If My Son Is Going To Hell, Then So Am I

Raising My Rainbow is written by the mother of a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son. She’s chronicling their journey right here on Queerty. Read up on RMR‘s cast of characters.

I used to like going to church. My entire youth and early 20s was spent at church. I was there once, often twice a week, learning how to be a good Christian, playing broom hockey, taking gently worn shoes to kids in Mexico, singing “My God is an Awesome God” by the campfire and turning Bible verses into SNL-worthy skits.

For a solid year in middle school, I went solely to catch a glimpse of the pastor’s son, who was my age and hot in a way that only an eighth grader can be. Peach fuzz, the onset of acne, braces—you know the look.

My dad is an ordained pastor. I went to a Lutheran college. I live in the shadow of a mega-church.

I also have a gay brother and a gender-variant child. Needless to say, I’m conflicted. I’m not the first mother to feel this way; I know that.

I was discussing religion the other day with my mom. She told me that when she revealed in conversation to a few members of her Bible study that her son (i.e., my brother) is gay they shook their heads and said “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

She says that that is, more often than not, the response that she gets from her church-going friends. She will never get used to it. When it’s time to share prayer requests and praises, she feels like she can’t share anything good about my brother because her feeling is that the others in the prayer circle will be thinking, “Yeah, but he’s gay.”

She encourages me to not give up on God. I really do believe in God and Jesus and occasionally like going to church. It holds some sort of nostalgic power over me. It reminds me of my childhood and I remember it fondly; the days of good, clean fun.

But, then there’s that not-so-little matter of my religion not accepting members from the LGBT community. It’s a community that I live with and may be raising.

The other night, as I lay in bed thinking about religion, God and C.J, it came to me. If C.J. is going to hell, then I am too. I told my husband that he has to go to heaven with C.J.’s Brother. It’s like splitting up when one kid has a gymnastics lesson at the same time that the other one has soccer practice.

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  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    I gotta say, that choked me up.

    I think there are far more grandmothers, and mothers who feel like these two do, than there are people who disagree. Unfortunately, the people who disagree are the loudest.

  • FreddyMertz

    What a good read this fine Saturday morning. Thanks.

  • Steve

    Dear Writer,

    if you are a Christian, Leviticus should not be your guide. Jesus states quite clearly (Matthew and John) that the reason for his ministry – this is the reason given by Jesus – is to temper the harshness of the mosaic law, i.e. Leviticus, with LOVE. This is the reason he was pursued by the religious establishment for blasphemy; the crime for which he was executed. This is the meaning of the story of the woman taken in adultery which is not so much about the forgiveness of sins but is a brilliant ploy on Jesus’ part to make the rabbis claim to be without sin – blasphemy. That is why they put down the rocks and go home. If your church teaches that Leviticus is some kind of reference for Christians you might want to get a new church that knows something about Christianity. I’m serious. The OT is more properly looked on as the place the new religion came from. The Primitive Church rejected it outright to embrace the New Testament. Think what the title means: a new way of relating to God.

    Read the intro to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. Jesus instructs his followers to listen closely. If he openly calls for reformation the meeting will be shut down and he will be arrested. What he tells them is what he speaks about is important – adultery, for example – what he leaves out can be ignored. That should be the basis for any Christian’s understanding of His teaching.

    Yes, I am an atheist but I have read the Bible and can appreciate the teachings of Jesus when they are not corrupted by the thoughts of our current crop of know-nothing pastors.

    Good luck, say hi to C.J.

  • beergoggles

    Oh great, it’s bad enough that your parents saddled you with religious baggage, but you’re doing the same thing to your child when you know that religion and its followers will reject and harm him.

    The biggest gift that a parent can give their gender non-conforming child is bring him up atheist and give him the wherewithal to be independent in the face of brainwashing.

  • Scott Bonzitski

    Dear “Raising my Rainbow”, If your church is to be amongst people who pick and choose their scriptures and only want to believe in only a select few, maybe you could research the MCC [Metropolitan Community Church] ~or~ the UU [United Unitarian]. They are so much more accepting and allow open minded people to pray and converse in a more accepting atmosphere.

  • declanto

    Dear Rainbow raiser, Don’t burden your precious rainbow child with superstitious nonsense or atheistic self-righteousness. Teach him to think and reason for himself.

  • christopher di spirito

    Christianity is by its very nature, a form of psychosis, leaving a huge pile of psychologically damaged victims.

