Sunshine and Rainbows

Separating my church from God’s true teachings.

Veronica Meiss (she/her), Managing Editor

I grew up in my church. 

I did arts and crafts in the nursery and sang songs about living in God’s big house. I was taught the Bible stories about Moses and baby Jesus being born. My church had a coffee shop, and I prided myself on having a “cool” church without pews and old hymns.

I was thriving. Church was what I looked forward to every week. I was welcomed and encased in love from all the members at my church. 

I thought my church wasn’t like those other ones. 

I thought it was accepting and loving

I was never explicitly told gay people were going to Hell orwomen were below men. 

I never fit in completely with those at my church. I dressed differently. I had different opinions and friends. The difference was especially clear when I was old enough to be in the youth group. 

During my 7th grade year, I walked into the middle school church room on a Sunday morning to see a teacher I had never seen before. Let’s call him Bill. Bill’s lesson revolved around how someone chooses to be gay. An old friend of mine, who was questioning his sexuality and gender, was sitting next to me. When he came out, he left my church immediately.

I’ve been so angry at Bill for years because of what he did to my friend.

Reality hit me. I knew it wasn’t right, so I talked to my dad. When my dad talked to the head youth pastor about it, he thankfully did not allow Bill to teach in middle school again. But, he remained a youth leader and continued to give sermons on Sunday mornings to adults and high schoolers. 

This was the first time I realized my church wasn’t what it said it was.

I told my family and some close friends I was questioning my sexuality in 8th grade. Someone I told had spread that information to my youth group without me knowing. When word got out, I was socially ostracized from the group immediately. I didn’t learn why until three years later, which was July of 2021. 

I distinctly remember my head youth pastor even talking about how being gay is a sin right in front of me. He knew I was standing right there.

While this was happening, others in the youth group praised my church, saying how accepting it was. When I brought up what I was experiencing to the head youth pastor, he said my exclusion would change. It didn’t. I stopped attending regularly. After I learned why I was excluded, I stopped listening to the sermons and going to youth group completely.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some incredible people at my church who perfectly reflected Jesus in their actions. I met four of my closest friends at my church. Three of them moved before I got into high school. The last one still goes there, but she fully knows why I don’t come anymore.

But, how was I able to stay connected to God?

I admit, it was hard. For months, I wondered if I even wanted to be associated with the bad parts of my religion and call myself a Christian. 

I have always loved the feeling I get when reading the Bible and learning about God. It sounds so tacky, I know. Even when I struggled with my faith, I’ve always wanted the warm feeling I get when I feel God’s presence and love. It helps me feel content in the strangest times. 

I’ve been able to stay connected to Christ because of the genuine love I can feel from Him. 

It took me a long time to separate my church from God’s true teachings. I’ve always known that God didn’t want or cause my alienation, but I have always had these questions about why he chose to make someone write women lower than man or make homosexuality wrong. 

No one on Earth can truly translate the Bible and have it say what God originally intended. There are countless verses in the Bible that are probably mistranslations from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek. When churches pick and choose verses to listen to or completely misunderstand what some verses say, it causes legitimate harm. The one thing that is strikingly clear is the idea of love. 

When Jesus lived on this Earth, He said the two most important lessons were to 1) love God with your whole being and 2) to love your neighbor as yourself. One is as important as the other. Everything in the Bible revolves around those two. Churches seem to forget what being a Christian really entails. My church did.

Loving as Jesus did means loving someone regardless of their identity and welcoming them despite their background. I haven’t felt loved or welcomed by my church in years. My story is not as bad as others, but even through everything, I still love and trust Jesus.