Christian Work

**Trigger warning** This is going to be another raw emotion filled blog, I will be mentioning suicide and self harm.  If reading about this is distressing to you, please practice good self care and refrain from going further. Love love love you dear reader.
I have spent a lot of time in conversation with new Christian allies, answering their questions, hearing their regrets of past behavior, and I am frequently given this compliment:

“A.J., you were a really non-anxious and non-threatening presence to me when I was in a very different place than I am now…that helped me understand.”

Oh and quick timeout, before I go too far into this, none of these new allies arrived at that place because I had some sort of master scheme to change their moral values…I’ve never heard of that kind of a thing working, and I try not to be coercive in my actions either. Timein.

Maybe having non-threatening conversations with Christians who disagree with me is a gift? Or a calling that I have or ministry that is mine?  I’m not sure yet…but on the other hand I know that I am sustained in those conversations by a LOT of prayer.  I pray to be patient with people, to try to hear their heart in spite of their words, and pray for common ground to appear.  However…I struggle with these conversations too.

I struggle because of where these productive conversations have to start at.  Christians who disagree with me love to visit the clobber passages first to get my interpretation (why does this even surprise me anymore?), or they want to start by talking about my sexual ethic…which is a little awkward haha, but its ok I get the curiosity.

If I am very lucky, they will start by wanting to hear my story, gold stars!!!

But seriously…most of the time sitting in the back of my mind, is the place I really want to start at.  I mean I want it to be ME who starts talking first, and they can just shut up and listen for 30 minutes of their lives!  And you know what? I think it might be somewhat safe to think that most of the LGBTQ community might want to start any conversation near this place too!

…are you still with me dear reader? Great, for those who know me in real life, you’re probably thinking that previous paragraph doesn’t sound like me, because I don’t tell people to shut up.  Understand that in this blog I’m just going to be channeling some of this stuff, it isn’t my core, but its in my mind and I think it might help people to understand more if I put it in writing.  This topic has been stirring in me for over a month, and I want to explain what started all of it.

I went to the theater to watch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I was particularly struck by one scene.  Spoilers incoming. 

A global pandemic is about to devastate the human population, and the same San Francisco lab that accidentally released the disease also held apes that were being experimented on.  The drugs they were given made them hyper-intelligent, and they escaped just before the outbreak of the disease.  This sequel takes place 17 years after those events, most humans are dead, and the apes have taken refuge in the redwood forrest outside of the city.  In this space these former captives were able to rediscover what it meant to be an ape and redefine their existence.  They developed their own distinct culture, and sought to create better lives for their children.  However, a small colony of surviving humans makes unwelcome contact with them.

There is a power struggle in this movie between two of the apes, Caesar and his lieutenant Koba.  Caesar was the first to become intelligent and lead the others to freedom, and is desperately seeking a way to keep his kin safe by avoiding war with humans.  Koba spent his lifetime in the laboratory, and was left terribly scarred.  He hates the humans, sees them as a threat, and cannot understand the affection that Ceaser has for them.  In the first movie I found it more easy to identify with Caesar, but in this one, I identified more with Koba.

In the scene that stuck with me, Koba confronts Ceaser, saying that he shouldn’t be allowing the humans to repair a dam, because the access to electricity will make them stronger.  Caesar is somewhat dismissive of Koba’s concern, and says they will be allowed to do their human work so they will be on their way quicker.  There is a pause.

Koba repeats Ceasers words softly. 


He points to scars on his arm, left from laboratory instruments.

“Human work.”

He points to another group of scars.

“Human work!”

He points to his eye that was blinded.  He is screaming now


Ceaser stares daggers at him, Koba realizes how much he just lost composure, makes a submissive gesture, and leaves. Scene over.

At this point in the theater I am grabbing my arm and blinking tears from my eyes.

I get it…I know that frustration, and thats exactly where I want to start conversations.  I want them to know exactly what they are responsible for.  

Oh you just run a delightful Sunday school program? Oh your church just paid to build some homes in Mexico? Oh you just love gay people so much but you don’t support our lifestyle? Oh wow you want to tell me about what you envision the work of Christians to be?  By all means!

My turn to talk now? Great…now shut up…and listen.

Christian work.

Christian work! 


Don’t you dare not acknowledge this, don’t you dare think we will skip over this, don’t you DARE try to say that you had no part in this.  

