The Double Deliverance of Robert Oscar Lopez
When Robert Oscar (Bobby) Lopez was born, his parents were in the process of splitting up. While his father moved on to other wives and lovers, his mother entered into a relationship with another divorcée. His mother was a diehard radical and wholly devoted liberation-theology Catholic, and although Bobby felt perennially awkward as a Latino being raised in a lesbian home, he grew up wanting to serve God and live a holy life.
He entered Yale in 1988 and immediately set off everyone's "gaydar," partly because his primary role models had been women and partly because he'd discovered gay sex as a young teen. He had to leave for a time when his mother fell ill and died, and rather than choose a side in a will dispute between his father and his mother's partner, he drifted into New York City's gay underworld.
It was a dirty, sad, and tragic world in which to live. But despite all the setbacks and dysfunctional surroundings, he managed to graduate from Yale with a B.A. in political science and land a promising position at MTV Network in New York City. From there, he proceeded to climb the ranks, and his life was moving along quite well until a cancer diagnosis at age 27 sent things into a screeching swerve.
All of a sudden, he wasn't in control of everything. Worse, he was alone. None of his gay friends came to visit him in the hospital. None of his MTV friends came either. He thought about calling his mother's partner but, for some reason, called his father instead.
And his father came. Here I am facing possible death, he realized, and the person I most want to have with me is my dad. Even though they'd had almost no relationship up until this point, Bobby decided right then that he wanted to know what it was like to grow up with a father. Who cares if it's strange that I'm 27 and moving in with my dad? he thought. We can just think of this as a do-over. He transferred his treatment to Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, and moved in with his father.
His grandmother also lived in the home, and one day he happened upon her photo albums. He'd known that his father was of Filipino descent, but here were pictures of real people—families—from 1920s and 1930s Philippines: women in beautiful gowns; men marking special occasions, such as a youth being inducted into manhood; and ceremonies and traditions spanning multiple generations. These people represented his ancestry! Here was a significant branch of his heritage, but he had been completely severed from it.
He looked through the photo albums transfixed. If I can reestablish my relationship with my father, then why can't I become a part of all this too? he thought. Who cares about being gay? That life will never give me the fullness of life that I could get through a relationship with the opposite sex.
Soon after this encounter with his history, he met a woman, and they became friends. One thing led to another one evening, and before he knew it, he'd lost his virginity to a woman. An earthquake went off in his being. It was as if the heavens opened up as he realized, This is what we were designed for! Sex wasn't all the same. Sex with a woman was totally -different!
For one thing, he found himself emotionally invested in a relationship in a way he'd never been invested before. It was scary, not only because she was so different from him, but also because he'd grown up without any examples of men and women loving one another. He really wanted to have this woman in his life, so he went back to church and talked to a priest. Oddly, the priest expressed no concerns about the gay sex of his past, but he did advise Bobby to get married if he was going to continue having sex with this woman.
And so, just like that, they got married. The couple stayed in Buffalo for several years, and here their first child was born and Lopez earned his M.A. in Classics and Ph.D. in English and began teaching.
Until his late twenties, Lopez hadn't devoted a lot of thought to his religion. He just was Catholic. But during these years, he had a couple of intense experiences that redirected the course of his life. First, in 2001, God told him, among other things, to continue studying Greek, which he did, although he didn't understand why. Later, in 2008, God came to him again, and here is how he describes what he heard God saying: "Look, I delivered you out of that horrible life in the 1990s. And your silence about what the gay world was, and what it was like to grow up that way, is not fair to Christ. Since Christ brought you out of that, you owe it to him to be a witness. You have to testify to the glory of God and to what he did for you. You can't hide your light under a bushel." He took these words to heart.
During this season, he also reexamined the version of Christianity he'd been raised with. In the environment of his upbringing, politics and religion had been wholly fused together. This is the way it is in liberation theology, which interprets Scripture according to a Marxist bent. But as he read the Bible for himself, he saw that the Christ of Scripture was nothing like the Marxist revolutionary of liberation theology.
Also, he found himself drawn to the Baptist message of being born again. He'd never been an atheist, but he knew he'd harbored smug and self-serving attitudes, which in some ways, he thought, could be worse than being an atheist. And so in 2008, he was baptized in a Chinese Baptist church. To this day, he openly identifies himself as "born again."
In 2008, the Lopez family moved to Los Angeles, where the now-Dr. Lopez had been offered a professorship in the English department at Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN). Despite his already shrewd understanding of how degenerate people could actually be, he arrived on campus still naively believing that academic freedom was real, that professors could pursue truth without censorship, and that CSUN would protect the free exchange of ideas.
It was an election year, though, and right away he found that speaking favorably about a conservative candidate could get you removed from faculty groups and compared to Hitler, if not worse. Best to refrain from any speech or activity, on the job or off, that hinted, be it ever so slightly, at dissent from leftist politics. It might become grounds for complaint and possible sanction. So for four years he kept a low profile and trusted no one.
