My firstborn just messaged me to let me know that the guy who was trying to get free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s now has the most retweets of anyone, so he’s getting his nuggs. Other recent texts include discussions about the leaked episodes of Orange is the New Black (he watched them, I haven’t), how we felt about 13 Reasons Why, finalizing dates for our summer vacation, making plans for our surprise birthday/Mother’s Day tattoos. It’s a rare day that we don’t make contact with one another in some way. We’ve gone through some difficult seasons in our relationship, but overall, I think he’d agree with me that we’re close.
Earlier today, I read a post from a mom who has cut off all relationship with her gay son, saying that she has given him over to the Devil. In it, she talks about being unable to sleep, feeling desperation and hopelessness, experiencing guilt, despair, and fear. It is a deeply sad post, and my heart breaks for the loss of relationship that she and her son are experiencing. Primarily because it does not have to be this way.
One of the things I have always been taught is that we can know if our actions are pleasing to God based on their fruit. Good actions result in good fruit, bad actions result in bad fruit. Galatians says that the fruits of the Spirit (presumably the good fruits our lives should exhibit) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
While I suppose there is an element of faithfulness to the letter of the law is present in her life, in her own words, few of the others seem to be there. A parent tossing and turning at night because they have broken the relationship with a child who they clearly love is bringing about bad fruit. Not love, but fear. Not peace, but despair. Not goodness, but hopelessness.
Justin Lee spoke at my church a few weeks ago, and one of the things he said was that if Scripture and compassion are pitted against each other, it’s a red flag that something has gone horribly wrong. I wholeheartedly agree with that idea. The spirit of the law gives life, and in the absence of that life, we should reevaluate the choices that we’ve made.
Parenting LGBTQ kids can have difficult days, regardless of whether or not we choose to accept our kids. There will be things we may not understand. There will be people who will try to make us second-guess our decisions. There will be days when we struggle to parent well. Parenting is hard, no matter the circumstances.
This mother, and so many like her, are not bad people. I believe they are doing harmful things to their children, and to themselves, quite frankly, but I don’t think it’s borne of malicious intent. However, in giving her child over to the Devil, she has given herself over to the Devil as well. When we place one of our own into the hands of the Devil, we place our own hearts there as well. By choosing the letter of the law, she is reaping death.
I have not yet met a parent who accepts their LGBTQ child who feels hopelessness or despair. I have not met an affirming parent who can’t sleep at night because of that decision. Because they choose to follow the ways of Jesus, who gave up everything to pursue relationship with us, they are reaping good fruit. They are reaping an abundant life.