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Evangelicals with gay children challenging church

28 Nov

infowarrior1 alerted me to this article.

Rob and Linda Robertson did what they believed was expected of them as good Christians.

When their 12-year-old son Ryan said he was gay, they told him they loved him, but he had to change. He entered “reparative therapy,” met regularly with his pastor and immersed himself in Bible study and his church youth group. After six years, nothing changed. A despondent Ryan cut off from his parents and his faith, started taking drugs and in 2009, died of an overdose.

“Now we realize we were so wrongly taught,” said Rob Robertson, a firefighter for more than 30 years who lives in Redmond, Washington. “It’s a horrible, horrible mistake the church has made.”

Yes and no; they should have told him what God’s standard is, and that he had two choices, for living righteously in harmony with God’s ways: either celibate or married to a woman (if reparative therapy worked). Either of those two would be in line with Scripture. Unfortunate that their church’s failure to present the two godly alternatives open to their son led him to despair, to the point of foolishly taking his own life.

The tragedy could have easily driven the Robertsons from the church. But instead of breaking with evangelicalism – as many parents in similar circumstances have done – the couple is taking a different approach, and they’re inspiring other Christians with gay children to do the same. They are staying in the church and, in protesting what they see as the demonization of their sons and daughters, presenting a new challenge to Christian leaders trying to hold off growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.

“Parents don’t have anyone on their journey to reconcile their faith and their love for their child,” said Linda Robertson, who with Rob attends a nondenominational evangelical church. “They either reject their child and hold onto their faith, or they reject their faith and hold onto their child. Rob and I think you can do both: be fully affirming of your faith and fully hold onto your child.”

Not if your child is in rebellion against God and His ways.

It’s not clear how much of an impact these parents can have. Evangelicals tend to dismiss fellow believers who accept same-sex relationships as no longer Christian. The parents have only recently started finding each other online and through faith-oriented organizations for gays and lesbians such as the Gay Christian Network, The Reformation Project and The Marin Foundation.

But Linda Robertson, who blogs about her son at justbecausehebreathes.com, said a private Facebook page she started last year for evangelical mothers of gays has more than 300 members. And in the last few years, high-profile cases of prominent Christian parents embracing their gay children indicate a change is occurring beyond a few isolated families.

James Brownson, a New Testament scholar at Western Theological Seminary, a Michigan school affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, last year published the book “Bible, Gender, Sexuality,” advocating a re-examination of what Scripture says about same-sex relationships. His son came out at age 18.

Chester Wenger, a retired missionary and pastor with the Mennonite Church USA, lost his clergy credentials this fall after officiating at his son’s marriage to another man. In a statement urging the church to accept gays and lesbians, Wenger noted the pain his family experienced when a church leader excommunicated his son three decades ago without any discussion with Wenger and his wife.

The Rev. Danny Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in California, was already moving toward recognizing same-sex relationships when his teenage son came out. When Cortez announced his changed outlook to his congregation this year, they voted to keep him. The national denomination this fall cut ties with the church.

Ah yes; I had heard about that latter situation, in fact I reported on it here

Good for the Mennonite Church USA and the Southern Baptists, holding the line, at least for now…

(Though how much longer the SBC will hold the line, isn’t clear, esp. in light of recent developments…)

In the United Methodist Church, two ministers with gay sons drew national attention for separately presiding at their children’s same-sex weddings despite a church prohibition against doing so: The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, ultimately was not disciplined by the church, while the Rev. Frank Schaefer went through several church court hearings. He won the case and kept his clergy credentials, becoming a hero for gay marriage supporters within and outside the church.

Not surprising; the UMC sold out a long time ago…

“I think at some point moms and dads are going to say to their pastors and church leadership that you can’t tell me that my child is not loved unconditionally by God,” said Susan Shopland, the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary who, along with her gay son, is active with the Gay Christian Network.

