I’m a Christian so the deepest and truest part of my identity is that which I receive from Jesus. But I’m also same-sex attracted. My story is one of trying to give all that I am, same-sex attraction included, to Jesus. This is hard every day. Believe me, I sometimes do it through tears praying “even if prayers”, ‘Lord, please give me what I need to surrender today and even if today feels crushing I will praise you’.
Before I became a Christian in my early 20s, I spent a lot of time dreaming that I might one day find the right man for me, dreaming of the home I might one day build with him, the family we might have and yes the dog (sorry but dogs are better than cats)!
Since becoming a Christian, I have wrestled with the bible’s teaching about sex, marriage and relationships. I’ve talked, read, prayed, wrestled, wept (a lot) and concluded that it’s not God’s plan for me to build that home with a husband. I believe I’m called to life-long singleness. This also means life-long celibacy.
There’s no point in beating about the bush. I found this really disappointing. I felt overwhelmed by the thought of a life alone. The life I had hoped for and dreamt of would never come to pass. I only saw what wouldn’t have and it felt like being a Christian was costing me possibility of finding a home.
Where does that leave me as a same-sex attracted, single, celibate Christian? Will I be lonely forever or can I find a home too? It turns out I needed to re-orient what I thought home was.
Home cannot be the house, the partner, or even the biological family. Otherwise, God would be cruelly condemning single, celibate, same-sex attracted Christians like me to loneliness and sorrow. He is not.
I’ve learnt to lean in and depend on him to help me joyfully obey this difficult teaching. The reason I’m writing this is because I’ve come out with a deeper sense than ever before that I live daily in His goodness. He showed me that it’s not loneliness now and home later, but rather a foretaste of home now, in the church, that will be completed later.
So, we all (me included) can experience home now as a place where our relationships in church are marked by:
Care not comparison – we’re not too busy comparing and competing to take a genuine interest in one another’s lives, celebrating the good and grieving the hard.
Interdependence not independence – we don’t just co-exist we do life together, which means the small things and the big things.
Affirmation not just acceptance – we speak the truth in love to one another. We affirm and celebrate one another. We don’t go along with every whim, we also prayerfully rebuke one another from a place of love where needed.
Presence not absence – we ask “who can I come alongside today?” Not “who do I have to come alongside today?”
We experience these good things as we come home. But it’s not just about us. As people who know they have a home, we also invite people in. Home also has an outward facing element. We get to reflect something of God’s love to the world when we do church the way Jesus envisaged it by striving to make it a place where we care, live interdependently, affirm each other and are present.
If our relationships are marked by these things, the world will get a glimpse of a different kind of love, then they too will want to come home.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35).
We realise that some of the things Ryan has written about might raise hard issues for our readers. Although the ideals of church are great in theory we know that church does not always live out the realities of community and family in practice. For some people church has been a hard place to be. Please do reach out if that is your situation.
Feel free to contact Ryan or any of the pastors, elders or staff at the Globe Church if you would like, not that we have it sorted by any means, but it’s something we care deeply about and would love to help others thinking things through. Alternatively, you can find some really helpful resources at www.livingout.org.