There has been significant turmoil at my church for several years, and it finally reached the point where I felt compelled to resign my membership. That decision was clear to me, but the subsequent steps weren’t so clear. Initially I assumed that I would simply find another church that met my needs and affiliate with them. Then came the realization that it was time to step back and re-examine just what my needs actually were. Among the questions to be answered was whether I could continue to participate in a religious philosophy that routinely demonstrated open hostility towards transgender people. This thought process greatly increased the difficulty in reaching a decision.
Spirituality has always played a central role in my life. In my youth, the Catholic Church presented its dogma as established fact not subject to any questioning. However, I could not dismiss the questions that I had and ultimately those unresolved issues caused me to leave Catholicism. For an extended period I considered myself an agnostic with no religious affiliation. Eventually I reconfirmed my belief in a Supreme Being. I also reconfirmed my belief in the spiritual principle of applying the Golden Rule to my interactions with everyone. With those two key beliefs soundly in place, I was ready to return to Christianity. Upon returning, I discovered that many of the issues raised in my youth were also present in mainstream Protestantism. Over time it became obvious to me that these issues were so fundamental that they simply could not be openly questioned within the context of the institutional church.
I feel that the worst aspect of the church is hypocrisy, especially its failure to follow the Gospel message of demonstrating love for all of God’s children. Some very wise people have observed that the traits we dislike in others are generally ones found in ourselves. And there I was, a self-proclaimed follower of Jesus, who also held some beliefs that were incompatible with Christian dogma. Pretending to be a church member in good standing made me a hypocrite too. I finally realized that in order to be true to myself, I couldn’t just resign from my local church but would have to leave the entire Christian church. So, after much soul-searching, that is the step I have taken.
What made such a radical step necessary for me? While I simply cannot conceive of this universe without a Supreme Being, I also cannot accept that Christianity, or any other religious system, owns the exclusive path to that Supreme Being. That position alone represents a vast chasm between what I believe and what is expected from members of the Christian church. I don’t pretend to know the answer to that and many other spiritual questions. Some of the questions may in fact be unanswerable, but I must be free to continue an open search for answers.
Since I resigned my church membership, I deeply miss many of the wonderful people with whom I attended services. I admire and respect their great faith and conviction but cannot continue to pretend to share their views any longer. I don’t know where this path will lead so, for now, all that I can do is to attempt to live in harmony with my beliefs and principles. Leaving the church is a difficult and lonely journey, but one that I must take.
Richard Molling is a married heterosexual cross-dresser who began seeking community at age 40 under the name Rachel Miller, which is the pen name he used to publish The Bliss of Becoming One! Integrating ‘Feminine’ Feelings into the Male Psyche Mainstreaming the Gender Community in 1996. An accomplished speaker, Molling has worked for four decades to increase understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.