It has taken years of counseling and reflection to understand the
full impact that the CRC has had on my life. I now understand that
my parents did the best they could with my upbringing.
Unfortunately, they did not choose to self-educate. Nor were they
open to other thoughts or possibilities. As a result, they were
simply carrying forward the impact of their own upbringings.
Even though I have reconciled my experience as a child within my
family life, I still to this day sometimes experience the sacrosanct
thinking that is so prevalent within the CRC. That said, I've come a
long way to shedding the impact of the fear-based religion.
Today, I cannot understand how someone could go to church and be
willing to subject themselves to the vitriolic hate that is spewed
forth from the CRC's pulpits. How someone could be amenable to the
idea of being taught that they are superior to others and, thus,
able to condemn someone to hell for not having the same beliefs is
simply beyond my understanding.
Members of the CRC have been taught a standard response to such
accusations. They will very quickly respond that they are only
"hating the sin but loving the sinner". That particular phrase is
used quite often in the CRC, as well as many other organized
religions that are fear-based. The phrase conveniently creates the
ability for their members to justify not only their words, but their
actions as well. It really just boils down to a justification to
treat others the way they deem necessary. Nothing more ... nothing
Of course, they view my sexual orientation as a sin. I think that
members of the CRC would rather the word 'gay' and 'bisexual' be
stricken from the English vocabulary. Most CRC families simply try
to ignore the fact that someone may be something other than a
heterosexual ... kinda the "ignore it and maybe it'll go away" type
of philosophy. Indeed, it's one of those 'not so minor' sins that
seems to make the CRC'ers feel as if they can treat others other
than Jesus would have loved.
They may choose to believe what they wish, for it is certainly
their right to do so. However, I draw the line when my partner,
myself or our relationship is disrespected. My sisters and brother
do not invite my partner to family events ... and, even told me such
in no uncertain terms. Years ago, my sister Terri had told me that
she did not want me ever mentioning my relationship or my sexuality
to her kids. I had respected her wishes. After all, she had the
right to raise her kids the way she desired. However, the negative
impact that statement had on me was profound ... something that
completely escapes her. Years later, my nieces asked me about my
relationship. I chose not to lie to them. I told the truth. It's a
decision that I am glad I made for a variety of reasons.
Of course, the phrase "love the sinner but hate the sin" is used
to justify my siblings actions in these matters. This continues to
intrigue me. The Bible teaches that Jesus Himself broke bread with
sinners. So, if they view us as living in sin, why do they not
mirror the teachings of Christ and live by example? One reason ....
fear. Love the sinner all right. Neither my partner nor I are
remotely close to feeling the love that they speak of.
As the years went by, my father had taken what he had learned
from God's word and applied it to his life. His love for me was not
contingent on me being heterosexual or believing in any one specific
thing. His love was truly unconditional. I was always welcome in his
home along with anyone I wished to bring along with me. I remember
the day that I told him of my sexual orientation. The news didn't
faze him in the least. He just looked at me and said ... "You're my
son and I love you". Case closed.
A few years ago, my father passed away after bearing the disease
of Alzheimerís for nearly 20 years. Just prior to his passing, he
was transferred to a hospital with Pneumonia. I traveled to Grand
Rapids from our home in Austin, TX and was able to spend a week with
him prior to his passing. During this time, our family developed
tentative plans for his funeral arrangements knowing his passing
would happen soon. Even though I had not been on good terms with my
siblings, we were able to put differences aside and lend support to
each other as well as speak to each other with respect.
Shortly after returning to Austin, I received a call that my
father had passed. I fielded the call at midnight and by 11:30AM I
was back in Grand Rapids. Upon landing, a cell phone call to my
mother found the family in a meeting with the funeral director. I
was able to drive from the airport to the funeral home to make the
last half hour of the meeting.
Since my career at the time was in event management, I naturally
took on the responsibilities of organizing the funeral. Iím glad
that I did Ö it kept me quite busy and ended up keeping my mind off
from the nasty things to come.
A day later, I looked at the obituary in the Grand Rapids Press
and found that it did not contain my partnerís name, as was agreed
prior to my fatherís passing (it was supposed to read: ďsurvived by
son Brad and his partner John,Ē etc). I asked my mother about the
omission. She informed me that prior to my arrival at the funeral
home, my siblings said they did not want my partnerís name included
in the obituary. My mother apparently conceded. Of course, once I
arrived on scene, nothing was said to me about this incident.
What burns my britches is not that my brother and sisters had an
issue with my partnerís name appearing in the obituary, but that
they didnít have the balls to stand up and say so. Again, itís that
ďjust brush it under the rugĒ and maybe itíll go away type of
It left me stunned and devastated Ö once again. But, I had
learned these type of situations are par for the course when dealing
with religious zealots.
After hearing that news, I called each one of my siblings to let
them know my partner John would be arriving that very evening. I
conveyed the fact that John would be at the viewing as well as the
funeral to lend his support. I told them that I didnít call to
discuss the issue; I simply called to let them know of this fact and
told them that I hoped we could put differences aside for the next
few days. The calls went relatively well. I heard a couple quotes
from the Bible ... and, none of them welcomed the fact that someone
I cared about was going to be there to support me. But, none of them
went off the deep end either.
I didnít know what to expect from my siblings over the course of
the next couple days. I knew of their zealot nature Ö but thought
that, perhaps, in a situation like this, they may offer *some*
semblance of empathy. I thought that they may choose to be kind.
My hopes diminished quickly.
They decided to ignore my partner John Ö like he wasnít even
there. Only when my partner caught their eye and/or caught them off
guard, did they acknowledge his existence. My brother nodded at him
once. Woo-hoo! My sister Terri and her husband (who seems to have a
lot of emotional issues on the subject ... hmmmm) totally ignored
him. And, my sister Vicky conversed very briefly.