Believers in Exile - My Fortuitous Friday the 13th
Do you look for an excuse to celebrate?
Friday the 13th is a date that Paul Trittin and I celebrate whenever it happens.
The first time I saw Paul was on a Friday the 13th, in the Kansas City store where he was working. We had talked at least five hours a week for the previous six months.
I walked into the carpet showroom and said, “You must be Paul.”
“You must be Marvin,” he responded.
We were both nervous. Three years earlier, Paul’s marriage of 28 years ended in divorce. My wife of 54 years had passed away seven months earlier. There are not a lot of role models for dating when you are two mature gay men.
Just a few weeks after my wife’s memorial service, I had met Paul on a gay Christian prayer group online. I was counseling a youth pastor in New England, and Paul knew someone who he thought might be able to help. In less than a month after being outed by church “friends,” the youth pastor’s boyfriend committed suicide.
During that time, Paul and I had talked almost every day. We shared backgrounds. He had been a foreign missionary, which included Christian publishing. I had been a pastor, a minister of music, a university professor, and an author. He, too, had told his wife that his only sex experience had been with guys. They acted on the same blind faith we had.
The almost-daily conversations continued for over six months. I told him that I’d like to meet him, but he said that as good as that sounded, it might never happen. He lived in Kansas City, and I lived in West Michigan.
“Well, sir, I have a daughter who lives in Kansas City, and I am scheduled to be there next week.” With that information, we were pretty sure what was going to happen.
My grandmother was born in 1856. In 1874, she and my grandfather wanted to get married, but traveling preachers didn’t get to their part of Illinois often. Grandma always hedged a bit when I asked who performed their wedding ceremony. She would blush and then say, “We said our vows. When a preacher finally came, we had a real service.”
On Friday, July 13, 2001, Paul and I first said our vows, and he moved to Michigan in early August. On Friday, July 12, 2013, we were married in Iowa, and on Saturday, July 13, 2013, a minister and friends heard us say our vows again. This time the ceremony was in Kansas City.
We never doubted that God approved our courtship and marriage. Each week, more church leaders are speaking up in support of same-sex marriage. As a friend said, “I have never questioned what the Bible says. I have only questioned your interpretation of what the Bible says.”
This month Paul and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage. It’s time to celebrate! We hope you and the one you love will have your day, too. IANA. (I am not ashamed!)
Would you like to talk? Contact me at email@example.com.
Marvin G. Baker is the moderator for Gay Christian Fellowship’s Let’s Talk @ LIKEME Lighthouse.