I realize I’m not talking to my core audience with a title like, “So you think gay people are going to hell...” However, what I am about to say still needs to be said, even if it’s relevant to only one person. In my last post, I said that it is important to be inclusive when we talk to our kids about sex because the human race is diverse.
If you read that post and thought, "But being gay is a sin, so I can’t be inclusive about it,” this post is for you.
You’ll be less than shocked to learn that I strongly disagree with you. However, I'm not raising your children, and we all have the right as parents and caregivers to teach our kids about our religious beliefs and values. I disagree that being LGBTQ* is sinful. Yet, I will vigorously defend your right to believe that just as vigorously as I will defend a gay person's rights to marry and parent children.
This post isn’t about which of us is right, so if that’s what you’re looking for, go ahead and watch this video, instead. This post is about the fact that these conversations you’re having with your child about sinfulness don't happen in a vacuum, and neither does sex. Even if you believe that homosexuality is sinful, many people that share this world with you disagree, and your child is likely to interact with them. We all have to confront the world as it is, rather than what we wish it was.
You can delude yourself into believing that you can control your child's sexual orientation or identity, but, at best, you temporarily control their expression. Countless parents before you have proselytized to their child about homosexuality and eternal damnation only to be asked for acceptance years later by that same (gay) child. This is also true for choices about masturbation, birth control, sex outside of marriage, sex for pleasure, "interracial" sex, and any number of legally permissible things commonly labeled as religiously sinful.
It is tragic to forfeit your child's earthly peace by making your familial love conditional upon their sexual orientation or identity, just so you can try to coerce them into your interpretation of heaven.
I also understand you might feel religiously mandated to actively turn your child away from these allegedly sinful behaviors. In that case, you might believe that you’re expressing love and carrying out God’s will by rejecting your child’s orientation, identity, or gender expression. However, if you believe God is as powerful as thirteen different ministers tried to convince me he is, then he is powerful enough to speak to your child about their redemption through anyone else. It doesn’t have to be you, their parent, from whom love and acceptance are so essential.
Regardless of what you believe God says about being LGBTQ, it is not a sin to use courteous language that reflects human diversity. The Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt refrain from using gender-neutral pronouns and making heteronormative** assumptions.” I’ve been doing both for a long time and, as yet, I haven’t made anyone gay***.
Our world is undeniably heteronormative. While it is statistically true that the majority of people identify as straight, people who are LGBTQ disproportionately experience violence, ostracization, bullying, and suicidal risk. Heteronormativism does not make space for other orientations, expressions, or identities. This space is a matter of life and death. We cannot leave its creation to fate: it must be forged through conscious, sustained effort (which is why there are pride parades, gay-straight alliances, and other LGBTQ activist organizations).
Do not declare war on your child’s sexuality and use your faith as a weapon. People of many denominations assure me that God forsakes no one, no matter how sinful. If you’re facing a choice between accepting your LGBTQ child and rejecting them because of their sexuality or identity, try to remember that you, yourself, sin every day. God doesn't always agree with what you do, but he promises never to forsake you. According to your own doctrine, he loves an atheist like me, he loves you, and he loves your gay child.
I’ve worked with kids whose parents damned them to hell, prayed over their souls, then kicked them out of home to live on the street. I’ve looked into those kids' eyes and tried to convince them that they are still valuable; that they’re worth protecting with free condoms when they’re having sex in exchange for food.
I’d much rather stand before God and answer for being gay than try and defend doing that to my gay child in his name.
So, if you believe being LGBTQ is a sin, and God blesses you with a child who is LGBTQ, or one who thinks it's OK for other people to be LGBTQ, refrain from being LGBTQ as a gesture of your faith, but I implore you to leave the judgement and damnation of your child to your Lord. Granting eternal life is not your job. Put your child in God's hands and love them the way Christ loves all of us: in spite of ourselves.
*Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning
**The belief that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality
***That is not a thing.
Did you like this post? Then check out this post, The Silence around Sexual Assault.