If you want to read yet another diatribe that’s “pro-gay” or “anti-gay,” then this article isn’t for you. We’ve all had quite enough of those anyway, haven’t we?
I just want to tell a little of my story, with the hope that maybe someone out there will hear me differently than so many of the aforementioned sound bites circulating right now. Warning: You may not like the way my story turns out. You may feel sorry for me, or even be angry with me. You may feel flustered that my story doesn’t fit nicely into a theological box that you would like to keep nice and tidy. You may hate the advice I have to give, but please know that what I share is coming from a place of love and concern. Prayerfully, I’ll even encourage someone out there.
So…here it goes.
I am a Christian, one who believes that what the Bible says about sexuality is of great importance. I’m also someone who was in a same-sex relationship for many years, even as I claimed Christ. For a long time these were the two things that defined me.
There are lots of us out there actually, even in the most conservative of churches. Most often we don’t talk about it, but today I will, because I want you to know that there is a story contrary to the one heard on repeat in the media every day.
It was during college when I met the person who would quickly become my best friend, someone I would eventually consider something more akin to a soul mate. It took a couple of years, but eventually the emotional closeness we shared gave way to a physical intimacy.
To make a long, long story short: I was terrified about what was happening, but I also loved it. As our familiarity and affection toward one another grew, a coldness and distance was developing between God and me. Because of this, I tried many times to fight against it, but was unwilling to cut off the friendship, so I just carried on, the depth of our relationship kept hidden from the outside world, even as we actively pursued ministry together. We lived together for years until the Lord painfully pulled our lives apart.
Oh and friends, did I mention that I LOVED her? It wasn’t a “butterflies in the stomach” kind of love. It was a ‘You are my person” kind of love. The, “Whatever life throws at us, I want it to be with you,” kind of love. And life threw a lot at us. I would have gladly spent every minute of the rest of my days with her. I loved her certainly no less than someone loves their spouse. We had shared 8 years of friendship as well as the same home and the same pets (read: children). We had worked together, gone to school together, eaten all our meals together, traveled the world together, and shared all our deepest thoughts with each other.
So I know what it’s like to truly love someone and be frustrated that if only one of you was a different gender it would all be ok. I know what it’s like to genuinely love Jesus and want to serve Him, and yet, to feel this other undeniable pull; this thing that says, “You’re different.” I get it: the unwanted attraction you sense when you were just minding your own business, or the discouragement you feel when you think that because you’re too butch or too effeminate, no one of the opposite sex would find you attractive even if you wanted them to.
I so desperately wanted it to be ok. I wanted the Bible to say it was ok, so I looked for those who argued that it did. I read articles and books about the Greek being mistranslated and passages being taken out of context, but as much as I wanted them to be the answer, I knew enough about how to read my Bible on its own grounds that I was hard to convince. And even if I could concede on all the other instances where the Scriptures speak on the issue, there was one passage I couldn’t get around no matter how hard I tried: Romans 1.
It haunted me, this passage where Paul, talking about the depravity of all men, uses an illustration of how distorted worship (worshipping created things rather than the Creator) leads to all sorts of sin, but as a vivid picture of that distorted orientation, he uses the one that is most contrary to nature (homosexuality). I wished Paul had left it out, but he hadn’t. God had very clearly spoken.
My hardened heart wasn’t so hard that I couldn’t sense that I was in dangerous territory. His logic proved true—I had been worshipping her instead of God for a long time. It was subtle at first, then overt. Sure, our friendship had started out as one that honored God. Did I mention that we met on a mission trip?—but in the end, it had become the devil’s play thing.
Friends, I wonder where I’d be today if those around me were accepting of the choices we were making. What if my church would have embraced us, even married us? I’m so afraid that many people who are struggling with how to sort these things out in their soul, and who are still sensitive to the Spirit telling them it’s wrong, are going to be pushed into a lifestyle of opposition to God by the very people who claim to love them, even in their churches.
Romans 1 warns them too—“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things (‘such things’ including homosexual practice and a whole host of other sins) deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”—Romans 1:32
Beloved brothers and sisters, if this battle rings true for you, I want you to know that I get it, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have a VERY hard choice to make. I’m sorry because I know it doesn’t feel like a choice at all. I’m sorry because more people may judge you for trusting Christ and repenting than for “accepting your real self.”
