Three Things I’d Tell Ben Three Years Ago, After He Came Out

168103_1798433122055_4673401_n

 ~

Tomorrow, October 3rd, will mark three years since I came out. And tonight I’m feeling wistful.

///

People will surprise you.

 

If you give them the chance, they will. I know that sounds like crap. I know that every time you think about this, you see your heart laid out on the cutting board of another person’s reaction and response. And yes there is good reason for caution. This is a dangerous game to play with the wrong kind of people. But there’s something you need to know. Something you need to get through your thick head: You have the right kind of people.

 

Contrary to what you might think, there are many good people out there. Empathetic and thoughtful and loving people. Even in the Church.

 

One night, not too long from now, you’ll be sitting in the basement of a church building in Chicago, surrounded by a dozen other lgbtq Christians. You made the six hour drive because in the great expanse of wildly liberal Minnesota, there was not one space in existence for people like you, lonely Christian people struggling with so many faith questions. And though you’ll arrive excited and nervous, you’ll hardly say a word in the hour and a half conversation.

 

Then, the courage will come rolling up your throat and the worry that has been twitching all night long in your stomach will speak.

 

“I’m afraid to tell my guy friends.”

 

Well of course you are. Why wouldn’t you be? Straight Christian Men can be utterly barbaric in their rejection of those who are different. Especially gay guys. Statistically speaking, I think, 99.9% of homophobic jokes are born in locker rooms or late nights at the bar or sometimes, randomly, in everyday conversation. You’ve heard it all your life. You’re mostly numb to it. Some of your closest friends partake in the jokes, too. You’ve heard them. You’ve seen the deep discomfort shade over their eyes when it is brought up. So you understand that coming out might mean saying goodbye. And you’re afraid of that.

 

Across the room, a guy slowly lifts a hand in the air and speaks directly to you.

 

“I get it. I had the same worry. I was not worried at all about telling my girl friends, but my buddies, my pals, I was horrified. Then, one day in our dorm, I finally told them- I just said it! And their reaction was to bear hug me to the ground. And then they told me they loved me no matter what. Nothing had changed. I was so excited that I told my girl friends… and they were not so understanding. Go figure!”

 

It’ll be a long year until you tell just one of your guy friends.

 

It’ll be at the spot at the lake, at night, in winter, and you won’t know what it was, exactly, that had taken over your will, but suddenly, you’ll pull out your phone, make an abrupt call to your buddy in the car behind you, following you back to your house to hang out. You’ll tell him to pull over at the lake. There’s something you have to say.

 

He comes into your car and for a moment, you’ll nervously breathe and laugh. Then you’ll stumble over some words about this thing you have to tell him and how it’s kind of a huge deal and you’ve been worried sick over this for forever, but you just feel you have to tell him. You have to tell him right now. You’ll take a long sip of air, and then you’ll say it. You’ll say the thing.

 

And then you’ll feel fragile as glass. You’ll watch and wait for the swing of the hammer as he nods and blinks and says okayokayokay.

 

Things will settle. Less than a minute later, he’ll look you straight in the eye and tell you he loves you. That he is so thankful that you placed your trust him. That he is so damn happy you’re friends.

 

And you’ll still feel like glass, but in a good way. You are fully known and fully loved. You are seen at your core. And this is what you’ve always wanted from a friend.

 

This is just the start of it. There  will be many more moments filled to the brim with surprises. A night of beers and laughing and sincere reflection with one. A tear shedding moment in a busy uptown coffee shop with another. And all of them will be so good, over and over again good. And you’ll remember something a gay friend texted you during this season of telling.

 

“Cherish these moments. You’ll want to hold them later on.”

 

And you will.

