Editor's Note: The Banner reviews books/items from various perspectives, including controversial ones, to foster conversations and does not necessarily endorse any of those views. The CRCNA's official position on homosexuality can be found here.
When Christian singer Staci Frenes was coming of age in conservative evangelical circles during the rise of AIDS in the 80s, overtly gay people in her life were about as common as “time travelers.” She never could have dreamed that someday, as a teenager, her own precious daughter would come out to her.
In this tender and raw book, Frenes gives the reader a peek into her journey from shock and fear to acceptance and a reimagined future for her child. “Having a gay daughter fit absolutely nowhere in my framework of family, career or faith,” she said. When Abby, her daughter, tearfully blurted out that she was gay in the car one day, Frenes responded in love, hugging her daughter and assuring her that they would get through this together. But inside she was anything but sure that everything would be okay.
Frenes was launched on a road fraught with pitfalls, fear, and confusion. What kind of life would her daughter have now? Would she marry? Have children? The dreams Frenes had for Abby seemed to die along with her revelation. Some of Frenes’s work and church relationships were altered or broken when news got out. A frequent church client who would book her for banquets uninvited her from singing at their church event. Why? Frenes had blogged about accepting her daughter as she was, saying nothing of her theological views on the subject. The very fact that she accepted her daughter was enough for her to be labeled “divisive.” Others were quick with a lecture or judgment. Yet some relationships grew closer as friends sought to support her and her husband and try to understand the complexities and ambiguities of their circumstances.
Frenes worried about Abby’s spiritual condition. What were the theological implications of Abby’s orientation and desire to be in a same-sex relationship? Deeply rooted in evangelical Christian culture, Frenes was “so tangled with conflicting feelings, opinions and convictions.” She eventually had to throw out many of her former iron-clad beliefs and assumptions and study the Bible for herself to come to her own conclusions about what it said about homosexuality.
“How did Abby’s sexual orientation—if that’s what it truly was and not a phase like I’d first assumed—fit with my belief that she was made in the image of God? I was beginning to trust that God knew and loved her on a level I couldn’t yet understand, and it gave me an indescribable sense of relief and comfort,” she writes.
Frenes wisely leaves her theological conclusions to the end of the book, allowing readers to immerse themselves in her messy, loving, vulnerable story. This book is a gift for any Christian with a loved one who identifies as LGBTQ+ or is questioning their sexuality. Whether or not they agree totally with Frenes’s theological conclusions, they will feel seen, heard, and understood, maybe for the first time. And they may agree that love does make room, just as it did for Frenes and her family. “I wanted to believe, even if I didn’t see it yet, that a future existed for Abby,” she writes. “One filled with light and goodness, not overshadowed by my dark fears. And I wanted to believe God would be in that future with her, whatever it would look like.” (Broadleaf)