The wrath of God! I grew up afraid of it.
My father was the pastor. As I grew from a little boy into a young man, we moved every few years, from one pastorate to another. I listened to the sermons week after week. Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday prayer meetings and Bible studies, 10-day revival services each spring and fall, camp meetings and tent meetings in the summer time, youth meetings, conventions, conferences.
The Terrible Wrath of God
The terrible wrath of God would surely doom you to a fiery Hell for many different things, like dancing, going to movies, or even watching TV, wearing shorts, or jewelry (including wedding bands), and if you were a woman, for wearing makeup, or for cutting your hair! But most sex acts (carnal sins) were seldom even spoken of, except breifly from the pulpit, in dictionary language, or behind closed doors, when only adults were present. However, we were warned that the other sins listed above (just a few of many) were a mere minor infraction in comparison to adultery to fornication, or even masturbation, and unfathomable wrath and punishment was reserved for homosexuality – the sin against nature!
No More Living a Lie
So, after praying for God to remove my homosexual desires for years, I felt at it was not his will, and possibly, I had been selected to be doomed by some sort of predestination, so I may as well give up and at least be honest with myself and others by not living a lie!
When I came out publicly in March 1976, after facilitating a Gay Lobby Day for our Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian activists to demonstrate (Bi and Trans was not added until years later), and attempt to talk with our state Senators and Legislators at our Capitol in Harrisburg, PA, I fully expected my family and “friends” to have absolutely nothing more to do with me. That was my expectation, what I had grown up witnessing, what I was taught to accept at that time, without even a second thought!
Shunned and Ostracized
After the Daily Item ran the story on the front page, my former classmates would pass me when they happened to see me, with their noses straight up in the air, and family members would call my phone and hang up when I answered. Former classmates admitted to tearing up my Christmas greetings because of my perceived sins. Some of my relatives moved out of state. (Later they admitted that my public outing was a factor in their decision, and that they had been embarrassed when asked by acquaintances if they were related to me.)
Painful Family Events
For many years later I was not contacted by some family members and relatives, and when we were forced to be together due to a family happening, they never broached the subject of my relationship with my partner! They built a solid wall, and I permitted them to do it for a long, long, time because I didn’t want to have further conflict, and hoped that given time, things would come back around to normal! Also, it was what I grew up (in the church) fully EXPECTING!
At family weddings, when I attended, I was publicly goaded (screamed at) to join the group of bachelors waiting and scrambling to catch the brides garter when it was time for that little heterosexual ritual to occur. When AIDS took a grip on our population, my partner and I would go to family reunions with our covered dishes for all to share, and would always bring them back nearly full. I was told along the way that some of my family would find out what we brought, and then spread the word not to eat that dish because it was ours and therefore it might spread AIDS! Neither of us had AIDS. Thankfully, we were spared that terrible “gay plague” — “God’s judgement” — perhaps because we were partnered before AIDS was even known.
I felt so much distate for the church, especially Conservative Holiness, Wesleyan, Armenian groups and most others, that I would have nothing to do with them, although my partner and I did everything in our means to facilitate family harmony and restore communications. We we were eventually looked to as the planners for most family events, and we happily complied, thinking we were making inroads. But, still the wall remained. Reunions, weddings, funerals, illnesses, birthdays and anniversaries came and went!
Recent Return to Bible Reading
Recently, I have been studying the Bible again, and it has dawned on me that love, forgiveness, sharing, kindness, charity, faith, hope, are emphasized in the Bible, especially by CHRIST, the name “Christians” use as their own, but these traits were never a factor in my treatment!
Is God Raising Up LGBT “Dry Bones” as a Prophetic Witness?
I am very angry, and I wish it were not true, and that I will eventually be able to let it go, but I think of Jonah and Ninevah. I think this group of churches must face a judgement for their un-Christian attitudes and behavior. I also think of the Valley of Dry Bones in the prophet Ezekial’s story, and cannot help wondering, is God trying to make the dry bones (LGBT) rise up and preach the truth to the so-called “chosen of God”?
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