    The only pathway to sanity is to reject it.

  • xander

    Although I’m an atheist, if ‘Mom’ wishes to stay with religion she can check out LGBT ‘affirming’ churches such UCC (United Church of Christ) and some/many (?) of the Unitarian churches.
    Several friends as well as their families have found those groups welcoming.

  • mic

    This christian god who DOES hate gay people like myself and wish death upon them is the same one that commits genocide, tells followers to kill babies, and sends bears out to maul children who insult some bald dude….so the god is an a**hole. The good news is he is make-believe like the tooth fairy or santa claus so people need not worry who he’s sending to hell anyways. In short, THE BIBLE IS BULLSH*T!!!

  • Little Kiwi

    I’m incredibly lucky to have been brought up in the United Church of Canada – growing up we had a gay minister.

    The UCC – “Not Fucking Your Children Since 1925”

  • WillBFair

    There’s also the Episcopal church, UCC, MCC, and many liberal mainstream churches. But if someone lives out in Stickville, the choices may be nil.

  • Little Kiwi

    btw, “Christians” – the minute Levitical law is brought up in your church you need to realize that your church is no longer “Christians” as (theologically speaking) Christ’s Sacrifice on the cross “saved us all” from Levitical law. For a Christian to cite Levitical law is for that Christian to state that Christ in fact FAILED on His mission on the cross, and we were not saved, and thus the New Testament is all horse-shit. For real. Theologically speaking, that’s what they’d be saying.

    Oh, and if you belong to one of those churches that carries translations of the bible that include the word “homosexual” or “effeminate” (letters from Paul) then you’re part of the brainwashing culture. It’s amazing how scriptural references against prostitution in temples, pederasty, rape and sexual slavery are instead turned into “don’t be girly or gay”

    what fucking nonsense.

    p.s. if you’re not a virgin when you get married your marriage isn’t real and the woman should be stoned to death. says the bible.

  • Adam

    Great way to start my weekend. As a Preacher’s child as well, I’ve had similar struggles with the selective choosing of which rules from Leviticus matter and which don’t. It always felt like people were just using the bible and god as an excuse for their own biases.

    Great for your to be so supportive of your family. I’m sure your kid is going to grow up to be one amazing person.

  • Praisethelaw

    Jesus Christ DID NOT come to save us from God’s Law, and in fact, Jesus Christ stated the very opposite, he stated that he didn’t come to abolish God’s Law, that not one jot or tittle would pass away from the Law until Heaven and Earth pass away.

    Jesus Christ kept God’s Sabbaths, and most Christians use Christ as a template for their lives, but not for certain thingz though. There was a doing away of the law, but this had to do with the sacrificial system.

    By the way, we were not saved the moment that Christ died on the cross, we’re not saved until our salvation has been completed when we are born-again as a spirit-being.
    We can lose what we have if we are not steadfast, This is why Satan is let loose at the very ending of the Millenium of Christ.

    And although it doesn’t say homosexuality the word itself, it says for a man not to lay with a man as you do with a woman…

  • Georgie

    I like that the phrase on the church sign is one Richard Dawkins uses all the time!

  • Steve

    You don’t indicate the denomination of your church. Clearly, yours is one of the so-called “conservative” churches that choose to condemn gay people. You need to know a few things:

    1. Jesus never condemned gay people There was no word for “homosexual” in either Hebrew or Aramaic. During the dark ages, more than a thousand years after Christ, some priests figured out that they could obtain power and wealth by condemning people for “sins”, and then extort money and power in exchange for “forgiveness”. To maximize profit, they invented a whole bunch of new “sins”. Various “churches” have been doing the same, ever since.

    2. Other denominations have made serious effort to understand what Christ actually taught. Most of those do not preach about sin and condemnation. Instead, they preach about love and forgiveness. Forgiveness is freely given, never sold for money or power.

    3. The real “sin” of Sodom was failure to welcome the stranger. Hospitality was a very important tradition, and a high commandment. Christ did speak about hospitality. See, e.g., Mark 6:11: http://bible.cc/mark/6-11.htm

    4. Many churches specifically welcome gay and lesbian people. You can google for “welcoming” and “church”, if you want. An incomplete directory can be found at:
    http://www.welcomingresources.org/usa.htm .

    If my church were to condemn and reject my son, because of who he is, I would find another church the very next week.

