It seems almost stupidly brash to say that my attraction to men is no barrier to holiness. But, as I mentioned in my last post about reorientation therapy, I think the above statement to be true, though perhaps I should nuance it a bit.
I believe my attraction to men is not intrinsically a barrier to holiness.
Sexuality is a gift, a startling, bewildering blessing given to us by God for the nourishment and flourishing of all creation. As it is with many aspects of life, the journey to understand my sexuality begins with a divine question rather than an intractable declaration. That question is simply, “So what are you going to do with this?” Everybody, regardless of their orientation, must face that question.
Sexuality is an invitation to disciplined, life-giving stewardship for God’s glory and the good of others. The fact that, for whatever reason, I just so happen to think some guys are attractive does not instantly derail everything. It does limit my opportunities for romance, which is painful, but it does not limit me or my pursuit of holiness. It does not limit what God can do to draw me to himself.
It has taken me a while to believe this. I’ve had some pretty dark moments, thinking, How could God love me if my sexuality is repulsive to him? I’m so pathetic! No wonder he avoids me. Even I don’t want to spend time with myself. I’m going to be lonely and isolated my whole life, and I guess I deserve it.
I never thought God actually hated me, but sometimes it felt as if he had an awfully unloving way of showing affection. This was all happening at the same time I was feeling socially isolated and neglected by my friends, which is, you know, super unsurprising. (Side note: my friends are awesome).
One of the oppressive, looming questions gay Christians (or non-Christians, sometimes) face is this, “Is my entire existence before God a sin because I am attracted to the same sex?” My sexual attractions feel so natural and are such a daily presence that when I begin to beat myself up about my homosexuality or doubt God’s loving nearness it’s hard not to let every part of my life get sucked into the vicious whirlpool of “divine” disapproval.
Thus I consider it a miracle that I am now so convinced that my orientation can actually contribute positively to my desire for holiness. If being same-sex attracted is not intrinsically sinful, then I am also certain my attractions do not automatically make my sexuality less holy than a straight person’s. All sexuality is prone to error and excess – it’s just a bit more obvious what errors and excesses threaten me.
But let’s be honest, we’ve all objectified someone, turned them into a thing to be consumed by our hungry imaginations. We’ve all sinned, forsaken the good purposes of our sexuality. My sexuality poses a constant challenge to me – I’m reminded of it every time I see a guy I’m attracted to, or not attracted to, or maybe attracted to, or hear about anything relating to sex or romance or love or marriage or a million other things that bombard me every day. But everybody’s sexuality is a challenge. I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you of that. Being gay is a unique experience with its own burdens and hurdles, but one of those hurdles is not an intrinsic unholiness that renders me especially distant from God.
Am I making sense? I’m not totally sure. It’s still something new to me, something profoundly different than what I used to think. I’m stammering here, grasping for words that aren’t wholly solid.
All I mean to say is that although my attractions make some normal human behavior unhelpful/sinful/unavailable for me, they do not inexorably compel me to unholiness. I can use my sexuality, just like anyone, to bring God joy and glory by using it chastely to serve him and my neighbors.
The frustration of unmet desire can turn me to a God who satisfies; the longing for intimate touch reminds me I am always being held; the fear of rejection points me to the open arms of Christ who has already accepted me and calls me to embrace others; the overwhelming awareness of the brokenness of things moves me to be a source of healing for those around me. And in all of this I know God rejoices over me as he empowers me to falter forward on this beautiful path of sanctification (can I call it “running?” It seems so unlike it).
I hope that lends some clarity to my previous statement. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section, I’ll try my best to answer them well.