That philosophical question burst out of my frustrated lips as I struggled with a complex differential equation in an advanced engineering mathematics course. My professor stared at me, and I figured I had just failed the course. Mathematics was not one of my strong subjects.
Instead, he walked to the whiteboard and wrote that question down in large black print, put a box around it, and added “save” so the janitor wouldn’t erase it. All of us saw that question at every class meeting for the rest of the semester. I think I passed that class because of the best question, not because I mastered complex math.
That meaningful question has traveled with me ever since. When I was buried deep in technical challenges as our team worked on creating successful rocket and aircraft propulsion, that question was always in our teams’ minds. Several of my college professors were also consultants to our failure evaluations teams, and I often heard them share, “Wow never seen that before; it’s beyond my knowledge and experiences!” So together we would research available knowledge, then go beyond it and explore new possibilities as we expanded and discovered new knowledge and answers.
Today as we travel the ever-expanding LGBTQ+ family world, that question fits into our discussions and thoughts. As we, and you, search for correct and appropriate understandings and behaviors -
How do you know what you don’t know? And with today’s world of false, inaccurate news, how do you know what you know is correct or accurate ??
Each of us results from our own “educational history.” We started learning from our parents and family. They shared what they had learned and experienced in their own lives. Then you probably attended a faith or public school, and again learned what your teachers had been taught and believed. You also attended your faith church and heard dear and genuine friends and pastoral staff share what they had been taught and believed.
But their dominant faith “textbook” is that faith’s preferred Holy Bible, which contains thousands of translated lines of information. As I study various religious professors’ classes on who wrote the Bible and how today’s versions have occurred, many lines and pieces of information are reflections of the translators and not exact copies of actual ancient writings. There aren’t dictionaries for many ancient languages, only opinions of the translators’ own education and life experiences. Hebrew alone has seven different versions reflecting the changes occurring over several thousand years of use. Possibly, and probably, many areas are improperly used to clobber and bruise our LGBTQ+ family members.
As moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and dear friends, we also are bruised and emotionally affected by the treatments and unloving actions taken by members of our faith. We have to connect with each other and learn together the correct and accurate information about the real LGBTQ+ world our loved ones live in. All of our Kinship members are God’s children. They did not choose or select their sexuality or the human desires and behaviors. They need loving acceptance and support, and their families are their first choices.
But often, what we believe and have been taught and coached throughout our own lives suddenly causes us to waiver, become confused, and emotionally affected. Each one of us faces a serious and deeply emotional moment, maybe even many moments! What do I do? What do we do? Often the family members only have a few minutes to take their first step, to say their first words, to react their first time.
It can be a very serious and emotional moment in their family lives. Their LGBTQ+ member has been wrestling with their own feelings and needs for a much longer time. Our son realized he had different feelings and attractions early in his life. He didn’t know the details and definitions, but he knew he felt some feelings differently. He was afraid to tell us because he knew his mother’s support and acceptance of our faith’s statements and decisions. He also resisted telling me, his father, because I enjoyed making people laugh and I told all the gay, transgender, drag queen jokes, and stories available at the time. He didn’t want to be made fun of!
He also didn’t want to be rejected or cause conflict within his own family! Oh, what emotional pressures were on his shoulders, too!
He moved to the east coast and attended Yale University for his master’s degree education. That gave him his own space and life. A few years later, we actually asked him if he was gay; we opened the door and let him out of his closet, and we then started our lifelong journey of understanding, supporting, and accepting him, his “lifestyle,” and his partners and friends.
Looking back, we are so glad we slowly realized his situation; and we began learning and connecting with other LGBTQ+ families for our own support, advice, and comfort. For the next 25 years, our family journeys had their difficulties; but we were still a family and we still loved and supported our son and accepted his friends even when we worried, as parents do, about some of their decisions.
This was no different from our other adult children and their decisions and friends. We have many other differences and challenges in our extended family of sons and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, cousins, and nieces and nephews. That includes autism, health issues, emotional and physical challenges, all part of being in a genuine family, all normal and accepted variations of real life.
Welcome to your world of LGBTQ+ needs and challenges. We enjoy connecting with you and having you join us at our monthly Zoom roundtable discussions where you will meet and connect with other families’ journeys on similar trails with their families.
So in closing: How do you know what you don’t know, and how do you know what you know is correct or accurate?
Thanks for reading all of this journey. We look forward to connecting and chatting with you at our Kinship Family & Friends Round Table discussions, or in any other way you would like to connect.
Our mission is to provide a safe spiritual and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists, their families, and those who support them.
We are here to provide community and advocacy for LGBTIQ individuals with a Seventh-day Adventist connection, their families, and those who support them because of this important truth—everyone is created in the image of God.