It's Sunday morning on this hot and humid July day and I'm sitting in church waiting for services to begin. My Dad is the pastor of this Southern Baptist Church here in my hometown of Boaz, Alabama— some say it is a quaint southern town, a great place to 'live, work, and play.' There is no doubt it is in the heart of the Bible Belt. Many, mostly Yankee journalists, say that Alabama is the heart of the Bigot Belt.
My name is Ruth, most people call me Ruthie. I am fourteen years old and I will be in the ninth grade when school starts back in a few weeks. After a thirty-minute song service, including “There's Victory in Jesus,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Love Lifted Me,” my Dad, the humble and gifted Joseph Brown, walks to the pulpit. "Good morning and welcome to all. It is a great day to be in God's house and to be worshiping with each one of you. Today, we want to look at an issue that is changing America and the change isn't good. It's the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage. Many of us are aware that this week the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in a case that found a constitutional right for gay couples to be married. Yes, our Supreme Court found that two men or two women have just as much a right to a lawful marriage—and all the rights that bestows—as a man and a woman have.
We all know that God instituted marriage as between one man and one woman.
The Apostle Paul specifically condemns homosexuality in the book of Romans—look if you want to at Romans Chapter 4. Here Paul, speaking for God, says that a man should not lust after another man, nor shall a woman lust after another woman. Neither shall lie with a member of the same sex. Friends, please carefully note that Paul does not see homosexuality as biological—that one is born with the 'gay gene.' He is clear, homosexuality and its related lifestyle is a choice. There is no other way to reason but to conclude that homosexuality is a sin—and this is why Paul calls homosexuality a sin here in God's word. Friends and brothers, homosexuality is a sin and God will deal with it—He will punish the sin and the sinner.
Of course, this doesn't mean we don't love the homosexual. We do. However, we as a church, as God's body, cannot condone the sin. Sin has consequences—and it is never good for the sinner nor society."
Dad said a lot more during his sermon, including a whole lot about the likely effects of the Supreme Court's decision, such as loss of religious freedom and the ultimate breakdown of the American family and our society. After Dad finished and stood at the front door of the church and shook everyone's hand, we came home: me, Dad, Mom, my older brother, and my younger sister.
After we arrived home I went to my bedroom while Mom prepared lunch. I sat in the middle of my bed pondering the words Dad had so clearly and eloquently delivered to all in attendance this morning at First Baptist Church. One thing I knew he was right about, according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin and a choice. A person is not born a homosexual or with homosexual tendencies.
"Ruthie, lunch is ready," Mom called from the kitchen. I got up and quickly walked to the dining room. My parents had this crazy rule that whoever was at home at meal times always ate together in the dining room.
"Ruthie, it's your turn to say grace," Mom said.
"Lord, thank you for this day, for church, for Dad's sermon, for family, and for this food. Amen." I always was pretty good with prayers. I got right to it and never lingered.
Lunch time was rather quiet today, a little unusual for Sunday's. Dad tried to start a conversation about his sermon but there were no takers, not even Mom, who usually is faithful to follow Dad off a cliff. The most chatter was over the summer Olympics in Germany and ridiculing computer gaming as a legitimate sport. The corn casserole generated its usual remarks from Rachel, Jacob, and myself—none of us kids could hardly stomach it but we all finally agreed that a sale on both creamy and niblet corn justified its purchase. We all were willing to sacrifice for the common good—our family unit had to stick together to be a unifying force in our community and, as Dad always said, "a beacon on a hill."
Youthful attitudes improved greatly with the banana-pudding. I assumed bananas were likewise on sale. It was good and was even better when Mom let us kids take ours with us back to our individual bedrooms.
I sat at my desk thoughtless for a while as I finished my pudding. But, like a lightning bolt, I was suddenly awakened again to homosexuality and the consequences that would surely follow.
For quite a while I, at least subconsciously, had thought I might be gay. I had never talked with anyone about it, especially, not with my Dad. Prior to the sixth grade I knew I was different. I didn't want anything to do with boys. I thought they were gross especially after I learned the difference sexually between boys and girls. The boys were just too much like animals.
