Bekah Learns Boundaries
The concept of setting boundaries is still relatively new to me. I didn’t know until recently that it is acceptable & normal to put boundaries on relationships. I thought that expending emotional energy on every person who entered my life was just the way it had to be. So this past week, I exercised my new understanding of this topic to lay down some pretty intense boundaries with someone who definitely deserved all the snark that came along with it.
I recently received a message from someone I knew in college; I’ll call her Bekah. We played sports together, but were never very close. I wasn’t very close to many people, actually, because it’s hard to get close to people at a conservative Baptist college when you are secretly deconstructing your entire belief system.
Anyway, I haven’t spoken to Bekah in almost 3 years, but she just couldn’t help herself. She sent me a message about the fact that I came out as bisexual, & I felt compelled to respond. Jared helped me write the message (& he also made me take out all the big bad swears *pouty face*). Below is the text of our messages.
“Dear Carissa, I read the status you posted about a week ago. First, I would like to apologize for not writing this sooner. There have been many hours spent in thought over how to go about this message, so I pray that my speech and motivation is understood. Carissa, something that has honestly really been bothering me about what you posted is that you call yourself more of a Christian for being bisexual. Here is my problem with that, no where does it say that in God’s word. In fact, it says the opposite of that, which is why I am writing to you now. I am truly and deeply concerned about you and the path you are on. My concern stems from the fact that God calls what you are doing sin. I was looking through the Bible for verses on this exact topic and came to find it called nothing but sin. Please understand, I can only claim it as sin because that is what God’s word says. In Romans 1:21-32, it says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” This passage clearly shows that God sees homosexuality and bisexuality as a dishonorable passion, something that should not be done, and deserving of death. So you see, if I were to celebrate what you are doing then I would be giving approval to something that I know God says is wrong. By doing so, I would not be acting lovingly toward you, but hating you. It is not an act of love to watch and even encourage someone to continue living in sin, allowing them to get deeper and more attached to it. That is why I apologized at the beginning of this letter. I have allowed a week to go by without confronting you and trying to help you with this temptation. Do not think I have written this letter to make fun of or scorn you. I wrote this because I care about you and am extremely worried that you are headed down a path that leads to judgment. I do not want that for you! A few years ago, you encouraged me in my time of need. I am sorry I have not been there for you in the same way. There are more verses I found on this topic and would be happy to send your way if you would so desire. Carissa, I am praying for you and I hope to speak to you soon.”
“Dear Bekah, I wanted to write back to let you know that your motivation was understood perfectly. Let me explain. We haven’t been friends for a while now. In fact, we haven’t even been social media friends, not even “facebook friends” for what little that even means. You are not & have not been involved in my life for several years. And based on that fact, what would make you think that you have the right, the relationship, or the position to write a message like this to me? Isn’t “building a relationship” supposed to be the first step in speaking into someone’s life? Why in the world would you think that you have any authority or reason to say any of this? You know absolutely nothing about me. And honestly, you don’t really want to. You didn’t care about my life before I came out and you don’t care now, you only feel a personal responsibility to tell me these things because of your own conviction. That’s why your motivation is selfish. You didn’t write this message actually thinking that it would have any effect on me. You wrote it for YOU. You were so bothered by my coming out post that you needed to clear your own conscience and be able to say “I did what I could” as if it was your responsibility, in the process ladening me with the same generic cookie-cutter thought process that I’ve been around my entire life. Don’t insult me by pretending I haven’t heard it all before. I understand that in your mind the logic is so airtight that you think “if Carissa believes otherwise, it must be because she forgot”. But that isn’t how this works. I did not forget, the logic is not airtight, and wasting your time writing out all the talking points you should be well aware I learned at the same school as you is just a product of the very dangerous presumption that your theology is undeniably correct to the letter.
So, a small helpful hint for the next time you feel like writing a “convicting” message to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in YEARS & who you weren’t even that close to in the first place:
Your motives are not subtle and I promise people can and will continue to see right through them. Approaching topics like this from a holier-than-thou, “I possess knowledge that you don’t” standpoint is only going to alienate others, not convince them. If you believe your purpose as a Christian is to evangelize non-believers (which I am not, for the record), this is the opposite of how to achieve it. No reasonable person would actually believe that a message like this would have any impact on me or my life decisions. Why did you think it would mean something to me? You didn’t. It was for you to be able to say you did it. Why do you think I even care what you think or how YOU interpret the Bible? You can’t claim a monopoly on “Biblical truth” and tote it as the clear and obvious interpretation when the Evangelical church can’t even agree within itself on what is “clear”, let alone the whole of Christianity across the world. Don’t talk to me about “what God says” and expect that to have weight when Christians can’t even agree what God says. Ironically I probably know what you believe about this better than you do, because I put in the work studying it & deciding that it was wrong. I would be willing to bet money that you’ve never given serious, genuine study to the topic of LGBTQ+ “issues”. You just believed what you were taught. I have read hundreds of books & articles, watched lectures, done word studies. Meanwhile you cherry pick a handful of verses, the meaning of which someone else told you and you never gave it a second thought. Your certainty comes from a lifetime of conditioning and insulation from outside thought, not the strength of your belief itself.
I hope writing this made you feel better, because you wrote it out of a selfish & condescending desire to fix me. I imagine you also wrote it out of disgust, because I know that you once said you would quit cross country if you found out there was a gay person on the team. Well surprise, I was there the whole time. Luckily I didn’t have to tolerate your homophobia as badly as the other LGBTQ+ people surrounding you. Your interpretation of Scripture leads to the suicides & deaths of hundreds of LGBTQ+ people every year. There are many studies showing this. No good tree bears bad fruit. Your theology bears bad fruit. Period. I don’t have any fanciful ideas that I can change your mind on this, because if you’re the kind of abrasively dogmatic person who writes a message like this to someone you barely know, I can only imagine the kind of damage you would do to an LGBTQ+ person who has the misfortune of knowing you in real life. I want it to be very clear that I know you haven’t studied this, & I want it to be very clear that I actually have. I don’t need you to send me more Bible verses on the topic. I know & could quote to you all 7 “clobber passages”, & I could exegete each one & tell you why I don’t believe they say the things you are claiming. Your conservative white American English Bible is not “clear” on much of anything, & I’m tired of people like you trying to weaponize it against me. I don’t want your prayers. I’m not experiencing temptation. & I most certainly don’t want your homophobic “help” with this. Abandon your pretentious “love” & condescending “apologies”; they will only do people harm.”