When we got to the diner, all of the family members that had attended the church service were there, including those who didn’t normally join us for brunch.They came because they had questions for me about the meeting I was going to have with Rev. Belec a little later, and as soon as we’d ordered, they began to question me about it.
“Dad, what’s going on with you and this new minister?” Dustin wanted to know.
“I just requested a meeting with him so I could find out about his views on some specific topics.”
“You mean about us being gay, don’t you?” Kevin commented.“I think Rev. Kirk made that fairly obvious by the way he introduced us to Rev. Belec as we were leaving the church.He made a big deal out of mentioning that I was your son and Vinnie and I were married.”
“And he did the same with Dion and me,” Trey added.
“And with Danny and me too,” Brandon chimed in.“And when he introduced the boys, he made sure to state they were either our sons or Dion and Trey’s sons.”
“He did the same thing with Cole and me too,” Dustin added, “but this time Rev. Kirk made sure to let him know that Katie and Beth were our wives.”
“Rev. Kirk probably did that because I told him it was one of the things I was worried about with the new minister.This makes me wonder if he’s already chatted with Rev. Belec and has discovered his views on the subject, as well as a few others.It might be why he introduced all of you that way.”
“Do you suspect the new minister is homophobic?” Elliot demanded, “because when he introduced me, he said this is Elliot O’Hara-Currie, another of Danny and Brandon’s sons, and his boyfriend, Ian Hill.”
“I just wanted to find out his position on this issue, so I can determine what would be best for us to do next.”
“Do you think Rev. Kirk already knows that Rev. Belec doesn’t like gays?” Joshie followed.
“It’s possible, because he’s spent a considerable amount of time with Rev. Belec already.”
“What are you going to do if that’s the way this new guy is?” Benny demanded.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it and not before.Let me talk to the man first.”
Our meals were delivered shortly after I said this, so we concentrated on the food and let the topic drop.Before we left, however, they all made me promise that I’d let them know what I found out.
“I’m not gay, but a bunch of my brothers are,” Cole stated, “so if he’s homophobic, then I’ll support any decision you make.”
“And I agree with my husband,” Beth concurred.
“We all do,” Katie added in support.“We’re in this together, because we’re all family.”
“Thank you and I’m sure we all appreciate that you feel this way,” I replied.
Once we arrived home, the college students quickly grabbed their things, loaded up their cars, and left for their campuses.As we said goodbye to each one, we also reminded them to drive carefully and call us when they got back.We also told them we looked forward to seeing them again at Christmas, and then they drove away.
Once the last one had taken off, I spent the time until my meeting formulating all of the questions I was going to ask.I figured I’d start out slow and ask questions about his views on certain religious topics first before I got down to the question of how he felt about same sex relationships.I thought I had it all planned out when it was time for me to head back to the church.
When I arrived there, Rev. Kirk was waiting for me just inside the doorway.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“Not wrong.I just have a couple of questions for you before you go to meet with Rev. Belec. What are you planning to do if this meeting doesn’t go the way you want?”
“I take it that you already know something.My sons thought that too, because of the way you introduced them earlier.All I want to know is how he’s going to treat my sons who are gay.If he isn’t going to be as welcoming to them as you have been, then we’ll probably have to find another church.”
“I’d hate to see that happen.You’re a valued member of this congregation.”
“Oh, we wouldn’t leave until he took over, but none of us is ready to hear that being gay is a choice and a sin.We’re not going to sit in the pews and listen to him run us down from the pulpit if that’s what he believes and intends to do.”
“Just promise that you’ll speak with me first, if that’s what you think you’re going to do.”
“Ok, I’ll promise you that.”
“Roy is waiting for you in my office.I think you know the way.”
“Yes, I do, and thank you.”
When I got to the office, the door was shut, so I knocked.“Come in,” came the response from inside.When I entered, he didn’t even offer me his hand to shake.
“Mr. Currie, since I met your family earlier, I believe I know why you asked for this meeting.When I was introduced to your sons and grandsons today, I noticed that several of them have male partners, as do you, so I’m certain that you’re here to find out my views on homosexuality.I’ll save you some time and tell you directly.I believe in interpreting the Bible exactly as it is written, and this includes Leviticus 18:22 that states ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.’ I think that should clarify my stance on the matter.
