As a Person of Faith, I Fully Accept and Affirm LGBTQ

ucc

“You’re a Christian! How can you support LGBTQ people and gay marriage? Don’t you realize you are condoning sin? You are leading people into hell!”

This is Rob Cottrell, Susan’s husband, and I have heard it all! Multiple times a day from strangers. Frequently from people who claim to be friends. And more than I ever thought possible from close family members.

When we came out as parents of an LGBTQ child, and then as fierce allies and advocates, I was pretty defensive.

More than 25 years in the evangelical church had engrained in me certain beliefs about homosexuality. To be honest, beliefs which I never really looked into. I was just running a program.

So, when the attacks and challenges and questions came, I felt like I needed to ‘defend’ my position.

My heart knew that unconditional love and radical inclusion was the very heart of the Gospel. But I needed to reconcile with the things I had heard on Sunday mornings.

So I didn’t just read the printed words of whatever Bible translation was my personal favorite.  I actually looked into the passages… the context – the motivation of the author, the audience – the original language, and much more.

And my eyes were opened. “I was blind but now I see.”

I discovered the heart of the Gospel, the heart of God, and the truth of the life and teachings of Jesus.

I discovered that unconditional love, acceptance and support for LGBTQ people does not conflict with my faith in any way.  Actually, it is consistent my faith.

I am fully accepting and affirming of LGBTQ BECAUSE of my faith, not in spite of it.

And something else happened.

I realized that I am not the one who needs to defend my position!

For most people who are not affirming, it has nothing to do with God or the Bible. I understand that they are just running a program.

I am not going to try to reason people out of a position they did not reason themselves into.

I am no longer going to defend or explain my support for, or acceptance and affirmation of the LGBTQ community and marriage equality. I am going to love and embrace. I am going to do what Scripture says God requires of me… do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. (Micah 6:8)

I take my Bible seriously. I look at it through the lens of love, the overall message of the Gospel.

And you know what…

You have the right to believe something different. But if you do not welcome and embrace those who just happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning to attend, serve and be members in your church, if you do not support full marriage equality, if you do not oppose discriminatory legislation, if you do not love without condition – it is you who needs to defend your beliefs.

Why?

Because you are the one judging, you are the one deciding who does and does not get welcomed and affirmed, you are the one deciding who deserves to be treated equally and fairly.

And the last time I checked, God was not hiring.

The consequences of this includes misrepresenting the heart of God, pushing people away from Jesus, and rejecting, condemning and shaming your fellow human beings – even ending in killing and other tragedies like youth homelessness, drug abuse and suicide.

From my heart to yours… There is a freedom, love, joy and relationship with God available to you, more glorious than you can ever imagine. Just open your box, open your heart… and listen.🙂

But I am just not going to defend my position anymore.

I am following Jesus. I will love how he loves. I will love who he loves.

I am being obedient to my faith.

I will unconditionally love, because I have been unconditionally loved.

I will radically include, because I have been radically included.

Will you join me, and trust God with the rest?

– Rob Cottrell

We have programs for parents of LGBTQ children, and for those who are LGBTQ. We help free hearts to love, heal and affirm.  Private online support groups, books, resources and our new FreedHearts Online comprehensive video courses for parents, and also for LGBTQ! If you would like more information, please click here.

To Worried Parents of LGBTQ Children

black woman

I write today to Christian parents of LGBTQ children who are worried about their kids. Struggling with this whole thing. From a Mom’s heart to yours.

Easter is the day Christians celebrate new life in a risen Savior. It’s a day to think about crucifixion and resurrection. What God is calling us to do versus what we want. It’s a day of new beginnings.

My favorite memories of Easter as a child are the Easter baskets (of course!), the matching dresses with my older sister (a tradition the younger one loves and the older one dreads!), and the patent leather shoes and white gloves (not kidding!).

Every bit as fun as the actual baskets on Easter morning is the search to find the baskets because Easter bunny hid them! I don’t remember personally finding them (I was the youngest of six until my brother came along) but the hunt was always a thrill.

One particular year we were searching for the baskets and suddenly my mother asked me to go outside to get the newspaper. What?? Right now? We’re right in the middle of the hunt!

I dragged myself outside, grabbed the paper, and headed back in. Then I saw them. In the front window behind the living room drapes were the baskets. I bounded in the door: “I found the baskets!” Mom had a big smile on her face. Even though the bunny had put the baskets there, Mom knew—and she’d sent me out so I’d find them!

I thought that going out in the middle of the hunt was the wrong move. I thought I knew, but Mom knew. Mom had something better for me than searching in vain for the baskets. Her plan led me directly to them.

So here’s the point. I have met so many parents in turmoil because their children have come out. They feel lost, their head is spinning and they are in despair. They don’t see how this could possibly lead any of them to a peace and joy beyond their understanding, and actually deepen and strengthen their faith.

But it does–if you take the journey.

I am asking you to step outside as Mom asked me that Easter morning. Really. Step outside of your box. What? Right now? But they can’t be gay/bi/trans–I have raised them in the church.

