Last summer, Matthew Paul Turner, a New York Times best-selling Christian children’s book author, announced he was gay and ending his 15-year marriage..
"Being gay isn’t a new discovery for me. 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," Matthew wrote in a lengthy Instagram. In his post, he praised his wife, blogger Jessica Turner, for her "undying grace and support."
"Many of the steps I’ve taken recently wouldn’t have happened without Jessica walking beside me, helping me through every fear," the dad of three shared.
Now, 14 months later, Matthew and Jessica are reflecting on forgivingness, grace and growth.
"I'll never forget, our daughter who was eight at the time, almost nine, saying, 'Daddy, why did you marry Mommy if you were gay?'" Jessica recalled on the 3rd Hour of TODAY Monday. "And Matthew said to her, 'Because I fell in love with your Mommy.'"
"When Jessica and I met, she was the light of my life," Matthew said. "I know what we had was real."
Jessica wonders how she missed the signs.
“I think the question I’ve asked myself is, ‘How did I not know?’” Jessica revealed. “And so that’s the grief that I’ve walked with and wrestled with.”
When Matthew moved out, he didn’t go far. The former couple, who are parents to children, Elias, 13, Adeline, 10, and Ezra, 6, live less than a mile apart in Nashville, Tennessee. The family celebrates birthdays and holidays together, and every Friday they gather for a movie night. On the weekends, they cheer on their kids at soccer games.
But their story is not without heartache. Jessica acknowledged she still mourns what can no longer be.
“It’s still sad for me, because Matthew is who I wanted to grow old with and who I thought would be in this room growing old with me, and not 90 seconds down the road,” she explained. “And so, while we’ll still grow old together, I grieve the loss of the difference.”
Both are open to the idea of saying “I do” again if they find the right person.
“I really love being a wife. I really love taking care of someone,” Jessica said. “”And so, I hope that both of our stories have more love in them.”