Christian children's book author Matthew Paul Turner has announced that he is gay. In a post on social media, Turner said that he and his wife would be splitting up but still remain friends.
"While we’re best friends and thoroughly love doing life, parenting, and pursuing our dreams together, ending our marriage is necessary because I am gay," he wrote. The couple have three children together. Turner, who wrote titles such as "When God Made Light", "When I Pray For You" and "Our Great Big American God", said he had struggled with his sexuality after growing up in a conservative Christian environment.
"Being gay isn’t a new discovery for me," he explained. "However, as someone who spent 30+ years in fundamentalist/evangelical churches, exploring God through conservative theologies, I lived many days overwhelmed by fear, shame, and self-hatred."
Turner added: "Though my own faith evolved long ago to become LGBTQ+ affirming, my journey toward recognising, accepting and embracing myself took much longer. But for the first time in my life, despite the sadness and grief I’m feeling right now, I can say with confidence that I’m ready to embrace freedom, hope, and God as a gay man."
The author, who previously edited CCM Magazine (Contemporary Christian Music), said that the situation would have been unbearable had it not been for the "undying grace and support" of his wife, Jessica.
"I fell in love with her 17 years ago and still love her deeply," he said. "Despite her own grief and pain, she has loved and encouraged me to be fully me...many of the steps I’ve taken recently wouldn’t have happened without Jessica walking beside me, helping me through every fear. Jessica is and will always be my hero. She’s brave, strong and showcases love like nobody I know."
Matthew said that he and Jessica's "utmost desire" was to "move forward in love and compassion for each other and put the well-being of our kids first."
"Coming out to my kids was one of the hardest, most beautiful things I’ve ever done," he added. "Loving and protecting their stories will always be our first priority."
Turner clarified that he will continue to write Christian kids books. "Writing books about wholeness, hope, and God’s love for children is an honor and privilege I do not take for granted," he said.
While the social response has been overwhelmingly supportive of Turner's decision, the author added that anyone who replies to his announcement with "comments laced in shame, criticism of our family, our theology, or our choices will be blocked".
One person replied to his post: "Respect! Reading your beautiful words as you move forward in truth reaffirms that you are a man of God."
Another added: "Glad you can finally live your truth. That’s a big step. One day at a time."
Others were not so supportive, however, with one Twitter user replying to the announcement: "Matthew, I'm in no way coming for your throat, looking to take a shot or shots at you here. If you indeed affirm the inerrancy of God's Word, I'd like to encourage you to 'reevaluate' your position and actions here in light of that affirmation. Blessings to you."
Another added: "We must forever realize that sin is defined by God’s mandate, not our personal preferences. Sin requires repentance and a 'change of direction' that leads to Godly actions."
Turner's wife Jessica is also a writer, running a blog called 'The Mom Creative' and writing the 2018 book 'Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive'.