One of the biggest arguments Kelly and I ever had was over what the caterer would serve at Gus’ post-baptism party. He wanted it to be a vegetarian affair; I was concerned the Greek community would find that tacky, and therefore my parents would be embarrassed. It got so bad, I finally excused myself from the conversation and had him deal with my mom.
We may have fought about the food we wanted to serve, but we never fought about which religion the kids would have. I wanted our boys to be raised in the same religious tradition that I observe, the same faith my family has had for literally more than 1,500 years. Kelly couldn’t have cared less.
Our decision wasn’t unique. As leading LGBT expert Kryss Shane, the author of The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion notes, “Parents aren’t typically choosing a religion, often they are raised in one and they are determining whether to remain members.”
But for many LGBTQ+ parents, deciding what — if any — faith to follow can be confusing. It’s important to find a fit that’s right for you.
Rabbi Mark Sameth, the author of The Name: A History of the Dual-Gendered Hebrew Name for God, and a New York Times op-ed piece, “Is God Transgender?” says, “Learn as much as you can about your religion’s global, national, and local policies in respects to LGBTQ issues. The website churchclarity.org is a recommended resource for learning about specific Christian churches’ policies.”
And don’t be afraid to ask questions of the church’s leaders. Shane notes, “Asking questions about how many members are LGBT+, watching for body language and tone of voice can offer clues about how the leadership feels about LGBT+ people.” She also suggests asking about marriage equality and how trans people are accepted.
“Does a more accepting and affirming house of worship exist for your family to join?” asks Sameth. “Does your preferred religion or denomination have a local or national affinity group from which you could learn about the range of responses to doctrinal issues? Groups like Mormon Spectrum, Dignity USA (Roman Catholic), More Light (Presbyterian), and Keshet (Jewish) are some of the many groups which provide support.”
There’s something else to remember: scripture is in the eye of the believer. Sameth adds, “Some clergy and houses of worship — within the same religion or denomination — will interpret doctrine in such a way as to be more accepting and affirming than others.”
Rev. David Key, an ordained Southern Baptist minister (you read that right) says, “I would say that gay parents need to convey to children that there are different ways to interpret scripture. They need to highlight how social context has impacted the way Christians have practiced their faith over the centuries. Even the English translation from Greek and Hebrew limits the meaning of words, especially in relation to sexuality.”
He goes as far as to argue, “Homosexuality should never have been included in the scriptures. The modern concept was not imagined in ancient writings.”
No matter which, if any, religion LGBTQ+ parents choose for themselves and their children, issues with other family members may arise. If that’s the case, the experts agree: always be respectful, be secure in your reasoning, address their concerns, and set boundaries to ensure dignity for everyone involved.
In the end, my mom won — we served chicken at the baptism luncheon. Thankfully, Kelly forgot to raise his sign declaring MEAT IS MURDER!
This family, comprised of three Greek Orthodox Christians and a Buddhist, believes #BlackLivesMatter.
You can contact Kryss Shane at ThisIsKryss.com; Rabbi Mark Sameth at rabbimarksameth.com; and Rev. David Key at [email protected]
UPDATE: The URL was corrected for churchclarity.org