“Aim at Heaven and you get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither.” — C.S. Lewis
The sound of the band next door filled the room. The small bar served cocktails named after different literary figures and the usual party drinks. All of Sydney’s literati, fine arts students, and writers were there. I remembered some of the faces from political meetings on campus. One of them was an artist I had dated who obligingly avoided eye contact. Everyone’s eccentric outfits blended with the music and people started dancing. This was Oxford Street, the central strip of the Sydney gay scene and I was at one of the alternative clubs. I used to carry a small journal with me for occasions like these. I would write a philosophical question in the journal and then pass it around to everyone to collect answers. I had my Charlie Chaplin pen ready for people to write responses. The question I had for tonight was, “what is love?” I passed out the journal to everyone. After dancing with my friend from university, I collected back my journal. I sat on one of the couches as I looked through the pages. I realised that no one had written an answer to the question that had any substance. Most were superficial or humorous answers. Some were philosophical and flowery. Something rose up in me like a cry of indignation at the world – in all our films, songs, and art, we wax on and on about love, but no one could define it. Love was a mere game of illusions in a reality of blind pitiless indifference. As I left the club, I felt the façade of secular ideals of love crack. I would not have said this at the time but I was searching for God and He was seeking me out. The answers the world provided didn’t satisfy any longer.
The journey to faith in Christ was a road studded with valleys and troughs. In the leafy Sydney suburbs where I attended a Church of England boys school, I awoke to the fact that I was attracted exclusively to men. I learnt the Bible and wrote my objections down in a private journal to the chaplain of the school. Most of them surrounded the issue of homosexuality. What I could not understand was why God would allow me to have a sexual orientation that I can’t change and punish me under His law. No one could give me a good answer to why I was gay and why it was wrong for me to love someone of the same-sex other than “God says so.” Paul says that the letter kills and the Spirit gives life. The letter certainly killed any faith I had. A Christian friend once said to me “David, you need to understand grace.” I remember that echoing in my mind but I was so angry I never really knew what grace meant.
My parents were agnostics who were hard-working and had upgraded to an upper middleclass lifestyle. Life was good but I was often depressed and lonely, surrounded by the boredom and beauty of the suburbs. When I came out at the age of 14, I decided to keep my distance from my aunt and my ‘fundamentalist’ relatives who seemed to intimate to me that homosexuality was simply a life style, a kind of demonic stronghold, due to sexual abuse or something that required prayer. This kind of rhetoric was so alien and strange as it didn’t speak to the reality of my struggle nor reveal grace to me. Instead, it drove me further away. This wasn’t about a lifestyle and some separate world far off but about the very desires of my heart.
At a certain point before I came out, I was interested in the figure of Christ and decided to ask my mother to drive me to a gay-affirming church on the other side of the city. I wore an amber cross for a time that an ex-boyfriend had given me who was Russian orthodox. After attending for some time, I sensed a lack of truth there and eventually stopped going. I abandoned any positive view of Christianity and as a spiritually hungry teenager, dabbled and experimented with all sorts of spirituality. I frequented new age bookstores around the city and one day I came across books on Wicca and felt drawn to become a witch. I tried to start a coven with my friends at school as I was desperate to find some universal power that loved me and Wicca allowed me to construct my own religion. I started visiting a psychic in the alternative suburbs of Sydney. This didn’t go entirely to plan, as she read my cards and looked at me and said, “You are a child of the light and you are destined to be with Jesus.” I was absolutely furious. I got other friends to go to her to see if she was some kind of undercover evangelist! Both times, she didn’t mention God or Jesus. God had always been pursuing me, even when I was directly rejecting Him.
I remember reading the passages in Scripture about it and assuming that I just didn’t qualify for God. My head was crowded by thoughts of condemnation and the Law. Over years, I overcame the huge mountain of self-rejection and learnt to accept my desires for men with the resolute conclusion that Christianity was false. The late Henri Nouwen, the Priceton Theologian,wrestled with same-sex attraction his whole life and came to realize that:
“The greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice of Jesus who calls us the ‘Beloved.’”
I resisted this voice and instead internalised anger toward the Christian world in which I was brought up. Alienated from my Christian conservative school culture, I internalised self-rejection and developed an activist’s mindset. I desperately wanted to change the world around me for others, especially fight for the rights of gay people. I wanted to stop this future suffering – to make it easier in the future for others like myself. I came out at school as a sign of bravery for others suffering with these attractions.
