16 Jun Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
This is the fourth post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome!
Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on.
For more posts in this series:
- Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
- Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
- Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
- Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
- Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
- God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
- LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions
Some important notes: I say this in the body of my post, but I want to say it here too. When I say that “nothing about me is a mistake,” I’m not referring to sin. Sin has nothing to do with the way God made me. So in discussing my queerness as a gift, I’m not talking about sin as a gift. I’m not even talking about temptation as a gift. One of the major themes of this series has been that “gay” and “sin” and “temptation” are not the same thing. All things can be distorted and become excuses for sin. But I am not talking about the distortion of my queerness. My experience of being gay has been primarily a vehicle of grace and goodness in my life, not sin and not even temptation. And so it’s within that context that I speak.
Also, I intentionally limited my observations in this post to my story and only my story. Gay people are as varied and diverse in their experiences as straight people, and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m making generalizations about the “gay experience” with this post. My experience has been just that, my experience. But in sharing my thoughts and reflections, I know that many gay people will at the very least see overlap in their stories and mine. I hope that in sharing the ways that knowing God as maker has transformed my thinking, it will encourage other LGBT+ individuals to see themselves as created and, therefore, beautiful.
God as Maker Transformed My Relationship to Myself
As a girl of mixed racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage, I found a special sort of solace growing up in the knowledge that God made me. Every last inch of me. Down to the things that I disliked and the things that were mocked. My skin tone that never felt tan enough nor white enough. My Indian eyes that earned me the nickname “China girl” and “chinky” on more than one occasion.
Learning to see God as my maker changed my relationship to myself because it changed my relationship to God. I began to take pride in my differences. Not out of an imagined sense of self-worth, but out of an actual sense that God was a master craftsman. That God made every part of me, including those parts that were “different.”
“I praise you,” the Psalmist declares, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:14). In a world of conformity, where being “different” often feels like being “wrong,” the words of the Bible offer hope to every misfit and outcast in the world.
Being a Created Person
Understanding God as my sovereign creator gave me perspective. It gave me the ability to see myself as a created thing. If God is my potter, and I am his clay, then every last knick, cranny, and contour of my design is the work of his hands (Isa. 64:8). Including my supposed “imperfections.”
In college, for example, as I battled with progressively worsening illness, a doctor finally diagnosed me with a rare genetic difference causing celiac disease. At first, it was a relief. I finally had an answer and, if not a cure, at least a new way to live and be healthy! But my relief slowly turned into resentment. I could never be “normal,” and it seemed so unfair. I decided to experiment with “eating like a normal person” for a month, and well… it didn’t work. And it took me a year to recover.
During that year, I finally began to come to terms with this part of myself that seemed so incredibly unwelcome. Psalm 139 emerged in my prayers like a white stag coming out of the dark, and I began to thank God for not just making me but for making this part of me. David’s words in verse 13, soon became my words. “You formed my inward parts.” Yes, even those parts that make me sick. Even my supposed “imperfections.” God “knitted me together in my mother’s womb,” and he did so perfectly.
Setting My Vision Right
Everything changes when you see yourself not merely as God’s child but as his personal creation. The things that make me “stick out” as an ethnic minority become the artistic flare of a perfect designer. And even celiac becomes a gift — a protection from gluttony and a pathway for learning self-control.
But I’d like to be careful here. So far, I’ve named two ways that knowing God as maker changed my outlook in life, and it won’t take rocket science to see where I’m headed. However, neither of these things are identical in quality or kind. Being mixed race is hardly the same thing as having a genetic difference that leads to chronic illness. So when I talk about being a lesbian, I hope it’s clear that being a sexual minority is not the same as racial heritage or chronic illness. Let’s not conflate these things.
However, I want to talk about being a lesbian together with being mixed race and having celiac disease because knowing God as my creator transformed my outlook towards each of these things in much the same way. Like a good pair of glasses. Suddenly you can see the trees and clouds and bushes with a clarity you never had. But trees are not bushes, nor bushes clouds. Instead, your vision for each of them is improved by the same thing. Similarly, understanding God as my maker improved my vision for a variety of things about me. None of which are the same. But all of which gained clarity by the same truth.
My Gay Childhood
My orientation has always been with me, prior to puberty and prior to sex and prior to all the things that complicate it. As a little girl with no knowledge of the political and ideological battles in our culture, I struggled to make sense out of the “gay things” about me before I even knew that they were “gay” in the first place, largely thanks to the reactions of other people.
I discovered by trial and error that my likes and dislikes weren’t “normal” or “typical,” though one could hardly argue that there’s anything wrong, for example, with making friends more easily with boys than girls. Or preferring G.I. Joe’s to Barbies. Pants to dresses. Short hair to long. Or any number of the false dichotomies that supposedly determine what boys and girls like.
I had no knowledge of these polarities. Instead, I slowly and painfully learned from society that girls liked “girl” things and boys liked “boy” things. All of which meant to me that my attraction to bugs and yucky things as opposed to nail polish and makeup was, if not wrong, at least off. But I was just a kid enjoying the world God created.
