saying goodbye to The Train of His Robe


When I started my blog, I was a wide-eyed, uber Pentecostal freshman in college, ready to change the world.

When searching for a blog title, I became inspired by the vision of God portrayed in Isaiah 6 — an infinitely present and powerful image of the divine. It’s still one of my favorite pictures of God, and Isaiah 6 still very much inspires me to see God’s presence in every aspect of my life.

Throughout the last three years of writing “The Train of His Robe,” I saw over and over again how God fills the whole temple of our lives. Nothing is off-limits.

I tried to demonstrate that in my writing. I talked about diverse topics including gender roles, doubt, mindfulness, cancer, virginity, Calvinism, systematic oppression, masculinity, church, and individuality.

My mission has changed so much over the years as I went from sharing evangelical devotions to travel anecdotes to thoughts on trending topics.

But now the time has come to transition once again. There are some difficulties I’ve experienced maintaining a faith-themed blog: one of which being the conservative pushback I was met with when I covered topics that readers deemed “unchristian,” like feminism or marriage equality.

I used not to feel confined to write about only “spiritual” topics because I saw the whole world as spiritual. But now I have begun to feel boxed in, and I want the freedom to speak about whatever inspires or irritates me.

I don’t want a solely Christian blog: I want a blog that represents all parts of me; although, the lens with which I view topics is generally faith-based.

Plus, post-grad Marsh knows something that freshman Marsh didn’t: I don’t ever want to claim to speak on behalf of God.

Marshall PIckard logo finalSo after growing in my writing style and finding my voice over the past three years, it’s time to say goodbye to The Train of His Robe chapter of my story. Now I’m in the process of creating an all-new site to combine the professional and creative sides of me, including blog posts, portfolio projects, featured articles, and more.

I’m excited to announce that will launch this Thursday — July 23. 

The God I Met Abroad

I will also be releasing a free e-book this fall to email subscribers of my new blog. “The God I Met Abroad” will be like a culmination of the messages I wanted to get across with The Train of His Robe project and will include memories from my three months in Europe.

I’m thrilled to make changes, to more accurately and authentically present myself to the world.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the last three years. Your kindness carries me forward.

I hope that I will see you over at my new site on Thursday as we begin this new adventure together.

Grace and peace, friends.


**Just a note of clarification in response to some questions I got: I’m not becoming a “secular” blogger (whatever that means”). I have no desire to produce clickbait or “10 reasons you should” lists.

I’m still producing similar, heartfelt content, just from outside a specific “faith blog” label. That niche was becoming a bit too constraining.

The whole message of The Train of His Robe was that the line between the sacred and secular is man-made. I’m just freeing myself up to talk unapologetically about all the areas I’m passionate about — whether that’s spiritual, political, emotional, cultural, etc.

I see God in and among all of that stuff. I think God cares about it all. I am still inviting God to walk alongside me every step of the way as I ask hard questions about the world around me.



resources for continuing the conversation on same-sex relationships


Wanting to do some more research on the topic of same-sex relationships and what scripture actually has to say about them?

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and become a resource on this topic myself (when there’s plenty of well-crafted scriptural arguments already published), I’ve decided to give you all twenty-five links to articles or videos that have helped me along my journey to LGBTQ inclusion.

I’ve included biblical scholars, prominent evangelicals, notable Christian bloggers, and (most importantly) the voices of queer Christians.

/   /   /   /   /

Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships by James Brownson (truthfully haven’t read this one yet, but heard that it carefully examines both sides)

Answers to Your Questions About Same-Sex Marriage by the American Psychological Association

For the Record by prominent evangelical leader Tony Campolo

The Bible and Homosexuality: Why I Left College and Spent Two Years Finding Out What the Scriptures Really Say by Matthew Vines

Response to a Review:  On Celibacy, Human Identity, and the Orientation/Behavior Distinction by Matthew Vines

Everyone’s a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony by Rachel Held Evans