Oh yeah? What does Scripture teach?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And sorry, ma, you’re supposed to love God more than your son, else you are an enemy of God.

Matthew 10:34-37 King James Version (KJV)

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

There it is, in God’s Word. Chew on that.

The article continues:

Kathy Baldock, a Christian who advocates for gay acceptance through her website CanyonwalkerConnections.com, said evangelical parents are speaking out more because of the example set by their children. Gay and lesbian Christians have increasingly been making the argument they can be attracted to people of the same gender and remain faithful to God, whether that means staying celibate or having a committed same-sex relationship.

Those are two entirely different things: being celibate means honouring God; being in a committed relationship means deliberately, defiantly disobeying Him. The one is remaining faithful to God; the other is the exact opposite.

How can you be so stupid as to not see the difference, other than that you willfully don’t wish to?

The annual conference of the Gay Christian Network has grown from 40 people a decade ago to an expected 1,400 for the next event in January.

Matthew Vines, author of “God and the Gay Christian,” has attracted more than 810,000 views on YouTube for a 2012 lecture he gave challenging the argument that Scripture bars same-sex relationships.

“These kids are now staying in the churches. They’re not walking away like they used to,” Baldock said.

Good; now said churches must communicate both the eternal consequences of lifestyle choices and also the consequences for continued membership in the church here on Earth: excommunication for defiance of Biblical sexual norms.

The collapse of support for “reparative therapy” is also a factor, Shopland said. In June of last year, Alan Chambers, the leader of Exodus International, a ministry that tried to help conflicted Christians repress same-sex attraction, apologized for the suffering the ministry caused and said the group would close down.

I remember when that happened; I thought it was tragic; Mr. Chambers had been doing righteous, Godly work, but they got to him, and changed his mind, unfortunately. And there’s nothing else out there quite like what Exodus International was, alas…

At a conference on marriage and sexuality last month, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, the Rev. Al Mohler, said he was wrong to believe that same-sex attraction could be changed.

Oh look; Al Mohler being an idiot again on a matter of sexuality. Why were you wrong? Exodus International worked, at least for some; there were testimonials to that effect out there, I remember hearing them.

Baldock, The Marin Foundation and the Gay Christian Network all say Christian parents have ben reaching out to them for help in notably higher numbers in the last couple of years.

“If it doesn’t work, then parents are left with the question of what is the answer?” Shopland said. “If I can’t change my kid into being a straight Christian, then what?”

Whether or not they can be changed into straight, they are called, just like all of us, if Christian, to live holy, God-honouring lives. For the Christian of homosexual orientation, if they can’t become straight, that means taking up the cross of self-denial, and committing to living a life of celibacy. Either way, they, like all of us, are called to not wilfully sin.

Bill Leonard, a specialist in American religious history at Wake Forest Divinity School, said church leaders should be especially concerned about parents. He noted that many evangelicals began to shift on divorce when the marriages of the sons and daughters of pastors and “rock-ribbed” local church members such as deacons started crumbling. While conservative Christians generally reject comparisons between the church’s response to divorce and to sexual orientation, Leonard argues the comparison is apt.

“The churches love those individuals and because they know them, those churches may look for another way,” Leonard said.

Alas, no doubt Leonard is right; no doubt that’s exactly how divorce became socially acceptable within evangelicalism.

Which is a damn shame, because now we have the worldly culture of frivolous divorce within evangelical churches.

Some evangelical leaders seem to recognize the need for a new approach. The head of the Southern Baptist public policy arm, the Rev. Russell Moore, addressed the issue on his blog and at the marriage conference last month, telling Christian parents they shouldn’t shun their gay children.

Yeah, but as usual, Moore went about it all wrong.

Mohler has said he expects some evangelical churches to eventually recognize same-sex relationships, but not in significant numbers.

A-ha! Preparing to capitulate, are we, Dr. Mohler?

