Response to John Pavlovitz’s Post: “If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From a Christian Pastor/Parent”

This is not the kind of post one wants to write to kick off the new year. But since I am the Triggerman, and I have taken the responsibility to drop the hammer on truth, justice, and whatever crosses my mind, sometimes you have to do those things that you do not want to do because they simply need to be done. First, I think I need to explain how this came to my attention.

If you have a YouTube page, then you also get stuck with a Google+ page, which is a lot like Facebook, and its where all the accumulated nonsense that will not be allowed on Facebook can be seen. Sometimes its interesting, sometimes disgusting, sometimes funny, and sometimes it is really alarming. This particular post was brought to my attention by a sponsored post of the news (should say “propaganda”) website GayStar News, about a pastor named John Pavlovitz (on his info page he called himself a “17-year ministry vet”) who wrote a post titled “If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From a Christian Pastor/Parent”. I have done a similar response here, and discussed it here as well, and this post is also is the realm. See these posts here, here, and here for questions about Scripture.
Second, in my interactions in the comments, I was invited by John to do a response. So, here it is, in typical Triggerman form.
He begins,

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.

I wonder about a lot of things when it comes to my two boys, who are 21 and 14. I wonder if I have done everything that I can to raise them rightly, especially in a world that is in full rebellion against its Creator.

Next he says,

Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

I have many friends and associates and family members who struggle with anger, and selfishness, and lust, and covetousness, things that I struggle with myself. I feel guilty because I did not interject myself more into the life of a friend who was having an affair that caused his wife to leave him. I tried to be subtle, to let him know that all he had to do was repent. I tried to be supportive, but people sometimes bent on destruction go toward it.

I go to a church that is filled with horror stories of people whose lives have been destroyed by their sin, even though they were part of a church. I interact regularly with people, much like myself, who find anger and selfishness to be repulsive things and yet they do them any way because they are fallen creatures, and they let people know at every opportunity how repulsive these things are in acting out and being hypocrites. I think heavily about my own anger, my own lust, my own selfishness, my own laziness, but because God in his mercy and grace has reached down in love to give me a new heart and a new mind, through Christ, I now have a means to deal with those things.

The Apostle John, in his First Epistle, writes,

If we confess our sins, (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV, emphasis added)

But then he goes on to say,

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10 ESV)

Well, what is sin? The best definition that I have found, in the Christian context, is anything that rings of disobedience to God’s commands or created order, gratifying the flesh over the spirit. Anger itself is not a sin, but when left to fester on its own it can infect a person until they lash out destructively. Desire is not a sin, but desire untamed can turn into lust which can lead to destructive behaviors of its own. All of these things need to be considered, and examined and these are practices that we need to teach our children. We need to teach our children how to think as opposed to what to think.

John then delineates his promises to anyone who decides (yes, I said it) to  “come out as gay”,

1. My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret.

I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.

If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.

I have nothing really against this because I think that it is a good thing to be open and honest about what is going on inside families. My family, for several years has been in a tizzy, been divided over behaviors that have taken place in the past, things were said and took place that require forgiveness. Forgiveness requires confession, confession means that one has done something wrong or disapproved of. We often walk on tip-toes around those we love out of fear of disappointing them. Again to John’s epistle,

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18 ESV)

We like to talk about love, but we fail to recognize the source, which is God. And the only one who can truly love God, is the one who has been saved by Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. If the family is moving toward God, together, then love, the holy and perfect love that comes from God will have a cleansing effect that causes us to reveal more of ourselves to one another because nothing is hidden from God, even our feelings, the very emotions that we often let drive our lives, when it should be reason.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel,

you shall be eaten by the sword;  for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18-20 ESV)

Continuing, John writes,

2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them.

I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal.

I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. I’ll pray that He shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell, without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh, and dream, and feel, and forgive, and that they love God and humanity.

Above all, I’ll pray to God that my children won’t allow the unGodly treatment they might receive from some of His misguided children, to keep them from pursuing Him.

I often, myself, have to ask, “what is normal?” As a believer in Christ, if I look at the world carefully and honestly, “normal” would be apathy and destruction. So if I pray for my children, honestly, it would be that they be abnormal, that they be holy, that they be changed by God and his Spirit for Christ. I don’t pray for God to “fix” my kids, I pray for God to save my kids from this “wicked and adulterous” world (those are Jesus’s words by the way), I pray that day by day , putting away, “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from (their) mouth. (Not lying) to one another, seeing that (they) have put off the old self with its practices…(Colossians 3:8-9 ESV). I pray for my children’s protection, not in their sin, but that God would allow the consequences of their sin to be plain, to drive them to repentance and faith in Christ.

