I have been reading about the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that the pentagon is re-writing. What I understand this would allow homosexuals to serve in the military under certain conditions. Many Americans are against this new approach and many Americans say it is way overdue.
Reading about this policy made me think of a funeral I attended for a young Marine who was killed in Afghanistan. They had a “celebration of life “service at his home church. The church was packed. My relationship to this young man was that I knew his parents from a neighborhood I use to live in. I remember seeing ‘Frankie’ riding around on his bicycle. He came over to my house once to sell raffle tickets for some church trip. I did not know him very well. His parents were very proud of his scholastic achievements and athletic abilities. He was a champion swimmer at his high school and won several state championships.
After the service, I stood on line to share my condolences with Pete and his wife Becky. When I got to Pete he smiled and asked if I wouldn’t mind hanging around afterwards to talk. I replied that was not a problem. I found a seat in the lobby and waited. I somehow felt honored that he wanted to talk to me. Twenty minutes later Pete showed up. Obviously exhausted, he asked me if I wouldn’t mind going out back to have a cigarette with him. He said he bummed it off one of his son’s friends. We went outside and while lighting up his cigarette, Pete began to cry. “My son was gay Mike, my son was gay. How can you be a good Marine and be gay? Can you answer that one? I’m proud that he died a Marine and I can only pray that God forgives , forgives….”
He couldn’t finish. His was overwhelmed by his grief.
I was ready to bum a cigarette at that point. What do I say? What can I say?
I put my left arm around his shoulder, took a breath and said: “God knows Frankie’s heart, just as he knows yours and mine. Talk these things over with Pastor John over there. Don’t let this conversation die.” He hugged me back. What a relief that was!
Pete and I go out for coffee every once in awhile. He is still grieving hard 4 years after Frankie’s death. When I read Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter one (v.26-28) there is not much to interpret. It’s bigger than don’t ask, don’t tell. Only God can tell that to a father such as Peter.