David: “Standing on Uncertainty Lane”

God asked Solomon a question that I wish God would ask me:

“What shall I give you?”

Up until recently, if I was asked this question by God, my answer would have been, “Free me from homosexuality,”  “take away this deep desire for me to be with another man.”  In my time spent in prayer, I was like the persistent widow constantly asking God for this. This plea has not “yet” been answered.   I say “yet” because I still hope that some day I will wake up and find myself attracted to the “GIRL-next door” instead of the “GUY-next door.”

This desire has intensified over the past couple months as I’ve found out that two of my closest Christian friends are engaged to be married.

Is this a selfish wish?  Is this a wish that is in line with the word of God?

I am a Christian man, born, raised, and worshiping in the Covenant Church, who also happens to be sexually attracted to other men.  I don’t like calling myself “gay,” because in my town, people (both inside and outside the church) associate “gay” with words like  “promiscuous,” “flamboyant,” and “queen.”  I do not fit any of these categories.

In my few failed attempts to connect with other gay men, I hesitate at calling myself a “Christian” because people outside the church (both gay and straight) associate “Christian” with words like “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “self righteous.”

For me, trying to find my own identity is incredibly bewildering.  Scripture and prayer has been an incredible source of comfort and guidance for me as I search for my identity. However, on the topic of homosexuality, it is lacking clarity.   “Mom” reads it one way; “Dad” reads it another way.  When getting an answer, I’d like to always go to the parent who will give me the answer that I want, but I’ve learned that neither “Mom” nor “Dad” is always right.

Graphic by David

Since these answers are unclear to me, I feel like I am standing at an intersection on “Uncertainty Lane” not going anywhere in life.  I am scared to pursue an intimate relationship for fear I will mess it up, and I am scared to share the Gospel with non-Christians for fear that I will be hypocritical or give people an inadequate image of Christianity.

In addition to the voices from the “Christian” community and the voices from the “gay” community influencing me, I also struggle with a very judgmental father and a mother who I love and do not want to disappoint.  I know from experience how bad decisions can hurt those people that you love, and I fear that a wrong choice on my part could deeply wound the people who I love the most.

Questions about my future relationships race through my mind:

Do I hide my homosexual feelings and pursue a straight relationship?  Do I try to find a woman who would become my partner with the understanding that I am gay?  Do I attempt to be content with being single?  Do I pursue a committed relationship with another man?

When I look at each of these options from a rational perspective, there are both challenges and rewards to each option.  When I look at these options from a biblical perspective, I can pick out scriptures that could be interpreted to support each option.  On the other hand, I can also pick out scriptures that could be interpreted to oppose each option.

Questions about my role in the Church also race through my mind:

Do I hide my orientation from the church to prevent division?  What happens to my roll in the church if I brought a same sex partner?  Should I remove myself from the current ministries that I am doing?  How can I share my faith with non Christians if I am not honest about my sexual orientation?  Should I leave my church (where I am currently serving and growing) to go to a church that is more accepting of my orientation?

If I had this dialogue with my Christian friends, my church leadership, church members, the gay community, and my straight secular communities, I imagine the answers would differ drastically between each of these communities.  Furthermore, I speculate that even within each of these communities, there would be much disagreement.

So what am I supposed to do?  I’ve prayed and don’t seem to get any definitive guidance.  I’ve sought counsel, but have gotten sets of instructions that each point in different directions. I am trying to be patient with God, but I am fearful that one day I will be on my death bed regretting staying in this stagnant place for a large portion of my life.

A few churches in my town recently started a “ministry” where local open and affirming churches (my Covenant church is not “yet” part of this) can share their testimonies.  I have been fortunate enough to meet older men and families of older men who were once standing in the same intersection where I currently stand.   I have had the opportunity to hear their testimonies and have discovered that many of the “roads” that they chose to follow led them to very painful places.  Many of these men followed bad discernment which caused broken families, HIV, suicide, depression, loneliness, bitterness towards God, loss of faith, and isolation.  There were some, but very few, who appeared to follow good discernment and now appear to be living fruitful lives.

I only hope that I will be wise enough to choose the road that is most in line with God’s will for my life.  I also pray that I have the strength and courage to overcome the hurt and pain associated with choosing the “right” path.

28 years from now, I hope to be that 56 year old man who followed good discernment.  I would hope that the 28 year old man standing on “Uncertainty Lane” would be able to look up to me as a role model to know which direction to pursue.

If God were to ask me today, “What shall I give you?” my answer today is not “to be free from my homosexuality.”  I truly believe that being gay has forced me into a deep search for who God really is.  Despite the pain and loneliness that this has caused, I would not trade this intimacy with God for being straight.  It has softened me and broken me in a way that has prepared me to be molded more beautifully by my Creator’s hands.

Instead of asking for a cure for this struggle, I now ask for the same thing that Solomon asked for—for a discerning heart so that I know which direction to pursue.

