Shawn Morgan attended Harding from 1985 to 1990 and now lives in Georgia.
I grew up in a Christian home with Christian parents. My mother and father actually attended my alma mater, Harding University. They met there, married there, and soon started a family. My dad gave up everything to be a minister, so starting at age 7, I was surrounded by religion. The only boy of three children, my dad always hoped I would follow in his footsteps. In some respects, I did. I went to his university. I pledged his social club. I even majored in Bible (very briefly).
But, you see, I carried a burden starting at the age of 9. I knew I was different. I spent many hours hoping, praying and even avoiding a part of me. You see, I am gay. I am 45 years old, and it wasn’t until I was 25 before I could actually say, “I’m gay.”
I look back and realize how foolish I was to think praying would make the gay go away. Today, I am in a healthy relationship of 18 years with the man I love. I realize that most church of Christ people won’t or can’t understand that. I do, and I surround myself with other believers who do understand. Not every God-fearing Christian takes issue with gays and gay marriage.
Today, my parents are much more open. (Secretly, I think they might have even voted for Hillary Clinton.) But it took lots of time and healing on both sides for us to come back together. I know my parents hoped I would marry a nice Christian woman, have children and become a preacher, but that didn’t happen.
When people want to debate the definition of marriage, I encourage them to remember, you aren’t required be religious to be married. You aren’t required to be married. So why should you be required to be of the opposite sex? Marriage isn’t about religion.
Today, I’ve come to realize I am blessed with being gay. I am proud to have spoken the powerful words: "I do," with my husband during the brief time it was legal in California. This summer we will make those vows again before family and friends and receive the blessing of our Church. However, without marriage equality, we are simply viewed as friends living together with a barely-recognized Georgia partnership agreement drawn up. In one state we are married, and in another we are nothing. We are legally required to file separate taxes. Without national marriage equality, there are countless relationships across the US that will constantly be in flux, always being treated differently based simply upon the state the couple happens to be residing in or passing through at any given moment.
I will close with an important point. In 1977, my father refused to marry an interracial couple. That’s something that is unheard of today, but was prevalent back in the day. Women don’t cover their heads in church, and there are a plethora of other laws found in the Bible that are no longer followed by modern-day believers. With some issues we find it easy to say that culture has evolved, but with others we choose to stick to the letter of the law. How are those decisions made? Why are some considered eternal laws and others considered temporary?