Linda Robertson said the mothers who contact her through her Facebook page usually aren’t ready to fully accept their gay sons or daughters. Some parents she meets still believe their children can change their sexual orientation. But she said most who reach out to her are moving away from the traditional evangelical view of how parents should respond when their children come out.

“I got a lot of emails from parents who said, ‘I don’t know one other parent of a gay child. I feel like in my community, I don’t have permission to love my child,'” she said. “They have a lot of questions. But then they’re going back to their churches and speaking to their pastors, speaking to their elders and speaking to their friends, saying, ‘We have a gay child. We love them and we don’t want to kick them out. How do we go forward?'”

You tell them the eternal consequences of defying God and living as unrepentant fornicators and abusers of themselves with mankind, and you don’t try to sugar-coat it; nor do you try to get the church to change its Biblical stance.

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31 responses to “Evangelicals with gay children challenging church

  1. infowarrior1

    November 28, 2014 at 2:37 am

    And there are testimonies at:

    http://www.gcmwatch.com

    Where many men and women have overcome.

     
  2. Eric

    November 28, 2014 at 2:40 am

    As usual, these church leaders haven’t figured out what the prog end-game is here. Their goal is destroy traditional religion: either by co-opting it and turning into a prog vehicle or wiping it out altogether.

    Notice that it’s always the Church that’s called to ‘compromise’. The progs aren’t willing to give up an inch of ground. The ‘convert or die’ thing is what the progs are demanding: but too many religious leaders are too blind to see it.

     
  3. Gerry T. Neal

    November 28, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Unfortunately, North American culture ubiquitiously preaches the message that I am entitled to whatever I happen to desire. Capitalists and socialists alike preach this message – they differ merely as to the means. Capitalists tell you that if you want something you are to go out, work, and obtain the money to buy it. Socialists tell you that the government will take from the haves in order to give you want you want. Neither is willing to tell you that there are things you may desire that you are not entitled to no matter how you go about trying to get them. Even more unfortunately, many Christians, perhaps especially evangelicals (remember that the whole “name it claim it” movement is a subset of evangelicalism) are as guilty of promoting and supporting this culture as anybody else. It is therefore not difficult to understand why evangelicals are now having difficulties with the options orthodox Christianity presents to those who are attracted to members of the same sex. Neither celibacy nor traditional marriage allows such people to have what they presently desire (presumably those going for the second option will attempt to change their desires). This conflicts with the cultural attitude which for so many, professing Christian and unbeliever alike, is the foremost conviction of the day.

    There is also an appalling lack of sound teaching on the matter of truth and how it is determined. This is the issue that is in question here. Is X right or wrong? Is the answer to that something that is what it is, regardless of how we may feel about it, a standard towards which we are to adjust our behaviour? Or is it something that is subject to our feelings, themselves subject to changing circumstances, experiences, and relationships?

    The evangelicals you discuss are clearly confused, at best, on the matter of truth and like so many who are similarly confused, they have mixed the issue up with that of love, and have muddled the both. A love that would deny or alter the truth for the sake of the loved one is not a healthy love. It is also true, of course, that one can stand for the truth in ways that are anything but loving. To stand for the truth in an unloving manner is no better than to deny and alter the truth in the name of love. Denying what the Word of God and the tradition of the Church say about same sex intercourse, pronouncing blessings upon same sex erotic relationships, or pretending that they are “marriages” is unacceptable. That being the case, we can tell our children what God has to say about this sort of thing without tagging something to the effect of “and you are going to obey or you are no longer welcome in this family” on at the end.