The False Gospel of Gender Binaries by Rachel Held Evans

Vicky Beeching, Christian Rock Star “I’m Gay. God Loves Me Just the Way I Am” by Patrick Strudwick

Vicky Beeching and Scott Lively debate 

I’m An Evangelical Minister. I Now Support the LGBT Community — And The Church Should, Too. by David Gushee

LGBTQ by The Liturgists

You Love Gay People? That’s Great. Prove It. by Justin Lee

My Passionate 10-Minute Pitch for LGBT Affirmation at a Conservative Christian University by Justin Lee

Homosexuality: It’s Not What You Think by Justin Lee

Larry King interview with out CCM singer Jennifer Knapp

South Carolina University Student Removed from Work-Study Position for Being Gay by Hannah Kreider

Embracing LGBT Members May Have Saved Franklin’s GracePointe Church — Or Destroyed It by Kim Green

How the Church Perpetuates the “Gay Lifestyle” by Eliel Cruz

How to Be a Christians Ally to LGBT People by Eliel Cruz

I Am the Church by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I Love Gay People and I Love Christians. I Choose All. by Glennon Doyle Melton

A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On by Glennon Doyle Melton

I’m Queer, and I’m Still an Evangelical by Brandan Robertson

Why I Changed My Mind on Homosexuality by Danny Cortez

/   /   /   /   /

Looking for the non-affirming perspective? Kevin DeYoung speaks frequently, and Preston Sprinkle speaks with true Christlike kindness and understanding.

Also if you want to really understand why this topic is so important, go to Youtube and search “coming out videos” like this one from Connor Franta or this one from the Rhodes brothers.

Hopefully when we talk about the theology of same-sex relationships, we’ll keep real people in mind, honoring the courage it takes to stand up and be honest about yourself.


May Holy Spirit be with us as we seek clarity on complicated questions.







dear concerned straight christian


Dear concerned straight Christian,

Today is a big day for many people, but for those who are non-affirming of the equality of same-sex marriage, I know today probably feels like a defeat.

Hey, I get that. A few years ago, I was in the same boat as you.

It was actually two years ago today (the historic overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act) that I started seriously considering whether my position on same-sex marriage was correct or not.

I’m assuming that you are concerned for the direction of this country. You might fear that your freedom of speech will be infringed in the future. You might think that this world has no respect for God anymore.

I understand what you are feeling because I used to feel that way about the world. Many of my friends and family still deeply fear marriage equality, so I can empathize with how hard today must have been for you.

The world is a dark place when you operate on an economy of fear, especially fear of your fellow humans.

But please for just a moment, check your privilege, straight Christian.

Yes, today you feel unheard. You feel like your rights have been violated and that everyone is hostile to your identity as a Christian.

That same fear you are feeling is what LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ Christians, feel every single day.

Misunderstood. Unloved. Rejected. Alone.

Perhaps you are partially responsible for the way they feel. Your doctrine and your ideology disenfranchise them. Maybe they didn’t think there was enough room at your table for them.

Maybe you told LGBTQ people that they couldn’t be Christians until they renounced the hope of a future monogamous, committed, life-giving relationship.

You insisted you couldn’t ignore the six mentions of same-sex behavior, even though Bible passages give instructions for marrying (essentially raping) slaves of war and marrying brothers/sisters-in-law. Perhaps you conveniently ignored those passages, along with the stories of polygamy and intercourse with concubines that litter the holy text and receive no major signs of disapproval from the God of the Old Testament.

While you explained away those examples of sex outside a one-man/one-woman context through a certain interpretative lens (or didn’t pay attention to them at all), you likely wouldn’t allow the same opportunity to LGBTQ and affirming Christians to analyze the texts that rendered same-sex relationships “unbiblical” a different way.

I understand your need to speak out. When you have deep conviction burning within you, it can be hell to cover those feelings up. But if you voice your unpopular opinions, you face social backlash and hateful comments.

