I was in my bedroom when I heard my wife burst out in sobs downstairs! I thought one of the dogs had died suddenly or something equally shocking. I rushed downstairs to see what was going on, and Kim handed me a letter. It was from our son! He had left it on the kitchen table as he left for work early that morning.
The letter was heartbreaking as our son explained that he was gay and that he had taken over a year to find a way to tell us. Even so, he had decided to tell us via a letter as he did not think he could tell us face-to-face in fear of our reaction. He had packed a bag with spare clothes, and taken his cash intending to find a place to stay in case we did not allow him back home!
I was devastated, firstly over the shock of his news, but also that he feared our reaction so much that he was prepared to leave. I recounted the times I had made thoughtless comments about gay people and how much it must have hurt him; and the times when girls had flirted with him and I told him he must be blind or gay not to respond to them. I also remembered the trauma of a couple who were deeply hurt by some comments in our church about homosexuality. As pastor of the church I felt it was my responsibility to right the wrongs of those comments. I visited them to comfort them and to also affirm that their son would be welcome in our church no matter what, and they should not feel ashamed or disqualified from an active involvement in church life because of it! I didn’t know then that these words would resonate some five years later.
After an hour of my wife and I consoling each other, I sent a text message to my son saying “You are our son. We love you. Come home!”
That evening was to be an emotionally difficult one when our son was to return home. My wife and I wanted to him to know that we still loved him no matter what, just as God loves us no matter what! We asked him to have patience with us as we come to terms with it as he had over a year to do so, and this was very new to us. We also needed to consider what effect this would have in our church life and how we would be treated when the news broke out. I had heard of some parents’ experiences where they were given a damning judgement by church leaders and made out to be bad parents for allowing their child to behave in this way. Through the power of prayer both my wife and I have found a boldness to share about our son and have found a number of parents who are going through the same things, sometimes, in secret from the church fellowship.
I have been disappointed to learn that some church leaders deal with the whole “gay” issue with no grace or compassion, and totally contrary to the teachings of the Holy Bible. Instead of providing love and support to them, at best there is a deathly silence and at worst, judgment and condemnation. This is not the way Jesus showed taught us. He demonstrated love to the marginalised, and inclusivity of all because his grace is available to all. There are parents who are in real need of the comfort from the church and wise counsel of its leaders.
We have had some difficult times as we came to terms with different aspects of our son’s sexuality and the impact on our dreams and aspirations for him. I can honestly say that the only time I have seen him happier was when he gave his life to Jesus almost ten years ago. He has now moved in with his partner and out of the family home, not through any pressure from us, but from a desire to share his life with this love.
He and his partner are welcomed in our home regularly for visits and meals and we continue to share our love and faith with them both. We don’t condone their lifestyle, but we don’t judge them either. I can think of many things in my life that have not been what God would have wanted and the words of Jesus ring true today “Let him without sin cast the first stone!” Our son and his partner respect us and our views, and have not done anything in our presence to cause us upset or embarrassment. We continue to pray for my son and his partner every day that they would come to know the love of God so much more in their lives, and that they would one day find a church where they would be accepted for who they are, and be able to worship and serve his Lord!