Over the next couple weeks, we will be featuring some guest posts from gay and lesbian Christians (and those who do not identify as such while experiencing same-sex attractions) as they will be sharing some of their thoughts on identity and a part of their own journey with faith and sexuality. The first post comes from Mandy Wilson.
Mandy is a freelance writer from Nashville, TN. Her personal journey brought her through years of study and research, as she struggled to reconcile her faith and sexuality. Now she’s on a mission of love and truth, to spread the message of God’s unconditional love for all. When she’s not freelancing, Wilson is busy with her online ministry, ComingOutChristian.org, which provides a safe place for LGBT’s to explore their faith and tell their stories.
When I finally admitted to myself that I was indeed attracted to the same gender, I was scared out of my mind. I had avoided this possibility for years; but there came a point when I could no longer ignore it. I had avoided the topic because I didn’t believe that my relationship with God could co-exist with my sexual orientation—and turning from my faith was never an option for me. I was raised in an incredible Christian home, thrived in my church youth group, and continued on to a Christian liberal arts school in the South. Through all of these experiences, I recall a few sermons shouted with fervor from the pulpit on the topic of homosexuality. But mostly, there was silence… deafening silence; and that was the most unsettling thing of all. I began to pray for healing. I didn’t want to be gay. I didn’t want to be something that no one could even bring themselves to talk about.
For six years, I prayed, fasted, and attended healing services. I believed with all of my heart that God would take this burden away. I didn’t know exactly what His solution would look like; I simply believed it would come in His good timing. I specifically prayed that He would make me straight; but I was prepared for celibacy, also. I had determined that God could make me the first Protestant nun. Married to Jesus—that’s what I would be! The feelings I despised still taunted me from time to time—and at those times, the guilt was overwhelming. But I was a work in progress, anxiously awaiting God’s direction for my life.
Then, I met someone.
Jessica was a lover of Jesus. She exuded everything that Christianity was supposed to be. And she put a kink in my plans. I immediately felt those frightening feelings surfacing again. That’s when I decided to begin researching the topic for myself. I had no idea there were so many perspectives regarding homosexuality and the Bible. I learned that some Christians viewed their sexuality as a call to celibacy… but they still proudly identified as LGBT. Others determined that the observance of cultural cues from the Bible along with translation inaccuracies proved that God does not condemn those who are in a loving, monogamous relationship. I continued to pray, and I felt God urging me to dig deep. At first, there was a significant amount of guilt associated with second-guessing my Scriptural upbringing. Yet, the more I truly tried to grasp God’s intent for His diverse children, the closer my walk with Him became. I began to realize that this was a journey—and one that God was willing to walk with me if I would only let Him. On this newfound spiritual adventure, there was little more valuable to me than being honest. This meant being authentic with myself, my family, and most importantly, with God. Of course, none of these happened overnight. But once I lowered the façade and became real, God started working. I spent years praying for healing—and it did come—just not in the way I expected. I prayed to be straight. Instead, God helped me to understand that He loves me, just as I am.
Many people ask me what being gay or lesbian means to me. In my opinion, it’s quite simple. Being gay or lesbian simply means that a person is attracted to the same sex. It doesn’t mean they are promiscuous. It doesn’t mean they have AIDS. It doesn’t even mean that they have sex with someone of the same gender. A person’s orientation has nothing to do with the act of sex. It is based solely on attraction. It’s the same as having blue eyes or brown hair. Someone once told me, “I still struggle with same-sex attraction… but I don’t want to put any labels on it. ‘Gay Christian’ just seems like such an oxymoron.” That statement bothered me for years. But for me, I had to identify as a lesbian in order to be honest with God. My sexuality was such an innate part of who I was, I couldn’t have an authentic spiritual walk without that honesty.
On a very personal level, I believe in promoting love, understanding, and education about homosexuality in our churches. Arguing or debating does nothing but flare tempers. It takes a mutual commitment from both sides for peaceful discussion and conversation. Everyone is on the same journey, but at different places. Ultimately, we will reach the conclusion that we can love each other without having to agree on everything. That is true peace… and it’s liberating.