“It certainly does, but now I have a question for you.Why did God create the boys the way they are, if he condemns them for being that way?”
“God didn’t create homosexuals.”
“That’s strange, because each of the boys knew they were gay before they reached puberty, some well before, and this wasn’t merely due to the childish reaction that young boys have toward girls either.They weren’t attracted to girls in a romantic sense and their position didn’t change as the got older.They never became interested in girls – they were only interested in other boys, and there was nothing anyone was going to do to change that.”
“I’m afraid I do not accept the premise of your argument.Each of them made a choice and a bad choice at that.”
“Being gay isn’t a choice, any more than you made a choice in being heterosexual.”
“No, I didn’t make that choice, because it was the normal attraction between a man and a woman.Your case, in particular, should prove that it’s a choice.You were married to a woman and raised a family, and then you chose to be with a man after she died.I was told all about you.”
“Yes, in my case I did make a choice because I wasn’t gay.I’m bisexual and attracted to both sexes.The point I’m making is that you can’t change a person who is truly gay, because no matter what you say, it’s not a choice.”
“There have been homosexuals who have given up their homosexual ways after going through conversion therapy.”
“If they changed, as you say, then they were bisexual, not gay.And from what I understand, what you call conversion therapy would be considered a form of torture, the same as if an enemy nation were to use the same procedure on one of our captured troops.”
“It’s not torture, just an aggressive way of getting homosexuals to see the error of their ways.Once I am pastor, this church will no longer coddle homosexuals, nor will there be any more same-sex marriages taking place here.From now on, this church will follow the scriptures as they are written.”
“In that case, my family and I will no longer be members of this church, and I believe you saw what a large percentage of the congregation we make up.In addition to my family, I’m sure others will leave this church as well, so there won’t be many left for you to minister to.”
“That’s fine, because we only want true, godly Christians to attend here.”
“Not only will you be losing the majority of the parishioners, but you’ll also discover the collection plate will be much lighter as well.”
“God will help us survive.”
“That leads me to another question.Why did you leave your last church?”
“After my wife died, living in the same house that I’d lived with her and working at the same church became too painful for me to endure any longer.”
“That may be true to some extent, but I did my homework as well and discovered some things about you.According to my contacts, the death of your wife wasn’t the only reason you are no longer at your former church.I was informed that many of the congregants there would not accept your rigid interpretation of the Bible either and more than half of them left the church.I was also told that the regional Council in that area was unhappy about this fact, not only because of the drop in membership, but the weekly contributions to the church were way down as well.To rectify the situation, they offered you the chance to transfer here.”
“I’m not sure where you got your information but it’s not totally accurate.It’s true that some members left the church and the weekly collections went down a bit, but not enough for the Council to force me out.”
“I’m sure they didn’t present it to you that way, but I believe they made it understood that you were either to take the transfer here or you’d have to find a church and congregation on your own.”
“Once again, there are flaws in your information, but that doesn’t change my stance.As St. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 6:9, ‘I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators,’ and I intend to follow his admonition.It means that homosexuals will not be welcome in this church once I take over unless they repent or refrain from acting on those impulses.”
“Then I guess there is nothing left for us to talk about.My family will continue attending services while Rev. Kirk is still here, but once he leaves, you will not be seeing any of my family members within this edifice again.”
“Don’t expect me to cry about that, because I have made my views perfectly clear.”
“Indeed you have, and so have I.”
I didn’t see Rev. Kirk on the way out, and when I arrived home the boys all wanted to know what had happened.I quickly recounted the basics of what was said and told them that we’d have to find another church to attend.
“Before we talk about that, you might want to check your phone for messages,” Dion stated. “A few people called us while you were gone to see why you weren’t answering your phone.”
“Yes, I turned it off before entering the church because I had a feeling that some of the others might try to call me again and I didn’t want the meeting with Rev. Belec to be interrupted.I’ll go to my room to retrieve my messages and call them back.”
I soon discovered that I had several messages, and it took a considerable amount of time to call each of them back.When I finished, I came out and discovered that Brandon and Trey had made dinner, and the entire family was waiting for me to join them before they sat down to eat.
“You didn’t have to wait for me.”
“We always eat together and today was not going to be any different,” replied Danny.
