Shouting Into The Wind: Words From The Hearts Of Christian Moms With LGBTQ Children

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A while ago I sat down on a quiet Wednesday morning to write this blog post, sharing how I would respond if I found out that my children were LGBTQ. My hope was to try to humanize an issue that my fellow Christians have largely dehumanized, and to try to set the table for productive new conversations, using the commonality of love for family as our starting place.

I couldn’t have imagined where those eleven hundred words would take me, both literally and figuratively since then. They brought me into the homes and iPhones of millions of people throughout the world in a matter of weeks; to CNN and Atheist radio shows and coffeeshop tables across from Southern Baptist pastors and Gay Christian conferences and living rooms of local families, and to all sorts of disparate, yet equally holy patches of ground.

This week those words took me to one of the most sacred spaces yet; a private online support group for a couple hundred Christian moms of LGBTQ children. Each day they gather virtually, to share a unique, incredibly difficult journey. I was there as a temporary guest, to be a resource for those present; to answer questions, and to encourage them in any way that I could. During my three days with these amazing women, I was incredibly moved by their honesty, their vulnerability, their thoughtfulness, their strength, and most of all their deep and abiding faith. It was inspiring and humbling.

I thought that rather than writing to you on their behalf here, I would let their words say the “stuff that needs to be said”.

Knowing they were safe to speak honestly in anonymity, I asked these moms of LGBTQ children one simple question: “What do you want Christians and church leaders to know about you, your kids, and your family?”

Here are their responses:


They need to know that since my daughter came out, I’ve never been stronger in my faith, have never done more Bible study and reading, never been “closer” to God in every other way, but yet have never felt so alienated and distanced from my brothers and sisters in the Church. My comments have been dismissed, my absences have been ignored, and the “Amens” in church have grown louder and more frequent whenever there is a remark against homosexuality. I need support from my church family, without all the negativity.

________

My son has a kind, gentle heart, and a huge sense of justice and morality. He loves people with patience, and with all the traits of the famous Corinthians passage on Love. He has so much to offer to this world, and has a passion to make it better for others. As a child brought up in the church and someone who gave his life to Christ, he denied being gay all his life, and it literally almost killed him. To deny his gayness is to deny his life. That is an inseparable part of him. He either will live as a gay man or die. There are no choices. Being gay isn’t a choice anyone would make. It’s slow and painful acceptance of a reality you wish were not true.

________


I want folks to know my 23-year-old gay son is not broken. He doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’. He loves the Lord with his whole heart. He didn’t ‘choose’ to be gay. He isn’t defined by that word, or by his orientation. He is a living, breathing human being who feels all the same things straight people feel. He is loving, kind, considerate, funny, and smart. He doesn’t deserve to be ridiculed, hated, attacked, or bullied for being himself; nor does any LGBTQ person.

________

I want them to know that even though I put my relationship with the Lord above everything, I put my family before a church, so don’t make me choose. My sons are the same people you have watched grow up, so stop acting as if they don’t exist, now that you know they are gay.

I wonder if they ever lose one minute of sleep worrying about those who are so devastated and hurt by non-inclusive denominations, that they secretly plot their own deaths? Do they feel any responsibility in this whatsoever? Do LGBT+ lives have any value to them? When they visualize the life of Christ, and view this issue through the lens of the Cross, how does this make sense?

________

I’m visualizing the specific Christian friends who are politely distant after years of close friendship. I don’t feel like I have their permission to tell our story honestly, but when I do…

I want them to know that I care as deeply about honoring God with my life as ever; that I still take the Bible very, very seriously and am just as wary of “twisting” it as they are. I want them to know that my son likes himself again, after years of internal turmoil that we couldn’t figure out; that my support of LGBT people is the result of my faith, not an abandonment of it. I want them to know that the last couple of years have indeed been hard for us, but not because we learned our son is gay.

________

When we learned how very common it is for gay kids in Christian families to believe God doesn’t accept them, or that their own family will reject them, or that they feel that there’s no way life can work out well for them; and when we learned how many suffer serious depression or anxiety, engage in cutting, and consider suicide, we assumed people in our church would care as we do.

Our church friends after all, are loving, faithful, kind, and compassionate people, and we felt sure that when they saw what we see, they would care and begin to at least ask some difficult questions about what the Church is communicating. That was not the case—at all.