LGBTQ people understand this better than any. The same anxious, boxed-up feeling you’ve experienced today, your LGBTQ brothers and sister feel every time your “telling the truth in love” Facebook posts pop up on their timeline.

Today, evangelical friend, I’m sure it feels like you are smothering in a world that you feel uses definitions and labels you don’t agree with.

That’s how your LGBTQ friends feel often as they risk isolation, unemployment, homelessness, depression, and nights of restless sleep to stand up for themselves in the wake of your crushing judgement.

You feel like the world is against you today, but so often they do too.

So maybe for today, give people a moment to celebrate. Even though the promised land of full inclusion is still a long way off, this is a bright, joyful moment for many.

Yet discrimination reigns supreme in many states, and countless hearts are locked away in religious, social, political, and economic closets still.

Today isn’t the end of the war, but it is a victory for LGBTQ people and their allies. Maybe hoist up your white flag for the day, friend. There’ll be more culture wars to fight tomorrow.

You certainly have every right to speak your mind and make a lot of noise, but maybe today is a day to restrain from that privilege out of love and consideration.

Don’t be “those  Christians” who prophesy doom and cry persecution just because someone else got access to the same right they take for granted.

Take a step back from the fear. Open your white-knuckled hands. You aren’t in control, and your kicking back and screaming isn’t adding days to your life or converts to your faith.

If you are so concerned about the fate of marriage, place your worry in the hands of God. Spend today in quietness and trust. Love on your spouse/family.

I know it must be hard to sit in the darkness of defeat while the world dances in freedom, but remember, this is how you have made your LGBTQ brothers and sisters feel their whole lives.

This is their day in the Light.

Much love (and I really really mean it),


**Side note: As inevitably happens in these culture wars, true moderates always get forgotten. I completely understand that there are Christians who who believe homosexuality is a sin but don’t decry marriage equality publicly. So no, not every straight non-affirming Christian is consistently making LGBTQ feel unloved and unwelcome. This letter wasn’t really directed toward this specific group of people; although, their noticeable silence only helps amplify the extreme contrast between the two camps.

grace always wins the culture war

grace always wins the culture war

Has anyone noticed that the Internet has gotten a little tense lately?

The twenty-four hour news cycle has increasingly spilled over onto social media feeds, and our timelines have become battlefields for religious, political, and cultural debate. Now everyone thinks they are reporters, activists, and pundits – ready to weigh in on the next Josh Duggar or Rachel Dolezal.

Yes, free speech and the marketplace of ideas make for a healthy society, but especially online, we have exchanged open conversations for one-sided rants.

Words like “bigot” and “shaming” are tossed back and forth like grenades – often as attempts to shut down dialogue.

You would think that Christians could be a little more civil in the culture wars, but as it turns out, Christ followers on all sides of almost any issue seem to be some of the loudest contributors to the online noise.

The conservatives vs. the liberals. The Calvinists vs. the Arminians. The emergent church vs. the evangelicals.

We operate from the blind assumption that our truth is ultimate truth, as we decide who is “biblical” and “non-biblical” – separating the heretics and the saints.

It’s like we forget the people on the other side of God’s table are our brothers and sisters. I’m certainly guilty of this, of making enemies of the fellow members of Christ’s body.

In our efforts to call out bad behavior and protect the marginalized, our attacks can get pretty vicious. Quickly, the lines become blurred, and we become the darkness we started out fighting against –  spiteful, vindictive, Pharisaic.

So how can we be more Christ-like when we speak with someone with whom we disagree – especially online, where we aren’t getting a one-on-one interaction?

I’ve included some practical steps below that I’m trying to apply to my own life.

-Use accurate terminology/precision of language

The simple truth is that using archaic terms like “homosexual” and “illegal alien” in public discourse will, at worst, shut down any dialogue you are trying to have and, at best, just unnecessarily tick off the person you wish to communicate with.

You may have qualms about this – about “the PC police” – but using the correct language/label to describe people, organizations, and belief systems is wise, whether you agree with that terminology/phrasing or not.

