Hi John Piper. I’m not evil, I’m just a girl.

This week I spent a bit of time on John Piper’s website. It wasn’t a decision I consciously made–I found my way there via the twitter page of my former pastor.

I remember studying John Piper in Sunday school and in sermons. The church I grew up in held him in the same respect that they hold the apostle John: In addition to believing that the Bible is the direct Word-From-God, we were also supposed to believe that John Piper had it all right. 100%. Anything he published was as good as gold. And yeah, he’s a smart dude. He’s a great writer and a compelling speaker.

But after years and years of attending church, I got a little fed up with John Piper. Not so much Mr. Piper himself, but rather the way my church (and others in the evangelical world) held his work in much the same light that they hold the Bible.

I’m sorry, but I don’t worship John Piper.

Since breaking with my former congregation, I haven’t sought out the works of John Piper. But this week, I decided to click around the website.

There’s a Q&A section where “Pastor John” as he’s called takes questions from people (who I am assuming are his readers) and answers them in a much more casual setting than a sermon or a book. As is typical, the questions deal with the hot button issues; homosexuality, abortion, homosexuality, the sanctity of marriage, homose…. you get my point.

A nice little thing I read was commending a state official for her “brave” decision to refuse to marry a gay couple. I’m personally of the opinion that if you are hired to do a job that conflicts with your morals that strongly? you probably should not have that job. Mr. Piper is not of that opinion. In a particularly excellent section, he calls gay marriage an “evil” of the world, by association then, calling LGBTQ individuals who seek to get marriage evil as well.

Below are some passages from the specific article I was reading. Notice the language used to describe LGBTQ individuals, particularly “Evil” & “Destruction”.

lg2

lg1

That made me quite sad,  so I want to do something here:

Hi, Mr. Piper (I hope you don’t mind being called Mr. Piper). My name is Lily. I’m 25 years old. I’m a Christian. I was saved at the age of 8. I play in the worship band at my church. I volunteer with the youth group. I believe all life to be sacred. I like learning and listening to other people’s viewpoints. I have a heart for teenagers; I just want to make sure that they’re okay in this crazy world. I’m not evil. I swear to you, I am not evil. I really try so hard to show the love of Jesus to everyone around me. And my witness only improved in the midst of inner and external adversity: I am a lesbian.

There’s no argument I can make or revelation I can give to make you change your mind; I don’t actually care about changing your mind. I will however, encourage you to think of the young people especially when you use words like “evil” and “destruction”, and other common words like perverse, unnatural, or abomination. Whether or not you believe that people can be “cured” of their gayness is beyond the point. This is a human issue.

Due in part to the rhetoric listed above (and in your writings and the writings of other evangelical leaders), I have a very poor image of self. I’ve struggled with eating disorders, cutting, alcoholism, and suicide attempts. I’ve been told that who I am at my very core is despicable not only to people here on this earth, but to my Creator. At times when I was at my most vulnerable, it was the words of my brothers and sisters in Christ that came to me and convinced me that I was indeed a mistake, broken, worthless, an abomination, and irreparable. On top of that, where others are encouraged to love, I am required to reject the romantic love I yearn for. I want to give my love away, and I am told that I cannot.

It sucks. Hi Mr. John Piper. I’m Lily. I promise you I’m not evil. I want to build up God’s Church. That Church to me includes the trans-boy at my youth group. It includes the lesbian couple down the street. It includes room to listen to these stories and make sure that everyone’s needs are met. This is a fragile demographic, and I encourage you to consider especially the LGBTQ youth when writing about this topic.

Hi Mr. John Piper. I’m Lily. I love God. I’m gay. I’m not evil. I’m just a girl.

 

 

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Hi John Piper. I’m not evil, I’m just a girl.

@ Nashville Statement Signers: What’s your plan here?

I’m not the first person to write on the Nashville Statement and I won’t be the last. However, as someone who has been directly affected by the language and the mentality behind the language of this letter, I know it will be helpful to me personally to write down some thoughts.

The beliefs behind this letter are what I have been taught my entire life. Not only that homosexuality was a grievous sin, but that those who hold affirming views are lost and cannot be true Christians. I’ve seen families torn apart because of this. I’ve seen friends leave the church and reject God. These type of beliefs, in my experience, do more harm than good.

