Christians who experience same-sex attraction have a tendency to focus on what they’re giving up — marriage, sex, and various other pleasures. I know because I’ve been there. We can start to believe the single, celibate life is a constant journey of saying “no.”
It’s true that all Christians — not just those who experience SSA — are called to deny that which God forbids, but this is never at the expense of happiness. I’ll say it again: This is NEVER at the expense of happiness. Randy Alcorn says,
We need to say no to things that cause harm…but the solution is never to say no to happiness. What we should say no to are false notions of happiness — but this is not saying no to happiness; in fact, it requires saying yes to true happiness.
Christianity is not a religion of “no.” Because when we say no to sin, we’re ALWAYS saying yes to something better. When we say no to pride, we’re saying yes to humility. When we say no to coveting, we’re saying yes to contentment. When we say no to idolatry, we’re saying yes to God’s beauty and worth and preeminence.
But what about Christians, like me, who say no to homosexual desires? Those who choose celibacy, even when loved ones tell us we’re losing out on companionship, fulfillment, and the very thing everyone is searching for — happiness? What are we saying yes to?
• Yes to the superior pleasure of loving and obeying God
• Yes to holiness
• Yes to being conformed to Christ’s image
• Yes to marriage as God designed it
• Yes to the blessings of singleness
• Yes to treasures in heaven
• Yes to eternal happiness in God’s presence
That’s just the theological stuff. I’m also saying yes to everyday joys: playtime with my niece, hikes in the mountains, game nights with friends, road trips with family, late-night talks about God and love and mysteries with my fellow night owls. When we walk with God, we experience both pleasures now and “pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Saying no to marrying a man seems a very small sacrifice indeed when I focus on the thousands of happy alternatives God gives me to enjoy in this life — and even greater joys in the next.
Perhaps this all sounds very “Pollyanna.” Trust me, nobody who knows me in real life would call me that. I’m a Christian realist. I’m well aware of everything I’m giving up to follow God’s will for sexuality (and if I ever forget, the world is quick to remind me). But my desire to love and obey God compels me to say yes to greater pleasures. Sometimes it’s a tenuous yes. Sometimes it’s a trembling yes. Sometimes it’s a choked-up yes, forced out only by the grace of God and the hope of future joy. I’m human. It happens.
But I know I’m saying yes to more than I can begin to understand — to this mysterious thing we call “God’s glory” and to everything he’s working together for my happiness because I belong to him and I’m part of his story. I said yes when God called me into his kingdom, and I’ll say yes until he calls me home.
This is so encouraging just for every area of life. Thank you for your transparency Bryan! What a blessing today.
I admire your courage Bryan. Taking on the giants of our times with total reliance upon , and confidence in, the One True God. I pray you’ll continue to stay strong, standing firm against the mockers and the nay sayers with the brave determination of young David.
Thanks Bryan for reminding me that there are times when, as Christians, we feel that we are “giving up” something when we choose to follow Christ in obedience. The truth is that there is no “true” joy apart from a life of obedience. The one lesson I’ve learned is that you’ll never satisfy the flesh! So if satisfying the flesh is your pursuit in life you’ll live a life of disappointment. I choose to say “Yes” relying on the strength I have in Christ for the victory!
Man – this rings so true for me! Even as a strong Christian, I find myself becoming weary at saying no to sin…(when I manage it) … and feeling deprived. Or WORSE, feeling prideful for saying no to sin. This is a much more holy, and productive mindset and I intend to change my mindset starting now. Saying no to something doesn’t end with sacrifice. It’s saying yes to something Greater! Thank you for this post. It’s my fave so far.
I love you Bryan! Your faith in Jesus and your willingness to live your life to please Him is a beautiful testament to so many especially me! Thank you!
More great writing from you. Love the perspective – looking forward to more articles!