by Stephanie Logan
(Part 4. New readers can click here to start at the beginning of the story.)
During Caleb’s high school years, I kept busy with homeschooling, Caleb’s vocal training, and my kids’ local theater involvement on top of my church volunteer work. But my mind was still churning because a bumper crop of national church and homeschool scandals grew up – some with seeds nearly as old as me that had been lying dormant for decades. And then the year Caleb graduated, the church began to rally around Donald Trump with the same sorry excuses I had seen them use throughout my life.
During that time, I began to do two things. First, I questioned my undying loyalty to the Republican Party. I began to investigate other options that I might be able to support wholeheartedly. Second, I started to research just how the church had come to be the way it was. I began to ask myself why I had undying loyalty to the church.
This kind of behavior on my part really bothered my husband. I will never forget his reaction one day when he brought the mail in and came to realize that I had paid twenty-five dollars for a subscription (in my name only) to a non-GOP political publication. His behavior was so unnerving that I chose not to mention that I had also cancelled several of my subscriptions to conservative homeschool publications after learning of abuses within their organizations.
I started tuning out my constant diet of conservative and Christian talk radio and teachings on CD and tuned in public broadcasts and some BBC. I also found some blogs online that were sharing the same concerns that I had about the church. I started realizing the problem with the church wasn’t just in my mind. It was universal and far worse than I had imagined.
The more I distanced myself from my near constant diet of bias confirming information, the more willing I became to tell the truth and to say aloud “No” and “I’m not comfortable with that” and “This is wrong”.
Those are all things that *good* Christian women don’t say – especially not to their husbands and church leaders.
These changes in me provided my husband with the perfect excuse to finally leave me. He went to our preacher before he left and told him (and other godly Christians we knew) that I was a strong woman, and said that he just couldn’t live with a strong woman. He knew this was the perfect cover and he was right. Initially, our preacher believed him completely. My husband told our children – because they knew better and were too old to fool – that we were splitting because we just couldn’t communicate any more. He told his other women that our split was mutual, and the divorce agreement was ready to sign. He told men within his circle of friends that I was a bitter and jealous woman out to ruin him. Some people he never told. The kids and I had to break the news that he was gone.
I spent two years cleaning up the social and legal mess and working even harder to understand the way I had gotten into that position. Counseling and a whole lot of reading and journaling put me on track to understand behavioral disorders like narcissism and characteristics of abusive relationships and my propensity to be sucked into them. And I began to see the striking similarities between my family relationships, my marriage, and the unhealthy behaviors of the church.
While I was having my eyes opened, my kids were too. They watched their father leave them much as he had left me. He didn’t make any attempt to seek shared custody or visitation or even mediation and only showed up to one hearing in family court. They watched as he treated the children of his other women better than he had treated them during their childhoods. This made them begin to ask questions and to understand injustice in a way they hadn’t previously.
When the church announced that they were disciplining my husband and removing him from membership, the pastor chose to speak neutrally to “protect” the family. This shocked my kids. They could not believe that it was being left to the imaginations of the congregation and that what their father had chosen to do was not spoken aloud. They were furious when we got home from the service that week. I was not happy, but I wasn’t surprised either and I explained how the church had chosen to “protect” us in the past.
Between their father’s gross hypocrisy and the increasingly gross behavior of the church, both toward our family and in society in general, my kids’ eyes were being opened.
Then, the events that I detailed in Why I Finally Left the Church occurred and became the impetus for our individual departures.
While I continued to study and communicate with others who had similar life experiences, each of my children adjusted and rebuilt in their own ways.
This is when Caleb began to spread his wings and involve himself in new social circles and live honestly. His new friend network supported him wholeheartedly. This made him brave, and he eventually came out to his friend group and then to his sisters who supported him and kept his secret even though we all lived in the same home.
I noticed the changes in him. I noticed a joy for life that he hadn’t had since he was a small boy. But though I was becoming more settled in my thoughts, it still wasn’t easy. I still struggled against the decades of familial and church indoctrination. So, when he came to my room one night and told me that he had something important to tell me, I asked him if we could wait to have the conversation. My anxiety was high at the time, and I knew I wasn’t in a good place to deal with his news. I had to figure out how I would navigate it. I had to figure out how to deal with my fears.
He was the bigger person that night.
He was disappointed but he waited.
Perhaps a month later he came to me again and this time said that what he had to say couldn’t wait. And what I had known to be true since he was a toddler was finally said aloud.
“Mom, I’m gay.”
Former Evangelical homeschool mom and one-time missionary and pastor’s wife, Stephanie Logan, aka Snicklefritz, writes from her life story and four decades of experience in the evangelical movement. Her views and stories are her own.
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