Sin Will Set You Free

This letter to my twelve-year-old self has sat on my computer for months. I had actually forgotten about it until I was cleaning up my digital life a couple of weeks ago. I read over it, curious of what I had written earlier this summer. It is dramatic and sappy… and embarrassing. But I’m guessing I kept it because it is also honest, though I had no intention of publishing it.

And then I stumbled across this: a blog by Viola Larson that announces “it does not matter” that California passed a law to ban the destructive ex-gay/”repairative” therapy of gay minors because God us above the law:

It does not matter because Jesus Christ, the Lord of the church, will continue to be Lord. God loves those who are trapped in the homosexual lifestyle and will not cease to move on their behalf. He is open to the cry of those who repent of their sins no matter the sin. He will either change the LGBT person by transforming their orientation or by giving them the power to live a celibate life.

Nothing about this blog post is surprising to me; I’ve heard the same hateful arguments my entire life. As I went through the comments, I was truck that conservatives really cannot see past the false idea that being queer is a sin. That is really the foundation of their bigotry, though the Bible doesn’t explicitly address consensual same-gender relationships. While I trust that most anti-gay people (Yes, you are anti-gay if you think the best way to be gay is not to be gay) believe they are working for the best interest of queers, it’s a ridiculous assertion.

I began to think about the young people that this law has been in place to protect and the young people being inundated with this hateful rhetoric about sin. I remembered that I was one of them once, and I thought of this letter that I wrote to myself earlier this summer. So, this Spirit Day I have chosen to share it because conservatives aren’t the only ones calling people to repentance.

Twelve-year-old John,

I know you won’t believe me as you cry yourself to sleep. I know you won’t believe me as every moment you spend alone is the torture of having to face your own thoughts. I know you won’t believe me when I tell you that sin will set you free. Well, not sin itself, but a new understanding of sin.

Right now you want to be a good son. A good student. A good nephew. And you are. But most of all you want to be a good Christian. God makes sense to you in a way that nothing else does. But you can’t stop thinking about what the kids at school call you. You want nothing more than to not be a faggot. But every time you try to think differently—to be differently—you think of boys. But then you don’t. You push them back to the farthest recesses of your brain. You won’t realize until you’re 23 that you were in love with your best friend.

You’re convinced that you can’t be a good Christian and be gay. And God’s love (and your family’s love) is more important to you. You’ll convince yourself you like girls and you’ll date some that are your best friends. But it will turn all sorts of weird. Every time. And you’ll ask yourself, “Why?” Because in college you’ll have become so good at being repressed that nothing will make any sense.

One day you’ll sit in a classroom at seminary. A brilliant theologian will explain something to you. She will begin to talk about sin. No one in the room will be surprised at how engrossed you are at the topic. But only you will know why. (You’ll be used to this.) She will explain that sin is more complex than many people give it credit for. Sin is not only pride, it is also self-denial. You’ll have one of those “Aha!” moments that make you fall even more in love with theology. But it’s more than just your love for theology…

You won’t be able to shake what she shares with the class that day. Over the following months you will begin to understand that your sin is not the thoughts you have about other men, but the hate you carry inside for yourself. You can’t believe you—all of you—is a child of God. But you’re wrong, John. You are so wrong. It won’t take you long to repent, to begin loving yourself. To begin letting others love you for who you are. It will be the best time of your live. You will finally feel alive.

I wish you could know that now. I wish you could know that one day you’ll be proud of who you are. That you’ll dedicate your life to ministry so that others don’t have to dread being along with themselves.

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