An Oregon pastor has shared his struggle to accept that two of his sons are gay.

In an op-ed published Sunday in The Oregonian, Gilbert Rossing, a retired Lutheran pastor who is a former minister of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Portland, reveals that his first instinct at learning that his oldest son was gay was to attempt to have him “turn back from this identity.”

“When he tearfully pleaded, 'I don't want to lose you!' I realized that my pontificating was driving him away. I needed to listen and learn.” Rossing wrote.

“When I first wrestled with Scripture passages, I was struck by the disconnectedness between the idolatrous and sexually abusive behaviors the Bible condemned in contrast to the high character and integrity of my son. I began to see that my quickness to judge contradicted the Biblical mandate not to judge, and violated the basic command to love our neighbor – my son – as we love ourselves.”

“Through ensuing years I developed an understanding not only of my older son, but also my younger son, who is gay as well. I was fortunate to become friends with dozens of devout, godly people who are gay, lesbian and transgender. I saw that we may seem different, but we all have a lot more in common.”

Rossing, who has along with his wife raised four children, also endorsed an effort to legalize gay marriage in Oregon.

“Now, they want their love for each other recognized in marriage. Their desire to marry is not much of a leap for me to understand. Knowing many families headed by same-gender couples, including my sons and their partners in particular, I know that marriage is eminently appropriate for them. I believe, as do many other clergy, it is a Godly thing to bless and celebrate the love of same-gender couples.”