 

//

 

People will disappoint you

 

It’ll be the Sunday of Mothers’ day, and though you won’t be expecting it, about five minutes into a sermon you’ll be hoofing it out of there, struggling for breath. For weeks, you won’t be able to shake that feeling of being spotlighted. The announcement about opposition to marriage equality and the measured pause after he delivered the punch line, allowing the people all around you to spring to their feet in the most fiery applause. You won’t be able to forget that quiet moment for your family in the pew. The seconds you reflexively turned to your mom and mouthed: I have to go. Then she and your sister decide to go with you.

 

You won’t be able to hold all this in, so you’ll vent it out in a big angry post. A few days later, you’ll find out that your mom has been making a serious effort to schedule a meeting with her pastor, but he continually refuses. His secretary continues to tell her that he does not meet with congregants (what?). So she just emails him your post. Within a day, he replies to clarify that he was only Speaking the Truth in Love, which he would also do to a married man who cannot stop lusting after other women or an overeater who can’t stop eating or an overspender or a porn addict, an alcoholic. If you cannot practice self-control, he wrote, you will be damaged.

 

This is up there, but not alone, with some of the biggest betrayals you’ll deal with from your faith. It will leave you dejected. It will make you bitter. It will make you ashamed.

 

But you’ll resurrect.

 

//

 

You Will Disappoint and Surprise Yourself

 

It sounds strange, but when you leave the faith, God’s going to shuffle along behind you. Not that you’ll notice Him. You’ll be too busy averting your eyes from all things religious, plugging up your ears in every conversation about the faith.

 

Distance and time, you decide you need both. So you scrub as much of this faith off as you can.

 

And there will be a dark season. An irritable season. A time when you will hold a little notepad and pen, scribbling down every single thing you abhor about Capital C Church. They are a parody, you’ll think, and they don’t even know it! The music is manipulative. The people are naïve. Most who pursue the Church’s version of Christianity are actually naturally stupid people with their hatred towards logic and questions and their allegiance to the policies of discrimination against people who do not meet their white upper class upturned nose criteria.

 

You’ll know yourself as victim. And you’ll become a cynic in the nosebleeds. A fury shouting into the void. You’ll say you LOVE Jesus but you couldn’t care less about his people and you won’t even register the irony of your words.

 

Then things get weird. You’ll miss God. Achingly so. You’ll miss the feeling of a community, however imperfect, surrounding you in song. Once or twice, you’ll have “mystical” moments that to this day, you are skeptical of, but in your heart, you still choose to believe they did indeed happen.

 

One will involve a prayer walk in the spring. You’ve been wanting to paint dragonflies after hearing a gorgeous poem about them, but they haven’t shown up anywhere. Like God, you think. You walk eyes closed and through the acre of tall grass behind your college house, praying for Him to show up. You open your eyes, and there they are. A cloud of blue and magenta and red, all wiry arms and translucent wings revolving around you like you’re the sun. The truth will steal your breath: He is everywhere.

 

And you’ll come and leave church, continuing, even still, in your nomadic ways. That is an ongoing story for you. But it’s also different now. There will be a newfound peace in your walk. An understanding of the God of grace for your imperfect self, for all the imperfect people who treated you beautifully, who treated you horribly, and one day, you’ll unexpectedly trip over the truth that you are Accepted. It’ll take time, but you’ll soon accept this truth. You’ll clutch it like a fistful of diamonds. You’ll know it as your essential identity. The one thing that is strong enough to bear the weight of both your light and dark. The one thing that will never change. You are accepted.

 

Just keep walking, Ben. Keep searching. Never lose a holy curiosity.

This faith is an endless exploration into the fold of the heart of God. And you belong here, too.

 ~

here’s to many more years to come

  • This is shockingly relevant to my life as of late – and I’m not gay! My closeted secret is that Christianity is no longer where I belong, but this is after having lead small groups and scripture readings and organized communion for years. I’ve only been able to tell friends outside my church for the time being. I think I remain theistic/agnostic, though – but I can’t tell what I actually believe versus what I’ve been raised to believe.

