Dear gayophobic Christian parents of America

Got this in last week. I respond after it.

The day the Presbyterian Church approved same-sex marriage, I shared a link to the story on my Facebook page. I didn’t comment on it, or say “This is great!” or bad or anything.

I knew it would be unpopular among many of my fundie conservative friends. But I was surprised at the caustic, hateful, un-Christian comments. Especially from my own family.

I deleted most of the comments and asked everyone to be nice or take it to their own page. I began to get text messages from my mother and my sister: “Hey what’s your motive for all the gay posts? I’m confused. Do you think God has changed His mind? Standing up for sin will cost you. Just look at what it cost Lot.” [Wrong. See my post To quote from Sodom and Gomorrah: “So don’t be gay.”]

It even came to a point where, for my own sanity, I had to block my mom and sister on Facebook as well as on my phone. They were using social media as a weapon against me, even publicly posting requests for “saved” prayer warriors to do battle with them against Satan for me. It felt very against me.

I’m telling you all this for two reasons. 1) I am grieving and probably still need to talk/type it out. 2) I am more determined than ever to stand up for the LGBTQ community. I didn’t even come out! I just came out as gay-supportive. And look what happened.

My heart hurts for kids who are gay and have family members like mine.

I know this is something you fight for every day and I thank you for that. I am following your example. I am trying to get more involved in my community and looking for a progressive, inclusive church. I’m also searching out those in the LGBT community. I’m a wedding photographer and I want to do a photo project for same-sex couples in my area. I’m in Chattanooga, TN so no legal marriage here but I want to do all I can to support the cause.

Dear young woman who wrote me this:

Terrible about your family! So sorry you … well, didn’t get a sane family. I hear such families are out there somewhere (although that may be just a rumor).

No matter how often someone writes me about their Christian relatives coming down on them like an A-bomb for doing nothing more than showing a little support for the idea that God isn’t a gay-bashing bigot, it always astounds me. It’s like hearing about … I dunno, a priest who sprays dollops of Cheez Whiz on every communion wafer he lays on someone’s tongue. It just so insane.

And family members who deliver unto their own packages of anti-gay bigotry always wrap those packages in shiny paper purchased at Passive Aggressive. (Where the customer always needs help.)

“I’m confused. Do you think God has changed His mind?”

I’m confused, you faux-sanctimonious wasp. Do you not know what the word family means?

Anyway, sorry again about your … unfortunate gene pool. The good news is that you’ve apparently found the ladder in the deep end of that pool, and are climbing on out of that mess.

When you get to that cabana on the beach, have a Mai Tai for me!

And now a word inspired by your parents:

Dear right-wing gayophobic Christian parents of America:

Will you please stop it now with the being purposefully ignorant? Just stop being crazy right now. If you love what the Bible says, love all of that the Bible says. Learn about gay people. Learn about LGBT-affirming Christians. Learn about Christian gay people.

Just … you know: learn. Open up. Imagine the Holy Spirit really is inside of you, and really is talking to you, just like Jesus said would happen. Just like is happening with you right now.

Do you really think that’s the Holy Spirit telling you that God has a problem with people being gay?

If you listen just a little bit harder, don’t you think that voice sounds an awful lot like your voice, rather than God’s?

Come out here with us into the light. It’s nice out here. There’s more God out here. There’s more love out here.

Please stop making life so much harder than it has to be. Than it’s supposed to be.


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

unfair-cover-xsmallPaperback. Kindle. NookBook. Signed and inscribed by me according to your direction.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • LMc42

    Dear letter writer,
    I recommend getting in touch with the good folks at St. Elmo UMC in Chattanooga, a fully inclusive, reconciling congregation. Also, St. Marks has some wonderful folks there as well. Blessings to you sister from one East Tennessean to another. (Go Vols!)

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      As a former Tennessean, (from the Tri-Cities area) I hope that you do find a church that works for you and that word gets out of your desire to photograph weddings, no matter the bride/groom configuration. I suspect you won’t hurt for business when it does.

    • Jessica Arnold

      I wrote the letter. I have actually visited St Elmo UMC and you are absolutely right. They were so welcoming! I will be back there for sure. For now, I’m visiting around. There aren’t many progressive churches in Chatt but I’m going to the few I’ve found. Thank you!

  • Jlumpkin

    You are the voice that your community needs! I’m so sorry for the reaction of your family. It’s so hard. If they are ever ready to really have the discussion, I recommend having them read John Shore’s book, UNFAIR. I also love a book by Justin Lee called TORN, and a book by Matthew Vines called GOD AND THE GAY CHRISTIAN. They are great resources for Christians who have questions about the LGBT conflict in the church. Hang in there, please. You are really going to make a difference.

  • Emily Harding

    “I’m confused, you faux-sanctimonious wasp.”
    I had no idea you were so sassy, John! I must confess, I did a spit laugh over this particular line as it snuck up on me!

  • spinetingler

    “a priest who sprays dollops of Cheez Whiz on every communion wafer he lays on someone’s tongue”

    Please. Those things are Styrofoam and need all the help they can get. That little dollop of wine doesn’t really help, and I get disapproving looks if I grab the chalice in both hands and take a big gulp.

    • Guy Norred

      Take the big gulp–those who have to finish whatever is left may thank you.

  • Chris Rader

    “…my heart hurts for kids who are gay and who have families like mine.”
    This line in your post above caught my attention.
    My son came out 4 years ago and I wrote a book about my journey/process of him coming out called: Unconditional Dad. A Father and Pastor’s Journey Through the Words ‘Dad, I’m Gay.’

