(This is the 14th dialogue in this series. It’s an edited and reconstructed version of the actual talk, but it accurately represents the essence of what was said. This is done with his permission, provided all personal references are omitted. I pick it up as usual after the opening chit-chat.)
Me: Hey! Good to hear from you. I’ve been wondering how things are going.
Him: Well, it’s been interesting.
Me: So tell me.
Him: Last time we talked I told you about the meeting my dad had with the deacons of the church.
Me: Yes, and things seemed to go pretty well in the meeting.
Him: Yes, they did. And last week there was a meeting with all the members to tell them about my dad’s change in perspective on same-sex attraction. The deacons were there to support him and give a show of unity in the leadership of the church.
Me: So how’d it go?
Him: Well, at first I was really nervous about what the people were thinking. The air seemed a bit tense when my dad started to talk. And there were some people who looked really angry. But as the meeting progressed, the atmosphere felt more and more relaxed as my dad presented his views. He really did a good job with it.
Me: So what did he say?
Him: Oh, I can’t remember everything exactly now, but the main argument was well laid out. He started by explaining the change that had taken place in his thinking from reading those books you gave me. He also confessed that he had been wrong in his attitude and initial unwillingness to listen to me. That made me cry. And then he started to explain what he was and was not saying.
Me: That’s a wise course of action. Tell me about that.
Him: He started out by saying that he had not changed his views on what the Bible says about homosexuality. That isn’t the issue. We all agree that homosexual activity is wrong and contrary to God’s purpose in creation. He also told them that homosexual lust is wrong, as well as fantasizing about it in our minds. The question that was being discussed that night was not about that.
Me: Good approach. It’s always good to make clear what you’re not saying.
Him: And then he got to what we were meeting about, and how his thinking had changed. To summarize it, he said we need to be careful to distinguish between a sinful disposition and sinful activity or lifestyle. A person who experiences homosexual attraction is not at all the same as a person who indulges in homosexual activity. And here he pretty much used your blog post on the gay existential self-awareness and talked about constitutional sin, about choice vs experience, about expectations of change, and about causes of homosexuality. It was really very well done.
Me: That’s amazing, considering where he was on this issue. So how was it all received.
Him: For the most part, pretty well. There were a lot of questions and quite a bit of discussion. I was asked to give my thoughts several times, and I was glad to be able to do it. That was really the first time I had ever spoken so openly about myself in front of so many people. Some of them are still thinking about it all, but that’s to be expected.
Me: Yes, you have to give people time when dealing with new perspectives. And some of them may not ever come to exactly the place you are or your dad is. But they can still accept you as a brother in Christ, and you them, even where there is not complete agreement.
Him: Whatever happens, it’s just so liberating to finally get it all out and have it dealt with. After the meeting was over, many of the people came up to me and hugged me and told me I had their support and prayers. I cried several times just from the relief.
Me: What happened in your church is highly unusual. This is not something most churches want to be all that open about and would rather keep it locked in the closet. I don’t think that does anyone any good, especially when this is going to be more and more of an issue now that it’s easier to talk about it. Guys who kept this hidden will now feel freer to open up about something that once was unmentionable.
Him: Yeah, you’re probably right about that.
Me: Oh, I think I am. It’s close to home.
Him: Well, I need to get to class. I just wanted you to know what happened.
Me: Glad you did. I’ve been wondering. And feel free to talk anytime you need to.
Him: You’ve helped me more than you know. Thanks for everything.
Me: My pleasure. And have a good year in college.
Him: It’ll be better than last year. Bye.