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.