I know. But you will not find life inside among the chaos where everyone else is frantically looking. You need to step outside and get a new perspective. God knows how to lead you in this, my friends. God calls you to love, and let the answers come when they come. You know that magnificent God you sing about and learn about and talk about every Sunday? That God really has got this.

If you can quiet your spirit, you will hear that still small voice saying, Shh… just go where I lead you. No need to be afraid—your child is fine. There’s a journey ahead, and you can trust me. I got it. I will crucify your understanding and resurrect new love, beautiful and free.

Before you even realize it, you will find yourself more in love with your family, and more in love with God, than you ever dreamed possible. It’s counterintuitive, but then crucifixions and resurrections usually are.

Give up searching in the usual places, open the door, and go outside. God will give you everything you need.

As Jesus says, Just follow me.

FreedHearts has a comprehensive online video course for parents of LGBTQ children. We also have private, secret Facebook support groups for Moms, and one for Dads. If you would like more information on this, just CLICK HERE.

*Image is original art work by Parker Cunningham

Would Unconditional Love Change Things?

gymnast

It’s women’s gymnastics time again! It is my favorite Olympic event, of all time, period. I feel the adrenaline as I watch them. Those young women perform skills so hard they shouldn’t be possible! They work years to develop their ability–and they make it look easy!

Consider the balance beam: the commentator says the gymnast’s boldness is the difference between winning and losing.

The more she attacks and goes for each skill, the less likely she is to fall off the beam.

A missed trick could literally break her neck, leave her paralyzed. But she cannot hesitate. No second-guessing. No thinking! Straightup attack. Go for it!

Counterintuitive, isn’t it?

Honestly, we live the opposite. The more that’s at risk, the more we hesitate. The scarier the endeavor, the more we weigh our options. The higher the stakes, the more we pause to analyze.

What ridiculously impossible challenges would give way if we attacked our lives the way these gymnasts—or other Olympic athletes—attack their sport? What would happen if we just go for it?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, from Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I recently spoke to a young gay man whose parents are crazy-legalistic. His parents don’t plan on his leaving home until he marries. A woman. Uh, that’s not in his future. How can he balance his life, and face the homophobic teaching he’s been subjected to, unless he attacks it with strength and power? He’s worried about upsetting his mother, and he will have a hard time being fearless.

Every day, I interact with parents trying to balance their church’s approval with embracing their child. That hesitation can knock them off their game–and be deadly to their precious child.

Not every idea is a good one, of course. Ideas–like deciding to change your child, or employ “tough love” (and by tough love I mean bullying and ultimately abandonment)–have proven to be an epic fail and should be rejected for good.

But when we find our groove, a groove that produces life–as unconditional love does–what if we went for it full-force? What if those of us who are loving well–without condition, without hesitation–really knew that failure in love is not an option?

How would people around us, in our family, change if they knew we loved them unconditionally?

How would we change if we knew we were unconditionally loved?

People need to be loved. LGBTQ people. Parents caught in a tough place. People of color. Old people. Young people. A word of hope or encouragement. When the time comes to love, in action, we cannot hesitate or we stand to fall. Hard.

Love never fails. Love grows more mature over time. Love as it steeps brings out its full intensity.

Whole vistas are opening in front of us, new chapters are just ahead.

Are we ready to boldly go for it?

We have programs for parents of LGBTQ children, helping free hearts to unconditionally love, accept and affirm.  Private support groups, books, resources and a new FreedHearts Online comprehensive video course. If you would like more information, please click here.

It’s Baaack! The Nightmare of Ex-Gay Reparative Therapy

fear-615989_1280

So-called “reparative therapy” is in the news again! Yippee! Nevermind that those who have been through it report the horrific abuse involved, the lifelong scars sustained, the devastating self-loathing that results.

Don’t worry that the medical and psychiatric community has decried it as not only failed as a practice that doesn’t deliver the hope-for result of a changed orientation–that should be reason enough to put it to rest–but it’s also loaded with deadly side effects. Depression, self-loathing, suicide.

How out-to-lunch, out of touch, and plain-out hateful do you have to be to continue to think this is a good idea? How selfish, obtuse, blind and cruel does one have to be?

  • This country is not a giant family where “father knows best,” and can impose whatever standard he wants for his children, and hope they don’t take off in the middle of the night.
  • This country is not a giant church where the “people in charge” are going to make Christians out of you, whether you like it or not.
  • This country is not a place to trample over anybody in your way to make your name in politics.

Or is it?

Frankly, I cast a wary eye at the whole political process. But wrong is wrong, and no matter where we stand, we have a responsibility to call out wrong when we see it.

And stirring up fear of gays has been part of ultra conservative politics for decades, causing untold damage. And now, this. Again.

So-called “reparative” or “conversion therapy” is wrong. Period.

If you are unfamiliar with it, I’ll tell you just a little about it. This “therapy” is a desperate attempt to “stamp out” homosexuality, and it will use whatever techniques it can come up with.

One of the original and largest leaders of this nightmare, Exodus International, shut down years ago, and its founder Alan Chambers, has apologized for the decades of horrible damage and harm this “therapy” caused to thousands.

