For Parents Everywhere

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Did you know that there are homeless kids living on the streets of America? Or are you like me. Did you hear this once and think, okay, okay, no. C’mon. There has to be more to this story. There has to be.

 

Did you know that, statistically speaking, LGBTQ people make up roughly 7-8% of the population (not counting, of course, the closeted) and that 20-40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ? What is the story here? There has to be more to it. Must be. Right?

 

*

 

When I came out to my parents, I didn’t know how lucky I was. I was held close to my family as others were shoved out the door. Homeless. Orphaned. Wandering a world they aren’t ready for.

 

This doesn’t just happen.

 

The Gospel Coalition and Denny Burk and Franklin Graham perpetuate it; they might not know it, but they do. As does a particular reading of the Bible, the lazy literalist, quick google search kind, an approach that has a history of leaving other minorities bloodied up in it’s wake. And then there is the loss. The swift death of dreams, of weddings and holidays and grandchildren; a jolting adjustment to a future that looks different. That looks less than ideal.

 

LGBTQ people today are coming out so much younger in life- meaning: they are still under their parents’ roof. And with that comes the beautiful and painful tension flaring, making all things new. Hard hearts are being made soft. The bonds of family are strengthening. No one ever knows how much love there is until the unforeseen bomb drops, and everyone stays.

 

My parents knew they could never understand what it was like to be a gay Christian, but they wanted to figure out how to be good parents to one. They held the Bible in one hand, me in the other, trapped in a paralysis of unending questions and no understanding to be found- anywhere- from anyone.

 

When my mom emailed the Marin Foundation, it took them less than ten minutes to email her back. She called and they answered. They invited us down to Chicago. They took us in and listened and loved us deeply.

 

They connected my parents to other parents of LGBTQ kids. They built a community around a couple feeling isolated.

 

And now they have done something incredible. They’ve compiled a contact list of parents of LGBTQ kids for parents feeling beyond alone. Parents in the south, for example. Or parents in stuck inside fundamentalism. Those who disagree with their kid or with each other or with the church or with themselves, searching for some kind of path that cuts through.

 

The official announcement of the list came first on the Marin Foundation’s blog, which I’ve reposted below. If you’re a parent feeling alone, drop a line, to my parents or others.

 

Often, I talk about how we sexual and gender minorities are waves crashing and shaping the church into something new. But that’s nothing to say of our folks. These people are our protectors, our defenders, our activists and our listeners.

 

And they are only one call away.

 

From the Marin Foundation:

 

If you are a Christian parent of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) child you may feel alone. You may think that you are the only one who feels this way. You might even believe that no one else could understand your journey. But…

 

You are not alone.

 

The Marin Foundation has put together a a list of Christian parents who have LGBTQ children and have volunteered to share their experiences with you. They would love to listen to your story, talk with you, cry with you, laugh with you, and come alongside you. Most of these parents are not counselors or psychologists; they are simply fellow pilgrims on this journey. They don’t have all the answers. They may not have their theological positions all figured out. But these parents know what you are going through and want to help.

 

To see this list and some other resources for Christian parents of LGBTQ children, Click HERE.

 

The parents on this list come from all different backgrounds, Christian denominations, and beliefs about this conversation. They may not have the same theology as you or feel the exact same way about this topic but they will listen and give advice with compassion and understanding. While these parents are not official representatives of The Marin Foundation and may not reflect a particular theological position (whether conservative or progressive), we have heard their stories and know them to be great resources. What they have in common is a desire to love their children and stay true to their Christian faith.

 

We hope this list will help you in your journey.

 

Much love,

 

The Marin Foundation

  • I had a young friend come to stay with me and my husband and our baby, for a short time, when he no longer experienced welcome at the home of his Christian parents. He was able to transition well enough financially — one of the lucky ones, in that sense — but there is no erasing that experience from his heart. As he considers Christian culture and our claims of welcome and forgiveness…that rejection wound can be healed but not erased. Thanks for sharing the resource, Ben.

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  • Roo James Wilson

    So incredible to hear!

  • Jason

    “The lazy literalist?” I never knew that a genuine reverence for the word of God counted me as “lazy.” Astonishing how somebody who is “as liberal as it gets” and thus ought to be as “accepting as it gets” is so vehemently against those who adhere to the deeply held belief that all Scripture is God breathed. Though we may disagree on interpretation of certain passages, that does not make me “lazy.” You’re burning bridges with that type of talk–and as far as I can tell this blog is about building bridges. Sounds like your message of unadulterated acceptance and love isn’t quite so unlimited after all. I’d encourage you to pump the breaks on your war against all those who disagree if you have any hopes of influencing those who don’t currently share your beliefs (but who genuinely seek to love all people and learn more about them).

    • Aidan Bird

      If you think that literalist = believing that all Scripture is God breathed then I have to bust your bubble now. That is not what it means at all. No, a literalist is someone who takes the Bible and reads the text and ignores the context of the verse, ignores the cues in the text as to what type of storytelling is used in that verse, and ignores the culture the writers lived — and then just state that the meaning of the text can only be this one thing and nothing else. Except, that method often does not work, and it is lazy. Why would you approach the scripture, especially if you believe it to be God breathed, and not even think critically about the context of the verse, the translation you have (and whether that’s a good translation), the culture in which the people in that verse lived and how that influenced the text? Why would you ignore all that? Because that’s what the majority of people who claim to be literalists do. They just memorize verses, often out of context, and then hurl them at others like daggers.

