Hey everyone, this is my first ever post… just discovered the site today!
As the subject suggests, I'm in a complicated situation. I'm in my late 20s, and am in quite a visible position within a large and influential pentecostal church. I have released alot of worship music in several different churches plus my own albums etc, and was a worship pastor for several years… talk about pressure! I feel like I have so many people who look up to me and are counting on the example I set.
Then in 'opposition' to this, as I've always believed to be the case until now, I am incredibly attracted to other guys. Not *just* guys, mind you, but enough that I would feel like such a fraud to marry a woman and pretend that whole side of who I am did not exist. Enough that I feel that I'm hiding a big whopping secret. But I have been open and honest with a number of people in my life, so it's not that much of a secret to the people closest to me. It's just not public knowledge as it's really no-one's business, in my opinion. Could I marry a woman? Sure. I am attracted enough to women that I believe I could be satisfied in a relationship (as I have been in the past), but so long as she was ok with my attraction to guys as well, and not threatened by it. I was in a long-term straight relationship that was heading towards marriage, but I broke it off because of other issues in the relationship… not because I wasn't attracted to her! That was a long time ago now, however, and I may have changed a lot since then.
I guess I'm coming to a place where for 10 years I suppressed, buried, prayed against, cried out in agony to God about, and was endlessly depressed and secretly suicidal about this whole aspect of my life. I had experiences with guys that were unfulfilling and largely damaging. I've also been put through damaging 'prayer counselling' as they called it. It was the biggest evil crock… Apparently after Jesus miraculously fixed me I then had to stop all my 'mannerisms'. Of which I had none because I'm not an effeminate kinda guy. Oh and I was forced to tell my parents all the explicit details of my sexual experiences with a guy in high school.
On the flipside I've even had periods of time where I genuinely felt very limited attraction towards guys and mainly towards women (my own little 'reparative therapy' helped with that I guess). But I'm at this point of being just so damn tired of the frustration and pain / guilt cycle of it all. I just want to be at peace with who I am.
A short while ago after many years of denying myself of any kind of relationship with anyone of the same sex I had 2 quite tame encounters with other Christian guys around my age that were unexpected (I didn't seek anything out). The first was awkward and uncomfortable and left me feeling happy to be living this straight identity. Yet the second… I found a level of intimacy, acceptance and joy just being close to this person. In this instance though it's not something that could become a real relationship as he does not identify as gay and is very much, in my opinion, in denial. But I felt GOOD. I felt happy. And I had not one ounce of guilt! What the ?!? A good friend and pastor I know (who is openly gay, but happily married with kids) said to me, "Maybe this means you are finally accepting who you really are." Now I don't think it's ok to be running around doing whatever you please with anyone. I believe that a loving, committed relationship is the best way to express and explore sexual desire. I was just at a crossroads and quite confused so I entertained these situations for better or worse. (In terms of accountability, which I believe is VITAL for personal direction, safety, guidance, support etc, I have shared this with a trusted pastor and friend.)
So this all brings me to the clincher… I see several options ahead of me:
1) Come out publicly. Accept that I will lose a vast majority of my ministry following, but will be able to minister more authentically and help others in my situation… or as one friend put it 'go and live wild and explore my new-found freedom'. Not sure I could be ok with that. I still love God too much to throw off all restraint.
2) Accept who I am wholeheartedly, but be selective about who I share this with. I see this as a choice of celibacy but not secrecy. But to be clear, I would happily share my struggles with anyone who asked, EVEN IF it compromised my ministry standing – in order to be integrous. Marry or don't marry… But I could not be in a relationship with another man even if I had feelings for someone. The guidelines for ministry within this church don't allow it. That'd suck, as it has in the past. But I accept that's the cost I'd have to be willing to pay. Heck it's not like I'd jump out of the closet and into a loving relationship. Maybe I'd give it all up for the right person. Hmm.
The main areas of scripture that really speak to me about this are where it talks about not being a stumbling block for others, and not knowingly bringing offense. I know this is a hugely 'offensive' issue to people in the church… just like eating food offered to idols was back in the day, so I'm ok with that. I don't want to be a 'give me my rights at any cost' bulldozer and start picketing the front gates of the church. There's too much of that stuff these days. Jesus told us to love others, not yell hate at them, even if they yelled first… AS we love ourselves. So yes, not being a doormat, but choosing to let my public actions be respectful towards others' beliefs and convictions (according to scripture). So walking into church with a man on my arms because that's my right is kinda not acting in love towards others. My private convictions are mine and mine alone.
Oh yes, option 3.
3) Bury the crap out of this thing and let it keep coming up in more and more unhealthy and destructive ways! Porn, dodgy encounters etc…
Now to make matters more interesting… I am meant to be leaving Australia shortly to help pioneer a church plant oversees and am TERRIFIED of the isolation and what it may do to me.
I'm interested to hear what people think… on things such as: Who do I tell? Who do I not tell?
People ask 'can you be a Christian and be gay?' My answer… 'sure, I've been doing it for 10 years. I just didn't know it!'
Seriously tho, I'm still just working this all out… but all I know is that I think some guys are hot. And I love Jesus. Why the hell is that such a big deal? (By the way, I say 'some' because, hell, as if a straight guy is attracted to EVERY woman on earth and every gay guy is attracted to EVERY guy. Seriously, even though the closest box I'd fit into is gay, I find some guys completely unattractive – ie Danny Devito, and some women totally breathtaking who make my heart skip a beat and I wanna marry them – ie Rachel Taylor. I confuse myself, honestly…)
Ah well… long-winded. I've had alot on my mind and not really anywhere to share it, so I hope you enjoyed the epic read!