Reparative-Therapy-Violence-224x300

Real people, that I have talked to, in person, have told me horror stories…

  • Using opposite gender pornography to “stimulate heterosexual attraction.”
  • Bringing in prostitutes to “stimulate heterosexual attraction.”
  • Electric shock to the genitals to “stop same-sex attraction.”

Okay, let’s stop right there.

Absolute insanity.

What kind of kool-aid does someone have to drink to pretend this is okay? Or to go even further and actually promote it??

The blinding part is this does NOT change orientation! It never has. It never will. It has and always will be a fraud.

As we know, many people will do anything for power and profit and victory. There are stories of anti-LGBTQ policies and programs for political gain throughout the country And we are now exporting these toxic LGBTQ policies to unsuspecting countries. [Also here and here.]

The fraud of ex-gay “reparative/conversion therapy” has had immeasurable, damaging, devastating impact on the lives of countless LGBTQ people.

And now it’s back.

This is a human disaster waiting to happen.

Please. No more.

For more information and resources, go to Faith in America.

A Letter from Susan

Susan New Photo

In our post yesterday, we reminded you of our new FreedHearts website. I sure hope you visit us.

I wanted to write a personal letter here on our WordPress blog – just to share my heart, my vision and my hope.

If you are in the evangelical church, or if you are in the LGBTQ community, you know that the church today is fractured. Parents love their children to the ends of the earth—God created them that way—but their trusted leaders tell them to distance themselves from their LGBTQ children. This shreds a parent’s heart—if you’re a parent who has been there, you understand.

Or perhaps you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and you have been called unspeakable names and told God condemns you. If you are in that community, you likely know exactly what I’m talking about.

Or you may simply be a Christian who is heavy-hearted that the church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community is so, so far from the heart of Christ, as they push people away from God instead of drawing them in.

I started FreedHearts for these exact reasons. When our oldest daughter first came out, our family began a journey of discovery—to find out what the Bible really says and does not say, to listen for God’s heart for us and our daughter. God kept moving us forward—toward love, toward freedom, toward peace. Then our youngest daughter came out as well—for two children out of five! My husband Rob and I were grateful we had embraced this path and heard God’s voice through all of it.

Here’s the short list of what we discovered:

  • The conservative church needs help to learn to love in the world. LGBTQ people have been bullied, shamed, abandoned and from the teachings the conservative church considers “loving,” and they need to learn a better way.
  • The conservative church doesn’t know how to love parents well who have LGBTQ children, and they don’t know how to embrace LGBTQ people without a “secret” hope for change.
  • Theology is not nearly as “clear cut” as many Christians believe. As we studied, we were shocked at what we discovered.
  • We all need to listen for God’s voice and trust God’s ability to speak to us.

So I began the FreedHearts blog. I believed that if I could begin to address the issues theologically as well as from the heart of God’s love, I could help change the conversation. I did not know how gaping the need was out there and how much of an impact I would make. I only followed where God led me.

And I have fallen more in love—with God, my husband, my children, and people in general—than ever before.

Now, I have become the voice for parents of LGBTQ children, I get emails every day from parents and LGBTQ people alike, telling me that my posts or talks or books saved their lives. It is at once humbling and thrilling.

I invite you to visit our new website (HERE), my books, and my online school—all created to help you find your way. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything as we continue to bring you quality content and new offerings to help you on your journey.

With love,

Susan

NEW Website, Books and Resources!

FreedHearts-V3We wanted to let you know that all the information about FreedHearts, details of Susan Cottrell’s books, other key programs, and all of our resources are now located at our new website!

Visit the main Susan Cottrell FreedHearts website at: http://freedhearts.org

Email us at freedhearts@gmail.com

Our mailing address is: P.O. Box 8161, Austin, TX 78713-8161

Jesus Blog: Let Your True Colors Come Out

gray to rainbow

This is a special Jesus Blog post for National Coming Out Day! Please grasp the heart of this message, but please keep yourself safe. You know your situation. Do not do anything rash that could put you (or your situation) in danger. If you are in that kind of circumstance, but feel like it is time to come out, seek wisdom and help from others so you are not alone. – Susan

More today from my Saturday “Jesus Blog” – a word from Jesus to you…

How beautiful life would be if everyone would just let their true colors come out and live as they were created.

How boring and off-track life is when everyone is trying to fit in, trying to ‘please God’ and each other — taking all the gorgeous color out of life and settling for grays.

That is not God’s way.

You are imperfectly perfect. You are loved by God – without condition. The Spirit of God is inside you.

I invite you to live with these truths deep in your heart and mind.

Will you ‘come out’ – come out as just you?  Let go of whatever labels people and the world put on you, and just be you, just be.

You will be called names like heretic, apostate, reprobate, universalist – so was I.

You will also be called names like treasure, blessing, whole, complete – these are just some of the loving names God calls you.

There is great freedom in letting go of the expectations of others – your family, your church, especially yourself.

Let the grays turn into the beautiful, true colors of the real you.