To all who knew her, Bertie Barber's life seemed an ideal slice of the
American Dream; a lovely suburban home, two healthy children, and of
course, her devoted husband Mike, a successful professional, admired as a
pillar in their church and community. But there was something else about
her husband -- a painful truth that shamed and angered her, a truth she
must keep secret: Mike was a homosexual. Yet his increasing involvement
in the "gay scene" threatened all she had hoped for. Was there hope -- or
had she become the victim of a ...
... Mistaken Marriage?
When Mike and I exchanged our wedding vows in the spring of 1981, I never
imagined the nightmare my marriage was to become. Having been a Christian
since the age of nine, I knew how important it was for me to marry a
Christian. While in university, my mind was not at all interested in
obtaining the coveted "Mrs." degree; but my heart and soul were desperate
for male love and approval. After getting to know Mike at a campus
ministry retreat in the fall of our sophomore year, we fell in love. I
believed with all my heart that God had brought us together, so I had no
reservations or fears in marrying Mike. I did know that there was
definitely something missing in our communication. Also, Mike had told me
that he "thought" he had homosexual tendencies. But I was sure that God's
Sovereignty and our love would eliminate both of those problems. So early
in our junior year, we were married.
On the day of our graduation, we moved from our small mountain campus to
Orlando, Florida. With an established and visible gay community, the
opportunity soon presented itself for Mike's first homosexual encounter,
which he confessed to me. In spite of inner warning signals, we both
wanted to believe this experience was isolated and had satiated Mike's
curiosity of the unknown. Now this chapter of his life could be closed and
our lives could go on. But this "one-time" experience was just the
beginning. Over the next four years, we would confront the issue of his
homosexuality several times. Mike would promise to never let it happen
again. I would forgive and try to hold on to my illusion that this was
just one of those temporary big "bumps" that come early in marriages to
test our faith and love. I had started out believing that our marriage had
been ordained to survive anything -- I was going to see to that!
When we married, I knew nothing about homosexuality. The more I learned,
the more inadequate I felt. With each acknowledgement of Mike's homosexual
activity, my self-image weakened and worsened. Meanwhile, Mike was being
more and more caught up in the gay life, and all the deceptions that
While Mike was being led down the "garden path," so to speak, my own
reactions to what was happening were leading me down quite another. In
1986, the sense of total rejection I feared most hit me with full force. I
shattered into a million pieces that I thought would never be found, must
less put back together again. I believed that my worth was lower than that
of a worm, so I headed for the lowest pit I could find. There, in my
hideaway of hopelessness and despair, I cultivated and nurtured those seeds
of self-destruction that had been planted by the enemy and were now being
exploited. Before long I had strong, flourishing roots of ANGER,
BITTERNESS, SELF-PITY AND SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. In my depressed state, I
could hardly function. In my own eyes, this only proved my worthlessness
to both Mike and me. Until now, I had never experienced depression -- my
psychological and spiritual make-up just didn't allow it. Now, all I could
think about was DEATH -- the ultimate escape. To be with Jesus, at peace,
at rest -- what could be better? By the time I had hit the bottom, our
first son was two years old, and there was no way I could justify
abandoning him. I felt trapped, defeated, comfortless. "Why God? Why me?
What have I done to deserve this punishment?" My trust in God seemed to
have vanished with my hope.
Desperate for help, and drawn by the Holy Spirit, I began searching God's
Word for something to hold onto. Crying out to God in my pain I identified
with the anguish expressed by the Psalmist David and found some comfort.
Then I began to really see the sufferings of Christ, and His crying out to
His Father in His pain. As I allowed Christ's sufferings to be identified
with my own, I was able to receive the real nurturing and consolation my
spirit so desperately needed. What a precious thing it was to have the
Comforter so close and to know that He understood me completely. Jesus had
experienced every bit of the rejection and the pain that I had experienced,
and more. I knew that even now He loved me and accepted me just as I was.
God very lovingly began showing me who I was in His eyes, and that nothing
could change that. Also, through identifying with Christ's suffering and
death, I could now be a partaker of His victory over death and darkness.
Over the next three years, the Lord began teaching me what it meant to be
crucified with Him, to bring death to the flesh, life to the spirit. I
became hungry to know what His will was for me. I had been so concerned
with what God's will was for Mike, I had become side-tracked from my first
priority. I knew it was time to concentrate on my relationship with my
Lord and leave Mike to God.
The Holy Spirit began opening my eyes more and more as I began an intensive
search of the Word to know how I was to be pleasing to the Lord and to
Mike, rather than getting hung up on my husband's hang-ups. By this time I
had realised that Mike did not really know the Lord. I was deeply
convicted when reading 1 Peter 3:1-4 that this was to be my spiritual goal:
"In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that
even if any are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word, by
the behaviour of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful
behaviour. And let not your adornment be external only -- braiding the
hair, and wearing jewelry, and putting on dresses; but let it be the
hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and
quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."
