I’ve always been pretty open about my struggles with sexuality, so I was up front from the start when I arrived at my church 9 years ago. In those days, there were only a few of us and we met in the minister’s house, so it was very easy to get to know people and build positive relationships.
Where to start…my name is Rob and I’m now 27 years old, so cue mid-life crisis! Although I'm not from a Christian background I did grow up in a loving family with a nice upbringing. I listened intently to Gospel messages when I was 10 years old and started going to the church youth group and other services. I experienced God's love and started to grow in faith.
My first memories of attraction and sexual feelings as a child were towards guys. I didn't realise I was 'gay' at the time as I didn't know what that word meant and had only ever heard that term used in negative ways.
Being in an accountability relationship has been a source of great blessing in my life and, therefore, writing an article on the topic is a positive step forward for me. I am aware, though, that this subject is not always one that is met by others with the enthusiasm I view it.
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.
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.
Enjoying God and experiencing satisfaction in Christ are exciting elements of the Christian life. In addition to enjoyment and satisfaction though, St Paul makes this assertion in 1 Timothy 6:6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain”
When asked to write this article I was forced to the realisation that I am a 30-year-old male choosing celibacy. That is probably relatively unusual, so I must know at least something on the issue. The teacher in me couldn’t resist loosely dividing this into three areas: what does it mean to be celibate, what can help us achieve that goal and why bother?