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.
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.