I was heartsick that a Pastor – claiming to speak for God – called his Christian teenage son ‘disgraceful, demon-possessed poison.’
Many of you have been called words like this – by strangers, friends, people in your church, family, and maybe even your Dad too. And you carry deeper wounds than anyone even knows.
Well, this Mom wants to tell you a few things.
I have five grown children, three girls and two boys – including two queer (their word) daughters. I began my non-profit organisation – FreedHearts – so I could be a safe space, an ally and an advocate: not only for my precious daughters, but also for all the LGBTQ community.
My goal is to set hearts free – to love and be loved.
I read a story (actually, it is very similar to many that I have read, many I have seen first hand) – in which a Pastor condemned, rejected, and shamed his own son – all “in the name of God.” The truth is that it has nothing to do with God or Jesus – it is all about fear. And it is indefensible.
I have no words for the Pastor. Instead, I write this letter to the son – to you – to all the children on the receiving end of this kind of treatment – from a Mom’s heart to yours…
Dear Beautiful Child of God,
YES, YOU ARE - a beautiful child of God. I don’t care what anyone has told you. I feel a bit helpless here. If I could, I would open a home to welcome you and other LGBTQ kids who have been disenfranchised by their families.
I can tell you what I would say if you were my child. I will speak to you from my heart, to say the many things your parents, and your church should have said, but failed to.
1) If you were my child, I would first tell you how much I love you. I would sit with you, kiss your head and brush away your tears. I would tell you that you deserve to be loved, just because you are who you are. Period.
2) If you were my child, I would make sure you know that God absolutely delights in you. Anything else is a pack of lies. God not love you? Crazy talk! GOD MADE YOU! You choosing to be gay? Of course not! It is who you are and how you were created.
3) If you were my child, I would tell you that many parents would love to have you. Countless parents are delighted with their gay kids and they would be delighted with you, too. Let that sink in. Parents who do not delight in their child, including their LGBTQ child, have their own issues – IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHILD! (And unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to help them with their issues.)
4) If you were my child, I would dismantle those hateful lies you’ve been told. I would chase them away just as I would chase away a bully or a bad dream. I would hold you and ask you to listen instead for the Spirit’s still, small voice saying: “You are exactly the way you were created. Imperfectly perfect. Wonderful. Loved.”
5) If you were my child, I would tell you that no one has the right to bully you. Not church people, not Christians, not classmates, not parents. It is NOT love and the worst is to drag God’s name into it, as if God supports all that bullying. Uh…no.
6) If you were my child, I would remind you that bullies bully because they are hurt, afraid and wounded. And bullying reflects their own damage; it does not reflect the person they are bullying. Even church people. Even parents.
7) If you were my child, I would rejoice with you that the day of total freedom draws nearer for LGBTQ people everywhere! I would tell you your life will get better! Love and the truth are winning! This is true whatever situation you are in right now. LIFE WILL GET BETTER! Like spending time in prison for a crime you didn’t commit, the wait can feel interminable – but it will come! Do whatever you need to do to hang in there.
8) If you were my child, I would alert you that many bullies will double-down, because they are so afraid. Their boxes are being forced opened, their lies are being exposed, and their power is being threatened. This increase in attack from them does not mean they are right – it means they are wrong.
9) If you were my child, I would tell you that parents who hurt children are the ones ‘in sin,’ and they are breaking tons of rules – about loving others, not judging, helping your neighbor (your child), serving someone in need and thereby serving Jesus. These are just a few. And Jesus was clear that those who hurt God’s little ones are making a HUGE mistake.
10) If you were my child, I would say: “You do not need to change a single thing!” Changing to gain approval is not what relationships are about. Someone who requires you to change does not deserve you.
11) But mostly, if you were my child, I would take you out to lunch… you would tell me if my outfit is young and hip enough because you would have fashion sense like that, and you wouldn’t be afraid to tell me, because you are bold and brave because our relationship would be safe… and we’d order an expensive latte and I’d ask you about the person you’re interested in…because, how fun is that? And besides, you would be my beloved child! That’s what family does, because they love each other like that. I mean for heaven’s sake, what is family for?? And anyone who tried to bully you would have to go through me first, and let me tell you they wouldn’t be able to. I love you that much.
I am sorry that you’re not my child. I am sorry for everything you’re going through. I am sorry your parents may never say these things, nor will they be able to hear these things. They are deceived and they are believing lies – about God, about you, and about themselves.
The best I can do is send you love: love from me, from countless moms and dads of gay kids who love you exactly as you are. We will never stop loving you, we will never stop fighting for you, and we will never stop standing against the hate and the bullies – even when the bully might be your own Mom or Dad.
And I will keep speaking that loving truth of who you are, because we ALL need to hear that over and over and over again.
Susan is a prominent voice for Christian parents of LGBT children. She is an international speaker, teacher, theologian and pastoral counselor. She is the Founder and President of FreedHearts and FreedHearts Online. Her book “Mom, I’m Gay”—Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith is published by Westminster John Knox Press. She is also the author of a healing workbook for LGBT - True Colors: Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You. She has just released full comprehensive video courses for Christian parents of LGBT children, for those who are LGBT, and for the faith community. You can find details on Susan, her books and video courses, and lots of other great resources at www.FreedHearts.org.
See previous articles by Susan Cottrell