    Theological. Political. Cultural. …And now very personal.
    I love my son. I also love God. I accept my son as is. I still hold a traditional view of scripture. My world would be easier if I would adjust my theology, but I live in theological unresolved-ness. …Something our sit-com world finds uncomfortable.

    Personally: I have many more LGBT friends now than I did 4 years ago. While “Christians” debate theology, there are many in the LGBT community who would love to learn more about the God who created them, but there are too many of His followers blocking their path. Sexuality is definitely “an” issue, but somehow it has become “the” issue. I wonder what would happen if greed were suddenly “the” issue. (The Bible says a lot more about greed than it does about sexuality). How many “Christians” would be turned away at the church doors?
    I started a bible study in my home earlier this year – more than half are LGBT. It is refreshing to see people who just want to draw near to God. Will God work on their issues? Yes – he does that with all of us gay or straight. …it is called transformation. Are people jacked up sexually? Will God work in that area? Again, gay or straight – yes they are and yes He will! Since when did God ask us to prioritize other people’s list of “stuff” for God to work on, making sexuality #1? Since when do we tell people to ignore all the other “stuff” until you get #1 “fixed”? It is not my job as a pastor to “fix” anyone. I can’t even fix my own $#&@ let alone someone else’s. It hurts my heart to see “Christians” building the wall higher so as to not let “those” people in. I believe the verse says “all” have sinned…including you and me.
    “Purposefully ignorant” is no longer an option. Until you know…no, until you love someone who is in the LGBT community, your words are as a clanging gong.
    I pray that the Lord would break your heart for what breaks His!

    • Jessica Arnold

      This is wonderful, Chris. Thank you! I’m going to look for your book.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      Hi Chris –

      I want to thank you so much for your comment. Your heart clearly shines through and I appreciate it greatly. I want to share my perspective from the other side of the relationship. Please take this comment in the spirit it is intended – to increase understanding.

      I came out to my parents relatively late – in my early thirties – because I wanted to introduce them to my now husband. There was so much of my life I couldn’t share with them and we had grown distant. My parents very much held to the traditional view of sexuality, and I was so afraid that my admission would sever whatever relationship we had. They did their part and held it together, but over the next several months, they reiterated their belief that homosexual relationships are immoral and sinful.

      I had worried that they would reject me; but I found myself in a place where I was wanting to reject them. I had told myself that I didn’t really care what they thought, and that’s the facade I put on; but the truth was that their moral disapproval was tremendously hurtful. My husband encouraged me to maintain the relationship, and eventually we’ve come to a place of understanding.

      I had to work very hard to reconcile my faith and my sexuality. One of the things I came to realize in that discernment process is that they traditional sexual ethic is emotionally and spiritually abusive. It diminishes the humanity of people who are gay and demands that we live contrary to God’s creative intention for humanity. It attempts to pathologize us and it says the relationships we form are immoral and inferior. By expressing their moral disapproval, my parents were reiterating the idea that I was somehow deeply flawed and unintended for emotional and physical intimacy.

      I say all that to share this: Please understand that your beliefs are harmful. A harmful belief, no matter how sincerely held, no matter how gracious the person holding it, is still harmful. So long as the Church insists on adhering to traditionalist theology, the love it shows gay people is no better than the love an emotionally abusive parent shows his children.

      If the Church is serious about loving people who are gay better, we must change our theology. We must believe in a way that doesn’t cause harm.

      To that end, if you have not read it, I would highly recommend William Stacy Johnson’s A Time to Embrace. It may be helpful in resolving your “theological unresolved-ness”.

      My sincere best to you and your whole family,
      David

  • Justin

    Passive aggressiveness is a major issue that LGBT and LGBT-affirming Christians have to face from conservatives. There’s no way to avoid it, because it’s a great defense mechanism for sustaining belief. They retreat into holy huddles (“Did you hear Fred doesn’t hold to the true biblical teachings on homosexuality anymore? He has just given Satan a foothold in his heart. He probably has some sort of sexual sin of his own that he wants to justify. We really need to pray for him now.”). Many, many years ago, I’m ashamed to admit I was involved in such conversations. It made me feel really superior – with the benefit of covering it all under a humble veneer of “just being faithful to the plain words of Scripture. After all, we’re all sinners. It’s not *my* opinion, of course – it’s *God’s* opinion.”

    Faced with these sorts of responses, being calm and open can be quite a challenge. But remaining friendly in the face of hostility, and maintaining the desire for having the discussion of *why* you hold a LGBT affirming position is necessary. To all cis/straight privileged Christians who want to support their gay friends, I think this is an obligation. We have a responsibility to speak out. We can hide in the conservative status quo, but our LGBT neighbors have no such luxury. I think we overestimate the number of real dyed-in-the wool fundamentalists. Most people really haven’t thought past the very basic questions. Learning that their best friend or sibling is still a Christian yet also LBGT-supporting is going to cause cognitive dissonance. . . dissonance which will only increase the more that laity and especially leaders in the ministry speak up. Even for those who don’t change their minds, coming to a place where we don’t break fellowship means that they must tacitly acknowledge this as an internecine debate, not a “true Christians against the sinful world” debate.

    • lrfcowper

      Dude. I’ve been told I’m ‘inspiring’ for not being a horrible parent to my kid on the lgbtqia spectrum. It just hurts my heart when being a decent human being is considered exceptional or noteworthy.

    • Andy

      It would be “brave” if the supporting allies spoke out in defiance of a long-standing law for which the penalty was severe (long imprisonment, torture, death). The laws explicitly prohibiting same-sex marriage are a relatively recent thing, and we have freedom of speech with very few limitations. Certainly I’ve never heard of anyone being jailed for speaking out in support of LGBT+ people.

