In early September, Pastor John Pavlovitz of North Wake House Church in North Carolina wrote a personal blog post titled, "If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From a Christian Pastor/Parent."
The father of two began with one simple thought: "Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children" — and then made the following four promises:
"For whatever reason, it's something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…"
1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After reading Pastor Pavlovitiz's blog, Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow — a father of three — was inspired to write his own as he prepared for Yom Kippur. His post has been shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook since being published on Oct. 2.
"As a human being, I feel a need to speak out on this because there are those for whom it is not just their comfort or happiness that are at risk, but their very health, safety, and actual lives."
"As a Jew, I cannot stomach senseless hatred toward people because of who they are," the rabbi began as he restated the pastor's original four promises...
...and went on to add four more of his own:
5) If I have gay children, I expect them to participate in community.
Not only are my children a critical part of my family, but they need to know that they are a critical part of the larger Jewish family. We are a kehilah kedosha—sacred community. Bigotry and hatred pose a much bigger risk to this sanctity than the issues that one might profess regarding my children's orientation. I promise to fight with anyone who would want to limit their involvement in school, camp, synagogue, etc.
6) If I have gay children, I will learn Torah with them.
Learning Torah is a central Jewish practice. Engaging Torah writ large is the life blood of our people. I believe in the Torah. My commitment to my children is to have them join the conversation of our people and to have their voices heard. I promise to learn with my children— not just the nice parts, but also the Torah portion we read traditionally in the Yom Kippur afternoon service. I expect to listen and promise to have their interpretation heard. And when my time comes, I look forward to giving God some feedback. They should have the confidence that I will be waiting there for them when they meet the Judge on high. My commitment to my children is unwavering and eternal.
7) If I have gay children, I will celebrate their partnership.
My wife is my ezer k'negdi—she is my helpmate. She pushes me to make sure I am my best self. The key to sustained happiness and a life of meaning is finding a partner with whom to share your life. Having a healthy partnership is not just the key to surviving in the world; it is the key to thriving. This partnership is the bedrock for a bayit ne'eman b'yisrael, a faithful home in Israel, which is the basic building block for Jewish society. I hope that we were good role models for partnership and my children should expect that we do not just tolerate their life partner, but that we find ways to celebrate that partnership.
8) If I have gay children, I will celebrate their family.
Our children are the greatest joy in my life. While my children might not have children in a "traditional" manner, it does not mean that they should not feel the obligation of Pru uRevu—to procreate and raise another generation of proud Jews. I promise to be a great Zayde to link the next generation back to our past. While my gay children will have taught me about liberation, perhaps being older I have what to share with their children about exodus from Egypt. It is my job to hide the Afikoman; I expect their children to read the four questions. I promise that they will never question their connection to Jewish history and their role in our lustrous future.