Bikes and Belonging
I could see that people were different at church compared to primary school. My church friends were true, loyal and kind. However, school friends liked you one week and not the next, or a fellow classmate would call you names if you beat them in PE.
My parents have always loved Jesus. They told my siblings and me about God and demonstrated His love in the way they lived. I was always a girl who preferred riding a bike or kicking a ball about. This did not concern my parents or church friends – they enjoyed it and nurtured it. I was a shy child, but I always loved my sport. Through family life, and church-family life, I could see from an early age that God was loving and that Jesus was our saviour.
Same-sex attraction (SSA) was a subject that was not discussed much in either my Christian or my non-Christian circles as a child and teenager. Whether at school or on the street, being gay was something that was occasionally observed in me and assumed about me. And that label got to me. In primary and high school, it appeared to be a way for people to leave me out of things or pick on me. In church, it seemed to be an issue that people didn’t talk about and a sin that was worse than other ones, or at least just a bit abnormal. At that time SSA didn’t appear to be an ok thing for a Christian or non-Christian. However, I still knew and experienced that God was good, and I continued to grow in my relationship with Him.
Since it felt as though people kept telling me I was gay and I wasn’t given much hope about living as a Christian with SSA, I just ignored it for a while. I think I needed time to work out whether it was, in fact, something I experienced – when you keep being told you are something, you start to believe it whether it’s true or not.
Travel and Truth
When I was 20 years old, I realised that although I found guys attractive occasionally, I more often noticed women and I found them easier to connect with. I learned that God loved me despite the fact that I could very easily love another woman too much, and in a way that God did not design. I really began to know that SSA was not something I needed to ignore, pretend wasn’t there, be fearful, guilty or ashamed of, but something that God could be loved and glorified through. I could see that I needed to address it more directly in my discipleship. Through this, I came to know God’s grace for me in a deeper and more meaningful way.
In accepting that I experienced SSA I wanted to make sure it didn’t make it more of an issue for me, I wanted it to decrease not increase. I desired to be someone that was a faithful Christian and a person people could trust to have a godly character and lifestyle. I also wanted God to use my SSA to reach out to others and show people who God was in a different way from what they might expect. As I had also always, but less often, been attracted to men, getting married and having a family was something that not only seemed possible but something I wanted. Therefore, whether I remained single or not, I wanted my singleness or marriage to testify about God in ways that someone whose life did not experience SSA could not.
In my early twenties, I was living abroad and had some Christian counselling regarding SSA. This turned out not to be useful because the counsellor was of the opinion that there must be a reason, root or cause for the fact that I experienced SSA. I think this might be the case for some people but certainly not for everyone and probably not the majority. However, I learned through this, and it has given me an understanding of those who’ve had particularly difficult experiences with the church or a Christian organisation, thinking that conversion therapy is the only solution. I am of the belief that we are a broken and sinful people, and SSA is one way this plays out in our lives. But the important thing is how we chose to respond to this temptation and pursuing God’s way for marriage and sex. The best relationship I can have with a woman is as a close friend - anything else is not more; it’s even less!
Faith and Freedom
I’ve found it so helpful to have family, friends and a church leadership around me who have remained faithful in the way they have taught and supported me in being a Christian who experiences SSA. I think I could have easily been led astray but instead have real freedom in abiding to God’s plan for marriage.
I have not had any romantic or sexual relationships. By God’s grace, he has kept me close. It is largely in friendships where I’ve struggled where there is an attraction and connection. While I have lived in the UK and abroad, God has worked to use particular friendships to expose my weaknesses and force me to grow in my response to my own SSA. Even now, at times, I have to be careful that some friendships remain helpful and healthy. Struggles can also be with strangers or acquaintances where eyes meet, and thoughts wander. Occasionally when I connect with an attractive guy, I get carried away in the hope of what there could be and the fear of missing a rare opportunity. As I think about all the people who have been the object of my affection at different seasons I’m ashamed and so thankful that I was saved from creating more mess!
I love a good movie or series to chill out with but have to be careful not to escape too much. The lustful desire for physical satisfaction can lead to impure and ungodly actions when alone. But I know God is gracious and giving me true satisfaction. It is through my experience of SSA that God has shown me that at times I am being the older brother when really I’m also the prodigal son. I always knew the father welcomed me at home, but the extent of his running embrace, celebrational feast and my undeserving inheritance means loads.
As I have matured in my faith, I have grown in confidence in who I am and what I have to offer to others. In the past, at times as a child, teenager and uni student, I lacked confidence and self-assurance. I am glad that this difficulty gave me the additional need and opportunity to ensure my identity is found in Christ. This has also resulted in giving me more courage in sharing my faith and developing my gift of evangelism. I know that being liked and respected by people is nothing compared to knowing and telling others about the Gospel.
I heard about TFT back in 2015 when I was 25. It is so good to have a Christian community that can relate so closely, have the same outlook on the issue and seek to live in the same way. Over the last 10 years, I can see ways God has used my SSA to support other Christian friends who experience it, to equip other Christians who don’t experience it and to reach out to those who don’t know God. I have quality friendships and experience intimacy through close friends and close relatives… Life is FUN, God is GOOD!
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Autumn 2020 edition of Ascend