When we moved to our house closer to the Harbour, I would often look out over our new view wishing I could escape to other parts of the city where culture had the libertine sophistication I craved. Little did I know I was chasing a ghost that would never fulfil me, a darkness that masqueraded as an angel of light. As Blaise Pascal says “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us in our miseries and yet is in itself the greatest of our misteries.” If it were Rome, I would have worshipped at the altar of Aphrodite or Eros or Israel, Baal and Ashtoreth. The predominant message around me was that Eros love was the highest of the loves and how dare those pious Christians deprive me of the highest form of transcendence possible. Agape love was a saccharine dream, not the love on the cross.
The war of the loves truly began when I found out that my mother became a Christian at my uncle and aunt’s church. I didn’t exactly have a very gracious reaction to this news. “You must choose between me or the God that hates me,” I said. At this point I had rejected all my spiritual searching in Buddhism and the new age and had committed to a strictly existentialist atheist worldview.
At University, I threw myself into political and creative clubs and joined the Queer Collective and political clubs. I remember when flyering for these clubs, I would rip down the Christian club’s posters and stick queer collective posters over the top. My nose would go up when I saw Christians handing out free food on campus. Everything about them made my skin crawl with their constant and limp effort to ‘indoctrinate me with their deluded notion of living forever with a first century Jewish carpenter.’
When I was 19, I became very close to a friend of mine Michael at university and his boyfriend, Samuel. On a holiday away in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, I soon found myself in a love triangle with a plotline much like a European film. I was so hungry for intimacy that my conscience wasn’t strong enough to stop me from reciprocating Samuel’s feelings. The inclinations of my heart trumped any kind of ethical resistance. Samuel had shown his new fashion collection. He revealed to me that it was inspired from one of my poems from my major project at university. The collection was the most beautiful thing that anyone had ever made for me. “David, you are the most fascinating person I’ve ever met… I made this collection for you.” I felt my heart drop deep in my chest. After returning to Sydney, I gave in and went to see Samuel. The film we chose to watch was Vicky Christina Barcelona. The plotline and premise centred on a love triangle and Woody Allen’s usual motif of abandoning yourself to romantic love. After that night, I felt dead inside and made a resolution to stay single for a year. I felt like David in his situation with Bethsheba – the fatal repercussion of the sin of reciprocating and acting on Samuel’s feelings was the death of my very close friendship with Michael. I had become the clichéd secular hypocrite. My broken morality and evil heart trumped the ‘rational’ ethics I was told would save me.
The God who is Agape
Three months later, at Christmas time, the question of God was far from me but as with family occasions, the topic of religion came up. I felt a sudden surge of anger at my Christian uncle. “There is no absolute truth!” I proclaimed over the family Christmas table towards him. “To say there is no absolute truth is an absolute truth,” my uncle retorted softly. “The truth is a person I know, not a static concept in my head.” My postmodern worldview was disarmed. I left the room. I didn’t know it at the time but very unusually, my uncle prophesied to my aunt that Jesus would save me in three months time and that I would be filled with the Holy Spirit. My uncle wasn’t one to prophesy. My aunt was the ‘spiritual’ one in the family. My uncle, aunt and mother all went to the same church and committed to praying into the prophecy. I was entirely unaware of this happening but God over the next three months started to draw me to Himself.
In March, three months later, I found myself in a cab on the way to different parties in the city. As one of the editors of the university magazine, I wanted to interview a young filmmaker and alumna from my university who was a finalist in Tropfest, the largest shortfilm competition in the world based in Sydney. As we got into conversation, I asked her,
“How did you become a finalist in Tropfest at such a young age? What was the inspiration for your film?”
“Do you want the real answer or the interview answer?” she said, smiling at me. She knew I wanted an interview.
“The real answer – who wants the interview answer?”
“God led me to make this film – His dream for my life led me to work with handicapped people. He gave me a special gift to direct handicapped people on film,” she said.
There was something incredibly authentic, a life that emanated out of her. She wasn’t like the other Christians I’d met who I generally found annoying. Her success spoke to me because it essentially wasn’t about her unlike many of those in the industry I’d met. My uncle was handicapped and I deeply valued her work.
“Do you think there’s a God?” she said, piercingly.
“Well, yes. I think you have to be pretty blind to believe there’s absolutely nothing out there. I just don’t like organised religion.”
She then asked me whether I had an issue with Jesus.
I replied, “I’m homosexual so I know that God simply isn’t there for me… I don’t understand how He could allow me to have desires that are clearly condemned.”
At this point I was expecting her to quibble or hesitate but instead, she replied with a profound grace and understanding.
“Have you experienced the love of God?”
This question hit me suddenly. I didn’t know you could experience God. All my church experiences had been of a dry, doctrinal, empty reality, singing songs no one believed in and I had never been told about the Holy Spirit. She suddenly remarked that she could feel the presence of God and that she absolutely had to pray for me, God’s love burning in her. She offered me prayer. This was like a crossroads and there was a war over which direction I should take.
