This past weekend, I had not one but two phone conversations with my parents about the two DVDs I recently sent them: Through My Eyes: An Eye-Opening Experience and Bridging the Gap: Conversations on Befriending our Gay Neighbours. They have now watched both DVDs. To my great pleasure they are enthusiastic about both, especially Bridging the Gap.
In fact, my parents can't stop talking about Bridging the Gap. Mom has now posted a quote from one of the speakers in the video on the board in her classroom at school. Dad has discussed the video with their pastor and has encouraged him to watch it. They already ordered a copy of their own, and they shared with me their hope--pending their pastor's approval--to begin hosting "showings" of the DVD and discussions of its subject matter with couples in their church.
This is amazing! I am so eager to see how widely they are able to present and discuss this DVD among their conservative congregation in small town, Texas. My hat is truly off to the good folks at New Directions for their labor of love assembling the speakers and producing this video. What a joy to be able to share this resource with my family without a drop of reservation and to see them latch on to it so enthusiastically!
With Through My Eyes, my parents were somewhat less enthusiastic, but discussing the video did bring up a (for them) emotional conversation topic. My parents' voices became shaky--almost weepy--as they broached the topic. They noted that several of the gay Christians who told their personal stories in the DVD expressed a sad sense of "missing" the evangelical churches they were once a part of. My parents put to me the question: Joe, do you miss the evangelical church?
While there were many topics we might have discussed that could have been emotional for me, this one actually wasn't. Or isn't. I shared with my parents that I did know people with stories similar to the ones the referenced in the video--people who parted with the evangelical church not because they disagreed on theology but because they just didn't want to continue the exhausting fight against their orientations. I have had friends do this, and honestly it makes a lot of sense to me why: trying to live counter to your orientation is a crushing task for many.
But if living counter to ones orientation is difficult, living counter to one's faith presents it's own difficulties as well. While living in agreement with your orientation can bring relief for a time, true peace can only come from--to borrow a term from my friends at New Directions--living in congruence with one's faith.
I shared with my parents that I did not part ways with the evangelical church because I'm gay. When the evangelical church I had been attending when I began dating C asked me to leave, I left without argument because I had come to the realization that I was not evangelical. In particular, I came to understand that I and evangelical Christians view the Bible very differently.
I reiterated to my parents that my orientation is not what keeps me out of evangelical churches nowadays--rather, it's my faith. If I were not gay, I wouldn't return to the evangelical church. I do miss some of the relationships I had while I was part of evangelical churches, but I don't miss the evangelical church per se or long to be reunited with it.