It may be difficult to read, but this is what Kim Higginbotham recently wrote about her son:
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.
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.”
He sounds like a wonderful kid. And as a parent myself, I can’t imagine what it’d be like to lose a child.
But I don’t have to try and imagine that right now, because Higginbotham didn’t lose her son.
He’s still alive. He’s doing just fine. I assume he’s still a talented musician with an infectious laugh.
Higginbotham has to rely on these memories, though, because she no longer has a relationship with him. Her son is still Christian, but she decided to break all ties with him when she found out he was gay.
Not that she cares. The bulk of her article is all about how much he hurt her by daring to defy God’s Will.
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.
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?
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.
Somehow, her son being openly gay (instead of merely another Christian who represses his sexual orientation out of guilt) means he never really loved her. His very existence is too embarrassing for her.
People often ask why atheists care so much about a God we don’t believe in. This is why. We see the harm religion can do to people who take it seriously. When people are brainwashed into thinking certain sins are unacceptable, it can tear apart families for no good reason. Hell, many atheists have been cut off from friends and family members who want nothing to do with them anymore because they dare to challenge religious dogma.
For all we know, Higginbotham’s son would love to have a relationship with his parents. But his mother, despite everything she says she misses about him, won’t reciprocate because she fears it’ll upset her God. That’s Jehovah’s Witness-level shit right there.
As Tim Rymel points out at HuffPost, what’s especially disturbing about this article is how many Christian commenters aren’t responding with, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Instead, they’re saying things like “I am sorry for your loss” and “We will continue to pray for a change of heart.”
Remember: She didn’t pull the plug on a dying relative in distress. She chose to abandon her son because he was in love with someone of the same gender, and now she’s acting like she’s the victim.
The evangelical Christian message is loud and clear. They care for no one but themselves. Their devotion is to the version of Christianity they have created, which calls for ruthless abandonment of immigrants, women, children — even their own — and anyone else who doesn’t fall inline with their message. Social justice, which is mentioned in Bible verses over two thousand times, has been replaced with hardline political ideology. Principle over people. Indifference over involvement. Judgment over generosity.
Higginbotham’s post is also disturbing because you just know her problem isn’t that her son “sinned.” It’s that he’s gay, and that “sin,” in her mind, is waaaaaay worse than all the other ones.
Sharon Hambrick, herself a Christian, questions whether Higginbotham would’ve acted the same way for other reasons:
Does that mean we won’t hang with our kids if they take to drinking? Or will we turn our backs if they are preggers-sans-marriage? What if they embezzle? What if they speed? Of course not, you judgy thing you! Not just any sin will do. It’s just the creepy gay sins that break the ties that bind, amirite?
Hambrick also wonders: Would (the presumably anti-abortion) Higginbotham even have given birth to her son if she knew he was gay in the womb? Because how pro-life can you really be if a child’s sexual orientation is enough to treat him as good as dead?
Since posting her piece, Higginbotham has added an update responding to some of her critics. She says, contrary to what commenters are saying, she does love her son “unconditionally,” but that doesn’t mean she has to accept his sin. But that’s a false dichotomy. I’ve done a bunch of things my parents aren’t thrilled about (including running this site), but my parents would never disown me because of that. It doesn’t mean they agree with or endorse every decision I make. (And being gay, unlike writing about religion, isn’t a decision.)
She also says she never abandoned her son: “He has abandoned us.” Bullshit. Does she expect anyone to take her seriously?
No one’s suggesting that all Christians — or even all evangelicals — act this way. But some of them do. That’s the problem. And it’s not going to go away unless more evangelical pastors have the courage to admit they’ve been wrong about the way they address homosexuality.
We know Christians are lying when they claim to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” This is a perfect example of how flawed that thinking can be.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Rick for the link)