25 Jun God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
This is the sixth 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
Far too often within conservative Christianity, the dominant narrative about LGBT+ people centers upon sin and shame. For many of us in the church, it can feel suffocating. As though the only way we can talk about our sexuality and orientation is in the context of repentance and anguish over being “broken.” As though queerness can only be understood through the lens of suffering.
But there is far more to the LGBT+ experience of Christians than struggle. Sure we struggle. All people struggle. But all people experience joy and happiness too. I affirm the historic understanding of Biblical sexuality, and I affirm that sinful desire tempts us to forsake God’s created design for humanity. But I also affirm that LGBT+ people are not defined by sinful desire, and I affirm that God works through the LGBT+ experience for his glory and for the good of his church. For me, as a celibate lesbian, my sexuality and orientation has brought about so many tremendous blessings (to me as well as to others) that I wouldn’t trade being gay for the world.
So with this in mind, I reached out to some fellow LGBT+ Christians to get their perspective. My main question was pretty simple: “How has your experience as an LGBT+ person been a unique source of blessing in your life?”
The responses were pretty incredible. All of these people affirm the Bible’s historic teaching on gender and sexuality. Some use their names; some remain anonymous. And all describe specific ways in which their non-straight and/or non-cisgender experience brought about profound blessing to their existence.
If you’re a sexual and/or gender minority who affirms the Bible’s historic teachings, I hope that you will find their perspective as encouraging as I did. And if you have stories of blessing yourself, please share in the comments or send me a message! I would love to hear your story! On the flipside, if you’re a straight Christian struggling to understand the LGBT+ experience, I pray that you would find the following perspectives eye-opening. And ultimately, I hope that you can see LGBT+ people as a source of blessing to you and to the church as a whole.
How has your experience as an LGBT+ person been a unique source of blessing in your life?
“The one that stands out for me is that being gay has taught me to value friendship. I would not have the quality friendships I have today and I would be quite a bit more lonely if I weren’t gay. Being gay has also forced me to address a lot of issues in my life that I just wouldn’t have had to otherwise—my relationship with my parents and shame about sinful patterns in my life come to mind—and I am a better person because of it.”
“I really like the idea you have for the series. It brought to mind ways I’ve seen God in my own life in the midst of a not straight sexuality. Against all my expectations, the times I’ve had the strongest feelings for a girl were when I knew God’s presence and character the most. In my queer celibate sexuality… I think I encounter both the limits and limitlessness of love in a way I wouldn’t otherwise. I encounter my own finiteness quickly – I can’t love well enough to honor God and another person perfectly. But in admitting that, I discover the limitlessness of God’s love. “God, I feel like I love her, help me love her” is the place where I end and God is with me.”
“I used to idolise the ‘American Dream’…marriage, children, white picket fence. I idolised this to the point of thinking it would give me happiness over God.
When I came to terms with my SSA I found myself in a dark place with my dream shattered to pieces. I couldn’t find value in my future at all. God chose that moment to pick me up from the darkness and shine light on a few new dreams, dreams that He promised we could share together. Dreams that held endless blessings and the type of fulfillment that only serving Jesus could bring.
I realised these blessings in full when I gave everything to Jesus and followed the call of celibacy. Through laying my desires at the cross I have developed a passion to understand Gods ‘agape’ love. It’s this love that has me at the feet of my patients seeing them as made in Gods image and asking for compassion when I feel fatigued. It’s this love that has me excited of a future learning more about Gods glory and being in fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. I have visions of what I want the church to look like, where I want to travel to heal the sick and the ways in which God will continue to mould me as His willing servant.”
“I’ve learned to invite people into my life in a way I wouldn’t have if I weren’t gay. When you grow up not having friends, you learn to keep secrets and avoid vulnerability. When I came out I invited people in to learn about me and I learned to accept myself I’m the process. When you come out with something so weighty, it has such an impression on your understanding of openness and vulnerability. Superficial relationships don’t cut it anymore.
