Helping Our Faith to Understand and Love
As we watch our top faith leaders react and respond to genuine modern human situations, we see exposed many weaknesses, misunderstandings, and argumentative behaviors. Strong words; but we feel many of the top leaders understand and desire supporting modern loving decisions but are too “weak” to oppose narrow old-fashioned beliefs, which clearly reflect “misunderstandings” in the education and interpretations of biblical translations. “Argumentative” behaviors occur when one or more high-level leaders independently create one-sided committees with targeted purposes without listening and considering valuable and accurate modern information.
Over the past decades, these activities have occurred with many subjects and situations. For us, SDA Kinship, many decisions have been issued and committees have been formed to reject our family “rainbow” members and their families, too. Fortunately, our local church and our friends accepted our gay son, and we never encountered some of the mean and hurtful behaviors that are occurring today.
Sleep well, looking forward to meeting again
Recently, our Adventist faith and SDA Kinship community lost a brave and loving member. Carrol Grady and her husband were lifelong missionaries and worldwide leaders and supporters of the Adventist faith. Carrol often shared about her firm beliefs in the basic teachings of our faith. Then, many years ago, their youngest son came out of the closet and Carrol and her husband went into their own faith closet—a common journey for all “rainbow” families.
But Carrol’s love for her son would not be quenched by their personal beliefs. She started researching and exploring all available articles, books, and biological studies regarding sexuality and sexual attractions. Her strong maternal love for her family helped her shift from earlier learned black-and-white decisions to slowly accepting broader and real information. Yes, it was a challenging journey since her husband was employed at the General Conference level of Seventh-day Adventists. She respected their situation, but her intense motherly love for her family continued to grow and explore.
Carolyn and I like the term “tenacious: holding firmly, persistent, stubborn”—that was Carrol! A few years after going into their closet, she wrote and published their family journey, My Son, Beloved Stranger. For protection and safety, the first edition used pseudonyms for everyone. But as folks started reading and connecting with their family journey, she started supporting LGBTQ+ issues at public events; and, in 2005, she republished their story under her name. It is a powerful, very well-written family life story.
Carrol joined SDA Kinship many years ago and started the “Family and Friends” ministry. She realized families and friends need to connect for support and understanding of their family “rainbow” member. She was often seen at major Adventist conferences in booths discussing and supporting “rainbow” families and situations. She was tenacious; her strong motherly instincts rallied many other mothers and families.
In closing, we want to share her final epilogue statement from My Son, Beloved Stranger.
“One of my greatest sorrows is realizing how many Christians have failed to show Jesus’ love and have driven our sons and daughters out of the church and away from God. I am thankful for the ministry of Kinship, which has provided what my church has not: a place of compassion and support for those who have been rejected. I believe that someday in the future many of us will look back in shame at our lack of love. I’m just thankful that God knows the hearts of our children and will judge them with mercy and true justice.”
Thank you, loving, tenacious Carrol. It was an honor and joy to know you and work with you. Rest in peace from your final painful days. Soon all of our “rainbow” families will gather—what a potluck that will be!
— John and Carolyn Wilt, Families and Friends Directors
The Eleventh Commandment: Be Kind!
Recently we discovered this new publication, The Eleventh Commandment: Why Kindness Matters, written by Rich DuBose, Michael Temple, and Karen Spruill, with added support from her husband Timothy. The book is available from AdventSource. This authorship team is an amazing tapestry of Adventist pastoring, writing and sharing personal songs, publishing books, magazine editor, video film director and editor, legal advocate, and licensed psychologist with many years focused on suicidal situations.
ENJOY THE KINSHIP “SPIRIT”
We’ve been re-reading an excellent book by Loma Linda theology professor, Richard Rice, Believing, Behaving, Belonging: finding a new love for the church. Early in the second chapter, a section is titled “The Spirit Creates Community...the spirit not only works within us, but it also works among us, or between us. It gives spiritual life to the community and the individual.”
FROM PYRAMIDS TO WHEELS
Often we connect with families struggling with the sudden awareness that a family member is LGBTQIA+. This new awareness can be stressful and awkward for all the family members. Feelings and emotions can range in all directions, causing confusion and misunderstandings. It’s more common than many families realize until they suddenly are spinning in their own emotional tornado.
