In July of 2016, Covenanter Matt Nightingale publicly announced that he is gay and that he planned to end his marriage. In the months prior to that announcement, he and his wife, Luanne Tondino Nightingale, found support from Mission Friends 4 Inclusion and worked with Luke Johnson of Fulcrum Media Group, LLC to record this interview.
Matt and Luanne wanted to share their story to help others understand how, after being married for 22 years, Matt had made the difficult decision to end this union in order to live as an openly gay man. Matt and Luanne’s honesty, their deep affection for each other, and their love for their children has been inspirational to many of us, and we are grateful for their willingness to share their story so publicly.
Matt Nightingale was a commissioned Covenant minister who served for 16 years in five different Evangelical Covenant Churches around the country. He recently resigned from his church and resigned his ministerial credentials in the denomination when he came out as gay and announced his intention to leave his marriage. The Evangelical Covenant Church does not recognize the validity of same-sex relationships, and their ethical guidelines for ministers allow for sexual expression only within traditional male-female marriages, with the only acceptable alternative being celibacy.
Mission Friends 4 Inclusion partnered with Fulcrum Media Group in producing this video because we believe that the lack of the opportunity for LGBTQ Christians to enter a covenanted, same-sex marriage has forced too many families to face a similar difficult choice. Part of our mission is to help create a space where people have a choice to enter into a covenanted marriage that is honest and truthful to who each person is, as created by God, and that is healthy for both. It is our belief that marriage equality will allow not only LGBTQ people to share in the joy and spiritual blessings of marriage, but it will also lead to a healthier and more honest understanding of marriage for all.
Divorce is difficult for all involved—regardless of the reasons. Our thoughts and prayers are with Matt. Luanne and their family as they progress through this very difficult and personal grief process in such a public way. Mission Friends 4 Inclusion neither recommends divorce nor rejects heterosexual marriage. We respect that there are LGBTQ individuals who will marry heterosexual individuals and find happiness, but we also recognize—given a holistic view of the role of sexuality in marriage—that many cannot, in good conscience, follow this path. Furthermore, we believe that mandatory celibacy for all LGBTQ people is not God’s best for human flourishing. There has to be a better, more life-giving option for LGBTQ Christians as they strive to follow Jesus and live into the reality of their God-given sexual orientation or gender identity.
May Matt and Luanne’s story renew our efforts to work toward marriage equality for all as well as inspire our own marriages and relationships by modeling grace, understanding, forgiveness and love. May God continue to bless each of them, their children, and their lives. Thank you, Matt and Luanne, for allowing us to journey with you for a time; it has been an honor and a privilege.