Op-Ed: A Plea to Homophobic Christian Parents of Gay Kids this Christmas
The irony does not end there. Just a few months earlier my partner had spent her money buying special groceries and worked hard fixing up our house to entertain my mother like royalty when she came to town for my son's high school graduation. My mother sat at our table and enjoyed the celebratory meal my partner and I prepared and provided together. Mom, on the other hand, wouldn't allow my partner to sit at her table and eat dinner with her family on Christmas Day.
Back to you, homophobic Christian parents, even if we assume, just for a moment, that you're right and that homosexuality is a sin, please, go back to your Bibles and check out how Jesus treated even the worst "sinners" He encountered. And answer this honestly – whose position sounds more like Christ?
"If Jesus were the head of our family, sitting there at the head of the table Christmas Day, how would He have handled this?" Based on everything I've read about Him, every encounter He had with His society's "undesirables," every word that I've read that He said and what He oh-so-conspicuously did not say -- not one word about homosexuality -- I believe that when my partner dropped me and my kids off in front of my mother's house, He would have said to my partner, "Come on in. Have some dinner."
That's what I wish my mother had been willing to do. It will never happen now because my mother has passed away. I’ve gone from spending Christmas with my mother and without my partner to spending it with my partner and without my mother. The opportunity for me to spend Christmas -- or any time -- with the two most important women in my life in one room is gone.
None of this diminishes the love that I will always feel for my mother. I understand why she believed what she believed. I know that she loved me. And I know why she believed that the fact that she – rightfully – loved God even more compelled her to take her stand about including my partner in our holiday gatherings at her home. I also know that, over the years, she found the courage to question much of what she had been taught about homosexuality. She did not act out of stubborn refusal to grapple with questions that were tremendously difficult for her given her life-long indoctrination. She struggled with them. Given the time and place in which her religious beliefs were formed she made tremendous progress toward a more enlightened understanding of God’s radically inclusive love for all people. I am sure that the biggest difference between her journey toward that understanding and mine is that, as a same-gender-loving woman who is called by God to Christian ministry, I was compelled to start my journey at a much earlier point in my life, so I’ve had more time to get there than she had. But she was definitely well on her way. She had come so far that I believe she would be pleased if my sharing this story helps another Christian parent of a child who is gay to take the step she didn’t have quite enough time to get ready to take.
I am grateful that my partner made it unnecessary for me to make a choice that would have hurt my mother. Not having to choose to hurt one or the other of them, on Christmas Day, was a precious gift.
If you are reading this, it’s not too late for you to give your son or daughter that gift. You don't have to understand his or her intimate relationship. You don't have to approve. Just hear this: Jesus clearly never saw spending time in the company of “sinners” and “undesirables” as condoning their behavior. Even He did not see Himself as too “holy” to hang out with them. So you, too, can be kind to your gay children and their partners without “condoning” anything you believe to be wrong. You can just love your child, and be open to the possibility of growing to love someone else who loves your child. It is not too late for you to give him or her that precious gift. Christmas is coming. Invite your child -- and his or her partner -- to come on in and have some dinner. Do that, because, -- in your heart -- you must know that Jesus would. Just be like Jesus. He is, after all, the One whose birth we will celebrate.
Raised in a fundamentalist church environment, Rev. Marilyn Bowens speaks from the experience of her successful quest for spiritual peace as a same-gender-loving woman. A former attorney and professor of Constitutional Law, Rev. Bowens is a dually ordained minister of the Metropolitan Community Church and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Rev. Bowens lives in New Haven, Connecticut. She continues to minister to LGBT Christians, and is a 2011 recipient of the Dorothy Award for service to her LGBT community. Ready to Answer: Why “Homophobic Church” is an Oxymoron is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Author House website.