No Easy Victory
And that's what I wish I could be: normal. I've tried to change, tried to become heterosexual, tried just about everything to do so! Counseling, therapy, prayer, healing—you name it. But for all my trying, all I've managed to do is control the behavioral manifestations of my sexual orientation. God has given me the power to live a fulfilling heterosexual life, together with the grace to live with the fact that I'm still homosexual. It hasn't been an easy victory. There are times when maintaining this dichotomous life is nearly overwhelming.
Over the years I've continued to struggle with emotional attractions and attachments to other men that have torn away at my insides and eroded my confidence in myself and in God. I continue to struggle from time to time with thoughts that my wife and sons would be better off if they didn't have to deal with such a moody husband and father—especially his recurring bouts of almost suicidal depression.
Yes, mine is a victory in the sense that I have managed to maintain life, love, and fidelity in my marriage, but it is a victory that has required almost daily battle, and one that comes at considerable psychological cost to me and to my family.
I have no regrets about my commitment to begin and maintain my faithfulness in heterosexual marriage. Nothing has taught me more, nothing has been a greater source of joy, than the relationships I have with my wife and sons. But I am sometimes angry about the effort required, and I am frequently angry that I have had to do this on my own, without the support of friends or of a caring Christian community.
The Shroud of Silence
Christian literature on homosexuality is full of polarizing rhetoric. One side says that we should welcome our gay brothers and sisters into Christian fellowship; that we should recognize this is how God made them and therefore it must be how God intends for them to live. The other side recites the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, uses words like abomination, and gives us anecdotal evidence of people being changed. From the perspective of my experience, I cannot help but conclude that both positions are naïve.
My position on homosexuality—while it may be realistic and grounded in true experience—seems to offend many and please almost no one. My fervent belief that God intends us to live in heterosexual and monogamous fidelity offends the liberals who think I should accept and live out my supposedly God-given sexual nature. At the same time, my experience that grace may abound but that it doesn't necessarily "fix" me or make it easy for me to live the "straight" life offends the conservatives who preach and demand a clearer "victory" over my sinful nature. Rhetoric seldom provides us with an accurate representation of reality. My story is a reality. I believe it is a reality shared by many more than just me, but disclosed by few.
Why haven't I told my story to my church friends? Why is my identity anonymous? Because, despite all the claims by my heterosexual friends to "love the sinner but hate the sin," I do not trust them. I do not believe that they could know this about me and still want me to be their congregational president, their youth-group leader, their sons' coach. I wish I could believe it, but I don't. Perhaps I'm hypersensitive in not trusting, but I've overheard too many jokes, seen too many expressions of hate directed at homosexuals, to believe that these same people could be my friends if they knew.