I can’t go to my church on Easter morning.

I guess I could go. But I won’t let myself.

See, I’m gay.

Easter is all about Jesus rising from the dead, and our sins being forgiven and my pastor agrees with the Book of Discipline which says my life is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” So when his eyes meet mine during his sermon on Easter, the sin he thinks about when he sees me would include my sexuality.

Why do I go to a church where the pastor sees me in this way? We have a great congregation. We have children associated with our church who are struggling with issues related to their sexuality, who need assurance and support. We have a Reconciling Community in our church. We are moving toward becoming a Reconciling Congregation. We might already be there, but the Annual Conference replaced our affirming pastor with one who is not two years ago.

I cannot sit and listen to a message that I know will be about forgiveness of sin. Don’t get me wrong. I am a sinner just like everyone else. Sometimes I do things that separate me from God. That is what sin is.

But my sexuality, my love for my husband, my intimacy with my husband; these things do not come between God and me.

I just finished leading a Lenten Study for our Reconciling Community group. We are gay. We are straight. We are lesbian. We are transgender. We know that Christ died for all of us. We know that our sins are forgiven. We know that God shows no partiality. So I’m good with that.

So on Easter morning, we will visit a sunrise service sponsored by an affirming church.

I don’t know what the message will be, but I am sure that my sexuality will not be part of a hidden agenda.

Then, for a few days, I will rest from the fight I am involved in. I will rest in the knowledge that God loves me as I am. I will just rest.

Then next week, the struggle resumes.

Joe Openshaw

Joe Openshaw is a retired veterinarian, having opened the first feline practice in the state of Alabama. In his retirement, he has become an advocate for LGBTQ equality, and is a past chairperson of Equality Alabama. Joe believes that in order to bring change to the south, the faith community must be engaged in the conversation. He is a member of Discovery United Methodist Church in Hoover, Alabama, where he is the founder and co-leader of The Hospitality Group, a Reconciling Group with RMN, and co-founder of Reconciling Methodists of the North Alabama Conference.
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