(This is the 1st in a series of dialogues that began with discussions about gay marriage and have now proceeded to this talk with a pastor’s ‘gay’ son. This is a greatly edited and reconstructed version of the actual talk, but it accurately represents the essence of what we discussed. This is done with his permission, provided all personal references are omitted. I contacted him by phone and pick it up after the introductory chit-chat.)
Me: So what would you like to talk to me about?
Him: Oh, where do I start? I have so many questions.
Me: Well, maybe you could start by telling me about yourself. I only know the little I’ve been told by _____, and I’d like to hear your take on it all.
Him: What do you know?
Me: Not that much, just that you went away to college and came back home to announce to your family that you were gay. Then your dad pretty much told you to leave the home and told your church about you and pretty much excommunicated you from it. I know a few other things, but that’s about the gist of it.
Him: Well, I didn’t exactly come home from college and announce I was gay. I came home and told my family that I have been attracted to guys for as long as I can remember. I had run into some gay Christians in college and talking to them made me think about myself and what I had been hiding all my life. I felt like I couldn’t go on pretending I was something I wasn’t and wanted my family to know what I was going through. I was just trying to be open and honest, but my father blew up and thought I was coming out as gay. But that’s not exactly what I was doing. I was just trying to be open so I could get some understanding and support in my struggles.
Me: So you didn’t come home and announce to your family that you are gay? You came home to tell them that you are and always have been attracted to the same sex?
Him: Yes, that’s exactly it. But that’s not what they heard. All they heard was ‘same-sex attraction’ and thought I was coming out as gay or something. But I wasn’t. I was confused about my feelings and what I really was and how it all fit in with being a Christian.
Me: So you confess that you are a believer?
Him: Absolutely. I believe I was saved when I was about 12 and have always lived like a Christian. But I always knew I had these gay feelings. I never had any real attraction to girls and I knew it was wrong according to the Bible. But I didn’t know how to deal with it and never told anyone about it. But as the teen years progressed, it got more intense. Then I met those gay Christians and decided I needed to do something about it. I thought telling my family was a good place to start, especially since we always had pretty good communication. My dad’s reaction completely took me by surprise.
Me: And how about the reaction of your church? How did that make you feel?
Him: I was hurt by the rejection I felt from some I didn’t expect. But I was also thankful for the many who didn’t reject me, but were loving and supportive. At first I felt completely ostracized because of my father’s actions. But many of the people refused to go along with his edict and talked to me anyway.
Me: So how do you describe yourself right now? If I asked you to answer the question ‘Who am I?’, what would you say?
Him: Well, I’m a 20 year old college student who is a computer nerd that likes to play baseball and the piano and who is sexually attracted to other guys and who, above everything else, is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. How’s that for starters?
Me: That’s good. But let me make sure I get where you’re coming from. Are you saying you are a gay Christian, or are you saying that you are a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction?
Him: Hmmm. It really makes a difference how you answer that, doesn’t it?
Me: Oh, yes. And I’m glad that you seem to get the difference.
Him: It helps tremendously! I didn’t feel comfortable with the gay Christians identifying themselves like they did, like it was OK to be gay or something. I don’t think it’s OK in God’s sight, but yet it’s a real part of who I am. I think it’s wrong and sinful to have gay sex, or any sex without being married. But why do I have these desires? And they won’t stop no matter how hard I pray about it.
Me: Well, my friend, welcome to the world of same-sex attracted Christians.
Him: I can’t say it’s a world I welcome, but it already helps me a whole lot knowing there is a world out there that understands me. (Here he starts to cry.) Sorry about that.
Me: Nothing to be sorry about. It’s always a great relief when we find out there are others out there just like us. That there are others out there who understand and empathize. We don’t feel so alone in the world. I’ve cried a lot because of it in my lifetime. But I have to break off this talk because I have only a couple of minutes left before I have to get back to work. But I would be happy to talk some more another day.
Him: Oh, please do! I feel rest in my spirit for the first time in a long time from just this short talk. I need this more than I realized.
Me: We usually do. So when’s the best time to talk? You can call me here or at my home in the evening.
Him: I’m usually freer earlier in the day. Afternoons are really busy with class and now baseball practice. And I usually study in the evenings.
Me: OK. I’m free at noon each day. Between 6 and 8 at night is usually OK. Or weekends if we plan ahead. Just let me know.
Him: Funny. You’re just a voice on a phone, but I feel like, I don’t know, like you’re a friend.
Me: Well, I’m someone who gets it. And that’s liberating for you. Glad I can help a little.
Him: I will be getting in touch again. And soon. Thanks.