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Goodbye Church Mini-Series
Hi dear friends,
It was a little scary to publish my last post on me leaving the Christian Church. It’s scary to make public something that is so personal. And yet I know there are so many like me. And so I hope my post blessed you or spoke to you in a way you needed. It’s truly one of the most beautiful, raw and honest pieces I have ever written.
Thank you for letting me share that with you.
Thank you for being such safe people for me.
Thank you for letting me be me. I am so grateful.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go hear a popular Christian writer, speaker, and blogger speak here in the Twin Cities. I was hesitant to go because this person is pretty evangelical but she also is a recent ally of the LGBTQ community. So I was curious to see what she would have to say about that in her event that night.
The event was three hours long, and it was by and large one of the most disappointing Christian events I have been too. There were many things that bothered me that night but I will only focus on one of those things in my post today. And that is this: instead of owning her allyship to us queer folx, in her speech she qualified her allyship as a ‘personal belief’, implying she doesn’t expect anyone else to change their mind on whether or not to fully love and accept and affirm us queer people.
It was deeply wounding because here is another evangelical leader who appears to be an ally but actually isn’t.
If you’re not going to use your allyship to actually advocate for us, for the queer community or any marginalized group, then you do not get to call yourself an ally.
Allyship is not an identity. Meaning, you don’t get to label yourself an ally.
Your work and efforts must be recognized by the people you seek to ally yourself with.
Instead of using her self-labeled allyship to generate critical dialogue and help mobilize a movement to full inclusion of us queer folx, this speaker spent three hours making sure her white straight Christian suburbian moms felt comfortable. Instead of challenging her followers to reconsider their understanding of Scripture or the teachings of Jesus, she comforted them by telling them that she still loves Jesus. She wanted to make it clear that her allyship didn’t mean she lost her allegiance to Christ. In other words, she made the whole event about her being understood… instead of the queer folx in the room feeling loved.
It was jarring to say the least.
After all the heat she took for coming out as an ‘ally’, I thought she would take that stand publicly and help foster conversation amongst her followers to reconsider the ways they might be misinterpreting Scripture and thereby harming the queer community unnecessarily. But she didn’t.
She just became one more Christian leader who uses marginalized groups for her own agenda.
One more Christian leader who preaches comfort over challenging the status quo.
One more Christian leader too afraid to take a full stand for those of us hurting on the sidelines.
One more Christian leader I have to cross off my list of leaders I can trust.
It was really painful.
Because I think I still had this tiny hope that maybe the evangelical church would still get it right.
That maybe the evangelical church will finally ‘get it’ through brave Christian leaders who are willing to take a stand for those of us who’ve been excluded for far too long.
But I was wrong.
If the evangelical church ever does come along, I’m not sure it will be during my lifetime.
And I can’t wait for it to catch up.
I have too much living to do. Too much healing to do. And too many dreams to go after to stay stuck in the past with the evangelical church.
(This is me laying in a pew after the event had ended and the speaker had left; I felt the last bit of faith I had in the church slip away, and it was a moment of intense grief)
So all that to say, after hearing this evangelical author/blogger speak, I came home and spent two hours pounding out my pain and anger into a word document which has now turned into 3 blog posts. I’ve been hesitant to share them, especially the first one, as they are pretty raw and real. And as a blogger, I have to continually discern whether something I write is just for me or for my people.
And I’ve decided I’m going to share them.
But I am writing this post first because I want you to understand where these blog posts are coming from.
It was after I was, once again, let down, disappointed, and burned by another Christian leader.
So when you read that first blog post, you might think, “Holy cow, Nikole is PISSED.”
And I am.
And I’m allowed to be.
For too long I’ve been afraid to show my anger.
For too long I’ve sought to behave in such a way that is fitting for a ‘lady’.
For too long I’ve lived to please others.
But I can’t do it anymore.
I’m human. I get angry. And at times I get really angry.
And there are times I need to express that anger and not solely just to vent (though that’s okay, too) but to help amplify the pain so many people feel for far too long without anyone (read: white evangelical churches) doing anything about it.
And that’s not okay.
So yes, I’m angry at the evangelical church.
The church has burned too many people for far too long, and I have to speak up.
And if you have been personally burned by the institutional church, I am so sorry.
As a former preacher, I am so, so sorry. My heart breaks for you.
You were deserving of so much more than what the church gave you, and I’m sorry for how they treated you.
You are infinitely loved and perfect and whole and complete. You are a breathtaking work of art.
Your life is a miracle, your presence is a gift, and your beauty is exactly what this world needs.
So rise and shine in all your glory, for it is by your light and love that you will be healed and this world will be saved.
You are magnificent.
May you be washed in love and truth and beauty and hope. You are breathtaking.
[Featured photo: Anders Jilden]