For most of my adult life I have been involved in charismatic Christian churches and was a pastor for many years. We brought our five children up to follow the Scriptures and it never occurred to us that one might be gay. One day, however, I felt a strong inner conviction that one of my sons was gay. This caused great inner turmoil and I didn’t say anything about it to anyone for a long time but it led me to begin to quietly research what homosexuality is and what the Bible actually teaches about it.
My understanding at the time had been that homosexuality was a perversion brought about by wrong family relationships like a remote uncaring father figure and an oppressive, dominant mother figure. Although this didn’t really describe our family, I knew there had been too many times when I had been off “looking after the flock” rather than with my family. So I was going through a personal hell, battling a sense of guilt as well as shame. Next I went through a period of mourning. I would like to say this was an unselfish mourning for our son and the difficulties he was going through but the truth is it was mostly selfish. How was I going to tell my wife, family and friends? What would the church think and what would become of my ministry?
It seemed to me that there were three fundamental barriers to understanding the truth.
1. The thought that surely the church can’t all be wrong on this issue.
2. The conviction that it is unnatural to have samesex attraction.
3. Anyway, the Bible clearly condemns it.
Number 1 barrier was easy. The “church” has rarely all agreed on anything. In fact, the “church” has invariably got it badly wrong from the days of the Apostles when they thought slavery was okay, even to today when most denominations still don’t treat women as equals to men.
Number 2 barrier was easily enough to hurdle intellectually but more difficult emotionally. It didn’t take much study to discover that homosexuality occurs naturally throughout the animal kingdom. For some people, attraction to the opposite sex is natural for them. The difficult part was that, for me, homosexual sex seemed disturbingly unpleasant. But then I remembered when my older sister had told me about the “birds and the bees” when I was quite young and how revolted I had felt about what she had described at the time.
Number 3 barrier came as a bombshell when I understood that so many of us charismatics had been fundamentally interpreting the Scriptures wrongly, and the way we understood it to teach against homosexuality was just symptomatic.
The Bible is written to point us towards faith in Jesus. There are a lot of things taught in the Bible that we know would be wrong for us to adopt today such as polytheism, owning slaves, the death penalty for breaking religious laws, oppressing women, ethnic cleansing and genocide as well as persecution of gays. We need to interpret the Old and the New Testaments in the light of God’s law of love. Actually, the biblical writers had no concept of a loving, faithful, stable gay relationship between two men or two women and so they never addressed the matter.
When my son did eventually come to me to tell me he was gay, by God’s grace I had come through most of my negative emotions and was able to hug him and tell him that I loved him and that I was fully supportive of him. It wasn’t plain sailing after that though. I told his Mum first and she cried for a long time. His brothers and sisters had serious problems with it and to some degree still do although we all try to be loving towards each other.
I resigned from pastoring the AOG church so that I could speak freely about this and other issues. My wife and I joined FFLAG and it is a real joy to be able help, even in a small way, parents who are going through the same traumas that we went through. Being a part of FFLAG has been enormously encouraging to us because we have met so many caring people who have wisdom and compassion that has been borne out of pain.