Those who experience same-sex attraction (SSA) as a sin-struggle wrestle over how to continually surrender these emotional, romantic and sexual desires. The convictions that compel us to resist a same-gender relationship propel us down a tough journey. For some, it feels like a life sentence.
While compassion can be found in the church, there remains much misunderstanding. Those who are depressed hear messages like let it go. This increases isolation and a sense of not being fully known. All this pain draws our focus inward in a search for some kind of meaning for our life.
This inward search subtly tempts us to move from Christ into subculture. Digging too deeply for “the purpose” of SSA lures me away from “His purpose” for me to be in Christ. Thus, it is risky to attribute so much weight to everything SSA. We are more than that. And importantly, we are not the only ones who suffer.
The destitute remind us that justice does not always come. The disabled show us that brokenness is not always fixed. Disease teaches us that we are vulnerable to sickness and death. All suffering ultimately reminds us that this life is not our home. Our safest home – and truest identity – lies ahead. Until we fully arrive, though, there will be suffering. Jesus said as much.
Yet Jesus is not out or over or up there. He is right here, right now. He is with us in the midst of our suffering. He knows our pain. He understands the plight of all who suffer. He is here. We are his. He understands us even when others minimize our struggles – whatever they may be.
There is less need to cultivate purpose or meaning for my suffering if I remember that Jesus is with me. His presence transcends my longings and unmet needs. This does not alleviate all of my pain. It does not put an end to suffering. It does, however, call me back to surrender every time I come up empty after digging for a philosophical or super-spiritualized meaning for my pain.
Is there purpose in this struggle? Yes. Can it be used to uniquely extend the Gospel? Yes. But did God intend for this to happen? No more than He intends for others to suffer from destitution, disability or disease. The fact is this: we live in a world where suffering exists. By God’s grace, it will not last forever. The scriptures promise that soon there will be no more tears. He will make all things new.
Until that great day, our hope and identity will be found by living in Jesus. The trouble is that subculture is subversive – it offers us a new identity for every minority experience. When we are most thirsty and tired, we are most prone to drift toward these alternatives. If I am too focused on my SSA, I will at some point be tempted toward another identity. This likely has more to do with culture than the Kingdom – and more to do with self-focus than spiritual surrender.
These truths give me pause in accepting the “Gay Christian” label. While I do not question the faith of those who do, I think all of us need to consider whether our identity is wrapped up in Christ – or caught in the rapids of Culture. Instead of moralizing others, we need to focus on building authentic community, care, and conversation with those who experience non-heterosexual identities.
Post Note: Those who firmly reject the label “Gay Christian” should be equally convicted by other subculture attachments to our Christian faith. Evangelicals, in particular, seem prone to intertwining the person of Jesus with a political identity. This too is nothing more than subculture. All of us, then, are prone to getting swept up into cultural tides.
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