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Letter-to-My-Past-(Gay)-Self(1)

Letter to My Past (Gay) Self

Dear Raphael,

I am you in 10 years’ time. Before I say anything else, I want you to know that you’re deeply loved by God and you’re very precious to Him. You are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8).

I know you don’t feel this way right now—not when God just told you to stop pursuing a gay relationship. You feel like your only hope at happiness has been crushed. There’s pain in your heart and you’re crying out, “How can something that feels so right be so wrong?”

I get it. It does feel right and natural. Since you started having romantic and sexual desires, it has only ever been for guys. It’s all you’ve ever known, and it feels like a natural part of you. It feels like acting on these desires can lead you to a wonderful relationship that will finally make you happy.

Oh yes, I remember, Raph. How can I forget the first major crush you had in junior college on that guy the minute you laid eyes on him? Your heart would leap whenever he so much as glanced in your direction and you’d long for him to hold your hand one day.

I remember your first boyfriend, whom you met four years later. I know how happy you felt with him.

So you’re wrestling with lots of questions now. You’re asking, “How can all of this be wrong? Why would God forbid me from pursuing happiness? How can God be so cruel? What kind of God would tell me to deny something that’s so natural to me?”

You will find this hard to believe right now, but I want to tell you that it’s precisely because God loves you that He’s calling you out of homosexuality. Far from being cruel, your Father is acting out of His love, grace, and mercy for you. He cannot bear to see you wrecked by a life of sin and brokenness.

Please hear me out. I finally saw the truth of what God was doing after 10 years, and I want to share with you what I’ve learned—what you will eventually come to see for yourself.

Being gay is not who you are. When you became a Christian, you became a child of God. That’s the deepest truth of your identity, and that’s how your Father always sees you. He calls you “son”. Yes, you experience attraction towards guys, but that’s what you have, and not who you are: you have gay desires, but you are not gay. You are—first, foremost, and forever—God’s beloved son.

I know this attraction feels natural to you. They still do to me. But God showed me—as He will show you—that these desires aren’t as natural as they feel.

Remember how you always wanted an elder brother to show you the ropes of life when you were growing up? In upper primary, you looked up to this older boy in your class as a kind of big brother and wanted his attention. Do you also remember how you hated your secondary school years because of how much you wanted to fit in with the guys in your class, but couldn’t? You didn’t think these two things were connected, did you? Well, God showed me that they both stemmed from a longing to be taught by a man on how to be a man.

It wasn’t a coincidence that just when you were struggling intensely with not belonging with the other boys, you started to have crushes on some of them. Your desire to be like these boys, during the sexual awakening of puberty, turned into a desire for them.

In recent years, God helped me to understand that what I really craved was male identity and intimacy, which I should have received from Dad when I was growing up. What you long for, deep down, is Dad’s attention, affirmation, and affection. I know he wasn’t perfect, but he was the best father he could be. (We’ll talk about working on a better relationship with Dad in another letter.)

And because your gay desires aren’t a natural part of you, pursuing a gay relationship won’t actually bring you true happiness. In fact, it would bring you further away from your real needs. What you actually need is learning how to develop a secure masculine identity and to receive male intimacy in healthy—non-romantic and non-sexual—ways.

This may all sound rather abstract and foreign to you at the moment. Maybe I can put it another way. You know how you’ve been looking for that perfect relationship with a guy, but never seemed to find it? How you’d think a guy you’d met was the one, but when you got to know him better, one thing or another would make you feel he wasn’t the right guy? How your heart was broken over and over when your hopes were dashed again and again? It all seemed so elusive, didn’t it? Have you ever thought that maybe the reason no guy ever seemed to be the right one was that a guy is not actually what you need?

In fact, hasn’t that search thrown you into frustration and despair many times? In your moments of intense loneliness and longing for intimacy, you’ve often turned to alcohol to numb the pain, and to one-night stands. You knew they gave you little more than short-lived comfort and a shadow of what intimacy was, but you desperately wanted whatever scraps you could get. Then the guilt and the shame would come, and you’d plead with God for His forgiveness and promise Him you wouldn’t do it again. But it wouldn’t be long before you fell into it once more. I understand the pain you felt going through that cycle, and how deeply regretful you were each time. I know you’re so sick and tired of going down that spiral again and again.

