Updated: Oct 17, 2021
I was raised in a very conservative evangelical religious background. I had been taught that homosexuality was an abomination and the choice to behave that way was demonic in origin. I knew people who were gay, and I felt sorry for them. Something must have happened to twist them that way. I prayed for them, but never felt compelled to talk to them about it. I knew Christians who had changed from gay to straight, gotten married, and had children. And I knew that that’s what God did when gay people became Christians. He delivered them from their demonic oppression.
Then when she was about eighteen, my eldest daughter came out to me. I was heartbroken. I told her I loved her, and that I would never kick her out, but my faith prevented me from accepting or approving of her lifestyle choice. I thought I was being a loving parent. I wasn’t having a meltdown like I had heard about others doing. I wasn’t rejecting her. But this was still her choice. She had been slowly turning away from church in her teen years, as I had done, and I thought this was just partly teenage angst. It was her rebellion against God, and one day, like I had, she would return to the “God of her youth” as I had. Perhaps she was doing this just to shock me, as we were going through the parent wars. I believed that when she returned to the Lord as a result of her mother’s prayers, she would be grateful that I had stayed true to Jesus.
Every time she tried to start a conversation about her “choice”, I would tell her that if she was going to talk to me about that, I was going to talk to her about Jesus. That shut her up! But I continued to pray fervently for her and her salvation. I prayed that God would reveal Himself to her and bring her back to Himself. That God would open her eyes to her sin, and change her heart and mind.
Fifteen years later, God answered my prayers. But it wasn’t my daughter’s heart and mind God changed. It was mine. And God used Facebook to do it. Facebook had come out about ten years earlier, and I joined several years after that. I kept meeting gay Christians. The odd thing was they didn’t act like they wanted to change their orientation. How could they be gay and call themselves Christian? They acted like God was happy with them just the way they were. They declared their faith, posted scripture and prayed for you as if there was nothing wrong with them. This attitude was puzzling. But I didn’t challenge them. I knew God would change them in His own time. I even met them for dinner, and came to love them. I was hesitant to fully embrace them because I knew the Bible said that for me to approve of what they were doing made me guilty of the same sin. And God knew I had enough sins in my lifetime. To fully embrace them and love them, meant to me that I would be approving of their sin.
One morning in prayer, it all came flooding out. My heart could not handle the dichotomy any longer. I said, “God, I don’t know what to think any more, but I have decided to err on the side of love”.
God didn’t strike me dead.
Immediately, I felt a flood of joy that could only be the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know how, but I knew God would show me what was next. Within the hour, an old friend that I had lost contact with called me. To this day I don’t remember how she got my phone number. She and I had been very active in a conservative evangelical church about 30 years before, and recognized homosexuality as Satan’s attack on marriage. She said, “Cheryel, you have got to read this book.” What book? TORN by Justin Lee. It had changed her thinking and she wanted me to read it. I downloaded it to my Kindle immediately, and had read it within two days.
The author mentioned scientific findings. I had spent my working life in the medical field, and even participated in medical testing, and knew protocols. I’m an analytical person. I trust science. So I looked for the data on the internet. By the time I read everything I could find, I was convinced that being gay wasn’t a choice, but biological in origin. I sat at my computer dumbfounded.
I was angry with God. “Why would you create people, people who love you, believe in you, and trust you, only to condemn them to hell?” Then I thought, “What if we’ve misinterpreted the Bible again?” I had been taking biblical Hebrew because I was a United Methodist lay speaker. I was also studying the origin of the Bible and knew that the English translations were sometimes misinterpretations of the Hebrew.
What if we had caused untold suffering because we had read the scriptures on the surface, without learning the deeper meanings?
I was devastated when I realized I had thrown away a relationship with the precious daughter I loved so much. I felt chagrined. I reached out to her and told her I had changed my mind, and shared what I had learned. I wrote her a letter of apology. But it took her a long time to trust me again. Our relationship is still healing. It will be an ongoing struggle for quite a while.
She has grown into a beautiful and successful businesswoman. And I’m so proud of and impressed with her. In the last year she has become engaged to a wonderful woman whom I love, and I am truly thrilled for her. But it’s devastating to me when I think of how close I came to losing her, and missing her wedding because of my ignorance and because of my unquestioning certainty of my church’s dogma!
Thank you, Jesus, for Your grace towards me. You opened my eyes just in time. You gave me a great gift.