Hearing this rhetoric growing up has not done wonders for my mental health. If I can go to hell for even questioning if marriage can include same-sex partnerships, how much deeper into hell will I go because I fell in love with a woman? Is it irredeemable? Can I be changed? If not, will I be alone forever? Is it better to kill myself than to be gay?

Your religion should not drive you to question the value of your life. Your religion should not drive you to self-harm and suicidal intentions.

Instead of hearing this from my church, the people who vowed to love and support me as I grew up, I had to hear it from a stranger on the internet in my time of need. Therefore I ask you, signers of the Nashville Statement:

What do you plan to do with people like me? Where do you plan on going with this?

Attempts to make people change are largely unsuccessful and have been shown to do more harm than good. In the interest of not harming  your brothers and sisters in Christ, what is your plan?

If you damn us to hell, what then? Do you just say “We tried, it’s no longer our problem.” You cannot behave this way and then wonder why American Evangelical Christianity is shrinking.

This is a larger problem that extends well beyond the LGBTQA community. Many people have been excluded, shunned, and wronged in the name of Evangelical Christianity. What’s your plan for dealing with this? Instead of closing doors to the ones you hurt, why don’t you do what your name says and evangelize? Tell people the good news: That they are God’s Wonderful Creation and they are beloved.

In Sunday school I learned that people like me were an abomination, perverted, and irredeemable. My first girlfriend was the first one to tell me the truth; I am made in the Image of God.

To slightly shift gears, not only do you, white evangelical community, ignore those who have been hurt, you defend the abusers.

I think that’s truly the reason behind much of the outrage against the Nashville Statement. Let’s be honest, this isn’t anything that hasn’t been said before. But what makes it news is that this letter comes in the midst of so much turmoil in this country. Signers, where is your lengthy manifesto condemning white supremacy? Why do you publish something like this in the midst of a natural disaster in Houston? Where is your letter condemning your dear President on his crude words and sexual actions towards women? Send your energies elsewhere. 

Where is your aid to the synagogues? The mosques? Your compassion to the victims of hate crimes and speech? The condemnation of fucking Nazis?! Why does Trump get a free pass for his abhorrent actions? You guys, sexual assault is not a joke. It’s hugely damaging to victims–when you refuse to hold the predators accountable, you tell every girl, woman, boy, man who has been sexually assaulted that you don’t stand by them either.

Maybe it was my fault. It’s probably because I’m gay. Just like it’s the gay’s fault for Hurricane Harvey.

Evangelicals, Signers, what is your problem? Have you lost this much of your humanity? This manifesto doesn’t just speak for your “traditional views on marriage”– it speaks volumes about your priorities when it comes to the world. If the oppressed are not your priority, then who’s call are you abiding by? Because I believe Jesus was pretty clear.

@ Nashville Statement Signers: What’s your plan here?

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

“Just come hang out!” she said. “You don’t really have to do much.

“I would 100-percent support that.”

I love Eva. I love Eva and Joey and Porcha and Alex and the rest. I want to make sure that Eva knows she has a family– that Porcha knows God loves her just the way she is. I want to help Alex along a journey, towards a destination I have no particular answer to, but I want them to know that they are made in the image of God.

I want them to know that when the world abandons them, God will not. And I wont either.

Growing up I had people try to do that for me. They helped me so much. They were my confidants when I had nowhere else to turn. They were my therapist, hearing the records of my anxieties and grievances. But they all fell short. Humans do that.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

They see me in the praise band on Sunday. I make sure to ask them about their weeks and listen. I make the tough conversations easy to voice. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have the answers. I just want to make sure they’re all doing okay.

I want them to know that I’ve been there. I see you. I know how you got those scars. You can show me or tell me and I will understand because I have them too. You don’t have to explain. I know how many questions you have, how complicated identity seems. You can skip the explanations, which often are not easy. I get it. I see you. You’re my younger sibling, my little bird.

My God. If I had someone, even one person, tell me that I was beautiful, that “same sex attraction” wasn’t an abomination, that I was made in the image of God–No exceptions!–it would have saved me countless moments of hating myself. If one person took the time to listen, to hold me tight, to tell me that my feelings were valid, I maybe would have less scars. Maybe I would stand a little taller.

I just want to make sure the kids are alright. I don’t want to leave them. I want to be the person I never had.

I’m not sure anyone else wants me to become a youth leader.

