Two really cool guys had me on their podcast (The Reformed Pubcast) recently. They’re Calvinists who talk about Arminians, theology, and beer. But at minute 23 of this week’s podcast, they talked with me about being Gay and Evangelical.
The reaction on the blog has been mixed, but I think is largely good. I have a sense that hearing from a real-life Calvinist who wrestles with his sexuality and identifies as gay (but with the qualification that he is celibate unless he marries a woman at some point) is utterly foreign territory to some. That’s ok…and if you’re visiting from the Pub, welcome!
One question I was asked on the Facebook group has to do with whether or not the word “love” can be used for me to talk about those to whom I’m attracted. I’m well aware of popular Calvinistic teachers who do not like for the word “love” be associated with anything same-sex related. However, since I was asked why I used the word love, this is what I replied. I share it here because I imagine that there are many people who would secretly ask the same question.
I began by asking the individual a couple of questions to give myself some clarity on how to go about answering his query about how my desire for men is different than that of a pedophile. (I know this is a charged question and I don’t want to raise anyone’s ire, so if you comment, please keep in mind that I’m giving this brother the benefit of the doubt and want to be someone to whom he can ask questions that he just doesn’t know how to wrap his head around. This skill has to go both ways…or in all ways, really.)
How is homosexual lust different from hetero lust? And is hetero attraction equal to lust? Is all attraction to the same gender lust?
And…do you have close guy friends that you see good qualities in? Like they think about things well or love their wives well or understand Scripture in ways you wish you did?
Now that I’ve asked those questions, here’s what I’d like to say to further the conversation: I don’t think all attraction is lust, even for the same-sex attracted. There are many godly men in my life to whom I’m drawn but don’t want to have sex with. And, as I’m sure you can attest, you’ve probably met girls that you liked to look at that you didn’t necessarily leap to “I want to have sex with them!” immediately; maybe you just wanted to be close to them or to talk, or share a kiss…but not sex.
I’m not advocating my kissing a dude here…I don’t kiss dudes. I’m establishing a spectrum of attraction is all. Different levels of attraction are present in different relationships…as someone who is married who has a fight with their wife/husband can attest. Right?
I am gay in orientation, but not in practice. (Ok…so I *do* shop at Express and I like hipster jeans and I worry about my weight and go to the gym regularly to run six miles about 4 times a week. If that qualifies as ‘gay practice,’ then I’m guilty. But I know lots of straight men who do the same thing.) What this means is that I’m ordinarily drawn to people of the same gender…sometimes with a sexual component, and sometimes not.
I can promise you this: when I find myself attracted sexually to a friend, I don’t act on it and I talk about it with another trusted friend. I sort through it with someone besides the person I’m attracted to. I don’t think it would be sinful to own up to an attraction, but I don’t think it’s always (or almost ever) wise, so I opt to find another good friend to sort it out with. I don’t make things awkward and I build the relationship on Christ, just as I do with anyone I’m not attracted to sexually. Through that friendship, I die to my sin as anyone who looks at or speaks to anyone besides their spouse does: with self-control and (hopefully) godliness.
By calling myself a gay Christian, I am simply owning up to the fact that I find myself drawn to other men in really strong ways. Not all men, not all of the time. I have been attracted to a woman or two in my life, but it wasn’t ultimately the right situation for further involvement.
…[T]his can be a really lonely road. But I don’t think singleness is always lonely. In fact, I have wonderful friends, some of whom live states away from me who I still talk to and love very, very much. God has blessed me and brought me to a place where I have self-control even when I find the nights in bed alone to be isolating and the friends I have to be very attractive.
I’m no expert, so unless I could sit down with a pedophile, I can’t speak for their experience or to the truthfulness of how it works for most or all of someone who struggles with that.
But I can say that often, when I’m attracted sexually to a man, I want to know them and love them.
When you’ve dated a girl, you could probably say any of these things about the girl you like: I want to know what interests them. I want to visit museums and record stores and share movies I love with them. I want to hear about their hopes and fears and dreams and beliefs and share my love for Christ with them as a mutual thing.
And I can say all of those things about the guys I’ve liked.
That’s probably weird. And you don’t know me, so it might seem like I’m trying to be rhetorical or push an agenda. If it does, I’m really sorry. I’m just opening up about what it’s like to be in my skin. Take it or leave it. But as a brother in Christ, I’m going to ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt and ask around to other gay friends you might have. Ask *them* what it’s like to fall in love. And then listen. You might be surprised at what you hear.