      That said, they could be considered sort of brave at a micro-level if, for example, they are surrounded by family and friends who are all staunchly opposed and would scorn, tease, disown, or even abuse them for siding with LGBT+ people. And, granted, to do so is commendable, for sure. Risking alienation or abuse from one’s family is never an easy thing to do. But it’s hardly worthy on a macro-level of the same sort of praise we afford to soldiers who defend this country. Just sayin’.

  • D Rizdek

    http://www.banderasnews.com/howto/wafer.htm
    Were you referring to this?
    Anyways, it is so sad when people react that way to their children/siblings. Even IF they believe one cannot be a Christian and be a practicing homosexual, it doesn’t mean they have the right or should even feel encouraged to level judgmental barrages at them.

  • Heidi Millay

    To the letter writer – encourage your family (if possible) to watch the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So http://forthebibletellsmeso.org/, which is about 5 Christian families dealing with the realization that they have a gay child. It’s an incredible film and has opened a lot of hearts and minds.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Another fantastic resource is http://notalllikethat.org

      • Jessica Arnold

        Yes, thank you! My next step is a NALT video. :)

    • Jessica Arnold

      Heidi, I am the one who wrote this letter to John and this documentary was one of the reasons I have become more outspoken about this issue. There are not enough Christians doing so. Unfortunately, the situation with my family is worse and we are no longer on speaking terms but I pray every day that God will open their eyes. This is a wonderful resource!

      • Heidi Millay

        Oh no! So sorry to hear that. I struggle with my family as well, though we’re still on speaking terms (probably because I’m not outspoken *enough*). It’s tough.

      • Valorie Ashmore Brown

        Jessica – from Chattanooga too and attend a progressive, inclusive church! St. Marks UMC. You would be most welcomed!

        • Jessica Arnold

          Thank you, Valorie! St Marks is on my list. :)

  • VeggieTart

    “Do you think God has changed his mind?” Well, he changed his mind about eating the flesh of pigs, eating shellfish, wearing clothing of mixed fibers, working on the Sabbath, and murdering disobedient children; why not about this?

    • Jeff Preuss

      Didn’t He even change His mind about mass-killing the unfaithful with a supernatural floodlilke calamity? Wasn’t there something about a promise rainbow in the Old Testament?

      • Sharla Hulsey

        God’s mind gets changed pretty regularly in the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament). Sometimes, a human being can change God’s mind. Abraham did it in Genesis 18, and Moses did it in Exodus 32.

      • VeggieTart

        I think that was a promise not to do it again.

        And of course, he also changed his mind about having Abraham murder his own son as a sacrifice and said to kill a conveniently located ram instead.

    • Carr Nyuli

      Pfft, come on, those are the parts of the Bible that don’t matter. Why? Because.

      • Sharla Hulsey

        Because they’re the things *I* do. Someone else’s supposed sins are always more despicable than my own. I’m pretty sure this is why Jesus told that whole parable about the mote in the other guy’s eye and the log in your own.

  • Sheila Warner

    Oh, sorry about your family. I have a fundamentalist family, too, and my dad in particular loves to bait me. The only member who came after me publicly was my dad’s brother, my Uncle Phil. He died a few months ago from cancer and I am very sorry that we never made amends. He was my favorite, He did some rather despicable things in his own right, and I stood up for him, demanding that love and forgiveness be offered. My dad still makes disparaging remarks about him. I feel your pain. This, too, will pass. Separating from those who hurt us will help us to heal and move on to the things we care about. I hope you are doing better.

    • chillinout.

      Came after you?

  • Shaun G. Lynch

    Great post, with an essential message that too many hard line Christians forget.

    In case anyone reading this runs into Catholics expressing similar views, here’s something to throw in their faces. While it is true that the Catholic Church officially considers homosexual tendencies “objectively disordered” (whatever that means) and requires gay people to remain celibate, the Church also very specifically requires Catholics to accept LGBT people and not discriminate against them.

    Here’s the specific text from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    2358 The number of men and women who have
    deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination,
    which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.
    They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every
    sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
    These
    persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are
    Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the
    difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    Considering same-sex attraction “disordered” is itself a form of discrimination, and the overall thrust of the passage is patronizing as hell. But the call for acceptance and openness, which has been on the books for decades, is at least a baby step in the right direction. If Catholics actually took this to heart (and, based on the plethora of hateful comments towards LGBT people on the Patheos Catholic Channel, a great many don’t), it could prompt a dialogue that might, someday, lead to real acceptance.

    In the meantime, if you run into homophobic Catholics, feel free to quote the Catechism at them!

    • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

      Wow, thanks for sharing that, it is really beautiful. I guess I’m saying this not because i think that homosexuals are actually objectively disordered, whatever that means, but because it is so kind towards a group that seems to make some christians froth at the mouth by their very existence. I wish more Christians could just accept people they don’t agree with. Is that so hard?

      • Shaun G. Lynch

        Agreed.

        It really bugs me when I see fellow Catholics attacking the LGBT “lifestyle” or “lobby,” while paying no more than sanctimonious lip service (if that) to the Church’s specific requirement to avoid discrimination. One Catholic commenter here on Patheos even insisted on referring to LGBT people as “sodomites,” and argued with me that doing so was entirely appropriate after I pointed out that he was acting contrary to a Church instruction!

        These are the same people who deride as “cafeteria Catholics” people like me who challenge Church doctrine, but they often have no hesitation about attacking the current Pope for being too “liberal.”