Me? Who refuses to dress up, despite playing in the band every week. Who comes, frail and pale, with dark circles and makeup clearly from last night. Who jokes during the church service. Who can’t pray out loud anymore. Who is perhaps too open about her drinking habits.

No. They don’t want that.

Even if they do, I can’t become a youth leader with a clean conscious because I am gay. I am gay. What if the parents decide that I am unfit to lead their kids? What if I bare my soul, my identity, to the church leaders and they decide I am unfit for everything? Could I still play in the band? Could I still hang out with the youth?

I don’t want to be a problem to be solved. I don’t want to be an issue to be fixed. I just don’t want to leave them–the kids. I just want to make sure they’re doing okay. Because God, life is hard.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader. I do too.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

A tale of fake high school crushes

High school is tough. Four long years of trying desperately to both stand out and fit in. What do I like? What am I good at? Who am I?

I grew up in an area where homosexuality was just not an option. It wasn’t even considered. And when i finally learned about gay people, I thought ‘being gay’ was just something you did that was bad, I didn’t know relationships between gay people were an actual thing.

So anyway!

Starting in middle school, as is extremely normal, all of my friends started having crushes on people of the opposite sex. My guy friends started becoming interested in the pretty girls (who somehow managed to be ALWAYS the same 5 girls) and my female friends would spend lunch hours talking about their crush of the week or month or day.

In those days there was a check list of traits that you had to have in order to be considered crush-worthy. We were kids, emulating Tigerbeat magazines and Nickelodeon Stars, channeling every bit of pop culture that was surrounding us. If Tigerbeat said Zach Effron was the the it-boy, then it meant those boys in class with shaggy skater hair and a wide smile were also the it-boys.

The it-boys were fairly easy to identify and therefore easy targets for my fake crushes. I remember sitting in the cafeteria with my girl friends as they once again had the discussion on who was crushing on who. I had so far avoided being roped into these discussions, but today I couldn’t escape.

“Lily, who do you have a crush on?”

I thought and thought, but couldn’t muster an answer. What boy did I have a crush on? I was friends with Jake, but I didn’t want to kiss him. I liked spending time with James, but I didn’t like like him. As the time passed and I stayed silent, I began to blush, embarrassed that I was the odd one out.

“She’s blushing! She does like someone!”

“Awww who is it?”

I didn’t want to tell them, because it would be lying. I never gave guys much thought in that way. I was a tomboy. I was one of the guys. They didn’t make me nervous or shy. The only person in school that made me speechless was Joanna.

But I couldn’t say that because we weren’t talking about girls. We were talking about boys. To satisfy my friends, I looked around at the photos on the cafeteria walls. The boys soccer team. I picked a guy–Jackson–an it-boy. I had known him for years. It would probably be believable.

“Jackson?” It wasn’t. “You like him??”

I couldn’t spare myself the teasing, but it was better to fake a crush on Jackson than it was to admit to myself that the reason I was faking in the first place was that Joanna was my first crush. Blonde, kind, gentle and talented. Every time I spoke to her it lit up my heart. I could feel the butterflies, and my world would speed up and slow down at the same time.

But thank God for Tigerbeat. Thank God for Cosmo and for TMZ. Thank God that young women are so predictable. I faked it for years. The it-boys were always easy to spot and required no further explanation from me.

And I could save my butterflies for the blonde girls, the girls with tattoos and quiet smiles.

A tale of fake high school crushes

She sent me a symphony

via Daily Prompt: Symphony


She gave me a smile in September, and I saw what couldn’t be.

Love was the impossible. Quite genuinely.

And in January she gave me comfort in a blizzard.

My heart raced through my parka and I hoped she couldn’t feel it.

She told me in February that her heart was racing too.

I was different, I was love.

I had never been love before.

My light, my sunshine, my absolute heart.

Nine months of gentleness and the promise that I was

Adored.

She was my sunshine and I was her northern lights.

And in the New Year she gave me a goodbye.

It seemed premature. We hadn’t even fought. Hadn’t told the world

that we were each other’s peace. Hope that our world would see

and understand.

But you can only send so many kisses from nine hours away.

But you can send music.

I was in darkness and she sent me beauty when I was alone.

Divenire.

She sent me a symphony

and I saw colors in the dark.

She sent me a symphony