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  1. The Christian Post
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  3. NY priest Peter Miqueli who 'stole from church to fund BDSM' 'attacked gays'
  4. Pastor Arrested For Spending $60, Of Church Money On Dating Sites - Global Dating Insights

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They thought they knew their son. Everyone called him Steve. He was handsome, with a firm chin and steely blue eyes. As a boy, he dressed like his two brothers.

The Christian Post

He had played sports like his brothers, cross-country and softball. He got good grades and grew to 5 feet, 11 inches. Frances made his three-piece suits for church. She knew the length of his inseam and the width of his chest. Matt and Frances knew about the time he burned his little bottom on the house heater, how he loved to eat hot fudge cake, how he broke his pinky finger once while setting the table with his grandmother. And what they didn't know for certain they assumed -- one day, Stephen would get married and have babies like they had. One day, Stephen would come home to Red Bank and sit beside them on the 10th pew.

When Stephen started dating women in high school, Matt had a single talk with him about waiting to have sex until marriage. Stephen nodded, just like his brothers had. But by the time Matt and Frances pulled into the Atlanta hospital, they imagined their son a stranger.


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Riding the elevator to the fourth floor, the infectious disease unit, Matt vacillated. He pictured the face of a younger Stephen. Buzzed haircut. Dewy eyes.

A pouty lower lip. Two big front teeth. In all his years as a minister, Matt never spoke in depth with anyone about homosexuality. In seminary, the topic wasn't studied.

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It didn't often crop up in sermons or in prayer requests. If a parent or a child had faced it, he never knew. But he did know the Bible verses that seemed to condemn homosexuality: Matt had called it a sin and, like any unrepented sin, he believed it could lead to separation from God after death. But he also knew the Bible passages about love, and those words undergirded him through most of his church life. And he had seen the signs of love in churches. He received thank-yous sent after visiting the sick. Congratulations when his daughter married.

In , the youth at Red Bank Baptist made him a plaque for his service. When he moved from his job as minister of education at Red Bank Baptist that same year to work for the Hamilton County Baptist Association, the church staff got him a cake and made him feel as if he would be missed. Years later, when he had the heart attack, Fred Steelman, the head pastor of Red Bank Baptist -- everyone respectfully referred to him as Dr.

Steelman -- came to the hospital and prayed over him, and Matt healed. Matt assumed somehow that when he learned that Stephen was dying of AIDS, the church would come alongside him in this strange place. That's what churches were supposed to do.

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When he and Frances walked into the hospital room, Stephen was lying in the bed in a thin gown. His body white and weak. The same blue eyes, but hollow underneath. Stephen looked at his father.

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NY priest Peter Miqueli who 'stole from church to fund BDSM' 'attacked gays'

The room felt tight with fear and embarrassment. Matt knew his son was waiting to hear his voice, listening for reassurance. Stephen sobbed. He crawled out of bed and into Matt's lap and Matt held him like he did when he was just a boy.

Pastor Arrested For Spending $60, Of Church Money On Dating Sites - Global Dating Insights

Stephen put his arms around his father's neck and kissed him on the cheek. Once home in Chattanooga, Matt kept the news about Stephen a secret from the church and opened his Bible. The sight of his son stirred questions. Stephen had a partner named Rick, and he told his father he wasn't going to give up the relationship. Stephen told Matt he had been sexually abused by an authority figure on multiple occasions as a teen, but had never wanted his parents to know. The events confused and hurt Stephen, but he said he had always been attracted to men.

He was born gay, he said.

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Matt had believed another narrative about sexual identity. He had heard that homosexuality was a choice to ignore God's design. Ministries that worked with what they called the formerly gay said it was a phase caused by abuse, absent fathers and overbearing mothers. The cure was repentance, sometimes celibacy, a hope that the desires could quiet with help from the almighty. But when Matt thought about the stories his son had told him in the hospital that weekend -- stories of friends turned out of their families and churches, stories about bullying by people who knew their secret, stories of double lives and failed marriages -- he couldn't help but wonder who would choose to be gay.

He read and reread the Bible's passages on homosexuality. Then he read and reread different interpretations of the Scripture.


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He wondered if the verses mentioning homosexuality were meant to condemn rape or pedophilia and not love relationships between two men or two women. And holes started to form in his tight theology. He didn't want to tell Stephen's friends that they were in sin. He didn't want to tell his dying son that his soul was sicker than his body. So over the months, a new belief took hold.

In Matt's mind, there was no conflict between homosexuality and Christianity, and the hundreds of years of church tradition had been missteps. In the meantime, word spread from the AIDS outreach organizations across the Chattanooga area that a minister's son had caught the virus, and the Nevelses were asked to speak at an evening service at First Baptist in the Golden Gateway. It was considered a watershed moment, because few parents were willing to talk about the infection at the time.

The next Wednesday the Nevelses went to a small evening service at Red Bank Baptist, and Matt spoke up during the prayer requests.