“Yeah, you were sticking up for us,” Joshie added, “so we all agreed to wait for you.”
“Ok, then let’s eat because I’m sure you’re all starving.”
As we ate, we talked about the different churches in the area and they gave me suggestions about which churches they might be willing to attend.At least for now, I had a frame of reference for where I would begin my search for a new church.Once the conversation ended, the various family members attempted to get me to tell them which church I thought we should attend.
“I’m not sure.I’ll have to meet with the ministers of the churches we might be interested in attending so I can find out their views as well, like I did with Rev. Belec.”
Once we finished the meal, I remembered that I’d agreed to speak with Rev. Kirk before I did anything, so I waited until I thought he and his wife had also finished their dinner before I gave him a call.
“How did your meeting go?” he asked after we’d exchanged greetings.
“I was afraid of that.From comments he made to me about the way I handled things, he seemed fairly rigid in his views and not likely to compromise.”
“Yes, that’s what I found as well, so I told him we’d be leaving the church when you did.”
“Do you know where you might attend next?”
“No, we’ve talked about it, but haven’t decided anything.”
“Well, I doubt you’ll want to travel very far to attend services, so I have a suggestion.I know the minister of the local Presbyterian Church and his views are a lot like mine, so you might want to call and speak with him before you make a final decision.”
“I definitely will, and your recommendation will carry a lot of weight.”
“I appreciate that, Josh, and I’m going to miss you and your family.I’ll pray that you find a church that meets your needs.”
“Thank you.I appreciate that, and my family and I will miss you as well.”
As it turned out, the Presbyterian Church was also one that was mentioned to me at dinner, so I’ll definitely check it out.I’ll contact the minister to see if we can meet, and I’ll let him know that my entire family might be willing to join his congregation.I’ll also let him know which church we’d been attending and why we’re leaving, because that might make him more amenable to hearing me out.
It was at this point that I realized something: we usually decorate the house for Christmas over the Thanksgiving weekend, but with all of the birthday parties this year, and my meeting with Rev. Belec, I forgot all about it.After thinking about how we might deal with it now, I had a suggestion, so I called the family together.
“We need to start decorating the house for Christmas.We’re a little behind, because we usually would have done this over this past weekend, so we have to get moving.I would like some of you to bring the boxes with the Christmas decorations out of storage, and then we can start putting them up tomorrow.”
“Do you put up a real tree?” Xander asked.
“No, we use an artificial tree, because too many family members have allergies, and now TJ has breathing problems as well.”
“K, I was just wonderin’.”
Danny, Brandon, Dion, and the boys all offered to help me retrieve those items from the basement, so I handed them the boxes and let them carry them upstairs.We decided to store everything in the foyer until they were needed, and when we were done one of the younger boys asked a question.
“Are you gonna put the tree up in the family room or living room this year?”
“It will be tight, but we’ll have to squeeze it into the living room, while leaving enough space to set up the banquet table for Christmas dinner.”
“Why not put it in the family room then?” Benny asked.
“We’ll need the space in there for Christmas Eve.Elliot’s piano is in the family room and I want all of us to be able to fit in there so we can sing Christmas carols while Elliot plays the piano.”
“Ok, I understand now.”
Now that we’d accomplished this much, the fathers sent the younger boys upstairs to get ready for bed, and when the boys finished, their dads went upstairs to tuck them in.While they were doing that, I had a chat with Jake.
“I know you, Danny, or Brandon won’t get home in time to help decorate the outside of the house, so I’ll have either Dion or Trey help me do that.”
“I don’t want you climbing up the ladder and doing those things.You’re old enough now that if you fell you could do some serious damage.”
“Then I won’t fall.”
“Just promise me you’ll let one of the boys climb up the ladders to hang the outdoor lights and you’ll just hold the ladder for them.”
“I’ll talk to them about it before we get started.”
“That’s not a promise.”
“Ok, then I promise to be careful.”
Jake knew that this was the best he was going to get from me, so he stopped asking me to commit to keeping both feet on the ground.I could tell he was still slightly upset about my failure to make the promise he wanted, but he warmed up long enough for us to be affectionate before we fell asleep.
