As the conversations continue at my church, I remembered a blog post that touches on one of the more controversial aspects of my homosexuality: the moral nature of the attractions themselves. It was written by a pastor from the UK who is same-sex attracted (hence the -re’s and the lack of z’s).
Are my attractions inherently sinful, or do they become sinful if unchecked and indulged, left to ferment in my mind rather than pointing me to the God of beauty and grace? Is my sexuality only capable of producing sinful, broken, desires? Or can I cling to some kind of redemption even as I find myself inexorably drawn to male beauty?
How these questions are answered, I have found, has more serious theological/ethical implications than I had previously anticipated.
Edit: Apparently the post is protected, so I’ll cite the parts I find most helpful.
“[Seeing male beauty as a threat, as a loaded gun pointed at me,] makes my life difficult. There are many beautiful men on TV, in magazines and, every so often, they step into real life too. And so I have sat at church feeling like a sitting target because of the ‘comely’ man sitting straight ahead of me. My instinctive sexual attraction to his beauty produces such horrific guilt and shame that it even begins to feel as if the gun has gone off. And next week we will both be back on the firing range – how am I to avoid being shot at again and again?
I somehow need to stop living with this fear. I need to stop seeing male beauty as a loaded pistol aimed destructively at me and instead as something that points me positively elsewhere. I need to respond to it better and to do that I think I need to understand how beauty works a little better…
Part of this is, I think, a growing realisation that my response to male beauty is, at one level, very natural. In desiring a beautiful man, in wanting to become one with him, I am responding to real beauty as all human beings tend to whenever, wherever, they discover it in any overwhelming form…
But how do I avoid crossing that line [from acknowledging beauty to trying to consume it]? For, at the moment, the one nearly always leads to the other; despite the accompanying guilt and shame, any beautiful man will almost invariably soon feature in some imagined sexual act producing even more guilt and shame (does my fear make any more sense now?).
Where can I positively take my appreciation of a man’s beauty? Well, where does it point me to? Just to my sin, or my mucked-up sexuality? If so, every attractive man will continue to be ‘a loaded pistol’ pointed at my soul – I’ll continue to live in fear of the guilt and shame beautiful men bring.
But what if, next time I see one, I paused and prayed, remembering that all true beauty should point me to the beauty of my King? To the Lord Jesus in his perfection, whose beauty far outstrips any other man I’ll ever meet. And recall that my powerful desire for beauty reminds me of how my right desire for true beauty will only ever be properly satisfied in him. For his Word tells me that one day soon I will live with him forever, passing onto his beautiful new world, be beautiful myself, bathe in his beauty, become part of the divine beauty that is at the centre of the universe.
Would that not wonderfully begin to end the guilt and shame?”
Brief update: I’ve met with two staff members so far, one meeting harder than the other, though both ending at a kind of impasse. The second chat, however, was defined by a mutual encouragement and gave me hope for future conversations on the subject even in the midst of disagreement. I remain very hopeful, and feel, I don’t know, strong. Is that weird? God is strengthening me, I can sense it. Not just to “win” the argument, but to respond in love, to reject any flickering of bitterness or anger, to humbly and intentionally dwell on the qualities of these men that I respect, to ultimately submit myself to their authority while I am here, to seek the flourishing of the church, and to trust that the Gospel is being proclaimed throughout the entire process of discerning truth. It’s an oddly quieting sensation.