How about the many nights when you’d cry yourself to sleep? I remember that one night when you cried so badly because you were struggling so much with loneliness. You just couldn’t see how you could be happy. Do you remember what God said to you that night? He said, “Trust Me.” I know that for years after that, you didn’t think He could be trusted to bring you the happiness you want. I’m here to tell you that God is faithful. He came through on His promise—just not in the way you think. He who knows better will give you far better.

God will show you that there are many other Christians who have gay desires, but who choose to obey Him by not acting on these feelings. There is a better way to live. He will also bring into your life Christians who can walk with you in this journey. I assure you that, even though there will sometimes still be struggles, there is much joy and peace in living a life being obedient to God and His life-giving ways.

He wants to bring healing to all those broken places in your heart that ache for love and intimacy. Getting into a gay relationship will not make you feel complete; it will only deepen the wounds you have. Trust me, I’ve been there. So I recognize now that God is merciful and gracious when He calls you to stop acting on your gay desires—because when you do, you’re only hurting yourself. How can a good Father do nothing and let His child keep throwing himself into what will bring him more pain?

Instead, God wants to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds (Psalm 147:3). But in order for Him to do that, you have to stop injuring yourself and stay still long enough for Him to bandage you up. Be still, and know that He is the God who forgives and heals you (Psalm 46:10, Psalm 103:3).

Yes, I’m still attracted to guys, but I’ve decided not to act on my same-sex desires anymore. I don’t have to always give in to them helplessly. But you know what? I am much happier and at peace now than I was back then, when I was looking for a gay relationship. You do not understand this yet, but believe it. Or at least, believe me; I’ve gone through this long enough to know. God is very trustworthy, Raph. Trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. When you acknowledge Him in all your ways, He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Hold on to God, because He holds on to you. In the coming days, you’re going to feel like Jacob as he was wrestling with the angel of God (Genesis 32:22–32). Don’t let go of the Lord. Don’t let go even when you feel overwhelmed by the struggle, not even when you feel so weak that you want to give it all up. The wrestling will be worthwhile. As God did with Jacob, He will also bless you through this struggle.

As you hold on to God, you will get to know Him up close and personal. You will come to know that God isn’t uncaring and unreasonable, but He loves you so fiercely that He wants to pursue you relentlessly. He cares for your well-being and wants to give you His best. He’s a loving Father who is willing to let you, His precious child, hate Him for a season when you didn’t understand His ways, so as to save you from more pain and anguish.

So don’t misunderstand God’s heart. He isn’t cruel at all. Through His divine intervention in your life, He is actually showing you His love, grace and mercy by calling you out of brokenness into wholeness, out of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

Will you trust the Lord? Will you hold on to Him? Will you let your Father bless you?

 

God’s faithfully,

Your Future Self

Why-Im-Not-Pursuing-Gay-Relationships(2)

Why I’m Not Pursuing Gay Relationships Anymore

It was past midnight. I was with the guy I had liked for more than a year. We had just left a gay bar and, for some reason, started to talk about Christianity and homosexuality.

We were both Christians, but he and I held different views on this matter. He believed that it was not compatible with Christianity to act on gay desires, while I was convinced that God would bless same-sex relationships between Christians.

This wasn’t the first time we had talked about this. Every time we broached this topic, we’d disagree sharply with each other. I’d argue that since being gay wasn’t a choice, God surely would not forbid us from acting on what was natural to us. He’d contend that the Bible was very clear that homosexual behavior was sinful and not part of God’s will.

In the thick of our disagreement that night, God planted this thought in my head: “Your belief that Christianity is compatible with homosexuality is based on the borrowed arguments of others who hold such convictions. Why don’t you look into this matter for yourself and come to your own conclusions? Besides, if this is true, what do you have to lose?”

