For a long time, I felt I had to choose. You could either be one or the other. The choice between meeting religious standards and staying true to one’s self could be a very tough one. I want to tell a story of how I came to accept who I am while trying to maintain a relationship with God who I strongly believe in.
I remember the day I told my Dad I wasn’t attracted to girls. Immediately, I was asked to go on my knees while he hurriedly went in search of his anointing oil. We were in his room for a long time while he bathed me in anointing oil and prayed frustratingly for the spirit of homosexuality to come out. Before this, I had spent a great deal of time praying and begging God to make me straight. I felt life would be so much easier if I was normal. Life would be better if I was straight. While my Dad prayed, I waited patiently for some tingling sensation or at least any feeling at all that something had left me. Nothing. Nothing happened.
After this, I felt so disconnected from God. At some point, I began to believe He didn’t exist. Reading the Bible, I had come to know Him as a prayer answering God. There are so many scriptures talking about how when I call he would answer but there was a jam in my signal. Its either I had a bad network or God wasn’t picking up. I think this was the beginning of my journey to the crossroads.
Religion itself has not made it easy for the gay man to want to keep the faith. Religion has made it that we carry around guilt for feelings we have no control over. Guilt has further developed into shame. You cannot express who you are in public. Even in the confines of your own room, you must be watchful because ‘the walls have ears’. Constantly hiding. Constantly checking. This is all because of religious prejudice and homophobia that is being passed down from almost everyone and most regrettably from the church. The church where you are supposed to draw strength and healing from has become a house of judgement and criticism.
I have listened to so many messages of hell and brimstone preached by many men of God. The summary of these messages being “God hates gays.” But does He? Does God hate anyone? The God who created man in his image and his likeness, can He hate his own creation? He looked at what he made and he saw that it was good. He looked at me and saw perfection. So why would the church look at me and see less? Many would argue that in the Bible, He speaks against homosexuality. The Bible speaks against so many things that people have considered normal today. Why are they considered normal? Because the world is constantly evolving and with its evolution comes the need for change. Why is this any different? But Alas, this is not the point.
In making my decision on which road to take in my quest for happiness with being gay on one side and being a Christian on the other, I discovered a third road. Combining both. I came across a group of people who made me understand the difference between Christianity as a religion and Christianity as a lifestyle. The religion aspect tells you that through the law you are made right with God. If you break this law you will die and go to hell but of course after extensive criticism and judgment from the law implementers who at the same time cannot obey all these laws. If you keep the law you are guaranteed heaven. Christianity as a lifestyle, on the other hand, teaches love the way Christ has loved you. Love recklessly. Love with abandon because Jesus loves you the way you are. I have felt that love. A love that is so profound and so deep and so wide that you can’t get around it and so high you can’t go above it. Love that is unbreakable and not dependent on the things you do but just is. Love that sees the good in you despite the flaws the world as accredited to your perfect nature. Once I experienced that love I understood that Heaven is not a destination but a state of mind.
With this came the understanding that I don’t have to choose. My walk with God is not affected by my sexual preferences. I don’t have to feel guilty anymore. I don’t need to ask Him to take it away because it is not a disease. It’s WHO I AM. I won’t be me without this. So, there’s no balance required because it’s no longer two halves but an entire whole. At this point came acceptance. So long I had battled with myself. “If only I could be straight” was the constant wish on my lips. I am free from that chain of thought now. I am free to enjoy who I am and who I am becoming in Christ.
My happiness no longer comes from people’s acceptance of me or their opinions about me. It comes from an undying stream of love that constantly reminds me that He’s moulding me into a masterpiece not for the eyes of the world but for Him. In my quest to find balance, I discovered myself.