Read the four promises a Christian minister made, should his young children turn out to be gay.
John Pavlovitz is a Christian pastor in North Carolina, but he is not what we have come to expect a Christian pastor in North Carolina to be. He's married and is dad to two small biblically-named kids, (left) Noah and Selah. That's the Pavlovitz picture perfect family portrait above.
John keeps a well-named blog called: Things That Need To Be Said, and last week, what he thought needed to be said caused quite a sensation in the lgbt community. John envisioned a furure when one of his children came as gay, and made four solemn promises about the way he would react in that circumstance. His four promises engendered thousands of responses.
"I was prepared for some people to applaud it, and for others to condemn it." John reflected on the response. "That's what happens whenever you put an opinion out there. I was fully prepared for the waves of both support and hostility that accompany any vantage point, especially on a controversial topic like this. What I was not prepared for in any way, were the literally hundreds and hundreds of people who have reached out to me personally to thank me for bringing some healing and hope to their families; for giving them a message they rarely get from Christian leaders."
Have a look at John's promises and see what all the buzz is about:
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children.
I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.
Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.
For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…
1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.
My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret.
I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.
If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.
2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them.
I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal.
I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. I’ll pray the He shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell, without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh, and dream, and feel, and forgive, and that they love God and humanity.
Above all, I’ll pray to God that my children won’t allow the unGodly treatment they might receive from some of His misguided children, to keep them from pursuing Him.
3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them.
I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love.
I won’t love them despite their sexuality, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them; simply because they’re sweet, and funny, and caring, and smart, and kind, and stubborn, and flawed, and original, and beautiful… and mine.
If my kids are gay, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.
4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children.
If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are.
God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.
Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their sexuality that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do, or say, or pray just the right things to get them to “turn straight”, or forever lose them to the other side.
They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.
Many of you may be offended by all of this, I fully realize. I know this may be especially true if you are a religious person; one who finds the whole topic disgusting.
As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, or clicking the roof of your mouth, or drafting familiar Scriptures to send me, or praying for me to repent, or preparing to Unfriend me, or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic… but with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster; I really couldn’t care less.
This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you.
You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.
You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.
And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.
If you’re a parent, I don’t know how you’ll respond if you find out your children are gay, but I pray you consider it.
One day, despite your perceptions of your kids or how you’ve parented, you may need to respond in real-time, to a frightened, frantic, hurting child; one whose sense of peace, and identity, and acceptance; whose very heart, may be placed in your hands in a way you never imagined… and you’ll need to respond.
If that day should ever come for me; if my children should ever come out to me, this is the Dad I hope I’ll be to them.
John admitted he was overwhelmed by the emotional responses his post drew:
Many parents, children, and siblings have confided in me – some for the first time anywhere – telling of the pain, and bullying, and shunning they're received from churches, pastors, and church members. They have shared with me their stories of exclusion, isolation, of unanswered prayers, of destructive therapies, of suicide attempts, and of being actively and passively driven from faith, by people of faith. This is why I do what I do; to let people who've been damaged or excluded, feel seen, known, and loved."
I am not a believer in gods or religions and I usually look at ministers the same way I look at con-men. But in this case, I truly hope John Pavlovitz keeps on doing what he does. Maybe Christian compassion will catch on.
Photos via Facebook