For example, during the Caitlyn Jenner media buzz, people were purposely calling her “Bruce.” Did that help anything? It certainly didn’t score those people any points or change any minds.

Speaking respectfully is a way to stay apart of the conversation and show people that you’ve done enough research to speak intelligently on the subject. Know your stuff!

-Reach out to the person offline

Church today works a lot differently than in days of the early Church. Paul would never have imagined that “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15 ESV) could be done on a website between people who have never met.

If you have a conflict with someone online, it can be more helpful to approach him/her in person or at least not online.

I have a friend with whom I often disagree. We have had Twitter battles before, but after realizing how little that accomplishes, we now text each other instead of airing all our grievances online.

It’s fine to disagree, but it can be a lot more helpful to have an actual conversation instead of a public back-and-forth. It’s much easier to empathize that way.

-Don’t take things so personally

If the person is just disagreeing with your opinion and not personally attacking you, refuse to get defensive. This isn’t about you but about your ideology.

Especially if you don’t know the person, it might be best to just let your anger go. You don’t know their motivations.

It’s easy to misconstrue online comments, so who even knows if that person meant what you thought they said?

-Remember you aren’t Jesus

Jesus’ life was proof that is important to stand up for what we believe in and to fight to protect the least of these. Sometimes, his words were surprisingly harsh to this end.

However, we must keep in mind that most of us aren’t prophets. Jesus had the full authority of God to back him up, while our logic is clouded up by our own human emotions and personal convictions.

Be cautious which temple tables you toss and how quick you are to judge someone.

-Allow Holy Spirit to convict

Ultimately, we don’t fight against flesh and blood, as scripture says, but against entrenched systems of oppression, damaging theologies, and depraved ideologies.

While our fellow Christian might be trapped up in some of these wrong ways of thinking, we aren’t the moral FBI, and we can’t bear the responsibility of changing his/her mind in 140 characters.

That’s Holy Spirit’s job, and if we are all speaking to the same God, we can trust God to open people’s eyes when they are ready to see.

It’s difficult to restrain ourselves from jumping up and down and screaming when we disagree with someone, especially while sitting safely behind a computer screen. But if we want to represent Christ’s love to our world (and to one another), we must be careful of what we say and how we say it, Christians.

We aren’t to silence ourselves, but we are to communicate with grace and mutual respect if we want others to hear our perspective. And when we feel convicted to take a stand about something online, I pray that it will be with love.

Now, be careful out on those Interwebs, friends!





the price of our prejudice

the price of our prejudice

This Monday, my timeline was flooded with an onslaught of Caitlyn Jenner posts.

Sure, there were people with honest questions about whether God makes mistakes, whether sex and gender are set-in-stone or malleable, or whether  or not people should modify their bodies with any type of plastic surgery. I totally get that, as I have wrestled with these questions myself (and sometimes still do).

But even louder than these honest, heartfelt questions were the temper tantrums of bitter people clinging to the shell of a person they thought they knew, digitally screaming, “I won’t call Bruce Jenner a woman” and “Bruce Jenner isn’t a hero.”

Conservative Christians were the sharpest of critics, the most arrogant of Pharisees.

Forget the whole Romans 12:15 “rejoice with those who rejoice” thing. We couldn’t be happy for someone who, after sixty-five miserable years of living, finally felt at home in her own skin.

These reactions didn’t surprise me, but they prove to me that we as a society are still very afraid of people we don’t understand.

Christians, do you look like your Savior when, without a thread of empathy, you self-righteously damn?

/   /   /   /   /

Discrimination, like a strong rip current, can drag a person far into the unknown waters of hopelessness and depression.

Coming out for gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, queer, asexual, intersex, etc. (LGBTQ) people can be extremely difficult as they risk being met with intolerance, hostility, and alienation.

For some, telling the world the truth about themselves jeopardizes their security:  they face homelessness, assault, or loss of financial support or employment.

For many others, though, coming out and being honest about their attractions or their gender causes pain that is less tangible:  the bruises of prejudice can be very emotional and spiritual.

