- by Stephanie Binney -
For nine months your arrival was anticipated with unimaginable joy. Your Mother felt you growing in her belly and her love for you was like no love she had ever known, and she had yet to lay eyes on you. On the day you were born you were swaddled in a blanket and placed in your Mother’s arms. She looked at your face and saw God. She counted your fingers and toes and discovered that you were perfect. A perfect gift from God. God entrusted her to love, nurture, and protect you...always. She had you Baptized. She fed you from her bosom for the first time and bonded with you in love. She checked your crib every night and watched you breathe, thanking God for the gift of you. When you were sick she nursed you, when you cried she rocked you and sang you sweet lullabies until you fell asleep in her arms. She rejoiced the first time you spoke her name. Mamma. She cried from the angst of separation, the sadness of your growing up too fast, and the fear of not having the power to protect you from the disappointments life was about to bring you, on your first day of school.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
She delighted in capturing photos, documenting every moment of your childhood. She hung your scribbles, or artwork, proudly throughout the house. She saved all of your report cards. She played with you, read to you, laughed with you, cried with you, and sang with you. She taught you manners, taught you to be kind, taught you to share, and taught you compassion. All these things she did out of love, the same kind of love that God has for each of us. Well, not exactly, for we are incapable of comprehending the depth of God’s love for us. But the day you were born she was certain nothing could separate her heart from your heart. There would be nothing you could do, ever, that would cause her to stop loving you or to reject you. Nothing, no addiction or failure would ever alter her love for you, her child. In fact, if you were ever incarcerated, she would visit you regularly. She would be there for you always.
Then you grew up. You became your own person with your own ideas, thoughts, passions, dreams and desires. You became you. Then you discovered there was something different about you. You discovered you were gay or lesbian. Somewhere along the way, in your growing up you learned that there was one thing that could yank her love from you like the swift pulling of an anchor out of the water. It wasn’t if you ran away from home, chose a different spiritual path, joined a gang, or drank too much that could separate you from her; it was if you came home and told her you were gay. Somewhere along the way you learned the only thing that was bad, was to be gay. So, you must be bad.
Two young men came to my Sunday School class, The Affirming Group. One was struggling with his orientation as a result of coming out to his conservative protestant parents. The other young man, his partner, was struggling with the fear his partner might choose to walk away in order to avoid being disowned by his family.
I guess the point of this is to say, we need to pray. We need to pray that God will soften the hearts of today’s parents who are so afraid of having an LGBTQ child, that they would consider forsaking them. Turning their back on them, discarding them like debris in their gutters. The thing is, the parents aren’t bad. The parents aren’t stupid. They aren’t even “bad Christians.” They have simply allowed the influence of our fallible society to pressure them and frighten them into backing away from the table before grace is said. They have been told what to think is bad by people whose hearts are like tough leather and lack the understanding and compassion to sit at the table with anyone their friends might consider the “least of them.”
I ask you, will you sit at the table and break bread with those despised by much of society? Will you invite a stranded stranger into your home, without knowing a thing about them and feed them and offer them a shower?
How then can you turn your back on your own child? How can you listen to your peers and spiritual leaders who advise you to tell your child that who they are is not acceptable? That they need fixed. How can you turn your face away from your child who stands before you in pain, looking to you for love and compassion? When did we become so rigid that we would do the very thing Christ would never do? God offers us unconditional love. When did the soft, loving eyes turn dark and empty and when did the arms that were the greatest means of comfort to her wailing child turn so stiff and rigid that they can no longer offer a safe and secure cocoon of protection and love?
1 John 4:4-7-12 says,” 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
God Be Near.
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Steph Binney is member of RMN Indiana and a member of North UMC, an affirming congregation located in Indianapolis. Her family includes her loving partner Nora, whom she hopes to marry one day, and their 17 year old daughter. Steph loves to knit and take pictures. She doesn’t go anywhere without her camera, in hopes of finding a great shot. Steph has worked for an urban university in Indianapolis for twenty years. Finding RMN and being an active member has been both a blessing and privilege as she is passionate about the church being open, inclusive, and affirming toward the LGBTQ community.