Homosexuality is one of the most poorly-understood subjects among Christians (and non-Christians alike, but that’s for another time).
Christians know the following things about homosexuality: Leviticus 18:22 and 1 Timothy 1:10. Some go further and reference to Genesis 1:27. That’s what they know, that’s what Scripture says – what is there to discuss?
Sound harsh and simplistic? Welcome to my world.
Some of the most painful words I’ve ever heard have come from the mouths of my heterosexual brethren. Their knowledge of homosexuality really often is limited to knowing what the traditional interpretation of the Bible’s stance on it is, leading to a conclusion of “It’s wrong” or variations of that theme. So, when they’re confronted by someone in this situation, the very first springboard the heteronormative orthodox Christian will launch from is that this is an extremely unfortunate situation and a symbol of the fallen, sinful world. From the ivory tower of heterosexual existence, they are safely removed from the reality that many a gay Christian lives with, day in, day out; year after year. From this isolated position they are free to comment without any of the existential, psychological, spiritual or emotional trauma that comes with being a gay Christian.
So let me try and fill in the picture for the ever-straights among you to help you understand that what you say and what we hear are often very different things:
You say: “With God, anything is possible.”
We hear: “So remember there is always the chance that God will straighten you out and hopefully you can get married to someone of the opposite sex someday.”
You say: “Scripture is very clear on homosexuality. Just look at Lev 18:22!”
We hear: “So the prospect of finding a partner of the same sex is simply out of the question. Obedience is paramount. This ‘love is love’ nonsense is just that – nonsense. You may want love, companionship, children, a shoulder, someone to snuggle with, someone to hold your hand, romance, sexual intimacy, someone you can spend your life with, someone who chooses you over any other, someone to laugh and cry with, someone who’ll be by your side through everything and someone whom you can love with all that you are, but this is completely unacceptable unless you straighten out and find an opposite-sex partner.”
You say: “Masturbation is a form of homosexuality.”
We hear: “And if you’re a God-fearing person the LAST thing you want to be is someone like that!”
You say: “Smile for me.”
We hear: “Because I don’t like it when you’re down and if you smile I’ll feel better.”
You say: “What do you mean ‘What about you’?”
We hear: “Selfishness is not a Christian trait and you’re being very selfish right now. I don’t care what you’re going through – there is no excuse for being selfish!”
You say: “Being gay is a sin.”
We hear: “Your unnatural sexuality is sinful and needs to be changed. The bible says so.”
You say: “God’s grace is sufficient for you.”
We hear: “So if you don’t end up being married then don’t worry – God is with you and that’s all you should need. The fact I’m married and would never want to be without my spouse is totally irrelevant.”
Those of you who are straight haven’t got a clue what you’ve been blessed with. I’m not talking about your partner here – I’m talking about the unimpeded path to having one. If you fancy someone and they fancy you in return then all other things being equal, you can proceed. It’s just not like that on the gay side of the sexuality fence. You need to understand the incredible gift you have (and please, do NOT insist on finding something we should feel to be blessed to have in the same breath in an attempt to reduce the impact of our sexuality). From what I’ve seen, getting married, having kids, enjoying sex, having an intimate relationship where you feel like one being, someone to live your life with, someone who chooses you over any other and vice versa are things that you likely take for granted. Oh you no doubt thank God for these things, but you never had to consider the prospect that not only will you never have them, but if someone shows interest in you then no matter what, you have no choice but to say “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
That whole thing where your heart skips a beat? Sorry, but you’re pretty much out of luck. If you’re gay and a woman fancies you then you have to be honest and tell her you’re not physically attracted to her. I’ve actually had a few women that fancied me, one of whom I actually fancied in return (somewhat). She was a wonderful Christian woman and we enjoyed each other’s company and in a way, we were kind of unofficially dating. But whilst I could recognise that she was a physically attractive woman, the fact of the matter was I wasn’t drawn to her physically in the slightest. There was a whole line of guys at that church that wanted to date her, but she wanted to date me. It reached a point where she and I went for a long walk in which I told her I was gay. She ended up asking me if I could pray for her at her wedding, that she would be a godly wife to the guy she ended up marrying. I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to say no, so I prayed that prayer for the one woman I had been emotionally and relationally fond of.
As if that’s not enough, if a guy fancies you and you fancy him and you have a church saying it’s sinful, then you have to tell him that you can’t go there. You don’t have the freedom to date someone you feel naturally drawn to and want to develop a relationship with. Where the heterosexual crowd is surrounded by people encouraging and supporting and rejoicing, if you’re gay then you will likely get the complete opposite. It’s not “Congratulations! That’s amazing news! I’m so happy for you!” It’s much more likely there will be an awkward silence, followed by “Well, I’m afraid that according to Scripture…”
Compare this to what I’ve seen over the years: countless people just somehow manage to meet Mr or Mrs Right at church, at a camp, a campus group or a church conference. They date and grow in their love and they announce their engagement to throngs of celebration from those around them, which is then amplified ten-fold on the wedding day, as they’re welcomed into that long, godly tradition of heterosexual marriage and surrounded by those that went before them to guide them on their way and enjoy many social events and friendships built around things straight people have in common – everything that goes with marriage and parenthood.
And you never really had any doubt about it.