I know how much you want it to be ok, but you’ll have to decide some things. Foremost, you’ll need to decide what the authority guiding your life will be. Will the Bible be your authority as it has been for Christians of all ages, or will the shifting winds of culture win the day? If the former, you need to hunker down and genuinely study what the Bible has to say. Read those on both sides of the debate, and pray that God would get you to truth, even if that truth is earth shattering. Jesus is worth the soul-searching anguish that may be awaiting you.
If you land where I did, then I understand that following Christ will mean giving up more than you can imagine. Take it from someone who has lied on their bedroom floor for days in a row, weeping, wanting to die, not sure of how to lose the only person they’d taken comfort in for nearly a decade. Only God can get you through a choice like that, but friends, Jesus is worth a broken heart. In fact, He’s the only One who can heal it again.
I also know it’ll be lonely. You may lose your significant other. You may lose all your friends. You may feel that you’ll never be able to have a traditional marriage, and therefore that you’re conceding to a life lacking in intimacy. Listen, I’m in my mid-30s. I doubt that I will ever marry. I’d be lying if I said that that is an easy choice every day, but I can promise you that Jesus is a better husband.
I know the struggle won’t go away overnight. Sure, every now and then you’ll hear a testimony about someone being delivered from a certain thing immediately and forever, but that isn’t most often the way God works. Normally He leaves the thorns, as He did with Paul, to teach us to humbly trust Him. If someone expects you to be ‘fixed’ overnight, ask them (graciously) to think of the sins in their own life and whether they still struggle with them occasionally. This is no different, but I promise that as you trust in Christ, over time, you will see growth in holiness and in purity.
I know that it’s hard, but you’re going to need to be vulnerable with someone. Don’t replicate my fatal error. I was silent for fear of the consequences. Oh but if I had confessed, I could have escaped so much pain. I would have been asked to do hard things, things I couldn’t have imagined doing. The person I confided in may have even said something hurtful, but the risk would have been better than battling alone. Let the community of Christ come around you to help you. If they really understand how much they’ve been forgiven, they will walk with you where you need grace and patience. If they’re accepting of your lifestyle choice instead of encouraging repentance, question whether they have the same authority in their life that you do. Pray for them, but seek the counsel of someone else.
It’s been 7 years since I’ve seen her. I still dream about her all the time, and when I wake up she isn’t here. Truth be told, some days that still really aches. She’s married now with a beautiful daughter, and continues to trust in Christ. Really, I couldn’t ask for more because God didn’t give up on either of us, and I look forward to the holy restoration that heaven will offer us one day.
In days past, when I was in the thick of all this, Satan shouted, but God only whispered.
Even lying beside her in bed I heard Him a couple of times. Near the beginning of our physical relationship, I heard Him say that if I continued down this path, I would lose her.
Near the end of that season, I felt him say, “If you continue down this path, you show that you’re not Mine.”
It was a long, messy, and confusing time escaping this life that I loved, but I had a distinct impression that I had been pulled back from the precipice by the shepherd’s staff just as I was ready to fall, no leap, off the ledge, and I was grateful, even as I struggled with the heartache of losing her.
There was one other thing I felt God say to me.
“I’ve made you for more.”
Over and over again. This whisper, this impression in my mind that followed me around: “I’ve made you for more.”
It was a call to live the wartime, push-back-the-gates-of-hell lifestyle that God has called His children to. It was a reminder of that incredible command to go to the nations and spread His fame, and it was a slap in the face to my selfish attempts to be happy with so much less than all I could be in Him.
Friends, mind that cliff, and don’t dance so dangerously close to the edge. These are eternal games we’re playing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, as it has been for me. If you choose to follow Him today, it’s sufficient to give you grace to follow Him this next hour, and then the hour after that. It’s sufficient to give you the strength to give up the most important things in your life, because those things aren’t so significant at all. They’re just a shadow of the pleasure that you are meant to find in Him.
So choose today what defines you -- your sexuality or your life in Christ.
Don’t feel like you have a choice?
Lies, all lies.
Don’t have strength to leave it all behind?
Good. That’s what Jesus is for. Run to Him.
Originally published at the blog of FTC regular contributor Mike Leake, who writes this:
This post is written by a friend that I’ve known for a long time. I’m thankful that she was willing to be vulnerable to share her story with all of us. You may notice that her name is not attributed. When asked, she said that she no longer wanted to be defined by her past, and felt that her story could be just as compelling whether named or not. Since these are sensitive topics, I suggested we leave it anonymous. I believe you will still find encouragement from it as I did.