Posted by: JennyRain | April 13, 2010

Will They Laugh if I Call You Daddy? Growing Up With a Gay Father: Day 2

Day 1, Day 3

My stomach is in knots over this post.

I want to write it with the right heart. I want my motivations to be pure as I tackle this issue.

And yet I do not want to abandon that part of me that needs to tell my side of this particular part of my story.

My goal with this story is to show that even in incredibly difficult situations… God can redeem ANYTHING if we allow Him into our pain.

…for in You the fatherless find compassion…Hosea 14.3b 

 
 

My favorite picture of Dad, me, and Dencil

Yesterday I discussed what it was like to be an evangelical Christ follower who is the child of a gay father.

I talked about the juxtaposition of the two and how they, well, clash sometimes.

The second most painful event for me as a Christ follower with a gay father happened about five years ago.

One of my first writing attempts, the Modern Day Samaritan was picked up by a Christian online magazine. It is a magazine I still believe is impacting hearts and lives for Christ.

I was elated that my article was picked up! My article was the true story of something that my father did to help out someone in need. It was also my first serious writing attempt and my first attempt to get published.

But here is the rub…

There was a very simple edit that this magazine decided to make to the story.

Not a big deal except they changed ONE pivotal word, and that ONE word happened to be the center of gravity for the ENTIRE story.

This was the sentence:

For that brief five-minute exchange, he forgot that he was a gay father who had struggled… He forgot that he had been rejected by the majority of people he came in contact with.

The word that was edited was “gay.” It was changed to “single.”

I had not noticed it. My friends did not notice it. We all knew the story, so we mentally substituted the correct words I guess.

My dad caught the change and gently asked if I had noticed it.

My heart fell.

Surely, this community that I love could not have been that brazen to change the meaning of the story like that? This magazine is cutting edge, they tackle the tough issues. I love this magazine.

But change it they had.

At the prompting of a dear friend of mine, I went back to the editor and asked if they knew they had changed the entire crux of the story with the edit of that one word. I was sent a couple of places and the final answer I received for the change was, “it must have been removed in the editing.”

Dad was hurt. I was devastated.

This gift God had given me, in the form of a story, to encourage my father had been single-handedly shattered by this magazine.

And though I still believe in the mission of this magazine, they will no longer answer my emails or stories for submissions.

Bummer.

This single act crushed my dad’s spirit and pounded the nail in the coffin for any future hope I might have for showing him some of the amazing love, compassion, acceptance, and kindness I have found in this evangelical community I am a part of.

By changing that ONE word, the resulting message that one magazine sent to my father was that there was something defective and unacceptable about him. What was a simple edit turned into a really negative message for my dad.

Ugh.

 Yet, even in this difficulty, God prevailed.

In late 2005 I was painting. When I paint, I pray. Painting and praying. Praying and painting.

I got the strong impression run through my Spirit that the article needed to be submitted again. This time to a different type of magazine.

The Blade

Mmm, excuse me?

I had a full-on OMG moment in the kitchen.

Frozen, I watched burnt-pumpkin paint drip-drop onto my vinyl kitchen floor as I tried to ascertain if this was paint fumes or if this was God.

The Blade is a gay magazine. A GAY magazine!?!

Throughout the next few days I prayed diligently.

Then I moved on the impression and sent in my article to the Blade.

Within 24 hours Chris Crain – then editor of the Blade – published the story online in both the Blade (DC) and the Southern Voice (ATL).

A Christian parable in a gay magazine! Can you believe it?

It went live online and in print Christmas Eve of 2005 in DC and was syndicated online to Atlanta.

The story was my Christmas present to my dad that year.

We were listed as co-authors. That was my Christmas gift to myself that year.

The next few days I received scads of emails from gay fathers like these…

I read your offering in the Blade. What a beautiful sharing.  I cried…I, too, am a gay father with a 23 yr old daughter.  We’re all capable of doing wonderful things and your father set a great example.