Like when the lesbian parents are told their family is illegitimate and unwelcome in their local church.

Or when the upstanding citizen, who just happens to also be gay, can’t even teach Sunday school or lead a scout troop.

Or when the bi guy can’t tell his college roommates he likes both guys and girls without being treated like a sex offender.

Or when people blatantly refuse to use feminine pronouns to describe a trans woman … or call her Caitlyn.

I’m sure it feels a lot like drowning.

Surely, we know this burden of animus we place on our LGBTQ brothers and sisters is not from God. They should not have to carry the weight of our condemnation.

Was it not Jesus who said:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

/   /   /   /   /

Deep within every human heart is the need to loved, affirmed, and accepted. We were built for community, so it’s natural that we want to be seen and to be known.

Yet how does religious culture respond to the bravery it takes for LGBTQ people to risk rejection by being authentically themselves?

We sit on our thrones of heteronormative privilege, waving our sceptres of doctrine with unholy pride as we exile LGBTQ Christians far outside the Kingdom walls.

It’s no wonder LGB young people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight peers.

Young people who question their sexuality are three times more likely to attempt suicide than those who do not question their sexuality.

A staggering half of transgender young people have strongly considered suicide.

If you don’t think our country is suffering from an epidemic of hatred, you might not be paying attention.

I will never forget the story of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl who walked out in front of interstate traffic because her religious parents could not accept her for who she was.

In her suicide note, she wrote, “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights…Fix society. Please.”

The climate of disgust toward LGBTQ people that our society — and we in the Church — have maintained is not sustainable. Lives are literally at stake because people can’t handle the pain of constant rejection anymore.

/   /    /    /    /

If you are wrestling with your orientation or gender identity or the way others treat you/view you and have considered suicide, please contact the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 immediately.

You are not alone. You are not the only one who feels the way you do. You are seen and known and loved by God, whether the people in your life accept you or not.

Friend, come up for air. The waves of people’s opinions can be rocky, but your biggest Advocate can walk on water.

Marshall's signature



For more of the Sex/Gender/Identity 2015 series, check out “There’s More Room.”

sex gender identity 2015



how Mom’s cancer changed my view of suffering

IMG_9987There’s never a good time to get a call saying you have Stage III cancer. The day before Thanksgiving is especially not a good day.

After Mom’s hysterectomy, doctors discovered she had more cancer. Chemotherapy would begin soon, followed by weeks of radiation. Cancer was her new normal.

When I heard the news, I retreated to my room, where tears burst like a dam and guttural groans shook my body.

For an insufferable second, a sharp why pierced my mind: Why did this happen to Mom?

She had been covered in so much prayer going into surgery, how could she have cancer? As she’s one of the best people I know, it didn’t seem fair.

Then it clicked.

It’s amazing how much we can understand something on a intellectual level but never fully grasp the gravity of it, until life pierces our hearts with that particular head knowledge.

Just a couple months before, I had heard the best teaching on suffering I had ever come across.

Bethel Music worship leader William Matthews was speaking with Christa Black Gifford, a singer/writer/speaker who has written many popular worship songs, including “One Thing Remains.”

On March 5, 2014, Christa’s baby girl, Luca Gold, was born and, forty minutes later, died. Luca had a condition that caused her brain and head to not fully form.

To hear Christa’s amazing perspective, listen to this Culture Shock podcast (mainly minutes 12 through 28) or Christa’s Mother’s Day sermon, “If God Is Good, Why Did My Baby Die?“.

Yet in the face of this horrific loss, Christa did not blame God.

In the podcast, she explained how we often put God on trial when faced with difficult circumstances that are simply the result of death, sin, and human free will. She spoke about how God mourns the tragedies of our lives, how God screams at the injustices we face.

Our pain is God’s pain. God is present with us in this dark world, where the kingdom has not yet fully come.

/   /   /   /   /

As I sat drowning in tears that day, I remembered Christa’s emphatic proclamation: “My God is not a killer.”

