I stumbled across a blog post on Facebook early this week that I’ve decided to respond to. Below is the post (in italics) with my response (in bolded orange):
It has been said that in marriage, the pain and stress of divorce is greater than even the pain of losing a spouse to death. I believe the same can be said of breaking ties with your child. Unless one has experienced this kind of loss and grief, they cannot fully understand the depth of pain experienced by a parent.
Someone may ask, “Why would anyone break ties with her own child?” The answer is, “loyalty to Jesus.” Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children (Matthew 10:37).
This is true, the Bible does say this. It actually says this several times in different ways. But consider this: the Bible is a man-written account of who we believe was an almost perfect being in order to provide an Earthly aspiration and explanation to the purpose of our existence and what is to come after death. All religions are man-written accounts…and it should be keenly noted that they are just that…man-written…which means they are open to the flaws and influence of humanity regardless to the purpose and intent of the accounts.
I pray that you never have to make such a sacrifice, but I also pray that you love the Lord enough to choose Him over your children. This is where we find ourselves. This is our life. Our oldest son has turned his back on the Lord, and in spite of all our attempts, he refuses to repent.
The son may or may not have turned his back on God. The relationship one has with faith, God, the higher being or whom, or whatever you believe in, is an intimate and personal one. Humans and/or man-written text can attempt to dictate that relationship but it is ultimately between the individual and that higher power to define.
Indoctrination to a single binary religion/faith is how parents find themselves at this point in their relationships with their sons.
Consequently, our relationship has changed. It cannot remain the same and be loyal to Jesus (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Our contact with our son is now limited to attempts at restoration. We have no fellowship. We used to share holidays, regular phone calls and texts, family events, etc. but now, all that is gone. Our son has completely turned his back on everything he ever believed. He has no respect for the Lord or His church. He has chosen a life of sin rather than the hope of salvation. And because of his rebellion against God, we as parents must make a choice. Do we overlook his practice of sin and maintain our relationship, or do we withdraw ourselves from him as the Lord instructs?
The relationshp HAD to change. Being true to who you are requires honesty and change from hiding.
The decision parents make is a decision that we, as the sons, were forced to make before the parents.
Do we overlook who we are in order to accommodate a religion which chastises and pits parents against their children in order to preserve a man-made hierarchy of right and wrong and where a single autoritarian God is placed at the top, or withdraw from the parents for their devotion to a text that directs the abandonment of their child for who they are in order to preserve ideas laid out in the Bible in the hopes that after this life there is a better one? We are required to brace ourselves for disapproval or acceptance.
I believe that the blood of Christ is more important that the physical flesh and blood that I share with my son. Unfortunately, my husband and I know the pain of “giving our child to the Devil.” Those words are sharp, shocking and grim, just as Paul intended them to be when he wrote them (1 Corinthians 5:5). Perhaps I am writing this is for myself more than for those who are reading. I have not seen my son in nearly two and a half years now and there are days that the pain is just as fresh as ever. Until now, I have kept this pain inside and shared with only a couple of my closest friends. I am not sure that a day has gone by that I have not shed tears. Sometimes it is a single tear and other days are gut wrenching cries of despair. I have pulled into my driveway with tears blinding my eyes, only to find myself literally screaming and wailing in grief. I’m devastated by our loss; his loss.
This blog post is absolutely written to help the mother process, just like my writing these responses are to help me process. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I applaud the mother for at least putting it out there to process.
We, as the sons, feel the pain and grief as well. Perhaps more so in many ways than the parent. The idea that a love of God is more important than the love and acceptance of you as a child is gut-wrenching. To be “given to the Devil” because one does not conform to ancient man-made writtings about how to live in order to live a theoretical afterlife is difficult to wrap your mind around.
To have parents you have loved, worked to get their approval and please for all you life, and even hide from because of a binary concept of good and bad, right and wrong, to just turn their backs on you because you were brave and strong enough to be who you are, as God made you, is like being launched into the vastness of space with nothing to ground you.
I feel desperation and hopelessness. I’m scared. What probably began as harmless flirtation with sin has now become a quicksand that pulls my son deeper and deeper toward Hell. Sometimes I feel jealous of other parents who have close, loving relationships with all their grown children. I feel embarrassed by what my son has done.
Over the years I’ve learned that ultimately none of this is about the child. It’s not even completely about God. It’s about the parent. Its about a blind submissive relationship with the Bible and God and how that has convinced them that they can no longer have a child because they are different than what the man-written text says.
The mother’s jealousy is hers to own, and if that is her choice journey, so be it. There is nothing but a binary idea laid out in a text from thousands of years ago that separates her from having a similar relationship with her son. I often wonder if my mother feels the same.
Her and my mother’s embarrassment, I think, stems from their feelings of failure in meeting the expectations laid out in the Bible. Not with the child themselves, because I’ll be conceded and say I’m freaking successful and fruitful.
The fact is, I don’t know this person that I once thought I knew so well. Was I blind to things that I should have seen? I believed our relationship was so close. I adored this child. Was the love our son expressed to us all a lie? How does one go from being a respectful obedient child to flagrantly disregarding everything we taught him and everything that we stand for?