    • Oh I relate to this in so many ways! I think it’s important to have the time to sort out what you truly believe. For me, I came back when I realized that I didn’t have to sacrifice my intellect for the faith- as a matter of fact, critically thinking through what I believe about God has allowed me to live a more authentic life! It’s all a journey. It all matters. And I support you on your search!

  • Alex

    Ben, thank you so much for sharing this. You have an incredible journey ahead of you. As I read through, your words resonated with some of my own milestones of coming out. I’m still hoping that the passionate pursuit of my faith can reconcile fully with the implications of my sexuality. Your story gives me hope that that truth exists today—it is isn’t without tears and pain, but to rest in the comfort of our Creator is an exploration I never want to give up on.

    • It is worth not giving up on it, Alex. Thank you so much for your words.

  • Proud to know you, Ben! Lots of wisdom here.

  • Jason

    I think I was at the same church service that you reference above – though we have a different memory on exactly how things went down (measured pause by the pastor, fiery applause with people springing to their feet, no mention of mother’s day (from your previous post)). Just thought maybe people would like to see the video from the hateful and political pastor:

    http://eaglebrookchurch.com/media-resources/weekend-messages/are-all-religions-the-same/

    If this wasn’t the church you were talking about, my apologies (in reading this I remembered the church I had been attending mentioned same-sex marriage on Mother’s day). Either way, it’s an interesting listen. It didn’t strike me as a hateful commentary, but I can certainly understand your discomfort. Glad to hear you’ve found healing.

    • You’re right on the measured response, but the message wasnt live at our campus, it was on video. And folks all around us were clapping enthusiastically at the part about how its God’s truth and it will never change, and that’s the moment I walked out. The experience of that intro varied from campus to campus (I believe they have six).

      I suppose most of my anger stems from the fact that though I, myself, hadn’t been attending the church, my parents had been. For years. And when my mom reached out to Bob so she could talk about this, he wouldn’t meet with her. He wouldn’t even talk to her over the phone. His secretary told her he didn’t meet with congregants. And when he finally responded to my blog, he told my mom I posed a risk of becoming damaged, making several insensitive comparisons.

      I understand how this was not a Jerry Falwell type sermon but it was beyond discomfort. It was a declaration made (unnecessarily) that I would never fully belong there. And the aftermath, the disinterest from Bob of our concerns, left my folks out in the cold, looking for a new place that would welcome them.

      • Jason

        Most of what you’re saying makes sense – I’d feel the same way regarding the unwillingness to meet/talk. Obviously I would have no idea as to the interactions between you, your family and the pastor.

        That said, I don’t take his comments as “you will never belong here”, they strike me more as a Biblical stance (one you disagree with, and that’s fine – not what I’m trying to get into here). I do understand, however, if you’d feel like you could never belong because the church holds that view (rather than the specific comments themselves). My only point is that based on what the pastor said “you will never belong here” doesn’t seem to be the message he’s sending, or the intent of his message for that matter. When I first heard it it struck me as heartfelt and reasonable – whether anything needed to be said at all is up for debate.

        But, I guess I’d ask you a sincere question because I’m interested in knowing how to broach this topic myself: for a church that holds the “traditional” view of marriage (and assuming that is not going to change), what should he or could he have said differently (again, assuming for this purpose that something is going to be said)?

        Anyways, I hope your parents have found that new place to call home!

        • To me, it was more massaging the shoulders of his suburban congregants, who I imagine were fully panicked at the idea of equal rights for same sex couples. This was for them, not an olive branch to the gay community.

          And assuming you are straight (I have no idea) there is a completely different experience of that moment for a gay person. You’ve known your whole life how aggressively hostile the church has been on this. And when you broach the topic just to take a stand before a few thousand people who largely agree with you, some of them passionately so, you will single out and isolate us all. The whole thing is triggering. So while intent certainly matters, harm is still harm. And (as I think you agree) his behavior toward my parents was inexcusable for a pastor- hell, a person!

          And it DOES mean I won’t belong. If I marry and attend the church, my family won’t be considered legitimate. It will be considered as wrongdoing.

