A Crazy Conversation

Christine over at Rising Up Whole recently wrote about parents who hope or pray that their gay children’s lives are made difficult or cut short. The opening paragraph:

I just had a conversation with a friend who found out her mother had prayed that if being gay was a sin, that the Lord would take this daughter before she had drifted too far from God (yes, as in "take this daughter" out).

Yeah, so that’s yours truly. My mom dropped that bomb on me Saturday, telling me she prayed that prayer about nine years ago. I guess she thought it would be okay for me to hear about it now, because I’m evangelical and exgay and happily married and all that. Apparently she thought I would approve. But I must admit I still find it very, very disturbing.

What she prayed specifically was “Lord, I don’t think being gay is a sin, but if I’m wrong and it’s an abomination, please take my daughter before she drifts too far from you.” Shortly afterward, I became severely clinically depressed and also very physically ill, but the doctors couldn’t figure out why. According to my mom, at that point, she “hit her knees” and told God she changed her mind, told Him that there had to be "a better way". Thus, in a weird way she seems to be taking credit for my sudden illness and my recovery, and perhaps my conversion as well.

I’m reluctant to blog about this because I haven’t really processed it—I have more questions than answers. I didn’t think my mom was even a Christian then, and I know I sure wasn’t, so I’m not sure why she thought I was drifting away from God.In the following years, she continued to reiterate her belief that homosexuality wasn’t a sin and that she just wanted me to be happy, on numerous occasions expressed her opposition to my exgay path, and several times suggested that I should just find a nice girl and settle down. So the whole story makes no sense to me, but I’m far too freaked out right now to ask her to explain more fully.

It’s not that I think God was listening to her and that my life was actually in danger. I think it’s quite possible that it’s all a coincidence, perhaps made more striking by my mom’s possibly distorted memories and perceptions of the events which are after all now nine years old. (I can corroborate that I was very depressed and mysteriously very sick, but that’s about it.) I also think it’s possible that God made things happen the way they did to teach my mom something, although I’m not sure what it was, and I’m not sure how well she learned it.

But mostly I’m just disturbed and hurt that my mom would pray such a thing. I'm being told that I should be compassionate and understanding, because my mom was undoubtedly very confused. I'm sorry–confusion can excuse a lot of things, but asking God to exterminate your child isn't one of them. I'm not saying I don't forgive my mother. I'm just saying that I personally need to acknowledge that something happened, and it was really dark, and really wrong.

Anyway, while I'm not sure what else to say about this specific incident right now, it does seem like an opportune occasion to share my thoughts on praying bad things for people. So, onward to the next post

3 Responses to A Crazy Conversation

  1. Troy says:

    I wonder if your mom’s prayer was some sort of unconscious way of avoiding the issues she had with your sexuality. Sometimes I think parents see their children as extensions of themselves and when their kids don’t match up with their own self image they figure out ways to put them away–either metaphorically or in some cases physically, as in kicking them out of their lives–until they figure out what to do next. In any case, if I’d been in your place this would have been a traumtic conversation for me. Will pray that this new information utlimately leads to a better place for you both.

  2. Hi Troy,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have to agree with you that it’s probably more about her own issues than anything else–like I said above, it seems to me that there’s little to no chance this stemmed from an actual theological conviction, misguided or not.

    And I do think it was good that she was able to share it with me–the guilt of it had clearly been weighing on her for years. And I think it does provide an opportunity for us to perhaps move forward in our relationship. Thanks for your prayers!

  3. [...] In my last post I shared how I recently learned that several years ago my mother prayed for God to "take me" (i.e., kill me) if being gay was a sin. Many parents ask for similar or less drastic ills to befall their gay children. Sometimes they actively pray for misery that will drive the child in question back to the Lord and the straight and narrow. [...]

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