Until that moment, I’d been unreservedly gay-affirming. I was 13 when I realized I experienced gay desires. When I was 17, I went onto the Internet to find out what Christianity had to say about homosexuality. I came across and accepted many arguments that interpreted Scripture in a way that condoned the pursuit of gay desires in a loving relationship. So when I started to look for romantic love, I did just that—I sought a loving, committed, and monogamous gay relationship.

But when God prompted me to pursue the truth on homosexuality, I decided that I would conduct an intellectually honest inquiry. So, from 2008 onwards, I began to look at arguments on why homosexuality wasn’t aligned with God’s will, even though I didn’t agree with them at that point. I also figured that I ought not to get into a gay relationship as well, since that would compromise the integrity of my quest.

Over the next seven years, even as I examined arguments in favor of the traditional reading of Scripture on homosexuality, I remained largely gay-affirming and was actively looking for a gay relationship. In spite of that, God led me on a journey in which He showed me His heart on the matter and the beauty of His design for my sexuality.

 

Discovering Loopholes

As I re-examined the arguments that said Scripture permitted loving gay relationships, I found that they weren’t as convincing as I had initially thought when I first came across them. I discovered many loopholes in those claims. Besides being built on presuppositions that remained to be tested, there were leaps of logic that begged further questions, and the isolation of biblical verses from their proper context.

The more I read, the more I realized these arguments were not watertight and the more I started to ask questions such as: If homosexuality is so good, why did God forbid homosexual behavior so consistently all throughout the Bible, in the Old and New Testaments? Why did He not clearly hold up committed gay relationships as something to be aspired toward, just as He did with committed heterosexual marriages? If gay relationships are part of God’s will, why couldn’t He have made gay people with sexual parts that complemented each other? What am I to do if it’s indeed wrong to act on my gay desires, even if it’s out of love? How else would I find love?

At the heart of my grappling, I had to address core questions of surrender and trust: Am I just holding on tightly to my own views out of fear or pride? Am I really open to seeking out and believing what God has to say about homosexuality? If His will is indeed different from mine, am I willing to trust Him to provide for me in His ways?

 

The Beauty of God’s Design for Marriage

As I began to move away from gay-affirming theology, God used numerous occasions to solidify the conviction in my heart that homosexuality was not aligned to His will. One of these decisive moments was when He opened my eyes to the beautiful design of heterosexual marriage.

By this point, God had already led me to understand how the key differences between men and women led to a harmonious complementarity between the two sexes. So when He showed me that human marriage between a man and a woman was a powerful, compelling picture of the divine, complementary marriage between Jesus and the Church, it made sense to me.

I learned that marriage is meant to be a beautiful, lasting, and holy covenant in which the husband lays down his life for his wife—just as Christ sacrificially laid Himself down for the Church, His Bride—and the wife submits to her husband’s loving headship—just as the Church is called to pour herself out in willing submission to Christ, her Bridegroom and Head (Ephesians 5:22-33).

I saw that the Word of God consistently referred to Jesus as the Bridegroom (male) (Mark 2:19-20, John 3:29) and the Church as His Bride (female) (Matthew 25:1-13, Revelation 21:2; 9-10), and that the consummation of history was described as the Wedding Feast of the Lamb of God (Revelation 19:9). This sealed the conviction in my heart that God has created us male and female for very good reasons (Genesis 5:2). One of them is that He intends for marriage to be a union between a man and a woman so that the marital covenant can be lived out as a profound sacrament that embodies and expresses to the world the way Jesus loves the Church and the way the Church loves Jesus.

I remember having tears in my eyes when I learned this truth that day. Firstly, I was very moved by the beauty of God’s design for marriage and how it displayed the glory of Jesus’ covenantal love with His Church. Secondly, I knew that this truth meant that acting on my gay desires did not glorify God and it demanded a reorientation of my life.  

 

Understanding the Underlying Issues

That was how God convinced me on the theological and intellectual fronts. What He did next was to address my emotional concerns.

Throughout my gay-affirming years, I had firmly believed that being gay was a natural part of who I was and that I was born gay. Then God helped me to become aware of the issues that likely led to me having same-sex attraction.

