Tag Archives: parents

Gay Parents or No Parents. What’s Better?

holding-hands-380x252Like being a hair stylist or a bar tender, when you work in retail cosmetics people tell you their stories. It’s amazing to me sometimes how compelled people seem to be to talk when I have them in my chair. I’ve had people weep, spill their deepest secrets, and talk all kinds of crap about their next door neighbor. You get used to it after a while.

Last week I had an interesting one. I say interesting for several reasons… I was working with a woman who I guessed to be nearing 60. She was a kind, soft-spoken woman who struck me as being a little overwhelmed in her surroundings. It was no surprise to me at all when a conversation about her skincare turned into a conversation about her daughter who was going through a divorce. She felt her daughter was making a bad decision and was concerned for both her child and her soon to be ex-son in-law, whom you could tell she loved very much.

After that she went on to lament how the world was changing. She took a long glance around the store I work in and then quietly asked if I work with many gay men. It’s important to understand that I live and work in a small town. This small town is pretty liberal in its views– to an extent. But at the end of the day it’s still a small town and the majority of the people here are senior citizens. I replied that yes, having been with the company for nearly six years I had worked with quite a few gay men. She commented on how places like my store and salons always had lots of gay employees, and then with a look of plain confusion admitted that the gay men who’ve cut her hair had always done the best job. I was doing my best not to chuckle and agreed that I’ve had many male co-workers who are amazing artists.

I could see in her face that she had more to say and just about the time I thought she’d decided against it she stepped closer to me and her thoughts just started pouring out. She told me that she is a social worker and deals with the placement of foster children. A lot of her job has to do with monitoring how a child is doing in their foster home and sometimes seeing to the details of adoption when the fostering goes really well. She was particularly concerned over a set of parents she would be meeting in a couple of days, gay men, who were fostering a little girl who had been removed from a heartbreaking abusive home. It was clear without her having to say the actual words that her moral compass dictated that she believe there was no way that this gay couple could be good parents for the little girl, the trouble was that all reports were to the contrary. Everyone she spoke to who had visited the couple couldn’t say enough about how much these men love that little girl and how well she was doing in their care. There was nothing but praise for their parenting.

As she spoke I could see the battle going on in her mind. Her face showed how she was weighing her genuine desire to see children safe and happy against her understanding of truth.  Right and wrong as she understood them were colliding in a way she didn’t know what to do with and were causing her to pour her heart out to a sales girl in a makeup store.

As I listened and wrestled with my own questions I felt compassion for this woman and grateful that she was wrestling too and not just making hard and fast decisions. Once she’d finished talking I asked  for myself as much as for her, “You said the little girl came out of an abusive home, can we trust God enough to believe that it’s better for her to be loved by two gay men than to be abused by a straight couple?”

In the moment I had forgotten where we were, that she was a client– we were just two people having a conversation about very real things in our world. As soon as the question was out of my mouth, however, I remembered and I was a little nervous that this was a little more than she’d bargained for out of her trip to buy cosmetics. Fortunately her response was one of gratitude, relief even. Maybe she just needed someone else to ask the question, I don’t know, but we both walked away liking one another better and with something to think about.

I’ve been thinking about it for a week now, actually I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.

It’s interesting to me that the conversation happened at all. If she’d have gotten pretty much anyone else in the store to help her and had that conversation the chances high that she would have offended them. So I just wonder why, knowing nothing about me personally, she felt safe to talk? I can only assume that it was God.

I haven’t been able to get that little girl off of my mind and a couple of nights ago as I was thinking about her and the whole situation God brought a new question to my mind.

“I can use all things for good. Can you consider that maybe I am using the love of two fathers to teach my child who I am?” 

I can’t imagine being a little girl in a world where the mother and father you are born with aren’t the anchors of love and safety they are meant to be, but instead are the cause of pain, fear, and abandonment. It is humbling and powerful for me to realize that maybe for the hurt she has suffered, the love and protection of two fathers is exactly what she needs.

I believe in a God who can use all things for good. Because He is God.

