God is on our side guys!

Posted on February 25, 2013 by The Quest

Peter, a recent participant of The Quest Weekend Exploration Workshop, talks about his faith and love of God.

I’ve been wanting to share this story about my life and faith for some time, since my love of God is at the very foundation of who I am. My faith is so important to me in my everyday life, and in my understanding of who I am as a gay man, but I know for many gay men the notion of God, the church and religion generally evokes very negative feelings and in some cases can trigger very painful memories and experiences. It’s my hope that the following words could stir up some hope and possibility for the future.

After years of trying to conform to the straight life I’d chosen and to ignore and suppress the growing desires and feelings within me, the pressure became so overwhelming that I couldn’t lie any more or hide the real me. When I eventually left my wife and family 7 years ago I was an assistant pastor of a church, head of the youth ministry, chairman of a Christian charity and Governor of a CofE church school. Once I came out I had to resign from all of those roles as well as being totally rejected by my children. I was also the MD of a business I ran with my wife, and some time later had to resign from that too as well as leaving our beautiful home that we’d lovingly restored. From having what most people thought was a perfect life, I suddenly had absolutely nothing and was living in my sisters dark and dingy box room. Most of my friends were from the church and they all turned their backs on me. And if that wasn’t enough, it was made very clear to me that unless I repented of my sin I was no longer a Christian or a child of God. It was such a dark and utterly soul destroying time. The rejection of my beloved children was the most painful of all, and life just didn’t seem worth living any more. I had no strength left in me to fight back and my guilt was almost too heavy to bear. I could hardly look anyone in the eye I was so ashamed of myself and what I’d done.

So why am I sharing all of this, when this is intended to be a message of hope?

Well from that dark unbearable wretched place there was one constant voice of comfort that never left me. My heavenly father never once left my side. He just kept loving me and telling me that I was his precious son and that he would never leave me. I could feel his presence with me throughout everything, especially the most painful moments. No matter what the church or the so-called people of God might say, my experience couldn’t lie, my experience was one of a loving, gracious, compassionate father who transcended man’s fallible understanding of the unconditional love of God. With him by my side I gradually found the strength to heal and recover and start to move forward again. Through his constant validation he helped me to rebuild my self respect, my identity and my confidence.

It’s so wrong that God, the church, the bible and religion have all got mixed up together in our society, when in fact they are four separate entities and should be seen (and judged) as such. The church is a man made institution, the bible was written by men (albeit with divine inspiration) and religion is an earthly construct. God is not constrained by the limitations of man’s understanding and is not hampered by our self-righteousness, prejudice, fear and small-mindedness. He is our creator and we are created in his image – therefore I am an intentional, deliberate act of design and creation lovingly crafted by my heavenly father. He knew what he was doing, who am I or any one of us, to argue with God about why we are the way we are?

So the point here is that the Catholic church, along with the Anglicans and all the others, have indoctrinated their flocks to ensure the survival of their church above and beyond the health and strength and well being of the precious people they are there to encourage and care for. Our parents and countless others have been tainted by the teachings of the church which has had an untold effect on their lives. Our generation, and we as enlightened beings, can show compassion and love for them in the face of this, but for ourselves we can live in the freedom and power of knowing that God created us exactly the way we are (and exactly the way we are not) and that was for a purpose. We were never intended to conform or to be the same as everyone else, we each have a unique and important destiny to fulfil – simples!!!

None of this was intended as a preach, although it probably reads that way. But I am passionate about God and I’m not prepared to stand by while others misrepresent the extraordinary God I know, as they try to box him up as a sexist, a bigot, a racist or a homophobe. I am proud to stand up and say that I am a gay man who was created and designed by a loving compassionate God.

Please also understand that I have deep and sincere respect for all faiths and beliefs, and none of these words are intended to offend, undermine or reject any of them – but as a Christian I can only speak from my own heart and experience.

I’m not even sure where half of this came from, I certainly didn’t consciously set out to write most of it. I feel very exposed now and hesitant to publish these words, but I trust you to hear my heart and be gracious in your reading and interpretation of them.

PeterWith love, respect and trust,
Peter Collins

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