I don’t really do this much, talk about my faith, religion or the church. But Clay and I were asked to speak on a panel which consisted of six gay men, including us. A lot of the stories told were similar, but each had their own hurt, pain, triumph and hope for the future.
I also loved the fact that during the discussion, it was brought up that being positive role models to today’s youth, both gay and straight, is a responsibility that we LGBT married couples have. If we can make one child’s life easier by being an out and proud, successful married couple, then we have done well. If we can save another child from walking down the path to thinking that suicide is the only answer, then we have done well. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is work that we will do and we will do it with honor, dignity and with complete passion.
The hard part of telling my story today, was reliving and expressing how the church had hurt me growing up. Actually, how it traumatized me. I grew up in rural Oklahoma, in a rural church community. When you take a scripture from the bible and interpret it “literally” and then pass that on to a child in your congregation, who may be sitting quietly, holding back who they were born to be, out of fear, then you put that child on the potential walk down the path to suicide. We have to stop and consider what we tell our kids, what we share with them as absolute truths.
You can call me blasphemous if you choose, but I am at peace with my faith. I have a community of faith that surrounds me in so much love that I feel completely at ease writing this tonight. I don’t know that I could even say this would have been so a year ago. In the day and age of churches with dwindling congregation numbers, one has to consider, what is it that is making people turn away? What is it that makes them seek out something else, a new story, and a new way of thinking? I don’t believe in my heart that it is a lack of faith that makes them leave, but a weariness of literalism being thrown in their face. I love my progressive approach to my faith and I love that Clay and I have found a church were we feel at home to explore those progressive thoughts and ideas.
Have a peaceful night!
Johnny Bryan Ward