(This is the 18th dialogue in this series. It’s an edited and reconstructed version of the actual talk, but it accurately represents the essence of what was said. This is done with his permission, provided all personal references are omitted. I pick it up as usual after the opening chit-chat.)
Him: So I hope you don’t get tired of my calling you. I know you have your life to live, and I just kind of showed up out of nowhere.
Me: Hey, you aren’t bothering me. I just take things that come as from the Lord. If I can encourage you, then I’m glad to talk.
Him: I don’t have anyone else I can talk to about these things. I did meet a guy in one of my classes who is a Christian, and in one of our conversations I told him about my SSA. It wasn’t forced. It just came up kind of naturally from a discussion we were having. It doesn’t bother him at all, but he can’t identify with it and can’t talk with me about it in any meaningful way. But we do hang out together and talk about all kinds of things.
Me: That’s good. It’s always helpful to have someone that can encourage us in our Christian walk.
Him: Well, that kind of gets to what I really called about. It’s going back to a talk we had about a month ago. I was telling you about the difficulty I was having knowing where I fit in as a Christian who is ‘gay.’ Remember?
Me: Yes, I do remember it. Not all the details, but the gist of it. You were telling me that you were not comfortable with people thinking of you as only the ‘gay guy.’ And that you were having trouble trying to find your place in the church as a same-sex attracted individual.
Him: Yeah, that’s it. And you started to talk about ways I could deal with this, but we ran out of time. Then we got onto other things in our last talks. But since then these feelings of not fitting in have intensified.
Me: Why? What happened?
Him: My church has one of those typical college-and-career Sunday School classes that I attend. Last Sunday we started a new series of lessons on ‘The Single Christian’ and started off with the assumption that singleness is a temporary period of our life and we’ll all end up married sooner or later. So I’m sitting there feeling more than ever like this outsider that can’t really enter into what’s going on. I mean, marriage may never be a viable option for me, and singleness is what I’ll always experience. So nothing that was being said had any relevance for me.
Me: The church thinks that way. It always has. Singles are those people who will never be complete or fulfilled until they’re married. So what do you do with them? Give them separate classes and conferences and hope they’ll pair up and eventually hook up. It’s the evangelical idolization of marriage that really bugs me. Do you read any John Piper stuff?
Him: Yes, I do. Why?
Me: Because he has a book called ‘This Momentary Marriage’ that is one of the better things out there on the relative importance of marriage. He has two chapters in that book on singleness that are as good as anything you’ll read on the subject. I think you would benefit from reading them…the whole book for that matter. He puts singleness in a good place biblically. You can get it anywhere.
Him: OK, thanks. I’ll get it. The other books you recommended were fantastic, so I’ll take your advice on this one too. But most people in the church think like the ones in my church, so the reality is I will always encounter this kind of thinking. And I’ll always feel like an outsider.
Me: Well, maybe you could think about things differently. I mean, in the church the thing that we have in common, our mutual touchpoint, isn’t the particular sins and struggles we share. It’s our common redemption in Christ. We fit in because we are all bought by His blood and have a common heavenly Father and are partakers of the same Holy Spirit. Sharing similar struggles might take it up a notch, but it’s not the essence of our fellowship in the church. And fellowship is a biblical way of saying we ‘fit in.’
Him: And I think I get that. But when I hear sermons on marriage and family and sexual purity and gender roles, they always assume the audience is heterosexual. But there are guys like me out there that it doesn’t apply to directly.
Me: Maybe you’re thinking wrong about that.
Him: What do you mean?
Me: Well, if the teaching and preaching is biblical, there aren’t necessarily any assumptions being made about the sexuality of everyone in the audience. What I mean is the Bible presents principles of sexual purity that apply whether you are ‘straight’ or ‘gay.’ Commands to avoid sexual immorality and to pursue mental purity and to cultivate chaste interpersonal relationships apply across the board…whatever your sexual attraction is.
Him: But isn’t it different if you’re gay?
Me: Why? We all are called to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and follow Christ. I will agree that there is an added dimension to this for same-sex attracted people, because the attraction itself is a distortion of God’s original intent. But in practical living, we all are pursuing sexual purity. And we do this in community with other believers for mutual support and encouragement.
Him: So you’re telling me I’m too focused on myself, or maybe thinking I’m special because I have these gay inclinations?
Me: Oh, maybe something like that. You’re very perceptive. HA!
Him: It’s still really hard.
Me: Yes, I won’t deny that. But whatever the sin a believer struggles with, it’s hard for them. We can’t put ourselves in a special category because we struggle with same-sex attraction.
Him: Well, I have a lot to think about. And I have a class to get. I’m sure we’ll talk again.
Me: OK. Keep fighting with the help of God. Goodbye for now.