I DIDN’T CHOOSE TO BE GAY
By Shirley Baskett
People, who grow up with homosexual orientation, are likely to feel that somehow they are ‘different’. There is sense of just not quite fitting in. Things that others of the same sex are interested in might be undesirable and finding compatible friends can be daunting. Commonly, boys in particular, are shunned by other boys. By the time high school comes around, they can be craving acceptance and love. They may already be labeled.
Today, sexual awakenings happen early in many young people’s lives. For someone who has gay inclinations, adolescence can be a nightmare of realizations, that their chemistry somehow is very different from others around them. Discovering feelings for someone of the same sex is a confusing and alarming stage.
Most people fight this feeling, hoping, and if they are Christian, praying with everything within them, that they can just wake up one day and fall in love with someone of the opposite sex and it will all be ok. Like most people, homosexual people hope for a long term love relationship and for family. They would far rather be in the 97% to 98% of the population who happily grow up content with their heterosexuality. They don’t decide, "Oh, it looks more fun to be gay, I think I will go that way!”
For a young Christian, there is the added sense that somehow God has played a cruel trick on them. Has he somehow made a mistake and put the wrong gender into the wrong body? They wrestle with thoughts like, "why has he created me gay and then condemns me?” And most of all, the question is consuming, "why don’t you answer me? I have cried in the night and suffered alone in anguish. Why don’t you just take this away from me?”
One man, Willy Torresin, wrote, "I continued to believe that the only way to please God was to try to be good and to do the right things. The feeling that something was wrong with me persisted, but I didn’t even want to consider what it was. I simply preferred to push those things away, hoping they would eventually disappear.”1 But they didn’t disappear.
Willy’s story was similar to many who begin with all the best intentions. Often, too afraid to talk to people in the church or to family and too afraid to even admit what was happening on the inside. Willy wrote, "Eventually I came across a description of same sex attraction. Perhaps the most difficult thing in my life until that point was to admit to myself that I was struggling with homosexual feelings and desires. At that time I believed that homosexual practice was probably the worst possible sin, and that people who struggled and practiced those things would be totally rejected by God. So I promised myself and God that I would never do any of those things!”
Many people go on into adult years, denying what is happening on the inside. Sometimes they marry. Some people who come to Christ are told that the best thing they can do is marry and it will all come right. But this is far from true.
The fight to walk pure before God can become too hard. The pull toward acting out on such strong feelings puts people into a tug of war between what they believe is God’s will, and the chemistry of charged sexuality toward same sex that just becomes more compelling, the more a person tries to deny it. Willy came to a point that many come to; he gave up.
"One day I decided to go to a gay bar. I can still remember how free I felt! It was the first time in my life I could be myself and not hide behind a mask! I felt I had found heaven on earth! From that day on I simply stopped going to church and all the "religious” activities I had been involved in so far. Sometimes I felt disturbed within me, but I made sure I always had friends around. Drinking helped to quiet any discomfort inside me.
I was angry at God. I was tired of trying to please someone I obviously could not please, so I simply gave up trying to! All that "devotion” and desire to serve God little by little turned to rebellion and anger. I believed I had committed the "unpardonable” sin, that there was no hope for me.”
For some, giving up is giving in to a self convincing belief that perhaps the Bible should be interpreted differently? Perhaps God didn’t really say that he disapproved of all homosexuality, just some homosexual activity? The first downfall of man began with a whispered lie that ‘perhaps God didn’t really mean that this form of the apple would kill you? Or that it didn’t really mean ‘kill’, it perhaps meant that in biting it, the apple would kill the restrictiveness that is before you, kill the denial of freedom that is rightfully yours?
Whatever the point of relinquishment, the sense of freedom can be very real. Like Willy, many find that they have community that accepts them, and yes, who loves them too, genuinely. The church experience can appear as a bad dream that is now past. Some, like Willy spurn the God of their youth. Others want to reinvent God, so that the inability to obey, or the moment of leaving the fight for holiness now becomes a new ‘revelation’ of a God who is himself misunderstood on this whole issue.
Both ways of leaving the fight are understandable, but will not in the end lead to life. For what may be a number of years, it may seem that there is no other choice. And for many, once moving out of what has often been an intolerable season of guilt and rejection, accepting their homosexuality is a freedom indeed.
It is vitally important to know that with God, this issue is not one of either struggle or give in. For the person who goes down this track and later feels disillusioned that the promise of contentment hasn’t eventuated, there can be no more options. If this is the only path, then it is a depressing and dismal thought to feel that change is impossible, that acceptance is the only way and yet know that it hasn’t worked.
Many people come to this. Having chased a dream, it is like a nightmare that you can’t awaken from. Today, the only hope given is to accept your fate and enjoy the ride. But if you want to get off, you are given no hope. But there is hope. How can our God be restricted and powerless? People who say that even God can’t change someone who is homosexual have a powerless and ineffectual God. Humans can’t change anyone, and we are often failures at trying to change ourselves! But no one should tell God what he can’t do!
