“Please remove Christianity from your profile”

In God, Season 2 by Shae Owen

That was a message I got on a dating site. Someone, let’s call him Mr. Hinge, brought up the fact that I filled out the section for a cause that I care about with Race and LGBTQ2S+ rights . He then threw Bible verses at me about how homosexuality is unnatural and a sin, how LGBT+ people are going to burn in hell, how they don’t need people like me spreading lies, and that Christians don’t accept LGBT+ people. I threw back the one Bible verse that people hate: “He who has not sin, let him cast the first stone.” (John 8:7). Where is the hate for liars, adulterers, and rapists? He replies saying “I’m just calling out a sin.”

God has always been and will always be a staple in my life. I was raised in a religious family and I went to a religious high school that devoted one hour of worship . That is the norm in the country that I was in. Hell, Jamaica, the country that I was born and grew up in, is one of the most religious countries in the world— at least in terms of land to church ratio. So, of course, homophobia is as Jamaican as Ackee and Saltfish[3] [4]  is. You can only imagine the response I received during the last few years of high school when I started telling people that I liked girls l. Everyone around me was a different flavour of homophobic— the violent kind (my friends), the science-based kind (arguing that its unnatural), the condescending kind (the adults in my life), and the religious kind (my mom). My once easy relationship with God turned toxic. I thought to myself: God doesn’t love me anymore if I accept this. I would give vague hints to my parents only to be told the horror story of Sodom and Gomorrah and that the same fate shall happen to the homosexual. I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to— the perfect opportunity to be taken advantage of. I went into a kind of cult in order to deal with this. Everything he said was law to me. I gave him unearned money. I gave him unwanted sex. All because he promised a safe space to be queer and Christian. All in the name of God.

I couldn’t touch a Bible after that. I was unworthy, dirty and impure with homosexuality. To everyone I was a sinful homosexual and just as bad as a pedophile. So, I had my ticket to hell approved— thoughts like those haunted me throughout university until I went online and researched 1 John 4:16. “God is love and all who live in love live in God and God lives in them. God in love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” I love God, but God can’t be in me. Then, John 3:16 hit me: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever so believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” But I believe in Him. It wasn’t God that had this raging hatred for ‘the gays’. It was some of his followers. God does still love me, right? He wasn’t this abusive parent who believed that they were right and if you didn’t agree He would throw you in the pits of hellfire and brimstone. He was more like a parent, disappointed but still loved their child, even though they didn’t go the path He wanted. But damn. Five years of religious self-hatred didn’t melt off, but it was starting to thaw.

I decided to volunteer in the LGBT+ community as peer support. I know I’m not the only one that faced religious persecution because of something that was out of their control. I know there are people like me who think that God turned His back on them because of the consensual love they experience with their queer partners. God still loves them as He loves me too. I have felt more love from atheist groups than Christian ones. I don’t know if people think God plays favorites on the people who worship Him, but He doesn’t. God doesn’t get much love in the LGBT+ community but I don’t blame them with all the trauma they had to face. All in the name of God.

That being said, I can’t ignore the fact that God believes that homosexuality is a sin. I can’t pretend that God loves that. But that is a conversation between God and I. Not the church, nor my parents, nor my friends and most definitely not Mr. Hinge. The God I know, love and worship is a kind one, a just one and a forgiving one. He will not turn His back on me, no matter how much people want to assume or hope. My relationship with God is now a little rocky, but it’s been so much better once I establish that boundary. I don’t feel judged anymore, like I am unworthy to be called a Christian or that God does not hear me because of who is in my heart.  I don’t go to church anymore but I do pray to Him. I join online Christian groups, but I don’t talk in them. I will not be judged by anyone that is not God.

After finally advising Mr. Hinge to touch grass and blocking him, I actually did change my profile because he was right, I was lying on my profile. I changed my profile.