Given that Arthur is pre-reading it should go without saying that he is pre-discovering other important parts of his identity – his favorite color, athletic prowess and of course, whether he is gay or straight or something else entirely. But that doesn’t stop me from sinking knee-deep into questions of who my child will become. How could I not, when the percentage of homeless LGBT youth is skyrocketing and teenagers still experience hate and rejection from the very families and churches that are supposed to love and embrace them – just because of who they are born to love?
This morning I came across a familiar post in my Facebook timeline. As I commented there, I have to read it every time I see it no matter how heartbreaking it is. You may have seen this now-familiar story of Linda Roberts’ son Ryan and how he came out as gay to them in 2001 and the tragic end to his story. I’m not here to chastise Linda for how she responded to Ryan’s announcement or to judge the story; in fact, I want to raise her up as a prime example of how we may be blessed in our brokenness so we may be a blessing to others. She found God’s love and grace in a way she didn’t understand, as I’d like to think Ryan did through their time of reconciliation. And now she has chosen to share her experience as the mother of a gay Christian teen so that others in her position can “learn to truly love” their children without condition.
I’m not afraid that my son (or any future children) will be gay or bisexual or transgender. I made a commitment to him the moment I knew he existed inside of me that I would love every part of him with every part of me. My arms and shoulders will always be a safe place for my children, and they will never need to doubt their place in my heart.
What I fear is the message that my could-be-gay child, my bright and sweet boy, will take in from the world around him. From our church, not just our loving and open congregation but the larger church body that governs it – the church that even now tries to punish those who engage in full ministry with all of God’s children. From venemous hate-spewing individuals who claim to represent a God who, if they are to be believed, actively hates His own “fearfully and wonderfully made” creations. From our government, that is oh-so-slowly creeping in the direction of full equality but that still considers gay citizens to be “less than” or “other” in 20 states. From other children, some of whom will inevitably be taught to carry that hate into a new generation.
So, here’s to you Arthur (and whoever else is listening): No matter who you love, you are not less than. You are not “other”, and you are no more different than our precious God made each of us to be. You are a beloved child of the Most High God. You are cherished and adored. You deserve the full love and grace of your brothers and sisters here on earth, and from me you will always have it. I won’t pray your “maybe gay” away; instead, I will pray that you will open your heart to the love of Christ and allow His love and grace to shine through you. And gay or not, I hope you will bring your partner over for dinner sometime.