Thursday, November 29, 2007

Family talk

Every evening during our little family prayer meeting, we pray for each other and for any friends we know who are in need. I often ask the kids to pray for gay friends I know who are having troubles with their families or churches. One evening last week it was just me with my two older children at the prayer meeting. They were asking why parents who find out their kids are gay get so upset.

"Because it makes the parents angry and afraid when they find out," I tell them.


"Well, especially Christian parents. Because some Christians believe their kid chooses to be gay. Other people believe that if their child turns out gay it's the parents' fault, so they get angry at the kid because they feel responsible somehow. But we don't really know why people turn out gay. It's still kind of a mystery."

My ten-year-old asks, "Mommy, what would you do if you found out one of your kids is gay?"

The seven-year-old looks at me too.

"I would love you just the same," I say. "Besides, I don't think that being gay or not gay is the most important thing. The most important thing to me is that you believe in Jesus."

The two kids jump up. Apparently, it is a fist-pumping moment for them.



They bounce around on their queen-sized futon.

"Believing in Jesus is the most important thing!"

"Jesus is more important than gay!"


After they settle down, we talk about it some more. For their age they have tremendous spiritual understanding, and they've come such a long ways. I'm very proud of them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Quote for the day

I don't believe that God is a fussy faultfinder in dealing with theological ideas. He who provides forgiveness for a sinful life will also surely be a generous judge of theological reflections. Even an orthodox theologian can be spiritually dead, while perhaps a heretic crawls on forbidden bypaths to the sources of life.

Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I went to a friend's baby shower last weekend where I got to meet a number of her friends from college. They were terrific people, and it made me miss my own college friends.

I had two really good friends I have lost contact with ever since my civil same-sex marriage article caused controversy in my old denomination, the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). I remember the first day the controversy broke out the morning of February 25, 2002. Five Reformed discussion lists were overheating with rage. Some people were calling me names while others were debating how to formulate judicial charges against me. Hate mail was pouring into my and my husband's email inboxes. The phone started ringing, not from friends but total strangers.

Then a different email showed up in my box. It was from my old college roommie who had been a bridesmaid in my wedding, whom I had lost contact with. It said something like: "Hi Misty! Guess what? I'm a part of such-and-such church in Northern CA, and I just found out we are in the same denomination. God has reconnected us through the OPC! I'm so excited! I'm doing this and that now. Write me back, etc." So I wrote back, pretending like nothing was going on: "Hi So-and-So, I'm so glad to hear from you! That's great you joined the OPC, too! We should definitely get together soon, blah blah. Can't wait to reconnect. Let me know when, etc."

After that: Cricket. I never heard back from her. I wrote once more just to inquire if she got my email and reiterate my excitement about our reunion plans--but nothing. She'd only joined the OPC recently. I'd known her for years. We'd been through some major things together. I figured she'd know better than believe any of the stuff people were saying about me in her new denomination. But the bottom line is, she didn't write back.

I had been doing a better job of keeping in touch with my other college friend, who lived only half an hour away. Even when we were overwhelmed with our growing families, we'd still get together once or twice a year and exchanged Christmas cards. Then the controversy broke out and I sent out the annual Christmas card and didn't hear back from her. I played it cool, waited until the following Christmas and sent her another card. Still nothing. My controversy was all over the Internet and she was aware of my website, so I wondered if that had anything to do with her silence. Maybe I shouldn't have interpreted two years of missed Christmas cards as a rejection, but it was hard not to when pretty much everyone else who I thought had been my friends in the OPC were treating me the same way. At the time it was all related in my mind. I still wonder if I gave up on her too soon.

I know what I've experienced is similar to what happens to people who come out of the closet. There are good things about having the guts to say, this is who I am. Or, in my case, this is wrong and here's why I think so. You do move on, and you do make new friends with people who can appreciate you for what you're all about. For that reason, your new friendships can take on a value that in many ways surpasses the old ones. But there's also something that radically changes about your life when you lose the people who connect you with your past, a good past that was worth hanging on to. Friends that I make as an adult can't entirely replace them.

I read much of my experience into gay people I know who have had it rough coming out. We encourage each other and can emphasize the good things. But some of this other stuff . . . I don't know if it is worth talking about except to know in my heart that it exists.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rev. Fred Phelps

Looks like someone has finally won big in court against Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church. The Phelps family is normally on the offensive when it comes to legal battles. Armed with their numerous law degrees, they are known in Topeka for continually harassing people with their legal threats and lawsuits, in addition to their famous picketing against gays. You can read the details in Chapter Six of this report, a court document written by former reporter Jon Michael Bell in 1994. (See here for the story on how this document became public.)

I came across this document a couple of years ago, but I couldn't stomach reading it all the way through. Mainly because the lengthy accounts of physical and psychological abuse, reported by Fred Phelps' now-grown children, Mark and Nate, are so horrifying.

One brief example is this Chapter Two excerpt where Mark Phelps describes his father beating him and his brother using the handle of a mattock (a pick-hoe):
"After 40 strokes, I was weak and nauseous and very pale. My body hurt terribly. Then it was Nate's turn. He got 40 each time. I staggered to the bathtub where my mom was wetting a towel to swab my face. Behind me, I could hear the mattock and my brother was choking and moaning. He was crying and he wouldn't stop." The voice in the phone halts. After an awkward moment, clearing of throats, it continues: "Then I heard my father shouting my name. My mom was right there, but she wouldn't help me. It hurt so badly during the third beating that I kept wanting to drop so he would hit me in the head. I was hoping I'd be knocked out, or killed...anything to end the pain. After was waiting that was terrible. You didn't know if, when he was done with Nate, he'd hurt you again. I was shaking in a cold panic. Twenty-five years since it happened, and the same sick feeling in my stomach comes back now..."

Of the 13 Phelps children four, including Mark and Nate, have left what is called "the family cult." In Mark Phelps' opinion,
"My father is a very unstable person who is determined to hurt people. And because he is so bound to be hateful and hurtful, and because he's so untrustworthy, I believe it's a good idea to respond to him with caution much like the caution used when dealing with a rattlesnake or a mad dog. You see, the causes that he crusades for, including the Bible, are not the issue here. He simply wants to hate and to have a forum for his hate . . . If it weren't the homosexuals, it would be something else."

I appreciate that Mark Phelps says neither the Bible nor the issue of homosexuality is what is really driving his mentally disturbed father. Still it's amazing to me that conservative Christians don't do more to expose and denounce this psychopath. Try reading any portion of that court document and tell me if you can walk away without feeling physically ill and heartbroken over what the Phelps children, and all the other victims of Fred Phelps' rage, have suffered.