Six years ago, I [Jenni] found myself sitting in a cramped living room surrounded by the pastors and elders of my church. The mood in the room was somber. I could tell that one of the church elders, a good friend of mine with whom I had traveled to China on a missions trip, had been crying. Being that our church was one of the largest evangelical churches in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley area, I didn’t personally know all the people in that room. But everyone there knew everything about me.
I suppose I should have felt ashamed for what I had done. But instead, I felt a strange sense of relief. Like two defendants on trial, Susannah and I had been summoned to this private meeting in order to discuss our ‘situation.’ A third party had informed the pastors on our relationship, and needless to say they were far from pleased to hear that two ministry leaders in their church were carrying on an illicit homosexual affair. Our head pastor launched into a biblical argument on how homosexuality is a sin, highlighting the usual clobber passages and telling us that we were committing a grave error. We could be saved though, he said, if only we would turn from our ways and end the affair.
But Susannah and I were prepared for this, and we responded that we would not end our relationship. We didn’t have answers for all of the pastor’s biblical arguments, nor could we say for certain whether God was for us or against us. The only thing we knew was that we had experienced something about ourselves that completely changed our worlds. And for us, there was no turning back.
Perhaps the church leaders felt pressure to do something because we were active leaders in the church, perhaps they earnestly felt they were acting out of some righteous love, or perhaps they were simply ignorant. Whatever it was that motivated their actions, it doesn’t mitigate the pain that both of us felt when we were asked to leave the church. The church was our community, our family. These were the people that I celebrated my birthdays with and spent my weekends hanging out with. I tried holding onto them, but I finally realized that this was a losing battle when a good friend from the church requested that I not join his volunteer group at a homeless