Fear can be a restrictive, negative emotion. The fear I experienced on my first – and only! – roller coaster ride meant that I’ve never risked another one. Fear limits us and can stop us from doing certain things or enjoying certain experiences.
I was brought up in a loving, moral, church-going family and benefitted from Christian input at Sunday School from a very early age. From around about the age of 10 or 11 I became very conscious of being attracted, both emotionally and physically, to my male school friends rather than to my female school friends. I hadn’t chosen to have those feelings and I spent most of my teenage years fighting against them and tormenting myself with guilt over them. Finally, aged 17, I reluctantly started to identify myself, inwardly at least, as being gay.
A well-meaning Christian friend put this question to me and I confess that it made me quite angry. I was surprised by the strength of my reaction and have spent some time subsequently reflecting both on the question and my response to it.
God is love (1 John 4:8). This truth about God is used by some people to argue that, therefore, God must approve of any relationship that our culture defines as loving. But there are two key flaws to this argument.
The Bible allows for disagreements on certain issues, so in Romans 14, for example, Paul speaks of 'disputable matters' and calls on his readers to be convinced in their own minds (Romans 14:5). There are, however, other truths which are non-negotiable - these are sometimes called 'gospel issues', i.e.
The Bible defines marriage in Genesis 2:24 as a union between one man and one woman. Jesus Christ upholds this definition of marriage in Matthew 19:5, as does the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:31. Any and all sexual activity which takes place outside of this context is treated as sinful, what Jesus calls ‘sexual immorality’ in Mark 7:21.
Clearly, love and commitment are virtues and so it is tempting to see a loving, committed same-sex partnership as a godly relationship, particularly when compared against unloving or unfaithful partnerships of opposite-sex couples. However, the Bible is clear that a same-sex partnership is by its essence outside of God's creation plan that a marriage be limited to the union of one man and one woman (Gen 2:21-24). The Bible lists no exceptions to this model based on the depth of the love, the quality of the relationship or the level of commitment.
About a year ago, I confessed my struggle with same-sex desires to a couple of my friends. I acknowledged that I could not fight this battle alone. I had tried unsuccessfully for nearly 25 years. If I was going to be victorious, I needed someone to come alongside me and help me. My two friends were very loving and gracious as I unburdened myself to them. That night, I installed an accountability app on my phone and my friend, Roger, became my accountability partner. We never made any kind of formal commitment to help each other. Nor did we discuss what accountability should look like.
On 12th May, the Lord willing, I will celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday. Before anyone retorts that I haven’t aged too well, I mean the anniversary of my being born again. The day God graciously “rescued [me] from the dominion of darkness and brought [me] into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).