John Pavlovitz was ready to talk about the blog post heard ’round the world, but first he had to feed his kids.
Pavlovitz is the North Carolina pastor who recently wrote a humble, gorgeous post that was picked up by CNN, read by more than 2 million people, shared a few thousand times on Facebook and translated into several languages. His kids are his 9- and 4-year-old inspirations.
The post, “If I have gay children: Four promises from a Christian pastor/parent,” is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. I wrote Pavlovitz to tell him so and asked if we could talk. He agreed to call, as soon as he fed his son and daughter.
In other words, his life hasn’t changed much, post-international fame. Other people’s lives, though? He’s changed a lot of those.
“I can’t even answer the thousands of emails right now,” Pavlovitz told me. “In this one post I’ve reached more people than I have in 18 years of ministry. A lot of healing is potentially going to take place because of this one, simple post.”
Here are some excerpts.
“If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. My children won’t be our family’s best-kept secret. … Childhood is difficult enough. … I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.”
“If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them. I won’t pray for them to be made ‘normal.’ I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal. I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are.”
“If I have gay children, I’ll love them. I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, openhearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school-cafeteria kind of love.”
“I won’t love them despite their sexuality, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them simply because they’re sweet and funny and caring and smart and kind and stubborn and flawed and original and beautiful and mine.”
Pavlovitz, raised Catholic in upstate New York, attended college at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, where he made friends with people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. “That’s when I first started to realize, ‘These are human beings, not just some reasons to quote Scripture,’ ” he told me. “That opened my eyes to seeing homosexuality not as an issue but as a human story.”
He knew his blog post would be read by people who didn’t share that perspective.
“That was the idea,” he said. “To humanize people who are treated like they’re a principle, not a person.”
He’s been written off as a heretic and unfriended on Facebook.
People tell him they’re praying for God to save his hell-bound soul. He saw that coming.
“This isn’t about you,” he wrote to the naysayers in his original post. “This is a whole lot bigger than you.
“You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months. You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born. You’re not the one I bathed and fed and rocked to sleep through 100 intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.
“You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches. You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
“You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.”
The thing I adore most about his column is the very real possibility that a few (or a few thousand?) more parents feel inspired to practice Pavlovitz’s extravagant, openhearted, unapologetic, lavish kind of love with their own kids, gay or straight.