‘I chose to be myself and stopped denying who I was’, is the most heart-breaking statement that I hear from Christians who are actively pursuing romantic sexual expressions with members of the same sex. I am almost tempted to declare to them Paul’s words to Galatians, “oh foolish you, who bewitched you!” But I always quickly hold my tongue.
The blame is probably not entirely theirs. See, what do we expect when the society that one lives in, believes that these people should not be experiencing same sex attractions and if by any chance they happen to, then they should work towards growing and experiencing feelings for the opposite gender, something that this society largely equates to a mark towards sanctification. And so when an individual hearkens to these teachings and devotes themselves towards achieving the homo-hetero ideal, but ends up not seeing any significant change, even after years of working on the same, what happens is, they end up adopting what Mark Yarhouse in his book Costly obedience would call the gay script. The is the other option that is readily available to those individuals processing their same-sex sexuality. It says:-
- You can either be straight (heterosexual), gay, Lesbian or Bisexual.
- Your sexual attractions signal who you are as a person.
- Sexual attractions reside at the core of your identity; your sense of self.
- As far as you enjoy who you really are, no one should try to evaluate it as either wrong or right.
Failure to identify with any of the labels and/or abstinence from sexual expression in line with the script is termed as being in denial and not being honest to who one really is.
Overtime in my wrestling with all the discussions about sexuality, the following are some of the things that I presume would be the best Christian response towards this script.
- Understand the foundation of the script
The script finds its popularity from 3 things; the sexualized western culture, failure to have clear cut explanations on the causes of same sex orientation and lack of significant change on individuals who try to change their same sex feelings. Having its original base in the western audience, it’s sexualized culture that tends to almost worship sex finds it easier to classify individuals based on that aspect. Additionally, failure for the scientist to explain the exact causation of same sex attraction, leaves the enlightened mind to make meaning based on one’s experiences. And when the ex-gay therapy movements popular among the Christians failed terribly (check out stories about Exodus international); any talk against the script was/is seen as doomed to fail.
With this foundation, you don’t expect less of the script outlined above. I however wish we all knew how much complex the issue of sexuality is. Probably more complex than we think. And when we base our identity on what the current culture and the prevailing scientific explanations tell us, without giving these a second thought, then we may find ourselves turning into guinea pigs, used for cultural explorations and discoveries. The worst-case scenario would be, if and when we find ourselves attaching our identities to them. What if we approached the script with a more analytical look, assessing its context of origin and checking our current context? What if we saw it as one that needs not be accepted wholly or rejected all together? And what if you gave yourself time to learn more before you took it all up? Think about it.
2. Understand your foundation- Your Christian script?
To the Christian audience, I hope you understand the salvation story. The one that originates from the fall of man recorded in Genesis 3. How about God’s plan that starts with Abraham and finds its climax in the Messiah, Jesus Christ? The one who worked to reconcile the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them. How About your state as a believer? One who has been declared righteous due to Christ’s pouring of his blood for our cleansing. The birth of an eternal fellowship; God residing in the midst of his people. That which translates to an eternal perspective. As for now, we’ve been saved and declared righteous while at the same time together with the rest of creation groan (due to bondage and corruption in the world) inwardly as we await our doption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
If this brief explanation is your foundation, then, where should your identity first lie? Secondly, what If you allow yourself to process the script not in anger against those in the church who have failed you but rather in line with who God is and what he has declared? You will see that, yes, what you feel may have a push and pull with what the scripture declares, but should that put you off? Isn’t everyone else not caught up in that, at times desiring that the scripture would say less than it does, all in the hope of satisfying the sinful nature? What if you devoted yourself to looking deeper beneath those verses that you feel are meant to ‘enslave’ you? Embracing a posture that if it’s love that inspired this, then, there must be more than the superficial. And if the counsellor, the blessed Holy Spirit resides in you, will he not guide you to all truth!
3. Find ‘your’ niche.
Having analysed the two foundations laid above, then you are at liberty to settle on your own niche. This may mean accepting or rejecting items of the script in ways that are consistent to what you believe. It may also call for you to live out your own script without any fear. The truth is that, for you who experiences same sex attraction, you still have a lot in common with the general LGBT+ community, so for no reason should you hate them. If you can relate with them in meaningful ways, then it will serve to be a blessing both to you and them. But above all, your primary bond belongs to your family of faith. It is therein that you find your nurture and growth. And lastly, for the African audience, we have the greatest opportunity to process our sexuality in ways that are biblically founded but also sensitive to our culture; all for God’s glory!
So, should you adopt a label? Can you be a Christian and still pursue romantic expressions towards members of your same sex? And what determines your truest authentic self? Think. Learn. Live. Blessings