I was just on the Metro coming home today when I was reading your story about your father and the destitute young man. It touched me so deeply I wept. It brought to me so many different emotions and all of them strong. The sympathy for the young man, the warmth of your fathers compassion, and above all I really felt the pride and love you have for your father. As a gay man I can tell you that we all hope for and many times do not receive such acceptance, support and love from our families… I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful story and gift on Christmas Eve.

The article is awesome in the Blade — it made me cry when I read it.

 

I still get all choked up when I read the responses.

Because people’s hearts were impacted by Love. IF with my story, I was given the opportunity to take my heartbreak over the first publishing attempt and help someone experience even one iota of what I feel every day when I commune with Christ in the morning… the incredible depths, heights, and breadth of God’s love… it was all worth it.

Yes, it totally sucked what happened.

BUT GOD is big enough that He did not let the story end there. He redeemed it. He redeemed me, and He gave me a Christmas gift that I will not soon forget.

And just like I said yesterday, I get it.

I get that this is an uncomfortable arena to enter into as Christ followers. I get that often it is easier to deflect with jokes than deal with our real questions on the subject. I get that there are many conflicting directives on this and so sometimes it is just safer to push all this “stuff” out to a safe distance.

But if I am as “Christian” as I say I am… then Grace is my only response, is it not?

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

Grace to people on both sides of the proverbial fence.

Because only in extending Grace to ALL of the people with opinions, comments, and feelings about this issue… can true Justice prevail.

But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Amos 5:24

Tune in for Day 3 tomorrow…

Update: 5pm:
 

The timing of this series is amazing me as it has happened the same week Christian song artist Jennifer Knapp comes out to Christianity Today AND the same week LifeChurch.TV is having a conversation about homosexuality (and other relevant issues) #thingsthatmakeyougohmmmmm (ok sorry for the hash tag… I think in hash tags now 🙂 )
 
 
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Responses

  1. […] Gay male families, Homosexuality, Relationships « The Princess Behind the Mask Will They Laugh if I Call You Daddy? Growing Up With a Gay Father: Day 2 […]

  2. Bravo my friend, Bravo!

  3. Thank you for continuing this.

  4. Love it…crying now…God bless you!

    • 🙂 thanks girl … God is good 🙂

  5. Once again, lovely post. I posted yesterday’s article so my fellow authors could read it and also on Facebook. You inspired me to blog about my take on homosexuality today. I don’t, nor will ever understand the bigotry out there. We’re all just people, simple as that. We all feel, love, want the best for our families. It shouldn’t matter whether someone is gay or not. We’re all just humans, surviving the best way we know how. That some folks make it harder for gay people boggles my mind.

    • Sarah – and to the magazine’s credit, I do not – in any way – believe that it was bigotry. I DO believe it was an honest overlook… and I still do very much believe in their mission…

      In being a part of the evangelical community for so long… I believe that we all are just struggling to find the best ways to respond to areas we may not be intimately familiar with. I still struggle too sometimes…

      I question all the time… how can I share the gospel truth with my dad in a relevant way, in a way that touches his heart, in a way that shares all of the parts of who God is… God’s Justice and Holiness and God’s Grace…

      Dealing with “issues” is always easier than dealing with people’s “hearts” so often we escape into the safe “issue-zone” rather than the “heart-zone”

      I commend you for tackling this issue on your blog too… and thank you so much for reposting 🙂

      • You’re welcome.

        My bigotry comment was a blanket statement, really, aimed at people in general who are anti-gay, and not aimed specifically at the magazine, but I admire your forgiveness of their oversight.

        🙂

  6. I can understand why your stomache was in knots… this is a very difficult subject for people to deal with and talk about and you are so very brave for conquering fear and talk about your life and stories with your Dad! Grace is for everyone! Not women, not men, not straight, not gay… EVERYONE!

  7. “then Grace is my only response, is it not?”