        I absolutely do not understand why anyone should feel so threatened by a group that only constitutes about 5% of the population! This is the great civil rights issue of our era.

        • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

          I think that you are right that it is the civil rights issue of this time, and I think it will profoundly change the church in the next generation.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      Yes, well, evidently the USCCB understands that bit differently than you and I do. They are continuing to fight to keep employment discrimination against gay people legal – not just in the church but everywhere. Evidently, depriving a person of employment because they’re gay doesn’t rise to the level of “unjust discrimination”.

      • Shaun G. Lynch

        I’m happy to say that that’s no longer an issue where I live, and hasn’t been for nearly a decade. In the province of Québec, sexual orientation is a basis for civil rights protection under our human rights charter, and gay marriage has been legal all across Canada since the Civil Marriage Act received Royal Assent in 2005.

        … and you know what? In all that time, there has been no collapse of “traditional” marriage, and no increase in the number of people “choosing” to be gay!

        But maybe Canada is just special that way.

        • Linnea912

          Canada is SO far ahead of the U.S. on the treatment of GLBT people, it’s not funny.

  • http://www.windwalkerphotography.biz/ Frank LaFerriere

    Jesus said: I give to you two new commandments, that thou shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind, and the second is like unto it, thou shall love your neighbor as you do yourself. On these two commandments hang all the laws of the prophets.

    Which means…Jesus says you are supposed to love your neighbor…even if they are gay and you are supposed to base everything you do in reference to the laws of the prophets on these two commandments.

    Funny thing is with the homophobic Christians. They use Leviticus partly to condemn homosexuality, yet Leviticus also states that if you eat pig, wear clothes of mixed fabrics, backtalk your parents, are a man and have shaved your beard, or a woman and have cut your hair, or have tattoos, then you are also an abomination and will be put to death.

    So how many of these seif righteous bigoted, homophobic Christians eat a Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato sandwich? How many of them have bacon for breakfast? How many eat shrimp, lobster, crab or other fish like these?

    Well then you are an abomination if you do according to the very same Leviticus you use to condemn others with.

    As Jesus said…before you attempt to remove the mote from someone’s eyes first remove the log from your own.

    Good hint for those whom say they are Christian.

    • Shaun G. Lynch

      Good point about Leviticus, but let me suggest another argument.

      The concept of sexual orientation is extremely recent. Although homosexual behaviour has existed throughout the centuries, until fairly late in the 20th Century it was believed that everyone is born heterosexual, and that the “choice” to engage in homosexual behaviour was therefore a sign of psychological deviance. That really didn’t change until the 1970s, when the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association stopped identifying homosexuality as a manifestation of mental illness.

      Looked at in that context, the references to homosexuality in the Bible are actually about sexual impropriety in a general sense, with homosexual acts being identified as a specific, egregious example (i.e., it’s sick, disgusting behaviour by otherwise heterosexual people).

      Now, I don’t think most Christians see sexual promiscuity as good thing in any context, homosexual or heterosexual. But I believe it can be strongly argued that two homosexuals in a committed, loving relationship are no different than two heterosexuals in a similar relationship. I would therefore argue that the biblical passages condemning homosexual acts don’t actually apply to LGBT people in or seeking committed long term relationships.

      … and, by extension, the behaviour of heterosexuals seeking one-night stands is infinitely more sinful than any sexual activity by committed LGBT couples. But I don’t see many bumper stickers or protest placards about that.

      • Andy

        I should order some bumper stickers that say “Adam and Steve, not Adam the Slut” or something like that.

        • BarbaraR

          That would be one big honkin’ bumper sticker.

          • Andy

            The better for people to see it, my dear.

  • Dana Smith

    No one can assume what God wants. Theology geniuses can’t agree about what God wants which is why we have so many Christian denominations, but no one can disagree what Jesus said was the greatest commandment: Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart and love your neighbors as yourself”. Love, love, love. It’s the only defense against the fundies. Been there, done that, still trying to forgive them. The best thing sometimes is to step back a bit and re-evaluate the relationship. Obviously, it’s your family, so that makes it more difficult. Read everything you can; John Shore, Adam Hamilton, and Justin Lee have helped me immensely. I think most of the people who are against homosexuality have never spoken to one. so it becomes an “us” against “them”. If they just sat down and tried to understand why someone is homosexual; that it is definitely not a choice, then I would hope that they would come to understand the internal struggle they have dealt with their entire life and see the harm the church is causing. The main thing is to start constructive conversation. Good Luck!

    • dicentra

      “No one can assume what God wants. Theology geniuses can’t agree about what God wants which is why we have so many Christian denominations, but no one can disagree what Jesus said was the greatest commandment: Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart and love your neighbors as yourself”. Love, love, love. ”

      Well said, Dana. Several years ago our young adult daughter and some friends were going to a ghost movie shortly before halloween. (They enjoy them and enjoy making fun of them — it’s just good fun.) My charismatic/fundy MIL told DD not to go because she’d be opening herself up to demons. (Umm. well – some theological differences there… which we were willing to let go without discussion and do an “Ok Grandma, I’ll bear that in mind”.) However, MIL insisted that she isn’t speaking for herself, but she speaks for God — therefore DD would be disobeying God’s direct command if she disobeyed MIL. I suppose MIL didn’t realize that our children were actually watching her, listening to what she said and did, and noticing the differences between her words and her actions – as well as the difference between MIL’s actions and those of Jesus. MIL could shout all she wanted that she spoke for God (she did often, actually and funny how much she and God agree on stuff) but it was transparently untrue. DH and I went through a period of time where we felt we had to clarify (for our children) all the extra-biblical things his fundy family said. ( We did this back at home home, after family events, for example) Soon, we realized that we didn’t need to point it out, because our children saw straight through the hypocrisy because they knew the Savior and what He said and did, and were endeavoring for themselves to walk in His Path. Perhaps that’s why fundamentalists (of the tea party variety) are losing the next generation in such great numbers.

