Coming out and
finding god

In February 2017, ENDPAIN had the pleasure of producing the debut of Sacred & Profane, a one-man show written and performed by Tim Lewis, an ENDPAIN contributor, about embracing his identity as both a gay and Christian man. Sacred & Profane is a timeless narrative about love, family, kindness, and faith that illustrates one’s desire to honor and respect where they came from and where they are going. The one-man show was directed by Quinn Marcus. Below is an excerpt of “Coming Out and Find God”, a continued exploration of the themes in Tim's one-man show. We are gracious that Tim is sharing this work with our audience.

PODCASTS: ITUNES · GOOGLE
Written By Timothy Lewis
Tim Lewis is a Los Angeles-based writer, producer, and performer with an MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. Tim's perspective as an artist is influenced by his experience growing up gay and in church in rural America, and then attending a Christian liberal arts college. After a decade of tearing apart the worldview he was given as a child, he's begun weaving a new one through his writing. 

website: http://www.tdlew1s.com

IG & Twitter: tdlew1s


Photo by Travis Jensen
Photos By Travis Jensen
San Franciscan living in Los Angeles. Dad to two busy boys (5 and 7), Photographer, '71 Buick Skylark owner...
Timothy Lewis
Tim Lewis is a Los Angeles-based writer, producer, and performer with an MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. Tim's perspective as an artist is influenced by his experience growing up gay and in church in rural America, and then attending a Christian liberal arts college. After a decade of tearing apart the worldview he was given as a child, he's begun weaving a new one through his writing. 

website: http://www.tdlew1s.com

IG & Twitter: tdlew1s


Photo by Travis Jensen
Timothy Lewis
Tim Lewis is a Los Angeles-based writer, producer, and performer with an MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. Tim's perspective as an artist is influenced by his experience growing up gay and in church in rural America, and then attending a Christian liberal arts college. After a decade of tearing apart the worldview he was given as a child, he's begun weaving a new one through his writing. 

website: http://www.tdlew1s.com

IG & Twitter: tdlew1s


Photo by Travis Jensen
Coming Out and Finding God

I was baptized for the second time when I was in middle school. I was an infant the first time, which was fine, but the problem, according to the churches I found myself in later in life, was that babies don’t know what they’re doing; they can’t make a decision about something as important as their souls.

Now that I was older, I could properly understand evil, and that, like all of humanity, I was born with a sinful nature in need of forgiveness. It was really easy to take care of this problem, though. I just had to say The Sinner’s Prayer, acknowledging that God sent Jesus to Earth to take the punishment for my sin—death—in my place. Then I had to commit to being a really good Christian for the rest of my life, and get baptized the correct way: full immersion in water. This act, accompanied by a public acknowledgment that I said The Sinner’s Prayer, would complete the process of purification and set me off on a new life, a clean slate that would ensure my entrance into Heaven when I died, as long as I didn’t mess it up.

So on a gray Sunday morning in Upstate New York, I entered the baptismal pool that was a permanent fixture in the front of the sanctuary at Circle Drive Alliance Church. The dingy orange carpet runway paved the way from the back of the sanctuary up to the platform where singers, guitar players, keyboardists, and drummers played music that was a mash-up of bad rock and roll, bad poetry, and bastardized, but still beautiful, ancient scripture. To the right of the baptismal pool was a giant hole that cut into the wall to make way for a rear-projection screen where the words to those songs, as well as bullet points to the pastor’s sermon were illuminated.

AT THE SAME TIME THAT I BECAME A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN, I WAS ALSO BECOMING A HOMOSEXUAL.

Pastor Bob said some nice things about me—my involvement in the life of the church, the ways in which I had demonstrated a personal commitment to Jesus Christ—and then asked for my profession of faith. I grabbed onto one of his wrists, and his opposite hand held my back as he lowered me down into the water and back up. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I had been born again.

But there was one small problem. Neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the water from the Town of Sidney that filled the baptismal pool could do anything about what was going on inside of me. At that same moment, my brain was sending messages to my testicles via the hormone testosterone, eliciting an array of weird and wonderful feelings. At the same time that I said that prayer and was baptized, I was also becoming something that the churches I was growing up in told me would send me to Hell. At the same time that I became a born again Christian, I was also becoming a homosexual.

I COULD NOT HELP BUT WONDER WHAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE TO COME OF AGE IN A SPACE THAT ALLOWED MY BURGEONING SEXUALITY TO LIVE IN HARMONY ALONGSIDE MY DEEP CONNECTION TO THE DIVINE.

The next decade was an agonizing battle, a war against myself. My life became a series of strategic decisions to prevent people from finding out the truth about me. This was an essential act of defense given the rural, working-class town I was growing up in, the churches I was attending, and the outspoken, very conservative family I found myself surrounded by at various holiday gatherings and special events. Right and wrong, good and evil, were clearly defined, and the secret self inside me was decidedly wrong and evil, and I must avoid it at all costs.

I prayed and prayed to God, scared of what would happen if I died, but he wasn’t doing anything about it. Apparently, he found who I was to be punishable by death, but he didn’t seem particularly eager to help me out at all. Since it wasn’t up for discussion, I kept burying it until I was angry, depressed, and hostile. An element of my strategy to remain inconspicuous was to attend Gordon College, a Christian liberal arts college that required me to sign a statement saying that I agreed, among other things, that being gay was a sin. There, I knew I would receive a solid, faith-based education, protecting myself from the scrutiny of the more knowing, culturally attuned institutions that my high school friends were attending.

Ironically, it was at Gordon that I gained the tools to tear apart the world around me, including my conservative Evangelical faith. It became clear to me that this god that deemed my sexuality a sin but wouldn’t do anything about it was a sham; an idol made in our image, put to work by powerful forces to keep the radical message of Jesus neutered, subjugated to systems of wealth and power.

THE NEXT DECADE WAS AN AGONIZING BATTLE, A WAR AGAINST MYSELF. MY LIFE BECAME A SERIES OF STRATEGIC DECISIONS TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM FINDING OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT ME.

After I had come out to my family and friends, who were each kind and loving in their own way, I knew I could no longer stand in the presence of this God. I would spend my twenties distancing myself from Evangelicalism, searching for healing and wholeness and finding it in the most unlikely places. But I could not distance myself from the Divine, and I could not help but wonder what it would have been like to come of age in a space that allowed my burgeoning sexuality to live in harmony alongside my deep connection to the Divine...

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