Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Update About Feelings

Sorry I haven't been around to respond to all the different posts about my last article. My computer got full of viruses over the weekend and I had to wait until Monday to get it fixed. Now, not only am I virus free, but I have Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, and I like it!

I really think it's funny how concerned everyone seemed to be about my last post. Just to be clear, it's not like I was feeling all of those feelings right at that moment. Goodness, I didn't even think someone could feel all those things at once! They'd explode, right? My point was that I am human like anyone else and the stoic front I have on my blog is just that: a front. I have a lot of the same emotions that other guys who struggle with homosexuality write about more often, and I just wanted to make sure that my lack of vulnerability in that area wasn't taken to mean that I don't struggle with those feelings. I do; I just have a hard time sharing them.

Now, I think the response to this post has been something unexpected. Like Wendy said, I have gotten a lot of unsolicited advice. That's not to say the advice wasn't appreciated. I just wasn't prepared for it (though let's be honest... I'm not usually prepared for what people write on this thing). I guess I want to take an entire post to talk about these comments instead of just writing another comment in the thread. I think they touch upon some key issues in my journey and my relationship to God, so here goes.

Not to be divisive, but I'll start with the comments from people who are more-or-less on my side of the "gay and Christian" issue. For one, I know writing about these emotions seemed a little pointless. No one assumes celibacy is easy and I guess if you're also going for it, then you know better than anyone else. I think something can be said for actually talking about the struggles out loud, though, instead of just letting everyone assume you're struggling even when you don't talk about it. Also, I think any Christian (or faithful member of any religion) can understand that the emotions I feel regarding God's prohibitions on gay sex aren't unique. Any Christian who wants something that God has clearly said "no" to has the same feelings to a certain degree.

It's tough. It requires prayer, and it requires strength to keep your head above water sometimes (not our strength, but God's). That's the point. Faith isn't easy. It's hard. It's work. It requires constantly going to God with our emotions and desires and asking Him to get them in line with His, and it requires faith that He will do that even if years have gone by and nothing has changed. We look for the things not seen, and we can wander in the metaphorical desert for years without ever seeing them. And we may even die without ever reaching the level of peace and contentment that we desire, but that does not mean God isn't good or that He isn't there. That's what faith is about.

And the whole point about sharing emotions is just so that we don't have to wander in that desert alone. We can share our joys and our triumphs with others. We should be able to, at least. The Church has a long way to go in terms of vulnerability and authentic relationships.

Now, for people on the other side of the coin. Thank you for commenting, as always. I guess for newer people like Devlin and Jack (who by the way not only represents the UNC system but also HRL employees!) I think I should clarify my position. I believe, in line with the Bible and the majority of Christian traditions, that gay sex is a sin. No worse than any other sin in terms of God's judgment, and no worse than any other sexual sin (including fornication and adultery) in terms of its effects in the here and now. As such, I am celibate. I will be celibate for my entire life unless I meet a woman with whom I have the ability to fulfill a husband's marital duties (and I consider such an encounter a very remote possibility). Yes, this is hard, but like I said, faith is hard.

This is a decision I made on my own. My family supports it but they would also love and support me if I decided to go the opposite direction. Granted, the decision I made was to follow God. I didn't exactly choose this particular path, but it's been outlined for me by God through His Word, and I am not one to question that, but to simply follow. Trust me, following goes against my very nature. I'm usually a very stubborn person and people don't influence my decisions often. But God does, and He's not a person.

I also don't think I'm killing off a portion of me by being celibate. Note that I said celibate, not single. I don't intend to be an old lonely gay celibate man, like Devlin said. I intend to have a community of friends and believers, and even family (remember, I'd like to adopt) by my side. If God wills it and if I have the strength to do it, I'd even like to do what I know other celibate same-sex attracted men have done, and that is make a lifelong companionship with a similar man. Not a marriage, of course, and not even a romantic relationship. Just a very close friendship... the kind that we've lost sight of in our culture. That's a hard thing to do, of course. I don't know where I'd find such a guy but I do believe it could happen, and if I have the strength to do it without sacrificing my other beliefs, I will. Because I believe you are right. It is not good to be alone.

Heck, I don't even know why it has to be a man. I'm willing to enter into that kind of chaste and holy friendship with anyone, man or woman, gay or straight, as long as they love the Lord and put that relationship first. I don't know if I'll be blessed with such a relationship, but I don't know a lot of things, and I have to learn to trust God to take care of them, and I have to obey Him either way.

Well... that's about it. Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate them. I know that there are things I could do to make me happier sometimes. I could get a boyfriend and not worry about this stuff. I'm sure that would make me happy. But faith isn't about being happy, either. The fact that I struggle also doesn't mean that, like Kurt said, I'm on my way to being an "ex-gay survivor" (and I hate that term by the way, because if being ex-gay is the kind of thing you survive, what does that make me? A corpse?) Even if I was happy... if I did abandon my convictions, I'd feel like I was leaving something very important behind, and that feeling overshadows all.

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