Tag Archives: Forgiveness

It’s Sunday! Wake Up, Church!

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I still love Sundays, even though I cannot step foot in a church, nine years later.

To say that my husband coming out of the closet shook my faith, is an understatement. Looking back, my faith needed to be shaken; but at the time, for a year and a half, I believed with all of my heart that if I prayed enough, read scripture enough, and loved Devon to death, that he would choose my kids and me over his “sin.”

I knew the scriptures inside and out. Devon had been an elder and lay youth pastor, for Pete’s sake. We raised our family “God’s Way” and understood that nothing was impossible with God. So, of course, I relied on that fact when I faithfully proclaimed that this was just a test, and his “same-sex attractions” were temporary and a choice.

But once I had the epiphany that I could not change him, that I could not control him, that I could not manipulate him into staying and I needed to let go for my own physical, mental and spiritual health, I did not realize just how ingrained this idea of homosexuality being a sin is, within the Fundie church body. It actually can cause more hurt and derision for the people who need the church the most.

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My pastors? Their reaction went something like this:

Regardless of what he is doing, you need to do these three things: 1) Get involved with a ‘Life Group’, 2) Strengthen your faith, and 3) Remain faithful so that you won’t be tempted yourself. We have found that the faithful spouse tends to cheat also to get their needs met; you are still married. Don’t forget that.

Then they handed me a cassette series on the “sin” of homosexuality…that I already had in my plethora of resources.

Hmm. Like I didn’t already know or do those things. Like I needed to do anything at all, as though it was in my control. Like I hadn’t already remained faithful to a “T.” Like those tapes were going to bring me comfort and save my marriage.

They kept looking at the clock during our meeting, as though I was bothering them. They prayed for me, handed me the tapes, and pushed me out the door.

I never heard from them again, until Pastor B emailed me and asked for the tapes back. Good thing I didn’t burn them. I would have owed money for the garbage they fed to me that day.

I had a small group of trusted people that I eventually let in, after living in secret about this for many months, as an effort to help me and convince my husband to repent. They were close to us in our other church, served with him on the Elder Board, and loved my family and me. To make a long story short, their hearts were in the right place. They wanted me to save my marriage as much as I did. The men reached out to my husband and tried to meet with him, with very little fruit. (Looking back, I am glad you didn’t, Devon. Even though I am relaying pain here, I am so happy with our story, and I really do love you.) I spilled everything to them, including my own sin and my entire heart.

Then, with the exception of one couple, they chose to use my heart for saving my marriage, against me.

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Once I came to the epiphany that nothing I do can change what has happened, I felt free to let go of our marriage. It was the first time in a year and a half that I slept a full 14 hours. Peace reigned in my heart, and I knew I could move on.

But two out of the three couples did not agree. Essentially, their reaction can be summed up like this:

We believe him when he says he hasn’t cheated on you. It doesn’t seem like you want to save your marriage. You have no grounds for a Biblical divorce; perhaps you just want to go out and ‘sin’ yourself.

I became the scapegoat. Instead of facing the fact they they were wrong, and maybe even their paradigm about homosexuality and what God can and cannot do was wrong, they blamed me.

Way to go, Unconditional Love! Way to be a witness, Believers, of how to win hearts and minds!

I then had a flood of hypocrisy that I had to face. I would have likely said, done and thought just like them, until the coin was flipped. I became the scorn of judgement, and since then I have learned that Unconditional Love, by definition, does not place burdens on another person. “Speaking the truth in love” coupled with judgement does not work. It drives a wedge.

What I find most interesting, is that even though people (especially the four who made me the scapegoat) know that my ex is now married to the man they claimed he wasn’t cheating on me with, I have yet to receive an apology from them. I found that sometimes I need to forgive over and over again the hurtful words that were spoken to me, and it is especially tough to forgive people who haven’t admitted the hurt they doled out, nor asked for forgiveness.

They were wrong and judgmental and downright mean at the flip of a switch, even if they felt they were “speaking the truth in love,” to a woman of God who was experiencing the worst pain of her life. I have often toyed with the idea that I should confront them, but to what avail? Telling someone they need to ask you to forgive them does not create sincerity and humility. The only person I can control is myself, and that is hard enough. I have to forgive myself, sometimes daily, for bitterness and for words spoken judgingly toward homosexuals, which exacerbated my husband not being honest and hiding his struggles from me.

Obviously, today, I wouldn’t change a thing. I was able to forgive Devon, change my heart, see the truth about Unconditional Love, and realize the error of thinking regarding “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I love myself, my life, my core, Devon, Felipe, and my new and unique Rainbow Family. All of the stuff in my past is just a tool to use to offer encouragement and empathy to others.

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The purpose behind sharing this isn’t to bitch and complain and remain bitter. Actually, the purpose is twofold: 1) to share my experience so others know they aren’t alone, and 2) to help people in the Church to realize that there is an extreme need to offer resources for the straight spouse in a situation where their LGBT marriage partner comes out of the closet.

