Recently, a local priest in my vicinity after preparing the elements for communion in front of their congregation said, and I’m not joking here either, that those who voted for President Biden shouldn’t receive the sacrament that day. A female parishioner there got so upset she left right then and there.
Hearing this directly from another priest friend of mine and confirming the story’s validity was incredibly disheartening. I wanted to believe it was just “fake news”, but sadly it wasn’t, as that woman had come to my friend in anguish over the whole matter. What’s truly sad is that Christ welcomed all to his table. ALL! To suggest anything otherwise, especially over who voted for who in the last presidential election is truly sad and despicable on so many levels.
I personally have experienced this very thing in many different churches throughout my life, where my sexuality, or my gender, or my not being a member there, or my not being of that specific denomination or faith, etc., excluded me from being fully a part of that church in some way.
Wasn’t it Jesus who associated himself and even broke bread throughout his life with social outcasts, beggars, prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors, Pharisees, Sadducees, Priests, roman soldiers, and many other foreigners. Wasn’t it Jesus who never turned any of them away? 2,021 years after Christ lived and people are still being turned away from his table!
The more times I hear stories like this, the more I have no desire to ever step foot back into a church again for worship. I’d rather worship from home where I can be me and don’t have to conform to someone else’s judgments of what they think is acceptable in the eyes of Christ and God.
Stories like this painfully remind me of the numerous times I faced rejection at places of worship by pastors, the worship team, or even members, due to my being a “practicing homosexual” and suggesting that was detestable in the eyes of God due to their interpretation of their religious books of reference.
Do you know what I really think is the most detestable in the eyes of God? Turning anyone away for ANY reason at any place of worship of Him. Doing so, or even telling anyone they aren’t accepted for any reason in God’s eyes, is one of the lowest things I think you can do to someone on their spiritual journey in life. Because it often drives a hungry seeker of God completely away, leaving them in shame, feeling like they aren’t good enough, even in God’s eyes.
All of this reminded me of another story I heard not too long ago of a lead drummer at an evangelical church being asked to step down from his position on the worship team because he was living with his girlfriend and having intimacy with her, someone he deeply loved, but out of wedlock. The result of which was him leaving the church altogether for awhile, even relapsing back into his drug addiction to cope with the rejection. This is much of the same reason why I chose alcohol and drugs for a good period of my life because I thought God had made a mistake with me. I believed the lie that many religious people told me that I would never be accepted in God’s eyes so long as I was in a same-sex relationship. I even tried to date the opposite sex because of this. I tried to force myself to be with women and couldn’t even get an erection no matter how many times I tried. Yet, I continued to live the lie all to be accepted by God and the churches I attended. Thankfully, God eventually helped me to see otherwise by letting me know He made me this way and showed me it was ok to be with one man, so long as I remained monogamous and devoted to them.
Nevertheless, God is nothing but unconditional love, which Christ demonstrated here over two millennia ago. But religion continues to say otherwise through examples like this priest and his views on communion, or the rejection the LGBTQ community continues to face in so many churches, and plenty of others who aren’t really fully welcomed until they conform to “A, B, or C”, all of which gets interpreted from someone’s ego’s interpretation of what the religious book they follow says.
Regardless, I pray I never turn anyone away from God. Sinners or saints, who am I to judge? All are welcomed to Christ’s and God’s table, for communion, for worship, for membership, for leadership, for anything. Telling anyone otherwise is in my book attempting to play God and that for sure is something I’m not and never will be.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson