We Cannot Be Silent

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes I forget why I am writing. When the days are too short and too full of undone tasks and too little money to pay to have them done for me, I can forget. When I get one message informing me that my selfish insistence on faith in the Gospel of Christ was the cause of my son’s death, while another declares that my wishful thinking and rewriting of Scripture is the reason my child and many others will spend an eternity in hell – those are the days I want out. Out of this “arena” (as Dr. Brene Brown puts it), where I find myself, bruised and bloody and wondering how in the heck I ended up here.

And then there are weeks like this one. This past week began with a text from a pediatrician friend in Tennessee who sent me the link to an article detailing a scandal happening in her hometown. A mother who, after supporting her daughter as she and her partner fought for benefits for same-sex couples, was given an ultimatum by her church family: Repent of your sin (apparently holding the hand of your child in court has become an unholy act) or leave the church. I was shocked and horrified, and am still shocked and horrified, that a parent is being publicly condemned by her church for loving her child.

No wonder many of the parents I have come to know through this journey do not want their LGBTQ kids to come out in their hometowns and desperately fear their church families knowing of their unqualified support of their child. Among many other things, it could mean rejection by the very people who helped to welcome that child into the world. They know that their children will not be enfolded by the body of Christ, but will be quickly written off as being “led astray by the enemy,” without ever taking the time to hear their story, or to learn how fervently they continue to seek God.

No wonder I sat at a Starbucks this month with a friend who told me, after revealing that her 18 year old child had recently come out to her, that she could no longer be a Christian.

Then today I was reminded of a blog I read earlier this week that was so deeply disturbing that I purposely disengaged it, knowing that I would be unable to function normally with my other children if I thought about it while visiting them. It was posted on a mainstream evangelical website and when I stumbled across it again today and took the time to reread it as well as many of the supportive, affirming comments, I couldn’t dismiss the distress I felt.

Reading it, I was reminded of the Christian radio shows I listened to back in the 80’s and 90’s that, unknowingly at the time, greatly influenced me when our own son came out to us in 2001. Their messages – messages I see now as hate-filled, homophobic propaganda – subconsciously but deeply affected me by planting seeds of fear and prejudice against the gay community. These seeds took root and grew rapidly after finding out that Ryan was part of that community.

If this blog was an exception or aberration, it wouldn’t bother me so much. Unfortunately, it is not.

This horrifically offensive blog has already been articulately and intelligently refuted by others, and given that I am neither a theologian, philosopher or social scientist, I won’t attempt to add my own arguments. However, what I want to do is this: encourage others to ask the same questions I have been asking myself all day.

When those of us who call themselves Christians stand by in silence as someone, speaking with the authority and respect granted to those who are pastors entrusted with teaching the Word of God to their congregations, uses the written word to cultivate disgust toward individuals made in the image of God, we tacitly concur with his conclusions. If we do not speak up – loudly and repeatedly – to object to the use of homophobic, demeaning and dehumanizing tactics, just as we would do to racist, hate-filled bigotry, we are silently condoning the actions.

Rob and I have many beloved friends and family who do not agree with us about gay marriage or other gay rights that we view as human rights, but they do so soberly, realizing that they are speaking about a topic that is not an only a current “issue” but a subject that touches the hearts and souls of individuals who were created by God and who are deeply loved by Him.

We do not have to use the language of hate – disgust and contempt – to communicate our opinions. And we dare not.

If we do not speak out, the words of this pastor may reach the ears of vulnerable listeners, unquestioned and unrefuted, causing them to think that this is the conclusion of those who follow Christ, and much worse, that this twisted perspective represents the opinion of God Himself.

I have not been able to stop asking myself:

How many teenagers, fervent in their desire to please God, will read this and conclude that it is a virtually impossibility to please God, given that their orientation that just won’t change, no matter how hard they pray?

How many young adults, hiding their true sexuality from their families and church communities because of stigma and condemnation, will read this, allowing these words to add another thick layer to the already suffocating shame and contempt they attempt to breathe through so that they can live another day?

How many LGBTQ people will read this, and conclude that this is one more piece of solid evidence that people who love Jesus are also people who hate them?

How many young adults will read this, never thinking that someday they might be parents who give birth to a child who realizes that he or she has, as a result of no choice of their own, a sexual orientation described by this writer as abominable?

How many parents of teenagers will read this, not realizing that one of the adolescents in their own home is struggling to reconcile his or her faith with the realization that they are attracted to the same sex?

How many parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings will read this, and be influenced by these words, so that when their family member finally gathers the courage to share with them the secret they’ve been hiding, they respond with even a little of the “gag reflex” that this pastor encourages us to attend to and nurture?

How many children, when confronted with the disgust of the people whose love they need most in all the world, will conclude that the self-reproach they’ve been fighting against is valid and legitimate after all? How many will decide that their families would be better off without them? How many more funerals will be held for LGBTQ children who feel that their lives are without value?

How many more parents will disown their own children, because they’ve been told by a spiritual authority that the love that their child feels is nothing more than a perverse desire for a repugnant act?

These are just some of the questions that have been nagging at me relentlessly all day today. And though just the thought of both the situation in Tennessee and the words of the pastor turned blogger have been enough to kill my appetite today, they also serve as a powerful reminder of why God has kept whispering the same thing to my husband and I, over and over and over, “Tell your story. Tell your story. Just tell your story.”

This week, while on a long, beautiful bike ride, Rob turned to me and said, “Even if I lose every single one of my straight friends, I cannot stop sharing what God has shown us. To do so would be disobedience.”

Today, I have been powerfully reminded of the potential cost of that disobedience. To stop sharing, to stop speaking out or to choose to be silent just might make the difference in whether or not another family gets to attend their child’s wedding, or, like us, can only visit a gravestone.

If I could, I would shout from every mountaintop the truth that I know with more certainty than I know anything else: That our Creator God is a God of love, and that He fiercely loves every single one of His children. Our God is compelled to chase after those who feel that they don’t belong, those who have been cast away and left out. Our God is the God who leaves the ninety-nine to chase after the one…the one who He loves with unfathomable passion, and with whom He is never disgusted.

The article about the mother condemned for supporting her gay child can be found at TimesFreePress.com.

If you feel it is necessary to read the blog in question, or to ask the editors of the website that hosts it to remove it, you can find it here: The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and “Gay Marriage”

One of the many well-written rebuttals of the blog and clarifications of what the Gospel really is was written by Rachel Held Evans, and includes links to other valuable resources, as well: Responding to homophobia in the Christian community

Another fabulous and thought provoking response to the complete irony of the blog in light of the Gospel is this one: What If Jesus Had A Gag Reflex?

53 responses to “We Cannot Be Silent”

  1. Amen Linda, You continue to give me the courage to speak and not be “silent”. I have been silent for too many years and I knew it was wrong then. God give me the strength to speak up for these kids and to encourage their parents….and He does!

  2. Thank you for continuing to feed the hope within me that one day religion and sexuality can be reconciled. I have always believed that the greatest of Christ’s messages has been love, and never able to understand how others can read the same Word as I and have it fuel their hate. God bless you and your family for having the strength to find and follow the love in Christ’s message.

  3. Sweet Linda and Rob, you’d make MLK, Jr., proud by not being silent on this issue! I’m flummoxed that people are so afraid to “endorse” homosexuality, yet meanwhile, they willingly trample all over Jesus’ DIRECT instructions: 1. love others, 2. don’t judge another’s servant [Roman’s 14:4], 3. don’t weigh people down with burdens they cannot carry [Lk 11:46]… just to name a few. Thank you for telling your story. Love, Susan

  4. You are talking about something I have been grappling with too–hateful Christians. I have been reading Richard Rohr (a Catholic priest), who has done a ton of work on separate self and shadow self. He’s helping me understand and reflect, instead of lose hope in 90% of God’s people. It’s helping me so much that I don’t even feel called to read the blog in question, because I know that what I will see is proof that the writer lives in the darkness, which is a problem only God can help with.

    Peace to you.

  5. Linda you are conducting your journey along the road less traveled with amazing grace and compassion … I pray I will be able to do the same … for you my friend are a beacon of HOPE … Well done … Well. Done.

  6. Please know that during those weeks when it is hardest, there are people like us standing beside you, willing to help and support. What you are doing is so important, and I stand in awe of your incredible love and strength. God bless you.

  7. Linda – First let me say THANK YOU! I am so grateful for what you and Rob keep doing. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to deal with the harsh and hateful responses that you deal with. I’m so sorry for that but so glad that you have each other for support and also happy for the support that you are finding from so many others.

    A few years ago I realized the same thing that you and Rob have realized… “Even if I lose every single one of my straight friends, I cannot stop sharing what God has shown me.”

    I felt that God revealed to me that to remain silent would be an act of injustice – as if I myself were the oppressor and abuser. On top of that I was somehow able to imagine what I would have felt like if I was in my gay son’s position and how much it would help to have a parent speaking out on my behalf. So, I made a commitment that I would not be silent and I would use my voice and my love to work towards making the world a better, kinder, safer, more loving place for lgbt people to live.

    I’ve lost a lot of relationships because of it. I can’t think of one friend or family member who has ever said they would no longer be my friend or associate with me … some have told me they disagree but most of the time people don’t even bother to do that and instead just stop connecting and it is obvious why and it hurts. I’ve had to learn that it is best for me not to know what they are saying behind my back.

    Most of the harsh and hateful responses come from people that I have never met – people who read something I posted on my blog, in the comment section of another blog or on my facebook page – but it still hurts. Sometimes the ugly stuff gets overwhelming but the thing that sustains me is all the wonderful relationships and friends that I have gained along the way. Of course what I have experienced is so much less but I pray that you will be blessed with enough of the wonderful stuff to make the ugly stuff endurable and that you would be sustained by the loving kindness of the many that you are speaking out for (lgbt people and the friends and family members that support and affirm them).

  8. I just reread this and love it even more the second time around. You are a gifted writer and speak more truth than I have heard in years!!! Tyou for being so courageous and continuing to fight for all of our children’s human rights!

    • Linda,
      Keep boldly listening to The One Voice…it is the only one that matters….and then keep living authentically to what the Holy Spirit is whispering to your heart…Stand strong, firmly and be courageous…just as you are doing…and don’t stop…for you are not alone…I walk with you, as do many others…

      As I make my way in this journey, a quote has often come to my mind, by George MacDonald: “Everything difficult indicates something more than our theory of life yet embraces.” This has been true for myself, as I have walked this new path, and I believe this is true for the evangelical church as a whole, though they can’t/won’t admit it.

      I’m doing a lot of thinking these days on the ministry years of Jesus, and have found how Jesus lived and engaged with culture– His “theory of life”– to be my “plumb line” — the way I am testing, measuring, discovering, weighing and understanding– how I am to be living my life, right now, in view of gay/gay-christian culture and the surrounding issues.

      Here’s what I’m seeing– Jesus lived in the very same kind of tension we are living today.
      Jesus was surrounded by the religious leaders and authorities of His day, who were wrongly interpreting, and requiring the people to live out the written Word of God, in specific ways. The religious leaders thought they had it ALL figured out. Here comes Jesus, The Word in the flesh. Jesus was The Living Word of God. Jesus knew how far off the mark the religious leaders were in His day– and Jesus was there to show a different way– The Way.

      The Way was not based on the written laws alone, but based on the law of love and mercy and grace…the extravagant love of God for mankind, displayed, in sending us Jesus.
      Jesus came to show the crowds, and the religious leaders, by His example, that God, the Father did not want sacrifices, and the following of the laws, more than He wanted hearts that were seeking Him and were led by love and mercy towards others. But the religious leaders didn’t like what Jesus was saying and the trouble Jesus was stirring up in the culture– it went against everything the religious leaders held and believed–their “theology.” But, Jesus continued to live in that tension, telling and showing the crowds a different way– until the religious leaders had Jesus nailed to a cross. But Jesus defied death and rose 3 days later–the living fulfillment of God’s law…the living demonstration of God’s love, for all mankind.

      Our evangelical religious leaders of today, remind me of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Instead of relying on and seeking the Holy Spirit to be the guide of our hearts and minds, revealing the depths of God’s Truths in the Bible… finding God’s heart in present day culture– the religious leaders today are relying on Theology/Theologians– the studying and interpreting of God’s Word. The very thing Jesus came centuries ago to reveal– that Love is the fulfilling of God’s law– is once again being ignored by the religious leaders of our day.

      God’s Word– in its entirety, from Old Testament to New Testament, tells us a whole lot of what God thinks/feels about pride, judging, envy, malice, strife, deceit, gossiping, hatred, foolishness…as well as harmony, forbearance, compassion, kindness, humility, encouragement, patience, generosity, hospitality, mercy, grace and love… far more than His thoughts on “homosexuality.”

      God’s people, especially the “religious” leaders of our day, need to stop trying to manage behavior, telling others how to live and start pursuing the heart of God. The people of God need to stop focusing on the one thing God spoke so little on and start focusing on the many issues God did address, over and over and over. If God’s love is truly being displayed, there would be no need or time to act as judges… “When we judge people we have no time to love them.” (Mother Teresa) Jesus came to call us to love.

      Linda, we are the voices of God’s Heart in today’s culture. Let’s be steadfast and keep living in this tension, so that God’s Heart of Love can be heard, by those who need to hear it the most.
      May God fill you with His power and peace, as you walk in His Presence.
      Love you.

  9. Thanks for reminding us yet again, that our God loves each of his children unconditionally. It is us, imperfect sinners, who put conditions on love. Thanks also for your continued courage as you dedicate your lives to the memory of your beloved son. Please know that there are so many of us who love you, pray for you, and support you. We will continue to be the wind beneath your wings.

      • God has greatly blessed me today by guiding me to your website, YouTube video, and your blog. Your story is an answer to my prayer on how to love my gay son and be true to my christian beliefs. I look forward to delving into your story. Thank you Lord for answering my prayer. Thank you too.

        • Jane!! I am SO thankful that God connected us!! PLEASE friend me on FaceBook (Linda Mueller Robertson)…we have a WONDERFUL, very private online group of moms who love Jesus and who also truly love their LGBTQ children. I would LOVE for you to join us!!!

  10. I apologize. .I quit drinking decades ago..but am under tbe influence now….
    It is importang 4 u 2 speak 4 people like me who have felt unworthy. ..
    I thank you for your testimony….truly it gives me hope.

  11. Thank you so much for what you are doing, Linda! I’m a “neighbor” of yours in Snohomish. My husband is a Seventh-day Adventist minister, and we found out our youngest son is gay some 24 years ago when we were working at our church world headquarters. Although I was ignorant and naive and shocked, I (we) never stopped loving my son. I wrote a book about our family’s experience – My Son, Beloved Stranger – and that led me to start a ministry for other parents who felt isolated – a newsletter and website – http://www.someone-to-talk-to.net (currently down because someone hacked it). I am so thankful that things have gotten so much better in the past 25 years – I never would have imagined it could back then. But there is still much to do. I pray that God will continue to open people’s minds to His love for EVERYONE!

  12. Linda,
    Thank you again for such a powerful post. Every question you shared….I’ve also had rolling around in my head for a little over a year now. I’m from NC and last year we had the big Marriage Amendment issue. We were at church (which we have since left) and we were being told how we should vote. I left feeling physically ill. But, it really got me digging. Digging into my Bible. But, it also broke my heart. It broke my heart because of all of those questions you listed. It was like the Lord just sat me right down in the middle of how it must feel to be in any of those situations. How utterly painful and confusing it must be for the souls caught in the middle of all of this. Being treated as if they are sub-human. When the reality is that they are ALL made in God’s image and He says that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. That He knew them before He formed them in the womb. Oh how it must grieve the Lord for people destroy other humans in Jesus’ name. You, Linda and Rob, are a beacon of hope. You are a city on a hill. I believe that many souls are finding their way because you have chosen to speak up and let your light shine the way Home. Safe in the loving arms of Jesus.
    This is the scripture I cling to.
    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 ESV)

    Absolutely standing with you!

  13. Linda – continue to speak, continue to share the love of God who loves ALL his children because ALL his children were created in His image. God has graced me with a voice and a heart to speak out and I stand with you and Rob as you continue to share the good news. You inspire me! May God bless you through all your days.

  14. Thank you for speaking the truth with such passion. I have a gay son and son-in-law, they were married in October. They are moving to be closer to us, they will be living among us. This makes some of our church friends uncomfortable and it has brought some pretty hurt feelings along the way. We continue to trust our Savior Jesus and we believe that He loves His children equally. We may have to stop attending a bible study group but we don’t care. We love our sons, we know God calls us to love all of His people. Keep fighting the fight, we are just entering the trenches so I will welcome your writings when the going gets tough as I know it will. God Bless you and your family and I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful son. Colleen Kane

    Sent from my iPad

  15. You pave the way for others, I continually thank you for this. The other day I was in one of the local small stores I frequently go to and visiting with the owner when another frequent shopper came in. I don’t know how the subject of Gay Marriage came up (this is Texas) when the other shopper said, “I support Gay Marriage, I have many Gay friends and love them.” I thought good for you until she said, “I still think they are going to hell, but I love them anyway.”

    I was absolutely stunned.

  16. Linda, who are these “churches” than are so hate filled, and who are these so called “pastors” and “ministers” that spew this stuff, and why are they afforded the attention they so crave? Where do these so called “pastors” and “ministers” get their “authority?” Certainly not by Apostolic Succession. As maligned and hated and (mainly) misunderstood as she is, my Holy Roman Church is at least tolerant, and encourages everyone to work out their relationships with our Lord. Certainly She has different positions on some of these issues, but the central, top down, consistent message is one of love and reconciliation. My very own pastor of our 3000 family RC parish specifically said that if you have a problem with the two men that walk in together, it is YOUR problem, not THEIRS. Indeed we are a “hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints.” Comments from my Bishop of our Diocese affirmed that we are all sinners, we all have struggles, burdens and issues and we must approach our Lord together – that’s why we pray the “Our Father,” not the “My Father.” They both support my new ministry encouraging individuals and their parents to walk forward together, all of us doing our best to foster each other’s journey in Christ’s love. God Bless you and Rob, Much Love.

  17. Linda and Rob thank you. As I have mentioned to you before I am a Christian and a gay man. I started going to church while in High school, I begged God to take away the gay affliction – I felt that since He was not taking it away – and that He said it was sin – that He had created me to ridicule me, to torture me. At times because of that I was suicidal, but He then showed me that He did create me just the way He wants me, and get this, that He does not want me to be alone. For this and for many of the reasons that you have stated above I am in the planning stage of becoming a missionary to West Hollywood – near me – so that those that run to WeHo from families that reject them and other LGBT people can hear and hopefully come to know that God loves them. For this sole reason is why I go to an LGBT church called WeHo Church. I also want others to hear my story too for I think when gay and straights hear these stories they may be able to come together and in many cases it would be great to hear, while yes, you can be a Christian and gay.
    Thank you for your encouragement, and let me know if I can be one back to you.

    • You already have been, Scott!! My brother was a WeHo cop for years (he has been promoted now, and is no longer on patrol), and loved serving in the community there, especially as a gay Christian himself. Excited to hear how God uses you!

  18. I want to thank you for this blog. I’m sure it cannot be easy. I am right now struggling to get my husband to understand that me remaining silent of my sexuality to the larger public is itself disobedience to God. I have not yet done so out of respect for him and our marriage (however doomed); but every passing day makes me feel a little bit worse for not speaking up. People need to know. thank you so much for your courage– to risk losing everyone you’ve known or associated with. People like you give me hope that even one member of my family could change. I know it is hard; you must be inundated with misunderstanding and hurtful remarks every day– but know that this is also a great gift from God. Your sharing is very hopeful to me.

    Thank You.

    • Oh, Rebeccah…I just cannot imagine what you are going through. But I know that God can, and that is WAY better, since His love is so huge, and He has – IS – the power of the Universe! Much love to you, dear friend!

  19. Tried to friend you on Facebook but was unsuccessful finding you as Linda Mueller Robertson. Should I be looking you up a different way? Excited to join your group of loving Christian moms of GLBTQ.
    In His Name,

  20. As a gay christian, I can so relate to what you shared here.

    I mean it is not just the fact many of them uses demeaning, derogatory languages that promote bigotry, ignorance, and hate towards other human beings, the very same one that God loves dearly, but more importantly, there are so many within the Body of Christ just seems to be ‘brainwashed”, doesn’t matter how much evidences you offer them, they will continue to think whatever they want to about gays and they will continue to be the messenger in spreading those hateful ideas.

    Not only that, but there are actually self professed Christians out there that would resort to malicious lies on purpose just to promote their hateful agendas against the LGBT community.

    I remember a few years back I came across the gay adoption controversy involving Mark Regnerus research on gay parenting. While I did not agree the result within his research as there were many methodical flaws, the most important being he wasn’t actually measuring children who grew up in a actual gay household, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt, as he came across as quite forthright about those flaws himself. Not only that, I considered him a fellow brother in Christ, and I thought to myself, “surely he would not LIE blatantly to promote an agenda, right?”

    It wasn’t until in the past few days, I googled his name to see what is the latest development in the saga, and BEHOLD, I came across this article stated that since that controversy, evidences have emerged that this man, a self professed Christian lied through his teeth, when he originally claimed that ( if I remembered it correctly), that the conservative, anti gay Witherspoon Institute only funded his study, and they were hand off when it comes to the conducting of the study itself to maintain the integrity of the research. In reality, email exchange between Mark and Witherspoon showed the institute might have played a role in designing of the study.


    I felt so disgusted when I learned this. Not only that, I was shocked at my own naivety when it comes to trusting my fellow Christians’ integrity.

    Not only Mark, a self professed Christian lied, by he might also be guilty of bearing false witness against others.

    What kind “man” does this? Has he no shame? Does his conscience not bothering him at all? But most importantly, how COULD this man face the Lord every Sunday when he worship at his church, how COULD this man face the Lord every time he prays? Knowing he lied and appears to be unrepentant about it? Is he perfectly happy to risk Lord’s reputation among non believers just so he could discredit gay community?

    sounds more like Devil’s tactics to me.

    Not only that, I came across Christian website http://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/mark-regnerus-and-the-storm-over-his-controversial-gay-parenting-studd continue to defend him?

    The whole thing is just so sad…….

  21. Don’t stop! Share and yell from the mountaintops. I knew because God told me when my son was as young as 2. I thank God that I listened. My husband and I had to grieve and in time accept and still remain our new walk as Christians. We raised him to love himself. And to be very tolerating and accepting of different lifestyles. He is 20 now and still hasn’t said the word. I think he still fights it.
    any advice for me.
    much love and let me know how I can help the cause.
    Thank u

  22. Hi Linda I don’t have gay children but your story resonates with me on so many levels. I always thought of myself as a gracious person and to respect all men, but you have showed me a graciousness that I haven’t seen or heard of in a long time. Who are we to judge anyone because the bible says we have all sinned and fall short of Gods Glory! We are not to judge even for one second, no one as we have never walked a mile in their shoes. Your beautiful boy must be so incredibly proud of you and his wonderful dad. The letter he wrote for him is priceless. It always hurts me so much when I hear of people speaking out against gay men and women and gay marriage. God know every single heart and he loves us “just because we breathe.” Those words will stay with me and my children for as long as we live. Judgement is soul destroying but unconditional love heals and restores forever.

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