My father has only been in my life again the past year or so. He had legal troubles, fled the police for two years, and just recently was freed from prison. He was out of my life since I was about 12. He comes from an extremely conservative family. He is not a bad man. He simply has his troubles.
I called him yesterday to wish him a happy father’s day, and after a few minutes he began to beg me to “change your ways,” and to marry a wife and have children. I told him that my sister is having plenty of children. But that isn’t good enough for him because she doesn’t bear his effing last name.
I was as kind and understanding toward him as I could be. I know that he has an extremely different worldview than I do, influenced as he is by his family’s extremely conservative Pentecostal assumptions. I explained to him that there is no changing my gay nature. God never did it. Nothing ever changed it. And the one time I did pray about the matter at 15 I didn’t receive the sort of response that would be acceptable to anyone who doesn’t accept gay people as they are and as they love.
I am inclined toward the single life even as a gay person. I do not date, and I do not have sex at this time in my life. I might like to given the right opportunities, but the last several years that has not been right for me. And I do not want children adopted or otherwise. I have to take care of myself and my mental health. I do not want to be responsible for children. I am delighted by my one year old nephew and newborn niece, and that is enough for me.
I create in my own way. I create prayers and rituals. I at least try to inspire others to grow spiritually and in healing when they reach out to me for that. I flourish in my spiritual life. I reach out to the wounded people in my mother’s family to somehow inspire their own flourishing. All of this is for me a very fruitful way to live, and I don’t need children to complete me or anyone else.
I am appalled that my father cannot feel fulfilled by his own grandchildren simply because they don’t bear his name. Then he began to beg me to do this for him. Sorry, I’m not in the business of creating children for other people. This is my life.
I am sure I will have to revisit this topic with him again, and I hope I can find the right words to convey to him my own values and worldview, but I don’t know if it will ever get through to him. How does one communicate well one’s views to someone whose religious and educational background is so different from the place one currently inhabits? I will of course try to be understanding of where he is coming from and exercise empathy, but it may be the time to give him a right telling off if he doesn’t back off.
Although I have drifted from Christianity somewhat over the last year or so, I have mostly been involved in Catholicism and high church Anglicanism rather than Pentecostalism, and among the Catholic and high Anglican cultures we have a place for the unmarried. Although less common than in Catholicism, there are Anglican priests who personally choose not to marry, including the high church Anglican priest I currently have, and there is a monastic life in the Episcopal Church. My priest has never married, and he is mature in years.
Though my Anglican clergy have encouraged me to explore taking religious vows in a monastic setting, I have also decided that this is not my calling, though I do live a life of mostly solitary prayer. I have much of the structure in my personal life that a monastic would, but I do this in the context of my own life in the world, and when I do interact with others in the context of my personal religious life, it is usually those who have fallen through the cracks and have no other source of spiritual nourishment.
I have found the single life congenial to these practices, and in my Anglican context I have found support for this way of life. I am not inhibited by the needs of a family. When someone calls me needing my prayers or a ritual, as long as I’m not at work, I’ve been able to drop everything and go to that person. I have seen the healing effect this has had on them. Having become accustomed to this sort of culture that has alternatives to marriage in the spiritual life, I am baffled by this sudden pressure to marry a woman and pro-create. I have never ever encountered anything like this in the high Anglican culture I have been immersed in which has now been my culture for almost half my life.
Have you ever dealt with similar pressures? I suppose I have become so immersed in my own little world and niches that this is a totally unexpected and bizarre pressure to have placed on me now.
When I ponder being the misfit that I am in my broader society here in the Bible belt and within my family I always take comfort in this passage from Isaiah:
“Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” (Isaiah 56:3-8 KJV)
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