SAINT VALENTINE & KINSHIP
Welcome, February 2022! Yes, many of us are still protecting ourselves from various strains of COVID, so we will send cards or electronic greetings of love and affection rather than give hugs and handshakes in person. In the North American areas and many parts of Europe, February 14 highlights the wonderful emotional traits of love and affection for others.
Kinship Families & Friends Zoom Roundtable
The SDA Kinship Families & Friends group desires to support all families working their way through emotional and, possibly, confusing times. We (Carolyn and John) conducted two Sabbath school evaluations. In one class, 42% shared that they had an LGBTQ+ family member, and in the other class, it was 45%. We also estimate that 5-10% don’t know if they have an LGBTQ+ family member, while an additional 5-10% don’t care to admit it.
IT’S CHRISTmust SEASON
Every 365 days we’ve learned to celebrate a truly unknown event—the actual day and location of Christ’s birth. For hundreds of years, biblical and theological archeologists have searched and searched for precise, accurate evidence of when and where our beloved Christ was born. We wish them all well on their valuable searches and look forward to their successful discoveries,…
As Carolyn and I connect with many LGBTQIA+ families and close friends, we are often asked about SOCE. Yes, we have connected with a few folks who claim “success” when they experienced SOCE and we’ve also connected with other folks who failed their SOCE experience.
So what is “SOCE”? We’ve done some research from several angles and will share what appears to be well-based information and recommendations.
Focusing and Refocusing, Adjusting and Readjusting
Focusing is a complex process. How many times a day do you stop and focus on something? Maybe you need to see a special store sign or read an email message. Maybe the room is noisy, and you need to focus your ears to hear an important announcement. Or how about focusing your emotional support on an activity or a dear friend? Our human brains and emotions are constantly being challenged and refocused to experience our daily lives, and our reactions and behaviors also need to readjust to new situations.
“Learning” is an interesting and complex process. All living creatures learn as they grow and mature. If you think about that process, it’s easy to recall watching your pets learn to find food, chase toys, or hide from you when you are looking for them. Also think about yourself or your children as you learned to walk, talk, play, read, and even think and make decisions.
So learning is really gathering information or experiences to make, hopefully, excellent decisions. Where are those decisions made? All decisions originate in our brain and transfer to the muscles, organs, and emotions to protect us and help us survive. Yes, some reactions appear to develop naturally through our genetics, but we develop and learn most of them as our brains and ourselves mature.
LOOKING BACK INTO 2020
Carolyn and I hope this finds you enjoying the Christmas and New Year’s holidays despite the virus. We pray you could connect in person or through digital media with your special family members. We also hope you all created some positive and beneficial memories as you traveled the unpredictable paths of 2020.
Many LGBTQ+ folks have celebrated their successful “coming out” to friends and their families. It’s probably a process and event they had thought about and worked on for many months and years. Hopefully, they had created a network of friends and other LGBTQ+ folks that helped them - even coached them - on the scary but desired event. Their understanding and supporting friends were valuable allies for that major and probably emotional time.
Yes, it was a “successful event” for the LGBTQ+ member. They wanted to do it, they needed to do it, and they had their personal courage and friends’ and allies’ support to fall back on to if it didn’t work out as desired.
Our monthly roundtable discussions are beginning to connect and, hopefully, provide a beneficial and personal time to meet and share around the Kinship world. Each discussion has increased in attendance and participation, thanks to all of you all who have joined us.
Last Sunday our roundtable was enriched with Pastor Kris and Debbie Widmer’s thoughts and comments regarding “The Fiddler on the Roof” movie/musical and its very meaningful songs and dialogue about adjusting to life-impacting changes. There was excellent participation and comments from many of those who joined the table. If you didn’t join us, you missed Pastor Kris’ modification of the meaningful closing song - somehow Walla Walla, Loma Linda, La Sierra, and other traditional Adventist locations were woven into the song. It was a great closure to a good discussion regarding traditions, change, and family.
Recently I read an article sharing the successful accomplishments a primatologist had made over her lifelong desire and goal to help chimpanzees survive and expand. Early in her career, we had the joy of spending a couple of days with her as she shared with college students and later in two public conferences.