This understanding doesn’t change my ethics when it comes to sexuality, but it does change my heart for the way that we, as followers of Christ, view the bigger picture and how we relate to other people. Whether or not that gay couple adopts that little girl, they have made an impression on her life for love. What will it say to her about God as she grows if His followers are dead set on condemning the people who showed her kindness and protection when she needed it most? The answer to that question bothers me.

This is a challenging place to be in, it’s a challenging way to force myself to think, and yet, I have to. I have to believe that we can do better than we’re doing.  I’m not suggesting that we give in, or that truth doesn’t matter.

We need to be careful to focus on individual people, not categories and labels. There is no universal solution to a problem based on categories or labels, only individual solutions to individual problems based on individual people. It is a lot harder and messier, but it is the only way to be loving. In the thick of things it’s easy to lose sight of the actual lives involved. I see it happen all the time– a lot of Christians seem to want to think that because only families made from married heterosexual couples are “real” families and so all of the pseudo “families” out there can’t possibly have real bonds to one another and we become disconnected to their real human feelings, we don’t empathize with the fact that from where they’re sitting it sounds like we’re determined to tear their families apart. When we make a habit of categorizing people and giving them labels instead of relating and engaging with the people, we dehumanize them and justify treating them as though they have no feelings.

We also need to consider that if we’re going to be opposed to a solution, such as gay couples adopting and fostering when there are SO many children who need safe homes, then we have to have an alternative solution that we personally help make happen. We have no right to kick and scream when gay couples foster and adopt when we aren’t doing anything ourselves to solve the problem of parentless children. Remember, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.”  The problem it’s easier to fight other people’s solutions than to find them ourselves, and I think in doing that we’re missing the entire point.

Through it all we can’t lose sight of truth, which means actually and actively seeking it. It’s hard work, it means not only investing in our relationship with God, but being invested in relationships with others and it will cost us everything we have, but it’s worth it. The problem with our culture is that people want everything to be not only black and white, but black and white all the way down the column–  If you think same-sex attraction is a sin then you’re anti-gay marriage, anti-gay fostering and you don’t want any gay people (even chaste ones) in your church. Likewise, if you think it is ok for gays to adopt then you can’t possibly believe what the bible says about sexuality and that you must completely condone homosexuality. The thing is nothing, not people, not issues fits into these black and white standards and we miss what God is actually doing when we try to force them.

What it all comes down to is that we can’t allow a desire to affirm the good in a bad situation turn into a willingness to let what is merely good not be better. We have to let what we believe speak through our actions, we have to know what we are for and then give our lives for that, rather than sitting back and raising hell about how other people have sought to meet needs in the world around us. This is where we find the balance in truth and love, when we take responsibility instead of casting blame, when we choose to find reasons to relate instead of reasons to draw a line in the sand and choose sides.

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In Case You Were Wondering…

More than once I’ve been faced with the assumption by others that if circumstances were to change in my life and in the life of my family, my beliefs would also drastically change. That myself and my siblings would, as they say, “be singing a different tune” when it comes to our convictions about God and sexuality.

I’ll be honest, if your goal is to see me angry, this assumption has been the fastest way to get there, not because it’s a sensitive area for me, not because it causes me fear or anxiety, and not because it calls into question (which it does) my faith in my dad. No, the reason this assumption can take me from zero to seething in the time it takes to make it is because it calls into question my faith in God and the very nature of my relationship with Him, as well as that of my siblings.

Facing this recently I realized that I’ve never actually taken the time to sit down and address the assumption head-on. Honestly, I’ve been so caught up in being angry that most of the people making it have never voiced it to me or my family personally and given us an opportunity to answer their questions, it never even occurred to me to spell it out myself so it was available to those who wouldn’t ask.

So, in case you were wondering what I would do/feel/think if my dad decided to embrace the identity of a gay man and settled down with a male partner, this blog entry is my attempt to answer those unasked questions and speculations.

I understand that most people have had to do very little thinking about their parent’s sexuality and the effect it has on their life, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for most of mine. I haven’t thought about what  would happen if my dad left us for a relationship with a man once– I’ve thought about it thousands of times in my 32 years of life. When people start to speculate over what we, my dad’s children, would do if he changed his mind about the type of life God called him to, they always ponder it from this mentality that it’s a possibility that we’ve never considered, the reality of which would be completely devastating to us.

