Spiritual abuse is no less damaging than physical, sexual, or other types of abuse. It can leave scars on the spirit of a person that are many times never healed. It is an attack on the soul and should never be accepted or tolerated.
I was a very sexually confused teen at the time of my graduation from a very religious high school. After graduation I came out to a relative who introduced me to her same-gender-loving/queer friends. I spent my weekends exploring my newfound queerness with them, but on Sundays I played piano for a non-denominational church.
One day the pastors flew in a guest speaker. This speaker went into a rant about all the perverted homosexuals hiding in the church, and then she turned to look at me to make it clear who she was referring to. A wave of shame came over me and I reverted into myself. My light went out.
I cut ties with my SGL/queer friends and left that life behind. I kept my mouth shut, served the pastors, and was eventually ordained. I had chosen a closeted life in service to God—a slow death. Many times I contemplated speeding it up, but I didn’t have the nerve to end my life.
Years later I witnessed our Bishop, Carlton Pearson, preaching a new message centered on the radical love of God. He even suggested that the church’s views on homosexuality were wrong. Something went through my entire body in that moment. The light that was extinguished years ago was relit.
Soon after that, I left that church, moved to NYC, and joined an inclusive ministry in Harlem. I eventually came out to my pastors and confronted them about their destructive theology.
I share my story to illustrate how spiritual abuse can kill and must be countered by loving, affirming messages. You may be the only loving, affirming voice in a young queer person’s life, and it is important to let them know the following:
- GOD loves you as you are
- You deserve to be treated with respect
- God LOVES you as you are
- If someone makes you feel separated from God, they are not of God
- God loves YOU as you are
- You and your sexuality are divine
- God loves you AS YOU ARE
Keep saying it until they believe it. It is a matter of life and death, so speak life.
Sparkhouse is publishing this blog post during Pride month in anticipation of the publication of Queerfully and Wonderfully Made: A Guide for LGBTQ+ Christian Teens, edited by Leigh Finke.