We were horrified, and we still struggle each day to make sense of it. We’re not sure what to make of their silence now that we’ve left our church, so we suspect they’re relieved that we’re gone and have written us off as heretics. We don’t have very many local friends anymore. We’re confused about why friendships with church people are so much more conditional than friendships with old college friends and neighbors. We’re not sure whether we’ll ever really trust a church community again. That is why the last couple of years have been hard for us.

But I also want them to know that I dream of being able to seek God’s will together in this, admitting none of us have all the answers, acknowledging the strong emotions we all bring to the table, and realizing we may end up disagreeing. I want them to know I miss them, and I hope one day we’ll be able to share our lives again.

________

They need to know that they have no idea the pain that their words cause. They need to know that they have no idea what we go through. They need to know, at least for Transgender people; the high suicide rate, the fact that often times the only work they can get is in the sex industry, and that even using the bathroom means that they may be beaten.

________

I want people to know that my gay kids are not gay because they were abused in any way, or because I’m “overbearing,” or because my husband was negligent and/or didn’t “man-up” in his role as father. I want people to know that my gay kids are not believing lies about themselves in being gay, but are living into the truth of who they are.

I would want them to know we are just two parents raising two boys, and our oldest kid is gay. We are normal folks, really. We have the same challenges any other family does with two working parents. We are not freaking lepers. My kid is not going to rub off on your kid. We don’t have cooties. Oh, and don’t discriminate against the siblings who are not gay.

We are lives. We matter. I think we would all say that this is not a choice. You could ask any one of us, and we saw signs at an early age. We can have our faith and love our children well. Some of us miss corporate worship. Please welcome us. Take the word “but” out of your vocabulary. Leave the judgment at the front door and be gracious instead.

________

I would like them to know when they try to make me feel better by saying, “we all have a besetting sin”, that while I might agree with them, being gay is not our child’s besetting sin.

________

They need to know that we need love and support, not just Bible verses, and not to be told to “start reading the Bible and stop reading Science” (my sister told my other sister that about Trans issues). They need to try to step into our shoes when they refuse to use my daughter’s preferred pronouns. They haven’t heard the conversations about how hurtful being called her given name is, or that it makes her want to die. They don’t understand gender dysphoria, haven’t heard their child say they wish they could chop off their genitals. No, they simply say that it’s just because something is “mentally wrong” with her. She has just “chosen” this. Do people honestly think anyone would choose any of this?

________

For me, it’s not about what I want the church to know, it’s what I want the Church to “un – know”.  I want Christians to ask the hard questions: How are we “saved”? What is salvation? What is the gospel?

“Gospel” means “good news”. What is that good news?

The Church has told us that faith is not about following rules, but the “gay issue” calls its bluff. The Church says God loves us unconditionally, but they don’t believe it. In my opinion, our beliefs about Hell, and punishment, and judgment, and salvation are the core problem. The fact that the Church cannot get past the “no same-sex” rule, only exposes it.

________

The first thing my then 15-year-old son said when he came out to us was, “I don’t want to be the weird kid. I don’t want to be the weird kid in youth group or, the weird cousin, or the weird kid at school. I’m not any different. I just want to be me.” That has resonated with me. He has not changed from the loving, wonderful kid he always was. It’s the attitudes around him that have changed.
________


I want them to know that the silence feels like rejection.

________


I am a woman married to a wonderful wife with two incredible kids.

My wife and I are not intrinsically disordered. Our relationship is not depraved. In fact, the love and respect we share leads us to be better, healthier people. Our relationship brings us closer to God.

We are not promiscuous or lustful. In fact, we are monogamous. We are committed to each other and steer clear of those things that would damage our relationship. We are not one step removed from pedophilia or incest. In fact, my wife and I have worked for child protective services and women’s resource centers, to put an end to those wretched things. We are not one step removed from bestiality. In fact, neither of us can even stand it when the cat sleeps at the foot of the bed.

Our marriage is not unnatural. In fact, our marriage represents our very natural love for one another. We see our marriage as an equal partnership and a lasting union. We fought hard for our marriage. We intend to uphold it and honor it.

We are not a counterfeit family. In fact, we planned our children very carefully. Long before they were conceived, we loved our children and dreamed of giving them the best life possible.

