I don’t know how the process of deconstruction began for you, but for me it all began with wanting to know the truth. After all, I was taught that the truth shall set you free, and who doesn’t want to be free? For my church, that meant more than just giving mental assent to the belief that “Jesus is Lord.” It meant studying the “Word of God” (i.e. Scripture) and obeying the “plain meaning of Scripture,” whether that “plain meaning” went against your gut or not. Why not trust your gut? Well, because the plain meaning of Scripture says that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).
In the early days of becoming an Evangelical Christian, there were a couple teachings that immediately rubbed me the wrong way. I swept those concerns under the rug, because at that stage in my life there were more pressing matters at hand, such as finding a community to be involved in as a young married couple, finding other first-time moms to relate to as a first-time mom to a newborn, being accepted onto the worship team which meant finally having an outlet for my musical talent, and enjoying the many other community-related experiences that come with being involved in a local church.
These were all very motivating reasons to brush aside a few concerns that didn’t directly relate to me and my life experiences at the time. But over the years that rug became awfully bumpy. I kept tripping over that damn thing again and again!
What were the bumps? Well, for one it was the big, uncomfortable bump that if you were gay, you were not accepted into the arms of Christ Jesus if you lived your life as a gay person. In other words, you were allowed to identify as gay just so long as you didn’t live like you were gay. If praying the gay away didn’t work for you, celibacy became your only option. Even identifying as a gay person was considered a weakness. This church expected you to identify as a Christian first and foremost, and this “Christ identity” alone should shed your desire to identify as gay altogether.
I don’t know about you, but when I began identifying as Christian, I still identified as straight and cisgender at the very same time! Being “Christ-minded” and “filled with the Holy Spirit” did not negate my sexuality or the gender with which I identified. On the contrary, a spiritual awakening should make one’s sexuality and gender identification fuller and more complete. The “abundant life” (John 10:10) must be given room to manifest in all ways relating to mental, physical and emotional wellness leading to experiencing a fully human existence.
The other protruding bump in the rug was the idea that only one religious group managed to get all the right answers about God and how to get to Heaven, and that just so happened to be the religious group with which I was associated. Not only did all the other religions get it wrong, the tens of thousands of other Christian denominations had it wrong as well and they, too, were at risk of hellfire for their heresy.
At one point in my religious deconstruction, I shared a sentiment that surprisingly got me severely rebuked by my concerned religious friends. I shared my belief that although not every path leads to God, God will travel any path to find you. Apparently, that was simply far too inclusive. I was chided, “Now everyone gets into Heaven according to your view? You have gone too far this time!”
This more inclusive view of the love of God, along with my public affirmation of the LGBTQ community, ended up being the nails in my hands and feet. I was warned that unless I repented of these ungodly, worldly views, I would no longer be welcomed as a friend. From that moment on, I have been cut off from them and that community of Christian friends.
Although my old Christian friends believe I am now deceived by the Devil and in bondage to corrupt views, I feel the chains of religiosity have been broken, and the light outside the small, suffocating box is life-giving oxygen to my dehydrated soul. The freedom I now have from religion has given me permission to follow my gut and finally live my truth to its fullness.
It is written that the truth shall set you free. I say your freedom shall bring you truth.