Reblog of this post by John Pavlovitz of North Carolina. This is the best and only way that I could think to thank him properly for his words and wisdom – and that is to share it with any and every human that I can.
I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.
Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.
For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…
So word on the web is that hate-filled Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas plans to protest at Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral. Well, of course they are.
This was a photo that I took when we were in Washington, D.C. for the National Equality March in October 2009. They were there, at the convention center, the evening of the HRC dinner that President Obama spoke at that night. They were there the next day, at the march, in very small numbers – while 250,000 sane people marched and chanted louder and prouder for equal rights. And funny enough, hatemonger and founder of WBC Fred Phelps was nowhere to be seen at either of these events, and many others. Perhaps his old and aging ass can’t handle all of the hate built up inside of his body anymore to get out there and spew it for hours on end.
So now they’re declaring on Twitter that they’re going to protest Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral. Margie Phelps, who has followed in her father’s hate-filled shoes, is the family/church’s attorney and main spokesperson these days. By now, most people in the U.S. have surely heard of this idiot and his cult that is entirely made up of his twisted family – doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. Margie has stated that their intention is to disrupt Ms. Taylor’s funeral because of her work with HIV/AIDS, and “enabling gays.” Oh Margie. When will you idiots learn that NO ONE takes you, your family, your “church,” or your “protests” seriously?
Someone said online the other day that Westboro Baptist Church is no more of a “church” than Church’s Chicken is….that’s pretty funny right there. And SO completely true. I guess in one sense it might be considered a church, since a church is defined as “a place for public worship.” These people worship something, although I don’t believe that it is the Christian God of love and forgiveness; they worship Fred Phelps and his god of hate and hellfire.
Funny enough, they also fall into the definition of “cult.” Check out some of the definitions:
1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology . a group having a sacred idealogy and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.
Hmmmm. Interesting. I remember being in college – Speech class, 1998 – and having to do a speech on…hell, I don’t even remember what the topic or theme was. I just remember writing my speech about this horrible website that I had learned of called GodHatesFags.com, and about the man who was behind it all. My classmates sat shocked and amazed as I spoke of the horrible content on his website, and the message that “Pastor” Fred Phelps preached. This was about a week after the murder of Matthew Shepard, where WBC protested, much to the chagrin and shock of those who knew of it. And THAT was the first incident of Phelps’ protests that I had known; the first of many. It is horribly disturbing and sad that over the past 13 years this country has witnessed as they have protested court hearings, funerals of LGBT community members, military funerals, equality marches, and pretty much anything that normal people would deem as noble and just. We have watched in horror as they declare that God hates fags, Jews, our Presidents, or anything else that is different from their image of God’s chosen – whatever THAT is. They have been so presumptuous to declare to the world that they know that they KNOW the thoughts and feelings of God almighty. Well I wouldn’t even begin to presume that I know anything about God, because I am just one small person in a huge universe of so many unknowns. But I can boldly say, without much hesitation, that the God that I grew up learning about was not a God of hate at all – so my only conclusion would be that God hates HATE. The God in MY world wouldn’t hate anything….but that.
So now the Westboro clan are reaching new lows….they’re mocking the NoH8 Campaign photos. I’m sure you, or someone you know, have seen the photos that were started in direct opposition to Proposition 8 in California that banned same-sex marriage after it had already been made legal. People dress in white tshirts, put duct tape over their mouth, and have “NOH8” on their cheek for the photos. Well, I accidentally discovered today that the idiots of Westboro are mimicking the photo campaign with their own: God H8S. Seriously pathetic. And what’s more disgusting than even THAT? The fact that they are getting the WBC kids in on it. Yeah. Classy.
PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has a saying that I think we could all put on a sign and parade in a circle around the Westboro folks anytime that they are protesting something: “Be careful who you hate….it might be someone that you love.”
I somehow stumbled across the greatest website a few weeks ago. I was on another site that I blog on called Blogher (www.blogher.com). I was reading blogs and looking through difference categories, and saw a post from a woman for on online magazine of sorts, called The Next Family (www.thenextfamily.com). Her post said that they were looking for writers, for new contributors/bloggers, especially those who were in same-sex marriages and families. Well, this was right up my ally, and I was soon in contact with not only the lady who had posted the need, but the edit0r-in-chief as well. Once I introduced myself, they invited me to come on staff as a contributing writer – I was thrilled! I have been writing since I was very young, and my dream job has always been to write for a living. So for now, I blog, and hope that this will be just another step in writing for a living full-time.