We would never harm our children. In fact, we go above and beyond to keep them safe and protected from household injuries, malicious strangers, bigotry, and every other concern that creeps into a responsible parent’s mind.

Our children do not suffer from having two moms. In fact, we are very complementary individuals. We each bring very different qualities and skills to the table. Hiking, fishing, baking, creating, exploring, learning – between the two of us, we will give our children a very well-rounded childhood experience.

We do not threaten anyone else’s family or marriage. In fact, when we see other couples struggling, we do our best to offer help and speak in support of their marriages.

What do I want the Church to know? The list goes on and on… but it’s like shouting into the wind.

What I want to know is why so many churches continue to target and attack the marriages and families of same-sex couples. It’s not stopping people from falling in love, getting married, or having families. Instead, it’s wreaking havoc on the overall mental health of the LGBT community, it’s preventing us from being fully integrated into society, and it’s driving people away from God.

But my biggest concern lately is this… What in the world do we tell our kids about the Church?

________

Remove the word “abomination” from your vocabulary. Words hurt.

_______

They need to know that often times we find ourselves in situations we never imagined, (court, doctor’s offices, mental hospitals) because of the consequences of the way our children have tried to cope with the pain, and of being afraid to be who they really are. Because in the past, we believed much differently, and preached those things at them before we had any idea of their sexuality; that we have guilt for realizing the unintentional pain we caused. 

________

I would want the church to know that I needed someone who shared my faith, to tell me it’s OK to accept my son, and that we are important to the Church. Instead my entire family is now out of the church we served in and called home for over 20 years, because of the alienation and separation.

________

I want them to know that Christians and Christian communities continue to hurt LGBT people. As a mom whose son who is gay, these things hurt me too.

It hurts me when I hear Christians saying and doing things that cast LGBT people as less-than, as broken, as second-rate.

It devastates me when I hear that LGBT Christians who don’t believe that Scripture condemns a loving, monogamous same-sex relationship, are excluded from membership and/or service opportunities at a local church.

It crushes me when I read about a same-sex couple who has to have their otherwise happy time of planning a wedding, tainted by the need to interview bakeries, florists, and caterers to find out if they are willing to offer their services to a same-sex couple.

It grieves me when I hear families tell me they had to stop going to church because it wasn’t a safe place for their LGBT child, and was causing their child to be depressed, hopeless, and even to have suicidal thoughts.

It is overwhelming when an LGBT person kills themselves, because it is easier than living with the shame, oppression, and marginalization that has been perpetuated by their Christian community, their Christian family, their Christian peers, their Christian school.

It hurts me and makes me angry, when someone assumes someone must have done something wrong if their kid is LGBT.

As I stand before God with other Christians I wonder what they think God sees?

What is it that they believe He would call just, loving, generous, kind, hospitable?

Who do they believe that He would consider to be a good example of his love and grace?

________

To have had someone in the faith community tell me years ago, “It’s OK. Love your children. Don’t try to change them. Don’t make them feel unworthy. They are accepted here and welcome here.” Wow! What a help that would have been, instead of rejecting my children, and having all of us leave the church. Now I have no desire to be involved in organized religion, even though I still have faith and still believe. My “church” is the people I am able to help, the people I love (most especially the LGBTQ community), the donations I give to other help organizations and people in need. Life could have been so different for many of us, if the churches had been more loving and accepting.

________

I just want them to actually read the book I gave them. Don’t take it and put it on a shelf to gather dust or hide it in a drawer. Read it because I thought enough of you to buy it and give it to you; hoping for you to care, for a little understanding, a little effort to open your heart, even just a crack.

________

I would want people to know that we love our grandson always and  forever. He is out of the closet, as they say, and we are not ashamed of him. The pain he has suffered and still suffers from being persecuted in that small town still affects his life here. Him being Transgender is a whole different thing than being gay, and I am still struggling with the idea that he wants to be female.  I am not out there on the front lines fighting for gay rights, but I am honestly seeking and praying for guidance from GOD about all this. But I do feel for the pain these ones suffer, when being told they cannot be Christians, or be in a church. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to face in my life.

