Kathy and Don Anderson are life long Covenanter’s. Don’s hails from Jamestown NY and Kathy grew up in Omaha NE where they now live. Graduates of North Park University they are active members of First Covenant Church. Last year at family camp they shared their journey with their church family and now they are sharing on Coming Out Covenant.
Story by Kass and Don Anderson
Nothing could have prepared us for the news that our son, Erik, shared with us two years ago, when he finally had the courage to tell us that he is gay. We will never forget that day. You would think that as his parents we would have recognized this ….but it was not on our radar at all. Although it was both shocking and tough to hear, it was one of those pivotal lessons in life that has contributed to a significant transformation of our faith.
Erik realized he was gay when he was in middle school but had to secretly keep this awareness hidden for years because he was too scared to tell anyone. When he was in high school, Erik heard some condemning comments from his family about this issue and he began to feel truly alone and in a dark place full of hurt, pain, and depression. He became angry with God because he felt God wasn’t helping him. One night Erik was seriously considering ending his life and began to write a will. There, alone in his room as Erik contemplated ending his life, he heard God’s voice. God said, “Why would you be alive if I didn’t have a purpose for you?” With those words God gave Erik hope and the realization that God loved and accepted him for who he was and is.
Looking back now, with the knowledge of what could have happened, we could beat ourselves up every day for our ignorance and insensitivity but our loving Creator reached out to Erik and protected him that night. So yes, we are forever grateful to God for intervening, and we are forever thankful for helping us learn and understand more about the love of Christ.
Both my husband and I are part of many generations of “Covenanters.” Neither of us recall having a discussion about homosexuality at church or have ever heard any of the church leaders discuss this issue. So consequently, we never had reason to form an opinion about it. So we just kept silent about this issue like the church seemed to be. The little we did hear about it was mostly from Christians who we respected, and their views were that homosexuality wasn’t natural and it was denounced in the Bible. Never having close connections with anyone who was gay and never having taken the time to hear any stories or testimonies of gay people, we formulated that same opinion….. until the day this issue brought us to our knees. So you see on that day that Erik told us he was gay, we knew very little about homosexuality, but we knew a great deal about our son! How could he be gay? He was physical on the soccer field, always had girls eyeing him when walking through the malls, and he just didn’t fit the image we had of a gay guy at all.
How ignorant we had become simply because we allowed ourselves to be consumed by the silence that surrounds this issue and because we had no motivation to try and understand why many of God’s people were being subjected to judgement and rejection. After listening to our son’s story, reading about other homosexuals and their stories, through lots of prayer, and finally the power of the Holy Spirit convicting us, we have heard the voice of truth. We lost the nice and tidy view of the world in which everything fit neatly into boxes of black or white and right or wrong. In fact, we had been placing Jesus in a box. We were putting limits on his love and grace. Our son also shared that he believes sin brings people away from God and being gay has not brought him away from God. It has brought him closer to Jesus than he ever could have imagined. Erik had to depend on Jesus for strength, courage, and support when there was no one else he could turn to. Jesus REACHED out to him!
We are grateful to be given new eyes to see the real Jesus with. We share our story in the hope that it might help those who are experiencing a similar situation. But we also share this because we so desire that the Covenant church would not be silent anymore about this issue. We can no longer hang our heads, for in so doing, we are generating attitudes of judgement and hypocrisy. The task of the church is to understand that Jesus didn’t answer all of our questions. But we do know for certain that Jesus’ main message was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” In 1 Samuel 16:7, it reads, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” All of God’s creation is good! We cannot exclude and determine who should be included in his kingdom or circle. We need to make space for all people and their differences. That’s the Jesus we have come to know.
Christian morality is trying to discover how we are to live a life that is consistent with who God created us to be. For heterosexuals and those of same-sex orientation, being moral means living by the love ethic of Jesus. Jesus was not silent regarding compassion toward those who had been marginalized as a class or group. The church needs to become the place where lesbian and gay Christians can learn how God wants to bless their relationships and empower them to share their gifts with a world that needs them. There should be no more labeling of people. The main concern for the church is that there are people who are Christian or non-Christian. The purpose of life as Christians on this Earth is to share the love of Christ.
What a wonderful opportunity for the Covenant church to show the world how Jesus commanded us to love. Let us not be silent anymore but accept all the differences that make each other unique. We would like to see the church get involved in deeper discussion on this issue by being open to listening to the stories of Christian gays and their walks and struggles. There is common ground in the struggles and the joys of all Christians. When congregations come together willing to discuss and listen, our knowledge will grow. The doors of the church should be thrown wide open for everyone. The body of Christ is about hooking our arms together and glorifying our Creator, encouraging and supporting each other in our walk, and going out in the world and sharing the good news of Christ’s love. God created everyone, including our son, for this purpose, too.