Further, what does it mean to “love God”? God, in speaking to his people through Moses, said,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6 ESV)

Love for God is demonstrated through obedience to his commands and in response to his gracious offer of salvation through faith in Christ. We often like to quote Jesus by repeating his command to “love your neighbor”, but forget that he first commanded people to “love God”, and the only way that we can truly love God is in obedience. We ought to encourage our children, constantly to look to God, look to his instruction, which is found in his revealed word. They would see such statements as this,

…remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God…(Numbers 15:39-40 ESV, emphasis added)

Why does God tell us not follow our hearts, but His? Because,

The heart (of man) is deceitful above all things,

and desperately sick; who can understand it. (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

There are a lot of misguided people, people who have forgotten the grace and mercy that they have been shown, the compassion required to deal with the weakness of humanity, the same compassion that Christ showed when he ate with the despised and rejected of his day, but there’s one thing Christ did, he didn’t leave them that way, but called them to righteousness and they responded his instruction was clear, “Go, and sin no more.

Now, John’s third promise:

3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them.

I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love.

I won’t love them despite their sexuality, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them; simply because they’re sweet, and funny, and caring, and smart, and kind, and stubborn, and flawed, and original, and beautiful… and mine.

If my kids are gay, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.

All parents should love their children lavishly (I like that word). But what does it mean to “love” our children. As I have pointed out here, homosexuality is a behavior. We should encourage our children to engage in positive behaviors and attitudes. But I want to examine this logic for a moment, if his, or my one of my children, decided to become a thief, while I may love them despite their engagement in criminal behavior, my love for them is not because of their behavior. By using the term “because”, John is saying that his love is initiated by their behavior, which is one of the worst things a parent can do to their children: for parents to make their love dependent on their children’s behavior. This was probably not his intention, but it is nonetheless the message that is conveyed. With an unqualified statement, John has essentially told his children that they will not enjoy the fulness of his approval and affection unless they engage in homosexual behavior. That is the same logic that child molesters use to groom their victims. That is not the logic that people who claim to be Christians should be using, and it is not my intention to be harsh, but to point out the logical conclusion that an impressionable person, such as a child, can draw from such carelessly worded statements.

John continues:

4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children.

If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are.

God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.

Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their sexuality that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do, or say, or pray just the right things to get them to “turn straight”, or forever lose them to the other side.

They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.

Children are blank slates that we write the course of life upon. I forget where I heard that statement, but it is becoming clear that it is true. What John is essentially espousing is determinism, something GK Chesterton wrote about,

Determinism is quite as likely to lead to cruelty as it is certain to lead to cowardice. Determinism is not inconsistent with the cruel treatment of criminals. What it is (perhaps) inconsistent with is the generous treatment of criminals; with any appeal to their better feelings or encouragement in their moral struggle.

The determinist does not believe in appealing to the will, but he does believe in changing the environment. He must not say to the sinner, “Go and sin no more,” because the sinner cannot help it. But he can put him in boiling oil; for boiling oil is an environment.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (1994-05-01). Orthodoxy (p. 18). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

But, as I pointed out by John’s use of the word “because” in promise three, what he is doing is setting their course in life. John has already determined that his children are going to engage in homosexual behavior, so he is going to do nothing to attempt to correct that course.  While God has indeed made us, wired us, we are running the corrupted software of sin and rebellion against our creator. While the Psalmist did indeed write, “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb (139:13)”, he also wrote,

Search me, O God, and know my heart!

Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)

The logic of the psalmist seems lost on John: that since we are God’s workmanship, he is the one who gets to determine the limits of our expression in all areas, even in our sexuality, something even Jesus addressed in a discussion on the matter of divorce,

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV, emphasis added).

Sam Allberry, a man who struggles with same-sex attraction, in his book Is God Anti-Gay, I think gives us some clear thinking on the matter, as well as clear definition,

When someone says they’re gay, or for that matter, lesbian or bisexual, they normally mean that, as well as being attracted to someone of the same gender, their sexual preference is one of the fundamental ways in which they see themselves. And it’s for this reason that I tend to avoid using the term. It sounds clunky to describe myself as “someone who experiences same-sex attraction ”. But describing myself like this is a way for me to recognize that the kind of sexual attractions I experience are not fundamental to my identity. They are part of what I feel but are not who I am in a fundamental sense. I am far more than my sexuality.

Allberry, Sam (2013-10-08). Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask) (Kindle Locations 60-64). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition. (emphasis added)

John has reduced his children to their feelings, committing the fallacy of appeal to emotion, he doesn’t want his children to feel bad, even if their feelings are clearly in contradiction to physical reality. If one of his children suddenly decided that they were a bird, would he encourage them to jump off the roof of his house in an attempt to fly? Most likely not, which is why clear thinking is an absolute necessity, he would attempt to get them some help. When it comes to the question of homosexuality, we have help: the cleansing blood of Christ. Alberry continues,

It is not un-christian to experience same-sex attraction any more than it is un-christian to get sick. What marks us out as Christian is not that we never experience such things, but how we respond to them when we do.

Allberry, Sam (2013-10-08). Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask) (Kindle Locations 430-432). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.

But those of us in the church need to understand something that Allberry also says,

What the Bible says about homosexuality does not represent everything God wants to say to homosexual people; it is not the whole message of Christianity. And so the passages below need to be looked at as part of the wider message of the gospel— the announcement of what God has done for us in Christ, and the need for repentance and faith.