  • Little Kiwi

    Ezekiel 16 – the sin of sodom was greed and the hoarding of wealth. there you have it, the True Sodomites of America are the 1%, and those who don’t support universal healthcare and higher taxation for the wealthy.

    that’s what the bible says. it’s worth noting that there is not ONE mention of anything resembling homosexuality in the story of Sodom.

    praisethelaw hasn’t a fucking clue.

  • praisethelaw

    He never condemned beastiality either, but does this make this right though ?

  • praisethelaw

    So it only mentionz greed? It talks about sexual immorality, which could be many thingz, but this story alone doesn’t prove that it’z sin, but where it does say that we aren’t to lie together as men.

  • Little Kiwi

    you can look real hard, but you will never find a mention of homosexuality in the story of Sodom. there are none.

    it’s a story about greed, gang-rape, and the hoarding of wealth and resources. and it ends with two acts of God-approved heterosexual Incest.

    how this story came to be “anti-gay” is beyond me.

  • Theophile

    Little Kiwi says: “the sin of sodom was greed and the hoarding of wealth”
    When Ezekiel 16:49/50 says Sodom’s sin was:
    #1 Pride. (parade anyone?)
    #2 fullness of bread, (obesity problems? fast food?)
    #3 abundance of idleness, (got entertainment?)
    #4 failure to strengthen the hand of the poor, (big bank bailout? government dependence?)
    #5 they were haughty, (we’re #1! God made us this way!)
    #6 they committed abominations before God…God has a list of particularly heinous abominations listed in Ezekiel 8,.
    The fact is sin is sin, every imagination of mans heart is evil continually from his youth.
    The word of the Lord is as pure as silver refined 7 times, it tales at least 7 readings of the entire Bible, on Your own to get it.
    For historical proof of the difference between what the Bible says and what someone says it says, read Foxes Martyrs: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22400/22400-h/22400-h.htm

  • Little Kiwi


    ezekiel 16. the sin of sodom was greed. there is not one mention of anything to do with “homosexuality”

    and yeah. then the story ends with Lot impregnating his two daughters. do you dunces cite the story of Sodom to excuse fucking your own daughters?

  • dazzer

    Isn’t it strange. When you look at the people who tell you that your essence means that you will be consigned to an eternity in the fiery inferno, the first thought goes through your head is: ‘But if I were to what you say so that I can spend the rest of my spiritual life with you in your Heaven, it’d actually be a living Hell for me.’?

    Basically, I’m with the other guys here who want to point out that if you’re giving more weight to the Old Testament than to the New Testament then you’re not really a Christian. You accept the message of love that comes with Jesus Christ, not the occasional messages of hate that come with the Old Testament.

    Also, luv, you brought up the topic of which were the ‘real’ rules of the Old Testament and which were the soft options. If God really held a strong opinion on gay men or non-specific gender children, He or She would probably have mentioned it somewhere in the Ten Commandments. Oh, and if it slipped God’s memory in the Old Testament, you kinda suspect God would have sent a memo to His/Her Son to say something about it in his 33 years on earth. But did Jesus say anything? Nope. Nada. Not a word.

    Also, if you really want to be a good mother to your children and you want to bring them up in a Christian tradition, you owe it to them and to yourself to learn the Bible – not the English translations that organised religion insist on, but the commentaries on the Aramaic and Greek versions.

    As Steve and Little Kiwi have indicated above, there’s one Hell of a lot of the Bible that doesn’t get taught in church. And the reason it doesn’t get taught in church is because most organised religions want you to feel bad about yourself. Frankly, they’re a pack of drug dealers. They peddle you the ‘high’ of God’s love along with the ‘downer’ of ‘you’re not doing it right’. You have to keep on coming back to the church for the affirmation of that ‘high’.

    Ultimately, mother-of-CJ, the question you face is a moral one and not a religious one.

    Are you going to raise your child in a morass of guilt with the constant threat of Hellfire devouring him, your husband and yourself, or are you going to raise him as a loved and supported member of your family who is as God made him? Your call, woman. I hope you make the right choice.

  • michael

    That Levetical scripture is part of the Holiness Code and not the Moral Code and there is a huge difference. The term translated to “as with” means bed every other time its used in Leveticus and there is no way any Hebrew term can mean as with, that’s not how that language works. Sodom is about attempted gang rape, Corinthians was condemning masturbation instead for homosexuality less than a hundred years ago and the reason why thumpers always start Romans off with “for this reason” is because the reason has nothing to do with orientation and everything to do with idolatry. I don’t know what’s more absurd, that God keeps f’n up by creating so many gay people or God is so sick and twisted Ye would create a homosexual, make their life a living Hell and then send them to Hell for it.

