I have been in deep thought since I went to church yesterday. The sermon was on Jonah and how he ran from God, ran from what God wanted him to do, and the question was asked, “What are you running from that God wants you to do?”
When I started writing for Associated Content, I knew that I was going to write on a variety of subjects…some funny, some fictional, some spiritual, and some on controversial issues, including homosexuality.
I have touched on that subject a little bit, writing a review on “Calling the Rainbow Nation Home” and inviting everyone to read “A Letter to Louise”, a wonderful piece on acceptance and affirmation of homosexuals. But God is telling me to do more.
I have to admit, I am a little scared. It will probably offend some of my readers. It will shock many of my readers who know me and my family personally. I grew up in a small town, and my children grew up in that same small town. And some people will probably never want to read anything else that I write.
But that is okay. I believe this is the real reason I am here. I found out about Associated Content in a magazine. I had never heard of it, but I was immediately drawn to it, and I knew this was my vehicle, my agent of transmission, to spread the word, to try to educate people who are prejudiced simply because they do not know or understand anything about homosexuality.
So yes, there will be articles on this subject which is very close to my heart. You see, my son “came out” as they say, about a year and a half ago.
My world has changed, and although there has been a lot of heartache and tears, and this has definitely been one of my life’s hardest lessons, I can truly say that it has also been a blessing.
I see my son in a whole new light and he is beautiful. Although, he is going to face hardships, cruelty, and adversity probably for the rest of his life, I would not change one thing about him if it were in my power to do so. I thank God for him everyday, just the way he is.
I want to share a letter with you that I wrote to one of the pastors at the church I attend. I have changed his name and the name of the church out of respect for their beliefs and doctrines, and only for that reason.
My son does not care for me writing about him because he is proud of who he is, proud that he can finally be true to himself, and I am indeed proud of him, too. I am proud to be the mother of a gay son. As I write this…scared, yes; ashamed, no; and very very proud!
Here is my letter:
July 26, 2010
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brenda Vanderpool and I have been attending Cole Christian Church for about two and a half years now. I am a 61 year- old widow (widow is such an ugly word but I want you to get an accurate picture of who I am). I was born, raised and lived most of my life in a small town in the eastern part of the state and grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. After my husband passed away and I retired from my job, I moved to Lexington (about five years ago) mainly to be near my son, his wife and my two grandchildren.
I had been away from any church for several years, but started going to Cole at the invitation of friends, Chuck and Lynn May. I found that I loved it there, joined their small group and now attend regularly along with my friend or as I call him, “my spousal-equivalent” Lowell Smith.
In April 2009, my world changed in a way that I would have never imagined possible. My son, who had been married to his high school sweetheart for seventeen years, and father to two children whom he adores, admitted to all of us that he was gay.
All of our hearts were broken, including his. He loved his wife, she was his best friend, but for the past five or six years their marriage had been deteriorating. None of us were aware of how bad things were with them, chalking up any problems to the stress of his job, and the stress of raising two children, one of whom has Asperger’s Syndrome.
My son had started seeing a psychiatrist because he had begun having panic attacks when his job called for him to give a presentation to a large group of people. He had also started breaking out in hives whenever he was touched. But even then he could not bear to tell the psychiatrist his deep dark secret.
It was a big adjustment for our whole family. Both my son and his wife along with their two children sought counseling. They tried staying in the marriage for the family’s sake but of course that didn’t work. The divorce is final now. My daughter-in-law (as I still call her) and my grandchildren live in my neighborhood. My son lives in an apartment downtown. Only my nine- year old granddaughter is still in counseling, but is doing better all the time. My son stays very involved with his children and is friends with his ex-wife.
I was never prejudiced against gay people. I have several gay friends who are wonderful, loving, giving people, but I had never really delved into the psyche of a gay person, although I assumed that they were born this way and it was not just a life-style choice. Now that I know my son is gay, I know definitely that he was born that way. He has always been such a wonderful, brilliant and (I thought) well-adjusted person. Anything he has ever done, he has given 110%. He was always a straight A student, worked while in high school and bought his own car and anything else he needed or wanted. He and his high school sweetheart married a month before he turned twenty and moved to Lexington, where he put himself through the University of Kentucky, with grants, scholarships, (no loans), and by co-oping. He graduated summa-cum-laude with a degree in mechanical engineering and stepped immediately into a job where he has continued to advance to a management position and is well respected by his colleagues. Once again, I go into great detail to describe my son because I also want you to get an accurate picture of him.
