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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.

How-Long-Should-I-Wait-for-Marriage

How Long Should I Wait for Marriage?

Written By Emily Hoosier, USA

At my Christian college, I quickly learned that most Christian couples marry young. We even have a phrase for it, “ring by spring”, which refers to two people getting engaged (ring) before graduating from college (by spring).

I used to assume that if a Christian couple dated for too long, they were either refusing to commit to holy matrimony, or were enjoying sex before the big day. Waiting one year was reasonable, and two years was commendable. Beyond that, it looked suspicious and sad to date without an engagement ring.

But when this story became my reality, I came face-to-face with my own prejudices.

When my now-fiancé and I started dating over four years ago, I told him, “I don’t want to date for five years. If we decide we want to marry each other, let’s just get married.” These words may look aggressive in print, but they represented the honest overflow of my fearful and foolish heart. They also echoed advice I had heard from trusted leaders. I was afraid of making a mistake, and I thought marrying quickly was the right thing to do.

We both knew we wanted to marry each other since the early days in our relationship. With that in mind, I thought we should begin discussing venue locations and cake flavors. I did not see any value in waiting to marry. To me, it actually seemed harmful. How is it possible to practice abstinence for years with the one you love? Why would we choose to live separately when we could choose to live together?

But for my then-boyfriend, choosing to live apart for a time was a matter of responsibly stewarding the gift of our relationship. He wanted not only to finish college, but also work in a good job before asking me to join his life as his bride. He believed our purity was possible, even when I cried in fear of failing such a daunting standard.

I wanted to live near my boyfriend, but God led us to colleges in different cities for most of our dating experience. Even after I finished college and could move closer to him, God provided me a career opportunity which required me to temporarily live in a city farther away. Each choice to follow and trust God’s leading in my life became a way for me to express love to Him.

God never changed my desire to marry my boyfriend as soon as possible. He did, however, change my view of the waiting. God let me see that dating for years was not necessarily bad and unhealthy. It could even be good and purifying. God used that experience, like no other, to redeem pain in my past, strengthen my love for Himself, and purify my love for my boyfriend. Because God called us to it, waiting was the most loving and faithful thing I could do for that time.

Marrying quickly is not inherently good or bad, but following God is always good. The paths God led me along were not always comfortable or approved by everyone, but I had the promise of Psalm 23:2-3: “. . . He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

While friends and family affirmed us in our walk together, not everyone in the church did. New friends and acquaintances asked how long we had been dating. When our answer did not include a wedding date, a few expressed concerns about our marital status and advised us on how to solve it. They offered stories about getting engaged or married before finishing college or finding jobs. Comparing those stories to ours only hurt my sense of security in God’s plan for us. At worst, I felt shameful and defensive about our dating story.

Those years brought almost as much pain as they brought joy. Despite the pain and loneliness in our waiting, we chose to live in that tension for years. I journaled frequently; those journals were my personal Psalms. When my boyfriend and I laughed together or simply enjoyed being around each other, I sang my thanks to God for His faithfulness and good gifts. When we went weeks without seeing each other, or wanted nothing else but physical intimacy together, I cried out to Him in my frustration and loneliness.

Going to God in prayer was essential. Through it, God received my weary heart and gave me strength to keep going. One day in prayer, my attitude completely changed. I realized that God understood what I felt. He understood what waiting for marriage was like. It was as if God planted the thought in my head―Jesus is also waiting to be with His bride forever. He knows what I feel. This revelation of God’s empathy for me in my pain drew me deeper in love with Him. This deepened love sprouted deeper trust. And I could see more clearly that years of waiting was the “right path for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)

By God’s grace, I was able to give up my expectations of what life ought to look like. By His grace, I was able to surrender my own selfish motives for marriage. That was when we knew that our marriage would not be a selfish decision, but a solidly good one.

Marriage after dating four months or four years will have its own set of advantages and challenges. If God’s story for your life involves more waiting that you planned, take heart. No waiting is wasted with God. We can rest knowing from Romans 8:28, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Ways-to-Die-for-Your-Spouse

Ways to Die for Your Spouse

Last year was a crazy year—I got married.

