Just in time for Lent, Dr. Brad Harper and his son Drew Harper released their long awaited memoir Space at the Table: Conversations Between an Evangelical Theologian and his Gay Son.
To say this is a good book would be a true but thoroughly inadequate description. The book is exquisite in its writing and style and daring in its content. Father and Son are ferociously vulnerable is how they related to each other and to Christ during their processes of growth. For Drew, the process was growing up, coming out, and working through his own questions and beliefs about Christ and sexuality. For Brad, the process was raising and loving his son and figuring out how to embrace his son and stay true to his deepest spiritual beliefs, even when his son’s actions contradicted those beliefs.
Their story is powerful and much needed in the landscape of today’s culture. The intersection of faith and sexuality one of the most complex, hotly debated, and potentially most damaging conversations going on in our nation, in our churches and in our families. All too often, the conversation ends in shattered relationships.
Brad and Drew, and indeed the whole Harper family tell a different story. They fought to make space for each other and stay in close nurturing relationship with each other, even in the face of fundamental differences.
The offering of their rich narrative experience is precious, and something from which we could all take a cue.
What we can learn is how to more fully have relationships built on both love and truth. How to love one another without compromising our own beliefs. How to preserve families and support each other as we grow, question, doubt, explore and resolve our most important beliefs.
As a piece of writing, Space at the Table is brilliant. Brad and Drew converse back and forth in a style that is approachable, poignant and evocative. They hold nothing back. I want to laugh with joy for their triumphs and weep with their pain. Their story is painful to read because of how honest they are and because of how frequent and familiar are the pains that they faced.
More than a story, they present highly practical ideals and relationship tools for navigating the conversation about faith and sexuality. Any family who claims members in both the Christian and LGBTQ communities could benefit from the very tangible helps offered by the Harpers.
In short, I hope you all read Space at the Table.