A Not-So-Happy Father’s Day

By John K. Lee

When I woke up this morning, it felt much like any other Sunday. As usual, my oldest boy woke me up at the butt-crack of dawn. Together we strolled downstairs and I prepared him his favorite oatmeal. For the next few hours we ran around the house goofing around until it was time to get ready for church. Next, the wife and I went through the mad dash of packing diaper bags, getting toddler and baby dressed, then shoving them into the car so I could make Sunday Morning Men’s Group. During that hour before worship service, the brothers and I had a very lively conversation that started with the topic of confidence and ended with us tossing friendly jabs at one of the fellas from that unfortunate part of California some refer to as ‘The Yay Area’. Following Sunday School, it was off to do some praise and hear God’s Word being preached. Same old, same old, right? Not quite.

The sermon this Sunday was preached by John Huddle. John happens to be pastor at Westchester Church of the Nazarene and he also works with World Vision. During the sermon, he shared the challenging story of how his dedication to the supremacy of holy scripture forced him to make a hard decision that some feel alienates a segment of the population that he has immense compassion for – homosexuals. In essence, the conflict came about when World Vision officially announced that it would allow the employment of individuals who are in same-sex unions. Shortly after, and because of the leanings of men like John Huddle, this decision was overturned and World Vision returned to its original stance on purity/abstinence for all single employees. While the decision has been lauded by more conservative evangelicals, those who lean more liberal in their theology have expressed disappointment and have formally severed ties with the decades old charity.

Although John had much more to say in his sermon, I was pleased to hear that a pastor of one of our sister churches made the difficult decision to stay consistent with the Word and not compromise the truth in the name of what would appear to be a kind gesture.

So after getting filled with a satisfying message, I returned home to participate in a fatherly practice that I have grown to look forward to every Sunday — a nap with my oldest son. The nap, as expected, was thoroughly enjoyable. However, the news I would wake-up to was quite the opposite.

Fully rested, I checked my email and was shocked by a disturbing message from a friend of mine who is in the playwriting workshop to which I belong (for those of you who know what I look like, I’m sure this might be shocking, but get over it). In the message, my friend Gary had informed me that his same-sex partner, Bryan, had unexpectedly died this very morning. It was less than 24 hours prior that I had heard from Gary that Bryan was ill and would need to go to the doctor. The night before, I even sent a ‘get-well’ email to Bryan thinking that I’d see him at our next group on the 21st.

Now, I’m not writing this blog-post for any sympathy. Admittedly, both Bryan and Gary are new friends that I’ve known for only a few months. Regardless, in the short time that I had the pleasure of getting to know Bryan, I can honestly say that he was an incredibly generous, passionate, accepting and thoughtful man who I would want to remain friends with for years to come. As a result, I found myself horribly upset at the news of his passing.

The most likely reason I had to be upset was the knowledge that someone I was in regular contact with, someone I would consider a friend, was now in hell and I did absolutely nothing to prevent that. Please believe me when I tell you that I did have sincere intentions to one day evangelize to him, but I’d always thought this would only be possible after a prolonged relationship had been established. While Bryan’s health was very obviously not perfect (he appeared to be suffering from complications of diabetes–below the knee amputation of one leg and very poor vision), I never thought that he was one infection away from the grave.

When I consider John Huddle’s sacred view of scripture juxtaposed to the devastating news regarding my friend’s passing, I was left with was confusion and not clarity. The truth is homosexual sex appears to be on the same level as heterosexual fornication. However, a couple that is engaged in heterosexual misconduct can sanctify that relationship by getting married. Sadly, this is not the case for gay people. So while the sin’s damage is similar, the solutions are not.

Ultimately, all of this information begs the following question: If gay people are one of the most difficult groups for the church to reach, then why do those under the general tent of Christendom tend to vilify them the most? I’m not saying that we should sacrifice scripture in the name of inclusiveness. Quite the contrary, but what I am saying is that we, as a church, need a drastic attitude adjustment. I don’t care if you think that being gay is a choice, or if someone is born that way. Quite frankly, I don’t think that matters. After all, we are all born with certain proclivities to different types of sin and we all make choices accordingly.

Although I can’t provide any solid solutions, I do want to make one observation. Whenever you see ‘Christians’ vehemently condemning gay people, I really question whether those individuals truly understand the grace that they claim to represent. I’m not going to go so far as to declare them wolves in sheep’s clothing, but I will go on record to say that those ‘Christians’ must be unclear about the nature and desire of Jesus.

