A Tale of Two Letters

I, for one, am really proud of this guy. It takes courage to admit you were wrong. We can learn a lot from this man.

I, for one, am really proud of this guy. It takes courage to admit you were wrong. We can learn a lot from this man.

I’ve got another post I’ve been working on, but this is just too important to me right now. Today many people have been talking about how Senator Rob Portman, one of the Co-Sponsors of the Defense of Marriage Act (that codifies discrimination and writes into law that the Federal Government does not recognize same-sex marriages), has changed his stance on same sex marriage. This happened because Sen. Portman’s son, Will, was brave enough to come out to him two years ago. People are reacting to Senator Portman’s change of heart in a range of ways. If you are anti-marriage equality, you are probably not too excited, but it’s the reaction of people who are for equal rights for LGBT people that has been really interesting to see: Everything from happiness at the arrival of a new ally, to a big middle finger at the fact that he worked so hard to discriminate–right up until it directly affected him, and then he decides it’s not okay anymore. And everything in between….

That seems to be the way things work sometimes: We keep discriminating against a group that we view as “other” until we actually get to know someone from that “other” group. An even more powerful way to change a person’s heart is to have that “other” be one of your kids. Sometimes people are so set in their ways, and their hearts so hardened, that even when the person coming out is their own child, it doesn’t make any difference. Here is a letter from a father to his son who just came out to him:

LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide, but among LGBT youth who are highly rejected by their families, that number jumps to EIGHT TIMES the average.

If it’s difficult to read, here is what it says:

James: This is a difficult but necessary letter to write. I hope your telephone call was not to receive my blessing for the degrading of your lifestyle. I have fond memories of out times together, but that is all in the past. Don’t expect any further conversations with me. No Communications at all. I will not come to visit, nor do I want you in my house. You’ve made your choice, though wrong it may be. God did not intend for this unnatural lifestyle. If you choose to not attend my funeral, my friends and family will understand. Have a good birthday and good life. No present exchanges will be accepted.
Goodbye, Dad

Now, please read another letter that has been making the rounds today–This one, again, from a father to a son who is coming out, but with a very different tone:

So beautiful it made me cry.

Again, if it’s hard to read (if you’re on your phone or something) here is what it says:

Nate, I overheard your phone conversation with Mike last night about your plans to come out to me. The only thin you need to plan is to bring home O.J. and bread after class. We are out, like you now. I’ve known you were gay since you were six. I’ve loved you since you were born. -DAD
p.s. Your mom and I think you and Mike make a cute couple.

"Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." -1 John 4:7b Dig it.

“Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7b Dig it.

I want you to read these two letters, and then think about those cheesy WWJD bracelets that everyone used to wear. Consider these two polar opposite reactions from a father to a son, and then ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” Given everything you know about Jesus, which of these two reaction are closer to his heart? Jesus talks about a God who loves us so much that he runs to meet us even after we squandered all of his blessings and given him the finger. Please, read these letters and let your heart be changed! Don’t be the sort of person who doesn’t get how someone else feels until it directly affects you or your family. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” “BELOVED, LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!!”

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16 Responses to A Tale of Two Letters

  1. A Medrano says:

    It’s horrible how you set this up. Jesus would judge everyone: the first father for the sad rejection and bad attitude he had against his coming out son. He’d judge the second father for encouraging another to continue a sinful behavior. And he’d judge the son in both letters for actively living a behavior that goes against the created order. He would say something to effect of the first father “who are you to judge?! Run to your son and hug him!” To the second he’d say “if you only knew me and my words”. And to the sons, “don’t let your attractions define you, or what people have said about you. Come to me, and you’ll find your true identity”. And to all, “repent! Re-think your ways! I welcome all…at a price: that you leave your sinful lifestyle and become someone better. It’s for re-orientation.”

    • theboeskool says:

      Tell me how Jesus would react to someone who came to the conclusion that the Bible isn’t as clear about this issue as others might believe it is, and then decided to love his or her son or daughter with an accepting, humble, and non-judging love. I’d like to know, since I’ll probably be hearing those words from Jesus someday…. And you seem to be the man to ask.

      • A Medrano says:

        First, the bible. The bible mentions from Genesis to Relevation the sanctioning of man and woman and its disdain of homosexual behavior.