Thinking about my journey, my mother probably would closely relate to this. Ignorance was prefered rather than having to work through the idea that the expectations laid out in the Bible could be wrong and hateful.
I will assume this mother’s son truly did love their family. They, like I, just were not able to live honestly.
I think the struggle parents go through is the idea that if their child chooses to be different and believe in love of higher levels beyond the structure laid out in a man-made text and they find their own relationship to God, a higher being or with themselves it offers up the potential for questioning their beliefs and religion, which is a contradiction in itself to many zealous believers.
A full night’s sleep…what is that? While I am able to fall asleep easily, there is not a night that goes by that I sleep until morning. I awaken in the middle of the night, and the first thought in my mind is that I had just had a terrible dream, but I soon realize that it wasn’t a dream, it is reality; my reality.
I try to picture where my son is now and what he may be doing. I hurt. Sin is ugly. It is disgusting. It perverts. While I don’t want to know, I find myself drawn to his social media like watching two cars collide. I want to look away, but I can’t. I care too much.
I think the mother cares for the idea of the child and in fulfilling the duties of a woman of God to raise children as laid out in the teachings of the Bible and of God. And that socal media puts the failure on display for all to see, so shame, and evidence of failure to meet God’s “expectations” is always there.
Sometimes the hardest thing are the memories. Remembering the joy I felt in that plump baby who looked at me so adoringly. I remember when he sat on the kitchen counter helping peel potatoes or stir ingredients into the batter. I remember our home school days at the kitchen table and reading together on the couch. I remember singing harmony together in the kitchen. I remember the pride I felt when he led singing or gave a talk at young men’s night at church. Those memories are all I have left now. There are no more to make.
There could be more memories to be made, but it requires the mother to understand that her concept of the role as a mother was never about the child but a duty that was given to her via the Bible and God. I think if she could free herself from the constraints of her religion she could have many more memories with her child.
Occasionally, I may see a young man that looks like my son. Or, I may be cleaning out a closet and see a photograph. I may be asked by a well-meaning person, where my son is now. All these make me cry. He was such a handsome boy, an excellent student, a talented musician, so kind and thoughtful of others. He never gave us trouble while at home. He loved his siblings. I remember his “infectious laugh.”
None of these things have stopped or disappeared when he came out…
Mother’s day and Father’s day are so hard. While we used to receive the most precious cards and notes of love and appreciation, now any correspondence from him are filled with anger, blame, hateful words. Even worse are the sarcastic and blasphemous words used toward his heavenly Father.
Because a parent has abandoned a child based on religion is devastating. The hate that grows and festers in a human who has been abandoned for who they are is real. I’ve been there. These parents like mine have sustained binary concepts in their religion; there is good and there is bad and if you fall on the “opposing side” you are vilified. And each side vilifies the other because it is part of the innate human side of our being when confronted with hate or even just the simplicity of difference.
Self evaluation, guilt, despair, fear….I have felt all these emotions. Who is a perfect parent? Who doesn’t have something that they would change if they could go back. Even so, I know that we were good parents. We loved our son, spent time with him, encouraged him, and taught him God’s word.
I believe there is no such thing as good or bad parents. I believe there are parents who make good and bad decisions. Some parents indoctrinate children to believe what they believe rather than teach their children to be able to create their own beliefs. Organized religion in many ways supplies the groundwork for this. I don’t know if what these parents and mine have done to raise their children, then what they decided to do when the children grew into their own makes them good or bad parents.
I don’t know what the future holds for our son or our family. What I do know is that God is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He will do what is right (Genesis 18:25). He will reward those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). More than I could have ever understood before, I long for the promises of heaven, namely that God will wipe away every tear…there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
Heaven will be a place of great reunion with those who have gone on before. There is an old hymn that invites everyone to “come to the feast”. I just wish we didn’t have an empty chair at our table.
No one knows the future. We also don’t know what comes after life. To create hurt and hate between one’s child and you for a reward in heaven that may not even exist is a gamble. I don’t know if I could ever take that gamble.
And I wonder…if there is an all loving God, is this man-made hierarchy and text that have been written as an interpretation of one man’s life, truly an example and teach the ulitmate lesson in life which is to love?
Addendum: After having read several replies to my article, I saw several common misconceptions that were continually being made. Therefore, I thought I might clear a few of these up for some readers.
1. Unconditional Love Is Not The Same Thing As Acceptance. Nearly everyone who has written to me has “scolded” me for not loving my child “unconditionally.” Their accusation is false. I do love my child unconditionally. There is nothing that my child could ever do to make me stop loving him. I believe that’s what unconditional love is, and that’s what I practice. However, many are apparently confused being unable to distinguish between unconditional love and acceptance. While I will never stop loving my son, I refuse to accept the sin of which my son remains unrepentant. God is indeed a God of love, but have so many forgotten that this “God of love” disciplines his children, even “giving them up” (Romans 1:24,26,28), and will some day eternally separate himself from them? God doesn’t stop loving his children, but his love doesn’t keep him from separating himself from them (Isaiah 59:1-2). I think if people would read the prophets, they’d be shocked to see how their short-sighted view of love is overturned by God’s genuine response of love. Furthermore, you might do well to remember that a man, a good man, came to Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus told him, and the man was unwilling to do it. But don’t miss this. The text says that Jesus, looking at him, loved him. But he let him walk away. He didn’t call him back. He didn’t change his terms. He loved him, but let him walk away (Mark 10:21-22). The fact that our son has walked away from us doesn’t mean we have stopped loving him.
