On Dec. 15, I submitted my letter of resignation onto the evangelical school for missionary children where I had become a follower of Jesus, where my two children currently attend, and where I had worked as an administrative assistant for the past four-and-a-half years.
Why? Because I was asked to stop posting for gay marriage equality on my Facebook wall.
Taiwan is in the midst of a contentious battle for gay marriage equality, as a bill legalizing same-sex marriage makes its way through legislation in fits and starts. If it goes through, we would become the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Taiwan is already considered one of the most LGBTQ-friendly nations in Asia, and political conditions are more favorable than ever to pass marriage equality — except for the fierce opposition coming from religious, and especially Christian, churches that have mounted considerable resistance.
Little did I know that resistance would personally cost me my job.
As a progressive Christian blogger, I have been publicly gay-affirming for many years. Although I was raised a conservative evangelical Christian and was taught traditional views of marriage, my brother came out as trans in 2008. This, as well as public Christian discourse on this issue over the past decade, threw me on the same trajectory as many of the prominent evangelical Christians who have changed their mind. By far the biggest gift I have received by being publicly gay-affirming has been to become a refuge for LGBTQ people, and especially Christians, who consider me a safe person with whom to share their lives.
The more I hear personal testimonies and study statistics of the rate of gay teen suicide in non-affirming environments, the stronger my resolve has become to advocate for full inclusion. Orthodoxy matters less to me than human lives.
When my own nation of Taiwan embarked upon the road to legalize same-sex marriage, I did not hesitate to voice my support. On Nov. 26, there was a Pride march in my city of Kaohsiung. I took my mother and joined my brother in the march. We held signs that read, “Love therapy, not shock therapy,” and I took great care to arrange a rainbow ribbon into my pony tail for a selfie which I posted on Facebook with the caption:
“Marched with #pride for #marriageequality on the streets of Kaohsiung today. #lovewins”
Less than two weeks later, I was asked to be in a private meeting with the superintendent and the principal of my school. The superintendent informed me that he was considering whether my post on Facebook breached the board’s policy in which it clearly delineates the biblical definition of marriage:
“Based upon the teaching of the Bible that marriage between husband and wife is a sacred institution, and sexual conduct is to be within the context of marriage alone, Morrison Academy believes that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union. (Gen 2:18-25) We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.”
The superintendent made it clear this was not a threat of termination but simply a transparent conversation in his consideration of whether I crossed the line in the promotion clause of board policy. Later that day he returned his verdict: My activity did indeed violate board policy. I was requested:
“While you are employed by Morrison Academy please refrain from promoting relationships that do not align with this policy.”
Morrison Academy is a private Christian international school founded for the purpose of serving missionary children. Religious institutions like Morrison have to walk a delicate balance between enforcing their doctrinal orthodoxy, typically presented as a statement of faith, while making space for a wide diversity of views within their Christian community. I have always felt on the far left of the spectrum at Morrison, whose ethos I consider to be conservative evangelical. This has often left me feeling marginalized,and at timeshas even caused me to question the authenticity of my own faith — a subject I have frequently written about. It has also frustrated me to see the toxic, fundamentalist ideas I felt were harmful when they were taught to me as a child at Morrison continue to be perpetuated without challenge and critique. But existing in that thin space —working at a conservative school as a progressive Christian — has allowed me to straddle both worlds.
Despite its challenges, I find this tension has allowed me to resist stereotyping conservative Christians, because I rub shoulders with them daily,and watch them pour their love out to the students in the community. No matter how progressive or liberal my views have drifted, I find my community endearing. I was always willing to identify as an evangelical because evangelicals were such a vital part of my own faith genesis and formation. It was always important to me to honor the faith and humanity of this community, no matter how far it runs in opposition to my own faith.
Sadly, the time has come when I can no longer hold that tension. Confronted with the choice to be silent on my support of LGBTQ marriage equality in Taiwan or end employment, I chose the latter. In my reply to the superintendent’s request, I stated that it has always been my guiding Christian ethic to stand with the vulnerable and marginalized, and to not do so would be unconscionable to me before God.
I did not want to lose my job. To do so brings with it a loss of identity and community. But perhaps what grieves me even more is to see the hard line drawn in the sand, with a painful lack of desire for further dialogue regarding same-sex marriage, whether on the legality of it in Taiwan, or in the presence of gay children who attend Morrison now. Boundarymarking is superseding human story.
I understand the difficulty of my supervisors having to do the hard job of enforcing the implications of board policy. But neither the administrators nor the board are spokespeople for God, and certainly do not have the sole spiritual authority on biblical interpretation.
At the expense of losing my job, it was vital to me to show my LGBTQ young friends at Morrison that the school alone does not speak for God — God is also speaking through me and other allies, to tell them God loves them, affirms them, and celebrates them exactly as they are.
To the gay kids at Morrison: You are not abandoned and excluded by God, and no board policy can keep the gospel at bay. You are strong and resilient and you teach me what it means to be human. You disciple me in my walk with Jesus. You are magic.
I want to err on the side of love and inclusion over doctrinal borders. I want to stand with the marginalized against the status quo. I want to be an ally because gay rights are human rights.
And that’s why I quit my job.