Childhood stories are important because they eliminate the distracting conversation about sex. I liked what I liked because those were the things that attracted me. Was the way that I saw the world wrong as a child, simply because I didn’t see it like most other girls?
My Gay Body
People assume that I’m gay just by taking stock of “my look.” A combination of judgments related to my mannerisms, speech, and appearance coalesce into the assumption that I’m probably gay. A recent conversation comes to mind where I came out to an acquaintance who barely knew me. I commented in passing about “being a lesbian” and they responded, “Oh, honey, I figured.”
Honestly, I don’t know why I look so “gay.” I’ve been setting off gaydars long before cutting my hair and long before coming out. Even when I was trying my very best to not look gay at all, I still got pegged.
Conversations about body are important because, once again, they eliminate the distraction of sex. Is the way that I look something to be ashamed about simply because I look gay? Should I be ashamed of my body that lesbianizes every pair of pants that I wear?
The Gift of Being Gay
As a gay person, I inhabit the world in a fundamentally different way than my straight peers, and I always have. I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly decide to be gay. It’s been with me my entire life, since before I could even read. It’s opened my eyes to experience God’s world in a way that my straight female peers often don’t. As a child, I saw things that many girls missed, and I enjoyed things that many girls didn’t. And I’m still that same person today. And that’s a gift.
At this point, I can imagine people misunderstanding my point. When I talk about my queerness as a gift, I’m not talking about sin as a gift. If there’s one thing that I hope to show in this series, it’s that “gay” and “sin” are not the same thing. When I talk about God making everything about me, I’m not talking about sin. Sin can be no more a part of God’s design than a thief be part of the house.
So when I talk about the gift of my queerness, I’m not talking about sin. I’m talking about all the ways that being gay has uniquely exposed me in particular ways to the truth, beauty, and goodness of this world. Ways that are fundamentally different than a straight girl but still fundamentally designed for God’s glory. And praise God for that!
I affirm the Bible’s traditional teaching on sex and marriage. But as we’ve already discussed in this series, being gay is not reducible to gay sex any more than being a banker is reducible to embezzlement. Embezzlement is a distortion of the banker’s role. And we know that! And similarly, if you accept the Bible’s historic interpretation, which I do, then any gay sin is a distortion of being gay. God made gay people for something better.
Why Did You Make Me This Way?
So far I haven’t talked about women. I’ve waited to do so because I wanted to expand the notion of “being gay” from just being “same-sex-attracted” to it’s broader impact upon me as I’ve lived it. But I do want to talk about women because they obviously remain integral to my experience as a lesbian. I do see women differently than my straight female peers. And I see men differently too.
But even here, even in same-sex- attraction that so many people fear and shame and denounce, seeing God as maker fundamentally altered my thinking. If same-sex attraction were nothing more than some accidental combination of hormones, DNA, and brain chemistry, then why should I look for God’s purpose in it? Why should I even care? But if the fingerprints of God’s design are over everything about me, including the way that I connect with other people, then I’m compelled to inquire: “Why did you make me this way?”
Understanding God as my personal maker brought me to Scripture. It brought me to kneel before the throne room of God to seek purpose in my orientation. More specifically, it brought me to seek his purpose in my orientation. Knowing that I am “his workmanship” (Eph. 2:10) ultimately compelled me to ask, “What good works have you prepared for me to do, in the midst of my same-sex attraction?”
And as a result, God brought me to his vision for human flourishing described in the pages of Scripture. Knowing God has my personal and sovereign creator forced me to see myself as his, and it caused me to see my design as being made for his vision, not my own. Apart from knowing God as creator, I wouldn’t be celibate. I would have no reason to believe in a creative end to my orientation.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
I started this post by sharing two aspects of my life and how knowing God as maker fundamentally altered the way I think about them. As a mixed-race person, it allowed me to see beauty in looking “different”; and as a person with celiac, it allowed me to see wholeness in my supposed “flaws.” But even deeper, as a gay person, it’s allowed me to see purpose and goodness in what others shame.
As the Psalmist says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:16). Like corrective lenses for the soul. When I know that God is my creator, I’m better able to see myself the way he does. Each day that I live is a gift because he made it, and the life that I live is a gift because he made that too. He created me, and he created my existence in this world. And he calls me to steward that gift for his glory.
So I praise God for making me. I praise him for my so-called “exotic” appearance and my grumpy intestines. And, yes, I even praise him for uniquely positioning me to see the image of God in other women at depths that my straight female peers often lack. Any of these things could become an excuse for sin. But stewarded properly, they become avenues for the glory of my creator.
“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). With God as my sovereign creator, I can know that nothing about me is a mistake. God made this gay woman exactly the way that he wanted. And he calls her to steward that gift for his glory.
What About You?
Have you ever struggled to make sense out of certain things about you? What has that been like for you? How does knowing God as your creator change the way that you think about yourself? Comment or send me a message! I’d love to get to know you and learn from your perspective!
Next week, I’d like to build upon some unanswered questions in this post. If you’re interested in following along, please subscribe!