Then in 2012, he published "Growing Up with Two Moms," a candid essay about the difficulties of growing up in a same-sex household. He didn't argue anything about gay marriage or even gay adoption, but simply explained how his formative years had been hard. Until this point, it had been commonly assumed that the interests of gay parents and their children were inextricably linked. Whatever benefitted gay adults was automatically assumed to benefit their children. No serious consideration had been given to the possibility that the interests of children might actually be different from the interests of the gay adults who wanted and loved them. "Growing Up with Two Moms" said, well maybe they were.
This was no mere novelty added to the discussion. It was a condemnable transgression of national proportions, and the rage and targeted fury from the misnamed Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the equally misnamed Human Rights Campaign (HRC) commenced that very afternoon. He had thus far overcome the ravages of AIDS, homophobia, racism, class snobbery, bullying, and many other adversities, but "none of these difficulties," he wrote, "was quite like what happened with GLAAD."
At that point, the on-campus harassment shifted into overdrive. One attack followed another in concerted attempts to intimidate or silence him. There were anonymous threats. There was vandalism. Everyone in the department betrayed him: "Every single one—either by actively lying to my face and then putting things in my file that then came back to haunt me, or just by telling me to my face that they were on my side and then essentially siding with everyone else." Perjury, forgery, slander, bald-faced lies, veiled threats suggesting that he might as well be dead—ethical lines he thought no self-respecting professional would actually cross were indeed crossed, and with reckless abandon. But all of these attempts to silence him failed. (One of the traits he had learned from his radical lesbian mother was dogged persistence in the face of opposition.)
In 2016, he left CSUN, leaving on the table his hard-earned tenure and everything that went with it. "I could not have my relationship with Jesus Christ and this job simultaneously," he wrote in a column called "Abandoning Tenure to Save My Soul." "The choice was not that difficult." He characterizes the move as something like an escape from prison or from one of the former Communist states. "If I stayed there," he said, "I would have to live in a state of perpetual psychological warfare."
He covers the events leading up to his departure in his 2017 book, Wackos, Thugs & Perverts: Clintonian Decadence in Academia. The title, he says, fairly well encapsulates the systemic problems in leftist academia.
Today, Dr. Lopez teaches at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he found space to decompress and is now happy and flourishing. He enjoys teaching, but even more than that, he enjoys life with his wife and children.
At some point, what he really wants to do is "put on my creative cap." Years of secular liberal education have convinced him that it's important to contend for Christian values in popular culture and through the arts and letters. "I think we need novels and plays," he says, and he would like to write them.
Lopez is a thorough thinker and a colorful, no-nonsense writer. Be on the lookout for the fruit of his mind and pen. If there is to be a renaissance in Western literature, I predict Robert Oscar Lopez will have a hand in it.
Speaking of the Children
Bobby Lopez would have traded all the comforts of affluence and a Yale education for a shack and a trade school if he could have grown up with his mother and father and seen them love one another. And so, for the sake of children, he takes strong positions on gay adoption and same-sex parenting.
Lopez teaches Samuel Sewall's The Selling of Joseph to his college students. Published in 1700, it was the first fully abolitionist text written in English. "It was not racism or hard labor that the abolitionists found abhorrent," Lopez says; "it was the violation of natural bonds to family and ethnic origins." Lopez's 2015 book, Jephthah's Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family "Equality," co-edited with Rivka Edelman, devotes a full chapter to the parallels between same-sex parenting and early American slavery. Consider the following:
• Violation of birthrights: A child is born of a woman who conceived the child with the help of a man, the child's father. These are the bare-essential endowments of a child at birth, and the bonds are inalienable. The child does not belong to the parents as much as the parents belong to the child. Strip the child from one of them at birth, and you have deprived the child of his birthright.
• Deception: You can call two men a girl's two dads, but you haven't changed reality. You've contrived a pseudo-truth. She has one father and one mother somewhere.
• Abuse: Many a slavery apologist and slave-owner claimed that they loved black people more than the abolitionists did and that their slaves loved them back. Today we see conspicuous declarations of love between gay parents and their children, but stop and think about what may be going on here. Such expressions cannot be trusted because in both cases one party is subject to the other and could suffer repercussions for expressing his or her true emotions. Expectations of "love" in such arbitrary arrangements make the relationships inherently abusive.
• Human commodification: When you add assisted reproductive technologies to the mix, you complete the wholesale reduction of children into products, contracted for and acquired by purchaser-owners in what amount to commercial transactions. Carry out these practices on a massive scale, and you destroy the basis of a nation.
Gay adults can love and serve children through other means, Lopez says, but they cannot own a child as if they are bound to him by natural birthright. For his advocacy, he has become a lightning rod for every charge in the arsenal of the "ligbitists" (his term), even though nothing about him is "anti-gay."
"To the biblically trained minds of eighteenth and nineteenth century abolitionists," he writes, "slavery was not evil because it was physically difficult or racist. Slavery was evil because buying and selling people was evil." To the biblically trained minds of the twenty-first century, stripping children of their natural right to their parents is no less evil today than it was then.Terrell Clemmons is a freelance writer and blogger on apologetics and matters of faith. This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #43, Winter 2017 Copyright © 2019 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo43/arts-letters-amp-a-warriors-pen