I certainly do not want to overshadow the LGBT person’s need for help, too. But through my experience, and knowing hundreds of straight spouses in this situation, there is a dire need for clergy and believers to offer true empathy and support for the straight spouse.

I am so thankful to the author of the article link below. In it, she shares her experience with the Church and makes an excellent case for a better understanding from them toward spouses like us. Don’t tell us that if we do this or that, or pray more, or read scripture more, or have caution in not having an affair ourselves, we will see the results we long for. If there is nothing we can “do” to be saved except to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, how could we possibly do anything to make our marriage stay intact?  Just give us love. Give us the support we need by pointing us in the direction of others who have been in a MOM before us. Don’t place burdens on us.

That’s not Jesus’ way.

Here is the article referred to above. It was spot on. Click here: Dear Church Leaders. If you are reading this as a pastor or Christian, the Straight Spouse Network, as well as Canyonwalker Connections, are just two of a handful of resources I can recommend.

Blessings on This Blessed Sunday Morning,
Emily F. Reese

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To Stay or Not to Stay: That Is the Question

The male singer with the high pitch voice is David Lindley, the Jackson Browne's band guitar player.
The male singer with the high pitch voice is David Lindley, Jackson Browne’s band guitar player.

The word “stay” has been floating around the interwebs a bunch this past week.  With all of the SCOTUS posts and people’s opinions on The Book of Faces, it’s getting a bit confusing.

Basically, by not reviewing any of the appeals, SCOTUS is saying that same-sex marriage is constitutional and will be allowed in the states where many stays and voters wanted it to be banned… or defined marriage as between one man and one woman.  In my opinion, there will be hold-out states, and eventually SCOTUS will have to face the issue and make a federal ruling.

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It’s a little more complicated than that, but for now, this Ally will take what she can get.  People should get married if they want… regardless of who it is.  Love is love, marriage is a state mandated right, churches will not be “forced” to perform marriage ceremonies if they choose not to (which they already have that choice) and no Church or religious belief should dictate that to any other citizen of the United States of America.  I wrote a post on my other blog titled “Kiss My Big White Butt” that basically spelled out how I feel about it.  You can read it here if you’d like.

But what about the word “stay” as used in Mixed Orientation Marriages?  Should you “stay” once you find out and not divorce, trying to work things out in a heterosexual marriage while dealing with the complexity of same-sex orientation in your spouse?

I don’t actually have the answers for you.  I have known people who have stayed and tried to work it out.  In the beginning of Devon’s Big Reveal, I was determined to make it work.  My view on the matter was a religious one, basing my actions and reactions on the “fact” that being gay is a choice.  Therefore, Devon could choose to not “be gay” and with the proper counseling and guidance and manipulation from me, he would choose to work through it and “stay” married to me.

Should I stay or should I go?
Should I stay or should I go?

My attitude continued with this until the day I finally accepted that he didn’t really want to stay in it.  His homosexuality was not a choice.  I was choosing to keep him around until I could convince him otherwise.  The day I realized and accepted that was the very day I could let go and tell him that I wanted a divorce.

I slept for 14 hours straight that night and woke up with the most peaceful feeling I had ever experienced.

So… I didn’t stay.  I’m glad I didn’t.  NOW.  But it took me a year and a half to get there, and I tried everything I could think of, even some things I’m not so proud of.  I used scripture and the kids against him, for one, and for that, I am sorry.  In the end, however, that year and a half was a time of growth and grappling with big issues, with the biggest being my own belief system.  Before that Big Reveal, I thought I had all the answers.  After those words “I am gay” came out of his mouth, I truly learned what it meant to walk in someone else’s shoes and being judged for they very thing I used to judge others.  It was tough.  Once you live out something that was not expected to ever happen in your life, you gain empathy and wisdom beyond what you thought you could bear.

How long will it take you, as the straight spouse, to decide what you should do?  I don’t know.  Some lovely people I have met on this journey and through this website are still married after years of dealing with it.  Some of that has to do with age and the length of time they have been married.  Some of it has to do with their kids.  Many times, however, it has had to do with religious pressures based on fear… and that is no way to live.  True love has nothing to do with fear, and many times true love has to do with letting go.

Of course, this is all based on my own experience and others sharing their experiences with me.  I will not judge if you choose to stay.

However, I encourage you to truly evaluate your reasons behind staying.  Is it in any way based in fear?  Like, being afraid you won’t find anyone else?  Afraid that you can’t live without him or her?  Fear that people would find out and you’d lose friends and family over it?  Fear that others will be mad at you, or at your spouse?  All of these things can and will work out, because I have experienced it.  So have others.

Do what you think is right.  But try working toward not living in fear.  Fear is stifling and causes too much anxiety and unhappiness.

Be happy.  Be free.  If you can do that and “stay”, then by all means, do it.  You deserve the best in life, because life is too short to live it in fear.

Love, Emily Without Judgement

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