“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As a young child, I sang this well-known scripture verse along with a cassette tape of Bible songs. My mom interrupted me, saying, “You shouldn’t sing that! It’s too negative.” That moment encapsulates how my family, and even my church, felt about sin. It was something we didn’t talk about, or even think about, and certainly not something we ever did.
I was once part of a small group (around ten people at the time) from a large church (several hundred people) in Cambridge that held to the orthodox view on biblical sexuality. We formed this group of various people within the church who experienced same-sex temptations. The leader of the group was Brian, who did not personally struggle with same-sex feelings, but he had a gift for overseeing our gatherings.
To tell you my story, I should really go back to the 1970s. I grew up in rural East Anglia. My family were Quakers and so, from my birth, they took me along to the local Friends Meeting House. The one thing I most remember was being interminably bored!
The intention of this article is to help same-sex attracted Christians to get their particular challenge(s) in perspective, and to recognise that many other Christians also carry significant burdens resulting from their faith. Comparing the relative sizes of the crosses we bear with those of other Christians is an unhelpful exercise. If we judge that our particular burden is greater than that of others, it’s likely to fuel self-pity, resentment and pride.
I have found that when times are tough, the old urges become stronger, probably from me wanting to find an escape. However, I have also found that there is always some help available: through godly friends and mentors; the Word of God; Christian music and reading; prayer; contemplation and worship; physical activities such as sports; or creative activities such as art, craft and design.
Some people are childless by choice, but for those who would like to be parents, whether married or single, it is a bereavement. We grieve for the child we never had. We watch parents interacting with their children and see what we are missing. We listen to our friends talk about their children and now, at our age, their grandchildren, and we feel we have nothing to say. But being childless does not have to be less.
In a well-functioning church married people should have a stake in the lives of singles and singles in the lives of the married. No two parents can be all things to their children – and there can be great benefit from a trusted other who is external and objective.
How did a single, celibate, fifty-something Christian woman become an ally of those struggling with their sexuality and gender? By giving up on the truth of God’s Word? By discovering a convenient theology of liberal grace? Or by selling out to a worldly mantra of tolerance? Actually, it was none of these.
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.