The Lord showed me that all my life, I’d longed for my father to give me more attention, affirmation, and affection. Though my father did the best he could and I’m thankful for him, he could only give me the kind of love he had received from his own father. There were also other reasons why I didn’t perceive and receive his love very well when I was growing up.

In primary school, I constantly wished that someone would show me the ropes and how to be a guy. And throughout my secondary school years, I struggled with not fitting in with the rest of the boys in my class. I neither felt secure in my identity as a boy nor did I feel like I belonged with the guys.

I’m now aware that it was not a coincidence that it was also in secondary school that I started to have crushes on my male classmates. My longing for the attention and affection of my father, coupled with my desire to have for myself the masculine traits of other guys, turned into a romantic longing to have the attention and affection of desirable guys. It became what I began to experience as same-sex attraction.

When God surfaced these underlying issues, He led me to understand that my same-sex desires was not a natural, innate part of who I was. Rather, it was a symptom of deeper issues I needed to address.

I realized then that the way forward was not to keep looking for a gay relationship to try to meet these needs, but rather, to meet these needs in healthy ways—in the ways that they should be met. I also needed to seek healing for these wounds, so that God could build up in me what had been lacking for years.

As I came across the life stories of others with same-sex desires, the issues they faced were similar to the ones I dealt with. And I knew that if I were to act on my gay desires with someone else, I would not only be deepening my own wounds, but I’d also have a hand in deepening the wounds of my romantic or sexual partner. It’s like two people feeding each other sand in an attempt to sate their hunger, when their real need is for food that truly nourishes and satisfies. Not only does the sand not fill their hunger, it’d further bring ill health to their bodies, and misdirect and ruin their actual appetites for food.

 

A Life-changing Journey

Needless to say, those seven years of searching and researching were life-changing. Although I started out being gay-affirming and had no interest whatsoever in changing my stand on homosexuality, the Holy Spirit planted and deepened the conviction in my heart over the years about God’s wonderful design for my sexuality.

Though my heart was often unwilling to accept what I had read, I found myself gradually giving intellectual assent to what was written and, eventually, realizing that these words were true because there was a deep witness in my spirit. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth [who] leads [us] into all truth” (John 16:13).

That night, when God challenged me to look into this matter, He asked me, “If this is true, what do you have to lose?” Well, I lost my right to hold on to what I would prefer to be true and a way of living for myself that would have felt so much easier. But I gained a deeper trust in God, knowing that because He is who He says He is, His loving and righteous ways are much better than mine. And I gained a way of dying to myself that led to God’s truth, healing, and abundant life—to true, lasting happiness (John 12:24-26).

So today, even though I still experience same-sex attraction, I’m no longer pursuing gay relationships because I want to pursue a loving relationship with God, who first pursued and loved me.

I-Didnt-Choose-to-be-Gay

I Didn’t Choose to be Gay

I did not choose to be attracted to people of the same sex.

I had an ordinary childhood in an ordinary home. My father and mother, along with my grandmother, loved me and did their best to provide and care for me. I have a younger brother, but had always wanted an older brother when I was growing up. In upper primary, I looked up to an older boy in my class as a big-brother figure.

I first realized I had these feelings when I was going through puberty in secondary school and found myself having a crush on a guy in my class. In junior college, I was similarly infatuated with a male schoolmate. That was also when I identified myself as “gay.”

There wasn’t anyone I could talk to about this area of my life—not my family nor my friends—so I looked online for local communities of people who were gay, and I found some. I distinctly remember the first time I chatted online with another gay person; I was very nervous and excited.

Initially, curiosity led me to these communities. Over time, however, it was loneliness that drove me to seek out others like me. As I began to struggle more with loneliness, I started to desire a romantic relationship.

Because I hadn’t gone to church since I became a Christian in primary school and wasn’t discipled in God’s truths on sexuality, I mistakenly concluded that it was okay with God for me to pursue my gay desires. And I did so, for the next 10 years. I tried many ways to look for a gay relationship and, regrettably, also fell into sexual sin with other guys many times.

