Great is Thy Faithfulness

As I consider the course of my life, its many joys and travails, I often marvel that I am who I am and where I am today.  From being nearly aborted before I was born, to nearly drowning as a toddler, to having endured a major illness as an adult, I could have died physically many times in my life.  Spiritually, I was dead in my sin before God saved me through the blood of His Son Jesus.  Though there was much life and joy in those early days of being alive in Christ, the ensuing years brought many episodes of spiritual rebellion.  From seeking to save myself through my own righteousness, to being indifferent to the only source of life, to being drawn to make a name for myself in my professional life, to living out my sexual desires in my own way, I could have died spiritually many more times in my life.

Yet I am alive today, perhaps more alive than ever.  Physically, mentally, socially, and professionally, I feel more complete and enriched than I perhaps have ever felt.  I am in a reasonable physical condition, I feel mostly content and happy, I have good family relations and some valued friends, and my vocation is something I treasure and excel at.  Of course, there are still many areas for growth (I could eat a bit healthier and exercise more!), but I am blessed to be living the life I am.  But none of that would amount to much if I did not have the Lord in my life.  Though I could and should have died spiritually, my gracious Father would not let me die.  When I sought to earn by own salvation, the Father showed me that this was folly and that Christ’s work was the only sufficient work of salvation, which He gives freely by grace.  When I have repeatedly been indifferent to Him and His gospel, the Father has repeatedly shown me that there is only darkness and death apart from Him but that there is fullness of life in Him.  When I sought to make my own name great through my vocation, the Father frustrated my rebellious efforts and brought me to a place where my vocation is an expression of His life in me.  When I have lived out my sexual desires apart from God whether through pornography or relations, the Father has repeatedly reminded me of His forgiveness in Christ and the holy heart of Christ that He has deposited into my heart.  I am more alive in Him today even as I am more aware of both the life of Christ and the body of death within me.  His faithfulness is truly amazing.  Thanks be to God that His victory is assured in my life, for His promises and calling are secure and unchanging.

COAGEC

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Restart

It’s been nearly four years since I started the blog Confessions of a Gay Evangelical Christian and just over three and a half years since I last posted.  Oh my, how time has flown!  Certain circumstances led me to take the long pause in blogging, but I believe the time is right for me to resume this endeavor.  Much has changed, but much remains the same, including God’s grace in my life and the conviction He has given me to live faithfully to the scriptural view of love, community, and sexuality.

One factor in me taking this pause was the sense that the blogging became too much of a project for me rather than a free expression of the Lord’s grace in my life.  As a result, the blog increasingly felt like a burden rather than a joyful journey.  I hope to restart this blogging endeavor with an unencumbered heart, a heart that seeks to experience and express Christ’s work of love and holiness in my life.  For those of you who will share this journey with me, I ask for your prayers.  I too will pray for you.

COAGEC

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6. Singlehood and Marriage – Reflections

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

– Genesis 2:20-25

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

– Ephesians 5:31-32

“Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

– 1 Corinthians 7:25-38

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6. Singlehood and Marriage – Testimony

After a three week break from blogging due to work demands, I am happy to resume this journey!

From my earliest days, I was in some ways familiar with the concept of marriage as I grew up in a two parent home.  I did not know about the political or religious dimensions of marriage, but I knew that my parents were bound together in a permanent way and that I along with my sister were part of this unbreakable family bond.  I also knew that I had a father and a mother and that they seemed to have distinct roles.  While both of my parents had professional duties outside the home when I was a young child, they still had a traditional marriage in many ways.  My dad was the primary financial provider for the family, and he was the leader of our family.  My mom was the primary caregiver for the children, and she was the manager of most things in the home.  The complementary roles of my parents made sense to me, though I did not readily have access to other family and marriage models.  Some of my friends lived in single-parent homes, and I always felt fortunate that I had two parents and that these two encompassed both the masculine and the feminine.  I was able to receive emotional comfort and tenderness from my mom, while I was able to receive strength and initiative from my dad.  I was not privy, of course, to all the dynamics of the marriage between my parents, but I saw that they complemented one another, loved one another deeply, and were devoted solely to one another as family for a lifetime.  Yet not everything was rosy at all times.  My parents argued a fair amount and on rare occasions, there were some minor physical altercations.  Much of it seemed to stem from differing visions of their lives and the family.  My mom was solely devoted to the nuclear family and found it frustrating that my dad seemed to have other priorities, whereas my dad also valued his relationships with friends and extended family as well as his career and found it frustrating that my mom seemed to demand so much from him.  Witnessing this discord was certainly the most distressing part of my early childhood years, as it seemed to threaten the unity and continuity of the family unit that was my entire world.  Yet my parents’ love for one another and their children won out, and the passage of time and the waning of youthful energy allowed them to settle into a peaceful middle space where they were less demanding of their own needs and adopted more of the needs of their spouse.  They were still their own being with distinct personalities and interests, but somehow they had become more of a harmonious union that functioned as one in many ways.  Through all the ups and downs of their marriage, my sister and I continued to be their joy and pride, who made their union more perfect.