    Perhaps the balance is best found by reading the passage you cited from 1 Corinthians 6 in its larger context. After warning the Corinthians that the unrighteous, of which he gives select examples, will not inherit the kingdom of God, St. Paul tells them that “such were some of you” BUT “ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (v. 11). In the verses that follow this the Apostle tells the Corinthians to “Flee fornication”, (v. 18) not in order to be washed, sanctified, and justified, but because they are joined to the Lord in one spirit (v. 17), their body is the temple of the Holy Ghost (v. 19) and they are bought with a price (v. 20). In other words, because you have been bought cleansed, justified, and joined to the Lord, you are therefore to flee fornication and glorify God in the flesh, not, flee fornication in order to be bought, cleansed, justified, and joined to the Lord. Or to simplify it further – our acceptance by God through grace is our basis for abandoning sin for righteousness and not the other way around.

    If we actually want to help people who are struggling with something like same sex attraction it is vitally imporant that we get that clear. If you tell someone that his acceptance is dependent upon his performance, failure will lead to discouragement and despair. If you tell him that God accepts him by grace because of Christ and that therefore he should try to please Him out of love and gratitude, you give him hope and a reason to keep on trying when and if he fails. The Reformers called this the distinction between Law and Gospel.

     
  4. Carnivore

    November 28, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Doesn’t bode well for evangelicals. Already impacted by frivolous divorce, female pedestalization, American exceptionalism, worship of the military, ‘law & order’ and Israel. Now this.

    If a 12 year old boy ‘comes out’, the parents did not isolate their son from our corrupt culture (probably public school) and protect his innocence.

    Of course the parents are suffering. How about the martyrs under Diocletian? They could continue to be Christians and worship as they wished. All they had to do was to put a pinch of incense on a pagan altar. One lousy crumb of incense. But no, they refused to acknowledge any other god before the One, True God. For that, they were put through horrible tortures before being executed. I suppose they, too, should have looked for “another way”.

     
  5. Patrick Button

    November 28, 2014 at 11:07 am

    It doesn’t help that many Protestants, especially evangelicals, pretty much forget about Pauline celibacy. It’s good that they celebrate the family but they need to acknowledge the legitimate alternative.

     
  6. Will S.

    November 28, 2014 at 11:10 am

    @ infowarrior1: Ah, I didn’t know about those, though we do link that site.

    @ Eric: Alas, indeed.

    @ Gerry: Certainly, we are indeed called to ‘speak the truth in love’, and yes, it is Christ who accomplished the salvation of His people, not us by our efforts; that is the Gospel, or Good News; we don’t have to try to succeed on our own merits to secure our salvation, but rather can plead the blood of Christ, and in fact, as we live out our gratitude for what He has done for us, we can indeed overcome all manner of obstacles, and get better daily. Praise God!

    @ Carnivore: Indeed; this has the potential to damage evangelicalism even worse than frivorce has done, in terms of fracturing it. Of course, they deserve it, for allowing it.

     
  7. Will S.

    November 28, 2014 at 11:12 am

    @ Patrick Button: Indeed, we do have examples of Godly celibacy before us, which we would do well to remember. One doesn’t have to marry…

     
  8. sfcton

    November 28, 2014 at 11:23 am

    everyone has morality until reality bitch slaps them in the face

     
  9. Will S.

    November 28, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Yes, it’s very easy to believe until one is faced with challenging situations.

     
  10. sfcton

    November 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    which is part of why I am against young preachers etc that go from highschool to college to being a pastor

     
  11. Will S.

    November 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I’m generally inclined to agree; I think it’s good to have practical, real-world job experience (and the corresponding life experience), to know a bit of what life is like for the rest of us, before entering the ministry.

    I’ve known pastors in my tradition who’ve had occupations of various kinds, from auto mechanics to long distance truck drivers, before entering the ministry; I think that’s a good thing.

    That said, I wouldn’t want to make it an absolute requirement. I’ve known other pastors who did go directly into ministry after seminary, which they did right after their post-secondary bachelor degree, but in a number of cases, they grew up on farms, and so already had a taste of real-world living like the rest of us, in their youth.