My community survived a plague that RAVAGED us while yours gave us ZERO compassion, we had only ourselves!

We ALWAYS only have ourselves! WE are the ones who have to set up and pay to run the goddamn suicide hotlines to keep our little ones from killing themselves because they could not see how to fit into the world made by Christian work.  I am HAUNTED by all the dead and broken bodies of the irreplaceable ones we have lost, thanks to Christian work.  

Oh wow you are going to tell me about your complex hermeneutic or nuanced theology now? Before you start, I challenge you to watch these two videos.  One is from a 14 year old boy and the other is from a 19 year old boy. 

These were made as part of the It Gets Better project, ya know, another thing that our community has put together to keep our youth from dying.  Want to know another tidbit? Both of those people are now dead. DEAD! Do not forget their faces. Do not forget their names.

They spent time in their last few months, while struggling with suicidal depression themselves, trying to put out a message that would encourage others not to kill themselves.  Now please continue on about whatever these theological nuances you think you have are all about, and then tell me ONE thing you have done to try to change the rates of queer youth suicide! 

Your CHRISTIAN WORK is lethal inhumanity wrapped in useless platitudes and shitty worship music!  I HATE your Christian work and everything that it has done to me and mine!  You are NOT innocent! 

Now…do you want to keep talking? 

Alright dear readers, I’m back, the rough parts are out, but I thank you for visiting my inner moments of loosing composure.  More than being angry, most of the time I am just heartbroken about what has been done to my community.

Back to the movie for just a second.  Caesar’s perspective was vastly different than Koba’s, and it is revealed later the kindness and love that he was shown as a child by one human in particular.  That one human gave him the unbreakable conviction that some humans could be good, even if most only would ever give him cruelty.  

I understand Koba’s rage, what it feels like to be abused by a group for a lifetime, and why he wanted to protect the other apes from the threat of that.  Caesar understood Koba’s rage too, it makes perfect sense.

Now, back to Christian work.  If it was a game of numbers, the overwhelming majority of Christians who I’ve come into contact with have been cruel to me.  They haven’t listened, have offered insincere friendship, and do not recognize or acknowledge any wrong being or been done by the Church to queer people. 

I get angry a lot of times, I am not perfect. I want a safe world for queer people, where our culture is recognized and celebrated, where our young people can grow up unashamed and cherished.  

There is that nagging truth that always manages to break into my anger somehow, usually in the form of memories.  I remember when I have received kindness from Christians, been offered real friendship, and been listened to when I explain the hurt that Christians have had a hand in.  I’ve seen young Christians cry after watching documentaries about the AIDS epidemic, and their eyes were opened.  I remember the smiles, laughs, and the hugs.  In a game of numbers, these Christians have been a distinct minority in my life, but they have made me know that all Christians are not the same.  They are not a unified monolith that I can identify as an enemy threat...

Remember those conversations I talked about at the beginning of this post? With Christians who disagree with me?  Well, most of time the conversation about the scars left on my community by the Church, has to wait until far after the beginning of a relationship.  I’m usually fine with waiting to get there, as long as we get there eventually, and understand that if we start there my anger would probably end the conversation immediately.  

I know the conversations cannot start there…but damn…sometimes I wish they could.


  1. I'm grateful for your voice, A. J., for all of it.

    1. Thank you Kathy : ) I am grateful for your friendship and that you are my Elder.

  2. I hope that some of those who have complimented you for your gentle demeanor have done so with at least some recognition that they had no right to expect such a thing and with even some regret for dismissing angrier voices. Thank you for holding your listeners accountable to the larger truth of your experience.

    1. Most get to that point eventually, which is healing to see. Thanks for begin an encouragement and prime example to me of speaking truth. <3

  3. I'm down with your raw demeanor. I thank heavens that Jesus wasn't a Christian.

    1. Thanks so much for reading David! And I couldn't agree more : )

  4. I am grateful that the Society of Friends has an LGBT community all of it's own within a sector that sometimes is seemingly private. In the day care center which I attend we also have a small community that helps restore our constant vigil and keeps us active in the community. I believe somehow just having a voice in an LGBT Quaker community can help keep us faithful as our presence is an ever burning light that is filled with rejoice. It just goes to show it may not always be faith works, but faith belief that you a small part of a greater whole.

    1. Hey Robben are you connected at all with Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns? Its a really beautiful little body within the larger Religious Society of Friends : )



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