It is often quite strange to look back over my life and see where God has brought me, sometimes with my full awareness, at other times organising events in the background. It would be great to say that my journey has been straight forward and pain-free, but that wouldn’t be honest or accurate. However, I am very aware of God’s love, care and protection over my life over the years...
Our pastor recently preached a Sunday morning sermon on marriage and the family. He prayed for “our marriages and families” at the end and then added the line, “and we also pray for those who are single.” I peeped around the room and thought that he might just as well have said, “and Gary too” since I was the only single person there!
In an increasingly busy and individualistic world, and in a church culture which seems to promote nuclear family relationships over singleness, it can be challenging to build meaningful friendships within the church. It can be especially hard to build relationships with nuclear families, particularly as a childless single person. And yet Jesus calls for radical community centred around Himself and the gospel.
I love the story of the prodigal son, the way his father ran towards him with open arms, ready to welcome him back after his years of wasted opportunity. No rebuke, no questions asked, just pure love and acceptance. And that’s exactly what God did for me four years ago, just before my 49th birthday. After years of rebellion and destructive behaviour, God welcomed me back into his family.
About a year and a half after becoming a Christian, I remember crying in my church’s toilets while the Word of God was being proclaimed from the church hall. I can’t remember what was being said or even if it was something that dramatic. I only remember sitting there asking God why I had to have this pain. I was nearly screaming to Him asking Him where He was. It felt like someone had got a knife and made a slit all the way down my soul. I thought I was letting God down and He was letting me down.
Some people who are single and/or attracted to the same sex find that physical touch is something they feel they lack. Therefore, feelings I began to have a few years ago took me somewhat by surprise. I became aware that I felt acutely untouched. I felt like I needed to be held. I felt like I had a craving for physical intimacy.
I recall feeling envious of girls during my childhood - prior to adolescence - and seeking to mimic their play and appearance; I would have preferred to be a girl rather than a boy.
Over two years ago, I told my parents about my struggle with same-sex attraction. Putting words to the secret I had kept locked up for nearly twenty years proved to be a pivot point in my love life.
Two men of different ages (John, 67, and Charlie, 22) put questions to each other about what singleness has meant to their life and what it means to them now.