  • Eva

    Thank you for sharing so honestly and vulnerably. I hear the struggle and pain. I also hear that in the midst of it, you have found God to be closer. I’m so glad for that for you, especially because it sounds like the way has been really difficult. I hope you have people in your life now who walk alongside you and pray with you. I am sure by sharing here, that some who read your story, will share in praying with you.

  • Eva

    David, I forgot to mention, forgive me, I join in prayer with you and for you.
    Thank you for your courage. You give voice to those who don’t feel free to share their pain and struggle. And you are joined by others who pray for you and walk alongside you on this journey.

  • Revhed1

    Thanks for your honesty and sharing the personal struggle. The things you ask are the same questions, it seems, that the church must also ask. I only pray that we can do it in such a way that we can extend, civility, respect, and ultimately love toward one another.

  • David, I remember standing at those same crossroads at about your age. I was a student at North Park when I was in the process of discerning my sexual orientation and coming to terms with it. It was not until about 4 years after I graduated that I finally was able to accept myself for who I was and begin the process of coming out to others, seeking a mate and pursuing my life as an openly gay woman.

    Unlike many gay people of my acquaintance, I did not enter into a sexual relationship until I had pretty thoroughly resolved my concerns and conflicts about the religious beliefs with which I had been brought up. I was raised in the Assembly of God (which, in case you’re not familiar with conservative fundamentalist denominations, makes the Covenant Church look like raving hippy liberals 😉 ). So I had a great deal of “baggage” regarding homosexuality. I went through a very long period of suicidality and self-mutilation due to my inability to accept my sexual orientation.

    I read and studied the Bible, and particularly the 8-9 “clobber passages.” I counseled with a therapist and with my priest, and with a spiritual director (I became an Episcopalian during this time). Eventually, I came to the understanding that I was a lesbian because God made me this way, and that the best thing that I could do regarding my sexuality was to live out my life in a responsible, loving manner, in committed, monogamous relationship within the context of my God-given sexual orientation. When I reached this understanding, I was able to enter into a loving relationship without guilt or fear, accepting myself for who I am rather than struggling and fighting and hating myself for who others thought I was supposed to be.

    I’m no longer afraid to identify as gay AND Christian. It is possible to be both things simultaneously. I am now a member of a United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ combined congregation which is official Open and Affirming. Since going through the official O&A process (I was on the steering committed for this process), our church has drawn in many new members, gay and straight. We have a number of gay and lesbian couples with children. One of the really wonderful comments made by a lesbian member is that it used to be that gay people looking to meet other gay people and socialize and find friendship were limited to smoky, dark bars, where gay people hid from the straight world. How wonderful it is now that we can join other gay people at church in worship and community and fellowship. What a difference from 20 years ago.

  • Sam

    David, thank you so much for sharing your story.

    I too grew up in a very conservative church. We were told that there is one way to interpret everything in the Bible, and we were told what that correct interpretation is. When I eventually made it to seminary, however, I discovered that there are a multitude of interpretations of almost everything in the Bible. As I studied the languages in which the Bible was written, Hebrew and Jewish theology and culture as well as how the people who wrote the Bible understood God, how the writing would been understood by the original audience and a multitude of other matters that relate to the interpretation of the Bible, I came to understand that Bible interpretation is not as simple a matter as I had been led to believe.

    Eventually I decided that many of the things I had been taught that the Bible says were simply inaccurate. The interpretations were based on what the interpreters understood the English translation they were using to say. Some doctrines were based on a few poorly translated words. and sometimes were based on assumptions that the person interpreting the Scripture brought to the process, assumptions that were not always correct. One day I realized that if this was true on many minor, obscure Scripture and doctrines, why might it not also be true on some of the “biggies”, such as what the Bible supposedly has to say about homosexuality. Does the Bible really say what I had always been told?

    Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. This is one place where you need to make up your own mind. There are many resources available. A good place to start would be with GCN (Gay Christian Network) and the blog CanyonWalker (find these with your search engine).

    God loves you, David, and your sensitivity to Him and desire to do His will. Do some research and read some other understandings of what the Bible does and does not teach on this matter. Peace for your journey.

  • Jill

    This is so important. It seems you already possess much wisdom and discernment. Thank you. 🙂

  • Tina Matteson

    Thank you for sharing your struggle with such transparency. I will join with you in prayer. I am so sorry you have suffered for so long and the answers have not been clear. But it is beautiful to hear you speak of the intimacy with God that you are experiencing. The Apostle Paul also had a thorn that he asked God to remove and God decided not to remove it. May He give you the discernment you seek, and also His sufficient grace. God bless you.

  • Katy

    Thank you for sharing, David. Your message is touching and profound. I pray for you that you will find peace, and not in 28 years. I hope that you will connect with people who will accept you for who you are and will help you make the better choices in life. You are a thoughtful man who has much to offer the world. Focus on your gifts and blessings, strive to bring blessings to others, and I think you’ll find the rest will slowly unwind and resolve itself as you live your life.