Being closely involved in my parent’s ministry for the majority of my life, I have seen up-close the pain and devastation of family’s being ripped apart by same sex attraction. I have witnessed the most steady stumble and the strongest of strong broken into bits. The possibility, no the inevitability, of my parents stumbling, failing, or falling and the pain it would cause our family has never been lost on me. I have never felt sheltered from disaster or lulled into believing that based on my Dad’s choices we have some kind of  immunity from suffering. My parent’s relationship was never a veil of perfection, and I say that with the deepest respect and love for both of them. It was very raw and honest. But these very real possibilities that have always been present in my life, are NOT sources of fear for me because if my parent’s taught me anything it was to trust God more than I trust them.

What I believe isn’t built on the foundation of my Dad’s behavior or even on what he believes. My convictions have been formed through years of knowing just how perilous the road we walk is and how much risk there is in taking it, but learning along the way that through it all God is good. God is love. And God is faithful, so “even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close”.

I can say today, with complete confidence, that my circumstances will always change, but God does not, and in that knowledge I invest my hope and security.

If my dad came home with a partner tonight I would feel angry, upset, and hurt. I would grieve, and I would believe he was wrong, but it wouldn’t change the reality of who I know God is and what my relationship with Him convicts me is true.

My love for my Dad would be the same. He’s my Dad, and I know him to be a man who struggles for righteousness in spite of himself and in spite of his occasional shortfalls and it isn’t the shortfalls that define him or my relationship to him. It’s not as though a change in circumstances would be forcing me to confront my Dad’s sin, as though I never had. At the end of the day people want to act like SSA is somehow an especially rebellious sin and it isn’t. At the end of the day someone’s pride, or their other deeply internal sins are far more deadly because not only can we not see them as clearly to help,  but they may not even see it themselves. At least with something like SSA, the issue is obvious and everyone knows what it is.

I have nothing to fear from what is exposed and out in the open and I relate to my Dad, a person who sins, as a person who is, myself, also a sinner.

Just like we need to stop putting labels on people that categorize them because it objectifies the subject, we need to stop talking about “relationships” and talk about “relating” because its the same problem. A relationship is an abstract object, but you relate to a subject. We talk about “having a relationship” like it is a thing we possess rather than relating to a person. We also tend to use relationships as a way to exercise control over other people, threatening to abandon the relationship if our expectations are not met. The nature of relating, however, is humble, it’s open and vulnerable. Isn’t this the example Jesus gave us? People have this sense that God “had to” become a human and die to fulfill some kind of cosmic blood debt that he owed himself but he could have done anything he wanted to do. He’s God! But God is love and love relates. So He became us to better relate us to Himself.

I wouldn’t believe that my father had fallen from grace, I would trust that he had fallen into it and rest in the understanding that God’s love for him is bigger than sexuality.

On the flip side of that coin, neither would I be tempted to recant my beliefs about what the bible says about sexuality and I wouldn’t change where I stand on speaking truth and love. It wouldn’t alter what I believe about salvation or grace or redemption.

I know there are some who will say that this is all easy to say, easy to convince myself of when it’s not my reality, but please, while you’re assuming and speculating, consider for a moment that my life has involved harder realities than the reality of my dad sleeping with another man would be, and here I am and God is still God.

family

*Also, I’m not making an attempt here to speak for my sibling, even though I know how their answers to this question would go, they are entitled to their own way of expressing their feelings and I don’t want to strap them to my own.

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Video Tuesday: The Huffington Post on Mixed Orientation Marriages

Well I couldn’t get the video to show up in the post so you will have to click this link to watch this fascinating discussion on Mixed Orientation Marriages.

On the panel they have

Juliet Jeske – Check out her blog post One ‘Straight Spouse’ for Marriage Equality on the Huffington Post site.

Ty Mansfield – He is sharing his story of Living With Same Sex Attractions with the world in this wonderful blog post by he and his wife

Carren Strock – She is the author of the book Married Women Who Love Women

Amity Buxton- She is the author and founder of Straight Spouse Network

I wish they had been able to talk more about the family and kids of those in MOMs but I still think it’s worth listening to and I would love to hear feedback. I think as the days go by we will see more and more discussion on this topic and I think it is important for families like ours to speak out and share our stories good or bad.