          And you raise the most important point. Should it have been said? On Mother’s Day of all days? No. I don’t think it needs to be addressed beyond anything other than the church website where it should be easily accessible so same-sex couples can know beforehand where the church stands regarding this issue. This will avoid painful moments like the above from happening.

          Thanks for engaging and yes, they found a wonderful church that they have fallen in love with.

          • Jason

            I think you’re right on a number of fronts, and I disagree on a couple others.

            First, you’re correct in that I don’t think it was meant to be an “olive branch.” But, I don’t think it was meant to be an “olive branch” to anybody – gay or straight. I don’t think he was trying to massage anybody’s shoulders or make sure the middle-class white folks were comfortable. I’m taking the pastor at his word that it was a biblical position, not a political one.

            Next, he made the statement (yes, on Mother’s Day of all days) because it was the weekend immediately following the MN House passed the marriage amendment. So, to answer your “on Mother’s Day of all days” comments, it wasn’t completely out of the blue where he just thought “hey, Mother’s day would be a fun day to discuss same-sex marriage” – I think you should give him a bit more credit than that. It was a very relevant topic in the Twin Cities that week and I’m sure the church had received emails asking for it’s view.

            But, I do agree that it is not an issue that should be regularly discussed in the church. It doesn’t seem necessary. And, as you’ve pointed out well in your blogging and in your response today, it’s an issue that can really alienate and injure people.

            Finally, you’re right, I am straight. I don’t understand your particular struggle, but that’s why I’m reading your blog. So that I can learn. I do hope, however, that you believe me when I say as a straight “traditional marriage” believing Christian man, I don’t have a shred of hate/disdain/disgust, etc. for you or any other member of the LGBT community. In reading your writing (which is great, by the way) it sometimes seems that you take an “us against them” mentality. You’re a guy who seems deeply sensitive to hurting and offending others. There have been times, where as a man with the beliefs that I hold, I’ve felt like the enemy in reading your posts and have found myself “hurt.” I don’t think it needs to be that way. At least, I hope it doesn’t. I hope that I can have my convictions on this issue that are different from yours and we can still be OK having honest conversations and being brothers in Christ. I hope that I can say what I think the Bible says about the topic of homosexuality and it’s different than where you’ve landed and not be labeled as hateful. Because, it truly is not coming from a place of hate but from a reverent struggle with Scripture. Finally, I hope that you know many people who believe as I do are in no way militant about it, in no way happy about it, and in no way proud of it (which is honestly where I think the pastor in the video lands). It’s not a stance I take lightly or with an ounce of joy. Sincerely, I don’t. It’s a humble and sober stance based on my personal wrestling with Scripture and reverence to it. That’s it. It doesn’t go any farther than than.

            My apologies for a complete tangent. Thanks for you blog and for your willingness to share what is undoubtedly a deeply sensitive and private part of who you are. You’re helping a lot of people, even those who don’t agree with you.

          • acousticmom

            Jason, I’m mom to a 21-year old gay son. I can understand your thoughts on “us against them,” but I also know the same deep alienation Ben’s mom experienced (which is only a taste of what our gay kids have experienced). I sort of have a foot in both worlds.

            If I understand you correctly, when you say you’ve felt sometimes like the “enemy”, you’re articulating something really important. And if you’re reading Ben’s blog as a straight Christian man, I’m guessing you’ve got a compassionate heart, so here goes. Hope I’m not totally off-track.

            As a straight Christian, as much as I love and support my son, it would be a heck of a lot easier if gay people didn’t come across as angry and victimized; if it didn’t feel like they’re demanding something of me; if the whole Pride thing was toned down; if my son dressed more conventionally; if the conversation could happen on my terms. That would be much more comfortable. The problem is, if the conversation happened on my terms, I would never have to face up to the incredible pain the church has caused gay people. I would never have to admit I’ve been a silent bystander while someone in church was making cruel gay jokes (and a silent teen thought about suicide). I would never have to allow the kind of “honest” conversations that challenge my comfort zone. I would never have to grapple with my own responsibility to repent of my sin against my neighbor and begin to make things right.