    • Shaun G. Lynch

      Dana Smith writes: “I think most of the people who are against homosexuality have never spoken to one. so it becomes an “us” against “them”.

      I think you’ve nailed the problem right there, Dana. Those of us who live in metropolitan regions that are known to be LGBT-friendly (I live outside of Montréal, QC) have much greater opportunity to see homosexuals in their native habitat… and to realize that it’s exactly the same as the native habitat the rest of us live in!

      I can’t even count the number of LGBT people I know, and I can say with confidence that they have nothing in common with one another (well, except for the same-sex attraction thing). Some are artsy, some are tech nerds, some are sporty, some are musical, and some should be forbidden by law from ever attempting to carry a tune. Not a single one of them is defined by his or her sexual behaviour.

      Decades of psychological research on the problem of discrimination has shown that the only thing that consistently overcomes prejudice is direct contact with the targeted group, ideally in a task-oriented situation. By behaving in ways virtually guaranteed to shut out LGBT people, our Christian churches (Catholic, in my case) are cutting themselves off from a golden opportunity to be part of a solution that Jesus himself called upon us to promote!

  • Robyn P

    Dear Letter Writer,
    I understand what are going through.

    My parents, before I was even a thought, and even as I was growing up, were the ultimate hippies. Somewhere between the time I moved out, and now (some 20 plus years), they have become ultra conservative.

    While growing up with the hippy parents (often compared to Dharma’s parents from the show Dharma and Gregg), we went to church, catholic school, and observed all the rites of Catholic passage. After my youngest sister was born, they knew that they could not afford to have anymore kids (5 total), and so went to the priest and told him their concerns, he gave them permission to have my father “fixed”.

    My mother had 2 gay brothers, at least one gay nephew, played on a lesbian softball team, and in general we all hung out with the LGBT community, and those are some of the best memories I have.

    I am not sure what happened to my parents, but they went from weed smoking hippy liberals, to conservative, Fox watching intolerant, close minded hypocrites.

    I have unfriended them on Facebook, and even more then that have set boundaries in communication with them. Where once they had tolerance for all the things that made them liberal and hippy-like, they now have fear, racism, prejudice and intolerance.

    My uncles, who have been together longer than I have been alive (over 39 years), I think should have every right afforded to heterosexuals, marriage, equality in every way. My mother now says that it will break down traditional marriage. I came back with, oh you mean like Brittany Spear’s two marriages? Or Newt Gingrich’s multiple marriages, or even your marriage with my father, who had been in a previous marriage that produced my older siblings?

    My other uncle, who unfortunately died from AIDS, almost 20 years ago, who had such great talent, and a warm heart moved away out of state, because he wasn’t supported, and he knew it was best for him to have limited contact. I don’t even think it registers with her–he moved to get away from the negativity of a family full of fools. His obituary, didn’t state that he died from AIDS, no they just said a lengthy illness. She uses the fact that he died of AIDS, as some sort of twisted martyrdom—for her.

    All of that family,10 of 12 kids , have all now become hypocrites. Instead of being kind, caring and helpful, they have become cruel, condemning, ignorant bigots, who watch Fox news for the “truth”. Mind you these are all people who have drunk themselves into alcoholism, smoked weed like there was no tomorrow, some on welfare, some well off, some just making it, and some working for the federal government. Every last one of them is in opposition to my beliefs and ethics.

    So thank you for standing up to the family who told you and then barraged you with negativity for saying and doing the right thing. I hope in time that all those who are so eager to condemn others, for being who they are, will come to see that berating, condemning, and actively discriminate, is the most unchristian thing you could ever do.

    So thank you for standing up for everyone who has tried to reason with those who are unreasonable, those who tell you how unchristian you are for supporting others rights, those who persecute you electronically, through your phone and in person. They should be looking to you for what is right and ethical!

    • Let’s get serious

      As far as what happened to your parents, you may want to LIKE this page on Facebook.

      https://www.facebook.com/thebrainwashingofmydadmovie

      It is a documentary (The Brainwashing of my Dad) that is being put together by someone in your situation and who was asking herself the same question.

      I am not involved in the creation of the film. I did contribute a bit for the crowd funding campaign but that is it. I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.

      • Robyn P

        I will have to take a look. There are a lot of other underlying reasons I have limited contact with them. This is just one of the many. Parents–can’t be alive without them, So glad to not live with them.

    • Andy

      Let’s not forget Kim Kardashian (72 days), Kid Rock (5 months), Dennis Rodman (6 days or 6 months, depending on your criteria), and everyone on this list.

  • Ina Plassa-travis

    Dear letter writer, and all the others suffering from bigoted parent syndrome…I don’t get it, have never gotten it, and my parents died without ever showing a bigoted bone in either of their bodies to show me how it works. My folks took in ALL of my friends, and not a few of my frenemies, and treated them like intelligent, feeling people. I may not get your parents…but I would like to offer you mine, at least in spirit, because something I noticed about the people who loved my folks – they all grew up to be pretty immune to this nonsense, and walk with Christ more often than most pulpit-following nebbishes.

    • dicentra

      They sound like lovely people!

