Written By Jemima*, Singapore
“Yes, but how long should we tolerate what they say and do?”
At the word, “they”, I felt a huge gulf open between me and the world around me. Everything shrank into “us” and “them,” and I had never felt so alone.
I am a member of a local church in Singapore. I profess faith in God, and I believe in the resurrected Christ and His redemptive power that can save us from our sins. I believe in grace that is freely given and salvation received only through faith, not from works done by our hands, but by the work that was completed by Jesus Christ on the cross.
I am also same-sex attracted (SSA), and I want to share my experience in the hope that it may help Christians understand other believers like myself a little better.
When the question above was asked, I was at a seminar about Christianity and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender). As the speaker moved on to talk about the experience of SSA Christians in the church, I started to notice an older couple asking many questions. They were both involved in the hospitality team at church, and it seemed like they had more than once felt uncomfortable talking to SSA people.
The questions started out innocuous. “How can I speak to them?” and “What should I do if someone tells me about being same-sex attracted?” seemed like good, constructive questions. Then we started to move into territory that made me feel more and more uncomfortable.
“I understand that we should be accepting them, but shouldn’t we be praying for them to change?”
“What do I do if a same-sex attracted person tries to start a relationship with me?”
And finally . . .
“Yes, but how long should we tolerate what they say and do?”The speaker was silent for a long moment. When he spoke, his words were heavy, and I could hear my pain mirrored in his voice.
“For as long as you would tolerate [that every Christian should struggle against] any other sin, like lust, jealousy, or coveting. Even lying and anger,” he said quietly. “And we do not just tolerate [believers who are same-sex attracted], we accept them as Christians and children of God first. Same-sex attraction is not the first thing that needs to be addressed when someone steps into church. Rather, it is the heart that needs Christ that must first be addressed.”
A Personal Battle of Worthiness
We live in an era where right and wrong are being muddied. In a world of grey, it is easy to want to define sin and people in only black and white. I have always been taught that homosexuality is a sin, and never learned to distinguish between SSA and homosexuality until it became a personal struggle.
I cannot speak for every SSA Christian, but for me, an early conviction was that I was a terrible person unfit to stand before the King of Heaven and blemish Him with my terrible desires. These “perverted feelings” belonged to the world, where people agree that it’s okay to love anyone and anything you want. Some Christians’ unknowingly thoughtless words and deeds—like that couple’s—also reinforce the thinking that I am not “good enough” for the church, or for Christ.
Conversely, more and more of my non-Christian friends are coming out in support of same-sex marriages, ready to egg me on to pursue a same-sex relationship. Sexuality is their identity, and it means everything to them. They would do much to convince me to follow my feelings in the name of love.
That leaves me in a constant tug of war where I’m not sure whose side I’m on, and sometimes even what the sides are! I wrestle with understanding I’m forgiven and loved by God, and it’s a long way from head knowledge to heart knowledge. The world constantly tries to lure me away with its call to “freedom,” and coming back to Christ is a constant battle.
Helplessness and Loneliness
I have also come to understand that romantic and sexual love are gifts—precious gifts from God. We even have a whole book in the Bible (Songs of Solomon) that celebrates the beauty of romantic love! It unashamedly talks about a young couple who are truly, madly, deeply (pun intended) in love.
I do long for a life partner at times, and looking at couples makes me feel melancholic. Sometimes I think about romantic love . . . and I weep. I weep for the fears of being alone. I weep because this is my burden to carry. I weep because I cannot change myself, and I don’t know if God will ever change this aspect of me.
I have prayed many, many times for my same-sex desires to be taken away. At the point of writing this, they still remain. I don’t know if God will choose to grant me that, so rather than pine away for it, I have learned to pray that whatever my sexual orientation, God may be glorified through me.
Same-sex attraction is a difficult topic, but that doesn’t mean it should be pushed under the carpet. I hope that though my sharing, I can contribute to helping brothers and sisters-in-Christ understand each other better in matters of same-sex attraction.
For those who may be same-sex attracted—please know that you are not alone. You may be confused, lost or discouraged. Though it may sometimes feel like the world is against you, remember that God is always with you.
*Not the author’s real name.