Homosexuality is an issue I have grappled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God’s good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh. Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God’s grace, rather than less.
It is only in recent months I have felt compelled to be more open on this issue. For many years I had no intention of being public about it – it is very much a personal matter. I am conscious that raising it here may lead to any number of responses – some welcome, some perhaps less so. But over the last couple of years I have felt increasingly concerned that, when it comes to our gay friends and family members, many of us Bible-believing Christians are losing confidence in the gospel. We are not always convinced it really is good news for gay people. We are not always sure we can really expect them to live by what the Bible says.
It is simply not possible to argue for gay relationships from the Bible. Attempts by some church leaders to do so inevitably involve twisting some texts and ignoring others. God’s word is, in fact, clear. The Bible consistently prohibits any sexual activity outside of marriage.
As someone who experiences homosexual feelings this is not always an easy word to hear. It has sometimes been very painful to come to terms with what the Bible says. There have been times of acute temptation and longing – times when I have been ‘in love’. And yet Scripture shows that these longings are distortions of what God has created me for.
But however much we have to leave behind we are never left out of pocket. Whatever is given up Jesus replaces, in godly kind and greater measure. No one who leaves will fail to receive, and the returns are extraordinary – a hundredfold. What we give up for Jesus does not compare to what he gives back. If the costs are great, the rewards are even greater, even in this life. For myself these include a wonderful depth of friendship God has given me with many brothers and sisters; the opportunities of singleness; the privilege of a wide-ranging ministry; and the community of a wonderful church family. But greater than any of these things is the opportunity that any complex and difficult situation presents us with: to learn the all-sufficiency of Christ – learning that fullness of life and joy is in him and his service, and nowhere else.
There is a huge amount to say on this issue, but the main point is this: the moment you think following Jesus will be a poor deal for someone, you call Jesus a liar. Discipleship is not always easy. Leaving anything cherished behind is profoundly hard. But Jesus is always worth it.