A few years ago, the Lord convicted my heart that it was not part of His will for me to act on my same-sex desires. Since then, He has led me on a journey of deeper healing and pursuit of holiness.

Though I no longer identify myself as “gay,” I still experience attraction to men. There isn’t a day I’m not aware of it. I know in my mind that it is not to be acted upon, and I choose with my will to obey God. But the attraction still feels “natural” and instinctive to me.

If I had a choice, I would make these desires disappear once and for all. That would make my life so much easier. I don’t know if I will find complete healing on this side of eternity or I will receive full restoration, along with my transformed resurrected body, only when I see the Lord.

To borrow the words of Wesley Hill, a same-sex attracted Christian writer who has chosen to remain celibate, I now live in a state that is “washed and waiting.” As a Christian, I’m “washed. . . sanctified [and] justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11), but I’m also “wait[ing] eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23-25).

Meanwhile, I know that while I have no choice in my sexuality, there are choices I can make that would please the Lord. I believe that experiencing same-sex attraction is not itself a sin; surely a just God would not take me to account for what I cannot choose. But how I respond to it makes the difference: it can either be a doorway to sin, or an opportunity for worship and deeper healing.

I hope that what I share here can also help you to make choices for God’s glory and your good when you find yourself in situations not of your choosing.

I can choose to trust God’s heart for me

There was a time I was angry with God for allowing me to have same-sex attraction, yet forbidding me from pursuing it. It felt cruel, and I blamed Him for putting me in what felt like an impossible situation.

Over the years, however, as I began to understand who God really is—how good and extravagantly loving the Father is, how self-sacrificial a Friend and Savior Jesus is, and how trustworthy a Comforter and Teacher the Holy Spirit is—my anger was slowly replaced with awe, gratitude, and deeper love for the Lord.

I still don’t exactly know why God allowed me to have same-sex attraction. I may know only when I see Him face to face. But until then, I choose to take God at His word that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I know that His heart is for me and He is personally committed to walking this journey with me for my good.

I can choose to depend more on God

Each time my eye or heart is drawn inappropriately to a guy I find physically attractive or whom I might desire romantically, I have to remind myself to turn away from that and toward God. During a period of time when I found it especially hard to battle the lust of my eyes, I asked the Lord why I was struggling this way. I heard Him say, “Your eyes are wandering because your heart is not anchored on Me.”

Indeed, whenever I intentionally made more time to spend with God—to worship Him in song, to meet Him in His Word and prayer, and to be in fellowship with other Christians—I was much more able to turn away from acting on my same-sex desires. Through this, I understood why the Bible tells us to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” (Galatians 5:16-17).

I remind myself that “[w]hoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). Whenever I’m struggling, I can make the choice to walk by the Spirit, sowing to please Him, so as to reap eternal life.

I have also learned to consciously bring my pain and my need to God. The Lord led me to understand that beneath my same-sex attraction lies a relational brokenness that seeks the male identity, attention, and affection which I should have received in healthy ways when I was growing up. (I know this may not necessarily be the case for others.)

So whenever I feel the draw of same-sex desires, I choose to bring this longing before God, asking Him to help and comfort me, and to bring healing to my wounds. I remind myself that I am defined by God’s standard of masculinity as revealed in His Word, and not as taught by our culture. And I ask Him to show me how I can seek and receive male attention and affection in healthy, platonic ways.

In these ways, my same-sex attraction has given me rich opportunities to depend more on God. I choose to draw closer to Him and receive more healing from Him by preferring His higher ways above my broken ones.

I can choose to use this for His purposes

Recently, the Lord led me to see how I can choose to use my struggle with same-sex attraction for His kingdom’s purposes.

God has been putting in my path several Christians who also experience same-sex attraction and are seeking understanding and help. I’m very much burdened to reach out to them, and I’m aware that my personal experience was what drew them to open up to me in the first place.