Also, I’ve been thinking about how I don’t lust after women and I see them as beautiful people made in the image of God. Women aren’t to be ogled upon first glance. I try to take this same view of how women don’t deserve to be looked at only for their looks and apply it to men. A guy is more than his looks.”
“By revealing that I am gay and still revelling in my Catholic faith and devotion to all it’s commandments, I can help my followers on sites like tumblr see that there is another path for them, and that it *is* possible to still have a fulfilling and meaningful life in celibacy. It is not only necessary to proclaim my faith, but also my flaws. As St. Paul says, “most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”( 2 Cor 12:8)
I’ve convinced a fellow Catholic to turn from Side A to Side B, I’ve brought a queer Catholic over to [a group for “Side B” Christians] with another hopefully on the way, and I’ve recently received an anonymous message from another queer person who is interested in the Catholic faith. Not to mention at least a dozen more who have messaged me privately or anonymously to simply say, “I didn’t know there was another person like me.” Sanctification is a process, a lifelong one. We need consistent living witnesses to the faith — there is no better way to prove the power of God than through the transformation of those thought to be irredeemable.
Queer celibate Christians have brought to light a particular urgency to the current state of our church communities. We are beginning to see the unsustainability of promoting and catering to the nuclear family, and *only* the nuclear family, when building a Church community. Younger generations have become disillusioned by the nuclear family, so what happens to these new generations of adults who are staying single longer, who are marrying later, if at all? A church built on catering to married couples and their children cannot switch to catering to single adults overnight–unless the message is to stop being single (and there are plenty of those events already).
Moreover, a father and mother’s concern is for their family, providing and caring for their children and each other, with rarely any time to do anything else. (1 Cor 7:32-34) The single adult Christian simply has more time and energy to dedicate to the Lord, and can be called upon to serve and engage the community with a sense of purpose, enthusiasm, and belonging amongst their fellow Christians. We are a collection of peoples transformed into a family through baptism and commitment to the faith: “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mt 12:50). And since marriage is not an option for many (though not all) LGBTQA Christians, a radical return to celibacy and it’s importance within the faithful vocations is the wakeup call the Church as a community needs.”
“I experience both same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria; prior to converting, I was active within the LGBTQ community and firmly believed it was my right to live in a way that suited my feelings. Becoming Orthodox had taught me that there is more value in obeying the objective Truth than in obeying my own fallen whims. While it has been a painful journey at times, following the Church’s teachings has allowed me to find the beauty of obedience, the joy of a strong community, and the value of placing my faith above my desires. If I hadn’t come to accept and follow the Church’s teachings, my pride and self-reliance would have blinded me to what God is calling me towards in my life, and that would have been a greater loss than anything I’ve sacrificed to be chaste and celibate.
Experiencing both SSA and gender dysphoria meant joining the Church was going to require a lot more hope and trust than I ever would have been able to muster up on my own. I had to be willing to go into it and come into an obedience that I wasn’t even sure if I agreed with yet, based only on God’s insistence on guiding me to Orthodoxy. If I had been straight or cisgender, I don’t think my faith would have grown the same way, because I would have had a lot more space for logic and self-reliance. Allowing God to change deeply held personal views of my own identity and existence also made it a lot easier to be patient and allow Him to work on my perspectives on things like Communion and the priesthood, because, comparatively, those were much easier to accept!”
“Two things immediately come to mind. The first from our conversation tonight: I don’t know that I would have really come to know Jesus if I hadn’t been in a gay relationship and then subsequently trying to figure out my sexuality.
The second, being gay and side B has made Jesus command to pick up our crosses and follow Him very tangible. Surrendering my sexuality to His Lordship makes it easier in some ways to surrender other parts of my life to His Lordship as well. (I realize this is kind of along the same lines as, “It’s taught me to resist temptation”). It’s more than just resisting temptation though, it’s really forced me to wrestle with and submit to Jesus Lordship in every facet of my life.”