I went back into the living room, and as I held my mother in my arms, I thought to myself:

“Marshall, you have to decide your theology on this right now. Hurting people are going to say some pretty crazy things in the next few weeks.”

People of faith daily live out our theology, whether we know it or not. Yet it’s funny how people staunchly rooted in the free-will camp begin to speak fatalistic language the second tragedy hits. Christians often immediately attribute the terrible things that happen to God’s predestined will.

Really? God willed for Mom to have cancer?

We know God to be good, so when faced with sorrow, we scramble to rationalize the pain away. We begin spouting some incredibly odd (and awful) things about God.

Christa Black Gifford

from Bethel Music on Instagra

When someone dies unexpectedly, we might say, “Well, Jesus took him so he’d be in a better place. Heaven has one more angel.”

When we lose our job, we might say, “Ya know, I guess it was just God’s will.”

When a storm ravages a town, we might say, “I can’t explain why God did this, but it must be a part of a greater plan.”

When someone receives a bad diagnosis, we might say, “She is such a good person: I don’t know how God could do this to her.”

But if we see God as Father, we should know better than using this type of rhetoric. What parent would kill their child, whom they purport to love?

If Jesus was the fullest expression of God on earth, then we know God’s will is to create, to heal, and to redeem ALL.

Everything that is good in your life radiates from the bottomlessly affectionate heart of a loving Father.

Here’s a clue: if something has been stolen, killed, or destroyed in your life, God probably wasn’t behind it.

You’re not being “put through the fire” by a God trying to teach you a lesson. Maybe the bad thing that happened to you is just part of this human experience.

Rape, murder, disease, accidents, violence, natural disasters, or loss of any kind are just side effects of life in a world that death has infected.

There is great evil and cruelty in this life, but our broken and beaten healer meets us in the midst of our pain, mourning and lamenting and longing for the day when all things are made right–when kingdom comes.

Now, will God find a way to use that harrowing situation you are facing for your ultimate good? Yes, absolutely!

But that doesn’t mean that the bad stuff was from God; it just means God is powerful and caring enough to take your pain and sew together the threads of your life to make something beautiful.

In our anger, in our questions, in our doubts, in our grief, we are seen and heard and known and loved.

/   /   /   /   /


The end of the story is that my mother will finish up radiation in just a few days. She no longer has cancer in her body and will soon be officially “in remission.”

I know that we are very lucky that she survived her fight with cancer. She was such a trooper, even when the recovery process was beyond difficult.

I hope you know that my intention in writing this was not to condemn the ways people view suffering. I know that these views are prevalent in our churches, but maybe instead of bringing into question the character of God, we should try and find a theological answer to suffering that doesn’t make our Advocate a murderer.

We should all examine the repercussions of the claims we make about God, especially when directed to grieving friends.

I had to decide that terrible Thanksgiving Eve that God was for us and not playing us like pawns in a cosmic game of chess.

I’m exceedingly grateful for the amazing support Mom ended up receiving. Our friends often left us in tears with their sweet words and actions.

Let’s strive to do the same for our hurting world, pointing people to the goodness of our Comforter.

For more of Mom’s story, check out “Advent, Chemo, and Kingdom Come.”

Marshall's signature

why I came out of hiding by Lizzy Roddy

Lizzy Roddy

Lizzy and I met my sophomore year of college. Both pursuing journalism at the time, we really bonded during a media study abroad trip to Ukraine.

Lizzy came out as a lesbian around Valentine’s Day of this year. She graciously agreed to share her story here–how she decided to be honest with her friends and family and walked with God through the process.

I’m so proud of Lizzy, especially of how she pursued God and didn’t neglect the Church, even when the majority of evangelical culture shames and stigmatizes LGBTQ Christians. 

Here’s her story:

As a teenager, when people used to ask me what superpower I wanted to have, I would always say invisibility.

Invisibility meant not drawing attention to myself. It meant being able to accomplish things without being seen.

