On the main floor of the 333 building, I found my way around the coffee bar and stepped into an empty hall. The yellowed track of light diffuses in the drop ceiling cast a thin shadow in the narrow space outside the unoccupied conference rooms. I leaned against the wall and waited on hold. The receptionist answered my request to speak with the Pastor by transferring my call to Reverend F. When he answered, I inquired about marriage services and access to the chapel. As a new Christian, the church building was essential to our wedding plans. And since I had the connection to the church, I took responsibility for the arrangements.
Reverend F: Well, we don’t believe in that.
And he proceeded to convert me by asking if I had considered confessing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I reminded Reverend F that he preached a sermon on a first Sunday a year ago that moved me to join church and how much it meant to me. He paused. The silence between us, canyon sized and deafening. I heard the gravel as his throat cleared. I inquired again about marriage services and access to the chapel. The need to negotiate emerged hot like something boiled in my belly. I went straight to deal mode and out quickly.
Me: We’d accept accommodations outside the chapel, perhaps in the SGDC?
a separate building on campus.
Reverend F: We believe what the Bible says. A marriage is between a man and a woman.
But wasn’t I also Christian? Did my relationship with God depend on how much I could hate sins, people, myself? And if I believed as a Christian that marriage between two women possible and representative of Jesus’s love then on my authority as a woman of God, “we do believe in that” I thought. I wanted our wedding our union approved by God in a sacred place because our love is Holy.
Reverend F invites me to Bible study. And I couldn’t help but wonder if he misinterpreted my request to use the chapel for our wedding as a desire to walk a path towards devotion to a common penis. Authority makes disasters of men who obsess over Dick and Jane’s who don’t want them. I thanked him, and our call ended. I felt severed, so, subtly labeled, not Christian.
She, who likes breasts, is more oppressed. Queerlations 13:1
Christian love is complicated in places where it should be easy.
I left the site of our conversation in darkness, pushed through the lobby doors, and into the light. The sun shined in a clear sky. I lit the cigarette I fished out of my pocket and smoked down to the filter. I flicked the burning carcass into the breeze and prepared to return to work for the money God blessed me with to give to a church I loved enough to closet myself for because love required sacrifice.
Today, I sit on the pew and wonder why I ever thought God’s love and approval obtainable through a flawed man with a little office authority stuck on drawing a line in the sand between his definition of Christianity and my own. No, I am the church and my relationship with God, precious and valid.
After the flood, Noah looked for signs the disaster was over. And God said, This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
Jasminum McMullen's fiction and poetry have appeared in Stella Veritatis and forthcoming in A Gathering Together. A Sharpie pen enthusiast, Jackson family nerd, and daughter of Oak Park, Illinois, she holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Jasminum encourages you to learn more about U Can Turn It Around. In 2011, a neighborhood in West Humboldt Park was hit by a string of violent acts which prompted the foundation of this organization. Vist ucanturnitaround.com to find ways to help.