Break Every Chain

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There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.

- “Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobb

There was a hole in my life. A yearning. An unquenched thirst. And seek as I might, I couldn’t find the right fountain.

I needed a church home. Not a church. A church home.

There are many affirming* congregations in Central Ohio. I appreciate and love all of them. They have stood up for and nurtured queer Christians for years, if not decades. But those congregations are not right for me. They aren’t what I need in a church home.

So I kept searching. For over a year, I searched and searched. To be honest, I gave up a few times. I didn’t think that what I needed was ready to be found.

I should probably take a moment to step back and explain my spiritual upbringing and how it has, somewhat surprisingly, colored my current spiritual journey. My mother’s mother and my father’s grandmother have called The Church of Christ of Apostolic Faith home since what seems time immortal. It is the first church I remember, the place where I learned the hymns I can still sing from memory, and the basis for all that I identify with “the church”. It is a “holiness” church, one where the Spirit dwells and often sways the service to Its will (“The order of service is subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit.”) The baptized, both clergy and lay people, speak in tongues or spirit language and those who are called will lay hands on the afflicted. Services are raucous — clapping, dancing, shouting and crying are just as much a part of the service as any scripture reading or offering plate. It is loud. It is emotional. It is what my spirit needs.

And it is not a a style of worship that could be found in most affirming churches.

Sadly, the apostolic/pentecostal/holiness church is one that is also notoriously and unashamedly anti-gay. And there, in the gap between spiritual familiarity and spiritual affirmation, is where I found myself.

I was not standing in my gap alone. Physically, yes. But spiritually, no. I created a spiritual space for myself – my mornings. iTunes Radio gospel and I had a date with the chirping birds and sunlight streaming through my window. It was my sacred time. A time when I could pray and worship and sing – without judgment or fear. It was safe.

Until one morning when that song came on. I was singing along with Tasha Cobb, in a moment of full worship, when she ad-libbed “break the chain of homosexuality.” And there it was again. Somehow, even in my own damn shower, the homophobia of the holiness church had managed to find me.

I was devastated. Spiritually and emotionally devastated.

But I did not allow that devastation to stop my spiritual journey. A hurdle, yes. But not a brick wall. My faith was shaken, but not lost.

Fast forward several weeks and one very important conversation (thank you, Dwayne), and I found myself in a pew, surrounded by wife and son, once again hearing that song.

Break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.

And this time, I knew I was safe.  I was finally in a space where I would not be judged. I was in a space where I need not fear the eyes or words or thoughts of strangers.  The gap between spiritual comfort and affirmation had been bridged.  My truth as a queer Christian was accepted and celebrated and normal.

My hands were raised. My eyes peered toward heaven. And my soul was finally at peace.

Every chain, indeed.