    • Sharla Hulsey

      Similarly I could offer my family… all very Christian, none homophobic or bigoted in any way. One of these days when I do a NALT Christians video, it’s going to say that not only am I Not Like That, but I never had to go through a struggle to *become* Not Like That, because while I was raised Christian–Sunday school, worship, youth group every week, the whole bit–I was raised to be Not Like That. I don’t get families who could treat one another so hatefully, even though I know they’re out there.

  • dicentra

    Before the last election my very sweet young adult Christian daughter posted something gently pro-Obama on her facebook page. This began a series of rants from her uncle which called into question her integrity, Christianity, intelligence, education, and salvation. After deleting several and ignoring it for a few weeks, she ended up unfriending him. He then took to his facebook page to call her out, call her all kind of names, and try to humiliate her in public. We knew only because one particular distant relative (a non-Christian) was absolutely astonished at the behavior of this adult “Christian” man toward our daughter and she let us know it was going on. BTW, this is the very sweet young adult niece who had actually held a baby shower for Uncle & Aunt’s baby not long before this. When my husband (Uncle’s brother) asked him (on the phone — not on Facebook) to take down the post and apologize to daughter for the brutal public treatment, Uncle began raving (literally) and raging and then hung up on husband. This completely bonkers bizarro behavior seems to be epidemic with Facebook right-wing Christians. During the public Facebook rants, not a single member of hubby’s right-wing family defended our daughter or even suggested Uncle should tone it down a bit. We’ve never engaged the right-wing family in any kind of political discussion, and have attempted to maintain cordial and non-confrontational discussions at all times. I don’t know why even the most minor of potential disagreements seems to throw some right-wing families into manic attack behavior. Fear, perhaps? That’s all I can guess. At least in our family, there seems to be a fearful paranoia undercurrent to their particular brand of faith — one which seems (from my outside perspective) to be comprehensively intertwined with politics, fox news, the tea party and right wing radio. I don’t understand why, as 25 years ago – before any of these things existed – these folks were not this way. So… I just share this to hopefully reassure the young woman who wrote to you that her experience is very common. Sadly so.

  • Matt

    I have never heard my mother swear, not ever. She has raised her voice maybe twice in my presence. Yet she can insert poison under your skin like no one’s business. That’s how I grew up thinking that something was wrong with me, and eventually learned to watch out for the nice ones. So, sorry to hear about your awful family. You’re hardly alone!

    Occasionally I say to people who insist I will have to stand before God, “I am not afraid of His judgement. I know that He loves me and will judge me fairly.” And it’s true; I’m not. It has never and will never occur to me to be afraid of perfect love. All I have to fear is right in front of me.

    Also, Cheez Whiz on communion wafers? That ain’t nothing! I once watched a Lutheran pastor chug the entire chalice of wine after giving communion! Didn’t skip a beat, just downed and kept going. He did it again the next service. No one else reacted, but I wondered if I should leave AA pamphlets by the altar. Clearly he was headed for mouthwash next; that communion wine isn’t exactly a fine vintage.

    • chelebr

      Had to respond to the Lutheran Pastor bit…leftover wine has to be consumed. It cannot be reused, obviously, and since we believe it IS the blood of Christ, it cannot be discarded. Leftover bread may be scattered on the ground to be fed to the birds, but birds don’t drink wine. ;-)

      • BarbaraR

        Birds are more cocktail drinkers :)

      • Matt

        I’ve learned something new today! It was so odd since I’ve never seen a Lutheran pastor do that and I was raised in a Lutheran church. Very interesting.

        • chelebr

          Our pastor does it every Sunday. Were you raised in the ELCA or one of the other Lutheran groups? Maybe your pastors just didn’t drink it in front of the congregation. My friend who is a pastor simply drinks it after, in the sacristy.

          • Matt

            ELCA. My church growing up changed pastors several times. Perhaps they drank it after, as you say. It would have never occurred to me considering how often the adults complained about the taste.

        • Guy Norred

          I wasn’t really joking when I told Spintingler to take the big gulp earlier today. Drinking the remains can be an issue, especially if this is the only thing one ever drinks, or perhaps one realizes that that little wafer was breakfast as well as worship.

        • Shaun G. Lynch

          The same rule applies in the Catholic Church. I actually feel bad for my priest, because the sacramental wine tastes fairly awful!

        • Linda Lee Davidson

          My experience as an Anglican (Canada) is that the amount of wine left in the goblet also depends on the wine as well as communicants. Wafer crumbs get mixed into the goblet as well. Leftover wine in the chalice is sometimes not emptied into the goblets to be consumed at the end but stored for use in administering communion along with blessed wafers for shut-ins or people in hospital.

        • Andy

          Carries over to the Episcopal Church too. I once saw one of the ministers kill it after communion, and by the time he gave the benediction he seemed just a bit tipsy. I don’t believe that the EC believes it to be the literal blood of Christ, but does insist that it all be consumed anyway.

    • reconstructorofworlds

      I believe the wine may also be poured out on the ground outside (not down a drain, because sending it to a water treatment plant implies it needs cleansing). At least in my Lutheran churches I’ve seen the pastor and other worship leaders (communion assistants, ushers, the band, alter guild, whoever’s around after the service and of legal age) allowed to drink the wine. My pastors didn’t usually drink the whole thing themselves. I suppose the congregation doesn’t usually see because most of them are gone by the time people get around to cleaning up.

