On Loving God, and Girls

Alyssa Rodrigo

In the bathroom of our old house, plastered on the wall, was a cheap print of a painted turtle with the words “Lord, help me go slow”. That’s how Christian my mother is — I can’t even take a shit without God watching me. For a long time, growing up in a Christian home with Christian values and attending church every Sunday was a great thing. As a child, it grounded me, it gave me a sense of community and lifelong friends. This was all interrupted when I realised I was gay.

At first, it manifested itself in arguments with church leaders about the fate of queer people in the afterlife. I was told, like many queer Christians are, that gay people are amongst those who are destined for hell. That no matter the sincerity of your actions or the kindness of your heart, your ticket to heaven will still be void because of who you love. I was taught that homosexuality is akin to being mentally ill. At one point, after I offered a rebuttal that “love is love”, a friend told me that this logic would consequently lead to a strange devolution of common sense. His argument: if a woman can marry a woman, why can’t she marry a doorknob?

Given my utter lack of attraction to inanimate objects, I grew increasingly frustrated with the church and its concern for theological correctness over the consequences of their homophobia. Each argument would always end with the same frustrating slogan – that “the church loves the sinner but not the sin”. These nine words would become the mantra for every Christian I knew who sought to oppose same-sex marriage, the Safe Schools Program, or even the process of a young girl discovering her sexuality.

It’s a shallow guise that seeks to project love without the commitment it necessitates. If the church does truly love the sinner, why does it spend more energy preaching about the inevitability of hell as opposed to the rising suicide rates of LGBTQI+ teenagers? There was no regard for the growing incidence of bullying against LGBTQI+ children in school or the alienation of queer Christians in the church. As I grew older, I found myself feeling more at home in gay clubs than I did in the congregation.

At its core, it seemed as if two fundamental parts of my identity were irreconcilable. One part asked for touch, expression, and intimacy, and the other fidelity to a God who called for purity and righteousness. Though integral to my identity, neither side found reconciliation with the other. Now, years after coming out, I am still left with the question: how can you love God and also love girls?

Bereft of any concrete resolution, I’ve shifted my focus from trying to put together two pieces which may forever be incongruent, towards living according to my own truth. In refusing to deny myself the love I have and am deserving of, I’ve become more whole than I thought possible. Beyond all the white noise, the politics, and the theology, I found myself so much more concerned with being a good person than being a Godly person. Because if there is a God, I’d like to think He’d be concerned with more important things than a girl who loves a girl.