    Well….there are many other things as a Christian that can be our response such as compassion. 😉

    You’re going to get some people talking regarding this subject so good on ya for being bold enough to talk about it. 🙂

    • Jason – I am SO happy you came back today 🙂 And yes, you are right. Something I don’t talk about, but probably should is that often compassion is saying the hard things, the tough things… speaking not just TRUTH and not just LOVE but Truth in Love… loving the well-being of the person enough to say some of the hard things… I’ve had to say some hard things – as a Christian – to my dad – and to his credit, he has received them and given me tremendous grace and love… often when I have not deserved it.

      • That’s something I actually blame on a lot of older Christians. We don’t mentor new believers on speaking the truth in love…we just hammer home the truth over and over and over to the point a lot of folks don’t know how to use it. It’s like showing someone the basics of how to use a chainsaw but then never giving them a safety manual that says “don’t use on people unless your last name is Voorhees.”

  8. I agree. Getting people talking about this, or even thinking about it, has got to be good. 🙂

  9. Wow.

    The courage you had to publish that in a gay magazine….THAT is being a true Christian. Standing in the gap, going behind spiritual enemy lines to share Gods name, by showing love. Wow… I’m just astonished!!!!!! Keep doing such amazing things. God is really using you, and it’s such a blessing to see.

  10. I saw this pop up on my facebook and had to read it. I am so incredibly proud of you for telling THIS story in THIS way. As I read through day 2 and then day 1, I had a flood of memories of where we were (the place all of us were in our lives) 6 1/2 years ago and the events that lead me to where I am and Dencil into my life. I know your struggles with this have been difficult, it’s impossible for them not to be. People can be harsh and cruel, but God puts the people in our lives here for a reason. I have been so incredibly blessed by knowing your dad’s partner. His spirit is infectious and his heart is so pure, and there isn’t a day that I come in to work that I don’t miss him. Now you are using your story, your experiences, and your struggles to bless countless others. Be encouraged my friend. You are impacting the lives that God wants you to.

    • Thank you so much girl 🙂 I know! Gosh, was it that long ago? I’m getting so olllldddd… I just think about how much that group touched all of our lives, and how interconnected so many things were – like you working w/Dencil and stuff. I talk a little more about him in tomorrow’s post… looking back, he has impacted me in such profound ways… SO blessed we are.

      I called dad this morn to tell him about the series – I finally fessed up 🙂 He was kind of excited, Dencil too 🙂

  11. It’s been a long time since I read that story that you wrote that appeared in The Blade, if you want to post the link, I’d love to re-read. This is post is a beautiful tribute to your family and your faith.

    • T – it was linked out at the bottom of the “Modern Day Samaritan” link within the story – but I got a 404 error which means the blade prob. took it down on their site. SOVO in ATL took it down a while ago too … bummer!

  12. Jenny, thank you for continuing to speak out. I’m wondering though if you can help me with something that I’ve never understood. As I’ve said I’m an atheist member of a church congregation that spreads a Gospel of unconditional love and acceptance, which is their interpretation of the words of Jesus. They consider themselves Christ followers, as you do. I hear that nomenclature bandied about quite often by people who are actually gay-bashing and jeopardizing the human rights of the LGBTQ community, or preaching that they are by their very nature a sin against God. What I’m confused about is that as far as I can tell there is not word one in Christ’s Gospel about homosexuality. Not a yay or a nay. Am I missing something? Is there something in His words that speaks to homosexuality and I’ve just overlooked it? If one calls oneself a Christ follower or Christian, does one have license to make up ideas for Him?

    There are bits of the Bible that both support and condemn homosexuality. One could be at it all day, really, if one is going from the Bible. There’s bits that can be interpreted just about any-old-how. (There was a book out years ago that was basically a compendium of Biblical verses that could be used to support any idea you could think of, from aliens to a “second shooter”. It was an interesting exersize, wish I could remember the title.) But the word of Christ, which is supposed to be what Christ followers follow, speaks only about unconditional love and acceptance, and respecting and celebrating the humanity and rights of every individual no matter what the cost.