      To me, that diminishes the power in Scripture and ignores all the complexity, diversity, and gems hidden within the text. You can’t take every single verse in the Bible literal — some parts of it wouldn’t make sense or be applicable to modern times if you did. You have to have some sort of interpretation, and a literal interpretation is the fastest, easiest, and less thought inducing method that I have ever encountered. So yes, I can see why the term “lazy” is used in front of literalist.

      Just don’t mistake “literalist” as a term signifying your belief in scripture being God breathed, because that’s not what literalist means.

      • Jason

        Aidan,

        That’s certainly fair and if that’s what Mr. Moberg means by “literalist,” than I agree with both of you. Nonetheless, my broad point still stands – read in context reasonable minds could still certainly disagree on the interpretation of the texts that address homosexuality in Scripture. I simply think that if Mr. Moberg’s goal is to use his writing and experiences to influence others, he ought to be careful about the level of malice with which he addresses those who disagree.

        To disagree does not mean to hate. I disagree with Mr. Moberg and I certainly do not hate him. In fact, I respect him deeply for being willing to share his heart over and over again. That’s risky – it takes courage. But, if Mr. Moberg believes that disagreement and hate are synonymous in this context, then he’s lost himself a reader and I’m going to have to look elsewhere to explore the interaction with Christianity and homosexuality.

        • Aidan Bird

          Since when is two words — “lazy literalist” — suddenly synonymous with hate? You are reaching hugely here and painting his words in a very negative way. There’s nothing in his words that even hints at disagreement and hate being synonymous. You can be critical of someone’s interpretation methods and not hate them; that’s a part of the whole disagreement aspects of a conversation. For you to assume that because he is skeptical of the literalist method of interpretation that he is somehow equating disagreement with hate is a huge leap in logic that makes no sense at all. It is possible to be skeptical of something without hating it; just as it is possible to disagree without hating.

      • Hi Aidan,

        And a further problem is that most Christians will presumably read their holy book in their own language, say English. But the original documents were in Hebrew and Greek. I’ve got to admit, when I’m feeling lazy I’ll use an English translations of The Tanakh or Talmud. But it is more enlightening to use the original Hebrew and Aramaic, to really get to grips with stuff, like we did on Tuesday night. E.g. how G-d is often described in the feminine as much as the masculine, which don’t always come across in the English translations.

    • mark phoenix

      I find it rather interesting that you miss the whole point of the post, in favor of defending your point of view. It is this mindset that has caused many young people to be thrust from their homes because their parents have been indoctrinated, not in having a genuine reverence for God by loving Him and loving others, but rather how to take 6 obscure verses and using them to hate (not love) their children.

      • Jason

        Mark,

        If I wrote an article about homelessness – and in the middle of it I said, “and by the way, everybody named Mark Phoenix is a lazy, loveless good-for nothing who is responsible for ‘leaving people bloodied’ in his wake” I’m quite sure you’d give pause and not pay too much attention to the remainder of the article either.

        Whether you view Mr. Moberg’s comments in that paragraph to be as specifically directed as my analogy above is of little consequence, because that is how I read it. As somebody with a deep level of respect for people like Franklin Graham, that stone was hurled at people like me – people with the audacity to disagree with Mr. Moberg’s position.

        I’m not taking “6 obscure verses and using them to hate.” Open your eyes, Mark. I’m reading Mr. Moberg’s blog for a reason. I know what his agenda is. I’m not here to simply stir the pot. I want to learn about his perspective. Though I disagree with him for the most part, I respect and value his perspective and feel that I can learn from him. Similarly, if I’m reading the Bible and after study and prayer believe the “6 obscure verses” on homosexuality to mean what they say on their face, that alone is not hateful. That view could certainly be used to perpetuate hate, but for me, it’s not. You’re unfairly painting with broad strokes, and like Mr. Moberg, risk alienating those who (I’m assuming) you want to reach for a perspective change.

        • mark phoenix

          The problem, as I see it has to do with interpretation, and how that interpretation is applied to the people around us. Jason, I used to be a far right fundamentalist/ evangelical until I began to see how my brothers and sisters in Christ were using the Bible to damage other people. And while people like Franklin Graham, et al., always say they love gay people, how they react to the LGBT community betrays what they say. BTW I didn’t say you used the 6 verses, but many a parent has.
          You say I use a broad brush in this discussion, I suppose that is fair. Yet the broad brush is used by many leaders in the Evangelical church that paints everyone in the LGBT community as perverted, wicked, and evil with an “agenda” to destroy American culture.
          How would you expect the reaction to be?
          Anyway, I don’t want to hijack this pot so feel free to contact me via my email to chat future. I would love to exchange thoughts.

  • This is so good. Thanks for sharing these resources. They are definitely important! Unfortunately, I am very familiar with the numbers of homeless youth (and how many of those youth are LGBTQ) – as I’m a pastor in Chicago (where over 10,000 unaccompanied youth ages 14-21 are homeless). One way people can help personally is by supporting a fantastic ministry – The Night Ministry – that provides all sorts of resources for homeless individuals and families in Chicago. (From housing for teens, meals, health outreach bus, support groups, CTA cards, etc. etc.) To learn more and donate go to: http://www.thenightministry.org.

    Thanks again, Ben, for sharing this!