“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.
When we came out as parents of an LGBTQ child, and then as strong allies and advocates, I was pretty defensive.
More than 20 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 was indeed the bottom line and truth of God. But I needed to reconcile those things I had heard on Sunday mornings.
But 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 much more.
And my eyes were opened. “I was blind but now I see.”
I discovered the truth… the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the heart of God, and the truth of the life 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 a requirement of my faith.
And now something else has happened.
I have come to realize that I am not the one who needs to defend my position!
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.
Because I take my Bible seriously. I stand on the literal meaning of the Word and I stand on and follow the life and truth of Jesus.
And you know what…
You have the right to believe something different. But if you do not welcome and embrace lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers and those questioning to attend and serve in your church, if you do not support full marriage equality, if you do not love without condition – it is you who needs to defend your beliefs.
Because you are the one deciding who God does and does not welcome, and the consequences of that include misrepresenting the truth and heart of God, and the rejection, condemnation and shaming of fellow human beings – even ending in tragedies like drug abuse and suicide.
I do not need to defend my position anymore. I am not going to defend my position anymore.
I am following Jesus.
I am loving as he loves, and I am loving who he loves.
She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”
She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at FreedHearts.org and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHeartsand Jesus Blog columns.