As a “new husband” trying to score brownie points with my wife (and also because I wanted to get our first Valentine’s Day together right), I had been thinking of ways to “die” for my wife (Ephesians 5:25). It doesn’t necessarily mean an actual physical death, but it sure will feel like it on some occasions!

These were some of the ideas that came to my mind:

Do Little Acts of Love

My wife is a teacher. Every day, she wakes up three hours before me in order to reach school before 7 a.m. My sleeping habits on the other hand, are terrible. I don’t usually sleep before 1 a.m.—a habit that started in my student days.

So one of the things I try to do—with much difficulty—is to wake up earlier occasionally to have breakfast with her near her school, especially if I know she has a long day ahead. On other days, I pack little containers of food for her to bring along to work. I figured since I usually stay up late, I might as well spend the time doing something nice for my wife.

Little acts of service like these show our willingness to go the extra mile to spend time with our loved ones. So go ahead, surprise your spouse with little acts of love, and I am certain he or she will notice and be touched.

Be Gentle

One of the challenges of marriage is that it throws two people with likely contrasting lifestyles together.

So they clash.

We are often warned of this “clash of cultures” in marriage preparation courses. With things like differing sleeping habits and whether we squeeze the toothpaste from the middle or bottom of the tube, marriage requires us to make new discoveries about each other—and not all may be things we like!

Through my many interactions with my wife, God reminded me that I have much to work on. Gentleness has never been a strong suit for me—I am the sort who usually speaks my mind, and usually not too tactfully. Be it communicating something or receiving feedback, I have a terrible tendency to be quite blunt.

But Paul and Peter gave great advice to husbands:

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Pet 3:7)

So to my fellow husbands out there, play nice. Be understanding and gentle, even if that is not the usual you. If not, you may have to be doing much of the following . . .

Say Sorry

Apologizing would be the death of most men (most humans, for that matter). A recent sitcom I watched reinforced this in a humorous way. The wife in the sitcom wanted to invite a couple over for dinner, certain that her husband would love to meet them. However, her husband was not particularly thrilled; he believed he did not need more friends. When they finally met, both husbands realized they shared many common interests and hit it off right away. But because the husband did not want to admit to his wife that she was right, he would not tell his wife whom he was meeting whenever he met the other husband.

I’m pretty similar. I would rather get into an argument than admit I’m in the wrong, which often sees me bickering with my wife even in scenarios where I am clearly in the wrong (think leaving unwashed bowls on the computer desk for hours after eating).

Recently, in a thought-provoking interview with online ministry Desiring God, Ajith Fernando, the teaching director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, said: “Until I apologize, I am a bad example to my family . . . For a Christian, apologizing should not be a big deal, because we get our identity from God—and that identity is a gift that has been given through grace.”

Many times, I don’t want to admit an error or something is my fault because of pride, image, or reputation. Ajith’s quote prompted me to correct my thinking: “If our identity was in our performance, then apologizing would be a big deal. But our identity comes from grace. When we do wrong, grace is hindered, and we can’t live without grace.”

Dying to our pride and humbly apologizing to our wives, whether in little or big squabbles, tells our wives we are committed to working things out and that we recognize God has been gracious to us.

The Mystery of Marriage

One of the first few things I learned during our marriage preparation course is that marriage is a one-of-a-kind journey of sanctification like no other. It is a journey where two sinful human beings come together in the Lord and sharpen one another.

One key thing I’ve learned about being a husband is that headship as described in the Bible is not about the right to command or control. It is the responsibility to love like Christ: to lay down my life in servant leadership. Holiness as a husband means spending yourself for your wife. It is costly. For me, it is a lot about giving up the comforts and bad habits of singlehood, and realizing that I now share a life with another who is equally wondrously made.

Marriage is a journey of the constant death of two individuals, that they may become one in Christ. So to my brothers out there, would you die for your wife?

