Attraction is an inherent part of the human experience. Parents often tell stories of young girls asking if they can marry their fathers or preschool boys having “crushes” on their teachers. Most people don’t even recognise such “rite of passage” moments as heterosexuality, because parsing out attraction and sexuality and lust doesn’t seem necessary for the majority culture. The difference can be seen, though, when you hear stories like mine. My first intense love for and attraction to an adult in my life wasn’t my dad. It was my kindergarten music teacher. She was beautiful and kind and loving, and could sing like no one else I knew. And I both wanted and wanted to BE Miss Morris.
This sort of draw, this intense desire for connection, this need to know and be known did not sexualise until puberty, which is also the norm for all of humanity. What is so vastly different for those of us who are drawn to those of the same sex is that, with this shift comes an overwhelming amount of shame and guilt. We are keenly aware of our otherness, and this otherness is compounded for those of us who grew up in church hearing that homosexuality was a worse type of sin. It can stunt development, leaving one trapped in a sort of perpetual adolescence. I couldn’t copy societal norms in any sort of genuine way, so while I dated guys and tried building lifelong girlfriend groups, it all felt unsafe and unknown and fake. And so I hid. I hid the real me, hid the struggles, hid the torment of knowing I liked girls “more” than I should, hid the desperate desire that it just stop so I could be normal.
When I left my hometown to attend college at a small Christian college located in a small town about two hours away, I had no idea that I would have the chance to live out my long repressed desires. For the next two years, I was in a relationship that was everything I thought I needed. I thought I was fully known, I felt safe, I was connected, I was needed, and I felt complete. What I did not expect, though, was that the more I pressed into this relationship to meet those needs, the more I realised that it would never be enough. As creatures with eternal souls, our need to be truly known and complete in another person can never be satisfied by a finite being, and this relationship became more like an addiction than a relationship. The more I put in, the more I needed, the more I took, the more need I had. It was a vicious cycle that destroyed our relationship and destroyed my connection with God.
As I searched Scripture and prayed about what the problem was with this relationship, I landed on two thoughts that I could not shake. One was that God was a good teacher, not only telling us what not to do, but also giving instruction on how to do the right things well. I knew that exclusive sexual relationships were of a different kind than just friends or fellow church members, and I also knew that heterosexual relationships were just different from same sex relationships. There was plenty in the Bible about how parents and friends and church members and husbands and wives were to interact, but God was silent on how to be a godly partner in a same-sex relationship. This nagging observation paired in my heart one day with a passage in Deuteronomy in which God said that He gave the Law to the Israelites for their good, because He loved them. It was a light bulb moment of clarity that maybe, just maybe, God really does know what’s best for us.
Looking back now that seems like an absurdly obvious realisation, but when you’ve spent your entire life picturing God as a wrathful cosmic kill-joy, the idea that He possibly could really love us and want what’s best for us is a revolutionary idea. As I began mulling that idea over in my heart and mind, the Holy Spirit continued to bring fragments of Scripture up again and again: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” and “Because your love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” And the gentle call of our Heavenly Father spoke over me time and again, “I love you. I want what’s best for you. Just try this life my way and see if it isn’t better than anything you’ve done on your own.”
At the loving dare of a good Father, I walked away and determined to read and live God’s Word as if I actually believed it. And He was right; His love is better than life and all that we can find in this life. He is better. And as weeks turned into months turned into years, I grew stronger in this knowledge, I pressed into Him more and more, and walked farther and farther away from seeking to be known by one human, instead resting in the truth that I am known and loved by one God of the universe. The more that I have had my legitimate needs for connection and belonging and love met in healthy and God-honouring ways, the less desire there has been for connecting with women in broken ways. The more I see and understand sex as part of a divine mystery that is to demonstrate the paradoxical love Jesus has for His Bride, the more I embrace the obedience and calling of celibacy.
I’ve written other places about my contentedness in singleness that, in this stage of my life, is coupled with a newfound openness to the idea that God could possibly place me a heterosexual marriage. This has been limited to the conviction that marriage would be beneficial to myself, my kids, and to my ability to serve God’s kingdom. In other words, a relationship that would enhance an already full and very good life, in no way something to meet a need or fill a hole in my life. This is where I find myself right now. As my fiancé and I are working to figure out how this works, I have already seen ways that our relationship is a refining fire in my soul, drawing out impurities and forcing me to lean into Jesus in new and powerful ways. In some ways, it is just as tempting to look to another person to meet needs that only God can meet, but for me, it seems easier to recognise that someone who is already so different from me will not able to be the one who completes me.
Being in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex is hard. I feel uneasy and out of control a lot of the time; I don’t know what he’s thinking, I can’t anticipate how he will respond to things, I am constantly reminded that I am not the omniscient God. In this way, our relationship is doubly sanctifying as I learn that I cannot be his god any more than he can mine.
In all of this people have both asked and assumed that I am somehow “fixed” or at least bi-sexual or some other shift in sexuality. All I have been able to explain thus far is that I am still attracted to women in the same way that the little girl in kindergarten was attracted to Miss Morris all those years ago. My attraction to women has been brought under obedience to Christ and I walk in the truth that His way is best for me. Sins of sexual immorality and lust no longer rule over me, but the initial attraction is as present as ever. Now, however, I’m attracted to women and Jack. My first realisation that I felt more for him than being just friends was when a moment of jealousy struck me upon seeing a picture of him on social media with another female friend. From there, several things happened that left me thinking, “I know what I’m feeling, but I don’t feel this way about men.”
And this is when I explain to people that I can demonstrate that my identity is in Christ while I also describe myself as being gay. Instead of denying those attractions by saying, “This can’t be, I’m gay!” I allowed myself to feel what I felt and prayerfully pursue God’s will and embrace Jack’s pursuit of me in a romantic relationship. It has not been an easy fairy tale love story, but I can see how God is growing both of us in our pursuit of Him, and it is a blessing to think that God would allow us to be on this journey of Kingdom building together.