  • Little Kiwi

    there are more straight people than gay people, thus more “straight” non-biblical marriages where couples marry when neither is a virgin. why isn’t THAT the focus?

  • michael

    I have a tattoo in Hebrew which says:

    Remember music night heart meditate spirit ponder

    The Hebrew language does not contains words for stuff like “as” or “with” so in English the statement would read

    I remember the music of my night, with my heart I will meditate and my spirit will ponder.

    What’s alarming is any Jew should know this but not once have I seen any of them point this out when it comes to these clobber passages.

    The true sign morality has nothing to do with homophobia is certain people do not care about the facts and would hate gay people just the same even if God gave them His personal approval. Go yell someone who quotes u Corinthians this scripture was condemning masturbation and not homosexuality less than a hundred years ago and this tact will not even register with themselves.

  • Stupid

    I detest cheap sentiment.

  • Interesting

    Count me as confused. You seem aware enough to find this site, to write this story, but not aware enough to realize, even if you are a Christian, you don’t have to attend a church that’s anti-gender and sexual orientation differences? I am tried not to judge you here, but like others have said, you got a choice of how you raise your kid. Listening, let me say I get it on a personal level. You may be seeing these people as your community that you go to church with right now. And, in some aspects, may be they are because you do feel that comfort with having known this so long. But, its not real. Real is where you and your child can be you without being told you are going to hell. This is the part that kills me. They aren’t speaking of a difference like you like the color blue, and they like red. They are talking about fundamental issues of the worth of your son’s soul. Let me repeat that- your son’s soul. And you are still going there? I don’t get it. I don’t get you. And I don’t understand how you can put your son through this with your community. His gender differences is intrinsic. Going to the church you go to is not. Its a choice.

  • Interesting

    @Mr. Enemabag Jones: Its not glibness. At least not for me. This story feels fake. It feels like the kind of thing that yo aren’t supposed to think about on a deeper emotional level, because if you do, as I wrote above, then it brings up questions about the parent here. Why is she subject her child to a church that thinks he is going to hell, when they are now choices of churches you can attend as a Christian? This is the kind of thing I might expect of some gay person who knows nothing of faith who is trying to create the image of a sympathetic “accepting” parent, but, again, if you think about it, this story does not put her in a good light as far as being accepting.

  • iDavid

    I found your article a good read. Something I tell myself and friends when they question or struggle with the whys and wherefores of religion; Go outside to a beautiful place and sit still and imagine a world without religion, look around, notice what you see and feel. Close your eyes and get very peaceful inside letting thoughts go away and your soul fill you with peace. In the peace one finds, the answer becomes clear. A world without religion is peaceful and united. And “God” is that peacefulness and connectedness we wanted all along, and that’s all God is. There is not really a heaven or hell, judgment or condemnation, at least not on God’s side, they are just human emotional reactions with labels with perfect peace beyond the drama. Listen to John Lennon when he speaks, he got it right.

  • Kurt

    Let’s be honest here, this lady’s kid is NOT gay or even Trans.

    She just wishes that he was gay or Trans, and manipulates him into acting how she thinks a gay male should act.

  • Andy

    Silly, huh? Going through trying to reconcile faith with your real beliefs. Well, become an atheist and no more moral crises.

  • easyguy

    What good comesfrom arguing with people who resolutely refuse to not be ignorant?

  • JM

    For all you folks spouting off about the author not understanding Christianity, and providing their own account of Christianity…

    You are both right, and wrong, at the same time. Right, because that is the version of the faith you espouse, and so it is true – for you. But, you are wrong, too. Just because you believe in one interpretation of Christian doctrine, or one reading of the New Testament, does not mean that others see things the same way. And a lot of people who you would call ‘false’ Christians see things in a different light. In fact, there are more of them that there are of you (much more) enlightened individuals; even the fucking pope has condemned homosexuality (I know, he’s RC, but still influential). From their point of view, *you* aren’t real Christians. It’s all pretty relative, and I hope your god can sort out that mess of differing beliefs in your afterlife.

    To CJ’s Mom… make sure your kids learn to question everything (and that may include you, eventually!), and they will never be a slave to anyone.