When-My-Spouse-Couldnt-Read-My-Mind

When My Spouse Couldn’t Read My Mind

Written By Rachel Moreland, Scotland

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

I remember clutching the book Eat, Pray, Love with dear life one night in my apartment in Washington, DC, in the US. As I sped through the pages, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is this true? Can this kind of honest and revelatory love really exist?” The words of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, sunk to my core. While I desired what she crafted on paper, what I didn’t fully appreciate was how un-romantic this kind of love would be. Let me explain.

I’ll never forget an argument that my husband and I had. I called it one of the “big ones”. It all started with me complaining about how James didn’t buy me a bottle of wine at the supermarket for a party we were going to that evening. I was offended, grace was not extended, and he reacted. What unfolded over the course of the evening (which felt like a lifetime) was a long drawn-out argument, the kind of heated debate that feels like it’s going on for hours and only seems to conclude when you reluctantly hit the “pause” button to order a pizza.

You’ve probably guessed that the argument wasn’t actually about a bottle of wine. In fact, it had more to do with my insecurities and the realisation that my husband couldn’t read my mind. He wasn’t acting exactly the way I thought he should. He wasn’t meeting my unrealistic and fanciful expectations.

When James and I got married, we were given a lot of helpful advice such as “Discuss your expectations” and “Don’t criticise each other in front of others”. The one that really hit home for me, though, had to do with grace. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Give each other grace. Neither of you is perfect.

I didn’t give James the benefit of the doubt that night. He probably didn’t extend that to me either; it takes two to argue, after all. What I’ve slowly gathered since “the big one” was this—my husband isn’t perfect, and putting unrealistic expectations on him is not only unhelpful but also toxic to our relationship.

What I have learned since the fateful wine bottle argument is that sometimes my husband forgets to pick up items at the grocery store. From time to time, when he’s engrossed in a task, he may also forget to perform basic human functions like eating a meal. (How anyone can forget to eat for a period of three hours is beyond me.) And sometimes, the trash will overflow if I don’t remind him to empty it. If grace is left at the front door, I might be tempted to get a little annoyed or resentful over what I have previously called his “cute quirks”.

However, after being married now for the past 2½ years (I am by no means claiming to be a relationship guru), I have come to understand that marriage isn’t about “changing your spouse” into the perfect Hollywood image of a “knight in shining armour”. If anything, you will discover that the guy has plenty of kinks and dents in his armour.

Instead of expecting perfection, I want to celebrate my husband for who he is and for who God created him to be. Choosing to see my husband through God’s eyes has transformed my understanding of marriage—and my role within our relationship.

Now back to Gilbert’s words on soul-mates. If you want a sure-fire way of destroying your marriage, then by all means go ahead and compare your spouse to your long laundry list of “I wish you did this” statements. That will be just the ticket!

I can’t look to my husband to fulfil my every need when he was never designed to. This is an impossible feat and to put that kind of pressure on him will only lead to disappointment and resentment.

On the contrary, marriage will require you to change. That’s what marriage does. It will reveal things you thought you had dealt with long ago—the good, the bad and the ugly. But hopefully, in a godly, healthy and mature relationship, your partner will give you the freedom to let down your guard, a safe space to be vulnerable, and the support to help you sort through your reflections with grace and wisdom.

James and I are not perfect, but I can honestly say that the longer we have been together, the richer our relationship has become. In many ways, he has mirrored to me what it looks like to be confident yet gracious, as well as positive and optimistic yet realistic. In return, hopefully I have reflected back to him how to be empathetic and gentle.

Like “iron sharpens iron”, we aim to help refine one another in order to become the people Christ has called us to be. This always will be an ongoing process throughout our marriage. Like a set of train tracks, our goal is to grow in maturity yet remain parallel to one another as we come up against every curve and bend along the path.

Conflict and differences of opinion are bound to happen within relationships. But instead of nit-picking every little thing my husband has done wrong and trying to “fix” him, I know that ultimately, real change and maturity will only come if Christ works in Him. But I can show him sacrificial love, giving up myself for him—my agenda, my selfish desires. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not the same kind of narrative Hollywood has portrayed to us at the cinema. But it’s the kind of love worth fighting for.