“For me to be open about who I am, I have to be vulnerable. People notice that vulnerability and are willing to be vulnerable themselves. They come to me when they are worried that others might judge them. It is an honor to share these moments with them.
I don’t objectify women, or lust after them, so I am free to have loving familial relationships with my sisters in Christ. On the flip side, it didn’t interfere with my relationships with (most) men. I have close healthy friendships with several men, and if anything, I help them to be more loving in their friendships with one another. My unique context has helped me forge an amazing family. It’s also helped me become an interpersonal powerhouse.
My struggles prepared me to sympathize with other people — I know first-hand how valuable it is, how important it feels, to have someone earnestly listen to your story.”
“Being a queer person in my particular context has forced me to actually think about human sexuality, relationships, and gender, as I am not able to take any of them for granted. This has resulted in a level of thought and insight into these matters that has been helpful for me as well as many, many other people around me. My experience has led me to seek answers about my own soul and temptations that have helped heterosexual people around me when the standard unquestioning answers that are slapped onto their problems are unhelpful and insufficient.
Related to the benefit of having to think through questions of sexuality, relationships, and faith long before most straight people, the perspective I have as a queer person also gives me the ability to immediately recognize a lot of badly-thought-out nonsense about faith and relationships that I would probably assume unquestioningly if I was straight.
So, for an example, I grew up in a world where men very commonly uttered some form of the phrase, ‘I obviously don’t have the gift of singleness, because my libido is so high.’
That’s a terribly unbiblical and generally just stupid thing to say, but the nonsense of it is far more apparent to me than it ever was to my straight friends. In their minds, the foolish assumption that they could draw neat lines between their unexamined sexual desires, their Spiritual gifts, AND their entitlement to a spouse, made sense.
From my perspective, it is obviously an ignorant, spiritually undiscerning, conceited and entitled thing to say. And that’s a gift [to be able to perceive this]. Compared to the task of fighting a self-unaware entitlement, the recklessness of presumptuous sin towards others, and the ambivalence and resentment towards God that such nonsense breeds in the heart, mortifying the temptation to covet or lust after other men seems like a clear and simple spiritual battle to fight.
So yes, I’m grateful for a perspective on life that spares me from much folly, and I know that God has used my perspective in many straight people’s lives to help them see and then also be freed from a folly that they could have floundered in for years otherwise.”
This final quote requires a bit of an introduction, as it came to me in the form of a story. A friend of Kevin H. Browne’s suffered from worsening epilepsy. Eventually, his friend (named Rob) was hospitalized. Kevin visited Rob in the hospital, babysat his children, and sat beside him in the hospital some more, comforting him in the midst of tears. While staying in the hospital, Rob eventually confided in Kevin. And this is what followed:
After a while, Rob regained his composure and then he totally stunned me with what he said next…
Rob said, “You know Kev, I say this from my heart and I really mean this… I sincerely and very often so thank God that you are gay.”
Stunned, I asked him why? Rob responded saying, “Kev, you are loyal and you are loving and you pursue me with love and friendship. No other guys I know love me with the passion and dedication that you do. I know that you would not be the precious friend to me that you are if you had been straight.”
Rob went on… “Kev, do you remember all of those years that you prayed and pleaded and begged God to make you straight, and God didn’t?” I replied “Yes, Rob, I remember those years very well.”
Rob then said, “You know Kev, I think that I know why God didn’t make you straight… It is because you are perfect and just how God wants you, simply as you are.”
I choked back tears. Romans 8:28 is true: “And we know that IN ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (my emphasis).
God can and does indeed use our gay sexual orientation to work for the good of ourselves, our friends, everyone who loves Him.
What About You?
If you are LGBT+ and also following the traditional sexual ethic, how has your experience been a unique source of blessing in your life? On the other hand, if you’re a straight Christian, in what ways have you experienced unique blessings as a result of the LGBT+ people in your life? Leave a comment or send a message! I can’t wait to hear from you!