As to girls, my whole mind and body changed in the sixth grade. Sarah, Heather, Lisa, and I had a sleep over at Sarah's house. It was during the Christmas holidays. During the night, after her parents were fast asleep, we decided to play a game. Lisa had suggested that we would soon be invited to the Valentine's dance—our first, and that we needed to learn more about kissing. It was a big dare and it took quite a while for everyone to get on board with it. I do remember not being the last one to agree—I guess that should have told me something about my tendencies.
The game started with us sitting in a circle like a clock and starting with Sarah at twelve o’clock, kissing Lisa sitting at the three o’clock position. The first kiss was easy—it was a kiss to the cheek. The second round was a quick kiss to the lips. It got more intense every round. Each round took what seemed like an hour, but of course it didn't. After each kiss, there was much laughter and commentary. Also, after each round, we would rotate positions, so everyone would get practice with everyone.
During the last round, it came my turn to French kiss Heather. I was very hesitant at first, but once she gave me her tongue it seemed like something leaped in my gut, like my sexual clock had been plugged in. I then pulled Heather to me closer and closer and we kept our kissing going for quite a while. Sarah and Lisa finally pulled us apart and Lisa said, "well, we now know who has a thing for girls." Sarah added, "you girls better get a room."
Here is the thing that now blows my mind. Later that night, after we had all settled down and fallen asleep—scattered over their big den— Heather came and lay down beside me. I looked at her, surprised, but didn't say a thing. I was glad she was there. She got in my sleeping bag with me and we started kissing, really kissing, French kissing. This went on for what seemed like an hour and then our hands started to explore each other's body. Before sunrise, Heather kissed me one final and exciting time and went back to her sleeping bag.
I never saw Heather again. Her and her family moved cross country before school started in mid-August. I never heard from her again. And, I never told anyone about our sexual encounter.
It was too pretty to stay in my bedroom until church services tonight. Mom agreed that I could ride my bicycle to the city park. It was only a couple of miles and there would be several church families there picnicking and playing volleyball and just hanging out most of the afternoon. Mom made me promise her I would be back no later than 4:30. I agreed.
It was a nice ride to the park. I saw the Smith's, the Williams', and the Crutcher's and declined an offer from each family to join them. I headed for my favorite spot beside a small stream just down the hill from the volleyball court. This was my favorite thinking spot. I even had my favorite rock that seemed out of place but was big enough for me to be hidden behind it away from the footpath.
My thoughts returned to my Dad. He is a good man, a good father, a good husband to my Mom. But, he is strict when it comes to the Bible, Christianity, and the church's role in society. He is a fair man, but he doesn’t have much patience with those whose worldview is different than his own. He believes the Bible is literally God's word and that it is true no matter the season or the century. He runs his church and his household fairly and firmly, but always in accord with what the Bible says.
Maybe I should go talk to my Dad and tell him how I feel. Even more, tell him that I think I am gay. What would he do? I have a feeling he would condemn me, hopefully gently and lovingly, and pray for me. One thing I know for sure is that he would never accept me as gay. He would always believe that my homosexuality was my choice—my choice to sin. If I told my Dad, I deeply fear that things would never be the same between us.
No, now doesn’t seem to be the right time to reveal any of this to my Dad, or anyone else. I must keep this a secret. Maybe, I am going through a phase. Maybe, I’m not gay. Maybe I am making too much of this. I should recommit to God's Word and His ways. Lord, forgive me. "You have a good time at the park? See anyone you know?" Mom said as I walked in the house from the garage.
Richard L. Fricks, Author
I became a private fiction scribbler in 1994 while I was in law school. In November 2015, I took the NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50,000 words towards a book. In May 2016, I published God and Girl. Over the next nine months I wrote over 140,000 words towards another novel. It is now on life support in a desk drawer. Since then, I've written The Boaz Scorekeeper, The Boaz Secrets, The Boaz Stenographer, and The Boaz Schoolteacher. I’m currently working on my first series: The Boaz Sleuth. The first book is called, The Case of the Perfectionist Professor. Thanks for reading my little stories.