Any adult child of a loving parent will tell you that it’s still hard sometimes (or most times) to take your parents advice. My dad and I were not always the best communicators. That tender moment in the car? Not the norm. I was busy and did not have/take time for my dad as a young man. We didn’t have a great relationship and I was pretty entrenched in keeping it that way most of my life. But he’s my dad.
“You wouldn’t believe the feeling you have, lying in bed next to your wife holding her.” My dad and I were driving in the car when he said that to me. I was about 17 at the time and was already in counseling because I struggled with homosexual attractions. My dad and I are not always the best communicators, but in that moment, in his own way, he wanted me to know that sexual desire for the woman who would be my wife was an amazing, shame-free, godly thing. He feared, I think, that I didn’t believe that. At the time I was 17, so I thought “shut-up dad!” but in my memory it is an incredibly important moment. The freedom to love my wife, even though I struggle with same-sex attraction, began in that car ride.
After my last posts about identity and growing up SSA in the church, my dad called me. Believe me, it’s hard enough to write openly about same-sex attraction when you’re a conservative, reformed, evangelical pastor; but when you know that your wife, mom, dad, and possibly my Nana all read this … well, you understand. The purpose of my dad’s call was straight-forward and well-intentioned: “Tell people about the love of your wife.”
Any adult child of a loving parent will tell you that it’s still hard sometimes (or most times) to take your parents advice. My dad and I were not always the best communicators. That tender moment in the car? Not the norm. I was busy and did not have/take time for my dad as a young man. We didn’t have a great relationship and I was pretty entrenched in keeping it that way most of my life. But he’s my dad. While he might not understand the ins and outs of same sex attraction, and while he doesn’t do it perfectly, he’s always moved toward me in love. And that’s what his call was about: he wants to love me and my wife by reminding me to tell readers about this weird, amazing, grace-filled, joyous relationship with the most wonderful person I’ve ever known.
Dad’s right for a couple reasons. My article a couple weeks ago was linked to on an atheism forum on Reddit. One commenter suggested that my life would be full of secret fulfillment of my sexual fantasies at the expense of my family. Without understanding the growing awareness of sin in the life of believers, this guy had a point. As I grow further away from the love of this particular sin pattern I become more aware of my failure to love God and love others in infinitely more ways! As I grow more conscience of my sins I have two choices: despair at my inability, producing guilt and shame; or joy in the promises of the gospel, filling me with love and confidence. By God’s grace, I choose the second option.
And my relationship with Leeanne is all about that second option. The first time I knew I wanted to marry her was when she spoke lovingly and gracefully about her lesbian college roommates. I nearly swooned when she was my financial supporter in my work with Harvest USA. Sex and sexuality are not topics of taboo and shame in our home. We’re not bawdy about them either, but we’re open. Our intimate life is a time of deep connection where we both bring our shames and joys to the table, enter into one another’s inner life, and experience love, joy, grace and acceptance. My wife woos me with her kindness and love. She overwhelms me with her grace. She attracts me with her openness and honesty. When she is weak and I get to uphold her I feel like Superman or a knight in shining armor. When I’m low and despairing her confidence swells my heart with renewed faith.
In times of anxiety I fear that our intimate life is “not what it’s supposed to be” because I’ve watched enough TV to know what guys and girls are supposed to think and feel about each other all the time perfectly. And then Leeanne reminds me: TV and movie characters aren’t my teachers; culture is not what defines me, and when it’s just her and me, no one else’s expectations matter. For a man like me, who’s always wanted a wife and children and was sure I’d never have neither, my wife has taught me what it means to give love and receive love. I’m drawn to her, and together we draw one another to Christ. 1 John 4:18 , “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.” I get a taste of that with my beloved and one day, we’ll both feast on that love in the full presence of Father, Son, and Spirit.
I get it now. When I hold her close, when I catch her big brown eyes, when she nestles up behind me, I get a taste of the shame free, amazing, godly love of a woman. I only hope that, by God grace, I’ll continue to woo her as she’s wooed me.
Allan Edwards is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and serves as pastor of Kiski Valley PCA in Leechburg, PA. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.