Betrayal has been a thread woven in and out of my life. Nowhere has it been more evident than in matters of the Christian faith. From my late teen years to my mid–twenties I spent the majority of my time connected to a para–church organization. Admittedly, my motivation for being a part of this group had little to do with faith and everything to do with the secret pursuit of a woman I had a crush on.
While with this group I abstained from sexual contact and endured multiple accusations that I was pursuing women within the ranks of the group. They were false, as my heart belonged to one woman in the organization. Over the course of time, I recognized that a relationship with her was never going to play out. I had endured several years of false accusations and labored hard to raise money for this group. I was treated as a second-class citizen by key leaders. On many occasions, I was reprimanded for some supposedly secret sin or rebellious spirit. I felt like my only value was in how much money I could bring in on any given day.
Since I didn’t view myself as a sinner or my attractions as sinful, all of this only added to my confusion about God and organized religion. I left the group and sought help from a few local churches, only to be shunned or told I was demonized and in need of deliverance each time I shared about my sexual orientation. With that, I left faith behind and began to pursue life on my terms.
Over the next 15 or so years I would visit a church and try to connect but the inner conflict and sense of rejection kept me away. Within myself, the line in the sand had been drawn. I had no need for a God and people who rejected me based on my ingrained attractions and desires. My inner conflict drowned out any message other than I was a sinner and condemned to hell for being born gay.
Peace, where are you?
In my late forties, I began to seek out spiritual paths for answers. I dabbled in shamanic drumming, sought guidance from spirit animals and Buddhist meditation, and tried Judaism. Yet peace was elusive. As the result of a major car wreck, my personal life was unraveling. My long term relationship was falling apart and life grew dark.
The woman I once carried a torch for reentered my life and began to share the message of the gospel with me. She engaged in conversations with my partner and me, and offered input. I found myself visiting her in Texas. Our conversations consisted of what I wanted in life, and all I wanted was peace. We disagreed about the concept of sin and God’s intended design for sexuality. When I came to a place of considering accepting Jesus as my savior, I didn’t see myself as a sinner. This was a major point of contention in my decision to follow Christ or not.
I knew it was a costly decision to truly follow Jesus. I would be resigning myself to a life without romantic relationship. I wrestled with the idea of joining a welcoming and accepting church but intrinsically knew that was not God’s best for my life. My friend shared the promise of Jesus with me: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” (John 14:27 NLT)
The promise seemed too good to be true and drew me in, all at the same time. After much thought and wrestling, I surrendered my life to Christ. I told God that my sexuality was off the table. After all, He created me the way I was. Over the next year and a half my faith began to grow and so did my knowledge of the Bible. Nine months into my new found faith, the theme of betrayal hit home on a personal level. I began to realize that following Christ meant foregoing same-sex relationships with other women in order to follow Him. This is the juncture where my faith and attractions began to collide.
Did following Jesus truly mean denying ALL that defined me? This felt like a lifelong death sentence.
Waves of loss and loneliness flooded my entire being. It was magnified by the loss of multiple relationships with gay-identified friends. I was no longer welcomed in their circles. As I began to ease into the church community, I was an outsider looking in. The emphasis on traditional marriage and family values was like rubbing salt in my open wounds.
Conversations with many of my new Christian friends most often led to questions of how my attractions were changing. And I would abruptly answer that they were not. Stunned silence was the response. Some were bold enough to imply that I must have been harboring unresolved sin since healing should include an attraction to men and the desire to marry.
Ugh! For a long while, I resisted this mentality. The truth is, the longer I identified as a Christian, the more my attractions remained the same. The redeeming revelation that brought relief is this: the Christian life is about holiness, not my sexual orientation and attractions. That I, along with every other single Christian are called to live out sexual purity and to entrust my relational future to God. That a faithful, stable relationship with Jesus is my number one priority.
However, I needed to understand firsthand what God’s intended design was for sexuality, gender, and marriage, and to resolve what was this “sin-nature” thing that Christians frequently referred to. How could I continue on the journey of faith and stay true to my sexual orientation? I refused to take the easy way out and embrace pro-gay theology without personally understanding the biblical view for myself.
Soon my faith and sexuality collided and I was left in the aftermath with more hard choices to make.
Join me next time in the aftermath of that collision.