            I’m not sure if that makes any sense. The way we straight Christians control this conversation in churches is eerily similar to the way white progressive churches tried to reconcile with Black Christians after the Civil Rights Era–strictly on white terms, no anger allowed (lots of intriguing history here). This many years later, few white churches have grappled with the real issues driving racism or (gasp) what repentance might mean for white Christians. (If your hackles are raised–as mine tend to be when I hear that sort of thing–stop and listen to what it tells you.)

            I love that you are here and listening to Ben’s story. I suspect you’ll be the rare straight person to see the “us/them” tension and continue to engage it on a deeper level instead of wishing it would go away. I think that’s where real understanding and real community begin to happen.

          • Meredith Indermaur

            acousticmom –

            “The problem is, if the conversation happened on my terms, I would never have to face up to the incredible pain the church has caused gay people. I would never have to admit I’ve been a silent bystander while someone in church was making cruel gay jokes (and a silent teen thought about suicide). I would never have to allow the kind of “honest” conversations that challenge my comfort zone. I would never have to grapple with my own responsibility to repent of my sin against my neighbor and begin to make things right.”

            Just Amen.

          • Tami moberg

            Beautiful..thanks for sharing your heart.

          • Just wow. Thank you Acoustic Mom. Absolutely spot on.

    • Tami moberg

      Jason,

      Thank you for sharing the clip from Eaglebrook. This church has meant so much to this family through the years and we have been incredibly blessed by Bob Merritt and the rest of the staff at the church. Before we came to Eaglebrook we were at a wonderful church but our kids really wanted us to try EB so we did. We also were hooked. The messages every week were good for my soul. Around the same time I was asked to lead a group of women in a Bible study and many had not grown up with a personal relationship in Jesus or attended church regularly. I knew that I could always feel free to invite them to EB and they would glean much from the teachings. Many still attend your church.

      On Mother’s Day 2012, (the clip which you showed) we all attended as a family. All 6 of our kids and spouses. Mother’s Day is awesome! Many families come around their moms on this day and even if the child herself/himself are not walking with the Lord they will go to church with their moms. It’s pretty sweet. I am the mom of Ben and felt the same pains he did that day along with his brothers and his sister and dad. Ben was sitting next to me that day and I will never forget his leg start to shake and others in our family looking at each other when Bob began to address the same-sex ruling from the previous week. As you watch the clip you hear Bob saying everyone is accepted at EB and loved no matter what…but what spoke to my heart louder than any applause was his huge “BUT”. That but hurt and spoke volumes to me. The applause was not fiery to most sitting in church that day, but if you are gay or the parent of a gay son or daughter it was explosive. I am embarrassed to say that 10 years ago I may not have even heard it.

      Also Bob M. is not hateful and so I’m not sure why you stated that above. I know he is kind. I don’t think that statement was fair.

      EB has kids in its pews every week that are struggling to feel “normal”. They are holding deep secrets that are tearing them apart. To hear from their pastor that “biblical truth” says they are not welcome is so heartbreaking.

      As my husband and I muddle through these waters we are continually meeting kids and parents who have been hurt by the church. As an evangelical traditional church I pray EB does start talking about this. After Ben came out I would have loved to have had a place to land at EB where we could go and discuss the tensions around the LGBT community in the church.

      Ben mentioned that I did try to reach out to Bob Merritt. I called his office and was told that he did not meet one on one with his congregants. I wrote him and he told me to purchase the book he referenced in his sermon at his book store. Nothing about that seems ok to me.

