Christian children's book author Matthew Paul Turner came out as gay on social media and announced that he and his wife are divorcing as he seeks to “embrace freedom, hope, and God as a gay man.”
Turner, the former editor of CCM, a magazine covering contemporary Christian music, and the author of bestselling children’s books, made the announcement on Facebook and Instagram Friday morning.
“Dear friends, I have difficult news to share. After much thought, prayer, and counseling, Jessica and I have made the decision to end our marriage,” he wrote. “While we’re best friends and thoroughly love doing life, parenting, and pursuing our dreams together, ending our marriage is necessary because I am gay.”
"(A)s someone who spent 30+ years in fundamentalist/evangelical churches, exploring God through conservative theologies, I’ve lived many days overwhelmed by fear, shame, and self-hatred," he continued. "But for the first time in my life, despite the sadness and grief I’m feeling right now, I can say with confidence that I’m ready to embrace freedom, hope, and God as a gay man."
Jessica Turner, who is also an author and founder of the blog The Mom Creative, wrote in a Facebook post: "We are moving forward with ending our marriage, while remaining deeply committed to our family and each other. We are all adjusting to a new normal, with our home now extended under two rooftops."
The Nashville-based couple, who married in 2004, have three children together.
"We have worked for more than a year on trying to make our marriage work, even in light of Matthew’s truth, but it wasn’t healthy or fair to us or our children,” Jessica added. “We feel confident that this is the next right step for each of us and our family."
In his statement, Turner wrote of Jessica: "I fell in love with her 17 years ago and still love her deeply. Despite her own grief and pain, she has loved and encouraged me to be fully me."
“Our utmost desire is to move forward in love and compassion for each other and put the well-being of our kids first,” he added. “Coming out to my kids was one of the hardest, most beautiful things I’ve ever done. Loving and protecting their stories will always be our first priority.”
Turner, whose 2019 children’s book, When I Pray for You, is a Today, Publisher’s Weekly and Wall Street Journal bestseller, said he plans to continue writing children’s books with Convergent Books as his publisher.
His book, When God Made You, was an Evangelical Christian Publishing Association bestseller and described as “Oh, the Places You’ll Go meets The Divine” by recording artist Amy Grant.
“Writing books about wholeness, hope, and God’s love for children is an honor and privilege I do not take for granted,” he said.
Turner has been described as “one of the most influential progressive Christian voices in media.” The author of 16 books including The Christian Culture Survival Guide, The Coffeehouse Gospel, and Provocative Faith, Turner previously served as the entertainment editor for Crosswalk and was a frequent contributor to Relevant magazine.