But sometimes things change, and I definitely wouldn’t say that anymore. After about ten years of deeply working through my sexual orientation, I realized I didn’t want to be invisible anymore.

“Coming out” seems to be this big scary thing with lots of stigma attached to it. And it can be.

Most of my friends–upward of eighty percent–are Christians. I knew many of them wouldn’t agree with the conclusion I came to regarding my orientation.

“Gay” was the label I attached to being rejected: when I transferred schools just before middle school, I was relentlessly teased and called a lesbian. I promised myself then if that was why people didn’t like me, it was something I would NEVER be.

I denied and buried my attractions, not only for fear of rejection at school, but also at church.

A rising leader in youth group, I became a zealot and tried to get everyone saved—especially anyone I perceived could possibly be an LBGTQ person.

So, when I could finally say I was gay out loud to myself just a few years ago, it was a significant breaking point.

I expected to feel that same feeling of rejection from God. I was sure I’d feel estranged if the words ever fell off of my lips, if I ever “confessed over myself” that I was gay.

What actually happened was that I felt the presence of God like I hadn’t felt it for a very long time. And God covered me with love in that moment. I’ll never forget it.

So after realizing you’re gay, what do you do? You may not be able to choose your attractions, but you definitely have some choices to make.

What does this mean for your life?

How does your orientation fit into your theology?

Are you going to tell people? If so, when and how?

Is sexuality fluid, and what if this changes?

Is this the most important thing about you?

When Jesus asked people to follow him, he told them to make sure to count the cost first.

And although following Jesus and coming out are totally different things, I think LGBTQ people certainly know what counting the cost means.

Thankfully for me, I have an amazing mother who loves me fiercely. She’s my best friend, and no matter what I choose in life, I know her love will never change towards me.

I started my coming out journey with her, and then I told a couple of other family members and close friends. I had to feel it out: I wanted to test the waters with the people closest to me one-on-one.

After I spoke with each of the people I cared the most about, over the course of a year or so, no one else’s opinion mattered that much to me.

But in each of those conversations, I was counting the cost.

Will this person leave me or distance themselves from me?

Will they make every conversation from here on out about my sexual orientation?

Will they condemn me?

Will their objective for our relationship become more about persuading me to change than being my friend?

Most of the conversations went well. There were only a few negative experiences, and though they were very painful, I realized that coming out was something I personally needed to do.

I wouldn’t have to lie anymore when I was around people casually having conversations about their boyfriends or spouses or when people asked me if I was dating anyone or liked anyone.

When you just want to be yourself and act normal around people, but you have a secret that can potentially be so ostracizing, those simple conversations can destroy you on the inside.

That’s why it’s so important for people to respond in love even if they don’t agree.

Isolation and shame eat away at you until you disappear or hate yourself. And though well intentioned, many don’t realize how harmful and damaging their “tough love” approach can be. I didn’t until I was on the receiving end of it.

After posting my coming out letter on my blog, there was one person’s response stood out.

I knew about her attractions from conversations we had before, but she told me the struggle of only having one person she felt like she could confide in and how she wished more than anything that she could be out. The hiding and the covering up were eating away at her.

And I read that. And I cried. And I’ve read it several times since.

But before I responded to her, I wanted to be objective and honest. I thought about a another friend’s experience that has been very different from my own.

My friend who, when she counted the cost, saw that she would lose everything important to her–family, spiritual community, workplace respect, etc.

As much as I advocate authenticity, I realize coming out is not an option for everyone, and it is most certainly not the best option for everyone.

It is a choice, and it looks different for each individual. There are as many different scenarios for coming out as there are people who question whether they need to.

But if we are ever going to see the treatment of LGBTQ people change, especially within the Church, it’s very important for those who can share this part of themselves to choose to do so.

Honesty really does make a difference.

You can read Lizzy’s coming-out letter here on her blog. 

You can find the first post of the Sex/Gender/Identity 2015 series here.

sex gender identity 2015