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5. Sexuality – Reflections

 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

– Genesis 2:23-25

““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

– 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Sexuality most broadly understood is the experience of the reproductive capacity internally and interpersonally.  There are many dimensions to this including the biological, the psychological, the interpersonal, and the spiritual.  The biological dimension stems from the universal principal among living organisms that reproduction is necessary for the continuation of species.  Notably, reproduction can occur either sexually or asexually, with more complex organisms including humans reproducing sexually.  Sexual reproduction has numerous advantages over asexual reproduction, including genetic diversity that allows a specie to adapt better to the changing environment, such as new diseases and predators.  Sexual reproduction also necessitates social interactions, which in many species have become highly complex.  The end result of sexual reproduction is the birth of a new offspring that is a union of the genetic material from the male and the female parents, which in many species is cared for by one or both of the parents for a period of time.  The biological imperative to reproduce has resulted in many inborn traits that foster the procreation of the next generations.  The sexual drive is one of the most powerful impulses in all species, which impels organisms to seek out and mate.  Species such as the male praying mantis and salmon literally give their lives in obeying their internal reproductive drive.  Sex, however, serves more purposes than simply reproduction in many species.  For instances, in several primate species, sex, including homosexual behavior, is used to create social bonds and to promote peace, as well as seemingly just for mutual pleasure.  Furthermore, sex is also used individually for pleasure, as masturbation is frequently observed in many species including primate species.

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5. Sexuality – Testimony

I was a sexual being long before I consciously knew anything about sex.  After all, I had a normal physiological and biochemical development in my mother’s womb and emerged with normal male genitalia and the accompanying hormonal influences.  From as far back as I can recall, I enjoyed the sensations related to having male genitalia and especially enjoyed the sensations produced by touching the genitals.  I had no conception of my genitals being associated with sex and procreation, as my initial ideations about them related to urination and the male gender.  But I knew before I could speak that touching my genitals produced pleasurable sensations that also tended to reduce stress and anxiety.  I would occasionally get an erection while doing so, but being prepubescent, this activity of course never led to an orgasm.  I somehow picked up from my parents in those early years that my genitals were private, so as this understanding took hold, I would refrain from touching my genitals in the presence of others.  Even so, my childhood discipline was not so rigid, and my parents would occasionally observe me touching myself and would tell me to stop doing so.  On one particular occasion when I was about 7 years old, I was touching my genitals under the cover of my blanket and had an erection while doing so.  My mother came into the room and inquired about what I was up to and proceeded to remove the blanket and see my activity and my erection.  She had a nervous laughter and told me to stop touching myself.  I was embarrassed about being discovered, but the embarrassment was not as high as it would have been several years later when I entered puberty and understood the sexual function of my genitals.  Even before I learned about these functions, I deduced that the penis could be inserted into the vagina given their anatomy, but I did not know what the purpose or end result of such an act would be.  Thankfully, I had a safe childhood and did not have to deal with learning about such things first hand.

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New Blog Community Endeavors

Hello everyone!  The past month and a half of starting and writing this blog has been a tremendous experience for me.  I started the blog because I had a deep conviction that greater transparency and dialogue regarding homosexuality was needed for me personally and in Christ’s church.  I had some trepidation regarding opening up some of the most private aspects of my heart and wondered whether there would be any benefit from this blog apart from it being a sort of a cathartic experience for me.  Well, God has been faithful, and the response from readers has been more than I could have imagined.  I have particularly been touched by the comments on the posts and private correspondence in which many of you have expressed joy at discovering others who are walking a similar faith and life journey.

