You Don’t Know Who You’re Hurting

The author of today’s letter has chosen to remain anonymous, for reasons I think will become obvious as you read it. This project exists to give voice to this man and others who have been closeted and silenced. If you are an LGBTQ person or ally who has something to share with the General Synod of 2016, your letter can be shared by name, first name only, or anonymously, by sending it to revstacey@gmail.com

Dear General Synod 2016,

I admit I don’t know a whole lot about all that happened at General Synod. I admit I don’t know a whole lot about how all that church stuff works. But I know enough that some things happened at General Synod that I don’t like.

I’m an early-30s something man, married to my wife for over five years, with a beautiful kid.

I’m also in the closet. I’m gay.

I hesitated to even write as much as I did, because I am terrified people will find out. You see, I belong to the Harbor Churches in West Michigan. A few years ago, we had a pastor at one of our campuses. Seemed like a good guy. My family didn’t go to the campus he was at. But later I heard he and his wife got a divorce. I found out even later it was because he was gay.

He lost his job, his family, his friends, and had people talk about him behind his back. I’m terrified I will lose it all too. I hear the jokes in my men’s group. I laugh along. I think I’m good. I don’t think anyone suspects. But what if they did?

General Synod, I’ve done everything I was supposed to do. I went to a Christian college. Married a good woman. We had a child. I’ve been a member of the Reformed Church since I was a kid myself. And I’ve prayed as hard as I can to be straight. I thought that if I just worked and acted like I’m supposed to, it’d just go away. But it hasn’t.

I don’t know if I’ll ever work up the courage like our pastor. He tries to stay positive, but I know it’s hard. West Michigan isn’t a very friendly place to be gay. And you voting to say LGBTQ people aren’t welcome really, really hurts. All I’m saying is, you don’t know who you’re hurting when you say those things.

Sincerely,

A scared, closeted, gay father, and member of the RCA.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Friend, we stand with you and pray for you. Know that you’re not alone; countless people in the RCA are supporting, educating and advocating that one day you will neither be nameless nor faceless in this denomination.

  2. Friend, know that you’re not alone. We stand with you and pray for you. Countless people are supporting, educating, and advocating that one day you will neither be faceless nor nameless in the RCA.

  3. Kevin Muur says:

    Dear Young Gay Dad,
    I’m sorry that you bought into the fable that you can “pray the gay away”! Believe me it will only make you more miserable and rittled with guilt. I too thought I was in love with a very beautiful young woman at a RCA college. But I’m thankful that I didn’t matter because I couldn’t live the lie. I hope you can find “peace” with who and what you are and still remain in your current living situation. But it might take some risk on your part to at least be honest with your spouse because it’s not fair to her to have only half of you and not all of you. If you need a shoulder I’m here for you! I’m stuck in the Dutch Belt of Notthwest Iowa. So back in the closet I had to go after living in larger metro areas. God Bless You in the journey!

  4. James Hart Brumm says:

    I am not sure whether I am more worried about the people in the RCA who don’t know who we are hurting or those who do know and feel they are justified in doing so. I worry about this author and every person–a few of whom I know–is in a similar spot because of how the church has chosen to act and call it love. And I repent . . . but my repentance isn’t enough, is it?

  5. Friend – I lived in the closet for 22 years and spent time working at Fair Haven. I know how scary it was for me. You have all my prayers and love. If you ever need someone to talk to – reach out. I’d be happy to listen.

  6. millercdenise says:

    This is scary that someone can’t be who they are because others are being unloving. Being forced to live in the shadow of someone’s hate has me asking is the RCA a loving people. I too am here.

  7. My heart is broken to hear your story… and to know that we at Harbor Churches have not created a safe enough environment for you to approach myself or one of the other Harbor Pastors. I have been in a text message thread with our pastors over the past couple hours as we lament that an anonymous letter was safer for you than inviting one of us to walk with you, and yet we also understand your fear and what is often our ignorance. We love you. We can can appreciate your tenousness. We sense your loneliness. And we weep with you over your silent struggle. Your situation is particularly difficult, with a wife and child, and please know that we would welcome the opportunity to be your pastors through this.

  8. Janet Sharp says:

    I am a proud friend of the LBGT community. LBGT people should not have to look for, “Safe Environments”, within a church of God, while the Church takes years to decide if they will be treated with love, understanding, knowledge, truths, and positive acceptance. “Jesus Loved the Little Children, ALL the Children of the World. Wasn’t that song, one of the first you were taught, (besides, “Jesus Loves Me”), in the Reformed Church? I know,I was. That means EVERY child. Why teach these songs to preschool children, when the truth is, some people aren’t loved, or even acknowledged? I don’t know one person who hasn’t struggled with some sort of problem in their life. If you’re afraid to get help from your Church, because of judgement, and scorn, then you should move on to a Church, that will welcome you.

  9. Janet Sharp says:

    I did comment. Where did it go. I don’t need to remain anonymous. I want it sent to the Church and posted. Thank you, Janet Sharp

    1. Stacey Midge says:

      Sorry Janet, the comments here have to go through my approval so I can keep out the trolls. Thanks for your comment, and your compassion for the author.

  10. Well, this is awkward, i’m the guy referenced in the letter. I was the campus pastor who started Harbor Life Church in Grandville. I’d just like to say that I have so much respect for Tom, Tim, Scott and Greg. You too Tanner (He’s the guy who is now the campus pastor at Harbor Life and we’ve never met). I have a solid relationship with the leadership at Fair Haven and know that anyone who is struggling with any issue could go to them in complete confidence that they will be loved unconditionally.

    That said, they are busy guys and the kind of care they can give you personally when you are struggling is limited. They were there for me in the beginning of my journey out of the closet. However, the issue of homosexuality in the church is a difficult one with many opinions on how to talk and handle the issue. Fortunately, for me, I had one family from Harbor Life that saw me as a person that needed to be shown unconditional love. They saw me as Robb, (versus, the pastor who told everyone he is gay whom we should all talk about and not to) and on a regular basis reached out to me to show me that I am loved and that I was included in the fellowship with other Christians. That’s not to say that other people didn’t reach out to me. Some people did, however, when the dust settled people moved on.

    Closeted gay dad…let me say this! You are not alone and if I can offer you any type of wisdom it would be this. Talk to someone! Talk to me, anonymously if you like. Make up an e-mail and message me. Talk to Tim, Tom, Greg, Scott or Tanner. They will not out you. I will not out you. We will listen and walk with you. This offer isn’t just for Closeted gay dad…feel free to contact me if you need to talk. I’m happy to listen and It can be completely confidential.

    1. Forgot to add my direct contact: robbkornoelje@gmail.com or 616-292-3242 is my cell.

  11. Kama Jongerius says:

    Dear closeted Dad,
    It pains me that “the church” today earnestly says, “I’m sorry that you are hurting,” while simultaneously refusing to say “We are open and affirming.” I completely understand why some church bodies cannot say it, but I imagine it doesn’t take away the sting of felt-rejection for you or any other LGBTQ individual.
    Thank you for sharing honestly. Thank you, also, Room for All people who DO make this dialog possible.
    Kama

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