By Thomas Doyle, JCD, CADC

This is the story of the life and death of a relationship known in societal officialdom as “marriage.” But, compared to the standard Christian and traditional secular models, a relationship it was, a marriage it was not.

As the years came and went the author painfully faced the realization that the person she had pledged her vows to was, in reality, someone else. The focal point of the story is the male partner’s sexual identity. Revealing to a spouse that one was actually homosexual was a rare and daunting task during a period when some areas of society, including religious bodies, gave lip service to the acceptance of a gay orientation. Beneath the façade there was a deeply rooted conviction that having an unconventional (for the time) sexual orientation was not only wrong, but evil.

The male partner was an Episcopal priest and the author a devout Episcopalian woman committed to her xiv foreword church’s culture and tradition. She was in for a rude and shocking awakening when she approached the leadership of her church, expecting help and getting instead a very cold shoulder. She revealed that her husband not only had sexual relationships with men, but also with underage boys—a crime in every state of the union. In one of her conversations with a pastoral and compassionate woman priest, the author is told the church “doesn’t do well” in dealing with divorce. This of course is a stunner because any church man or woman worth anything should know how to properly respond to the one life event that brings more pain to individuals and families than any other.

My Side of the Bed points out a lot of truths, but the one I zeroed in on was the hypocrisy and uselessness of the church leaders who, instead of trying to bring healing—as is their mission—brought instead a deepening of the pain that was already in the extreme. Their failure to respond to the author and their failure to acknowledge the criminal nature of some of the male partner’s actions is an indictment of the systemic ineptitude of the hierarchical leadership of her denomination—a condition which, as we are now painfully
aware, is shared by many other denominations.