Christians who want to explain the Christian faith to gay friends need to know that what the Bible says about homosexuality is not the only thing they need to explain, and it is probably not the first thing, or even the main thing, they need to focus on.

Allberry, Sam (2013-10-08). Is God anti-gay? (Questions Christians Ask) (Kindle Locations 211-215). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.

Believers need to educate themselves and become familiar with the facts, and a book such as Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice is a great place to start, especially given this statement from a discussion of his argument in the opening chapter:

First there is clear, strong,and credible evidence that the Bible unequivocally defines same-sex intercourse as sin. Second, there exists no valid hermeneutical arguments, derived either from general principles of biblical interpretation or scientific knowledge or experience, for overriding the Bible’s authority on the matter. (p.37)

Further, you can see him make a presentation at the Family Research Council on the issue here.

I simply have to end this by pointing out that  it is the flaws in logic, the eisegetical and isolationist presentation of scripture, and the lack of clear thinking on the matter are the reasons to reject John’s conclusions.

And John, while they may be “your children”, you have a responsibility to raise them, if you dare to call yourself a Christian, “…in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)” If you do not understand what that means, Paul was referring to the complete, unadulterated revelation made from Genesis to Revelation.

We need to be clear to our children that just because they “feel” a certain way, they are not obligated to that feeling, but are obligated to God, for

In his hand is the life of every living thing

and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:10 ESV)

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7 comments

  1. Ive heard about Pavlovitz’s letter and you dismantled it splendidly. Im tired of people setting up an argument from a perspective thst certain behaviors are hard wired. Homosexuality isn’t as normal as breathing. The only normal thing about homosexuality is that it is sin and people have a sinful nature. If that makes homosexuality natural, then we have to affirm pedophilia and rape as well.

  2. You struggle with reading comprehension or ethics, or both. You write:

    “As I have pointed out here, homosexuality is a behavior. . . . By using the term “because”, John is saying that his love is initiated by their behavior, which is one of the worst things a parent can do to their children: for parents to make their love dependent on their children’s behavior. This was probably not his intention, but it is nonetheless the message that is conveyed. With an unqualified statement, John has essentially told his children that they will not enjoy the fulness [sic] of his approval and affection unless they engage in homosexual behavior . . .”

    In your vile lust to compare this man to a child molester, you neglected to read what he wrote:

    “I won’t love them despite their sexuality, and I won’t love them because of it.”

    “Won’t” is a contraction. It means “would not.” The writer is saying that he would NOT condition his love on his kids’ sexuality, the very thing for which you attack him, and which you use to compare him to a molester. You are lazy and filled with malicious, accusatory zeal. God help you.

    • There is another “because” in the sentence, perhaps you missed that one. The point was that parents should not love their children for any other reason than the fact that they are fellow image-bearers of God, not because of anything they do, and because of that fact we ought to raise them in the reality of that fact. If that was not clear, which is a foundational aspect of my approach, I apologize.

      And “won’t” is a contraction of “will” and “not”; “would” and “not” form “wouldn’t”.

      • Lying is a sin. Colossians 3:9; 1 Timothy 1:9-11. You are lying when you pretend that you were reacting to the second “because.” That second because referred to loving his children “because they’re sweet, and funny, and caring, and smart, and kind, and stubborn, and flawed, and original, and beautiful… and mine.” This second sentence makes no reference to sexuality or sexual conduct. So if you were really objecting to this, your response makes no sense. Your accusation – “With an unqualified statement, John has essentially told his children that they will not enjoy the fulness [sic] of his approval and affection unless they engage in homosexual behavior.” – makes absolutely no sense as a response to the second sentence or to the two sentences taken together as written,.

        The only context in which your response makes sense is if you didn’t carefully read the first sentence and instead misread it as “I won’t love them despite their sexuality, I will love them because of it.” That is what happened. You were too lazy and too eager to lay down an attack to bother to read and understand what this man actually wrote. Maybe that’s what happens when you take on the persona of “Triggerman.” In any event, you owe him an apology, not me. You falsely accused him (Exodus 20:16), compared him to a child molester, and then you lied to cover up your false witness. If you won’t own up to it and repent, it is between you and the Lord.

      • What’s funny, even if I did misread the sentence, which is entirely possible, I’ll admit that, because he used the second “because” to qualify his love is based on an interpretation of their behavior, my conclusion holds.

        Nothing in his statements comes across with any intention of steering them into a God honoring way of life. In fact, he as much as admitted that to me in our conversation as I was writing the response. He knows it is out here, I sent him a link to it, and he didn’t contest any of my statements or conclusions. But I did not compare him to a child molester, I only noted that his tone is similar to that of one who is grooming a child toward that end. But, I will update the post to alleviate any confusion. Thank you for your input.

      • “I won’t love them despite their sexuality…” That’s a double-negative statement, and he contradicts himself by saying, “and I won’t because of it.” That’s where my conclusion comes from: his positive statement proceeds his negative. Nevermind, i retract my retraction. I was right.

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