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the gospel according to everyone
The gospel according to John
Once, a few years ago, completely by accident, I met my granddaughter. I should never have met her and it never happened again but just for a moment we looked at each other for the first and only time. We were completely speechless.

I've never met any of my other seven grandchildren or my two great-grandchildren. My family won't allow me. I've barely seen my three sons or daughter in thirty years. It's not surprising: I raised my children to believe that someone like me is just not acceptable. So they don't accept me.

We're Salvation Army, that's how I was raised and how I met my wife. I never knew any other way of being a Christian and I loved it: the music, the meetings, the whole way of life. I learnt to play brass when I was 11, cornet, then tenor, then baritone, then bass, then trombone. I still play them all.

We raised our children as good Salvationists too but behind the scenes things were not all they seemed to be. Even at school I'd known my feelings were for boys rather than girls but I'd assumed this was normal. At first my wife had no idea but eventually she began to realise I was not, shall we say, being straight with her. I can't say I was happy with myself but I was trapped in a terrible world of guilt, deception and confusion. For years I was in a cycle of beating myself up, of tears, of repentance… before the cycle started again. Finally one day I received a summons to the Divisional Commander's office. He demanded my resignation on the spot.

Being good Salvationists, my wife and children wanted me to overcome my "problem" and I understood their view. I'd unwittingly raised my children to despise the person I'd turned out to be. They thought my being gay was some kind of compulsion whereas I have realised that it was, and is, who I am. In the end they didn't like me being around and my wife asked for a divorce.

Although I'd never felt rejected by God I'd long felt I was falling short as a Christian until one weekend I went to a conference of something called the Gay Christian Movement. It was a revelation to meet Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans, evangelicals talking about Jesus, about being gay, with no condemnation from anyone. I began to realise I was not weird but that God was happy with my identity. Slowly I began to stop living a lie.

I wrote to my family to say I'd accepted myself as both a Christian and a gay man. My oldest son replied that I was no longer his father and asked me not to contact him again.

There is a lot of ignorance in the Church, so many people carry so much prejudice, resentment and lack of forgiveness. As the years have passed I've never stopped praying the family might change their minds. They believe I have to change but as Mike, my partner, and I often say, "If tears, repentance and prayers could have changed us we would not be together now."

Even after all these years, it can still hurt. I remember one morning, at church, watching a visiting grandfather taking his granddaughter up to receive communion and I thought of my own grandchildren and suddenly I broke down in tears. I couldn't stop sobbing.
But I don't carry any bitterness towards the family and I try and pray for them all. I'm probably at the top of my son's prayer list and he's at the top of mine so the Lord will sort it out one day. Even on my deathbed I'd love to see the children and the grandchildren, just once, that is my desire. I'd love to see them. But it's all in God's hands.

The Gospel According To Everyone by Martin and Meg Wroe is available through Lulu.com, as a Kindle e-book and an iBook in the iTunes Store
martin wroe
Martin Wroe is a freelance editor and writer who was formerly on staff at different UK newspapers.
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