Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Mormon Mother's Testimony: "My Religion Didn’t Teach Me How to Love. Jordan Did. My [Gay] Son Did."

Today's my birthday, and Steve has a birthday lunch planned for me at a Chinese restaurant we both love. So I'm going to take a little breather from blogging today (and aren't you glad?).

Meanwhile, I have to share this testimony, which I read last night, and which keeps ringing in my ears ever since I read it. I choose the word "testimony" deliberately, since I think that's what it is, quite precisely: a Mormon mother giving testimony to what the gift of a gay son has meant to her as a mother, to her strict, devout Mormon family.

Wendy Williams Montgomery says,

I have become a better person for having a gay son -- the things that I’ve learned and the way that I see other people and the way that I love other people, it’s just more loving, more open, less judgmental. I think I was wearing blinders for so long and I didn’t even know it. Having those blinders taken off has been the most wonderful experience. I tell him all the time "You are such a gift from God" because he has shown me how I’m supposed to be loving other people and I wouldn’t know that without him. He’s such a gift, such a gift. And my religion, as wonderful as it is, my religion didn’t teach me how to love. Jordan did. My son did.

This conclusion to her testimony haunts me, because she reaches that conclusion after having testified, too, that she, her husband, their five children, found themselves shunned--that's the word she uses: she says it was like an "old-fashioned" Amish shunning--after their son Jordan told his parents he was gay at the age of 13.

And after they refused to shun him, to repudiate him, to deny him as their son. 

This Mormon mother had to watch people in the Mormon community of which she and her husband had been a part for years refuse to take the sacrament from the hands of her 13-year-old son, after he accepted his sexual orientation--though, as she notes, he had never even held the hand of another boy. After their son told them that he was gay and they did not put him out of the house and/or send him to a reparative therapy boot camp, Wendy Williams Montgomery and her husband had the experience of being told by members of their Mormon community that those good Mormons did not want them around their own children. 

They stepped down from their callings within their Mormon stake. And then they switched to another stake where they were less well-known, so that they could find breathing room simply to exist as Mormons. There, too, they feel very alone, since not one person has stood up for them publicly or vocally. Not in any way.

And somehow, through all of this, this Mormon mother of a gay child can find deeper love, and can testify to the fact that this love has come into her Mormon heart and Mormon life and Mormon family precisely through the gift of that gay son.

Not from her church. And isn't this story, which can be told over and over again by parents of gay children in many faith communities throughout the U.S., a terrible indictment of American religion--at least, in some of its incarnations--even as it's a testimony to the power of love unleashed in the lives of people of faith when they stop treating those God makes gay as human trash?

A happy Sunday to all of you.

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