        Second, nature. Nature has a force to germinate, to evolve, to flourish. The forward motion for humanity is the pairing of male and female. Any act outside this natural pairing does an injustice to humanity, and the eco-system itself.

        Lastly, your (dis)belief. Did you at one time believe that homosexual activity was somewhat wrong, if not sinful? Was there a personal experience that changed your mind? Have you chosen to ignore or refrain from investigating the bible further for fear of what it might have said? Have you chosen to allow your personal experience to reject anything that would challenge you?

        He probably would have said “you’ve read my words. I know you have. What did you think when I referred to Genesis about a man joining with his wife? Or, when I said that out of the heart a man comes sexual sin, that it defiles a man? Though I commend you for having compassion for the outcast, as I have, I have this against you. You are affirming a behavior that I reject. There’s a difference between affirming an individual and behavior. I never approved any sexual behavior outside a heterosexual marriage, and I also made explicit statements about sexual sin. You have chosen to ignore me, and my words which creation declares.”

    • Trish-da-dish says:

      Wow. So since you pretty much know how God thinks and have complete understanding of the Bible, (at least your interpretation) I guess I can come to your church and sit under your leadership since of course, everything you say MUST be the direct words of God.

      Isn’t the point of having an omnipotent and omniscient God, the idea that we DO NOT know his ways, since his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

      I think should tread lightly when it comes to claiming to know so much about God and what he has to say on a matter which Jesus spoke nothing about (which was prevalent in his time). Seems like the only people who actually spoke about homosexuality were people’s own personal opinions…and I think we can all agree that Paul didn’t know he was writing all that scripture when he was writing letters to the church. I’d bet he may change a few things if this was the case…

      Jesus obviously found it important to speak on money quite a few times…But, how many times did he speak to the unchurched?? Each time he had judgement, it tended to be for the people who claimed to know God..interesting thought, eh? Especially when he condemned the Pharisees for their religiosity which stood between them and their faith.

      Oh, and Jesus talked a lot about pride. Especially people being prideful about their faith…just food for thought…since you seem to have all the answers A medrano…

      • A Medrano says:

        Trish,
        There are many things I do not know that well, but there are others I’d say I do know. Of course, it is all relative, depending on who you speak with. Now, I can sense the sarcasm, probably as a defense mechanism.

        First, my words aren’t the direct words of God. However, there are two things I’d like to say about that. One, God does speak through people. Two, what I say is what I believe to be the best interpretation. My interpretation may not do justice to what God is saying. And, there’s a possibility it may run contrary to what God would like to truly say. I do take interpreting the Bible humbly. However, don’t dismiss one’s words as just mere interpretation because again, it could be God truly conveying divine words to you.

        Second, to say that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality would be simply ignorance to what Jesus did say. Many people subscribe silence as approval of a certain behavior. But, what if silence meant agreement with disapproval of a certain behavior? You see, if homosexuality was prevalent, as was many other sexual sins, Jesus would have gone against the beliefs and said something to the affect of “there is nothing wrong with people who practice homosexuality”. But on the contrary. He actually stiffened the current views on sexual sin. He talked about if your eye or hand causes one to sin, cut it off because it would be better to go to heaven without a member of a body than go to hell with it. He mentioned that just lusting would be considered adultery. He had strong words against people who divorced whenever they chose. Sexual sin wasn’t just one thing. It contained within it anything outside of a heterosexual marriage. Outside this, he demanded celibacy and purity. So, on sexual matters, instead of questioning the beliefs and liberating sexuality, he stiffened it.

        Three, whether Paul knew he was writing Scripture or not would not matter or change his views on homosexuality. Paul, when he wrote his letters, were to a Gentile people within an imperialistic country that, though it did not allow homosexuals to marry, allowed them to engage in sexual acts. This is like America. Paul would say the same things to us if he were here today. He would not change his views to make the good news more palatable to people. He did not then and he would not do so today. The church continued to grow.

        Fourth, you’re right about Jesus’ attitudes to the “Pharisees” and the “un-churched”. He rebuked the religious leaders more often and welcomed and restored the sinners more often. Yet, both were in need of Jesus, just from two different extreme sides. One needed harsher words, the other needed milder words. No matter which side you are on, you’re still not where Jesus wants you to be. He wants you to be holy as he is. Here’s a story we find in John, chapter 8:

        Early in the morning he returned to the temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, 4 they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” 8 Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. 9 Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.

        Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”

        I don’t have all the answers. But, that shouldn’t stop you from looking into it. Some, like you, have rejected the views of the Bible to accept the views of liberalism. If you read the bible, which it sounds like you do know some things about, I hope that you would take the words of Jesus, if not Paul, serious. To dismiss his words in favor of others would put you outside of the discipleship of Jesus. We are all broken, and I am so. I stand at his feet in repentance and seek to become more like him. To help those who should know, along with those who have not known. Both the churched and un-churched, are in need to live a holier, restored life that Jesus required. I am only a humble disciple who is trying to bring both in. And so to you, my words are not as gentle.

      • theboeskool says:

        Alberto, if you are a humble anything, you should take some sort of class to allow it to come out in your writing…. Because it doesn’t. I feel like you’re trolling my post comments. Are you?

        I swear, the amount of attention those words “Go and sin no more” get…. People are so desperate for a justification for their judgment. “HE TOLD US TO SIN NO MORE!!!”

        Paul might also tell women they can’t speak in church today too. As well as tell slaves to stay with their masters. You are so blindingly sure that you re right. I am not sure. Nor am I sure that someday God might not someday chastise me for getting it wrong. But here is something I am sure of: if God turns out to be the sort of god that wants us to write a letter like that first father wrote, then I want nothing to do with him.

        Take that shit back under the bridge with the other trolls, man.

      • theboeskool says:

        Telling Trisha that she “rejected the views of the Bible” is such a steaming pile of crap. Apologize.

    • pstone says:

      This is likely going to sound like an attack, and while I don’t mean for it to be, I’m having difficultly phrasing my own comments in a non challenging manner. If you do feel attacked, please forgive me, as it is not directed at you as a person, but to the comments you have made herein.

      Jesus might judge us all, or might have judged the characters in the story above, but it’s pretty bold to say that he definitely would, and frankly arrogant to claim to know what his judgments will be. These are *your* judgments, not Jesus’, and your statement lacks humility.

      Theologically and logically, where I really need some help is that I’m rather confused by your reading of the “…throw the first stone” parable. Can you help me understand how a parable that ends with Jesus refusing to judge the adulterer somehow backs your position that He would judge everyone in Chris’ story for making the wrong choices…? What the judgments are is irrelevant, I’m interested in the *act* of passing judgment here.

      • A Medrano says:

        Hello pstone,
        No, this did not sound like an attack. I don’t mind a challenging tone. It actually makes a conversation a little more authentic. Of course, I do understand trying to refrain from saying something that would just cause another to disregard all that was just said.

        We can go back and forth about my judgments or Jesus’. As said before, these are just my best interpretations of it. I could be wrong. But, when one reads the words of Jesus we can see what Jesus would have said and done. The issue is that we make guesses and assumptions on what he didn’t say instead of looking into what he did say. What he did say would fill in those silent gaps. We try to dodge the real topic, of which is homosexual practice, and target judgmentalism. We use this as a way to excuse certain behavior. I have a friend at work who uses a saying, as a joke somewhat, but not, whenever I catch her doing something she said she wouldn’t do: “don’t judge me”. I shoot back, “it’s been done already”. And we laugh. She knows she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing. She knows I know. I don’t reprimand her. But she only hopes that her “don’t judge me” would be an allowance to do the wrong she is doing, yet fully knowing she shouldn’t. So, lets try to get away from this whole judgmentalism thing and try to investigate further what Jesus would have said and done.

        In our culture, we have made the word “judgment” into a very bad word. Yet, throughout the Bible, we find that it isn’t a bad word. It’s something that just happens. God judges. God, and Jesus, does so to bring justice, that is fairness or what is right back into proper order. So, when Jesus tells the adulterer not to sin no more, he is judging – that is, bringing her back to a rightful position. So, judging isn’t a bad, condemning, kind of thing. But it’s also a merciful, compassionate, and hopeful act. It is redemptive. Jesus wants to see sinners stop their sinful behavior.

        My words sometimes come off as a little stern. And it doesn’t mean to be mean or arrogant. But, like many people from all positions. I’m a little passionate about what I believe in. Maybe I just need a little more tact in how I word my opinions.

        Grace.

      • pstone says:

        We all make judgments (decisions), but I am wary of the judging (condemning) of others and am loathe to say that I irrefutably know what someone – alive or dead, but especially dead for 2000 years – would say.