This is a video of our dad talking about being married to our mom.

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Exodus Week-End Review for Nov.16th

Great video this week, Alan answers a question that is probably on a lot of peoples minds right now and shares some great resources . Watch the video to find out more about . . .

http://exodusinternational.org/

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A Safe Place.

Today I read this article Growing Up With Two Moms:The Untold Children’s View, it was written a few months ago by a man named Robert Lopez who grew up with two moms, he shares about his confusion and difficulty growing up without a father or any other male role model.He also talks about feeling silenced by the gay community .  Having grown up in a somewhat more traditional family with only one SSA parent I don’t know the same pain as Robert Lopez but I do identify with his frustration about not being counted,but instead silenced. He talks about being ignored and treated like it would be better if his voice was erased from the public conversation on this issue. And while I don’t share all of his views I appreciate and commend his determination and willingness to speak out .

He also talks about the affirmation he found in the 2012 Regnerus Study , a study that explores the impact of SSA parenting on the children involved. And it makes sense that he would feel that way. The study has received praise and criticism but I don’t think voices like Mr. Lopez’s can be ignored anymore.

At Tourniquet we are not here to push any agenda whether we agree with it or not. What we are here to do is give people like Me, like Mr. Lopez , like you a safe place to speak, a place to find support and understanding and a place to find a way forward. We believe that restoration is possible even in these  hard situations and that no matter what your upbringing you can find hope and freedom through a relationship with Jesus Christ. We hope to one day be able to reach more and more kids of SSA parents because we know the loneliness of growing up where you are misunderstood from every side and we have found that there is restoration in Jesus and a purpose in our stories!

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Awesome Blogs: Boldly Sharing His Story.

I just read this wonderful testimony from a young man named Everett Wickham, it blew me away. He shares about his journey with Same Sex Attractions, porn addiction and his desire for God. Go read it for yourself and leave him some encouragement or a kind word. I think he is very brave for sharing his story . To see a man his age longing for God with such determination in the midst of such a serious battle is really very cool. And it’s not that he believes that God is going to magic his SSA away, he says in the post

“We (as Christians) all wrestle with various sins, and if I had to pick something to struggle with, this sin would not be it. But I can’t choose my struggles. Neither can you. I can, however, choose what I do with them. I can choose to deny myself every day, and take up my cross, and follow Christ. So can you.

And that is what I am doing. This journey is a very difficult one, and God is still writing it. I am turning my story over to Him, and I am submitting it to Him. Part of that is obeying His command to share it with you. Living two different lives is utterly horrible. And telling you my story brings a great level of transparency to my life. It’s God’s story to do what He pleases with. I am His child. God is showing me that He does indeed “cause all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28).”

! Very cool stuff. Go read it! And then pray for this young man, we as the body of Christ need to be constantly praying and lifting up the younger ones in our family.

Also check out Truth Ministry in South Carolina,their director McKrae Game who, as you will see in Everett’s story helped him so much, has a wonderful testimony and  blog too!

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A collection of wounds

” When I cannot feel, when my wounds won’t heal. Lord I humbly kneel, hidden in You.”

I can’t remember how old I was when I heard this song for the first time, probably 11 or 12 but I do remember where I heard it. It was at a Dennis Jernigan concert I went to with my parents. They had first heard about Dennis when he lead the worship for an Exodus Freedom Conference. They  came home and told us about this really amazing guy and the beautiful songs he sang. At that time in my life I was struggling a lot with my relationship with God and my parents . As a girl getting to a certain age I needed something from my dad that he wasn’t at the time, great at giving. At that tender age I wasn’t sure how to express my own femininity , it had been my experience that being too girly got you hurt or at least that was my perception and my dad didn’t seem to be a fan of the female body or what it represented so I had a lot of pain and anxiety sitting on me and some major confusion and I had already started a collection of these wounds . Hearing this song that night was like a life line to me. My heart was so overcome when I heard those words and for the first time realized that I could take that hurt and pain to God. So I began to go to Him when I was feeling those wounds pressing down on me, sometimes I would be laying flat on the floor or curled up in a ball by this pain and when I offered these things to Him you know what? I was able to stand, to get up and to let those things scatter at my feet instead of being piled on top of me.

