In Honor of Our Lost LGBTQ Children

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Ryan Robertson died five years ago this week. In his honor, friends and I have chosen an orange icon on Facebook – Ryan’s favorite color.

And we honor all the LGBTQ people who have died from rejection, bullying, ill-fated “therapy.” Marginalization in all its forms.

Ryan is one of many LGBTQ men and women who were pushed out of churches that could not accept them as is. I share the Robertson’s story here, as they continue to share their story publicly — not to relive those horrible years, but because they hope to prevent others from living through it.

Many of my readers have also lost their LGBTQ children who have also been marginalized. By marginalized, I mean thrown to the margin, to the edge, under the bus. By marginalized, I mean we have reduced their value and not heard their voice.

These are real people with real lives, whom Jesus told us to really love. 

So I gather us together to grieve. I gather us to consider the consequences of our collective marginalization.

Marginalization might look like not believing that our children are really gay (or whatever letter of the acronym they are). It might be requiring them to change who they are, as if that’s possible. It might mean kicking them out until or unless they change. All of this drives intractable stakes into their hearts, even if we don’t know it.

The nonaffirming church is especially hostile to the LGBTQ community, whether they mean to be or not.

Unlike any other issue, nonaffirming evangelicals treat the LGBTQ community as a special class of rejectable, disposable people — as a “them.”

Because the pastor and church body is where its families turn in a crisis, they have exceptional input into those hurting families, they are in a powerful position to cause irreparable damage to those families by even insinuating that that person deserves to be rejected.

These are real people with real lives, whom Jesus told us to really love. 

We can go back to the foundation of our life in Christ: it’s not about us. That is, it’s not about our need to have our theology neatly boxed up, including going to a church not “tainted” by LGBTQ people. On the contrary, we are to give up our desires for how others live, give up trying to change them or minimize them when that is, literally, killing them.

“Greater love has no one that this, that they lay down their life for a friend.”

Instead, celebrate the different people God brought to life, including those we don’t understand. God’s prerogative it to create them; our challenge is to love them… all of them.

Gay people are real people with real lives, whom Jesus told us to really love. 

I leave you with this quote from Lament for a Son.

“Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote [Lament for a Son]. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over. Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides.

So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it. I do not try to dis-own it. If someone asks, “Who are you, tell me about yourself,” I say — not immediately, but shortly — “I am one who lost a son,” That loss determines my identity; not all of my identity, but much of it. It belongs within my story. I struggle indeed to go beyond merely owning my grief toward owning it redemptively.

But I will not and cannot disown it. I shall remember [my son]. Lament is part of life.

— from the preface to Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff

8 thoughts on “In Honor of Our Lost LGBTQ Children

  1. This story just breaks my heart, the picture does too. I pray for them to have strength and for them to keep telling their story. Hugs to them.

  2. When Linda & Rob shared their son’s story, it changed my life As I read your loving tribute, the word “Belong” lingers with me. I feel such sorrow for those that Belong to God and HIS love doesn’t change, yet that isn’t how some church’s feel and act. Thank you for sharing HIS light and love.

  3. Thank you for allowing God to lead you so that you can continue to lead us out of our own darkness re: LGBT issues and into the light of truth.

  4. Simply beautiful. Thank you for reminding Christians to LOVE ALL PEOPLE. We experienced extreme pain the past couple of days from very close loved-ones in our lives (who are Christian), and I’m desperately trying to hold on to the fact that hurt people hurt people, and that those family members just haven’t encountered the love of Christ in a transformational way. Interesting word-choice for a now-atheist, but I think our language has power and that you understand what I mean by that.

    • Yes indeed I understand, and I’m sad indeed that it is the Christians you describe who have not experienced the transformational love of Christ. That is why I do what I do. Thank you for your kind comments. Also, love the teal tomato!

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