The descriptor on the page says, “TNF is a site for today’s modern family. These modern families are the next generation of families–two moms, two dads, gay parents, single parents and urban city dwellers exist in larger numbers than ever. With articles, blogs, a video resource library, products and resources at your finger tips we welcome you.” I absolutely LOVE the pieces that I read on this site, and hopefully you will, too! My first blog went up this week. Feel free to go on over and check it out, along with some of the other folks’ as well – and be sure to let us know what you think. The blogs that I write for TNF will differ from those that I write here, but I will make sure and post the link each week for my other blog. Here is my first TNF blog:
Blog started during a power outage a couple of weeks ago: As I sit in the middle of the night, amazed to have the technology to allow me on the internet during a major power outage, I think of all of the times throughout my life where my power was out, mostly from non-payment of the bill – but nevertheless…NO POWER. Some of those times were lows times: times with no money, times with very little food and even seemingly less income coming from whatever crappy job I had at the time. There was sometimes no power when a brooding storm headed our way, and the storm itself was responsible for scaring the begeezus out of us. Tonight’s particular outage seemed to have been done to one of the local transformers nearby. Greeeeeat. They say it is likely caused by a transformer down the street. But I digress. This outage is fine, and will likely be over while we sleep, where we wake up to lights and sounds and cool air. But as I sit here, it takes me back to those very different power outages….the low times when I just couldn’t pay it. Times when I sat with a young child in a hot apartment, praying for a miracle…praying for a sign….praying for something better.
I grew up learning to pray. I think I was in church from the time I was two weeks old, taken by a mother who went every week to pray for the soul of her husband. I watched, as a kid, as we went through the routine motions of getting dressed up in our “Sunday best” and driving off to church while my father stayed behind to read his Sunday paper and watch football. I went to Sunday School, learned the Bible verses from memory, and learned to pray without ceasing and to pray about everything. Now that’s not a bad thing necessarily, but looking back now, I see that I learned to pray for every situation that came around rather than dealing with it. I thought that if I prayed about a difficult situation, that I had likely created myself, then magically God would come through with an answer that would get me out of whatever fix I was in. Now that I am older, I see that it was a good way to avoid cleaning up messes that I had made – me waiting on God to tell me what to do.
When I was older, in my twenties and divorced with a young child, my prayers started to change. It went from a life steeped in prayer to a life of selective prayers for rescue in times of trouble. I became one of those people that I had never wanted to be – one who only prayed when in a serious situation with not enough money to make ends meet, not enough food to buy groceries, not enough rent to keep an apartment. I would pray and pray and pray for God to please send a miracle and rescue me; and when, or IF, something would somehow come through, then God received all of the faith and all of the praise. But those times when nothing happened or nothing changed? God received all of the anger and blame for not fixing MY screwup. I remember praying for people who were sick or dying, and nothing happening. I prayed mostly, regularly, for God to change ME – to change the fact that I am gay. This was something that I prayed, no begged, God to change and make me “normal,” because after all, I grew up listening to most of the people in my life tell me how wrong, evil, and sick gay people were. I would even “help” God and do what I could to change that fact myself: get married, get divorced, get married again, get divorced again, have babies, etc. But I soon learned that no matter how much I prayed, this simply wasn’t changing anything about my inherant and true self. Let me tell you, this was a huge blow to my faith and my Christian upbringing and walk.
Now that I am forty, I hope that I am a bit older and a bit wiser. I have learned that yes, having faith in something higher than myself is incredibly important and comforting. But it is because I choose to, and not because I have been conditioned or programmed to do so out of fear. I don’t pray as often as I would like to, but I pray regularly and thank God for the life that I have, for the joys that I have, for the wife and family that I have. Sure, I pray for those that are sick and hurting, but not because I feel like I have to; I do it because I am moved to do so out of compassion and love. Many of my friends grew up just like I did, in a life steeped in fear through religion. This is not the legacy that I want to pass on to my children. I want my children to have a belief system and to know God, but because they WANT to and not out of fear of hell. I pray that my children grow up to be responsible, healthy adults who believe in equality for their fellow man. I pray that they stay healthy and live long, happy, fulfilled lives. I pray that my wife and myself will someday be treated fairly and equally in every society, and that we have a long, happy, and healthy marriage together. These are the things that I pray for now.