I used to like going to church. My entire youth and early 20s were spent at church. I was there once, often twice a week, learning how to be a good Christian, playing broom hockey, taking gently worn shoes to kids in Mexico, singing “My God is an Awesome God” by the campfire and turning bible verses into SNL-worthy skits. For a solid year in middle school, I went solely to catch a glimpse of the pastor’s son, who was my age and hot in a way that only an eighth grader can be. Peach fuzz, the onset of acne, braces, you know the look.
My dad is an ordained pastor, I went to a Lutheran college, I live in the shadow of a mega-church and I have a gay brother and a gender variant child. Needless to say, I’m conflicted. I’m not the first mother to feel this way; I know that.
I was discussing religion the other day with my mom. She told me that when she revealed in conversation to a few members of her bible study that her son/my brother is gay they shook their heads and said “Oh, I’m so sorry.” She says that that is, more often than not, the response that she gets from her church-going friends. She will never get used to it. When it’s time to share prayer requests and praises, she feels like she can’t share anything good about her son/my brother because her feeling is that the others in the prayer circle will be thinking “yeah, but he’s gay.”
She encourages me to not give up on God. I really do believe in God and Jesus and occasionally like going to church. It all holds some sort of nostalgic power over me. It reminds me of my childhood and I remember it fondly; the days of good, clean fun. But, then there’s that not-so-little matter of my religion not accepting members from the LGBT community. It’s a community that I live with and may be raising.
The other night, as I lay in bed thinking about religion, God and C.J, it came to me. If C.J. is going to hell, then I am too. I told my husband that he has to go to heaven with C.J.’s Brother. It’s like splitting up when one kid has a gymnastics lesson at the same time that the other one has soccer practice.
That night I was also thinking about Leviticus, where a list of rules is written out. It’s portion of the bible that my church (which I’ve been attending for more than 20 years) refers to often when the topic of homosexuality is broached. Then, the other Sunday, C.J.’s Dad and I were sitting in our church’s worship center watching a video encouraging people to get baptized. There were pictures of recent baptisms and Christian-pop-rock music blaring. Onto the screen popped a picture of a cross intricately tattooed on a church member’s forearm. People clapped.
Now hold up just a moment. In Leviticus, not too far from the whole a-man-should-not-lay-with-another-man verse is a verse about not tattooing your body. I guess that tattooing verse wasn’t for real, but the same sex verse is super for real.
I’m not saying I’m anti-tattoos. I have one and a half myself. Yes, I have a half of a tattoo. It’s a long story that involves me not sticking to my tattoo removal schedule. Anyway, if there is leniency on some of God’s laws, but not all, I’d just like a breakdown of what we are taking seriously and what we aren’t.
I often think to myself, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” My gay brother is not a mistake. My gender creative son is not a mistake. A friend sent me a verse from Psalms that says that “God knitted us in our mother’s womb.” I like that. God knitted C.J. (with rainbow, glitter yarn) in my womb.
My son is a miracle, knitted by God. If Jesus died on the cross for people’s sins, he died for C.J.’s sins too. I’m demanding it.
The other day, while we were driving, C.J. asked me, “Mommy can God hear me?”
“Even when I whisper?”
“Even when you are thinking something but don’t say it.”
“I just told God a joke.”
I wonder how God and his followers could hate the person my sweet, red-headed jokester may grow up to be.