I have had to do a lot of listening lately. With my community of close friends all moving away, I no longer have the avenues where I am able to be fully authentic. In many ways it can be rather stifling to constantly filter my thoughts and actions from those around me. At the men’s bible study I attend every week, the issue of how to deal with gay Christians has come up fairly frequently. While I try to challenge everyone’s thoughts, since they do not know about my SSA, I pretty much sit and have to hear their opinions. It can be pretty painful and discouraging.
It is easier for these men to speak about adult Christians who are now choosing to live our their gay identity, because in their minds they capable human beings and as adults, are not viewed as having relational needs that need to be met. Most married individuals don’t grasp the life of a single person and the loneliness that results. Without seeing these basic needs, they only assume that living a celibate life is the obvious answer and it is a simple choice of obedience.
I am still waiting to hear a church that provides hope for the gay Christian or Christian with SSA (whichever wording you need to hear to feel comfortable). I try to consider what I would tell to my 13 year old self, around the time where I was just realizing that I could possibly be gay. While it feels justifiable to many to judge an adult and their actions, a 13 year old, who without choosing realizes that he is attracted to men is in a different place. What message can the church give them in terms of the timeline for their life?
If I had to speak to myself at that age, all I can say is that it is only going to get harder. You will only get more isolated, you will live without being known and all you can do is hope to hold on to your faith even though the temptation to experience relationship constantly feels overwhelming. I am only 30 and I never thought life would be this difficult this early.
Typical kids are told somewhat of a timeline for their life with the stages that they should eventually experience. You graduate from high school, then college, you date, you get married, you establish yourself in a career, you have kids, you live a life as a parent for a while, you become grandparents, you retire so to enjoy your family and all you worked for, then you die. For a person with SSA, with all stages of life related to family being removed, outside of career there isn’t much to expect.
I recently started going to a Catholic support group in my area (not because I am Catholic, but it is one of the only areas of support close by). Part of my desire was to hear from older men dealing with SSA and how they are getting to experience life with hope. Sadly, most of them are still struggling even at their old age. They don’t speak a life of hope, excitement, fulfillment or expectancy. Rather the only thing they can hope is to hold on to Christ and remain obedient despite the daily temptations and the feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Until the church can speak of a hope and a life that isn’t merely survival, I feel as though the options for a gay Christian is either change your theology by convincing yourself that the side A is actually a Biblical option or prepare for a long life alone. I cannot allow my theology to be changed by my experience, but the option I am living now is so difficult.
I have hope for eternity but I don’t have hope for tomorrow. I dread the coming years and how the life of obedience will only get more difficult. I am tired, weary and the burden is extremely heavy. The promise of Jesus in Matthew 11:30 seems far and distant.