  • usingmyvoice

    Dear young woman in Chattanooga, TN: Hi! Nashville here. I’m not gay, but I support equal rights for every one of my gay friends. Regarding your relatives, near and far… yeah, that’s what happens. Be swift to disconnect; be swift to stand your ground; be swift in rebuking them without rancor. You can do all these things respectfully; the objective is to do them without hesitation. Eventually the naysayers will be silent (a) because you have disconnected from them, or (b) because they finally realize that this is A #1 most important to you, and that bullying, badgering, and berating you about it will in no way change your mind. In fact, you may need to call them on their behavior towards YOU, and point out that they are bullying, badgering and berating, and that you are unwilling to tolerate those behaviors anymore.

    It happens because they are ignorant – ie, they don’t understand that gay people are PEOPLE, human beings; they still think of them as “other”. But let the beraters go; it’s a sure sign it’s time for you to move on to (be)friending those who respect you AND your choices and passions. fwiw, my conservative brother FINALLY got it – it only took him a couple of decades(!), but he no longer tries to argue it anymore, because he KNOWS I will stand my ground. Other people’s rude behavior is really a lesson for US – for all of us who are not gay but are proponents of equal rights – WE have a choice, and an opportunity for personal growth, as we decide what is most important in our own lives, what we will and won’t tolerate, and how we can best handle these situations as they continue to come up. Hang in there and never give up; we’ll get there. Stand your ground.

  • Carole Ashley

    My heart aches for the folks who are not loved, respected, accepted and celebrated just the way they are, the way that God made them. And the fact that the worst and most hateful and most numerous criticisms come from those who say they are Christian–making them my brothers and sisters in Christ–saddens me more than I can say. I pray for us all, and if there were anything more that I could do, I would.

  • Gene

    I can’t believe you’re one of those Cheez Whiz-aphobics. When David’s army arrives at Mahanaim among other things they bring them both “curds and cheese” to eat. Now, wedges of cheese are made from pressing cheese curds together into a block. So, since curds and cheese are both mentioned, the cheese referred to here must not be cheese made from curds. It would be a sort of cheese whiz instead. Don’t be a hater. Cheez Whiz lovers need to be accepted just as they are. It’s a matter of justice!!

  • Linda Lee Davidson

    One strategy to deal with the pain being felt is the Forgiveness Challenge – a 30 day on-line program sponsored by Desmond Tutu. I found it useful in moving forward and in dealing with this type of situation. http://forgivenesschallenge.com/

    • Jessica Arnold

      Thank you!

    • Jessica Arnold

      I started this today. I also have several friends doing it with me!

      • Linda Lee Davidson

        I hope you will find it as useful as I did to accept, live with and move on.

  • Pegel

    It’s nice to see someone else in Chattanooga with a loving heart.

  • Nancy Morris

    It’s interesting to me. who grew up Southern Baptist but figured out fairly early in life that atheism was the only rational label I could wear with pride, that most xtians just don’t read their bible. The New Testament says that Jesus, when asked which was the greatest commandment, replied that “Love God” was the greatest. THEN he went on to volunteer that the second greatest was “Love your neighbor.” Notice that nowhere in there did he insert “and hate on all the gays.” In fact, he never even mentioned gays. When are xtians going quit cherry-picking?

    • Jeff Preuss

      When hate-filled cherry pies stop being so delicious.

  • Yvonne

    I am just a logical woman. God made two sexes, male and female. They were made so they could be joined together to make a third, in order – apparently – to populate his world.
    IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, the only person I would seek for an opinion on this matter is GOD.
    Do you have a personal relationship with God? If so, CLEAR YOUR MIND, completely, and then in a quiet moment ask GOD to enlighten you in a SPECIFIC way. Tell him in what way you would prayfully ask him to answer you: state it emphatically, AND THEN HAVE FAITH and BELIEVE that he WILL, and wait upon the Lord AND HE WILL GIVE YOU THE ANSWER CLEARLY.
    YOU MUST HAVE THE FAITH TO COMPLETELY BELIEVE THAT HE WILL ANSWER YOU
    AND HE WILL.
    THAT IS THE WAY THAT I DEAL WITH GOD.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      By shouting at him? Also, substitute the word ‘logical’ with ‘believer of the heterocentrist human dogma of “natural” “law” who is also a’. A lot of people on here changed from beliefs that were similar to yours because every reason, every experience, and every consequence bore nothing but lies, aggression, and harm from that heterocentrist dogma of yours.

      Perhaps ask why your position is found disagreeable rather than assume?

    • reconstructorofworlds

      I am also just a logical woman. I look around me at God’s wonderful creation and I see that God has created us female and male, and also both and neither and intersex. They were created in the image of God, who did live on the earth as the man Jesus, but who is neither male nor female in God’s entirety, because God is All and cannot be put into a tiny labelled box.

      They were commanded to populate the earth, yes, but it was not their only commandment. Humans were created to care for the earth as one would care for a garden, in order that it also be fruitful. Humans were commanded to love their fellow creations, in whatever form. They were to love God and each other, and worship only their Creator.

      Procreation is neither the best nor the only way to worship God, and to say otherwise is to demean all the saints who chose (or did not choose) to remain childless yet still worshipped God. It is not an act that everyone is called to, and neither is it the only way to be fruitful in life. Many people contribute to the lives of children, not just their parents or those with children of their own.

      Even if we were to allow that perhaps these non-binary or non-straight or non-procreating people are symptoms of a fallen world, they are still beloved children of God, and we are to treat all humans with all the honor that confers. And perhaps it would be good to remember that these people are often disrespected, and therefore need to see God’s love the most.

      And if you don’t believe me, I humbly suggest you take your own advice about asking God to enlighten you. God bless.

      • Andy

        You are also awesome. Thank you for this.

