One Family’s Story

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By Michael Regele
By Michael Regele

An extraordinary event happened on our 39th wedding anniversary: the Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriages are legal in all 50 states. What possibly could connect these two events? Those 39 years reflect a lifetime of love and intimacy and commitment. And now our lesbian daughter has the same right as we do. This is the immediate connection. But the back-story frames the significance of this for our family.

I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), spending most of my life within the moderate evangelical community. In my early years I pastored a large singles group in Newport Beach. One cannot pastor a singles group without knowing several in your flock are gay, mostly a result of hours of counseling. Many came from very conservative faith traditions. My first funeral was for a gay man who could not put his orientation and faith together. Looking at him in his casket, I felt confusion and failure. That was over 30 years ago. I left the singles ministry and the gay issue behind me.

However, five years ago one of my daughters came out. It all came roaring back for me and now my wife as well. Standing firm with our daughter was never a question. But what about our faith and faith community? By default and from a distance we held a traditional view of marriage and same-sex relationships. But now it was “up close and personal.”

Questions across a range of disciplines flooded my mind, from psychology, to biology to biblical theology. I set about to read everything I could. Some of my conclusions follow.

In most cases sexual orientation is an innate trait formed in a mother’s womb. People do not “choose” their orientation. They are born with an orientation. This science was a game-changer!

Life is a gift from God. We are part of God’s good creation. God granted creation the freedom to unfold and it does so with wonderful diversity, including sexual attraction and orientation.

The behaviors referred to in our Bible’s are not about committed life-long intimate relationships. They are mostly about practices that gay and straight would consider exploitive and abusive today.

The message of Jesus was simple and radical: love God, love your neighbor as yourself. In the face of religious exclusivism in his time, Jesus taught radical inclusion of all persons.

I could no longer hold the traditional view of marriage, same-sex relationships and the exclusion of LGBT persons from the full life of the church.

My wife came at this a bit differently. First, on the day our daughter came out to us, amid the tears she said, “I have wanted to have the kind of relationship that the two of you have.”

Second she imagined herself looking our daughter in the eye and saying, “It’s okay for your brothers and sister to fall in love and be loved, get married, have a family and build a life. But you, dear daughter, must remain single, alone; never falling in love, never being loved.”

She could not say that.

So today, both my wife and I are part of a growing number of evangelicals compelled for personal, scientific and theological reasons to call for full LGBT inclusion in our churches including married same-sex couples.

This plus the U.S. Supreme Court decision has put many traditionalists in a difficult position. Many fear being forced to do things contrary to their beliefs. I believe this is an unnecessary fear. Religious freedom of conscience is deeply embedded in our culture and constitution. I personally would stand against any movement to coerce pastors and churches to act against their consciences. My wife and I are just asking our traditional friends to open their hearts and their churches. We are all one in Jesus.

Mike and his wife, Debbie live in Irvine where he is the chief executive of two consulting and technology companies. He is also the author of “Science, Scripture and Same-sex Love.”

 

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  1. Mike, though I’ve heard your story and read your book, thanks for a concise retelling here. Most Christian people I know begin with this “issue” in the abstract or at least arms length. They really don’t have to choose anything. But once you have someone in front of you, someone you love, and that love is not negotiable, everything changes. That tension between what “I’ve always believed” and a new way of believing isn’t betrayal to one’s faith, but born in faith, the faith that God is in charge, not us. And God’s grace outstrips out imagination. I hope Christain parents and others will consider how they can be faithful lovers of all God’s children. You’ve given many a simple way to move forward. Thanks!

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