I agree. Unconditional Love is not the same as Acceptance.
I honestly do believe this mother and even my own love their children unconditionally. I think that they cannot accept their children because they have been blinded by their religion and faith. This unacceptance is where the parents are forced to “cast aside their children to the Devil” in order to preserve their religious beliefs.
2. Jesus Loved Sinners, even socializing with them. Of course he did. And so do I. But what many are failing to understand is that there are two types of sinners. Sinners who are outside the body of Christ (still in the world), and sinners who are part of the body of Christ (brethren). The inspired apostle Paul said they are to be treated differently (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). The Corinthians had a question about keeping company with sinners and Paul told them they had misunderstood his instructions. He said that he was not forbidding Christians from keeping company with sinners, otherwise, we couldn’t live in the world. Instead, he was telling them that they were not to keep company or fellowship, not even to eat with a sinner who is a BROTHER in Christ. I’m not surprised that so many failed to see this distinction because it isn’t frequently preached, and it is even more seldom put into practice. But it is in the Bible…read it for yourself.
This is, to me, evidence of the humanity in “divine” text. You must acknowledge sinners, because everyone is a sinner, but they cannot be a part of the Body of Christ.
3. What Is The Sin That Is So Terrible That You Would “Abandon” Your Son? First of all, we haven’t “abandoned” our son. He has abandoned us. We are right where we have always been. Even the prophet Amos said that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3). He chose to walk down a path of sin; a path in which we will not walk with him, nor will we endorse him as he walks it. My loyalty is first to God, not my family (Matthew 10:34-37). Second, the specific sin is irrelevant. My response would be the same if he were unrepentant with regard to any sin. Of course, I’m not talking about sins of momentary human weakness, sins committed in the moment, or sins we are trying to fight. I’m talking about sins to which we have given ourselves. Sins we no longer fight, but to which we have surrendered ourselves. Again, the doctrine of discipline is ignored by many Christians today, and so they, along with the world, are shocked to learn of such doctrine. But if you believe the Bible to be the word of God, then it’s there staring you in the face, and you have a decision to obey or disobey it (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).
Quick note: “The Bible to be the Word of God”… which was written by man…
The child did not abandon the parents. Let’s be honest.
The child spoke their truth and the parents turned their backs on the child for speaking their truth. Its because the child’s truth contradicted the parents’ beliefs that the child was ex-commnicated by the parents.
It’s upon the individual to take ownership and make a decison to come out and be their truth. It is the world around us that gets to decide and hold ownership in how they react and respond.
And one final thought. Those who have, through their “feigned” righteous indignation, called for my death; prayed that I rot in Hell; proposed sexual acts be done to me; cursed at me with the vilest of profanities; and who have blasphemed the God I serve…let me assure you of this one thing…Your hateful words have only solidified my stance. Your hate speech, draped in feigned concern and love for God and my son, have served to remind me that I live in a fallen world. Your words have emboldened me and have not caused me to shrink. Your words have deepened my roots. I will not be moved. In fact, your words have actually given me reason to rejoice in that you have allowed me the privilege, however small it may be, to share in the suffering of Jesus. “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings…” (1 Peter 4:13).
I applaud this mother for writing what’s on her heart. Just as I write what’s on mine.
Do I think it’s blindly following beliefs that I do not agree with…absolutely.
Do I think that the parents have lost the true meaning of what love is because it’s been bastardized by man thousands of years ago….absolutely.
But I do feel bad of the reactions from others to her differing views. This is her truth. To me it’s a horribly hateful, blind and ignorant truth. But it’s hers. Do not chastise or hate her for holding her truth. Otherwise, we are no better.
I write this response off the top of my head in a time of strong emotions. Very much of this letter is putting my relationship with my own mother into perspective for me, and while it makes me better understand my parents, it also assures and comforts me of the decisions I have made in my life. Plus it’s just after Mother’s Day so everything is hyper-sensitive right now.
I believe in God and a higher power. I also believe that love and truth are the true foundations of faith and religion but that have been detroyed and bastardized by man; and I never want to be so blind in someone else’s truth that I lose sight of my own. I never want to gamble on supporting someone’s truth here on Earth for a theoretical afterlife.
I want to be the best human being I can be here and now and hold to my truths and beliefs and if that means I “abandon” my parents and their beliefs then its a decision I am ready to make.
We only do what we can to the best of our ability here on Earth to the best of our understanding and beliefs. This is mine and you reading this will have different ones. We’ll disagree, we’ll try and one up, or we’ll argue and fight. But the difference and owndership is in how we react and respond. And how we use our difference and similarities to help our fellow man and make the world a better place for all.
Anyway, thanks for going on this post journey with me today.
Until next time
Peace, Love and Pandas!