While the others were at work and school the next day, I did a few things each time TJ was taking a nap.I moved the furniture around in the living room and put the artificial tree together, and I also strung the lights around it.I also put up a few of the other decorations throughout the house, but then I had to stop so I could start working on dinner.
I was holding TJ and keeping an eye on the things in the oven when Dion, Trey, and the boys arrived home from school.Trey immediately took TJ from me and went to change him before giving him a bottle, and the boys went to do their homework.While they were doing those things, I spoke to Dion about helping me outside in a little while, as I kept an eye on dinner.When Trey was finished taking care of TJ, the younger boys offered to entertain the baby while Trey came out to help with dinner, so Dion and I headed outside to hang the lights.
“I’ll climb up the ladder and hang the lights, since the hooks are still up there from previous years,” Dion announced.“You can steady the ladder for me.”
“Did you talk to Jake about this?”
“No, but I think you’re getting too old to be climbing the ladder.”
“Why is everyone telling me I’m too old to do this?”
“I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but have you looked in a mirror lately?”
“Ok, I know I’m not as young as you guys, but I don’t use a cane or a walker yet and can do more than you think.”
“And we want to keep it that way, so I’ll do the climbing.”
I didn’t want to waste any time arguing with him, so I merely steadied the ladder and fed him the strings of lights so he could hang them in place.He did a very good job of doing it and had nearly hung all of the lights when Danny, Brandon, and Jake arrived home, and Jake merely looked at Dion and me and smiled.
“Nice job and I’m glad you listened to me.”
I didn’t respond and merely gave him a kiss before he went inside, and a short time later Dion and I also headed into the house, but not before taking a minute to admire our handiwork.We would light everything up after dinner to get the full effect, but it looked great for now.
During dinner, I asked the boys which of them had finished their homework, and they all had except for Joshie and Benny.“Good, then after we finish eating you can help me decorate the tree and the interior of the house.”
“Do we get to put the decorations on the tree?” Xander wanted to know.
“Yes, I put the tree together earlier and strung the lights, but I’ll let you boys hang the ornaments.I’ll merely watch and let you know if you’re putting them too close together and need to spread them out.”
“Neat.I never got to do this before.They never let me help out where I lived before I came here.”
“Grandpa Josh lets us help him do it every year,” Wyatt told him, “and we put up other stuff around the house too.”
“Then I guess you don’t need the rest of us,” Brandon commented.
“Oh, there are things you can help with as well, because the boys can’t reach some of the places they need to go.There are also a few decorations that are delicate, and I don’t want to risk the boys breaking them.”
“In that case, you know we’ll be more than happy to help!”
As soon as we finished eating, we all got busy.First, we went outside to see how the lights looked when lit up, and as soon as that task passed inspection, we went back inside.Those who weren’t helping to decorate went to clean up the kitchen and load the dishwasher, and when we finished, we stood back to admire what we’d accomplished.
“TJ is fascinated with the lights on the tree,” Trey stated.“He won’t stop looking at them.”
“Yes, I think you were all like that when you were younger.You were all fascinated with the lights, and it’s how the younger kids react that puts the magic into Christmas.”
Checking out what we’d done, our conversation continued until it was time for the boys to go to bed, so their fathers sent them upstairs to shower.
“Thank you for doin’ all of this for us,” Hayden said before going upstairs.
“Yeah, the house looks really nice,” Hunter concurred.
“And the outside looks nice too,” Tristan added.
“And I liked that you let me help do some of it,” Xander followed.
“But we didn’t set up the manger yet,” Wyatt pointed out.
“That’s very delicate so I keep it in my closet, and I’ll bring it out and set it up tomorrow.”
“It’s really nice and you’re gonna like it,” Wyatt told Xander.
“K, I can’t wait to see it.”
When the younger boys went upstairs, Benny and Joshie came over to speak with Jake and me.
“The younger boys were right, and everything looks great,” Benny stated.
“Grandpa Jake, are you gonna dress up like Santa Claus again on Christmas Eve?” Joshie asked.
“What?I never did that.”
“You did too, and then you’d peak in the window so we’d go to bed.”
“That wasn’t me! That was the real Santa Claus.”
“Santa isn’t real.”
“Don’t say that too loudly, or he may not leave you any presents this year.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Joshie scoffed, and then he and Benny headed up to their bedroom.