Last weekend I was privileged to attend the Gay Christian Network Conference. I was invited to go with my dear friend, a fellow “Mama Bear” as the mom’s of LGBTQ kids are called. When I got home, MJ said, “I can’t believe you went to that.” I told her that I went because my journey is different than her journey. See, as a Mama Bear, I will protect my child fiercely and do everything I can to give her the opportunity to grow into the person she was created to be, to set her on the path that God has chosen for her. I want to know that she will be granted salvation and we will see each other in eternity.
I went to the conference with not a lot of expectation but I knew that I would come away with, at the very least, some language. And, I learned far more than I thought I ever could. I’m still processing it all but I can tell you that God has definitely broken my heart for what breaks his. The LGBTQ community yearns to be known, to be affirmed. The world tells them they are not worthy, but God loves each of them.
Imagine a gigantic room of people, most of who have been kicked out of their churches, finally able to openly sing praise, worship, and pray together. There was this one song we sang which I can’t ever forget. It was a song asking God to draw near during this very scary time in history, when hatred and bigotry against them has resulted in so much violence. The experience was holy, moving, painful as well as joyful, and there can be no doubt that our Father was with us.
The theme of the conference was “Stories Inspire.” The keynote speakers were incredibly powerful. Each of them told us their stories of being Christian and how they’ve wrestled with God. Jane Clementi was the opening speaker. She is the mother of Tyler Clementi, the college student who committed suicide after his roommate secretly filmed him with another male student and then posted the video on social media. This Mama Bear created the Tyler Clementi Foundation whose mission is to prevent online and offline bullying through inclusion, assertion of dignity and acceptance as a way to honor her son’s memory. She is using her story of loss as a much needed force for positive change.
All of the keynotes of the conference are available online. The wonderful Bishop Gene Robinson was the keynote speaker on Saturday. His story is truly amazing. I beg you to listen to all of the keynotes, but especially to his address. And then listen to the one of Rev. Dr. Paula Williams. Listen for how God has worked in their lives. Listen to how they are so loved by Him.
On Saturday night there was a time where the mic was open for anyone to share. For three hours we heard countless stories from people who were kicked out of their families, out of their homes, the churches they attended, their jobs in ministry. Some of them had been through ineffective and harmful reparative therapies, and many of them were close to or had already attempted suicide. And yet, God is clearly with them.
I met and heard stories from many wonderful parents, who also shared how they’ve had to reconcile what they’ve been taught in their churches with how to love their LGBTQ children. They shared how they moved from a place of fear to a place of love, hope, and peace with their kids. These parents love lavishly, widely, just as Jesus would.
Many parents wore “Free Mom Hugs” or “Free Dad Hugs” buttons and stood in the hall available for anyone to come get a warm hug. It was heartbreaking to see how much some of those kids really needed to be embraced. Many of them probably hadn’t been hugged by their parents since they came out.
Maybe you are reading this and hear the pain, but still hold fast to believing that the Bible condemns homosexuality and God’s word is absolute. There is a big misconception that people are twisting the words of the Bible or only believing the parts they want to believe to make themselves feel justified in affirming the LGBTQ community. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We are digging deeper. I hope that through my writing it is evident that I’ve been working so hard to seek the truth.
Beth Moore stated the following when speaking to a large gathering of 18 to 25-year-olds in Atlanta during the 2017 Passion Conference last week: “You will watch a generation of Christians — OF CHRISTIANS — set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE?” -Beth Moore
Now, I love Beth Moore and have done quite a few of her Bible studies but I want to be very clear, Mama Bears do not set the Bible aside or sacrifice truth. We.Dig.Deeper. And we have the courage to live not just in the tension of truth and love, but in the eyes of a world that tells us we are wrong as they shut our kids out, a world where most people have the audacity to proclaim that they know the truth when they haven’t lived or spent the time to work through it the way we have. I think love drives us to seek truth harder than anyone.
Liz Dyer wrote in her blog , “I have a secret Facebook group for moms of LGBT kids (Serendipitydodah for Moms) with more than 1,400 members and everyday I witness the moms in that group asking deep and meaningful questions, sharing profound insight and wisdom, talking about the original language and historical context of scripture. These moms are not people who throw something aside in order to come up with an easy answer for their kids. These moms are not throwing out scripture or setting the bible aside. They don’t want to mislead their kids. They want to know the truth as best they can. They want the best for their kids. They want to feel confident and at peace with the guidance and insight they offer their kids.” The post goes on with quotes from more than 30 Mama Bears who, like me, have been digging far deeper on the subject than Beth Moore would have you believe.
So, here’s the thing – if I could share with you all of the things I’ve learned through my experiences, through the all of the stories and studies I’ve read and heard – if you would study and dig deeper, I guarantee you would have far more questions about how to include the LGBTQ community. And God will break your heart for what breaks his, too.
You will see that, quite contrary to what Beth Moore would have you believe, it is much more likely that the clever scheme that the devil has been up to – is that throughout history – he’s lead Christians to turn against generations upon generations of God’s beloved children. You will see that it’s a whole lot more probable that the marginalization of LGBTQ people is the work of Satan, not just among Christians, but throughout the history of humankind.
In the next posts, I will write more about what I’ve learned. But in the meantime, will you build some bridges with me? Will you get to know someone in the LGBTQ community and ask them to share their story with you? Will you pray for them, please?
PS: MJ is doing fine. Just doing a little freelance work. We are still trying to get her on a more regular schedule and to do a better job of staying in communication. So, the Pathways team has been checking in on her twice a day to ensure that she is checking her messages and getting her work done in a timely manner. And, it’s winter here so she hasn’t been out of the house much. I’ll have to see how I can change that.