Inspired Events: How A Negative Sunday School Experience Becomes a Beautiful Mormon Experience

By Kathryn Hueth (a proud mama dragon)

The Sunday prior to Christmas 2013 will be forever remembered because of an experience we had at church.  After returning home, having had time to calm down and share feelings with my family, I felt prompted to post the following on my Facebook page.

I have been looking forward to today so much not just because of it being Christmas Sunday, but because it would be the first time in a very long time that I would have my whole family together in church. My heart was full as I watched my adult son and daughter drawing on each other’s backs during Sacrament Meeting. Memories came flooding back of the 19 years our family has spent worshiping and participating in activities in that building. I persuaded my son to stay for Sunday School because I wanted our time together to continue in that environment. He made a funny comment that the lesson better not be about the recent change in legislation regarding same-sex marriage. I assured him it would not – it would be on Christ’s life and teachings with it being Christmas Sunday.

I could not have been more wrong. I am not going to elaborate on the teacher’s comments or those of a couple of class members but suffice it to say my gay son turned to me and said he could not endure listening to any more and politely excused himself. I then noticed my daughter in tears sitting on his other side. I turned to my husband and we all stood and left. We found our son walking home in the cold. This sort of occurrence is unfortunately happening in thousands of church buildings around the world – families striving to live the Gospel to the best of their abilities while supporting and loving gay family members, sit silently dying inside as their beloved family members are disparaged by other’s comments. No one should leave a church meeting where we profess to be learning about Christ’s teachings in an effort to more fully follow him, feeling less loved or valued because they are different in ANY way. May we all remember what is at the core of Christ’s teachings – LOVE.    (End of post)

As we exited the classroom, a few of our ward members standing in the hall asked what was wrong, and through a veil of tears, I announced that Kyle was gay!  I explained that we had left because of the offensive comments that were made, and by the way, Kyle is more Christlike than half the people sitting in that class!  This was exhibited when at home, he said he was not angry and knew their comments were made out of ignorance and fear, and didn’t want us to be angry at anyone either.   He is an amazing, generous and loving person and I am so proud to be his mother!  I am not sure what transpired after we left the building or how the word got around, but it certainly did!  Within a few minutes of the block of meetings ending, we had several ward members on our doorstep, and others calling and texting to express their disgust at what had occurred and to express their love and support for Kyle and our family. We also received a heartfelt apology from the teacher and came to know and love him more because of some things he shared with us. My Facebook post received an outpouring of support, shared stories of similar experiences, and most importantly, an awakening of people’s awareness to this situation that is so prevalent throughout the church.  Here are just a few of the comments shared –

*  I would say that some very valuable lessons have been taught and learned through you and your families beautiful words. May this be a reminder to ALL of us to remember Christ’s teachings of love and acceptance of EVERYONE And especially this Christmas season as we celebrate His birth! Loves and a very Merry Christmas to you and your cute family! Xoxoxoxoxo

*    Some of the best sermons are never preached from a pulpit. Thanks!

*   Wow Kathryn, I REALLY can’t agree more with what you said here. You are amazing and so is your family. I especially like the end of your post – the last sentence beginning with ‘No one should leave a church meeting where we profess to be learning about Christ’s teachings in an effort to more fully follow him, feeling less loved or valued because they are different in ANY way…” You are ‘spot on’! Hugs to you my friend!

*   Ohhh Kathryn… I am sooo sorry! There is NO pain that hurts more, mental or physical, as the pain a mother feels when one of her children are hurting! Please try to look past this experience and know Kyle is loved by so many, most importantly our Heavenly Father and Mother. My love to you and your family. Xoxox

*   Kathryn, I very much appreciate your comments. I commend you as you likely had to exercise great strength in taking the high road as you expressed your feelings. I too struggle when it comes to casting judgement on people for not thinking or acting like I think they should. I think how much heartache I could have avoided if I would have had more respect for another’s difference.  I welcome the day when a couragous LDS gay couple shows up to church with their adopted children because they want them to someday be baptized, receive the priesthood and get sealed in a temple. This is not at all inconceivable. Collectively this could help us to exercise greater sensitivity as we speak and act inside and outside of church. I thank you, Mark, Kyle and Megan for your grace in sharing this experience and reminding us of what the Babe of Bethlehem represented. Merry Christmas!

The story continued when on Christmas morning, our doorbell rang and one of the ward members who had made some of the offensive comments in class was standing there and expressed a very real need to talk with all of us. After expressing regret at his choice of words while expressing some opinions in class, he showed us a framed picture of two women with two small children. One of the women in the picture was his gay daughter. The silence in the room was deafening. I was so stunned I didn’t know how to respond. He explained that he had never really known how to deal with this in his family and had called her for the first time in a very long time and had a wonderful talk.

This experience indelibly imprinted on my heart the importance of being honest with one another concerning our circumstances in this journey we call life on earth.  We all have burdens, pains and challenges and we need not attempt to navigate through this difficult path alone.   Ignorance, intolerance and fear will always be part of this life, but should most certainly not be a part of a church professing to contain the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’m afraid that His teachings are often lost amidst the misguided self-righteous interpretations of man.   Because we know how fully and unconditionally our Father in Heaven loves ALL of His children, are we not then required to do the same?  After all is said and done, I truly believe that man will be judged most on how their love or lack of love impacted other’s ability to grow, develop and reach their divine potential.

I am so very grateful to have been given the unique opportunity to be a mother to a gay child. It has provided me with the opportunity to push through walls in my heart and mind and develop a depth of love and empathy of which I did not realize I was capable, and now have such a profound desire to share with the hope that others with gay family members will come to this same realization that they are in a unique and truly blessed situation through which they too can learn to love in a way far beyond what they thought possible, thereby forever impacting lives, even saving lives, as a result!

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