God Made Me Gay
It is easy for some of us to be told what to think and how to think and not spend the time finding our own individual values and ethical principles. This was the case for me, for many years, within Christian Faith Center as a child and at Christ Church Kirkland (CCK) as a young adult.
The nature of any organization is built on a system of shared beliefs and so it seems “normal” that anyone looking to belong to a specific organization will adopt the same values.
Moral influence and beliefs can come from many places; our parents teaching, our spouse/partner opinions, the culture within our church, social norms within our jobs, and through friends or media. Influence is everywhere, and motivations behind these influences can come for a variety of reasons…power, money, control, revolution, equality, justice, liberty, good and evil. The thing is, all of my influences were wrapped up in the church. My parents and sisters were in church, my friends were in church, I went to Christian schools, I worked for people in my church, I only read Christian books and only listened to christian music. I was isolated and taught only the Christian world view.
Free thinking is something I didn’t discover until my late 30’s. Questioning authority was something that made me very uncomfortable in my youth. I wasn’t taught to think for myself. I was raised, like many others within the Christian community, to follow orders and do not ask questions. I obeyed my parents, the Lord, and eventually my “disciplers” and elders within CCK. Because of this blind faith, I gave away my power and my freedom. This weighed heavy on my heart and I felt a deep sadness throughout most of this time in my life, but I could never put my finger on where the sadness was coming from. A sadness I learned to cleverly disguise.
In the 38 years that I attended church, heterosexual relationships were the only way. Our church held seminars, taught sermons, and organized retreats on heterosexual marriages and what love was supposed to look like, all the while teaching us to believe any other form of love was a sin. I have never desired a man and yet every female around me was talking about their desires for men or their marriages with men. So, I suppressed my natural inclinations and followed the pack. I did everything I could to conjure up feelings for a man. I prayed for the desire for my future husband. I prayed that God would take away my natural desire for women. When asked from my church friends or “disciplers” what guy I was interested in, I always played the game and chose a guy whom I thought could be my husband. The only way to have a sexual relationship was to give and receive love within a heterosexual marriage, and so I remained celibate.
Even though I struggled with my sexuality, I could NEVER address it. I didn’t know how to honestly look at it. No one in my circle was gay. No one in my life was talking about being gay. The only message I had ever heard in church about homosexuality was they choose to be gay and they are in living in sin. In order for homosexuals to be right with God, they needed to be healed from their sickness.
This mental crusade carried on for 20 years. This erroneous doctrine caused much heartache, denial of my true self, jealousy, and a continual striving to be picked by a man. It wasn’t until I left CCK, left my church friends, left my job from a church member, and moved to a tiny island off the coast of Honduras, that I realized I had concealed so much of myself by just trying to fit in and belong to a group of people who all believed the same. I realized how deep-seated fear had controlled my life and worldview.
In 2013, at the age of 38, I moved back to Washington State from Utila, Honduras. During this time, I was conscious of how I wanted to re-enter American life. I knew I needed time and space to work on myself on a deeper level than I ever had before. I wanted to face significant issues about who I was and how I wanted to live.
My dear friends, Barney and Erika Olsen, invited me to come to live with them. They opened up their home and hearts to me. They were not church-goers. They simply loved people and were of service to others in their life. At the same time, I had the opportunity to work for a friend just two days a week, rather than a 9-5 job. He too was not a church-goer. He was a free-thinker. He was accepting of all types of people and lived by his own moral code. This time and space became a recipe for deeper discovery of my own beliefs and sexuality.
I was finally in a place where I had no church influences. I stopped reading my Bible. I stopped reading Christian books. I stopped talking like a Christian. I stopped writing in my journal like a Christian. As quickly as I could, I removed anything that resembled the Christian way of life. Why? Because I wanted to see what I really believed without any of those former influences. I wanted to remove fear and people-pleasing and re-evaluate my morals and beliefs. I knew that God was real. I knew that he wasn’t going anywhere. I knew that he wasn’t going to disown me for asking questions. I knew that whatever was real in me would emerge. I knew that whatever was love would remain. I knew that God didn’t need all of my Christian verbiage and philosophies. I knew that I could be seen by God and he would love me unconditionally.
I spent my nights in the quietness of my room, facing for the first time in my life this question of my sexuality. It was there, in the quietness of my bedroom that I lit a candle, turned the lights down low and began to read on the subject of homosexuality. Because I was still coming out of the church teachings on the subject, I began with a book called, “Washed and Waiting” by Wesley Hill. As I read his honest account of realizing he was gay, I had to put the book down because of the weight of all the years I had denied my sexuality. Just reading about his account as a gay Christian with a similar story as mine made me weep. As the book laid on my lap, memories began flooding my mind of being a little girl and having more feelings toward girls than boys. I was inundated with memories from age 5 and throughout my adolescence, where other girls were aware of boys and I couldn’t relate to them. I sat there in my bedroom, almost paralyzed, as these memories were unleashed.
I finished “Washed and Waiting” with one paramount question. How could God make me gay and then require me to remain celibate? How could this loving God that I had known and been taught to obey my whole life, create me to suffer by never being able to be in a loving relationship just because it would be with a woman? Why would God create me with such love and then expect me to never be in a relationship where I could give and receive love, like those in heterosexual relationships?
So, I furthered my learning by finding another book on the subject. “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines. In his book, Vines set out to answer questions that were also burning on my heart. How can celibacy be a calling when it is mandated for gays, not chosen? He spent 4 years researching the 6 verses in the Bible that speak about same-sex relations. He also tells of his own story of being gay and the road he and his family traveled in his discovery of reconciling his sexual orientation with what the Bible said.
It was there in the quietness of my room, where I created space to find out what I believed for myself, that I could finally acknowledge, God made me gay. He put this desire in me and after all these years of hearing it was sin, I no longer believed this was true. This Christian judgment no longer held any weight. I was still Jill and I loved God and he loved me.
Since this quiet time in my room, I have reread my journals over the past 20 years and recounted the type of relationship I longed for. For years I prayed for the perfect companion, attended seminars about healthy marriages and spent uncountable hours observing others within their relationships. All the while thinking about how I wanted to show up in my relationship.
The irony is, as I searched for a male companion within the church, I never dated during these 20 years. When I became honest with myself and my sexual orientation, my companion showed up within 2 years. A new, pure friendship that blossomed into an old-fashioned romance…just as I had been waiting for.
“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”