I sent an email letting Santa Barbara Presbytery and the congregation that was supporting me know that I was leaving the PCUSA. After a few emails back and forth with both parties, I came to a point where I simply could not allow them to hurt me anymore, and so I left the last email from each of them unread in my inbox for the last 7 months.
I finally read them today, and they were just as insulting and close-minded as I had expected them to be. There are two main problems here, and I don't know if there are any solutions for them. The first is that there are still a great many people in this world that believe homosexuality is a choice. I don't understand why this belief has persisted for so long, perhaps because being gay just opens so many doors for people and ensures your instant celebrity status, but it just isn't true. Given the way so much of the world views homosexuals, what possible advantage could a person possibly gain by choosing to be gay? Is it rebelliousness for rebellion's sake? A repressed belief that my life deserves to suck, or that I'm subconsciously hoping that somebody gay-bashes me or kills me? Please, somebody explain this belief to me so that I can become one of the enlightened.
The other problem, and this one is probably the more difficult one, is the very legalistic take on Christianity that quite a few people in the Christian community have. Without getting into a huge theological debate on this, the part that specifically applies to this situation is that these people don't care whether homosexuality is a choice or not. If it is a choice, it is obviously wrong. If it is not a choice, then is is something akin to a birth defect or mental disorder that needs to be corrected, lest a person fall to homosexual sin and be condemned to the fiery pits of Hell. I think an excerpt from one of the emails that I got could best explain this:
"It is devastating to confront the possibility that the great desire of our heart may in fact be simply a false and misshapened idol. You feel now that this church has not shown grace to you. But what kind grace would let you go unwarned into danger to your soul? You may disagree with the perceived danger. So be it. You may find another avenue for Christian service. God will use you as He pleases. But please do not proceed without understanding that true grace often comes in the form of opposition, and that it is a dangerous thing to follow only the counsels of our own heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? (Jer 17:9)"
My understanding of Christianity is not legalistic. I think Jesus came to us to teach us how to love each other, not how to judge each other. Oh, well. To each their own.
So, there it is. I am going to do my best and try to put this business behind me because I just don't have the energy for it anymore. I'll be joining the United Church of Christ (UCC) next month where I will hopefully not run into any people who try to make me feel less that human, that my sin is somehow greater than theirs. This isn't to say that the UCC is perfect, only that I will hopefully have to deal with this particular brand of evil a whole lot less. To all who remain in the PCUSA, I wish you the best of luck, and I sincerely mean that. This was simply not my fight, and I hope you can all understand.