This is a difficult subject to speak about today…having a child that was born a daughter to me yet this child as an adult does not feel comfortable being a daughter and is in fact a Transgender Gay person. I have asked my child, Erica, to help me speak about this subject because I feel it is important and I want my child to know that no matter what, I still love my child and I will always love my child. Just because I have a differing viewpoint scripturally than Erica does not mean that I value any less or disrespect or hate or dislike my child. I think some of you can relate to my situation and hope this post will give you some insight and some understanding of how I feel the Bible teaches us to love others.
I stumble to find correct language in how to refer to Erica. It has been explained to me that I should refer to this person as “they” or “we” but honestly I just can’t. Such wording is too confusing to me as to whom I am talking about and quite honestly it makes me uncomfortable. Therefore for clarity of communication I have chosen to use the two words “my child.”
First of all I think some background is in order. Erica was born a girl, a beautiful healthy dark-haired dark-eyed precious girl, and was raised to be a girl. From around the age of three or four years through elementary and middle school my child was a tomboy. Erica was quiet and perhaps a little shy with adults but not with her peers. Because we were a military family we moved a lot and making friends in the neighborhood was not difficult for Erica most of the time. Erica didn’t fuss about wearing girl clothes but as it became time for choosing clothes worn, they were mostly dress slacks and tops and jeans and tee-shirts. This didn’t seem out of the ordinary considering the unisex approach to fashion then as now.
When Erica was in high school I became very ill to the point of death and it took years for me to recover from this illness. I feel that I missed most of my Erica’s high school years and so I don’t really remember having any conversations with my child about how Erica was feeling about life. I was there to be supportive and tried to be a part of my child’s life. I have fond memories of weekends and holidays and all the college friends that Erica brought home. There were many times where the sense of humor God seemed to bless Erica with came shining through. Friends seemed to flock to this vivacious outgoing funny person. Whether I was there for all emotional needs is something my child will have to discuss but my memory is that I was available and interactive.
By the time Erica had graduated from college I was involved with a new child brought home from China through adoption. I was busy and didn’t really have the time or take time to talk about my child and plans for the future. Erica went on to graduate school and life went on. Then, in the midst of my world crashing down around me with the divorce, my child told me about being gay and had been secretly living in a gay relationship.
Needless to say I was crushed and angry and hurt and lacking understanding and not knowing what, if anything, to do or how to respond. I remember Erica telling me that I was handling the news better than had been expected. All I could think was how numb I was and wondering just how many more relationships I treasured would be destroyed. My dreams for my daughter died that day but it was not the end of my responsibility as a parent. I knew that I had to come to grips with this issue and make some sense out of it and deal with it and so I dove back into God’s word to gain insight.
The first insight I had was that even though I disagree with the Gay lifestyle I was commanded to love Erica, this came from 1 John 2:3-11 which basically states that if we have any grievances against anyone that we were not living or loving as we are commanded to live our life. Verse 9 especially made this clear to me, from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible I quote.
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
I read that verse many times and realized that if I hate Erica because of living a gay lifestyle then I am still in darkness and not really a Christian. I could see that I was to love Erica even if I don’t agree with the lifestyle. I thought of how many times I had said to my children while they were growing up that I would love them for ever and ever no matter what! Well, did I love my child forever and ever no matter what? Yes was the simple answer. Did I agree or condone the gay lifestyle? No! We obviously differ greatly in our understanding of scripture however my child continues to attend a Church that teaches from the Bible. While much was still unclear to me I clearly could see in God’s Word that I was to continue to love Erica and I have done so.
The simple act of loving a child who is not walking as a parent wishes them to walk in life is not as easy as it first appears. My child did not feel my love. In fact Erica felt alone and unloved. So my next step was to figure out how to let my child know I felt deep love for my child. I have tried to accept the partner of Erica into my heart as well because this person is so important to Erica and I want my child to know I get that! I have continued to encourage Erica to come home for a visit and I continue the family traditions of sending birthday gifts and Christmas gifts and phone calls and e-mails and times of sending unexpected gifts of love. I have tried to understand the gay-transgender issues that are so prevalent in our society today and I have tried to be empathetic to what my child and partner face daily. I have not always been successful in my efforts but I will continue to make such effort in love.
A second thing I have continued to do is pray for my child and my child’s partner. While there is still so much I don’t really understand and still so much that I suspect is not openly shared with me, I know that prayer is helpful. First of all by praying for Erica, I have opened an open and honest dialogue with God about the situation. Secondly Erica still needs to eat, still needs to have a job, still needs to pay the rent and all the other things that life demands and so I pray that God will watch over Erica and take care of all physical needs. Do I pray that God will reveal His truths in my child’s life? Yes, but I pray that for all my children and always have. As a Mom, as a Christian Mom I would be remiss in my duty to my children if I neglected praying for truth to be revealed in their lives, now wouldn’t I?
I have deep personal views on the gay lifestyle and my child knows what those beliefs are even if my child disagrees with them. Erica also has deep personally held views on the gay lifestyle as well and I respect my child’s views even if I don’t agree with them. I have extended to Erica the same respect that I would give to anyone that I disagree with scripturally but I refuse to stop loving Erica and Erica has continued to show me great and deep respect as well as love.
In the end God will judge what is right and each of us will stand before God for that judgement. I will be judged on my attitudes, motives, and deeds. While Erica and I will probably never come to total agreement in this life I am thankful to God that I do not have to be the judge. Just as I didn’t always live the way my parents wanted me to I also accept that my adult children have lives of their own to live. My parents didn’t interfere in my life and I think that was Biblical. If I asked them for advice they gave it to the best that they could and so that is what I continue to do with my adult children. I am not saying that I don’t care what they do in their personal life but I am saying that they are in control of their destiny and my role as a parent of adults is to bathe them in prayer and trust that God will work in them because it is God’s job to judge and not mine.
I have found that in life love is always better than hate and so I continue to love and I trust that God will continue to speak truth into my life as well as the lives of my children. I have lived long enough to see that love can bridge the gulf between two people where hate only divides. Jesus Christ came to the world to heal the broken, bind the wounds of the hurting and save the lost and in every written word about His three-year ministry I see Him extending great love and kindness mercy and grace to others. I am called to do the same.
With the approach of the holidays I hope that love will rule in your heart. Whether your child is rebellious, addicted, dealing with mental issues or living a gay lifestyle, or happily married…whatever the situation you are facing in your own family I hope that you will see that love is better than hate. Hate comes from a place of brokenness and bitterness and hate never solves anything. Love, however, is a better response. A few scriptures come to mind so I will share them with you.
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs, Proverbs 10:12, (NIV).
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins, First Peter 4:8, (NIV).
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends, Proverbs 17:9, (NIV).
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 20-23, (NIV).
Do you see the references to our expressing God’s love in these passages? I especially want to point out the last scripture found in Jude, the small book that comes just before Revelation in the New Testament. Notice that some very clear instruction is given to Christians in how to act toward those who are either doubting or rebelling against God. We are to be merciful and we are to show our mercy mixed with fear and hatred for the sin, the clothes of the sin but not hatred for the person sinning. This helps clarify all that I have tried to say in this post. Love, grace, and mercy shown to your family member or friend or even to complete strangers is to be our response to everyone because in doing so we never know what the end of their story will be. As long as they breathe we have hope.
I hope my example of what I have learned in handling this situation is helpful to you this holiday season. We all know someone with whom we disagree on the way they choose to live their life. Erica chooses a different life than I would wish and I have chosen a life different from what Erica would wish but through our love for each other our journey through life is easier. Erica will have a post next time to give more insight from her perspective and share more of our journey as Mother and adult Child.