(The author of this content prefers to remain anonymous, but it is being shared with the author’s permission.)
The Hesed Project believes that harm is being done to our children due to the decisions of Synod 2022 and has become a stumbling block for the faith development of many of our children.
AYFKM. Hold on to it. These letters will be important later on.
Some of you have come to a point of LGBTQ+ inclusion because of the children in your life. You’ve had to wrestle with Scripture and worldview and family dynamics in ways that I have not.
The “coming out” conversations with my children were rather anticlimactic. Adjusting pronouns was an exercise in overcoming habit. Fluidity mixed with the usual teenage drama makes things interesting. It keeps us young.
In our family it’s always been NBD. (No Big Deal).
In fact the only “fear factor” that has been a part of my children’s journey has been “How will this affect your work, Dad?”
My answer: How do you want it to affect my work?
They are in control of that journey and they navigate it with grace. There are some people they are out to and others that they are not – not out of fear but because they don’t want to put them in places of discomfort.
Even my employment I have left in their hands. They know the landscape of our denomination. They know the decisions that have been made. At any point they could come to me and say “Dad, this CRC thing, we don’t want you to be a part of it.” and it’s done. They know this. They love our church.
So what did I do wrong?
This is an assumption of some on how kids become LGBTQ+. I’ve fielded the question from a few friends and family who weren’t there yet. That there’s something that I’ve done to raise gay kids.
Here’s what I think happened…
I’ve raised straight children too.
Same drinking water. Same diet. Same schooling. Same family life. Same networks of relationships. Same chores. Same faith instruction. Same opportunities. Same love. No trauma, harm, or negative events that would set them apart.
They weren’t a social experiment. They weren’t encouraged to explore their gender and sexuality. They were encouraged to clean their rooms.
I’ve got great kids (and adults now).
They’re intelligent, curious, FAITHFUL, kind, they find creative ways to get out of chores, are well adjusted, help out in church, find my sermons boring, have hobbies and friends, and are in every way normal.
The only thing in our house is, again, that being LGBTQ+ was NBD.
It wasn’t encouraged or discouraged. It was simply a fact of being, a normal part of reality, just one of the many differences in people that make them interesting.
…and they’ve turned out just fine.
They’re not damaged or scarred or faithless, lust-filled, hedonists that are out to destroy the fabric of society.
They help with worship. They help with Sunday school. They clean up chairs and tables after Sunday morning potlucks. They talk to their non-Christian friends about Jesus and read their Bibles.
My kids are indistinguishable from any other church kid save two things:
The first is, actually, not as big a difference as one would think. Turns out there are lots of gay kids at church youth groups and events (and summer camp).
The second is actually the big issue – and it’s not for my LGBTQ+ children. It’s a problem for my straight kids.
Now – before I spell out the acronym if you are offended by salty language – and I know that there are some of you who might be a little weak in constitution when it comes to these things – I’m warning you in advance that the F is what you think it is.
You have been warned.
AYFKM stands for “Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?!!!”
My LGBTQ+ kids – bless them – understand the system that they are a part of. They understand that there is intolerance in ways that most of us never will. They know that there are people that they love who won’t accept that part of them – and it sucks and sometimes hurts – but they love them anyway.
My other kids – their view is something different. They know the system – but they also know their siblings. They see the decisions that are made, they hear the “loving speeches”, they also hear the unkind remarks and the passive aggressive treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the church.
Their response: “Are you fucking kidding me?!?”
They see the love and sacrifice of their siblings and they see an ungrateful church actively working to hurt them.
They, too, have the option of telling me to go do something else. They don’t. They’re much closer to the edge, though. They’ve got the closest possible seats to witness the church’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people and they are not impressed.
They’ve been raised with NBD but here’s the thing about siblings – hurt one and it becomes BFD.
One of my adult children is well-versed in our denominational bullshit. They read the HSR. The response: “These people don’t know anyone who’s gay, do they?”
“They say they do,” I answer. “I have my doubts.”
If they did, without judgment and the cultural baggage of poor exegetical work done in the name of culture war, without the threat of hostile community causing our LGBTQ+ children to sacrifice their ability to be without offending the sensibilities of our weaker complementarian brothers and sisters (or worse, their harmful response and practices), if they actually knew them…
…there’d be far more NBD and far less AYFKM.
I don’t know if there’s a point to all of this. I felt compelled to write it. Maybe a few random thoughts in retrospect:
Gay kids are the same as kids.
Gay summer camp stories are just as awkward as straight summer camp stories.
Even in homes where NBD is the norm – there is still a great deal of stress with LGBTQ+ kids because of the stories they’ve been told and the experience of others who thought they lived in NBD homes.
“Is your room clean?” was my response to one of my kid’s “coming out” sit downs. It was not. The rest of our talk, however, was probably a bit of a let down on the anticipated drama front.
AYFKM is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the faith of my children. Harm to others is what the church’s approach to LGBTQ+ is seen as.
My kids are pretty representative of outside the church culture. They are not institutionally siloed. If we are a church that is interested in gospel witness then not understanding that this is how our “love” is being perceived is an existential threat to our existence both generationally and missionally.
I have lots of problems with the HSR: poor exegetical work, poor scientific work, poor committee composition, seminary faculty dealing with pastoral matters who have little, to none, to negative pastoral experience and practice and who did not consult on any of these matters. One of the huge deficiencies is the lack of LGBTQ+ voice. It talks about rather than to and it shows a significant lack of relationship. It’s a straw man document. If you have actual relationships with LGBTQ+ people this flaw is glaring.
I thought, for sure, that I would be in a different career by now. My kids love the CRC, our church, Jesus, and the reformed faith and continue to bless my call to it. Does the kingdom of God not belong to such as these?