Ever since my sister Janice graduated from Harvard Business School and landed a job on Wall Street last year, she’s been on my case about bringing the family out to New York for a visit. Over the kids’ Christmas break, we finally got the opportunity, so we loaded into the minivan and the Hoard Clan was on its way to the Big City.
If only I had known what was going to happen there, we never would have gone. I’ve always considered New York a center of licentiousness and depravity, but my hope was that the Christmas spirit would cancel that out. It may seem strange to be talking about this in February, but the events I’m about to recall have been so traumatic that it’s taken me two months to work up the strength to write about them.
It was Dec. 29, 2004, my youngest son Jack’s sixth birthday. (He was born two months premature, so we call him the Christmas Miracle.) We wanted to do something special for Jack, and it just happened that there was a Sesame Street on Ice performance at Madison Square Garden.
It was unseasonably warm, so we thought it would be fun to walk part of the way from my sister’s place in downtown Manhattan. We walked north on Seventh Avenue, and the kids were having the time of their life. But then we entered the Chelsea District, and my heart sank as I looked around. In nearly every window of every shop and apartment building — literally every way I turned — there was a rainbow flag hanging. My wife and I looked at each other, just praying the kids would not ask about them.
No sooner than that, Jack was tugging on my sleeve. “Daddy,” he asked. “How come those two men are holding hands?” I looked up and saw what he was pointing at. Two twenty-something males were walking toward us, hand-in-hand. I was at a loss for words. We hurried the kids into a taxi and rode the rest of the way in silence. I was 23 years old before I saw my first homosexual, and here was my youngest son, already confronted with two of them at the age of six.
After the Sesame Street on Ice performance, we went back to my sister’s apartment. I sat Jack on the couch and knelt down in front of him. I’ve always felt it’s best to be honest with my children, so I laid it all out for him. I told him what homosexuality is, and that it is an abomination in the eyes of God. I told him about how homosexuality started in the summer of 1967, when the hippies decided to challenge the natural order that God established at the beginning of time. I told him that the two men he saw holding hands were sinners. I even told him about how the liberals were trying to force the homosexual agenda on America and redefine marriage, one of the most sacred institutions God ever devised.
Jack sat there silently for a few minutes, and then tears formed in his eyes. As they rolled down his cheeks, he looked up at me and said, “Daddy, are those two men going to hell?” I nodded. “Should I pray for them?” he asked.
The question caught me so completely off guard that I began to cry myself. I hugged my son tightly and told him, “Yes, Jack. Pray as hard as you can.” I had never been so proud of one of my children.
It’s funny how you try so hard to teach your children the right thing to do, and sometimes they’re the ones who end up teaching you. I realized that my heart had hardened on the homosexuals. We shouldn’t scorn them or try to cast them out of society. We should pray for them. Only with God’s help can they learn the error of their ways and get their lives back on track.
And so I hope and pray that we as a nation can find the strength to help those who are suffering from homosexuality. In these uncertain times, we need to look to the Bible and follow Jesus’s example. I am reminded of how Jesus did not shun those who were stricken with disease and poverty. Jesus loved even the most reviled of his people. Instead of turning his back on the lepers, He lived among them. He prayed for them and healed them. And now, over 2,000 years later, I pray that we as a nation can do the same for the homosexuals.
Hoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.