      I pray that EB will at some point look at those who are sitting in their pews and chat. Have a real discussion and realize they need to address “everyone”..As I said at the beginning of this comment my heart still loves and thinks EB is reaching many for Christ. It’s just a little scary because “many” is a lot. And I know there are others sitting in your church who are wanting to engage in the LGBT conversation. It’s something this church needs to do. It doesn’t mean its going to be easy because it’s not. You are right that this is a difficult topic, but we are not called to be comfortable. WE are called to love all and that means by not talking about this you are not loving “all”.

      Our lives were changed October 3rd, 2011. Our family would say we are so thankful Ben came out and didn’t have to hide anymore. We are not sad Ben is gay. The only sad part for me as his mom is all the years he carried that and never told us. Ben is amazing and Jesus is evident in all he does and how he lives his life out. We have found a church in Minneapolis who is diving into this tension and loves others well. It doesn’t mean that everyone is on the same page but we are talking…

      Thanks for reading Ben’s blogs and at least hearing voices that need to be heard.
      Blessings.

      • Jason

        Tami,

        Thanks for your heartfelt response. I obviously cannot relate directly to your personal experiences, so I’m not going to try respond to those–they are, after all, personal.

        I have one remaining question, however for you, Ben, or anybody else who may care to take part in the discussion. It was a question I posed earlier to Ben; many people have mentioned that the church needs to engage in a conversation with the LGBT community (you, Ben, acousticmom). That’s fine, and I agree that conversations are typically helpful when there is tension. But, based on what I’ve read on this blog and elsewhere, the heart of the matter for me remains that a church like Eagle Brook seems to be unable to hold the “traditional view” of marriage (I mean this as a short-form, all-encompassing term to include all those in same-sex relationships of any kind) without being viewed somehow as alienating, unwelcoming, dogmatic or in many ways hateful. Indeed, many of Ben’s posts have discussed the idea of those who do not believe same-sex relationships are God-honoring or are sinful must “hate” him or want to spite him or deny him or otherwise have some personal vendetta against him and other members of the LGBT community. This thought is where my trouble lies. That was the crux of my question below that I’ll repeat here:

        For a church that holds the “traditional” view of marriage (and assuming that is not going to change), what should [the pastor] or could [the pastor] have said differently (again, assuming for this purpose that something is going to be said)?

        Basically, can a church like Eagle Brook hold what it reads in Scripture to be “True” about homosexuality, and still be considered “welcoming”? If so, how would a church that holds the traditional view communicate its beliefs about the issue? For me, the answer cannot be to to bury the stance on the church website and never address it. The answer cannot be to make portions of Scripture off-limits for discussion from the pulpit.

        While I appreciate acousticmom’s response below and her engagement, I’m not particularly interested in engaging in discussions that compare the LGBT movement to the civil rights movement that began with the emancipation of slaves (in fact, I find this comparison inappropriate on many levels). What I’d like to know is at a practical level, is it possible to disagree on this topic, and still “welcome” a member of the LGBT community? My instinct based on this discussion, previous posts, and the hostility often connected to disagreement in general is that it is not. I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that disagreement can exist relating to a multitude of issues, including this one, without leaving people like you and your son feeling unwelcome, displaced, and left “out in the cold.”

        Again, thank you for engaging in this discussion. I don’t desire to have a debate, I truly want to know (from your perspective or anybody else’s) how a church maintains its dedication to what it believes Scripture to be saying while still being a place that welcomes all people–because if it is not the way the pastor addressed it in the video above, than I can’t think of a way that would be acceptable.

        • Tami moberg

          Jason,

          I have been spending my week processing your comments and praying I would come up with at least a stab at trying to answer your really good questions.

          Below are the questions that I will try to answer from where I see it. A very simple and non scholarly effort at best:)

          To your first question.
          For a church that holds the “traditional” view of marriage (and assuming that is not going to change), what should [the pastor] or could [the pastor] have said differently (again, assuming for this purpose that something is going to be said)?