    I do think that one way someone who went straight from high school to post-secondary education to seminary to ministry, can gain real world experience before becoming a pastor of a church, is to do other kinds of ministry, like inner-city street ministry with homeless, junkies, whores, etc. That kind of thing is also an eye-opener for anyone who had a ‘sheltered’ life, as well as a very noble endeavour, striving to help the down-and-outs, show them a better way, The Way.

     
  12. feeriker

    November 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    “I think at some point moms and dads are going to say to their pastors and church leadership that you can’t tell me that my child is not loved unconditionally by God,” said Susan Shopland, the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary who, along with her gay son, is active with the Gay Christian Network.

    God DOES love your child unconditionally, sweetheart, just like He loves you and everybody else unconditionally; He just hates the sin your child is committing and will judge him for it accordingly (and you too, sweetie, for enabling your son’s sin).

    When your child does something bad, you discipline him, sometimes very harshly, but that doesn’t mean you stop loving him, does it?

    More churchianity in action, doing what it does best, with all the trimmings of hamsterization and denial.

    There it is, in God’s Word. Chew on that.

    Churchians concerned with God’s word? That would be a first …

     
  13. Mark Citadel

    November 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    This is such an intellectual cop-out that it’s clear these people do not wish to confront the subject with any mindful rigor, they just want to act on their emotions and disregard God.

    Sodomy is displeasing to God.

    Adultery is displeasing to God.

    Why do these pathetic, buckling Christians react one way to the first, and a different way to the second. What if you had a son who was married, but told you he was sleeping with another woman every Friday, and that he could not bear to let either of these women go? Would you accept the decision and argue that it was all part of God’s plan?!

    If something is wrong, then it is wrong regardless of what people think, so the growing acceptance of sodomy does NOTHING to change the morality of it. This argument is meaningless and would be balked at if theorized to apply to any other issue. Morality is NOT a democracy!

    Yes, he may have had an attraction to the same sex, but where did he get this idea that this was an innate part of his identity, that he was ‘gay’? Someone must have put this idea in his head, and where the hell were the parents on this? Oh, let me guess. They were sending their boy off to public indoctrination and blissfully thinking that he wouldn’t fall under the influence of modern filth and their wicked ways? Fools.

    I’m sorry this kid took his life, it’s hard to imagine what kind of affect that can have on a parent, but the facts are pretty clear on the lifestyle he wished to pursue. And so he defiled the temple of the Lord with drugs and finally, in the ultimate insult to the Creator, killed himself.

    It is painfully obvious in cases like these that raising a child in a modern way with the Christian underpinnings does not work. Society corrupts them, and they destroy themselves. A child must have the full Traditional upbringing and if that means segregating them from the filthy masses so be it. It’s either that or a dead kid.

    I want to ask a very simple question to top off this rant.

    Why, since sodomy became unacceptable and criminal after Europe was finally Christianized, are there no accounts of this problem until the modern era? Why is there not one piece of evidence that points to people who are sexually attracted to males and because of this go on to be miserable and unfulfilled culminating in their suicide? We hear about it non-stop today, so why was it not a problem for our ancestors?

    The answer is simple. Attraction to the same sex may be a condition that appears at all times in all populations to some degree, but this idea of a ‘gay’ identity, this idea that what is being denied is actually who you are, is a MODERN, SOCIETAL DISEASE. If these parents had a lick of sense, they would not be blaming their church and the Bible for their son’s death, they would be blaming the depraved culture that fostered a particularly soul-destroying sin within him.

     
  14. Will S.

    November 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    @ feeriker: Yep, it’s churchianity, all right. All too typical, alas…

    @ Mark: It’s all about feelings to them, not facts.

    Why? It’s the mothers who act like this. But alas, the menfolk are allowing it, so they’re complicit, too…

     
  15. infowarrior1

    November 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    @Carnivore, Will S.

    ”Why? It’s the mothers who act like this. But alas, the menfolk are allowing it, so they’re complicit, too…”

    E Carnivore could you repeat the comment about the roles of Fathers in the family? Since Elusive Wapiti has closed down and so have all the comments.