On the one hand, my own experience of same-sex attraction helps me to identify with them. As someone who knows the pain and longing of same-sex desires, I can understand how they feel. That empathy builds a bridge of connection between us, and allows me to share with them what God has taught me in my journey. On the other hand, I have to be conscious of the need to draw healthy physical and emotional boundaries, so that neither of us would be at risk of falling into sin.

As I learn how to balance these two considerations with wisdom, it enables me to use my struggle with same-sex attraction to help others and point them to God, for His glory and their good.

I can choose to hold on to what God says

Many in our culture today would think that I’m not being true to who I am and that I should be free to be myself. They believe that freedom means having the ability to express my sexuality by acting on what I feel.

But as American theologian Erik Thoennes says, “There’s this idea that to live out of conformity with how I feel is hypocrisy; but that’s a wrong definition of hypocrisy. To live out of conformity to what I believe is hypocrisy. To live in conformity with what I believe, in spite of what I feel, isn’t hypocrisy; it’s integrity.”

God has taught me that who I am is not what I feel, but who He says I am in His Word. I choose to live with integrity when I hold on to that truth, regardless of how I feel. This is how I choose to be true to myself. “In the Christian tradition,” says writer Richard John Neuhaus, “being true to yourself means being true to the self that you are called to be.”

God has the ultimate authority and final say over my life. And I can trust Him because He who knows best loves me deeply and is able to shape me to become the best self He has called me to be.

I can choose to love God with all I have

I often didn’t feel like I had much to offer God. I wondered how much more easily I could obey Him and how much more effectively I could serve others if I didn’t struggle with same-sex attraction. However, I now believe that God actually cares much more about my heart of giving than how much I can give Him.

There are two stories in the Bible I hold dearly. One is the story of the widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4), and the other is the one where Jesus was anointed by a woman with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9). Jesus commended the widow even though she donated just two small coins, because “she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44). Of the other woman, He said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6). Jesus valued the poor widow’s offering just as much as He cherished the woman’s lavish act.

These two stories tell me that God is pleased whenever I give Him all that I have, no matter the quantity, and He finds this to be a beautiful thing. All He requires of me is to trust and love Him wholeheartedly and to offer all of my life—my strengths and my struggles—to Him.

In this journey of trusting the Lord with all my heart and submitting to Him in all my ways, I know that He will direct my paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Although I have no choice when it comes to my sexuality, I can make choices to obey and love Him. As I do that, I know my choices will bring delight to God, lead me into deeper worship of Him, enable me to receive more healing, and allow me to help others with the same struggles.

I await with much longing the day when I can finally see the One I love face to face. And I want to live a life of godly choices so that when the Lord looks at me, He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:23) You gave everything you had (Mark 12:44). You have done a beautiful thing to Me (Mark 14:6).”

It would all have been worth it for the One who is worthy of all praise and honor.

Is-Marriage-the-Pinnacle-of-Love

Is Marriage the Pinnacle of Love?

Something Greater Than Marriage: A Response to the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Written by Christopher Yuan and Rosaria Butterfield

The Supreme Court of the United States of America has made gay marriage legal in all 50 states and much of our country celebrates. The world with its rainbow flags waving proudly and plentifully was our world. We locked arms with our LGBT loved ones and friends and believed that they were truly and honestly our family of choice.

This is the world that we, Christopher and Rosaria, helped build—a world pursuing dignity and equality. The people you see celebrating the recent SCOTUS decision to redefine marriage (and with marriage, personhood) would have been us, not very long ago.

In 1999, when Jesus Christ revealed His saving grace and love to each of us, we learned that our unbelief, and the idolatrous sexual lusts that flowed from it, were no longer matters of personal choice. We accepted that following Jesus meant giving up everything. We understood that repentance meant fleeing from anything that embodied the temptations that we knew best and loved most. But even prior to our conversion to Christ, God provided the love and care of Christians, people who became for us a new family, new brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers in Christ—who knew and loved us before we were safe to love. Christians loved, accepted, included, and surrounded us with biblical truth while we were still sinners, thus modeling the Lord Himself. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit changed our hearts, we came to know this: the gospel is costly and worth it.

