The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears
Texas Conservatives are saying those in favor of LGBTQ Equality want to “ban the Bible” in the state of Texas. Mama Bear Felicia Dodd is a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms who lives in Texas. Felicia is speaking up and and making it clear that LGBTQ advocates aren’t asking anyone to ban the Bible, instead, we are asking Christians to go “back to the Bible” and take a closer look at what the Bible actually says …
BACK TO THE BIBLE by Felicia Dodd
My name is Felicia Dodd, and I am the mother of 4 children. I have a son and daughter, as well as twin sons, one of which is gay. A little information about me and my story is that I am a Christian, I believe in the inspiration of the Bible, and I try my best to follow Jesus.
A few days ago I told my oldest son that I was going to be speaking today and was trying to write out a draft of what I would say. At dinner that night he shared with his wife that I was trying to write this speech, and his 7 year old daughter, my granddaughter Gabrielle, overheard the conversation and asked what the speech was about. He told her it was about making sure people are treated the same. She looked at him and said, “I thought Martin Luther King Jr already took care of that!” Oh how I wish that were true.
My story is that when I realized my son might be gay, I began to pray nightly, begging God to please not let my child be gay. I did this not because I didn’t think I could love him if he was gay. You see, I had a gay brother whom I loved deeply. The fact that my brother was gay made no difference to me whatsoever, because I knew his heart and knew what a beautiful loving person he was. Unfortunately he lived a closeted life, because he lived in a time when gay people were harassed, oppressed, and, like what is still happening today in some churches, he heard the message that he was an abomination and was separated from God. Consequently he committed suicide when he was 35 years old. This was a senseless waste of a precious life and it was a huge loss to me, my family and the world, of a gifted and precious human being. I prayed that my son would not be gay because I did not want him to suffer the discrimination and heartbreak my brother suffered. As time went by and those prayers were not answered, I began to immerse myself in the Bible and in research of the Biblical verses that are used to condemn LGBTQ people. I bought and read dozens of books on this subject written by learned Biblical scholars. I soon realized that the traditional interpretation of these verses which had been handed down to me, by the church I was raised in, were actually not all there was to the story. I realized we all need to look closely and more accurately at the Hebrew and Greek words and their translations, and we need to look at the context and intent of the text. My research made me comfortable and at peace with what I had always truly deep down believed which is that we are all God’s children and that we are all made in God’s image. Because I knew my son well, I knew he did not choose to be gay, and I came to know with all my heart that he was perfect just as God made him.
I don’t claim to know all the truth God is revealing to us, but I know he has opened my mind and heart in ways I could have never imagined. For years I had been reading the Bible, going to church regularly, and attending a weekly Bible Study, seeking to learn how to live a Christ like life. But even though I had been seeking God, and even though I once had a gay brother, it was through God’s gift of a gay child that I have been able to truly hear what God is saying to me. I no longer pray that God makes my son straight, like I had been doing when I was trying to reconcile same sex relationships with what is written in the Bible. God is revealing to me that He made my son and loves him just the way he is. God has shown me that my son doesn’t need to change anything about himself. I was the one who needed to change. It has been an amazing and emotional journey. I pray God helps me to always be humble, to seek the truth, and to have understanding and mercy for others who don’t hear what I hear the Bible saying.
And it is in that spirit that I seek a more just world for my gay son. He was raised just the same as his twin brother and his other siblings. He went to Sunday School and sang Jesus Loves Me and believed it just as his siblings did. He memorized and believed John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Unfortunately, my son, like so many LGBTQ Christians, started getting the message that this world that God loves does not include them.
There has been great harm done to the LGBTQ community in the name of God, in the name of one’s religion, in the name of ones deeply held religious beliefs. That harm is in the form of family rejection, self rejection, church rejection, and all manor of social, psychological and spiritual harm, sometimes self harm and even suicide. That harm is well documented.
It might come as a shock to Dan Patrick and anyone who would support SB 444 and SB 85 to know that there really are a lot of LGBTQ Christians. My son, as well as other LGBTQ individuals, and several same sex couples who are my friends regularly attend this beautiful First United Methodist Church which sits right next to our Capitol. The fact that I know so many Christian LGBTQ individuals leaves me bewildered when I try to understand how anyone would use “their deeply held religious beliefs” as the basis to discriminate. LGBTQ Christians do exist and they have deeply held religious beliefs too.
And none of the LGBTQ people I know want to ban or throw out the Bible. They and their allies just want people to go back to the Bible – to dig deeper and understand the culture and context of difficult scriptures and to never lose sight of the overall message of the Bible, to love your neighbor as yourself.
I was blessed to attend the Gay Christian Network Conference in Houston a couple of years ago. I witnessed hundreds of young people who came not just from all over the United States, but from all over the world. They had been raised in the church but a good many of them had been wounded and kicked out, by either their parents, their youth minister, or their pastor. Yet they came, wanting community, wanting to hear the word of God and wanting to know that they were loved by God. They desperately wanted to believe that when they too, as children, sang Jesus Loves Me, it was still true today. I saw many weeping when they did hear these words of affirmation. I was deeply moved and forever changed by these individuals who were desperately seeking God’s love. And I say the following with great conviction: I have never experienced the close presence of God like I did at that Gay Christian conference. It was definitely a thin place where the essence of God’s presence was almost tangible. My daughter who is straight, and is very affirming of her gay brother, accompanied me at this conference. We both wore Free Mom Hugs buttons. Through tears we gave lots of hugs to lots of young people who hadn’t been hugged by a mom or a sister in a long time. Because they had been rejected in the name of God.
I am proud of the young man my gay son, Connor, has grown to be. I am happy he was able to get married and to adopt a child while living in the state of New York. He is an amazing father. This might not have happened in Texas now that we have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ adopting or being foster parents. Texans should expect better.
When Connor, heard about these recent bills that are being proposed, he said, “So many people, LGBTQ, racial minorities, as well as people with physical and mental disabilities have so many extra hardships to overcome and it is so backwards that we have people in power, that our kids should be able to look up to, but instead they use their power to look down on those people and tell them they are less than.” And I couldn’t agree more.
Like most oppressed populations, access to mental health care is crucial in regard to suicide, addiction and overall well being. They need health care and equal treatment like everyone else. This is fundamentally about HUMAN DIGNITY. John in his Epistles, said How do you say you LOVE GOD whom you HAVE NOT SEEN, when you DON’T love THOSE WHOM you DO SEE? You know, one day we will all stand before God, and Jesus will remind us that the ultimate sacrament of God is the HUMAN BEING that we live beside on a daily basis. You could say, it is the frightened13 year old who comes into the office of a Professional Licensed Counselor and wants help understanding his same-sex attractions. It is the same-sex couple that wants a sonogram or a wedding cake. And Jesus will say, as much as you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve DONE UNTO ME.
So what I ask of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Perry, Senator Hall, and any legislator who might be thinking of supporting SB 444 and SB 85, is to please stop and listen and find out about the plight of these wounded, dignified, exiled, diverse, oppressed, wonderful people who love Jesus despite some proclaimed Christians with deeply held religious beliefs, and despite a church, that has not always loved them.
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”
The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 4,400 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email firstname.lastname@example.org