What To Do When Believers & Non-Believers Don't Like Your Life Story
Some people don't like their story. Maybe because it's a little dull. Others don't like it because of the tension it raises and the challenge it presents. But what happens when neither likes it?
Some people don't like their story. Some may think their "testimony," as Christians call it, is a little dull. Others don't like it because of the tension it raises and the challenge it presents. My friend Michael is uniquely challenged with his testimony and here's why - he is formerly gay.
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Am I Not Supposed To Talk About It?
Homosexuality is an issue most people do not want to discuss for a variety of reasons. That is unless of course, you agree with their lifestyle or point-of-view. For example, Michael will say his non-believing friends will want him to be "pro-gay," and his believing friends would sooner not listen to what he has to say about being "formerly-gay." Hearing this made me sad for Michael in that we as a human race lack the ability to listen to people and overcome our stereotypes - Christian or not.
Attack On One Side
Michael shared that non-believers have often attacked him at work leveraging policies on political correctness preventing him from sharing his story of how he went from a gay to a straight lifestyle. He is convinced that had the story been reversed his personal story would be well received or protected by these same policies. Years ago he referenced that Nightline did a piece on a conference he spoke at in Franklin, Tennessee. He said that "several of his coworkers back and addressed management of his company and tried to get me fired." Thankfully his management stood with him and said he had the freedom to speak on these matters both in and outside of work and they refused to terminate him for sharing his story.
Attack On The Other?
But he also added that it's not only non-believers who are uncomfortable with his story, but believers. Yep, followers of Christ. They hear his story, and he said "sometimes they don't hesitate to attack" him for his former sin and lifestyle choices. Most Christians with whom he comes in contact with are startled by his former life and often do their best to marginalize and silence him even though he's supposedly one of the family. It seems his story is too much for them to bear and creates a tension to which they don't know how to respond. Since most churches have never dealt with an issue of this kind, assimilating him into the life of the church is challenging and perplexing.
As you know most churches tend not to understand sexual sin, therefore quietly shame sins of a sexual nature which makes accommodating men like Michael into the culture of the church apparently challenging. He has even said that when he shares his testimony with other believers, he feels embarrassed because he has to be over-sensitive to how others might respond. He stated that in one instance another believer told him on social media "God, kill yourself," after he shared his testimony about being ex-gay. And he added that he has even been told by pastors and elders to keep silence for fear that someone might be offended.
We're All Looking For Acceptance
We have a lot to do as a church, and as humanity, to listen to people - and genuinely hear their story. While Michael is ex-gay, and his story might make both sides of the isle uneasy, he is not less an of a human being for having this testimony. Michael is a man who is looking for a family, love, acceptance - and found it in God. And we too should genuinely celebrate his story with him and welcome him into the family - as God did.
Michael forgive me and the church for not hearing, accepting, and welcoming you into the body of Christ. We too are sinners saved by the same grace, trying to understand people different from us. So be patient with us as we learn to assimilate and overcome our shortcomings. And more importantly, keep sharing your story till we hear the story of the grace we all need! Be better today.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.