We were having lunch together and I was praying like mad. My friend had been in a committed same-sex relationship for about 15 years.
He was interested in Jesus; attracted to his teaching and message. But he wanted to know what implications becoming a Christian might have on his practicing gay lifestyle.
I had explained, as carefully and graciously as I could, that Jesus upheld and expanded the wider biblical stance on sexuality: That the only context for sexual activity was heterosexual marriage. Following Jesus would mean seeking to live under his word, in this area as in any other.
He had been quiet for a moment, and then looked me in the eye and asked the billion-dollar question: ‘What could possibly be worth giving up my partner for?’
I held his gaze for a moment while my brain raced for the answer.
There was eternity, of course. There was heaven and hell. But I was conscious that these realities would seem other-worldly and intangible to him.
In any case, surely following Jesus is worth it even for this life. He was asking about life here-and-now, so I prayed for a here-and-now Bible verse to point to. I wanted him to know that following Jesus really is worth it—worth it in the life to come, but also worth it in this life now, no less so for those who have homosexual feelings.
Yes, there would be a host of hardships and difficulties: unfulfilled longings, the distress of unwanted temptation, the struggles of long-term singleness.
But I wanted him to know that following Jesus is more than worth it, even with all it entails for gay people.
And I also wanted to tell him that I had come to know this not just from studying the Bible and listening to others, but from my own personal experience.
Homosexuality is an issue I have battled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God’s good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh.
Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God’s grace, rather than less.