Just like when a young child gets hurt, what do parents do? They hold their child , they say ” I’m so sorry you are hurt, it’s gonna be ok. I love you.” It doesn’t take the pain away and it doesn’t turn back time and stop the hurt from happening but it’s what they need . It’s what WE need.

We can pile up wounds  around us like little stones and as that pile grows we are more and more buried, shut out from the world.
The way I see it , when I am hurting I have two options. Add to my stone collection and carry the weight of those hurts everywhere I go or I can release that hurt to God. That doesn’t mean He will take the pain away instantly but it does take the weight off of me and its giving it to One who knows my hurt and  loves me with such a furious love that he will not only hold me and love me through it but he will use that hurt for so much  good. Maybe I have to do it every day, maybe every minute but I can tell you I’ve tried both ways and just knowing there is a Father waiting with open arms to take my pain and comfort me
gives me  just enough courage to keep going.

                                                                                                                       

As children we grow up with this idea that we know our parents, and know them well. But when a parent shares something like a battle with Same Sex Attractions that grand illusion is shattered and it’s scary . But you know, we are not alone,children of men and women with Same Sex Attrations, because the truth is, all parents have wounds of their own and their own places that need God’s touch.

Still, it’s a shock to learn something about your parent that you never guessed at or even if you did it’s still hard when it’s spoken true. And I know it can feel like a ball of fear and anger and uncertainty just sitting on your chest but hold out that pain to God don’t be afraid to tell Him how you really feel about it, let Him comfort you.

Whatever you are dealing with in your life, whatever the wounds I hope you know you can be completely honest with the Lord and I hope you know that that’s the reason we are writing this blog, to give you another place to reach out to. I wanna leave you with a video of Dennis singing that song that touched my little girl heart so many  years ago, I hope it can be a lifeline for you as well.

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Proud Daughters Are We.

A few months ago our church NewChurch Georgetown asked our dad to help them make this video by sharing about his relationship with our mom. We are proud to share this little bit of their story with you here.

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God of Wonders and Waiting.

Wait upon the Lord. UUhhh how often do we hear that ? It can come from a friend or family member .Maybe they are  just trying to help, maybe they really don’t know what to say or maybe they are just trying to keep you out of jail … but sometimes it comes from the Lord himself. Ever have that conversation where you are sharing with a friend and you tell them, “I’m not hearing from God” or “ It feels like God is silent” it can be the most frustrating thing in the world .

I don’t like waiting, I am a do-er , If there is a cause, I am ready to champion it. if there is a battle I am ready to rally the troops and join the fight. Wait! what are you talking about God, you have prepared me for battle, lets do this! So when all you are hearing is nothing, it’s understandable that you might feel lost.

In the midst of this silence  I decided to turn to scripture and see what all this waiting is about, turns out God says that a lot. Does He know the human race or what? In Psalm 27:14 it says “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say on the Lord.” In Isaiah 40:31 it says “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.“ Ok so I see in that, that God wants to use my time of waiting to renew me and strengthen me. But what if I feel strong, what if I feel ready?

Matthew 23:37 says “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

That’s what I imagine God is thinking when I have been too hasty and rushed into action when I knew I needed to wait. How blessed are we to have a God that is always willing to give us another chance to be a part of what He is doing!

Maybe another aspect of the waiting period is that God is doing something. Maybe He wants us to wait and see what He is up to.
Psalms 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Perhaps what God is trying to get through to us is that He has created this time of waiting as a provision of rest, of renewal and of wonder. God didn’t need Moses to part the red sea but He wanted him to be a part of what He was doing. I think He also wanted to show Moses the wonders He could do on the behalf of His beloved. If you are going through something that feels hard and you just want God to tell you what you need to do but He is staying quiet think about maybe telling him that you are ready to see Him do something awesome! I don’t know about you but right now I wanna be someone who can say the words from Isaiah 25:9 “And it will be said in that day: Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

 

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