this area of my life. After praying and seeking the Lord for a long time, He revealed to me that I was experiencing attraction to both men and women — that I was, in layman’s terms, bisexual. The full story is enough to fill a future post (wink, wink), and it was this event that led to one of my deepest soul wounds.

During a night of sharing testimonies as a leadership team, I revealed having finally acknowledged and come to terms with this part of my life, with the Lord’s guidance. Unbeknownst to me, one person on the leadership team, someone I knew from high school, refused to see the good that God was doing or respect my vulnerability about sharing my sexuality. She and others cornered me while I was working on campus, demanding that I explain myself.

After telling them I needed time to answer, having a panic attack in the process, I called up my friend Sam to fill him in on everything. After laying out everything on the table for him, he looked at me through eyes of compassion and reassured me that I wasn’t in sin, and that I was okay as I processed this.

Sam would stand by me throughout the rest of this painful time, as two more meetings occurred with the other members of leadership. During the final meeting, everything about me was dissected, my very faith put into question, as well as my ability to lead.

I remember my whole body shaking as I felt like every thread holding me together was being unraveled beneath the judgmental, uncaring eyes of this group of people.

I know now that most were doing their best to understand, but the loudest person was dictating the tone of the conversation. She wasn’t budging, and she continued to withhold grace and love from me — her brother in Christ.

Sam, seeing my crumbling emotional and mental state, forced the meeting to a close to save me from further damage. I ran from that room and collapsed in the parking lot, my entire being wanting nothing more than to disappear from the world. This wound cut so deeply and dangerously that it brought me to the very edge of my faith.

You can walk away from all of this, a voice said to me in my heart. You don’t have to deal with the Church anymore. You aren’t safe with them as a bisexual person.

The voice, which echoed throughout my wounded, bleeding heart, nearly convinced me to walk away from everything. The pain blinded me to what the voice really wanted: to separate me from God and His people, my family.

As my foot left the ledge, the Lord swooped in and rescued me, saving me through the arms of His Holy Spirit and my brother Sam, who had raced outside to scrape me off the pavement. Knowing that I shouldn’t be left alone, he called upon some of our other friends to meet up and care for me, helping nurse my wounds through their love at our local Waffle House.

I am forever grateful to my brothers and sisters who took care of me that night. It was through the Holy Spirit within them that I am even writing this to you now.

The ramifications of my soul wound would haunt me for years to come, as I felt increasing anxiety and pain in church circles throughout my remaining time in Georgia. I didn’t trust God’s Church, and I didn’t trust other Christians to take care of me and love me well. Beyond the few in my community who did love and care for me, I viewed everyone else through skeptical eyes, always believing they would stab me in the back like the others before had done.

However, God was aware of the importance of my healing process, going so far as to uproot me from the state of my birth and move me westward to California; there, He would slowly but surely break down the walls of distrust and protection I had put up between me and His Church.

He would continue to chase after me and my heart, wanting to heal me of the pain of this soul wound’s inflictions. Over the years here in California, He has done much to mend my heart, bringing me into various communities of His saints who have shown me nothing but love. God continues to redeem and restore my sexuality. Precious brothers and sisters have walked with me, proving God’s care and love for my life.

To say that this soul wound is now entirely healed would be dishonest to proclaim. Even now, certain things that I experience in church remind me of that pain, and part of me is still wary and cautious of other Christians, especially those who hold strong conservative beliefs, like those of the people who hurt me before.

This is where I must trust the Lord to heal me. Just like the woman with the bleeding issue in Mark 5 (mentioned in Part 1 of this series), Jesus offers me the opportunity to give Him the pain that I have suffered due to the sins of others. It is my choice to trust that He will heal me, and that I can be healed of my distrust of others.

If I don’t, I will forever live with bitterness and unforgiveness toward those who are my brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they were the ones who hurt me or not.

Have you experienced a soul wound regarding your sexuality and the church? How does this wound affect your present-day relationship with God, along with your brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church? Are you willing to trust our good Father with the soul wound of your sexuality?

About the Author

  • Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable story. I have similar stories over the course of my sixty or so years of self awareness. I loved silent. Over the years I had a dozen or so close friends who I thought I could trust that I confided in. Each in turn abandoned me when I would explain my childhood and the struggle. I suspect after the most recent I will never be able to manage the courage again. The last three were so close and I was certain they would love me through it. Their abandonment was such a betrayal. I suppose the hardest thing is the feeling I can never be really known and loved.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Don. I’m sorry for those multiple betrayals. That’s rough. While it’s an exhilaration like no other when our loved ones receive us in our struggles and mess, the flip-side is a proportional sort of devastating. I mourn with you, brother.

  • Hmm I haven’t visited YOB in quite some years now, but I like seeing what some of you are going through. A lot of posts here still resonate with me as someone who has walked away from traditional beliefs. I still go to church but as a bisexual I refuse to let other people bring me down.

    I hold the belief that real brothers and sisters would never judge me for something completely outside of my control.

    That’s why I can’t agree with this part in your post:
    “You can walk away from all of this, a voice said to me in my heart. You don’t have to deal with the Church anymore. You aren’t safe with them as a bisexual person.

    The voice, which echoed throughout my wounded, bleeding heart, nearly convinced me to walk away from everything. The pain blinded me to what the voice really wanted: to separate me from God and His people, my family.”

    What if this voice was not wrong? What if this voice was your God-given intuition and you silenced it to remain with “God’s people” who clearly wanted nothing to do with you? What if getting away was not a cowardly gesture but your lifeline?

    In my case walking away from their table is one of the bravest things I could have done. I don’t regret saving myself from people who wouldn’t bother to understand me. Just my two cents.

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