I am a business executive, congregation president, youth-group leader, athletic coach, happily married man for more than 25 years, and proud father of a couple of teenagers. Oh—and I'm gay. My admission requires some explanation, and perhaps some supporting evidence. You see, except for some experimentation during adolescence, I have not acted on my desires. From the outside I've usually looked and acted like a "normal" heterosexual male.
I was raised Conservative Baptist (emphasis on conservative). From as early as I can remember, I knew right from wrong, white from black, good from evil, righteousness from sinfulness. There was no moral gray, no ambiguity. I felt irreparably condemned by what I knew.
When my wife and I were ready to choose our own theological home, we became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The message of grace alone was, and still is, what attracted me to Lutheranism. Unfortunately, we Lutherans are not all that good at living in and sharing that grace, and sometimes I still feel condemned by what should be good news.
On the inside—in my psyche, feelings, and attractions—I'm as certain of my gayness as I am of my sex. I first became aware of my sexual orientation when I was about 9 or 10 years old, at church summer camp. At that time, I had no idea what sex was, but I was nonetheless aware of an overwhelming emotional attraction I had developed to another boy of my age. It was an experience that would repeat itself over and over again. As I entered adolescence, it would take on a more sexual nature.
By the time I was in high school, I had experienced a number of serious crushes on other young men. Most of these came to nothing but teenage friendships, but in a couple of instances, they ...