I remember where I was standing the first time I talked to the dad who wrote this week’s post. I loved his heart then, and I love it even more today. Two things were clear to me – he loved God, and he loved his son.
In the summer of 2012, the eldest of our three adult children came to us and told us he thought he was gay.
Back then my initial reactions were:
I can’t believe it! I didn’t want to believe it! I was in denial. Coming from a relatively conservative Asian background, I was raised to believe that men aren’t like that, or shouldn’t be like that. I felt disappointment, frustration, confusion.
I told my son; “You’re confused,” “You’re deceived,” “You just haven’t met the right girl yet,” “You need to date girls,” and that “God does not make mistakes. He made you to be a man.” I even tried to “pray the gay away.”
I questioned whether I should blame God. Did He make my son like this? If so, why? For what purpose?
I questioned whether or not to blame Satan or some other evil spirit for deceiving my son, getting him off track for the purpose that God had for him.
I also started blaming myself. My desire to do well as a middle school/high school teacher and coach had caused an imbalance of my time and attention to my wife and children. I was a Dad who was M.I.A. (Missing In Action). Oh, the guilt and shame I carried of my perception of failing as a faithful Christian man, husband, and father! All the “Wisha,” “Coulda”, “Shoulda’s” started pelting my mind like a bad hail storm.
This certainly was not the journey I would have chosen for my son; nor for my wife and two other children. However, from the very beginning of this journey, my wife and I told him, “You are our son. We love you and that will NEVER change. We will be with you throughout this journey. You are NOT alone in this. We don’t understand this all, but know that we love you and are proud to be your parents.”
I also thought about our family legacy. What if my son does decide to date another man, then marry his partner? What if they decide to adopt a child or two? Not exactly how I had thought of being a father-in-law, or even a grandfather. What kind of legacy will I be leaving for my children, their children, and future generations of descendants? What I do or don’t do, how I live or don’t live, how I love or don’t love…. All have spiritual ramifications and eternal consequences.
From 2012 to 2014 my wife and I were in what we have called “The 2nd Closet”; that place where parents don’t know who to talk to, share their fears and tears, joys and triumphs, rants and raves, prayers and praises, thoughts and meditations, with other people on the same or similar journey; a safe place where all are allowed to have differing views, yet still agree on one thing – Jesus is Lord of All. In 2014, my wife and I met with one of our ministers. He connected us with our beautiful sister in Christ, Sally Gary, and the ministry of CenterPeace.
Since meeting Sally and the other moms, dads, and relatives of those experiencing same-sex attraction, I have learned to be less judgmental of others, to extend more grace, love, and compassion to others. I have learned and have been reminded to be more dependent on God. I am not the center of the Universe. God is God, I am not.
All people are created in the image of God. God has taught me that my parenting did not make my son gay and my son did not choose to be gay. I have learned to ask God to help me see people and life situations as He sees them; to help me have a keener sense of God’s Holy Spirit working in and through me as well as seeing how He is working in and through others. Let God do what God does, pursue the hearts of men, women and children. God’s love and grace is for everyone.
Our son is now married to his partner. We now have more extended family and friends to share God’s infinite love and grace with, both straight and gay.
So what does Authentic Christianity look like, sound like, act like, and feel like, to me and from me?
I’m being called to be a Dad; not just to our three adult children, but to my son-in- law as well. He didn’t really have a dad growing up. He has one now, along with another mom and two more siblings, because we are family. He has taken our family name. My son-in-law calls me Dad. I call him Son.
More importantly, I want him to know that he is loved by God, our Heavenly Father. That, I believe, is the most important thing in life I can teach him. That is authentic Christianity.
“…the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”