Breaking the silence in our churches: A mother’s plea

November 15, 2014

 

By Ada Moreau Demlow,
Posted on Red letter Christian

 

October 28, 2014

 

When I get together with extended family, we don’t have shouting matches or debates about homosexuality. No one pulls out their Bible to read the “clobber” verses against homosexuality. No interventions have ever been staged to rescue anyone from the “evil” lifestyle.

 

There is just silence.

 

This silence is not because the issue is not very real and personal to our family. My son, now 22, told us he was gay more than 8 years ago. Our family of four has wrestled with the issue of understanding gender differences and sexuality for more than a decade as we have sought to better understand ourselves and others around us. It has shaped our family and life story in profound ways. But when we get together with extended family, this journey is met with silence.

 

I have also experienced this kind of silence in our church. We are United Methodists and while, thankfully, there are not many UM churches spreading the kinds of harsh anti-LGBT messages that make good press, there are many UMC churches that sit silently out of the fray taking no stand at all. In the suburban churches near our family home, we found it difficult to find a church where families like ours were visible.

 

While we knew there were others like us out there, we couldn’t find them because of the deafening silence.

 

This silence is not the spiritual kind in which the voice of God is heard. It is the kind of silence that builds walls of division and misunderstanding. The kind of silence that breeds fear. For me, it is also a silence that implies shame. It has also led to profound loneliness. I have somehow embraced the silent message that our family’s journey represents a “falling away” from the faith. This silence is deeply wounding to the four of us as we are painfully aware that it does not leave space for celebrating any kind of relationship my son may have in the future.

 

I want to break the silence, but I admit I am not sure how.

 

A story such as ours can’t be told in one sitting, but is to be experienced as community. One thing that has kept me silent is a feeling that I need to have explanations and answers to give to those who would argue that the Christian faith does not have room for acceptance of homosexuality. But I need more than anything to be surrounded by a community that loves me and keeps me accountable for living a life of love and compassion.

 

I love studying the Bible for the very reason that it continues to speak to my heart no matter where I find myself on this journey. If I had to give a verse that speaks most deeply to my journey to understand homosexuality in the context of the Christian faith, it would be this one:

 

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NRSV)

 

This verse guided my steps as a mother who has sought resources to help us on the journey to raise our son as a gay Christian. It led me to places like the Gay Christian Network where Christians with diverse views on homosexuality come together to learn and grow in understanding. Because of the powerful witness of our church, my son does not have to think there is disconnect between being gay and Christian. The Naming Project summer camp represented a safe space to break out of the silence and ask important questions in a community setting.

 

I am coming to realize that my need for “answers” has led to the insufferable silence.

 

When we think we have all the answers, we no longer have reason to dialogue. And when we start to equate our answers with the “truth,” it gets even worse. Truth is not an answer. Truth is more powerful than an answer because the truth allows for questions while answers demand that the questions go away. Truth calls us deeper into love. Truth allows me to see through the mirror, however dimly, with eyes of love.

 

The most important truth I see in Scripture is that my son is fully known and fully loved by God. As I look through the mirror dimly, I still have hundreds of questions. I will continue to engage with Scripture and wrestle with its meaning for the rest of my life. I will continue to seek out the leaders and communities out there doing the same. I pray we can all help each other remember that the quest is not to find the “answer” that can settle things once and for all.

 

Instead, our work is to put away the “answers” and end the silence, resting in the truth that God is love.

AdaAda Moreau Demlow is a children’s librarian, recently transplanted from Atlanta, GA to Boise, ID. She is married to Jeff, a special education teacher and is mom to Jacob, a soon to be college graduate, and Sara, a high school junior. She loves to read, write and tell stories. She is especially passionate about education and spirituality and focuses her work on building community and creating welcoming spaces for all people.

 

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