“Even when you are different… Jesus loves you.”
That was one of the special messages this past week at my church’s Vacation Bible School, and I immediately thought about my experiences with gender and sexuality in this life I’m living. I couldn’t help but agree that I’m a bit different.
There are several words that I could use in place of “different.” It’s a nice reminder and encouragement to know that regardless of the chosen word, the statement is still accurate. Jesus still loves no matter what.
It’s been particularly encouraging as I have reflected about sex and marriage here. I wrote recently about how I’m not waiting until marriage, and the question I was asked most often was this: why is marriage off the table?
Well, here’s a bit of the answer.
Up until this point, I’ve only considered marrying a woman. I don’t doubt that I could fall in love and be intimate with a man, but I do doubt that I could do so believing that it was God’s best for me. For a lot of reasons, I continue to regard marriage within the Christian context as a vocation and covenant between a husband and a wife. That’s something that I could discern and pursue if the right woman came along, and right there is the challenge.
It’s exceptional enough to meet someone and feel a mutual sense of authentic connection. It’s even more exceptional to do so with a woman that is NOT turned off by someone who is a bit “different” like I am.
I think one of the words I’ve decided to use is “queer.” It is not just different but also perplexing and odd and surprising and remarkable and complex. The term is general and specific, both clear and unclear—I think that’s true of my sexuality and sexuality as a whole. And though “queer” can be used pejoratively, I mean it rather neutrally. I love how fluid the term is; it places me somewhere (for those who disliked that I wasn’t identifying myself sexually) without keeping me there completely. It’s freeing to identify now and still know I am loved.
And it’s that same freedom of being different that also limits me. Perhaps I could have greater faith in spite of the messages I receive, but I have yet to meet a woman with whom I connect deeply that believes she could be with someone who isn’t straight. I don’t hold this against any of them, but it hasn’t built up my hope in my chances for marriage.
All of these doubts aside, I am grateful for what makes me different. I trust that Jesus loves me even when I am different, and there’s a sense of peace and purpose that comes as I accept that. I can possess my identity with regard to gender and sexuality as a gift; others may not see it that way, but that’s their problem, not mine. Interestingly enough, I’ve learned recently that the gifts that God gives us are not ours per se—they are given to us by God for others.
With that in mind, I’ve begun considering that the combination of what makes me “different” is a gift given to me by God for you. In theory, I oversee this gift of sorts that God has granted to me, and I’m challenged to steward it in such a way that you are encouraged and edified.
I’m still working through the practice of this new revelation, but it definitely tips the head on the popular notion that my sexuality is completely mine and centered on me. Rather than being about my pleasure and consumption, it becomes more about the benefit of others and the glory of God. I’ll see what this looks like in actual practice and report back to you when I see more fruit from this insight.
In closing, I’m not sure what makes you different or what you’ve experienced with regard to gender and sexuality. I imagine there can be a lot of shame around that stuff, but my hope is that, somewhere in all of it, you can take away that no matter how different you are, you are loved by Jesus, and that believing this can fundamentally make what seems quite queer and undesirable into a gift that is uncommonly capable of blessing others.
I think I can see that a little already through this space—believing in Jesus’ love leads me to tell my story. That seems to be helpful for some of you, and that’s pretty cool.
Love Love Love,