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The spark that began my Christian deconstruction


The spark that began my Christian deconstruction

Commentary by Mackenzie Draper

I was recently asked what sparked my deconstructing journey. For many Christians who are happy with the way they believe, the seemingly new trend to deconstruct faith is perturbing. Where does it come from? Why can’t people be content with the way they were raised, or with the messages coming from pulpits across the country week after week? 

My own journey of deconstruction began well before I was aware of it. As a high schooler on various social media sites like Tumblr and MySpace (oh, how I age myself just mentioning it) and surrounded by peers coming from backgrounds and walks of life completely foreign to me, I began to see that my worldview was much too narrow to encompass so much of life. 

What really got my attention was the multiple friends and acquaintances throughout those four years who embraced gender identities and sexualities much different from what I had been brought up to understand. Even as I spoke the familiar phrases (“Love the sinner, hate the sin” and “Jesus loves everybody”), I saw that my intent and my impact were incredibly different. My words were meant to soothe and comfort lost souls in search of healing. Instead, they alienated those I loved and elevated me to a higher, more enlightened circle wherein they were not welcome.

In 2014, Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenaged girl, completed suicide in Ohio. I learned about her death because she had left a final post on Tumblr in which she said, “There’s no winning. There’s no way out.” Her family had forced her into faith-based conversion therapy in life and buried her under the wrong name in death. Leelah’s passing shocked me into waking up to a more bitter reality than I had previously lived in; LGBTQ youth’s lives were endangered by the very people I trusted to protect and provide truth to them. 

As I thought and talked about this tragedy, I realized that most Christians in my day-to-day life either weren’t aware or weren’t interested in this topic. Those who would discuss it with me had a very different perspective — that those in the LGBTQ community were putting themselves in danger due to their lifestyles, and were to blame for their own deaths, sad as it was. I couldn’t believe it. I saw the ways in which Christians either passively or actively played a hand in Leelah’s death and knew that something was wrong.

As I continued into college and even beyond, I realized that I myself may not be who I thought I once was. My interest in LGBTQ issues allowed me to admit to myself that I did not experience attraction to men the same way many female friends around me did. It took a few more years of unlearning a lot of homophobia to understand that I am attracted to women, and that this did not leave me isolated from the love of God. 

Over time, I studied evangelical Christian theology regarding the LGBTQ community. It seemed no one wanted us, unless we were willing to change ourselves to the core of our souls in order to reflect the same whitewashed, heterosexual identities Christian leaders presented to the world. I learned about liberation theology, womanist theology and the other dozens of perspectives that can be utilized when looking at the Bible, as well as Christian history and theology.

I am now at a place in my journey where spirituality isn’t urgent to me anymore. I am no longer in a race against time to save every non-Christian person I know. I have a larger, more expansive view of myself, my fellow humans and of God. I am in community with other fantastic seekers of the Christ. I know I will continue to grow, deconstruct, reconstruct and learn, and even this is profoundly different from where I thought I could be. My deconstruction journey began with the personal, but it has grown to include the communal.

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