    This is a genuine point of confusion for me, not an incitement to debate. Can you share some thoughts on this?

    • Thanks for coming back and for inquiring… I value your spirit to search out answers 🙂 Agreed… Christian, Christ follower, follower of Christ are thrown around a bit. There is this nebulous language called “Christian-ease” that I know that I am guilty of slipping into a lot too…

      Soooo what I mean by that phrase is that with all that I am, I seek to follow Christ’s example in a submitted, humble way. I have done this first by understanding that in my natural self I am separated from God (He is holy, I am not and in my natural state I am full of sin and the two don’t coexist very well). My only way to God is through what Christ has done for me… Christ is essentially my “bridge” to God… when I accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, I am in essence inviting God into my heart, and inviting Christ to live through me – that is considered “saved” or “born again”… as a saved Christian, my greatest desire is NOW to “follow Christ” (2 Cor 5:14… for Christs LOVE compels me)

      forgive me if I’m telling you stuff you already know – I saw from your blog you are very erudite… so hopefully this isn’t elementary 🙂

      Now… do we always get that right? Us born-again evangelicals? HECK nope. Not at all. We are “in process” until we are with Christ, in heaven… what that means is that we may invite God into our hearts… but because our humanity still exists… we will still be impacted by the power of sin. Hence, why you see so many of us Christians acting in unchristian ways in the world. Me included!

      1 – To your question about bible texts – People can easily layer their own ideas over the bible (because we read with human filters). That is why we had people 200 years ago justifying slavery with biblical texts. You can proof-text anything you want with irresponsible scholarship and theology. Now, that being said, there are very different interpretations of many things in the bible – women in ministry, homosexuality, etc. From very studied scholars, pastors, theologians, etc. There are things – no matter how many years of study – we may never know what a certain word meant or a certain phrase.

      2 – to my knowlege, Christ did not talk about homosexuality. I have not seen it in the scriptures anywhere.

      Paul did… and there were also OT scriptures… these were some of the relevant scriptures.

      Genesis 19
      Leviticus 18:22
      Leviticus 20:13
      Romans 1:26-27
      1 Corinthians 6:9-10
      1 Timothy 1:9-10
      Jude 1:7

      3 – You are right – Christ talked about Love and acceptance. However, Christ also talked a great deal about God. God is merciful AND just. Grace-filled AND Holy. Christ talked about many of the attributes of God, as did Paul, Timothy, etc. Just as it is important that we do not project ONLY a wrathful, hateful image of God as this is a distortion, so too, if we project ONLY a loving, kind, accepting of anything and everything heavenly Father – we neglect His holiness and purity.

      It is important, that in our study – we look at all aspects of who God is. Unfortunately, that’s not how it always goes from the pulpit 🙂

      something also to remember about the bible as you study it (which I would SO encourage you… dig in… enjoy it!) … it is a book about GOD. Though it has admonisions, encouragements, life-directives that are uber-relevant… its primary purpose is to introduce you to the creator of the Universe and help you get acquainted w/His heart better… it is like a love letter from God to us… so just think about that as you endeavor to look at it.

      I love me some scripture cuz it gets me closer to God (I talk about it in this post https://jennyrain.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/repeated-confirmed-and-delivered-still-speaking/) and I would encourage you…. seek God out there… look for FIRST source information (bible info) rather than SECOND source (preachers/books about the bible/ etc)… and you’ll find answers that resonate w/your heart.

      I hope that helped a little 🙂

      Twitter or facebook me if you want and we can continue the discussion (@JennyRain or facebook.com/jennyrainschmitz)

      • “Christ talked about Love and acceptance. However, Christ also talked a great deal about God. God is merciful AND just. Grace-filled AND Holy. Christ talked about many of the attributes of God, as did Paul, Timothy, etc. Just as it is important that we do not project ONLY a wrathful, hateful image of God as this is a distortion, so too, if we project ONLY a loving, kind, accepting of anything and everything heavenly Father – we neglect His holiness and purity. ”

        That is brilliant.

