I sat next to him in the car. He was driving but we were stopped at a stop sign on a quiet neighborhood street. My son was sobbing. His pain shuddered through his body and all I could do was wait. Gently I said, “God made you the way you are and He likes what He made.” I knew what I was saying. I knew the overwhelming burden he carried in his heart. I understood what he was so afraid to tell me. And I knew, just then he heard my words but believed I did not. have. a clue.
Today I am enraged but I am also grieving.
I hate that one second of time existed in which my son was afraid he might tell us–his family, or me–his mother, something that would cause us to stop loving him. I hate he ever imagined he had to choose between loving himself and being loved by God. I hate that much of the Church–made up of people who themselves have been forgiven for all kinds of cruel, selfish, deceptive, and sin-filled behavior–continues to preach damnation on people for who they are…for who they love.
I don’t remember ever saying anything which would have specifically contributed to my son’s fear but I didn’t climb up on any social-justice-soapboxes either. And sometimes, remaining silent is experienced the same way as ugliness–deeply and at one’s core. We attended the wrong fellowship. We had attended wrong fellowships since he was born. That didn’t help. We had a politically and religiously conservative family tree. That didn’t help either. Still, I thought I had told my children often enough that there was nothing they could do which would cause me to quit loving them.
But this, THIS was not something my son did, though he spent hours in prayer trying to undo it. This was not a decision he made like getting behind the wheel too drunk to drive or shooting his body full of drugs. Though on at least one occasion his life was in danger of ending. At one point in his life–including that point in the car–I loved my son far more than he loved himself and it was killing him, or threatening to.
So, I am done letting hate and fear and misguided righteousness speak for LOVE. And I am done allowing those elements of the Church to speak for me. Even more importantly, I am done allowing those elements of the Church claim to speak for my God while I politely hold my tongue. As I discussed in my last post, condemnation of monogamous same-sex relationships is. not. supported. in the Bible any more than inequality is supported by our constitution. [If you want more on that topic check out this post or read Kevin Higgs book, Hospitality to Strangers.
Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. But, He had a whole lot to say about love, and loving our neighbors, and being known by our love, and even loving our enemies. So, I refuse to entertain the idea that LOVE ever looks like the ugly, hate filled condemnation spewed out of the mouths of people who later defend themselves by suggesting, “It is more loving to tell those people they will burn in hell unless they repent of their sin than to let them burn. We love them too much to let them remain ignorant in their sin.” To those who think that kind of rhetoric is love, I suggest a daily reading of I Corinthians 13. And after you’ve given the love chapter a few weeks to sink in ask yourself–what would it look like if I followed the example of Christ as much as I apparently want others to follow the letter of the law?
My son is a bright, talented, compassionate young man. He likes to cook, draw costumes and floor plans, listen to music, dance, and kayak. He can contribute intelligently to most any conversation. His littlest sister adores him. And, the rest of us don’t thinks he’s half bad. He’s a good friend and a good listener. He’s loyal and supportive and has a wonderful laugh. He’s gifted in prayer and would make a great mentor, especially for kids who have had trouble in school. He also happens to be gay.
I look forward to a future when the fact my son is gay will look as silly on the list above as the fact that he’s right handed or has five toes on his left foot. I look forward to a future when the whole Church resembles the pure, spotless bride of Christ–void of our bigotry, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and venom. My son is “out of the closet”. But the closet isn’t empty. Sadly it is still filled with the chains and stones and lies that keep others locked inside.
I watched my son wrestle with his faith. I saw the anguish it caused and felt helpless. I sat by while he sorted out the truth from the lies. I held my breath and at times I held him. I now see the scars the battle left behind. And, I am grieved many of them were put there by the Church. I know in my heart of hearts that my God has not forsaken my son. My God looks at him, sees all that He created, and calls it good. I pray that someday the Church can do the same.