You may have tried to use the link to Converge Magazine. No, I did not jack up the link; my article is no longer there. I received word a few hours ago from the publisher at Converge…my article has been pulled. What I had to say was not consistent with the magazine’s brand of theology. Am I disappointed? Yes. Angry? Not anymore, because you know what? It’s okay. We do not have to be in the same place about homosexuality. God is bigger than our theological positions. I really am at peace with it because the message of my article has value whether it’s published or not. I am thankful for the opportunity, however brief, to have shared my story.
My dad is gay.
For a long time, I resented him for it. I even thought I hated him for it. Supporting my father in the ambiguity of being a gay Christian — a gay Christian in church leadership no less — meant walking through a milieu of rejection and bias. We bore attacks from those outside the church and from those within. Family and church relationships dissolved. We fought our inner selves more than we fought our family, and we fought everyone else more than we fought ourselves. We even fought God.
When I was five, my parents divorced. When I asked my mom why, she said it was because my dad and some guy named Jeff liked to be together the way married men and women like to be together. At church, I learned that people like my dad and Jeff go to hell — an actual place, somewhere the direction of down, full of fire, brimming with infinite pain. He could not be the worship minister anymore; the eternally damned cannot lead the eternally saved. The idea of my dad ending up in hell scared me. It made me not want to go to heaven.
Later, my resentment toward my dad and Jeff grew. It wasn’t about being gay or straight. I felt as though my dad had abandoned me and had taken up residence with a stranger. In my grief, I decided I would abandon him too. I disregarded him as my father and shoved God in his place.
But I could not fully abandon him. As scared and as angry as I was, he was still my dad. His love for a man did not diminish his love for God, and I found it did not diminish his love for me either.
I spent most of my life sorting through the confusion of Christian rhetoric and my own emotions while witnessing the living evidence of God in the lives of my dad and Jeff. The idea of God sending men like them to hell did not match who I knew God to be. And refusing to love them did not match the person I knew God wanted me to be.
During my junior year in college, Jeff coded. His heart stopped. He was diabetic and his kidneys were failing. He was, thankfully, revived. Almost losing him made me realize I had grown to love Jeff — as a man and as the man my father loved. In that moment, I saw more than gay men, fathers, or any other label. They were fearfully and wonderfully made. They were men God loved. And for the first time, my whole being acknowledged they were men I loved, wholly and completely.
But my family was still broken. What peace had been made was soon ripped to pieces when my mom married the Senior Pastor, the same pastor who had married my parents. During that year we experienced a nearly fatal church split. I felt abandoned all over again. I was devastated, drowning, trying to gulp air I desperately needed but could not find. I retreated into my relationship with my dad and Jeff and found healing there. Through a series of events I can’t explain, relationships that had once been a source of injury became a source of healing for everyone else too.
The death of a friend brought us together — my family, past church members, current members. My dad played the piano for the memorial service. As his fingers touched the keys, we were enveloped in God’s presence. I felt Love physically there: in the sound, in the room, in the seat next to me, comforting and begging to be recognized. When my dad finished playing, my step-dad rose to preach a message about love, about how everything but love is meaningless in the face of eternity. He preached the words my heart had been crying. I had been yearning for love, for wholeness, and for a family who really loved each other. And I was not alone. When I looked over at my dad, I saw tears trailing down his cheeks.
After the message, two of my dads embraced and, with tears in their eyes, shared how the other’s God-given gift had stirred each man’s spirit. When I came home later I saw a sight I had never seen. All four of my parents were sitting in the living room without tension, without pretense. Instead, there was laughter and love. I stood there in hesitant joy and bewilderment. No longer was I trying to reassemble my fragmented, fallen apart family or play the peacemaker. God had invaded our fragmentation and created something new and beautiful. God — in His omnipotence and mystery — took a family of wounded people and, in His redemption, breathed newness and life.