________

I want them to know how my precious daughter wept and agonized for years, praying to change, and how she almost took her own life because of the shameful messages directed at her by her “Christian” friends, when she shared her secret with them. I want them to know how she felt when the pastor she believed truly cared for her, and who knew her sexuality, preached that being gay was a sin. I want them to know what it was like for her to hear people she believed cared for her in that congregation, cheer and clap at the pastor’s statements. I want them to know that her many non-believing, Atheist, or Jewish friends have modeled Christ’s love to her unconditionally, but that not one of these “Christians” who have known her most of her life, have ever called, written, texted, or reached out a hand in friendship, all because this precious woman is gay.

And I want them to know that, even if I could, I would not change one single thing about my daughter. She is one of the kindest people on the planet, and she would still be there for any of those who have rejected her, even now.

________

I wish they would take the time with an open heart and mind, to read and educate themselves on what the Bible really says about LGBTQ people. Most of us were forced to do this when our child came out, and I know I was amazed at what I learned. There is way too much fear regarding this issue for many people to take the time, because it could cause a lot of questioning in all areas of their belief, and that can be a scary thing. Although I no longer attend Church, I still have a very close relationship with God and love Him dearly.

________

I want our church’s pastors and leaders to know that our church’s recent motto; that we are a church “Where No One Stands Alone” was NOT true, as I have tried to engage them in conversation about gays.

________

I would like to ask every Christian who has made an ignorant assumption or made reference to a grossly exaggerated stereotype: “Have you ever really gotten to know a gay Christian? Have you tried to understand their point of view, their pain, or really listened to their story?” I believe that many “straight” Christians would change how they view people with same-sex attraction if they would just take the time to really listen and get to know, and at least try to understand them. There is so much misunderstanding and so many assumptions made, because the Church doesn’t even want to talk about sex in general, let alone issues concerning same-sex attraction.

________

Can they just trust the story of the person that is different from them? Do they think these differences come from a lack of enough faith, or not enough love for God? How is it that they know our kids are not doing enough? Are they ever willing to give up their relationships, just to walk the road they assign to our kids? Do they think that God takes pleasure in asking our kids to love Him and yet never have a partner? Does this mean God has a rating system? 

________

Raising a teenager who is gay is challenging enough. Doing so in a small conservative town in the South is isolating at times. I’d ask people to get to know us as people and families. We are surprisingly normal.

________

Whatever they believe, do not under any circumstances make a child that has come out feel guilty or bad about themselves; especially someone who is a parent. This is not happening to the parent. It took a lot of nerve for the child to come out, and they feel one hundred times worse than a parent ever could, in most cases. Only show love and support. If a parent needs to fall apart, do it with friends or another support group, not in front of the child. The gay community is just like everyone else. We all want to be loved and accepted. Pretty simple.

________

I’d like my church pastors and leaders to know they have lost my trust, and a portion of their credibility for not being totally honest with what they most likely know about the meaning of the “clobber verses”, about the Sodom and Gomorrah story not being about gay men but about rape, and for using the word “homosexual” rather than sexual immorality (which most men if honest, would have to admit they have committed adultery based on Jesus’ definition) and etc.

________

I want them to know that my beautiful daughter loves God with all her heart, and speaks to her LGBT friends with a strong voice of faith, and to her Christian friends with the confidence of a young woman who knows she is who God made her to be. I want them to know, that because of her, and the studying I have done to really understand what “those verses” in the Bible are and are not talking about, God has given me a ministry calling to work with other Christian parents of LGBT kids, to help to bring wholeness, peace, and joy in those families as they learn to celebrate their kids.

________

I want to thank those pastors who are meeting behind closed doors. I understand that your family can go through hell for that, and I pray for them to find a way to stop the fear.

________

One other really hurtful thing is to be corrected/rebuked for affirming our child, and then being told, “I’m telling you the truth in love.” Well people, the love is certainly getting lost in translation.

________

I would like people to know that as I prayed for God to change my son, he changed me instead. I am grateful for the work God has done and continues to do in me.

 

Christians, these are the real people, the flesh-and-blood families on the other end of our incendiary sermons, hateful blog comments, hurtful gossip, off-the-cuff jokes, and shunning silence. 

This is the human collateral damage of our Christian theology of sexuality.

This is what Christians are doing every day to other Christians, supposedly in the name of love. 

