I pretty much was for 11 years. For me it resulted in a sadness and depression I couldn’t shake and frankly took me to a rather dark place. I didn’t want to be this way but getting past it didn’t seem possible. Today I see so many people who seem to be ecclesiophobic, however they’re not sad or depressed but bitter, angry and even hateful.
Maybe you’re wondering what exactly is this ecclesiophobia that makes some sad and others angry? Ecclesiophobia is a fear of church.
My fear came from a very bad experience at a church many years ago and it resulted (with only a couple of exceptions) me being unable to go to church anywhere. The hurt and pain would come right back up to the surface and just make it impossible for me. In my case it was specifically church, as in people within the church. I never was afraid to go to church because of God and I never doubted His love for me, it was always the people. It’s just in the last year that my fear of church is (mostly) gone, but that’s another story.
Today we hear people calling others transphobic or homophobic or any other number of “phobics” only because people in the Church disagree with them. I saw a great post a friend of mine liked a couple of days ago, it said “Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I hate you, it just means I disagree with you.” But some people are interpreting that disagreement as hate, and fire back with what seems at times genuine hate.
I may take some heat for this from my transgender brothers and sisters, but the Church does NOT hate you. Not the Church that follows Jesus. Now in fairness, there will always be exceptions, there will always be people who may not understand you either – but that’s just it, they don’t UNDERSTAND you and yes, that may make them a little tentative and uncomfortable. Be a LOVING person and be a LOVABLE person. People at church are still people like anybody else. Sometimes folks in the transgender community make it hard to love them, that doesn’t excuse Christians from loving them none the less, but it can add to the barrier and slow down the process of tearing that barrier down.
So to my transgender brothers and sisters, you don’t have to be ecclesiophobic, there is a place for you filled with loving people just waiting for you to walk in so they can give you a hug and welcome you to their community. Not all churches are alike, if you don’t get warm fuzzies from one church, try another. With all the resources available to us these days, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a church home near you where you can feel welcomed.
To my non-transgender Christian brothers and sisters, we need to do a better job at making people feel welcomed. Even if your church is welcoming, remember that the PERCEPTION may be that you’re not – the media is pretty quick to repeat any accusations whether true or not of how UNACCEPTING Christ’s Church is. That doesn’t mean hanging rainbow flags in front of your building, no group should be celebrated above another because we all fall far too short, but showing Christ’s love to ALL who may enter our houses of worship is something we ALL NEED to understand, and not assume we all understand. Christ didn’t say to make disciples of SOME nations, he said to make disciples of ALL nations, by that He meant all PEOPLE, not just the ones we want to pick and choose over. For most of us, “all nations” is really our neighborhood or our town – let’s start with all people walking in our church’s doors.