    • Andy

      Have you ever posted on a forum? If so, LOOK AT THE OTHER COMMENTS, notice that most of them do NOT use all capital letters, because they make comments VERY HARD TO READ. The concept of EMPHASIZING certain words using capital letters only is DIFFICULT because it messes with the RHYTHM that people use to read. Furthermore, when you are EMPHASIZING several words a sentence, and SEVERAL sentences AND paragraphs, the idea of emphasis loses its effectiveness. YOU CANNOT WRITE MANY SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS AND EXPECT ANYONE TO READ THEM.

      Fortunately, Disqus allows you to use the “em” HTML tag. SELECTIVELY emphasizing certain words will get your point across much easier. Most people tend to just ignore comments like this because they’re SO HARD TO READ.

    • Bones

      Actually capitals means you’re shouting.

      Why do you need to shout at people on a forum.

      Oh I don’t read anything that people have to shout about.

      So I didn’t read your post.

    • cleos_mom

      Your yelling doesn’t make you sound like a ‘logical woman’. It makes you sound like an angry hysteric.

    • pennyhammack

      I cannot understand why people think that shouting and calling me names will make me change my mind about my sincerely held beliefs. I learned back in the 1960′s, mainly because I worked for a company that didn’t discriminate that the LGBT community are people just like those of us who are more conventional. I haven’t changed my mind and certainly won’t be inclined to because someone screams at me. I can and do read reasoned arguments but will never read someone who can only type in caps trying to make a point. Give it a break lady, your arguments aren’t valid and your tone really turns me off.

    • Robert McHenry

      Using the descriptor “logical” to describe yourself is a tad inaccurate especially when you leave your decision making to an illusionary voice. I have worked with people who hear voices. We understood they were suffering from Schizophrenia… and rarely used the word “logical” to their ranting.

      Next, Your simplistic description of male/female sex as the manner for pro-creation is not in dispute. Every gay person I know has been born via straight sex.

      To take this and then expand it to the (I am assuming) the RAISING of children ignores a few things.
      1. Until about a hundred years ago, children were raised by a community of people, usually composing of extended biological family members and near neighbors.
      2. Many cultures still use the “village” manner of raising children. In this country, African American and Hispanic still often raise their children in the manner. Most whites don’t.
      3. The Mommy/Daddy only model really came into being during the Industrial Revolution about 100 yrs ago. It was good for business and it made the family unit more mobil. But again this manner of raising children is relatively new.
      4. What benefits to gays and lesbians bring to pro-creation or passing genes to the next generation… if you look at it via a 10,000 yr prism… when most children died young, starvation was not uncommon and most communities were “sustenance”. Given these facts, having extra adults that did not reproduce give their labor and wealth to their siblings kids, helped those children make it to adulthood and pass the “family” genes down through time.
      5. In many cultures when the word “family” is used it automatically means extended family. This is not true of most “white americans”. So the idea of Family Genes should be thought of as more accurate than “individual genes”.

      Now, this is a fairly “logical” presentation. I don’t have a direct pipeline into the mind of god. So, I have to read books that very smart people have written… but then I usually believe that god is speaking through these people since we are all his/her children.

    • BigWhiteDog

      I cleared my mind, was touched by his Noodly Appendage and was commanded to go forth, get some beer and pasta and to not to worry about what consenting adult was shtupping what other consenting adult. All Hail FSM and death to caps lock, Ramen.

    • Jeff Preuss

      Because of my personal relationship with Him, God DID give me the answer clearly – I am to be a gay Christian. Ta dah!

  • Kaye Dacus

    I know I’m a little late to the discussion, but I just now came across this post . . . and WOW did I need to read this tonight. You see, I shared another Patheos blog post on Facebook this afternoon–the one with 10 anti-gay things you can’t say if you’re a Christian–and I ended up having to unfriend my brother-in-law on FB because of his reaction to my having shared the post on MY timeline. (Not his, nor was he tagged or in any way mentioned–or even thought of–when I shared the link.)

    Why is it that our “good Christian” brethren take anything that comes across their FB timelines that don’t fit into their tiny little God Boxes as a personal attack when it likely doesn’t have anything to do with them? I ignore dozens and dozens of things every day that come through my FB feed because I find them irrelevant and unimportant in the grand scheme. But, then again, I’m a firm believer in the freedom of each person to have whatever worldview he or she wants and to be able to express that worldview, so long as it doesn’t infringe upon anyone else’s freedoms or rights. But, I suppose, therein lies the problem–the people who attack and attack and attack (whether directly or passive aggressively) don’t hold to that viewpoint.

    Thank you for this post. I’m going to bookmark it and come back and re-read it every time I get attacked by another relative for simply expressing my support for the LGBT+ community on FB.

  • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz Dyer

    I have the biggest smile on my face after reading this! As a parent who has a son who is gay I say: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! A million times! Thank you!

  • Al_1

    Personally, I think being gay must be a gift from God. As I remember it, when I entered adolescence I realized that I was attracted to other guys. I didn’t want to be and I certainly didn’t choose to be, I just was, in the same way that my straight friends were presumably attracted to girls.

    Why is that so hard for fundamentalist “Christians” to understand? Being gay isn’t a choice; it’s just something that happens to be true for some people and not for others, like what race you are or whether you’re tall or short. Would a loving God create people who are gay so that they can be shunned and persecuted by his “followers”? What would be the point of that?

    No, God made me gay because he wants me to have this experience in my life. He didn’t make me gay so that I could be branded a sinner and be purged from his flock, so please stop doing that, those of you who do. You might want to consider whether that is being true to Christ’s message of love or ask yourself if you’re so free from sin yourself that you’re justified in condemning another. Clean up your own house first. I’m sure there’s plenty of work there.


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