What God Doesn't Command:
Like most of the gay community, I used to equate becoming a Christian with becoming straight. From my perspective, based on everything that I'd heard from the church, to follow Jesus was to pray the gay away, snatch up a wife, pop out a few kids and live a quaint Republican life in the land of suburbia.
But I'd tried that for years – the whole pray the gay away thing – and to no avail. In high school I went through a church-going spurt. Every Wednesday night I'd walk into that sanctuary and close my eyes and raise my hands and get swept up into an emotional experience, guided by the soft music and dimming lights. Prayers for straightness shot straight from my heart up to the God I believed to be all-powerful. Week after week, I sung and wept and prayed.
It didn't work.
So I get it. To the gay or lesbian person perhaps begrudgingly reading this blog, I get it. I understand why you may be hesitant to look into Christianity because you doubt you could ever be able to feel legitimate, unforced, naturally flowing heterosexual desire for someone of the opposite gender. And if you've never heard this before, I want you to hear it from me today: Jesus does not require to you be heterosexual to follow him.
What God Does Command:
Now, following Christ does necessitate a reorientation in our disposition toward the sin that indwells us. The Bible is unapologetically clear that homosexual behavior is sinful and therefore if a same-sex attracted person wants to be a Christian they must deny their ungodly same-sex desires – just as all Christians have to deny a wide variety of ungodly desires. But following Christ does not mean that same-sex desires, or any other sinful desires common to all mankind, will disappear while we still dwell in fallen bodies. In the age to come, when the fullness of Christ's redeeming work is applied to us and we receive glorified bodies, all of our sinful inclinations will be forever vanquished. But until then, Christians will continue to wrestle with the remaining sin that indwells them.
You might say, "So, Matt. You're saying that Jesus knows I didn't choose these feelings and he doesn't call me to be straight – that's great. But you're basically telling me he's calling me to not act out on my homosexual desires and just be celibate, instead? That doesn't sound like a much better option…"
Yes, that's basically what I'm saying. Romance and sex are only to be enjoyed in the context of a one man + one woman relationship and if that isn't possible for someone, the only other biblical option is singleness and celibacy. Personally, my sexuality is still 99.999999% homosexual and because of that, I have embraced singleness and celibacy for most of the past five years. And I'm fully aware that this may be the state of my life for the rest of my life.
You might respond to that with, "But Matt, even the Bible you believe in says it's not good for man to be alone" – and I would totally agree. It surely does say that. But why do people automatically equate singleness with loneliness? I have been single since 2010, yet I am far from alone. If there were ever a faith with a solid family dynamic designed into it, Christianity is it. I have felt less lonely and more embraced by others as a single Christian than I ever did as a dating non-Christian. Same-sex attracted person, if you decide to follow Jesus and obey his command to do that alongside a local church, you will not be alone. You will sleep alone, do laundry alone, and sometimes eat alone – but you will not be truly alone. If you will give yourself to the life of a local body of believers, God's will provide Christians for you right and left to "do life" with.
You may also say, "But Matt, if I come follow Christ and never develop heterosexual feelings, I may never have sex again…" That's true, as well. But contrary to what our sex-crazed culture teaches us, sex is not a necessary component to living a full, healthy, and satisfied life. Life without sex is challenging, yes. I'm not going to pretend that some days aren't extremely difficult. But when push comes to shove, I can do without it. Lots of people throughout history have done without it – including Jesus. And to add, this current world and system in which we live is temporary. The renewed, perfect world that will be ushered in by King Jesus will be the lasting and eternal world and in that place there will be no marriage . . . and consequently, no sex. Sex is an incredible gift if practiced within biblical parameters, but at the end of the day it is a temporary reality. The day we die or the day Jesus returns – whichever comes first – will be the last day any of us will ever desire sex. So I urge you, same-sex attracted person, live for something bigger than sex.
The Gift of God:
So why do it? Why follow Jesus when it costs so much? Why believe in a God who would demand that we sacrifice to such a degree? There are factions in western church culture where monogamous homosexual relationships are affirmed. Why not just embrace their revisionist theology and have it all – God and a gay relationship?
The answer is pretty simple: being in relationship with the true, living God of the Bible through his Son, Jesus Christ, is what you're made for. You aren't designed to find your sense of fulfillment or identity or purpose in anything or anyone else but God, himself. Your life is utterly broken – whether you want to admit it or not – because you've willfully separated yourself from the only Source that brings wholeness and fullness to the human life. You are designed to find yourself, complete yourself, and lose yourself in God. Knowing him is the ultimately satisfying life. You may legitimately feel, in your hard heartedness and unbelief, that true satisfaction is found elsewhere. But I promise you that it's not. It is found in the very Person that you've been avoiding.
God wants to give same-sex attracted people what they need most and will enjoy most and that is not romance or heterosexuality, but God. God wants to give us God. The whole reason God the Son came to into our world to live and die in our stead was not merely to save us from hell, but to grant us the invaluable gift of knowing God. When we trust in person and redeeming work of Jesus and are cleared of the rightful condemnation that hangs over our heads, God's Spirit immediately begins to work in the deadness of our souls to enable us to begin to see and feel the all-satisfying beauty that God is. The Christian life can probably best be described, in my opinion, as a relentless and pleasurable chase after the person of God – empowered by the Spirit of God – that leaves us both deeply satisfied and yearning for more. We will chase after him, seeing more and more and more of his beauty and glory and awesomeness, for all of eternity. This may sound "boring" to the person that's yet to experience the life of God, but take my word for it: there is nothing more exhilarating than being in genuine relationship with the true God through Jesus Christ. And that, my friends, is exactly what he wants to give you. God wants to give you Himself. Will you let Him?
"This is the love of God: doing everything necessary, most painfully in the death of his Son, to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying—namely, himself." – John Piper