Willy spent fifteen years in long term relationships, trying to find purpose and meaning for his life. He had everything that he had thought would make him happy. He had a boyfriend that he loved, a great job and life was good. But he had a deep sense of frustration and was aware that, with all that he had, he was not happy.
He tells his story of how one day after all this time, God began to speak to him clearly.
"Once in a while, in a very unexpected way, I would hear it again, "I love you, my son, and I have so much for you…” One Saturday afternoon I was outside my house, washing my car, when I heard that voice again. I got so mad! I remember I threw down the bucket of water I was holding and stormed into my house and down to the basement where I could be on my own. I screamed at God, saying, "Don’t you have anything else to do? Leave me alone! Stop doing this to me! I can’t serve you! I tried all I could to do the things you wanted me to do, to become the person you wanted me to be, but I failed! Why don’t you leave me alone? I know there’s no hope for me! You made me this way, didn’t you? Aren’t you happy? Leave me alone!”
Willy didn’t choose to be gay. But God didn’t argue with him or chide him; he simply wore him down with a gentle request for Willy to give his heart to God. Willy bargained, he argued that he had tried! God said that he had never asked Willy to strive and try to change.
Willy was unwilling to give up what he had now made as a comfortable life, in a comfortable relationship. But God came back to him and said that he wasn’t asking for any of those things. He simply wanted Willy to give him his heart. Eventually Willy asked God what he would do with this heart? And he felt God’s reply, "I’m going to pour my life into it!”
"Somehow I felt that it was real, that God really loved me just as I was. And I could no longer resist it. I could no longer keep that awesome love away. By then I was sobbing uncontrollably and I couldn’t stand up anymore. I fell on my knees, opened my hands, and said, "Yes, Lord! I accept your love! I don’t understand why you want to love me, but I can no longer live without your love! I can’t promise you anything, though! I can’t promise you to leave homosexuality or to give up my lover…” God's response was, "Just accept my love for you! I’m not asking you to promise anything, just to accept my love.”
And then it happened. I was literally flooded with God’s love. I don’t know how to explain it. In fact I don’t think it is possible to explain what happened. All I can say now is that it just flooded in! I just felt loved by God in a way I never dreamed would be possible, and it had nothing to do with anything I could offer in return. It was just God’s unconditional love pouring in. I could not believe it! It was beyond anything I had ever dreamed, or ever experienced before. How could God love me that much? But I just allowed Him to love me. For the first time my life had a purpose – it made sense! This is it! I said to myself, this is what I have been created for, to experience this love, this awesome God! At first I felt, this is too good to be true! But eventually that feeling was replaced by another one, "this is SO good and IT IS true!”
The answer is not in trying to fight and do what is right; it is in finding the love of God. His love is the fulfillment for us. This is what we are created for, to know God’s love and his grace. His grace gives us the ability to take the long journey to wholeness. His grace will walk us back through the confusion of our lives. His love will lead us to truth, not just about God, but about ourselves too.
There is no ‘magic’ formula that can do the trick. Homosexual orientation is something that is threaded through a person’s life from very early years. If God just took out the ‘gay’ in a moment of time, it would probably unravel the person, as the feelings and inclinations are so much part of the person. But this doesn’t mean to say that there is no hope.
Struggling alone is the worst possibly way. Many people have secret battles sexually. Homosexuality is no different from heterosexuality that is practiced in ways outside of God’s design. It may appear to be a deeper issue, but for someone who seeks to find their happiness and fulfillment in many wrong heterosexual ways, it can be just as destructive. Heterosexual unhealthy relationships aren’t always as obvious, but no one person can totally satisfy and make another person happy.
People, who struggle and eventually give up, often have as their goal, the desire to be ‘straight’. This goal sets a person up for failure. Failure doesn’t mean that the Bible should be rewritten. The true answer has always been in the scriptures. Our goal is not to seek heterosexuality, and it never has been. Our goal is to seek our God and to find the one who becomes our all. When Jesus is the goal, he aligns us by his power to his Father's design for our lives. His goal is not for us to find sexual perfection but to walk toward his holy perfection. Holiness is his aim.
As Willy put it, "I also discovered that God’s love and grace were available for me as I learned to walk this new life, step by step, and day by day.” He has had many years pass since those things happened in his life, and he would be first to say that it has been a challenge. But it has been a challenge that has been met by the God who loved him right from the start. "I have learned to respond to the pain of my wounds in non-sexual ways. I have also been healed of many of those wounds. I also learned to turn to God when I am tempted, and trust Him for all my needs.”
1 Willy Torresin de Oliveria’s Testimony – Exodus Brasil ;To learn more about Willy - click here