Somehow, I don’t recall former Governor Elliot Spitzer or former Representative Anthony Weiner getting the same treatment as did McGreevey, but after all, they didn’t fool around with other men. Their indiscretions were with other women, a fact they are constantly reminded of as they run for New York City mayor.
A decade before McGreevey’s announcement, Dr. Mel White, a husband, father, grandfather, seminary professor, pastor, member of the religious right, and ghost writer for Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham, shocked the evangelical world by leaving his wife and declaring his homosexuality, taking up residence with his partner Gary Nixon.
White has been hailed as a bold spiritual pioneer, becoming one of the nation’s leading gay activists, even challenging Rev. Falwell in an open letter, calling on him to renounce his alleged religious bigotry.
But Falwell would not be intimidated, responding with his own open letter, in which he acknowledged to White that, “You have written of your many attempts to conquer your inordinate affections early in your life. I do not doubt your sincerity nor the pain you have endured in the process. But this is also irrelevant. . . . Moral behavior, like all human conduct, is a choice.”
Falwell continued: “Millions of godly and pure individuals have chosen to be single and celibate for life. They have determined to have no sexual relationship, heterosexual or homosexual, for a lifetime. Millions more have been widowed early in life and have chosen to remain unmarried and chaste for the remainder of their lives. Because we are human beings, and not animals, we have the God-given capacity to govern our conduct, regardless our passions and feelings.”
Yes, this holds true even when it comes to homosexuality!
“Therefore, Mel,” Falwell wrote, “there can be no justification for you allowing your passions and feelings to cause you to abandon your wife and family for a male lover, as you have done. The fact that your dear wife is ‘understanding,’ and does not hate you, in no way vindicates what you have done to her. This simply speaks to her character and the genuineness of her personal relationship with Christ.”
Eric Myers’s daughter Kirsten also finds no justification for her father’s actions.
Now the married mother of two, she says, “I know how much I love my children, and if he loved me even half as much as I loved them, there would be no situation where he would even think that it was okay to leave me.”
And so, “Kirsten doesn't believe that her father's sexual orientation is an excuse for his disappearance. ‘I know a lot of people who would never do this...absolutely never blame it on their homosexuality.’”
That is the language of love.
As a heterosexual, I don’t claim to understand the inner turmoil that Myers or McGreevey or White lived with, but I do understand this: The commitment to love your wife and your children trumps your sexual desires and romantic attractions, and to destroy your family for the sake of those desires is, indeed, “the most selfish thing in the world.”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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