You may or may not know that the word “gospel” means good news. As followers of Jesus we have been called to preach the good news of the Kingdom till the King returns. But how is the gospel good news to someone who wants to follow Christ but who is sexually attracted to those of the same gender?
Followers of Christ are to love truth. We do not apologise for our conviction that the Bible, properly interpreted, is our final authority for life and ministry. But we are also called to love people.
Indeed, the twin loves of God and neighbour are the marks of those who have eternal life (Luke10:25–37). So, we are called to love truth and to love people. Unfortunately, for many of us, we do much better with the first—loving truth—than with the call to love people.
Therefore, we can pen articulate position papers of why the biblical norm is heterosexuality and why we believe homosexual desires are not part of God’s initial design, and why we believe homosexual practice, like many other things, is wrong. And because there are some voices from outside the church and from within the church that are pushing for homosexual orientations and partnerships to be accepted as norm, the church often pushes back hard, maybe out of fear.
One unintended consequence is that many friends who are considering following Christ or who are already within the family of faith and experience same-sex attraction (SSA) feel rejected and condemned. How is the gospel good news for our SSA friends?
Often it is straight Christians—who have no clue as to how someone with SSA struggles—who are telling same-sex attracted friends how they should feel and what they should do, without going beyond prescribing doctrinal positions and simplistic answers. How is this good news to our same-sex attracted friends? I think the first act of love is to listen. And that is the invitation that is behind a recent book we published, Walking with Same-sex Attracted Friends (Singapore: Graceworks, 2018).
The book is a collection of essays divided into three sections. The first section consists of essays from friends who are same-sex attracted—their struggles and their encounters with other Christians and churches. The second section are essays from those who have walked alongside same-sex attracted friends—people like parents and small-group leaders. They have their own set of struggles. A final section is a collection of essays by some pastors chronicling both their own journeys as they sought to reach out to same-sex attracted friends and how they have tried to guide their churches to be truly inclusive.
The book is not a doctrinal thesis. While all the editors hold on to the view that heterosexuality is God’s norm, there is no attempt here to advance the biblical debate about homosexuality. Neither does the book prescribe any sure-fire fix-it method. In fact we don’t believe such simplistic fix-its exist.
The book is primarily an invitation to listen—to listen to those who have had to walk with loved ones who are same-sex attracted, to pastors grappling with their own brokenness as they try to help their churches be more inclusive, and to listen to same-sex attracted friends, sharing in their own words, their journeys. Each story in unique. Not all stories have a recognisable happy ending.
Here are two excerpts from the book:
“Of course, nothing much else has changed. It is still a daily struggle to resist the temptation of pursuing a same-sex relationship, as much as it is still a struggle to be intentional in placing Christ in the centre of my relationships. There are still nights when the loneliness feels too excruciating and I have to text a sister to pray for me amidst endless sobbing. There have been days when I give in to the temptation to feed my SSA. However, with God’s courage I have chosen to struggle each day in anticipation of Christ’s return, when I will no longer feel lonely or struggle with my SSA. By God’s grace, I am washed clean and waiting for the time when all things will be made new.” (39)
“My partner and I are embarking on our ninth year together now. It’s a relationship I’ve been so blessed to have. We’ve agreed not to have sex, which is quite unusual for gay couples—the gay lifestyle is often about the sex, whether casually or in a committed relationship. My partner and I, however, have learnt to develop intimacy on a level beyond sex; an intimacy for the long run, where we learn to love the whole person even as we get on in our years.” (77–78)
The folks who take the risk to share their stories in the book put many of us to shame with their honesty, and surely honesty must be our starting point while we work out how we are to proceed in our discipleship; not just in the area of SSA but in all the areas that God calls us to follow Him.
Christ came to die for both the penalty of our sins and to free us from the bondage to sin. He will return to usher in the new heavens and the new earth. In the meantime, through His Spirit, He loves us and walks with us as we struggle to journey on the upward way. This is good news indeed.
Purchasing copies of Walking With Same-Sex Attracted Friends
In Malaysia, check with Canaanland Bookstore
In other parts of the world, you can purchase it from Book Depository.
Churches and organizations please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org about bulk purchases.