In order to promote greater sense of community and to expand the benefits of this venue to more people, I am starting two new blog community endeavors:

1.  I am starting a new online community for mutual support regarding same sex sexual attractions.  The group is open to any Christian who believes in orthodox teachings regarding the fundamentals of the Christian faith and regarding sexuality and who experiences same sex sexual attraction.  The group will be confidential, and members will be encouraged to take certain measures to preserve confidentiality.

2.  I am opening up the blog for testimonies from readers regarding their experience with same sex sexual attractions.  The testimonies may be published anonymously.  The only requirement is that the testimony be generally consistent with the theme of the blog, namely a person with same sex sexual attractions seeking to live in accordance with orthodox teachings regarding human sexuality, though there may be detours along the way.

If you would to participate in the online community or would like to have your story published on this blog, please contact me under the “Contact” page or under the new pages “Reader Testimonies” and “Support Group”.  Many thanks!

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4. Friendship – Reflections

“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”

– 1 Samuel 18:1-4

“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”

– 2 Samuel 1:26

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

– John 15:12-15

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

– John 19:25-27

Friendship is a type of human relationship that has great significance from both secular and spiritual perspectives.  Generally, friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people, and it is ideally characterized by features such as empathy, honesty, altruism, compassion, enjoyment, trust, vulnerability, and forgiveness.  Developmentally, friendships follow parental bonding and precede pair bonding.  The nature of friendships becomes deeper as a person’s internal and social capacities grow throughout childhood and beyond, though other factors can cause the depth of friendships to regress.  In the first stage of development, friendships are focused on shared activities and geographic closeness.  The depth of friendships grows progressively as the second stage is characterized by loyalty and commitment and the third stage is characterized by shared values, interests, and ideas.  As people establish pair bonds, friendships become more limited as the pair bond and family responsibilities take preeminence.  Additionally, vocational responsibilities limit the time available to maintain friendships during our working years.  As these pressures ease in older age, friendships again become more significant in people’s lives.  Friendship is in some sense the foundation of all positive human relationships, as healthy family relationships and romantic relationships have a core of friendship even as they have additional dimensions. The benefits of friendship are many, including psychological and biological health benefits.  The positive psychological effects of friendship are familiar to most people, as the characteristics of the ideal friendship noted above all improve the sense of well-being, and psychiatric illnesses such as depression and anxiety are often exacerbated by lack of close friendships.  Friendships have also been shown to improve physical well-being, as heart disease, infections, and cancer are all associated with loneliness and lack of friendships.

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4. Friendship – Testimony

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

– Proverbs 17:17

In my last series, I recounted the various manifestations of attractions, both non-sexual and sexual, in my life.  These attractions had the primary effect of forming the various human bonds in my life.  The attractions toward my parents and sister formed family bonds.  The attractions toward others formed friendship bonds.  Prior to entering grade school, my friends mainly consisted of my older sister and her friends, most of whom were girls, as I was inseparable from her.  Friendship in those early years was based mostly on common play activities and did not involve deep intellectual or emotional bonding given my limited faculties in these areas.  As such, there was little discrimination in whom I became friends with, as the main criterion seemed to be availability and willingness to engage in supportive play.  As I entered grade school, I began to develop more friendships with other boys as the gender distinction was societally reinforced, and I began to appreciate my similarity with other boys including temperament and interests, such as boldness and playing video games and sports.  Yet, I continued to have some friendships with girls, which were less numerous and less intense than with boys, as I was drawn to certain aspects of their temperament and interests too, including sensitivity and cooperation.  In these pre-pubescent years, I felt relatively free to develop friendship bonds with peers, as the bonds were always platonic and based simply on shared interests and personality, and I developed many close friendships including a male best friend I spent much of those early years with.  These friendships gave me a sense of belonging and allowed me to develop my inner and outer social self that formed the foundation of the man that I am today.

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3. Attractions – Reflections

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 1:7-8

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”

– Revelations 21:2

In my prior post, I discussed how attractions of various sorts, including non-sexual and sexual, manifested in my life.  As most broadly defined, attraction is a force that draws one object towards another object.  Attraction underlies the very existence of the known universe, as manifested in laws of physics such as gravity, strong nuclear force, and electromagnetism.  Of course, for the purposes of this blog, the attraction force we are concerned with is interpersonal attraction, but I believe the universality of attraction reveals much about the nature and the intent of the Creator of all.  This post will explore the nature of interpersonal attractions from psychological and biological perspectives and will consider theological and practical issues concerning attractions.

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