As I said in the first post of the ‘Christianity and Sexuality’ series, the topic of homosexuality and Biblical teaching is one that raises tempers. And as I also said, I won’t be addressing it. Rolo, however, will.
Rolo got in touch with me quite a while ago after reading the blog and from there we got Skyping and have become good friends. He is himself an aspiring young apologist, and his background prior to finding faith in Christ, as well as his continuing spiritual walk, gives him a unique and valuable perspective on this issue.
While I’ve acknowledged that this is a sensitive matter, I ask that potential commenters respond to Rolo with respect, recognizing that he doesn’t approach it as an aloof academic.
We are not born into a vacuum. On the contrary, barring an extremely unusual set of circumstances most of us are born into a particular social or cultural context. Within that context there are almost always general expectations for what should occur in the life of an individual. Even in America where individualism reigns supreme, the average person in some way has their general destiny defined by these societal expectations. For someone born in American or most any culture, finding someone of the opposite sex to love and expressing ones sexuality are paramount among these expectations. Parents don’t usually raise their children with the expectation of either being gay or celibate. Growing up I was no exception to this general rule. In fact before the age of 15, I simply never questioned the expectation that one day I would find a girl, marry her, and then maybe even have kids with her.
At the age of 15 during my first semester in high school, however, I realized something was wrong. My sexuality wasn’t developing like the other boys. Whereas most boys were busy discovering how attractive girls were, I was busy trying to convince myself that I was the slightest bit attracted to them. “Am I gay?” I wondered for the first time in my life. The answer was obvious. Nonetheless, I spent months trying to convince myself I wasn’t gay or that I was at least bisexual.
Despite the fact that I’d grown up in a fairly secular gay-accepting home, being gay was still not an option in my mind for numerous reasons. Chief among them was the idea that I was a normal kid. In my mind being gay was one of those unfortunate things that happened to other people, but certainly not me. Discovering I was gay meant discovering I wasn’t normal. I was different from other people in a very profound way. No one prepared me for this. During those months when I battled accepting my sexuality, I was anxious, confused, but most of all scared since I didn’t know what to do. Before I could accept my sexuality, I had to figure out what it meant to be a gay man.
It took me several years, but eventually I found my footing again. While this article isn’t the place to describe that long arduous process in detail, it basically involved me slowly but surely adjusting those same expectations I’d been raised with to incorporate my homosexuality. What this meant was not so much abandoning the idea of finding someone to love and expressing my sexuality, but simply recognizing that as a gay man these things would be somewhat complicated by the fact that I wasn’t attracted to people of the opposite sex. That’s all my homosexuality meant. Of course, with the ever increasing acceptance of homosexuality in the media and in American society in general, this idea of regarding my homosexuality as nothing more than a minor complication became easier to accept. Of course, this was before I became a Christian.
When I became a Christian at the age of 19 one of my main concerns was how my homosexuality fitted with my newfound faith. My stance on homosexuality when I first converted was the typical one assumed by people who had strenuous difficulty reconciling the idea of a loving God who would restrict who a person could love. In other words, I believed God condoned committed monogamous homosexual relationships. Studying the Bible my hope was to find support for my initial position. I didn’t. The more I studied the firmer drawn I was to the traditional Christian stance that participating in homosexual relationships is a sin. This meant for however long I lived I wasn’t going to be fulfilling all the sexual and romantic expectations I’d simply taken for granted as a normal part of a life. Celibacy was my fate now.
Few people are raised to believe they’ll be gay. Even fewer I imagine are raised for a life of celibacy. Yet with little warning, life thrust both of these things upon me. As a result during my first year as a Christian, I had to ask myself three major questions; questions most gay Christians undoubtedly ask themselves. First, “Can someone have a homosexual orientation yet still be a Christian?” Second, “Is it unfair for God to prohibit homosexuals from expressing their sexual and romantic desires?” Finally, “Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ Gospel for homosexuals?” None of these questions were particularly easy ones to answer. All of them required diligent and patient study of the deceptively simple religion called Christianity. My intentions for the next post are to briefly share some of the answers I’ve come across in my short time studying. While it would be extremely presumptuous to say a mere twenty one year old college student has fully and definitively answered these three crucial questions related to the issue of homosexuality, I nonetheless hope to provide both to those interested in the Christian perspective as well as to those who are like me personally affected by this issue, proof that the Christian perspective is much more than “God hates fags.”
by Rolo Baez