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.
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.
Three months ago our 17-year-old son Gray shared with the family that he is gay and does not hold to our Christian faith. As you can imagine, being a very close Christ-centered family (and also being a pastor), this presented all of us with a new set of realities. As parents and siblings we needed to wrestle with, “How do we honor the beliefs of our faith while also investing in our son and brother whom we deeply love?” And for our son, he needed to discover, “How do I maintain a sense of connection to a family that I deeply love while no longer sharing their faith culture?”
So far we have not solved all those realities, but by God’s grace, we are seeking to do so as a family, and directly from the context of our biblical faith. In light of this, I have dedicated the next four weeks of “The Everyday Missionary Podcast” to sharing how we are seeking to go about this. Pt. 1 will be about the big picture. Pt. 2 will traverse our life with Gray from 12-17 years old. Pt. 3 will be about life since he came out three months ago. The final episode will be an interview with Gray and myself where we discuss the challenges and realities of coming out to your Christian family while still living in the home.
I don’t presume that everyone will agree with everything we share. Nor do I believe I have managed to share everything as clearly as I would like. Yet, our heart is to share our story with others so that perhaps others can learn to better navigate these types of moments “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).