The days after the Supreme Court’s ruling are like the days before it: God is seated on His throne in power and majesty—and one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him.

We affirm that God has ordained marriage to be the union of a husband and a wife which Jesus himself restated in Mark 10:6-8 and Matthew 19:4-5. But even though some in our culture believe as Justice Kennedy wrote that marriage “embodies the highest ideals of love,” we disagree. Earthly marriage does not have a monopoly on love. God is love (1 John 4:7-19). The pinnacle of love is God’s love for us in Christ. Nothing is greater than that.

Mystery and Reflection

In actuality, marriage is a mystery and a reflection of a greater reality. Truly, the highest ideal of love is Christ’s love for his bride, the church. In Ephesians 5 and Revelation 21, marriage is analogous to Christ’s redemption: the marriage consummation between the bride (redeemed sinners) and the Groom (Christ) shows that all redeemed people are married to Christ. Only in Christ can anyone experience the full definition of love and acceptance. As important as earthly marriage and family are, they are both fleetingly temporary, while Christ and the family of God (the church) are wondrously eternal.

We have failed to show the LGBT community another option to marriage—which is singleness—lived out in the fruitful and full context of God’s community, the family of God. This does not mean as Justice Kennedy wrote that singles are “condemned to live in loneliness,” but that singles can have intimate and fulfilling relationships full of love. This is not a consolation prize. It can be just as rewarding and fulfilling as marriage.

Defining marriage as being between a husband and a wife appears unfair to the LGBT community, in part because a life of singleness is viewed to be crushingly lonely. Have we in the church inadvertently played into that lie with our idolatry of marriage while being pejorative and silent toward singleness? If singleness is unfair, then it is no wonder that marriage has become a right. Just as the LGBT community appealed to the rest of the world for dignity and respect, it is time for the church to fight for the dignity and respect of single women and single men.

Defining Moment

Some are now comparing the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. There is an important lesson for us to learn from the pro-life movement. Today, there are more pro-life millennials than others from previous generations who champion pro-life. When pro-life people, made up of more than just evangelical Christians, began fighting less and caring more for unborn babies and for women with unplanned pregnancies just as they were, a shift in focus brought about an important change. The question stands: will we begin caring for the LGBT community just as they are?

This is a defining moment in history. We have a faithful opportunity to shine for the gospel. Will we point people to marriage as the “highest ideal of love”? Or will we point people—whether married or single—to a life of costly discipleship pursuing the embodiment of love, Jesus Christ himself? The decision is ours to make.

 

Editor’s Note: This article was first written on 28 June 2015. It has been published on The Gospel CoalitionEthics & Religious Liberty Commission and The Christian Post. Used with permission from Christopher Yuan.


About Christopher Yuan

Dr. Christopher Yuan teaches the Bible at Moody Bible Institute and his speaking ministry on faith and sexuality has reached five continents. He speaks in conferences (such as The Gospel Coalition, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, InterVarsity’s Urbana and the Moody Pastors’ ConOut-of-a-far-countryferences and Men’s Conference), on college campuses and in churches (such as Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church). He is featured in the award-winning documentary HOPE Positive: Surviving the Sentence of AIDS, and has co-authored with his mother their memoir, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God, A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope (image on the right). Christopher graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 2005, Wheaton College Graduate School in 2007 with a Master of Arts in Biblical Exegesis and received his doctorate of ministry in 2014 from Bethel Seminary.​

 

About Rosaria Butterfield

Rosaria Butterfield was once a tenured professor of English who identified as a lesbian and worked to advance the cause of LGBT equality. After her conversion to Christ in 1999, she came to see the sinfulness of having any identity apart from Him. Rosaria is married to Kent Butterfield, pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Durham, and is a home-school mother, pastor’s wife, author, and speaker. She is helping Christians to better understand their LGBT neighbors and loved ones so that we can lovingly look past labels of sexual identity and share the gospel effectively. In 2012 she published her conversion memoir, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey to Christian Faith. Her second book, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ became available in July of 2015. She writes about sexuality, identity, Christian community, and seeks to encourage all in faithful Christian living and service.