A couple months back, I talked about the difficulties I experienced growing up in the church while also trying to figure out my homosexual feelings. I talked about my disappointment in how the church handled these situations. For me, I felt like I couldn’t tell anybody about the struggles I was dealing with because homosexuality was always made out to be the ‘other’ sin, the one that is not talked about because for some reason, many in the church see it as a ‘worse sin.’
Now, that was mostly when I was younger. I wasn’t exposed to much apart from a very conservative perspective on things. As I got older though, the difficulty changed from just feeling scared to open up due to fear of the reaction of more conservative people, to feeling like I was riding the middle between two groups that were at war. Unfortunately, even though I have come to understand where I am on the subject in relation to most others, that ‘war’ seems to be continuing and for people who are still trying to figure things out like I was a few years back, I can only imagine the hurt it is causing them.
I browse Reddit, as many guys my age do, and I have noticed a really sad trend there. There are many Christian subreddits on the site, and there can be some really good conversation there. People will come with questions, encouragement, and other things. One thing that happens a lot on these subreddits is people trying to get advice/prayer/encouragement about a situation where they might want to me more anonymous. This makes sense. Reddit doesn’t make it hard to make an extra account that isn’t linked to you, these types of accounts are even known as ‘throwaway’ accounts. One subject that people commonly want to be anonymous about is homosexuality.
I have seen tons of posts on these different subreddits like this. People who are confused, ashamed, and scared of this part of their life they are dealing with. A lot of them I see are people who have never talked to anyone in real life about it. The thing about these posts is that most of the people making these posts are at a very fragile time. Many of them grew up in Christian homes and do feel like acting on these feelings would be sinful, but at the same time, they hear people on the other side talking about how bad and homophobic the church is. So many of them don’t know what to do, so they make their post and wait to see what people say about their situation. I don’t blame them for this. If I was involved in Reddit when I was still figuring things out, I probably would have done the same. When I see these posts, I always go through and read the comments, and unfortunately, I almost always find a mess of people arguing and saying horrible things.
One type of comment I see often is the ‘you aren’t trying hard enough’ comment. These people are the very reason that I was scared to open up to anyone when I was younger, because I thought this is what everyone in the church would say. They say that not only is acting on homosexual feelings sinful, but if you even have them, you are not trying hard enough to get rid of them. I can imagine that this is not only unhelpful, but hurtful to the person who made the post.
Then, I usually see the exact opposite comment. They say that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, and anyone who might say otherwise is a bigot and you should never speak to them again. This is also very unhelpful to the person who made the post.
If either of these types of commenters would say what they have to say in a nice, respectful way, I wouldn’t have this issue with them, but almost every time I see a comment like this it is rude and attacking. What’s more is both of these types of commenters will be happy to debate random specifics in the comments of the post, something that is also very unhelpful to the person who posted.
This leaves the people who don’t have as extreme of an opinion on the subject. I wish I could say, “Yay! These are the good comments!” but unfortunately, I cannot. I can’t count the amount of times I have found comments that may be very close to my beliefs on the subject, but unfortunately, many of these are still phrased in a way that may even hurt the poster. Many of these comments end up being launching points for the first two types of commenters to debate a small detail that was said.
Now, there are some good comments. Comments that try to encourage the person who posted. Many of these will state a belief, but not attack other beliefs or other experiences. I try to make comments like this when they are appropriate, but unfortunately, most of the comments on these kinds of posts are not these kinds of comments. These threads turn into back and forth bickering between people who believe opposite things, and I can’t tell you how many of these posts have ended up getting deleted by the person who posted it or locked by the moderators and a bunch of comments removed.
It is unfortunate that a platform that could be used to get vast varieties of opinions usually doesn’t end in civil discussion, but name calling and bickering. I just hope that these people who post these things don’t feel too hurt by what is said. There are people who will talk to you civilly about what you struggle with, and I am sorry it is so hard to find those people.