        Remaining for discussion: I still don’t understand how you have justified your reading of Jesus’ judgments here… seems like a complete disconnect between “neither do I judge you” and “Jesus would have condemned all of them for x,y,z” [paraphrased]

        New to discussion: I think you have COMPELTELY missed the point of the post, which in my interpretation (i.e. the part that resonated with me) is more about acceptance/love vs. rejection/hate, as opposed to whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong. Not trying to speak for The Boeskool, but I try to learn something from every situation that is presented to me, and that’s the part that I took to heart.

      • A Medrano says:

        It seems that you would irrefutably believe that this “dead” guy would have loved, right? It seems quite easy to accept one side but not the other. That’s a problem I find with those who would affirm homosexuality. The belief is usually something like this: “many parts of the bible seem to go contrary to our cultural beliefs, and so who can be certain what Jesus would say or do today. However, I will say I am certain that Jesus would affirm who they are”. There’s a throwing away of anything that would challenge us today. And we choose only the character we want to see in Jesus.

        There’s a disconnect because you’re still seeing judging as condemning. Instead of seeing it in that way, see it in a redemptive way. We can call it “restorative justice”. To see justice as wrong is to see God as wrong. And that’s probably why those who have a distorted view of justice tend to have a view of God that is like Zeus. However, justice is a divine standard by which all are judged. Judgment shows the wrongness we are, so that we may see where the rightness is. When Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore”, he was practicing “restorative justice”. If he didn’t judge the woman, than he would have said something like, “continue to do what you do, for that is who you are”. But no, he didn’t. He affirmed with the religious leaders of her sin, her wrongness, her injustice. But, he also affirmed that same judgment to the religious leaders. That is why the religious leaders left with their heads down. They were judged; they were not in the rightness. And to the woman, she was liberated from punishment, yet judged; because she was not in the rightness either. Restorative Justice – “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore”.

        If there were two letters one of hate and one of love, then I’d see the point and cheer on with love. But I don’t see that. Rather, I see one of rejection and one of affirmation and promotion. I wish it was rejection and acceptance. I would go with acceptance. I wish there was another letter that said something else, like, “I love you my son, so much! I guess we weren’t that close for you to hide this from us. Let’s grab a bite to eat and talk this over some beer!” But, that’s just me.

      • pstone says:

        And this is what makes me ignostic… can’t even agree on the definitions of the words involved in the discussion, so it becomes tiresome.

  2. pstone says:

    A great read. I feel horrible for that first father… I am a father of three young children, and I simply cannot fathom rejecting one of them like that; the pain in his life that would lead him to such a rejection must be an amazing torment. A couple things jump out at me…

    1. The first letter is very self-centered. Rather than discussing/considering anything his son might be going through, his letter focuses entirely on the effects of the son’s choice (to come out, not to be gay… more on that in a moment) on the father. He uses I, me, or my ten times, and only uses you or your five times, and then only to emphasize how “your choice” affected “my life.”

    2. The father basically focuses on the idea that he believes his son has made a choice to come out. I think it is telling that he doesn’t seem to imply in any way that being homosexual is a choice, but that coming out is.

    Why does this one choice have so much power over the father, and why is it so much about the father instead of his son? When you put these two together, I think you find the source of that torment… the son made a different choice than the father had to make himself. The father was taught that everything homosexual was a mortal sin and awful, so to be shunned at all times. He had no choice, really, but to repress his own homosexuality, and embrace a life of absolute suffering out of fear of suffering in the afterlife. It must be excruciating.

    I’m only extrapolating from very limited data, but man it fits a pattern, and can’t imagine the pain that eats him from the inside out.

    Go love your son! Nothing good comes from the rejection, and nothing but good can come from love!

    • pstone says:

      Point of clarification, Your Honor: I am not excusing the 1st father’s behavior, only coloring its understanding.

  3. skyride says:

    I kinda got bored reading the above comments, so if this was already said… sorry.
    I think we’re missing the point here, getting distracted with all this Jesus-bible-stuff. The contrast of the two letters really speak for themselves. Senator Portman’s actions speak for themselves. Empathy is a beautiful thing. Connecting with other human beings is a beautiful thing.

  4. Pingback: “ENDA’s Game”–How The Gays Are Trying To Ruin America | The Boeskool

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