This post was written by a member of our church family who experiences same-sex attraction and would like to remain anonymous for the protection of him and his family.
As a Christian man who struggles with same-sex attraction, this question is the most difficult question I’ve wrestled with in my faith. Even now, I find myself asking it almost daily. I’m publishing this post anonymously because this is not a past-tense discussion. Bluntly, I am not yet ready to talk about my same-sex attraction in public; for example, I am still praying about the most loving way to tell my parents because I’m not sure what their response will be. In the midst of this tension, I am continually pressing into what the Gospel says about my sexuality and learning to trust God’s design more and more each day.
The first part of this post covers some of the biggest questions I wrestle with. They are the smaller questions that all add up to the big one. They are questions I find myself asking God directly. They influence my day to day actions. The second part of the post will also deal with questions I wrestle with, but questions that impact the entire LGBT community, not just my personal walk.
Before we dive in, I need to be honest with you. When I first asked each of these questions, I wished desperately for God to answer them in an affirming manner. I resisted anytime an answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
These are not questions that I think are easily answered.
These are not questions that are easily asked.
However, as I have wrestled with these questions, God has faithfully pursued me and convinced me (over and over) to trust in his design for my sexuality. This change is painfully slow at points... at most points. But it is my hope and prayer that this post will give you a glimpse into my struggle and how God keeps changing my heart. In doing so I hope to accomplish two things:
- Provide encouragement for those who experience any degree of same sex attraction.
- Give insight to those looking to love those in the LGBT community well.
Does it matter who I’m chasing after?
One of the most tempting lies for me to believe is that God doesn’t care who I flirt with. I want to run to Biblical passages about how to handle topics with some room for interpretation (e.g. Romans 14 or 1 Corinthians 10:23 – 11:1). I want to tell myself, “Whether or not I live according to God’s design for sexuality is a question of conscience, so I am free to do what I want.” But as I have dug into God’s word, He keeps making clear to me that His plan for my sexuality is not a question of conscience. The Bible clearly establishes and repeatedly reaffirms God’s sexual ethic. Ultimately, God showed me that asking this question requires incredible hubris, because the question I am really asking is “Does God know what is best, or do I?“ When I honestly consider this new question, I realize that as the creator, God knows what is good for me and the world better than I do.
But the Bible is just an old book reflecting the culture of it’s day, right?
This is the question I hear friends wrestling with more often than any other. After all, the Bible was written in a backwards and oppressive culture, right? The problem is the more I looked into scripture, the more I realized this question didn’t adequately address the facts. When introducing the list of forbidden sexual relationships in Leviticus, God tells Moses, “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt…and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan.” God begins his explanation of his sexual ethic by explaining that it flies in the face of the cultural sexual expectations of the time. Similarly, it would be redundant of Paul to reiterate God’s sexual ethic in his letters if his readers weren’t feeling a personal temptation to do what he encourages them to avoid. As a result, the more I’ve studied, the more I’ve become convinced that God’s sexual ethic has always been countercultural.
Eventually, I came to see that there was something quite different at work in this question. When I found myself arguing that our society has a superior sexual ethic than earlier cultures, I realized this thought was based on the assumption that our culture is superior in general compared to previous cultures (otherwise why would I think our thinking about sex is any better than theirs?). The problem with that is, I don’t actually have any logical way to defend that statement. Anything that I use to argue that our culture is better creates a circular argument that begs the question. I can’t honestly or logically argue this way without privileging our culture’s way of thinking above the thinking of previous peoples.
How can I be satisfied if I’m not with him?
As someone well indoctrinated by American and Western culture, this is by far the hardest question for me. In the depths of my soul, I’m tempted to believe that the solution to my anxieties and insecurities is the approval that would come from a relationship with another man. I want to believe that God doesn’t understand the strength of my desires, so once I explain my situation to God, he will have to cut me some slack. But the more I’ve thought through this idea, the more God has confronted me on it. We see in Genesis 1:26 that the purpose of man is so much larger than fulfilling sexual desires. We are designed for more than chasing our animalistic desires. We are designed to be in communion with God and to reflect God’s image to all of creation. Our desire to be fulfilled comes from a deep longing in us to live this out, and our dissatisfaction with life ultimately stems from our broken relationship with God. A brilliant Scottish writer, Bruce Marshall, once remarked, "The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God." He’s right.
And my brothel just happens to be the dream of being in a relationship with a man.
Even if I were to get with my dream guy (in any capacity), I might get some brief contentment, but it will never lead to the lasting satisfaction I really want.
What do we do if God is right about this?
So far, I’ve focused on ways that God has worked in me and confronted my sinful nature, but this is only half the battle. In the next post, I’m going to turn from asking questions about personal interactions with God’s design for sexuality and focus on the implications of this discussion not just for myself but for the church as a whole.
In the meantime, I’m praying for each of you. I know that this has been incredibly hard for me and that it is going to be hard for you as well. So, I’m praying that Jesus will be our strength and our hope when we can’t do it on our own.