Three Teachers and a Pastor's Wife: My Journey with Understanding Same-Sex Attraction (Part Three)
April 6, 2017 by Sheree Phillips 2 comments
In December 2015 I took some pictures of my son-in-law’s family. None of us knew it would be the last pictures taken of his father Ray, who died days later. Ray’s life impacted many, including mine. (I love this picture below of Ray holding our grandson Silas, surrounded by his grandparents on his first birthday.) As I dressed for the funeral, I didn't consider that it would mean another opportunity to see Kirk.
As I got out of my car in the parking lot I noticed him, then called out a greeting. It felt strangely like a mini-reunion with an old friend. I experienced quick regret that I had only followed up once on his offer to have Benny and me over for dinner.
He turned to see me, then walked over to help me with some items I was carrying. I assumed his sad demeanor was due to mourning for Ray. While that was certainly part of it, Kirk told me John had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. My heart squeezed with compassion. Once again God reminded me of my sameness with Kirk. How would I feel if I learned my loving husband of decades would likely die soon? We exchanged a warm hug as his eyes filled with tears, and he commented that he was glad to see me.
“I’m glad to see you, too, Kirk. And I’m truly sorry.”
The next I heard of Kirk was last week when my daughter told me she heard John had just died. I was in the car with Benny and before I knew it, I was sobbing. I worried that unless John had turned to Christ during his illness, he would spend eternity separated from God. I ached for Kirk and how devastated he must be. And I told Benny I hoped Kirk would never hear Christians saying how God can’t be mocked by homosexual sin as an explanation of the death of his beloved friend.
In that moment I knew I am just as undeserving of the atoning death of Christ as was John. My sin is just as responsible for His death. Just as evil. No less deserving of a righteous Judge declaring me not guilty. My lust is no less immoral and his refusal to bow to God’s authority regarding homosexuality no less stubborn than my own hard-hearted unforgiveness, covetousness or cravings for approval. He turned from God to homosexuality; I turn from God to jealousy or self-congratulations or lust for control. The difference between John and me is that Christ exchanged my heinous sins for His righteous life of perfect obedience.
I cried some more in the Perkins Pancake House parking lot while Benny stroked my arm.
“Why am I reacting this way???” I asked him. “I hardly knew these guys.”
“Because you love Kirk, honey,” he responded.
It’s true. I love a gay man. I love that he is just as much an image bearer of God than I am. I love that he was a faithful, giving, loyal and loving partner to the same person for 25 years. I love that he was humble enough to tell a Christian pastor’s wife about his marriage ceremony and then invite her and her husband to his home. I love that his eyes filled with tears at Ray’s funeral when he said his friend had cancer.
And I love that God started planting seeds in my heart as a girl by giving me a Mom who loved those many like her shunned and shamed.
I was recently told that my journey to better understand homosexuality and SSA -- and to (slowly!) become willing to focus on my sameness rather than the difference between myself and "those folks" -- may indicate subtle capitulation to a culture that is forcing these issues down our throats. I've wondered, though, why cultural acceptance and even celebration of sins like selfish ambition leading to putting career over healthy family relationships and authentic commitment to a local church, or discontent and greed that can be a culprit for skyrocketing personal debt, or self-righteous judgements of those whose sins are far more serious are viewed with such normality while SSA is an evil that must be dealt with. Yes, sins have differing consequences, but ask my husband how much my selfishness, self-righteousness, sinful anger and critical judgements have impacted our marriage.
I pray that Kirk will turn from his sin as I did and do from mine and accept God’s offer of forgiveness. I pray we will spend eternity together, perhaps chuckling over that day at the wedding reception when two unlikely people became friends. I pray God will lift any veils from his eyes and cause John’s death to work together for the ultimate good, his repentance.
I hope to attend a memorial in John’s honor. I want Kirk to know that getting to know him over good food and loud music was truly a gift to me. He is one more person in my trilogy of Christ-initiated transformation: Mom, David, Kirk.
And that’s not even the rest of the very personal story. Maybe someday I will share it with you. It's a good one.
P.S. This post is the last in a three-part series. You can read parts one and two at www.lakenonachurch.com; click on "blog."