          I really don’t know! My thought is that it wasn’t just Bob M. who decided out of the blue to bring it up on Mother’s day. If I know how EB runs I am sure it was a huge discussion point and they felt as a church it needed to be addressed. I get that. My sticky issue is when a church says they stand on “biblical truth”. I know you know this so I am not at all trying to be sarcastic, but there are many, many denominations and churches that differ greatly on many issues and they stand on their own “biblical truth”. It really comes down to a church’s interpretation of scripture. EB does take a non affirming stance on same sex marriage. I am not surprised. To your question you are right…for a church like this they are going to speak what they feel is ‘truth’. I’m not sure he could have said it differently, but maybe he could have not said it at all. Because, in the end why? Why do we have to stand on this and make our proclamations. Is it scary to love others that do life different. Do we feel that we need to defend and throw arrows at those that may see things differently? That goes both ways..The LGBT can also get very defensive. But if we look at history in the church I can see why it has been so incredibly painful. I think you would agree. The church has to make the first step towards building bridges with the LGBT because for good reason they are not going to make the first move.

          Basically, can a church like Eagle Brook hold what it reads in Scripture to be “True” about homosexuality, and still be considered “welcoming”? If so, how would a church that holds the traditional view communicate its beliefs about the issue? For me, the answer cannot be to to bury the stance on the church website and never address it. The answer cannot be to make portions of Scripture off-limits for discussion from the pulpit.

          I actually think EB could hold to their “truths” and be welcoming. When Ben came out I was searching for a place that stood on the same principals. I actually called EB first and there was no support for our family at your church. It was in the spring…other churches in the area had support groups but they were breaking for the summer. As a mom who’s son has just come out I really didn’t understand the need to take a “break”:) We did find a group in Chicago and headed to the Marin Foundation. An incredible group of Christians that love very well. With all my heart I wish EB had a support group for LGBT people and families. It’s sad that a church this size would not see that this is soooo needed in our community. If they did have a group and we could sit in a room and read scripture together and walk through this tension together that would feel incredibly welcoming to me as a mom. I think EB could have a Huge ministry in this area. It would be awesome! Let’s make the tent bigger!

          Lastly, you are right again..If this is the stance of your church it’s probably not going to change. But, I’m really not looking for a church that agrees the exact same way as I do and never challenges me to grow or look at scripture in new ways. It’s just sad to me that there are literally 7 verses throughout scripture on this topic and we take “stands” on it. What about all the other verses in scripture around divorce, adultry, women in leadership, submission, loving the marginalized. What if on Mother’s Day a pastor told his congregation that “This is what I interpret scripture to say about same sex relationships, but…. at this church we walk in humility and we are a place that loves all and we welcome those of all sexual identities and all those who may not see things exactly how we do…we are in this together. Let’s look at scripture together.. we love all and let’s walk through this together because it is what Christ would do..” Because until we are at the feet of Jesus will we really truly have the answers to many of our questions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could talk about this with Christians who do look at scripture differently but love Jesus and understand that All are created in His image. That’s not scary.

          Jason, this is such a complicated topic. I for sure do not begin to think I have the answers to your great questions. I thank you for asking and just being in the conversation. I know and trust your heart is good. Your questions are very thoughtful.

          I’m not sure if this is even ok to say in a comment:) but if you would ever like to meet for coffee and talk more about this I would love it. I’m sure Ben would be up for joining us too!
          I did a poor job on my attempts but that’s my heart.

  • Ben, as the mom of a son who is gay your posts always go straight to my heart – they make me sad and they bring me joy – they are honest and real – I love the way you tell the whole story – keep telling your story – it matters! <3

    • Thank you Liz for this comment, and I’ve told you before, but I’ll say it again- Thank you for all the work you do for LGBTQ families. You’re absolutely amazing.