So, for the handful of people who may end up reading this post, I challenge you to understand that for all individuals who are outside of God’s salvation, the simple joys experienced on this side of eternity are the only taste of heaven that they’ll ever know. Therefore, if you lack the desire or ability to truly reach out to them with the Gospel, then at the very least, let kindness be your evangelism and don’t act as a further stumbling block to the Word.

Right now, I wish I could tell my friend Bryan to, “rest in peace” but I know this would be a lie.

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7 thoughts on “A Not-So-Happy Father’s Day

  1. John, Thank you for your post. It is very clearly heartfelt and earnest and seeking to further God’s love and compassion.

    It is very likely that you and I would disagree on several aspects of the practice of Christianity. I except those differences would be based on our contrasting beliefs about the nature of God and the Bible.

    With that said, I think both of our theologies would agree that only God knows the heart of a man and only God knows whether an individual will enter heaven. So I would like to respectfully add a caveat to your last sentence, and actively and sincerely offer your friend my hope that he rest in peace, for God’s grace is undoubtedly bigger than our minds can deliberate.

  2. Juan, I appreciate your kind words. While I certainly agree that God’s grace is indeed “bigger than our minds can deliberate” I disagree in that I believe He has made the necessary glimpses of said grace knowable, as we can see in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    The God I’ve come to know through my life and through the study of His word is a loving and accepting God. However, he is also a JUST God whose disdain for sin is as infinite as his love for the lost. No matter how I look at it, there’s only one loophole to get a sinner out of an eternal death sentence–and that’s Christ.

    There was a time, not too long ago, where I believed in a God who sounds much like the one you described. But, with all due respect, that god was the god of good intentions; of the Beatles (‘All You Need is Love’); of John Lennon (‘Imagine’). He was certainly not the almighty God of holy scripture.

    In reference to God knowing a man’s heart: perhaps my friend Bryan would have fared well with the god that you speak of. But, when my time comes, if it’s my heart’s judgment that I need to depend on, then the notions you have shared terrify me to my core. Because, without exaggeration, I’m one of the worst people I know. I’ve done things and desire things that deserve hellfire multiple times over… and not just to people I hate. More often than not, I’ve done (and do) these wretched things to people I say I love.

    Ultimately, neither of us can claim with 100% certainty what happens when a pulse stops. Nevertheless, whether it’s the Bible or just common decency that guides us, it is clear that piling on additional suffering to others in this world of the living is definitely not the answer.

    From your blogs that I’ve read, I believe I understand where you’re coming from. Similarly, as someone who has likewise been raised in the Church, I’m sure you get where I’m coming from. So please accept my responses as NOT antagonistic, but rather, counterpoints to your points.

    Thanks again, for your thoughts.

    • I once heard someone say, “Love without truth is hypocrisy, and truth without love is brutality.” John, you have done well in sharing the truth of the scriptures with the love that comes from God, I can understand Juan for I had certain beliefs of God that I had to wrestle with in the light of the scriptures. I am sure that there are still things I do not understand about Him, and I am thankful that every day I have the opportunity to spend time getting to know Him better. I guess it’s fair to say he is not done with me. Until I see Him face to face I am so abundantly thankful for Our God that waits for us.

    • Hey, John,

      No, I’m not taking your points as antagonistic. They’re valid and well-supported. I’m more than happy to concede them to you.

      And even your last lines of your post, where you state that you know that your friend is not resting in peace. There is a valid and well-supported evangelical theology behind that. I don’t believe there’s anything I can say to effectively counter that.

      So ultimately I’m speaking from a human place. Incomplete, flawed and largely irrational. A place of good intentions; soft and hypocritical. It comes from losing many people in my life. Some when I was quite young and some who were quite young when I lost them. Most of whom would not be considered saved. I imagine you might be able to relate.

      Even in the past few months, I’ve been burying loved ones from across the world. It’s from this place of grief that I find your last sentence, if I may be blunt, appalling.

      But still, I think I understand why you wrote it. That it comes from a godly place, from a desire to see people come to God before it’s too late, and an understanding that salvation is the most important thing in the universe for us to be concerned with.

      While I respect that, and appreciate it even, it’s just not where I’m at.

  3. Juan,

    I hope that my readiness to defend scriptural orthodoxy is not mistaken as cavalier or insensitive to those who are outside of God’s eternal grace. In all honesty, these hard, and admittedly ‘appalling’, truths are ones that don’t necessarily sit well with me. Nonetheless, I believe them to be true and with a thankful heart I attempt to submit to the mystery that has spared me and not others.

    I’m sad to learn of your many and recent losses. I remember reading about some of this in a few of your blogs. I hope you one-day find the answers and solace you long for.

    –John

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