As I was growing up, the topic of sexuality was something to be feared and revered. It was talked about as something that must be overcome and carefully confined to marriage or you would be damaging your soul, irreparably.
So when the topic of homosexuality entered our home it was universally understood that the practice of same-sex relations was a result of sexual perversion. Because if it weren’t a perversion, God would have allowed same-sex marriage right?
I thought my prejudice was a natural extension of my faith. That I honoured God by my understanding of purity.
After I turned 18 I went through a period of wanting to distance myself from my family and my faith. The end result was a humbling of my own understandings. I made many mistakes in that time and I believe that helped me begin a time of questioning.
One particular question was a great catalyst for me overcoming my homophobia: Why had I written-off gay people as 'un-saveable'?
I was at uni and saw a petition for same-sex marriage and I lost my cool. I was filled with a violent anger and stormed away cursing my uni for letting such filth get attention. I cursed gay people for wanting a right that was not theirs. I was so angry I wanted to spit on someone. And then I stopped. How could I have carried this anger around? I didn’t even really know why I 'should be' angry!
The more I thought about it that day, the more I was sure the anger I had felt had not been my own. I tried to tell myself it was justified; but all that I had learnt about Jesus told me that how I was feeling did not match up with the path God called me to walk. Love was supposed to be the core of everything. And as I explored this thought I discovered that it was an anger that had been learned.
I can’t explain to you how awful it feels to realise you’ve been carrying around someone else's hate.
I wanted to change and so I started with these questions: How can God be shown to the gay community and be allowed to love and move in their hearts if they are so unwelcome in the church? and how can I make them feel welcome?
The Pruned Tree
While I was reading my Bible recently, I saw an image:
I saw a tree with many branches torn away; by people, by storms and even by the gardener. In the beginning the tree is large and in heavy bloom, but as the fruit swell, the branches are stripped again and again until, where hundreds of blooms once clung to the large tree, now a small, thin tree has only a dozen fruit.
As the gardener approaches, the tree asks, “Why did you not keep me safe, why did you help tear the branches?”
The gardener replied, “If I had left every fruit to grow they all would have been small and sour. Look.” At that the tree looked at its tallest, strongest branches and the first, large ripe fruit fell into the hand of the tree.
“You may eat the fruit” said the gardener “But sow back what you are given”. The tree enjoyed the sweet fruit and the moment. Then she planted the hard seed of the fruits centre into the ground. I saw the seeds from her fruit (which had seemed so few) planted, and a small forest of saplings grew around the tree. And the tree was happy.
His love changes us
Then I came across Colossians 1:10:
We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God; by being strengthened through his glorious might so that you endure everything and have patience; and by giving thanks with joy to the Father. He made it so you could take part in the inheritance, in light granted to God’s holy people. He rescued us from the control of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. He set us free through the Son and forgave our sins.
As we grow in the knowledge of God, we find ourselves producing more and more good fruit under the watchful eye of our God the gardener. And when life is smacking us around and ripping away our branches, our opportunities and our beliefs, sometimes they are just simply 'things that need to go'. I know there have been moments when God has shown me I was very, very wrong. And it’s a pain in the backside to admit to it.
How great is our God that he has set us free and forgiven us? Through his love I change and grow. I thank my God for coming for me. And for caring.
Jacinta Julius was a girl when she met God and a woman when she stopped running from Him. She is a mother, a lover, a writer and a painter. She is driven one day and run down the next; a normal person. She currently resides in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia with her family.
See previous articles by Jacinta Julius