  • Benjamin Spurlock

    Goodness, when I saw the notification in my inbox, it gave me quite the fright. Then I remembered we shared the same name, and it all made sense again. *laughs*

    As for those three things you’ve said… wow. Just, wow. I think you’re right on all three- though, unfortunately, I can’t say that my experience with the guy friends, or most church men in general, has been as positive. The thing that really pinned me was the part about needing distance and time, trying to scrub off as much religion as possible… and yes, notepad and pen (or in my case, Evernote note) about everything that aggravates me about the Church. Again, quite the fright for me!

    So, like many of the other people in this section, I thank you for this post, and I’ll take your closing words to heart.

    • I’m sorry you haven’t had the same experience. I can count one too many people who I definitely could NOT count on to be there as a friend for me in coming out (granted, I went to a Christian University). Thank you for sharing here Ben, and I hope to see you back around here soon!

      • Benjamin Spurlock

        Quite the contrary, I’m glad that my experience might not be normative. Means that I just need to keep searching and hoping, yeah? I’ll definitely be around- thanks for sharing your thoughts, too!

  • Meredith Indermaur

    Ben, thank you for so poignantly expressing the inward crushing blow the pastor’s words caused you and your family that Sunday and again in his response to your post. His refusal to meet with congregants, let alone his refusal to listen to *your* hearts in that pain, is the core difference between a preacher and a pastor. You deserved better. I can’t help but believe that God thought so, too. And that’s why he sent dragonflies. 🙂 xoxo

  • This is beautiful and true and just so good.

  • Ryan Schick

    Ben, thanks for sharing with your past self for us all to read. I hate the pain you’ve experienced, but love the process it has brought you through for the betterment of yourself. We’ve only met once, but your story impacts those of us who only know you from a distance. Keep sharing your story.

  • carolb12

    Ben, this momma loves you with her WHOLE heart!! I think you are simply AMAZING!! I share your posts frequently <3

  • JoAnn Forsberg

    Bless you!!!!

  • Kim

    I’m also the mom of a gay son (who also came out 3 years ago, now that I think about it). I’m going to share your post with him, although in some ways he may not be “struggling” with these things as much as I am! Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a music major at a secular school where being openly gay is pretty acceptable….Anyway, your words are and encouragement to ME, and I’m going to share with him too. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  • Katie L

    Loved reading this! Thanks for sharing your heart!

  • paulhillprescott

    As someone who also came from a strongly charismatic evangelical Christian background, your post resonated strongly with me. I too have been on this journey and applaud you for your courage, persistence and yes, faith. I hope this post speaks to many who are starting their journey of acceptance.

  • <3

  • TG

    Interesting blog and commentary.

    The “marriage issue” combined with the caring words I read in the Catechism and Pope Francis’ kindness is ultimately what brought me into the fold of the Church Christ himself founded! I came to the conclusion that the propaganda about the Church being “anti-gay” simply wasn’t true. What she’s against is us using our bodies in ways which they were not intended.

    I am making the choice to turn myself towards Christ. To pay heed to God’s clear Word in the Bible. To take up my cross and offer it up.

    Eve Tushnet’s experience is similar to my own:
    “I’m Gay, but I’m Not Switching to a Church That Supports Gay Marriage” http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/im-gay-but-im-not-switching-to-a-church-that-supports-gay-marriage/276383/

  • Roo James Wilson

    You are so wonderful. I look forward to the day I can read a book, with your story in full or sit with a cup of tea in the Heavens and listen to you. (I hope there’s tea in Heaven :))

  • Pingback: My Top (and Favorite) Posts of 2014 |()

  • Michelle Young

    I’ve always thought that we needn’t have identical experiences to understand a universal pain. Thank you for so eloquently talking about leaving church, the ironic steps of loving Jesus and feeling contempt for his people and for understanding it’s all a process. A flawed and beautiful process.

    Thank you.

  • Be, I am always undone by your posts. Always. Your heart is like no other. Your writing is spectacular. Your impact is far, far-reaching. With overflowing love, Susan

  • AndrewSchroederD

    Nice article – For my two cents , if you has been needing to merge some PDF files , We used a service here http://goo.gl/IER5o1