What you do with this knowledge and with these words, and how you choose to express your faith convictions in light of them, is between you and the Jesus you claim faith in. 

Pray and tread carefully.

God is a witness.

 

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27 thoughts on “Shouting Into The Wind: Words From The Hearts Of Christian Moms With LGBTQ Children

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these mothers’ words. I can relate so much to their pain and their love for their children. Bless you for bringing LGBT issues out of the closet and into the light of God’s love.

  2. When I tell people that my son is gay and they start on all the “Christian” rhetoric I stop them and tell them “one thing I know for sure is that God loves my son as much as he loves me, you, your child”. He is a child of God and God loves his children and that is the end of the conversation.

    • And might I add that God made each of us, different, tall, short, blonde, red haired, blue eyed, brown eyed, straight, gay. All Gods creations and God does not make mistakes. Who dares to question the work of His hands? You proclaim your belief and yet you question His work. I think, “Perhaps God is testing my faith and ability to love.” He said we should love others as yourselves for the love of me. No exceptions, love everyone………

  3. Rick Joyner once shared an extremely insightful comment on this issue. When discussing it with the LORD, he heard the reply “The church will not be free of Homo-sexuality, until it is free of Homo-sectuality.” This is to me, as one who has come from a homosexual background, a fascinating comment, that deserves close inspection.

    It is my belief that the division of the church, especially the protestant wing of the church, into multiple streams, is because the emphasis of each group is on whether the teaching is correct, rather than whether the LORD is present in the midst. This tends to change the character of a church, making it a dominator, rather than an equipper.

    Homosexuality is one of the hardest roots to dig out. It requires great patience and kindness and the gentle but firm application of truth. Above all, the individual must become confident in their ability to hear God for themselves, and that requires a culture of discipleship. As an individual learns to hear God correctly, then they can cooperate correctly with the LORD is his journey for them. Only this cooperation can bring healing.

    Homosexuals are some of the most sensitive people on the planet. Relating to them properly in the LORD is not easy, for there are many painful areas in their lives. They are in fact a litmus test of the church’s ability to be a conduit of the LORD’s healing, to be those who walk alongside the broken.

    Shalom. C.

  4. John, Thank you so much for letting the voices of these moms be heard. If anyone is interested in joining the Facebook group for moms of lgbt kids email me at [email protected] and put “Mom’s Facebook group” as the subject. The group is awesome … a place where we share lots of information and support. We have about 400 members now and we continue to grow.

    • And as of today we have more than 1,200 members and we continue to grow as more and more moms of lgbtq kids join us!!

  5. When I came out, as a former pastor in a conservative church, THIS QUOTE from a gay, Catholic theologian/Franciscan priest (turned psychotherapist) influenced my way of thinking more than all the other sources combined that were in my extensive library on the issue of faith and (homo)sexuality:

    “A traditional religious belief is that “grace builds on nature,” in other words religious life depends on a good foundation in human health. Therefore we can legitimately evaluate the validity of a religious belief system by its psychological consequences. Good theology will result in good psychology, and vice versa. Accordingly, bad theology will have negative psychological consequences. This is nothing more than an application of the biblical norm: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16) If Saint Irenaeus proclaimed, the glory of God is humans FULLY ALIVE [emphasis mine], then clearly a belief system that results in the destruction of human health cannot serve the glory of God.”
    ~Dr. John J. McNeill

    The statements above, from the moms in the private, online community, did a stellar job of showing forth the truth of Dr. McNeill’s words!

  6. I am a transwoman and ordained pastor with the UCC. As such, I am a big and strong advocate for trans rights and life. I do this through my ministry, trying to show where God is with us in love.

  7. The first person I came out to as bisexual was my former (Catholic) priest before his death in 2004.
    His response: “So what? That’s not wrong, it’s just who you are.” I wish more clergy saw things through his perspective. I recently left that parish due to an incredibly legalistic and shaming pastor. After years of volunteer work, I – with many others – were forced out. I am blessed to have found a great new community with a priest who celebrates an openness of spirit for all in our Christian and global community (his recent homily that related Buddhism to Christianity made my heart sing.).

    My dad said that bisexuals need to “make their choice,” but even after marrying my husband nearly five years ago, I’m still attracted to women. I happened to fall in love with a man. His words still ring in my ears.
    My mom was in denial for years. I think she’s finally starting to come around. I’m somewhat glad to say she left with me when I left my former parish.