     
  16. Carnivore

    November 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    I hadn’t realized he closed down. I valued his observations.

    Here’s the whole. I leave it to you to quote what you wish.
    http://carnivorescave.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-proper-roles-of-husband-and-wife.html

     
    • Will S.

      November 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      I hadn’t realized he’d closed down, either.

      He’ll be missed.

       
  17. infowarrior1

    November 28, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    @Carnivore

    Thanks 🙂

     
  18. infowarrior1

    November 28, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    @Will S.
    ”Why? It’s the mothers who act like this. But alas, the menfolk are allowing it, so they’re complicit, too…”

    The husband and the father must also be the source of justice, law and discipline in the home. God gives men, by nature, a tendency to justice, law and discipline. For men, by nature, are more abstract than women; they see the long term; they see how law and justice must be applied if the child is going to learn what is right and true and good. A woman, by nature, sees the suffering of her child or the immediate needs of her child and is moved by emotion to alleviate those needs, and that’s good, because that’s the way God made her. But she has a difficult time applying, with strength, justice, law and discipline. It therefore incumbent upon the father and husband to apply these things. When they are applied by the mother, they are applied in almost all cases badly and inconsistently. And fathers who do not apply justice, law and discipline are miserable failures as parents. They harm society by letting loose children who have no sense of morals or responsibility. And these children, in turn, wreck the lives of others. Sometimes they become outlaws or they become irresponsible spouses and leave their spouses. They destroy other people’s lives and the finger can be pointed to their parents who failed to give them, particularly their fathers, a sense of morals and responsibility.

     
    • Will S.

      November 28, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      No argument from me, infowarrior1; I completely agree.

      Alas, in evanjellyfish churchianity, women lead, and men follow.

      And that is why they mothers of gay kids in such churches are exerting pressure for change.

       
  19. Artisanal Toad

    November 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    The answer to the question “why” is found in Romans 1:18-32. That particular passage is a prophesy that’s applicable to the west, and quite simply, God has “given them over” which means He’s removed His restraint and allowed people to do as they wish. If you read it carefully you can see the generational effect. In the first generation of the curse He gave them over to impurity. In the second generation He gave them over to depraved passions. In the third generation He gave them over to a depraved mind.

    I think there’s plenty of cause and effect in terms of what feminism has done, but who is to say that feminism isn’t just the natural result of God “giving them over” in light of the curse of Genesis 3:16?

     
  20. Will S.

    November 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Yes, it could be that, indeed.

     
  21. Eric

    November 29, 2014 at 9:34 pm

     
  22. Will S.

    November 29, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Figures the prog media would be beating the drum for asylum for them, and no doubt Obama would love the optics of that, getting to paint Republicans as ‘homophobic’ for opposing granting asylum to them…

     
  23. Eric

    November 30, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Will:
    The prog hypocrisy is even more glaring when you consider that these same scumbags lobby for laws like IMBRA and make marriages to foreign women almost impossible for heterosexual men.

     
  24. Will S.

    November 30, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Yep.

     
  25. sfcton

    November 30, 2014 at 12:32 am

    there are men folk in evangelical churches? I call bullshit

     
  26. sfcton

    November 30, 2014 at 12:44 am

    also Will the Bible tells us pastors are to be mature men with grown kids so we can evaluate how well they manage their life before allowing them a say in the church. that rules out the high-school to ministry deal

    it also rules out Catholic priests

     
  27. Will S.

    November 30, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Does it discuss pastors, or just elders and deacons?

    I am Protestant myself, and in my tradition, we may accept young men fresh out of seminary, not married; I know of some such cases.

    If you’re going to cite Scripture, it’s helpful to provide a reference, as to where it says what it is claimed to say.

     
  28. Will S.

    November 30, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Else I call bullshit. Assertion is not argument, after all. 🙂

     

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