  • JM

    @Kurt: I’m inclined to agree. How could a child that young have any sexual attraction to *any* sex, let alone the same as his own. And kids that young have always enjoyed breaking gender boundaries… until discouraged by authority figures.

    I think CJ’s mom is doing the right thing by raising her son in a way that does not pressure him to express gender in a particular way. However, I think she does him a disservice by publicizing the result, and claiming he might be gay/trans — which he most certainly is not, by modern definitions of the words. You need the capacity for sexual attraction to be gay, and you need to legitimately want to be physically of the opposite sex to be trans — neither of which is necessarily tied to gender performance, despite the frequency with which they are. Her kid is just a little girly, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But not gay. Not at that age.

  • BigWoody

    religion = mythology. Religions have been contrived throughout the ages to provide answers for scary phenomina (like flash floods, locust infestations, plagues, etc.). Religions have provided convenient laws to control the masses in a time before efficient governments could provide stability and safety. Many, many years from now, future humanity will look back at this time in history and look upon our current religions as we look upon the forgotten norse, druid, and shamanistic mythologies of our past. What an interesting world we may have had without Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. If only the Romans (pagans) had done what they should have and exterminated all who believed in monotheism. By the way… the bible is a collection of fictional parables written by men (not a god), translated, re-written, translated, re-written… So why consider arguing the validity of any passages from a book of fiction?

  • Crichards

    My religious background is much like yours and I struggled with the same questions about my son who is now 30. The knowledge that my son is gay in his teens was the start of a tremendous journey for me. While I now reject religion entirely, I haven’t been able to come to peace with the idea of no God. The one thing for me that is important and true from the teachings of Jesus is we are to love one another. Period. That means no judgement. or conditions. Period. No evaluation of whether someone is right or wrong. It is the acceptance of what is as what IS. Love is where every thing begins and ends in our interactions with others.

  • iDavid


    If you would like to view the new 1400 page”Bible” of the 21st century, “scribed” by one woman’s inner voice believed to be Jesus, check it out……google A Course in Miracles. It will answer your God question quite well.

  • Gerry

    Any time a group or individual looks to a book for some kind if scripted “truth” about what god wants, trouble is a brewing.

    If you want to look to the Bible in the same way that we use literature–a way to use fictional or “memoir” stories to think through and understand the human condition, including spirituality–then I have no gripe with it. But this often translated, edited book written by men provides no “laws.”

  • Interesting

    @JM: It is more accurate to say you have no idea what this kid is than to say “not gay.” You don’t know either. That’s the whole point. If the kid exists, which again I question whether he does or not given the crassness that would be involved in a parent subjecting her child to the church to which she belongs, then his straightness or gayness is not something you or anyone else knows. And as for “he’s not attracted” I think that’s a little strange. That’s coming from a society of repression and oppression. The truth is I knew I was attracted to boys when I was 7 years old. It wasn’t sexual, butit was the same attraction that comes for heterosexuals. You can look at the sexual development of kids in terms of psychology as I did later when I was trying to understand whether I was “normal” to have known so early, and I realized I was.

  • Karma

    @Scott Bonzitski:

    I also suggest the UCC (United Church of Christ). It’s a phenomenally inclusive and social-justice oriented (and, IMO, less evangelical than the MCC). My queer self and my trans partner have not only been welcomed with open arms by our local congregation (in Georgia!), but also by the conference and wider church. While I understand that church isn’t for everyone, it can be hard to be without a welcoming place to go if it’s something you want or need. I spent most of my late teens and twenties feeling abandoned by a religion that once felt like home, and it’s nice to have a place to go again. Many, many Christians love you and your family and see both of your children as unique gifts from God. I am sorry that you can’t always hear or see us over the crazies.

  • Nathan

    @JM: That’s dumb, people are born gay so it stands to reason that its possible for a kid to be gay.

  • JM

    Perhaps I should have said that, since a child of that age is unlikely to exhibit homosexual behaviour (or any sexual behaviour), then there is no way we can tell his sexual orientation. Gender performance has nothing to do with being gay, and besides, gender-play is common enough in young children. I think ‘Interesting’ raised a good point — that the boy himself may very well know who he is attracted to — however, there is no way for us to tell. In any theses articles, has CJ’s mom recalled him declaring anything overtly gay? Or just gender-indiscriminate/creative?

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