From fear to joy

May 26, 2014 by

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In reading the letters from Mennonites about same-sex sexuality and gender identity, I feel called to respond to the fear and anxiety I read in their words. I want to tell them about my joy.

When I came out as gay, it was the culmination of years of self-discovery, including biblical study, conversations with God and questions about my identity as a child of God. This period of spiritual formation centered on these questions: “Does God love and accept me as I am? Am I a child of God’s?” I chose to be baptized in my Mennonite congregation with this resounding answer: “Yes, of course, I am a child of God’s.” Because pervasive voices in our society had taught me to question my validity as a queer person, it was not a revelation I took for granted.

Those years before coming out were hard, in part because I was fueled by fear. For an LGBTQ person, the decision to be open with your community is not made without fear. There are risks of broken relationships, job loss and church exclusion. But a beautiful thing lies beyond all of the fear: joy. This is at the heart of my spirituality as a queer person: I am known by the God who loves me in all my queerness. In fact, my queerness brought me closer to God in my hour of greatest need. Because of this, my faith in a loving God and my queer identity are intrinsically linked. I have been freed from fear and live into my identity as a queer Mennonite with joy. This is my hope for the Mennonite church — to be free from the bonds of fear. I dream of the Mennonite church living into the joy of a table big enough for all and a community empowered by the belief that our sexuality and gender identity are gifts from God.

Patrick Ressler
Philadelphia


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