We seem to be going back over the “identity” issues in our recent comments (in part as a reaction to Vaughan Roberts “coming out” but refusing to accept the label “gay”), so to stir the pot some more, here’s a great piece published a few days ago.
People wonder if Iâ€™m gay. I know because kids in school used to ask me. When I replied with silence, they called me a fag and went on their way. If bullies wondered about my sexuality, then so did family, friends, people at church. They were probably just too afraid (or too nice) to ask. Iâ€™ve had years to think about it: if someone asked if Iâ€™m gay, how would I answer?
Saying â€œnoâ€ risks people thinking Iâ€™m another brainwashed fundamentalist in denial, suppressing my sexuality to please my parents, my pastor, my peers. Saying â€œyesâ€ risks people thinking Iâ€™ve assumed a gay identity, that Iâ€™m out and proud, affirming and celebrating the homosexual lifestyle.
Neither is true.
The reality is that I acknowledge my same-sex desires. I talk openly with family and friends about homosexuality, especially as it relates to my commitment to Christ. More importantly, Iâ€™m honest with God about my struggles with same-sex attraction. I donâ€™t pretend the feelings arenâ€™t there; on the contrary, I consider them very real temptations. The only denial happening here is self-denial, the daily charge to take up my cross and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). Thatâ€™s the calling of every Christian, not just those who fight against homosexual desires.
Does that make me gay? If by â€œgayâ€ you mean attracted to men, then sure. For as long as I can remember. Ever since elementary school, when I told my playmates about my crush on the blond boy who won the hula-hoop contest, and even before then. Iâ€™m not convinced (and not concerned) if I was born this way, but it certainlyÂ seemsÂ as though Iâ€™ve always been attracted to the same sex.
But if by â€œgayâ€ you mean one who embraces homosexuality and chooses to pursue same-sex relationships, then absolutely not. Iâ€™ve heard arguments that try to reconcile Christianity and homosexual practice. As a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction, even Iâ€™m not convinced. The Bible is clear: homosexual practice is a sin. So yes, I still have a moral problem with homosexuality. I still have a moral problem with lotsÂ of things that I do. Thatâ€™s part of life on this side of eternity.
So am I gay?
Hereâ€™s the problem: itâ€™s hard to cram a whole conversationâ€™s worth of cultural context, theological concepts and personal convictions into â€œyesâ€ or â€œno.â€ For Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction, the answer is really â€œyes and no.â€ Yes on the surface level (being attracted to the same sex) and no in the truest sense (as a new creation in Christ). So if someone asked if Iâ€™m gay, the best answer is â€œKinda sorta yeah not really.â€ Itâ€™s a complicated answer. But so is the question.
A more important question to answer is one that Jesus asked Peter: â€œDo you love me?â€ My answer is yes. A thousand times yes! By the grace of God, my love for Christ is greater than my attraction to men. Love enables me to pursue holiness rather than homosexuality. Love compels me to serve God rather than my own selfish desires, however â€œnaturalâ€ they may seem. Jesus makes singleness, celibacy and everything else that comes with same-sex attraction worth it. Indeed, the life Iâ€™m choosing to live can hardly be called a sacrifice.
As Iâ€™ve grown in my relationship with God and trusted more in Christâ€™s finished work on the cross, Iâ€™ve learned not to define myself by sins or temptations. My identity is not bound to my sexuality, but to my Savior (Galatians 2:20). Thatâ€™s why I donâ€™t call myself a gay Christian; Iâ€™m a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction. I havenâ€™t given up hope that God can change those attractions. But Iâ€™m living in the reality that he has not, and he may not. In the meantime, my highest goal is not becoming straight, but knowing and loving Christ.
Why am I telling you all this now? Well, this isnâ€™t your average â€œcoming outâ€ story. Itâ€™s not a celebration or a step toward freedom. That happened more than twenty years ago when I gave my life to Christ. Iâ€™m talking now because the world is talking. â€œBe who you are, embrace your sexuality, it gets better.â€ They have slick campaigns, celebrity endorsements and flashy bumper stickers. One thing they donâ€™t have is hope.
Jesus is that hope. He came into the world to save sinnersâ€”gay, straight and everything in between. God reconciles us to himself when we put our faith in Christ, who died in our place so that we may be called righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). That faith doesnâ€™t take away our temptationsâ€”sexual or otherwiseâ€”but it takes away the condemnation (Romans 8:1). Thatâ€™s the gospel. Thatâ€™s a story that needs to be told. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m talking now.
Since becoming a blogger atÂ The Two Cities, Iâ€™ve written aboutÂ gay marriage, theÂ â€œborn this wayâ€Â debate,Â gay identity,Â ex-gays, homosexualityaccording to Jesus, andÂ how to love gays. These articles werenâ€™t just about theology and culture. They were about me. Someone who has studied same-sex attraction, yes, but who alsoÂ experiencesÂ it. Someone who is kinda sorta yeah not really gay.