“But, Tony, I don’t want to be alone my whole life! I want to get married and have kids. I want a wife who I can love and who I can grow old together with. My biggest fear in life is being alone. So I can’t be gay because I don’t want to be alone!”
I’ve heard this many times from my handful of Christian friends who experience same-sex attraction and who still want to uphold the traditional sexual ethic.
Just about every Evangelical Christian I know plans on getting married. The conversations are never about if marriage happens but always when marriage happens. It’s assumed. We write in journals about what we hope to find in a spouse. We pray for our future spouse. We set people up on dates. And after the first date, we talk about whether or not he or she is the one. “I just know we’re going to get married!” Obviously, these aren’t all bad things, but you get the point.
Just scan your church bulletins. You will find most events geared towards married couples or their families. “Dad’s supporting one another in fatherhood,” “Parenting 101,” “Couples group,” “Moms praying for their kids.” And it seems that everyone’s goal in the “Singles group” is to, well, pick from the finest available men and women.
We are obsessed with marriage. Sometimes we equate Christian faithfulness with getting married and having kids. We’ve framed marriage as the best thing in life, the holy grail of the Christian faith. All too often we fall into this idolatrous trap.
So it does not surprise me when every single gay Christian I know who wants to maintain the traditional sexual ethic is greatly distressed at the prospect of never getting married.
It happens to me too. I’ve gotten depressed about having to be single.
For a couple of days during my junior year of college, I emotionally lost it. My relationship with a good friend went through a rough patch, which for some reason triggered a surge of fears within me.
I imagined myself in my 30s, in my 40s, all alone. All my friends married. No one cares about me anymore, all they care about is their families. I live by myself; go to work every day and come home to an empty house, with absolutely no one to talk with. No one to hug or embrace. None I can love. No one.
With this image fresh in my mind, my life felt pointless. I had no energy during those few days; all I wanted to do was sit in my room and cry. Thankfully bawling to an older, Christ-filled woman made me feel better.
I’ve also gotten really angry about having to stay single.
There were a few days at Wheaton where I was just flat out angry about being gay. Really angry. I sort of hated… everyone. I would walk around Wheaton’s campus and think, “who gives a @#$! that I got an A on this paper when I’ll never experience romantic love with another person… that idiot got a C, but he will live a better life than me because he can get married.” Or when I listened to friends, I would think, “Wow, I’m so sorry you are stressed out about your girlfriend… please tell me more about how awful it must be to be able to experience an intimate relationship with someone.” Selfish and sinful thoughts? Yes. But I was angry. I wanted the world to suffer for my suffering.
But I’ve come to realize this: it is a lie to believe my life will be less meaningful or less satisfying just because I’m single.
Jesus did not tell His disciples, “Go and marry and make babies.” No, He told his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. He told us to be the “salt and light of the world.”
And I’m beginning to see just how exciting it could be to live this out as a single man.
My senior year at Wheaton, I was blessed to mentor an underclassman who is strongly and exclusively SSA. It has been one of the most important relationships in my life thus far. God has used my story to change him. God has used me to give him hope. This kid has grown exponentially, in surprising and awesome ways I never could have imagined. And I do not know if he would have grown like this without me.
This blows my mind and humbles me.
As I move away from being mainly in Christian circles, I know that it will be a door opener for dialogue with non-Christians too. There’s something about saying “gay” and “Christian” in the same sentence that gets people to listen and open up to you.
This is the sort of stuff God does. He takes messy stuff and makes beautiful things out of it (Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” anyone?). Redemption for me has not meant becoming straight; redemption for me is God using something I used to hate about myself to change mine and others’ lives.
I am convinced my life will still be filled with blessed purpose, without being married. God will use all the unique gifts and talents He blesses me with and He will use my gay orientation. Every Christian — gay, straight, single, married, young, old — has gifts and characteristics God wants to use to impact His Kingdom. That is why we are all here. He doesn’t need us, but He loves us. When we see those gifts make an impact, it is exciting. I know it breathes life into my soul.
This is a long post, but here is an important final thought: Who does love the single person? Who is the single person’s family?