I can't count the number of times I have been told how important it is to attend a church (body of believers) as a Christian. Growing up in a church setting and attending a bible college stressed the importance all the more. Church is where you plug in with other believers, it's where you are challenged, where you can worship and where you find community.
I don't disagree with any of those things. That is what it should mean to meet and become a part of the church (which is not a building for the record, but more accurately defined as a body of believers).
But what happens when you no longer feel welcome in the body of Christ, which is the church. When instead of feeling like a healthy extension of that body, you begin to feel more like the infected limb that the rest of the body just wants to cut off? Or worse, and what I find more common, is when people stop taking your faith seriously because it is different than theirs.
I know I need a community where I can meet and be challenged in my faith. I know I need a place to worship and focus on God. I know I need a place and group of people who will support, love and encourage me in my faith. I know my relationship with God is suffering because I do not have this connection to a community. But where is that community? How many churches are genuinely acting this out for all those who seek it?
As a gay christian I find it next to impossible to be comfortable in church. The church became a place where I felt insecure, unwelcome and judged. Now I recognize that some of this may be in my head, that perhaps some of these insecurities are solely my own to contend with, but many people share my experience, regardless of sexuality.
The church, which is supposed to represent God's unconditional love, is now experienced as a place where women feel silenced, the gay community is openly hated (or at best unequal), and broken people are told to fix themselves before entering. One needs to experience and understand God in the same doctrinal way as that community or they may be forced to "move on" to find a place that more closely shares their belief.
What happened to diversity!? A community whose motto used to be "come as you are" has turned into "come as WE are". Why are we so afraid of difference? Why is there such resistance to sharing and conversing with those who believe differently?
God. is. BIG. enough. to. handle. the. conversation.