Submissiveness ... chaste and respectful behaviour ... a gentle and quiet
spirit -- I had anything but that. What did those words mean? I knew I
had to find out everything God had to say about husband-wife relationships.
I learned that in order to please God, I not only had to submit to my
husband, I had to honour him as the head of our home -- yes, even the
spiritual head -- regardless of his actions, or whether I thought he
deserved or had earned the honour. I was to be very careful not to
establish myself in that position.
God's Word also made it very clear that I had to forgive -- completely. It
was up to me to choose to "put away" anger, malice, bitterness. If I
wanted to become like Jesus, I would have to love like Jesus. After
studying the many Scriptures on forgiveness, the Holy Spirit led me through
a meditative study of the "Love Chapter," 1 Corinthians 13, to know what is
and is not love, according to God's definition.
About this time I came across the book, "The Spirit Controlled Woman," by
Beverly LaHaye. It confirmed what God had been teaching me through His
Word, and was an excellent source of exhortation and encouragement, as well
as helping me to see what areas of my life I had not yet turned over to the
Holy Spirit's control.
All of this study helped me to see that God wanted me to love and accept
Mike as he was, without condemnation, without nagging, without controlling.
It had to be unconditional, "no strings attached" love. I wasn't to
condone his actions, but I had to commit Mike totally into God's hands and
take my hands off! I couldn't change Mike, But I could be changed.
When I began to practice the Godly principles I had learned, our
relationship improved remarkably. In the past, I had tried to make Mike
responsible for my happiness, blaming him and heaping on the guilt for his
failing. I learned that God's joy and peace and approval were to be prized
far above situational happiness. With my eyes on the Lord, I no longer had
to be a victim of my circumstances. Out from under that burden of guilt,
my husband could begin to appreciate and relate to me as a person again. I
wasn't "expecting" from Mike, and that freed him ... and me!
The hardest test of my obedience and faith came when God clearly revealed
to me that it was time to really "let go and let God" concerning Mike.
Although I had "given him up to the Lord" in my spirit, God now required
physical action to back up my words to Him. God has spent several years
getting my heart in tune with His Word. I had dealt with the major issues
of my life. I had to give Mike the freedom to deal with the major issues
in his life. Would he seek the Lord for a miracle in overcoming
homosexuality? Or would he continue on in the gay life -- and sacrifice
his family for it? Mike needed to make his life choices, and make them for
himself. So, we separated. It wasn't easy. At times, it was very
difficult; but through it all God's power and grace never failed. He did
what was commanded of me to do -- and allowed me to reap the benefits.
What were those benefits? A few of the intangible benefits that have
radically changed by life are:
% a true and unshakable identity;
% the fulfilment of a close, intimate relationship with my Lord;
% an abiding joy that supersedes any circumstances;
% a growing ability to genuinely love others.
The most precious tangible benefit was seeing Mike turn to the Lord for
salvation and find healing of his homosexual orientation. Yes,
homosexuality can be overcome. The Bible was evidence of gays being
changed by God's power in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. As Mike surrendered his
sexuality -- even his entire life to Christ, the Lord began the process of
making him a new creation as 2 Corinthians 5:17 promises. Our six year old
son also made a decision to follow Christ just prior to Mike's. My joy and
thankfulness overflowed as I witnessed their baptisms on the same day!
Equally rewarding was seeing a new "Daddy" come home to his boys after
nearly a year of our separation, and assume his role of leadership, a role
he had never been able to really fulfil.
Although Mike was now home, the actual restoration of our marriage took a
little longer. There were many things we both had to work through. We
both had hurts in our lives and spirits that needed healing. I had to
learn to trust Mike again. We were no longer university students "in
love." But we knew God's will concerning us, and we committed ourselves to
the marriage. God is so faithful! When we choose God's way in spite of
contrary feelings, before long, the desired, correct emotions will appear.
The feelings did come and are still coming. Not only that -- He is
continually restoring all that had seemingly been damaged beyond repair.
And now God has given us an opportunity to share the message of hope and
restoration with others through a ministry to those affected by
homosexuality. What a privilege to witness the miraculous ways God is
working in the lives of others!
God did put Mike and I together years ago because He loved me and wanted to
bless me by allowing me to really begin to know Him; and to bless me again
with the desire of my youthful heart: the godly man He lovingly chose for
Today, Bertie and her husband Mike are staff counsellors and serve as Board
Members for ELEUTHEROS, a Christian agency helping those affected by
homosexuality. Using her own experience and victory, Bertie is able to
effectively promote hope and healing for the parents and spouses of gays.
To contact Mike and Bertie write:
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite D
Winter Park, Florida, 32789
Locally, for information about the ministry for those who have gone down
the path of homosexuality, their spouses, and their parents, please
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
This article is reprinted by LOVE IN ACTION with permission from
MINISTRY TO HOMOSEXUALS
Database Listing - Ministry To
Christian Resources on Homosexuality on the web
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