    It’s still a struggle every day to discuss my orientation with people (Major Depressive Disorder and Panic Disorder make discussing who I am difficult with those whose opinions I don’t know), but I’m glad to know my story has opened the eyes of others. No matter what the orientations of my twin sons turn out to be, I hope to raise them knowing that there is nothing wrong. It’s just who they are.

  8. My heart aches for these children and their families. I am not talking about what the “church” has defined as family. I AM talking about ALL the people out there who define themselves as a family, whether it is 2 Moms, 2 Dads, or a Mom and a Dad, and whether their children are “gay” or “straight”. A child should never, ever, be put in a situation where they feel they would be better off not being here, than going through the pain of being true to themselves!! How can a person call themselves a “christian” when they cause so much pain to another person who bleeds and feels pain like any one else? I certainly do NOT call you a “christian”, I call you a hypocrite. Forgive me Father for I have sinned, words you use in “church” but do not practice when you leave the building. These LGBT children are loved by Jesus and his Father. God does not make mistakes and they are who they are supposed to be and they have much to add to this world. Society as a whole could learn a little compassion from “them” as it is sorely lacking. So, you “self-righteous” people need to get over yourselves and to the Moms, Dads, and Grandparents, you ROCK and thank God you are their guardians and children who live this life daily, you ARE perfect and please do not change. You ARE loved.!!! <3 If I was able, I would give each and every one of you a hug, since I cannot, please accept this, )HUGS(

  9. I would like to know more about what the scriptures say. I have been working at overcoming tradions and teachings of men. John could you PLEASE share where to find the true meaning of these scriptures?l feel the urgent need to know the truth, how can I have the love of Christ without it?

  10. Pingback: I Was Ignorant and I’m Sorry | Salt and Light

  11. I’m trying to understand how to handle the subject of bisexuality from a biblical perspective. I mean ultimately I don’t think you you agree with people sleeping around. So how do you address a momogomous couple when one of the people wants to bring someone else into their relationship or wants to have a sexual relationship with 2 different people? I’m not trying to sound judge mental, just trying to understand.

    • Bisexuality doesn’t have anything to do with bringing a third person into a relationship or have a relationship with two different people. Bisexuality simply means you are attracted to both males and females. It’s the same as heterosexuals are attracted to the opposite sex and homosexuals are attracted to the same sex.

    • What you’re running up against is a bisexual person who wishes to introduce polyamory (love between more than two persons) into your relationship. I don’t believe that this kind of relationship works very often or for very long, generally. The only cases where it works seems to be where all of the possible partnerships (you and the second person, you and the third person, etc) all have the same intense love between you. If this is not the case, I would take a very long and intense look at this before agreeing.

  12. I am 55 years old and I am not gay. My children are not gay. I have been a card carrying member of the evangelical church for 23 years. I read the same passages of Scripture as everyone else. I go to the same “style” of church as everyone else. I worship and love the same God as everyone else but what I have never been able to get my head around is … why are some Christians so mean? Whatever the theology you hang with on the subject of sexuality, one thing is as clear as crystal … we are required to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and our neighbour as ourselves. For a better understanding of what “love” is we have to look at 1 Cor 13. I mean it doesn’t get much simpler. If you can’t love your LGBT brother or sister or as a neighbour then the problem is not your theology but the fact you are not saved – because it is your expression of love which marks out out as a disciple not your doctrine.

    Sadly this message never penetrated the hearts and minds of the church where I worked and worshipped. They never accepted my brother as gay and they couldn’t accept my marriage breakdown as a tragedy and not an act of sinfulness. I am one of the “unchurched” and happy about it.

  13. These are heartbreaking stories. Thank you for sharing them. I pray many hearts will be cut to the quick in reading them, and ALL will be welcome and affirmed in Jesus Christ.

  14. Although they’re looking at this from an evangelical perspective, which means ultimately choosing celibacy if you are gay, Living Out have some really good talks about church families accepting others and offering support. They have done quite a few events in the US and are all same sex attracted

  15. Not in my Bible:

    Mark 12:31
    The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself . . . unless he’s a queer.

    Is it that way in your Bible?

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