Where is My Son Welcome?

Vantage Point

Some time ago I asked my oldest son a question that was very hard to ask. My wife and I had talked about asking him on occasion, and as I was talking with him on the phone late one night, it seemed to come a bit naturally. I asked him if he was gay.

Our son had grown up in the home of a Christian Reformed pastor—his father, me. As a pastor I had thought about and re-thought and sometimes spoken about and written about (in newspapers) the issue of being gay. I am certain that our son understood from me what most Christian Reformed people believe about being gay.

Our son knew he was gay for 10 years without telling anyone. How he must have struggled, wondering if his parents would still accept him if he came out. As I remember the few times he asked me for my personal thoughts on people who were gay, it breaks my heart to think that behind the questions was a growing knowledge about his own orientation.

How he must have struggled when, years later, I left him at a Christian college—but not before we had dinner with friends of the school. During that dinner we lamented the hardship caused to the school by the presence of a gay faculty member. How he must have struggled when his fellow students ostracized gays. Our son kept quiet.

He once did make a choice regarding his sexual orientation. In high school he chose to live a straight, heterosexual lifestyle. He thought he might never tell anyone of his orientation and still somehow have a wife and children. How much did he struggle when his dates with young Christian females did not create any sparks for him? Our son chose his sexual orientation and expression. But the choice did not catch. He remains gay.

The first setting in which our son was accepted as a gay young man was his "secular" medical school. The acceptance was immediate. What a sad contrast to his experience in the Christian community.

I believe that I am called as a father to love my son. God has placed him in our family. My wife and I are called to love and support him in every way. His brother and sister, along with many other relatives and friends, have been clear that they love him and support him. Our wish for him is the same as that for all our children: that he would live his whole life, whatever choices he will make, in the context of the grace of Christ. But if, in that context, he chooses a committed same-sex relationship with a Christian partner, a choice that does not conform to the expectations of most straight Christians, where will he be welcome?

About the Author

Rev. Michael Veenema is pastor of Kentville (Nova Scotia) Christian Reformed Church.