We have saved the best for last. In this recent installment of The Everyday Missionary Podcast, I sat down with my son to talk about what it’s like to come out as gay in a Christian pastor family. Our hope in this was not simply to offer a glimpse into the challenges and closeness that can emerge, but also to display how the Christian and gay community can communicate with one another in a spirit of kindness, empathy, and understanding.
How does a teenage son who is gay and his Christian pastor family begin to find their new normal after his coming out?
Had you asked me that question 6 years ago I probably would have had a tidy theological answer wrapped in a cavalier bow. Today, however, our reality forces us to navigate the messiness of maintaining our faith’s code of lifestyle while equally upholding our faith’s greatest command to love, be it your enemy, neighbor, fellow believer or yes, your 17-year-old unbelieving gay son.
In Part 3 of The Everyday Missionary Podcast, I look at our progress as parents from Gray’s resolved coming out in October of 2017 until now (also, you won’t want to miss Part 4 next week where I talk with my son – Part 3 is incomplete at many levels without Part 4). What you will notice, if you haven’t caught it already, there exists much trial and error in moving toward the high ground of mercy and breakthrough. At times in this series, I’m sure I’ve said things that make both the Christian and LGBT community wince in disagreement (especially in this episode), be it for different reasons perhaps. However, I have intentionally chosen the clumsy, unscripted and unedited format so that the raw humanity of parents and kids can be displayed, both for the good and bad. My heart throughout this is finding a new way forward where the two communities (especially within families) can learn to display neighborly love toward one another even in the midst of our core differences.
As a side note, I have sincerely appreciated the gay men who have interacted with me after hearing of this podcast, all of which opened by describing themselves as “a gay atheist.” I mention this simply to highlight there was more than one area of difference or worldview in the mix. I want to thank you publicly for your willingness to interact in the spirit of what I hope this creates; the ability to discuss, empathize and understand the “other side” while still holding to the convictions of “our side.” This embodies the spirit of true tolerance which Google Dictionary defines as, “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” You have all been gracious, kind, intelligent and open despite some deep wounds. Thank you!
Three months ago our 17-year-old son shared with us that he no longer held to our Christian faith and that he was in a relationship with a young man. However, our journey with our son and his sexuality began far earlier than a fall day back in October. In this episode of The Everyday Missionary, I have sought to retrace our steps as a family from 12-years-old until that autumn afternoon. In doing so, I seek to highlight some of the things I believe we did thoughtfully as parents in light of our faith, but also some of the things I know I handled badly. Equally, I share how there were things Gray did right in this process, but also things he handled poorly (though I share no specifics regarding Gray since that is his story to be shared in Pt. 4). My hope in this series is that our experience can act as an aid to better handling such events in life with grace, truth, awareness, compassion, seeking and granting forgiveness, and love even in our differences.