I know that most of my regular readers notice that I use the term "gay" a lot in the titles of my columns. I'm aware that this probably suggests to some that I'm still in some way holding onto my former homosexual identity or that I'm unwilling to embrace the "such were some of you" gospel mentality that Christians should walk in. So I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the G-word.
I hope ya'll will believe me when I say that I hate the word "gay."
I hate all the presuppositions attached to it. Like the presupposition that a fixed gay (or straight or bi, for that matter) sexual orientation is a legitimate reality. I don't believe that sexual orientation, as culture at large defines it, is real — and I know that I am in the teeniest of the tiniest minorities in holding that position. People who don't follow Jesus or embrace a biblical worldview laugh in my face — pretty hysterically, actually — when I tell them that I don't view sexuality through the lens of "gay" or "straight" or "bi." But there are some Christians, even among my own little same-sex-attracted-but-celibate camp, that also reject my position and hold fast to the idea of people possessing a fixed sexual orientation.
To be clear, I am attracted to the same sex and pretty much only the same sex at this point in my life (well, I am attracted to Beyonce. But who isn't?). And as far back as I can remember experiencing sexual impulses, 99 percent of the time I've only experienced them toward guys. But this doesn't mean that I have a gay sexual orientation; it means I have a broken, distorted sexuality (as we all do, in some way) that flows out of my broken, distorted heart (the kind of heart we all have).
I lived the first 21 years of my lived solely oriented to sin, and the bent-ness of my sexual desires is a result of that orientation.
Can the Lord redeem and transform my sexuality? Absolutely. But has He? No, not yet. At least not to the degree where I've ever found a woman sexually appealing. Does this mean that I have a gay sexual orientation? No. Not at all. It means that — even though I am a Christian — I still possess a fallen, fleshly nature with fallen, fleshly and broken desires. In an eternal sense, I am a cleansed and blameless saint through the blood of Christ. And He is sanctifying me now — changing me day by day to be more like Jesus. Bit by bit He's plucking the sin out of my heart and causing His Spirit to heal and produce fruit in my heart. But until God gives me a new, sinless body — the fullness of the redemption that Christ purchased for me on the Cross — I will continue to experience (and wage war against) the remnant of sin that is in me.
With all that said, I continue to use the cultural terminology in describing same sex behavior/attraction (both in my writing and in my real life conversations) because I don't feel like bickering over words is worth the distraction it causes from getting to what's really important… the gospel. Refusing to say "gay" produces hurdles in evangelistic conversations that I don't think are worth the time they take to leap over.
The word "gay", in this time and culture and context, most concisely describes what we're all trying to say when referring to people that experience homosexual feelings or same sex attractions.
So to put it plainly, I still use the word "gay" because it's helps me to avoid unnecessary distractions in my efforts to reach the gay community with the gospel. And I don't believe that doing this detracts from the gospel message. If someone believes they have a permanent, innate sexual orientation, fine. The bigger issue at hand is that they have a permanent, innate sin orientation that they need to be rescued from. And I would rather spend my time pointing them to the Rescuer than arguing over peripheral matters.
I do think that there is a time and a place (namely, in a discipleship relationship) where conversations about the realness or not-realness of a fixed sexual orientation need to take place. I do think that having a biblical understanding of sexuality is vital. But I don't think that it's a necessary hoop to jump through until that person believes in Jesus and His authority over their life — and over their identity.