When Sexuality & Faith Collide
This week we’ve been talking about Sexuality here at 30 Dates, and when one reader emailed in to ask if her friend could write a guest post, I was more than happy to agree. One of the things I love most about 30 Dates is the way it has grown into a single community. There is never one right answer to most of life’s questions, and it’s great to be able to represent so many different voices in one place. Here, our guest writer explores what many of us view as a paradox – being gay, and a member of a faith which doesn’t necessarily accept your sexuality.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx
My friend suggested that I write a piece for this dating blog. Ironic, as I’ve never been on a date. I’m 28. And I’m ok with that.
I’m a Christian who chose to follow Jesus at age 7. A decision I don’t regret, because I believe he is real I believe he is who he says he is, and I believe he loves me.
I’ve never been on a date because I chose to follow Jesus and so far in my life I have only been attracted to other men. Hmmmm……
Now you may well have strong feelings about this. Many people do. When sexuality and spirituality clash, the fall out is big. Just try to put your feelings aside for a minute, whether you think the church is an outdated, homophobic bunch of bigots; hold fast to a traditional, orthodox view of the bible; or hold to any other faith for that matter.
I do believe that sex is best within marriage. Why? Because we all bear the image of God and that means that we are immensely valuable. Our sexuality is part of that and should be treated with value. Also, because the principal of commitment before intimacy is important, the same way that Jesus committed himself to us before we are able to come into intimacy with him. But also because Jesus asks it of me.
When it comes to same sex relationships and the church, the church gets tidal waves of petitions and pleas to be welcoming and inclusive. It gets called outdated, backwards and homophobic. It is criticised for not allowing people to be themselves and is ordered to change. Don’t think all that has gone unheard. However it’s resulted in silence and avoidance for large swathes of the church, which just feels awkward and a bit stuck.
Maybe some people in the church do feel constricted by a negative attitude to homosexuality. But to be honest, I don’t care. I mean I do care, I love the church, it’s the family of God, my family. But I don’t love the church enough to stop me being with my soul mate, whoever that is. It has been my choice to be celibate.
I do care what Jesus thinks. I care very much. And the bible is the bible. I believe it is the authoritative word of God, that reveals what he thinks, what he feels, his motivations, and who he is. This is the God I have come to love and care about. And the bible is either true, or it isn’t. I believe it is true and that’s hard for me. There are six direct references to homosexuality/homosexual behaviour in the bible, all in a negative light.
But context is key, and many would argue that all the passages pertain to behaviour, not relationships, which therefore means they cannot be applied to loving committed relationships. To complicate things further, there are additional translational and contextual issues on top (see Matthew Vine’s talk on youtube if you’re interested).
And the problem is, I’m biased!!! I am totally biased. I would love to find the right guy to marry and adopt with (I am so broody, I want kids so bad!). I’m never going to be able to read those passages and be objective.
The more I listen to the debate though, the more I realise that everyone is biased and few people sound truly objective in either camp. The pro camp sound like they are trying to justify their lifestyle. The traditional camp sound like they’re defending orthodoxy because it’s orthodoxy and doing this as an act of devotion to Jesus.
I’m not accepted in the LGBT community because I challenge their lifestyle by actively choosing not to follow it.
And I make mainstream church feel uncomfortable; its not quite proper to have a 28 year old who’s never had a relationship.
When you talk about your sexuality most Christians look a bit sheepish and squirm a little, because they don’t have any answers and they know platitudes won’t cut it. If I were to be in a relationship with a guy it would be the other way around. There is a lot of anti-mainstream-church sentiment in the LGBT community (I know I’ve been listening), with some good reasons, to be fair.
So where does this leave me?
I don’t know.
There was one event back in January 2012. Love at first sight. In front of a roaring fire in a secondhand bookshop. This guy struck up a conversation with me (I was so flustered I can’t even remember his name). He was witty and handsome and intelligent and polite and, well…..you get the picture. I left and immediately after, he drove down the street, pulled up, practically in front of me, and asked me out. And I said “no”. You should have seen the look of despondency on his face.
Muppet! How many people get a love at first sight experience? And I just walked away! This drove me crazy, like seriously crazy. It took me a year to get over. Not to get over him as such – I didn’t know him at all – but it was more the fact that I could have had what I really wanted.
Now the cynic may say that it can’t have been love. Well maybe not, maybe it was infatuation at first sight. But love’s got to start somewhere and this seemed like the most excellent place to start. Besides, infatuation is all you have when you’re celibate. I still get emotional writing about it. If it happened again, I don’t know if I could walk away a second time.
I’m so conflicted it’s untrue.
So I’m trying to forget about it. I realise that this is not a healthy long-term strategy, but I’m moving away for a year to work on a project. And I’m going to throw myself into that, pray lots….and then just see. I’m not going to think particularly hard about my sexuality as that is not the point of the year. But hopefully the head space and change of environment will bring some clarity.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll become an international missionary/development worker flying all over the world with no time for a partner? Or perhaps, in a year’s time, I’ll be collaborating with Miss Twenty-Nine to do my own 30 dates before my 30th birthday? Either way I’m going to continue to love Jesus, because he’s awesome.
Sometimes there are instances in life that you need to make a decision. And when you make that decision, either faith or sexuality, you need to make sure that you won’t regret it.