A Letter to my Gay Christian Child

Monday, July 1, 2019

girl in pride sweater that says LOVE

To my child, a gay Christian, published with their permission. 

I cried.

I cried the day you were baptized.  Back before I knew you were gay. Back before maybe even you were sure you were gay. I cried because I knew you had a hard road ahead of you. It is hard to be a person of faith. It is beautiful and powerful and worthwhile, but surrendering yourself and your life to God’s will is not an easy road. And the church, the community of believers meant to support and encourage and guide one another, although beautiful in theory and design is often ugly and toxic in practice.

I cried again when you told me you were gay.
 Not because I was disappointed or unapproving or even particularly surprised.  But because I knew that the road before you was about to get harder and more painful. I also cried tears of joy that you felt safe and loved enough to tell me.

Recently I took a public stance for LGBTQ+ equality, and I received hate mail in the name of God.  Christians said some of the nastiest things that have ever been said to me.  And I cried again. But for every tear I cried for my own hurts, my own lost friendships and alienation, I cried two for you. You have a hard road ahead of you.

Know this. You can be both gay and Christian.

My child, people are going to tell you that you must choose between your sexuality and your faith.  You don’t.

People are going to tell you that the hate and ignorance they spew is on behalf of the God who formed you in my womb.  It is not.

Christians are going to tell you that your sexual orientation excludes you from belonging to the family of God. They are mistaken.  You belong.

Well meaning church folks are going to accuse you of abandoning scripture. They will claim that the way God has made you is a sin.  My child, they know not what they do.

There was a time when the church believed the sun spun around the earth.  They demanded that scriptures about the sun rising and setting be taken literally and drew a line in the sand that said those who disagreed could not be part of God’s kingdom.  They were wrong.  There will be people who will draw a line in the sand and try to exclude you from the kingdom of God.  They too are wrong.

Speak kindly but speak.

Try, if you can, not to return gracelessness with gracelessness.  Take the high road.  Speak love to your haters.  But speak.  Your voice is needed in the church. We need you. We are better with you at the table.

I have watched some of the most beautiful souls I know be chased out of church for being gay.  I have seen faithful, godly, gay Christian friends hurt by the community meant to nurture them. My sweet child, I hope you stand firm and demand your seat at the table of Christian community.  I stand with you.  The table is bigger than most Christians know and there is room for both them and you and me too.

My dear gay Christian child,

Be brave.  Stand your ground.  But know that it’s not your job to fix the church. God is calling the church into greater love, a deeper understanding of grace, and you are only one small piece of that. You are not alone.

I am not naive; there may be times when you must leave a toxic congregation.  There may be times when you don’t feel safe at church.  But I hope you persist. I hope you seek out a faith community that loves you and affirms you and feeds your soul.  That community will be better for it.  Any church with you in it is blessed.

One of the truest things I know is this: when we draw lines in the sand between “us” and “them”, God is always on the other side of the line.  God stands with the marginalized and oppressed.  He roots for the underdog. God walks with you when you are judged, condemned, and excluded by those who are called to be your brothers and sisters in Christ. God walks with you, my sweet child, and I do too.

I wept again in church last week.

The power point had an image of a mother bringing her small children to Jesus for a blessing.  In a culture where children were less than, where they were a nuisance and undervalued, where even Christ’s disciples got caught up in the “us” and “thems” of the day, that mother knew her child’s value.  And so did Jesus.  He scolded his followers for being a barrier between those children and himself.  So come boldly before our Lord.  Because even if his followers turn you away, He never will.

My child, you can be an openly and unapologetically gay person of faith. You can stand both for scripture and equality. You can march in pride parades and sing in the church choir. You can love the Lord and a person of the same sex. You can marry, serve, and lead in the church. There is room for you at the table. If people say that you can’t, they aren’t your people. Find your people. Persist.

Because the church is better with you in it.

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