A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle touted the merger of 1,400 “open and affirming” churches (meaning churches that affirm homosexual identity and behaviour) with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The article stated that leaders in the gay rights movement consider their biggest challenge to be that of convincing Christians that homosexual behaviour is not a sin. I saw a part of this movement when I spoke recently at a gathering of pastors and church leaders from a denomination that is heavily divided over the issue of homosexuality. One man spoke of his desire that everyone be welcome at his church, and that they be “inclusive” and, especially, that no one leave their church “offended” by what they hear. Of course, this was not the first time I had heard these types of thoughts. Many people I talk to, including pastors and parents and friends, are concerned that they not “offend” gay people.
Let me just say a hearty “thank you” to my wife, and my parents and family, and my friends, who cared enough about me to offend me! I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I consider the ramifications in my life had the people in my world bought into the lie that to love me was to affirm my homosexuality. When I left my wife to pursue homosexuality, she boldly told me that she knew God could work in me and in our marriage and that she would not pursue divorce. She protected her interests but always professed her love for me and her desire to work through this together. My parents (and other family members) told me that what I was doing was wrong. They found Exodus [a Christian ministry to homosexuals], got materials, and tried to get me to talk to a counsellor. They also called frequently to check on me, sent me money when I needed it, came to see me on my birthday, and flew me home for holidays. My friends drove hours to talk to me about what I was doing, and told me what they believed. They flew from other towns to take me to dinner and tried to convince me to get help and to turn from what I was doing. They also sent me cards and letters full of love and affirmation of our friendship.
And each of them offended me. Each of them made me angry. I viewed them as bigoted, and unenlightened, and ignorant, and prejudiced, and hateful. If they truly loved me, I told them, they would accept my homosexuality and affirm me in the lifestyle I was living. I ignored their calls and I viewed them with scepticism. I did my best to sever my relationships with those who were offending me. But they would not let me go. They did not coddle me, but they refused to give up on me.
When I finally took “You Don’t Have to be Gay” from my Dad, just to shut him up, I was ready to draw a line in the sand and cut all ties with my wife, my family and my friends. But the time planned by God for the piercing of my heart had come. As I have said many times, that book showed me more than the sentimental, saccharine love of Jesus that gay theology had sold me. It showed me the powerful love of the risen Saviour, and I was compelled back to Him by that love. The offending parties in my life were waiting, as loving and gracious as they had ever been…not holding my sin against me, but standing there, ready to walk the journey out of homosexuality alongside of me.
Today my marriage is restored and has grown beyond my imagination. I have three beautiful children and am living out the call on my life to vocational ministry. Healing has happened in my family relationships, and I am closer to that cadre of friends than ever before. As I listen to people debate the “gay” issue and talk of affirmation and inclusivity of homosexuality, I wonder where I would be today had Stephanie accepted my claim that I had always been gay and would always be gay and pursued divorce like I wanted her to do. I wonder where I would be if my parents had joined PFLAG [Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays] and supported me in my quest to live homosexually. I wonder where I would be if my friends had encouraged me to divorce Stephanie and had rallied around me in my homosexuality. I wonder where I would be if my pastors and spiritual shepherds had encouraged me to accept the very thing I needed to lay before the cross of Christ. I shudder at the thought. I know it must have killed them to think of losing me, but they loved me enough to take that risk. Thank you, dear friends, for your offense to me. At the time, the Truth you shared was the aroma of death to me (2 Corinthians 2:15) but today it is the sweet fragrance of life.
Mike Goeke is a counselling pastor at Stonegate Fellowship Church in Midland, Texas. He is also the Director of Cross Power Ministries. CPM ministers to married couples impacted by homosexuality and also seeks to help educate and equip the local church to minister redemptively to all persons impacted by homosexuality. Mike is married to Stephanie and has three children.
This article is reprinted by permission from the One by One website, www.oneby1.org . One by One’s “mission is to equip and educate the church to minister the transforming grace and power of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who are in conflict with their sexuality.”