It happened again a few days ago. Someone, upon learning that I am affirming of the LGBTQ community, stated, “Of course you are, and you should be!” The implication was, “You’re the mom. Of course YOU’LL be affirming!”
May I say that just because I am the mom of a gay child it doesn’t mean that I will automatically be affirming. If you could hear the stories of people who have been disowned by their families, not only would you be heartbroken, but you would realize that being a parent doesn’t guarantee acceptance.
See, here’s the thing. When my acceptance is passed off as being because I am the mom, everything I’ve studied and the amount of time I’ve spent in prayer trying to discern God’s voice regarding my child’s orientation is negated. I’m given a pass for trying to make all this okay spiritually because that’s “what any mom would do.”
To be honest (although I hate to admit it) my child’s recognition of her orientation was definitely the impetus to beginning my journey to affirmation. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just sad that it took that to make me rethink the issue. I’ve studied. I’ve prayed. I’ve talked to others, including LGBTQ people and their parents. I daresay that what I’ve studied and done during this time of adjustment has been a lot more than what most non-affirming Christians will ever do. You see, most non-affirming Christians have no need to study. They just know that, “my Bible says it’s sin!” There’s no reason to study what the Biblical words meant to the original hearers or what the culture was at the time the words were said. It’s all clear to them. No studying needed…
What I’ve found is that, for me anyway, this is not a black and white issue. And that’s because I have read, studied and prayed; not because I haven’t. My faith has grown exponentially as I’ve reflected on the heart of God and on the love that Jesus demonstrated while He was here on earth. My faith is stronger, not weaker, and I don’t think that would be the norm for someone who is walking away from God by trying to convince herself that her will is God’s will.
Affirmation is not easy: don’t ever assume that it is. It messes with all kinds of things in my life – who my friends are, what church I attend, and how I feel about the marginalized in our world. Basically, it makes my heart hurt for others, both those who are marginalized and those doing the marginalizing.
It makes me hurt for the church. Do I attend an affirming church where they agree with me or do I go to a non-affirming church so that any sexual-minority person who shows up will be greeted by a friendly face? Is attending a non-affirming church a betrayal of the LGBTQ person? Is it a betrayal of the non-affirming church to attend, knowing I don’t agree with their stance? Is there room for disagreement in the church on this issue? I truly don’t know the answer to these questions. But I know if we continue to look at this as a black and white issue, the lines will be increasingly drawn to exclude, not to include.
I do know that I will not hide my affirmation. It’s too damaging to the young people who sit in our services struggling with a same-sex orientation or not feeling comfortable in their own bodies. You may disagree with me, but I’ll pick them over you. You see, they’re the ones struggling. They need to know God is still there for them and loves them, no matter how their struggle is resolved. I’m going to tell them that.
May I ask, if you were the parent of a child who has an LGBTQ orientation, which of the following would you want your child or grandchild to be told by someone in your church?
- “Being gay is a sin and God can deliver you from that if you just pray.”
- “Being gay isn’t a sin but if you ever act on it, even in a monogamous lifelong relationship with someone you love, you’ll be sinning. God (and the church) says you have to be alone if you’re gay.”
- “Being gay isn’t a sin and you need to stay so close to Jesus that the two of you together can work out what He wants for your life. If He (not the church) calls you to celibacy, it’s okay, and if He allows you to enter into a lifelong monogamous marriage, it’s okay. I trust you to hear His voice and I’ll accept what you have heard.”
I choose Number 3. And God help all of us as we try to get this right.