      • thanks! i’ll facebook you! you are a very open and lovely person and i’m glad to be in conversation with you. ps, for the record, i have indeed read the bible. many atheists have. the stories there are incredibly insightful and deeply, deeply human, and as such can help us all think critically about our lives and our challenges. though i don’t share a belief in the metaphysical aspects of the stories i take great pleasure in contemplating the humanistic aspects. i’m a curious reader of as many religious texts as i can get my hands on, because they carry an almost genetic knowledge of human experience and human connection. as a therapist the more i educate myself about humanity the more effective, empathetic and respectful i can be in my practice.

      • Ack! One more thing! One of the pastors at Glide has a really interesting take on Paul and homosexuality: in Corinthians Paul prays three times for God to take away the thorn in his flesh, the thorn often being interpreted as homosexuality. In answer God tells him that He will not take away the thorn but has created him as he is and given him the grace to bear it. The Glide interpretation is that God is telling him that he is accepted, loved, created intentionally in perfect grace by a perfect creator, and therefore God could not have hatred for his desire for men. Many of the LGBTQ members of the congregation take great joy and healing from this passage. And here’s one to shock that the congregation talked a lot about after the passage of Prop 8 that revoked the right to marry from the queer community here in California: Wasn’t Moses raised by two same-sex parents, his mother and Pharoah’s daughter? It’s mischevious, I know, but I just loved the perspective shift. As you say, you can pretty much prove or deny anything if you know where to look. 😉

  13. Redemption is a beautiful thing.

  14. Another great post! You’re doing a wonderful job of getting people thinking and talking this week.

  15. we dont have to agree with a person’s choice of lifestyle to love them

    coz Jesus didn’t agree with our lifestyle yet HE chose to love us. He loved us enough to change us from the inside out.

    we often forget of the mess we were involved in…that’s why it’s hard for us to love on others who are choosing to live a lifestyle that we’re not accustomed to or agreeable with.

    YET….Jesus did exactly the opposite. infact he even washed the feet of the very person that would betray him over to death.

    the thing is…we are commanded to love that way. i dont understand why we christians overlook that command. it’s a sad reality.

    • Patricia, that’s the thing that baffles me. Of course I’m kind of an outsider as an atheist, but it just seems so clear to me that Christianity and homosexuality are not mutually exclusive. It just seems so unnecessary. There are countless Biblical injunctions, both Old and New Testaments, that have been abandoned because they no longer serve the best interest of humanity. What makes this one so darn important? We are learning creatures, perhaps we are simply learning how to better serve humanity in the name of God and letting go of homophobia is part of that learning. I’ve seen people in so much pain because they’ve been rejected by their church community reforge a relationship with their faith and find such amazing healing in a church that follows that commandment. I am so behind this. I’ve been exhorting my fellow atheists in no uncertain terms to stand beside this commandment and the people who follow it, because it will only be together that we’ll be able to heal these wounds.

  16. “This is my command: Love each other.”
    John 15:17

    Thank you for sharing! I can feel the love you have for your father in your words, and it is precious.

  17. […] Day 1, Day 2 […]

  18. Sorry to put this link here. I can’t find your email address! But have you seen this?

    http://www.bilerico.com/2010/04/sonoma_county_ca_separates_elderly_gay_couple_and.php

  19. Jenny,
    I just read the linked article about your dad, the Samaritan. I have to tell you that your relationship with your dad has always been my example of how to love and respect people when they are gay. I wish the ignorance I see in many circles, including Christian, could be undone in the way gay people are treated. I wish people would vote with compassion in mind and not judgement. Your writing is a good start to teaching us how to love more completely.
    sirk


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