What we found out, after his admission to being gay, was that he had been seriously contemplating suicide. He had checked into how much life insurance he would be leaving to his family, what would be paid for, how long they could stay on his medical insurance, every aspect of how he could care for this family that he so loved. He also considered just disappearing. He was traveling out of the country quite a bit with his job and thought of ways to fake his death. He knew that either way would devastate all of us, so he finally decided he had to just be honest with himself and with us. I thank God he found the courage to do that.
My son cried when he told me he was gay. He said, “Mom, I didn’t want to be this way. I tried to do what I thought was right. I thought I could be happy enough to be able to live this way the rest of my life without ever letting anyone know.” He also told me that if he had ever heard me say ugly things about gay people, he knows he would have never let me know that he is gay. I thank God that I was never prejudiced against gay people!
Soon after my son’s coming out, my main goal was to let him know that being gay didn’t mean that he was condemned by God, that he would be going to hell if he chose to be true to himself and live a life that was natural for him. I called your office to see what Cole’s doctrine was on this. You were not in so I left a message. You returned my call when I was not in, so you left me a message. You said my son would be welcome at Coles, he would not be made to feel uncomfortable, he would not be judged, that everyone was welcome at Coles. He would be welcome there just as a drug addict would be welcome. Needless to say, I did not invite my son to come to Coles. My son does not have an addiction that he is struggling to overcome. My son is gay, an unchangeable nature; it is not a lifestyle choice. God made him that way. I want him to go to a church that will not only welcome him, but will also accept and affirm him. I was very shocked to find out that this would not be the case at Coles.
In the research I have been doing since then, I have just recently run across the most enlightening and beautiful biblical affirmation of homosexuality that I have ever seen. It was written by Bruce W. Lowe, an elderly Southern Baptist minister in the form of a letter to a dear friend of his named Louise. Bro. Lowe spent an astronomical amount of time studying the Bible, reading more than forty books, most by eminent sociologists, psychologists, and theologians and then he wrote this letter to his friend, Louise, reflecting on what he now believes is the truth about homosexuality, what the Bible says and what he believes that God wants us to think and do about it.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Bro. Lowe is still alive. I emailed him and got an email in reply. He is 95 years old and he now deplores the ideas he once had about homosexuality without knowing the facts about it. He was ignorant of those facts. He was prejudiced and had pre-judged it. He is grateful to God for leading him to this study, and I am grateful to God for Bruce W. Lowe. Although his letter to Louise is pretty lengthy, I beg you to read it with an open heart and an open mind. It may not change the way you believe, or the way others believe and it may not make a difference at Coles, but at least I will have tried. And that is what I believe God wants me to do.
Greg, I thought I knew every kind of love there is to know. The greatest love of all, of course, being the way we love our savior. I have also known the love of a husband, of a daughter, of two sons, and numerous family and friends. I know by losing my daughter at a very young age, by losing my husband and by losing my parents and other family and friends that love never dies. It is the greatest gift God gave us. But Greg, please believe me when I tell you that I never felt the kind of love before that I feel for my gay son. I can’t even put it into words. I didn’t think I could have loved him any more than I did when I thought he was straight. I remember my response to him when he told me he was gay. “This does not make me love you any less, not even this much less,” I said, as I held up my fingers pinched together for him to see. But little did I know that I would love him more. God has opened my eyes to a new kind of love. Totally accepting, totally unconditional is the love I have for this child of mine and this child of God’s. It is so beautiful. I wonder what other kinds of love God may let me see someday. I just hope my heart will be open to them.
I continue to worship at Coles and any or no response to this letter will not change that. I just sincerely hope and pray that someday I will want my son to come there with me.
Thank you so much for your time.