One topic that has come up for me a lot over the years is homosexuality. Same-sex attraction is the reason that my ex-husband decided to divorce me. He certainly has his own story and I don’t attempt to tell that here (I am not outing him to the world, he has already done this). That is parenthetical to what I really wanted to say, but important for you to know about my perspective.
You may or may not be surprised if you knew how many Christians struggle with same sex attraction. I know several. Before you get upset with my using the word ‘struggle,’ recognize that I’m not making a judgment- all of the people I know would admit that for them it is a place of great difficulty. I myself glimpsed into that struggle by marrying a man who was not attracted to women.
Was I fully aware of my own foolishness? No. Talking to a friend last night about this issue, she expressed thoughts I carried years ago when I got engaged…. Don’t we believe in a big God who can do anything? Doesn’t he love to heal his children and give them good gifts? If this man wants to be heterosexual, isn’t that honoring to God and won’t God honor this desire?
The foolishness on my part wasn’t in believing that God is good and that he can do anything. It wasn’t foolish for me to support the earnest desire my ex husband had to honor God. He has since come to believe that those were our mistakes, but I do not.
Two things have become skewed in our world that make this issue so complicated. What is good and loving? And, what does it mean to be human?
These two things do not only impact those who deal with homosexuality, they effect everyone who wants to date or marry. Our culture has put sex in the same category with breathing, and nearly every desire into the category of deserving. The idea of Rights should have its own post, but to step there for a moment I want to say that where we go wrong is when we fight for our own rights and surrender the rights of others. Nothing will be good until we all do the exact opposite.
I follow the blog of this honest man in Kentucky named Nate who shares very transparently about his desire to follow God, and how his life is impacted by his attraction to men. One thing that really strikes me about his story is the recurring theme of surrender. Surrender is the word that God gave me on Thursday concerning my seeking to not burn out as a missionary and it was also the word he reminded me of last night when talking to my friend about singleness, dating and sexuality.
What does it mean to surrender my life in such a way that I let go of the “right” to be a wife and mother? What would it mean for all of us to let go of the assumption that we deserve sexual intimacy or satisfaction? What if this thing that our culture wars over is similar to beggars fighting for a crust of bread while refusing an invitation from the king to a great banquet? I’m not saying that God is inviting us to a spiritual orgy, but I do believe that the good he has for us is much bigger and better than romantic love.
That is difficult to see, I realize. I’ve lived in a Christian community for over ten years now and I’m just beginning to see that this is true. That is not to say that Christian community is fully walking in this truth, but considering I work with no single men older than 23, I have a unique opportunity to test (lean on) God in this area of his all-sufficiency.
Two years ago any time I tried to consider what it would be like to stay single for the rest of my life, I got so panicked I could not even have a conversation about it with God.There are places inside of some of us that have been so starved that it seems like feeding that hunger is the only way to survive. I also had all of these identity things to work through; for example, what does our culture think of single, older/old women? I had to wrestle with my own stereotypes, I had to look at myself honestly and let go of who I desperately wanted to be…. at least how I wanted to be seen, which was, unfortunately fused to how I saw myself.
But imagine another world with me. Imagine that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. Imagine that it matters completely what God thinks (like a child with their dad)… and then further picture that this opinion that matters most to you is that of God’s very real and fierce acceptance and love of you. Yes, you.
Why would he do that? Why would he totally embrace and delight in you with all of your petty grievances, all the straying thoughts you wouldn’t dare tell others, all of the past hurts committed by you and against you that you don’t know how to forgive.
Jesus is still the only answer to these questions.
A guy friend of mine who has spent several years in limbo between homosexuality and Christianity said once that no one else can really understand his struggle. He thought it was unfair that so many other people are so free because their desires match their beliefs. I know some happily married people we could all point to as proofs of his statement, but it misses something real and unseen by most Christians. Heterosexual marriage is not the reward Jesus came to give us and many heterosexual Christians do not live a desire-fulfilled life because they, too have overlooked the real reward.
We could go back and forth for a long time with Bible verses about singleness verses marriage, but that is not actually the point I’m trying to make. What I’m trying to say is that everything needs to be surrendered. Everything. While I was at home for Christmas I spent some time with my ex-husband and he asked me what I thought a person with same sex attraction was supposed do with themselves within Christianity. Do I believe they can “pray the gay away?”
I’m coming to believe that this question misses the purpose of Christ’s death on the cross. He came to save us from what all of us deserve and he did that by laying down his right to life, his right to royalty, his right to justice. As his follower, how can I do any less than lay down my rights to marriage and sexuality? The exchange that God has waiting for me involves receiving so much more than I could ever deserve. What I receive is God himself.