‘How can I be a homosexual if I’m a Christian?’
I must have been twelve or thirteen years old when I first thought about homosexuality. It was the middle of the night, and I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, reflecting on my day at school.
That day hadn’t been the best. I was reserved, spent a lot of time on homework, and wanted to follow the rules. I was the smallest in my class and as a result wasn’t particularly cool or popular, and didn’t have many friends. The boys chased the girls, but I saw the girls as friends.
I was different. Both my peers and I could see that. People often branded me with negative words like poof, queer or weirdo. It was confusing and strange, as I had never felt anything for boys or girls. But I do remember that I was constantly told that I was abnormal.
At that time no one affirmed me as a man created in God’s image, created to live in a healthy relationship with a woman. I had no reference point that reflected the truth of who I was, and I started to believe the words I heard.
That night when I lay awake, I had an intense discussion with myself. ‘How can I be a homosexual if I’m a Christian?’ I thought. I attended church sometimes, but I wasn’t active in the youth work. ‘It must be true since I hear it from everyone around me,’ I thought. From that moment on I started to accept that this was who I was. Feelings for other men came later on.
Attracted to guys
Following this, I became more and more attracted to the boys in my class. Even though I didn’t act on my feelings, I soon saw how this affected my self-image and how I acted. For example, the gym lessons were difficult, not just because I was poor at sports, but because I regarded the others in the changing room with a mix of emotions. ‘I’m not the same as them,’ ‘I don’t belong here,’ and ‘They have nice, athletic bodies.’
The thoughts developed, and when I turned sixteen I was convinced, both in my head and in my heart: I am a homosexual. There was a storm raging inside me, but I didn’t talk to anyone about it.
Learned more about Jesus
At the same time as these feelings were growing within me, my life took a new direction. A friend invited me to join ‘Skolelaget’ (Norwegian Christian Student and School Association). Each Friday we had lunch together, talked and listened to Christian teachers or others who spoke about a theme or verse from the Bible. I was also invited to a youth group and then to the church. Every week I learned more about the Bible, Jesus and how to follow Him.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There was the one big problem: homosexuality. Again and again I heard the importance of being open and sharing our burdens with each other. The Bible also spoke to me: ‘Confess your sins to each other,’ (James 5:16) and ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6:2). However, at the same time I heard what the other Christians said about homosexuality. Some of them were judgemental and on the offensive, ‘There’s something wrong with homosexuals,’ ‘They need prayer for healing,’ or ‘Why do they choose to be like that?’
Comments like this led to a tension inside me: part of me wanted to follow God and part of me wanted to follow my own feelings. I started to think that since I was attracted to men, I was constantly sinning against God. How could God then accept and love me? The conclusion I reached was that there would always be a barrier between me and God. I could never be near God or fully loved by Him because I sinned every single second, because I was a homosexual.
How could I change when I had these feelings? I just got more confused when I heard that feelings are a choice. Why had I chosen to have feelings that just led to others judging me? I thought that I would never be accepted by other Christians or God, and this became a very difficult and dark period of my life.
A liberating truth
I sensed this tension inside because I didn’t know the truth about myself. Of course, I knew some of the truth, for example God’s character, His love for all people, and how He can’t tolerate sin – but I didn’t know the truth about my identity. It was liberating when I understood that my identity is not dependent on my own thoughts or feelings, but that I am first and foremost God’s child. Although my feelings are real, I don’t need to be bound by them.
Another truth I learned about myself is that I am a man. It’s obvious that I am male, but it wasn’t obvious to me that I was a man. Because of all the labels I had received, I identified myself as neither man nor woman, but as someone who was strange and detached from everyone else. In the last few years I’ve had people around me who have affirmed the truth that I am a man, created in the image of God. This has changed how I see myself.
Not a monster, but a son
There are lots of things that are still unclear, but now I know who I am in God, and Jesus has healed me of my pain and set me free from the lies I believed. I can still sense the same thoughts and feelings, but what really means something is that I know the truth: God doesn’t see me as an unforgivable, dirty monster, but as a beloved son, independent of the storms raging inside me.
This is not just my identity, everyone who has chosen to follow Jesus are beloved sons and daughters of God.
Published with permission from Mot Målet (YWAM Norway’s magazine).