I suddenly went into an eternal moment where time and the whole world stopped around me and the bustle of the pub blurred.
“You’re a good agnostic – you have to be open to prayer because it’s intellectually honest…” I thought to myself.
“Yes, you can pray for me but I don’t think anything is going to happen,” I said.
She launched into fervent prayer, laying her hands on me. As she prayed, I felt an incredible sensation on the top of my head, a soft tingling that intensified. The sensation was like someone pouring a vile of oil over my head. This power ran all over my body and then surged through my legs and arms and the hair on my arms stood up. I was completely shocked and overcome with awe. God was real and that changed everything.
I started to weep and I heard a voice coming from outside myself say “Do you want me?” Three times I heard the voice and on the third time I said a very weak “yes.” This question was said in a way that completely understood my desires and was exactly what I needed to hear.
At this point I saw a veil over my heart and saw a lazer-like ray of light pierce straight through it. I felt a place open inside of me that was right at the core of my being. Then, like a breath entering me, I could feel this new life in my soul. It was as if I could breathe anew. I was born again. At this point, I heard the Father’s voice ask me “Will you accept my Son Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?” There was something like a tug of war happening over my soul as I considered the question. I could feel myself being pulled and I said “yes.” The Holy Spirit poured out His love in my heart and I was overcome with what I can only describe as arbitary tears. This time I felt His power like a heat in my body. I had become a Christian. My mind struggled to process what had happened.
When I arrived home that night, my mother was awake and I told her that I had become a Christian through the prayer of someone at the pub. She leaped from the couch and started shouting praises to God. “I knew He was the God of the impossible!” She explained the prophecy my uncle had given three months later and that my aunt and my uncle had all been waiting for this. “David, I had prayed that if God saved you, I would know that He was the God of the impossible…” she said, wiping tears from her eyes. For my mother and I this was an incredible moment of joy and intimacy.
Throughout the following weeks, I struggled to understand what had happened but during my whole walk with Christ I have had many incredible experiences of God that have all confirmed the Scriptures. The Bible was a book I didn’t trust, a book that condemned me but as God gave me glorious experiences of His grace and truth, I came to trust it as God’s infallible word; the guide and authority for my faith. When I came into church and started worshipping, I would have visions and would often feel God impress things upon me. Healing tears would roll off my face. One night as I had strong sensation like water washing through my soul, which I later discovered was described by Jesus in John 7:38. I still wrestled with the Bible, particularly Paul’s Epistles, and struggled to not see him as sexist and anti-gay but through these experiences opened myself up to God’s Word . Theological patience came and my relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit grew.
Three weeks after the pub moment, I was at Tropfest, and the filmmaker’s entry came up on the screen. As I watched, I looked up to a particular star and prayed to God, “If you’re real, I need you to show me that you exist… If I’m to give it all up, I need you to show me you exist.” The filmmaker’s short had won the whole competition and I ran down to the red carpet to get an interview with her for the university magazine. I saw her on the red carpet, surrounded by the Australian acting establishment and I called out to her. She turned around and came running over to me with her pineapple trophy in her hand. “David – this trophy is for God. I am just His servant! Tonight God has been prompting me to tell you that He exists… He knows that you really need to know that He exists!”
I walked out from Tropfest floating. As I passed back on the train over the Harbour bridge I was filled with the most incredible joy. Jesus had answered my prayer directly after I’d prayed it. I peered over the new horizon and gave myself to God.
That Sunday I met her for an interview and I attended her Sunday church. I soon found out she had been attending a different campus of my aunt, uncle and mother’s church. As I entered the church I felt this overwhelming sense of God’s presence. I spent the next 6 months weeping in church services and as the music played, lifting my hands in true worship to God. I struggled to deal with a church culture that didn’t really understand me or appreciate me. My whole story was littered with undeniable coincidences and God’s confirmation that this is where I was meant to be. I had met the love I had been searching for all through my life and that meant I could overcome any of the offences and alienation church sometimes threw my way.
A Living Sacrifice
As I grew as a disciple, I started attending bible studies at the Christian groups that affirmed homosexuality at university. As I told them about all the experiences I had of God, they responded with lukewarm enthusiasm but loved the fact I was homosexual and had been so impacted by God. I came to a point where I had to leave those churches as I realised they lacked the fear or awe-inspired respect for God. For the first three years of my faith I fought within over what I believed about homosexuality. I felt God just wanted me to practise His royal law: to love Him and neighbour, and to this day, whilst I hold my views firmly, this remains my main goal.
One Sunday, my aunt turned to me and said “David, you know, I’m not gay or same-sex attracted… I have no idea what that’s like. All I want is for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit as He can teach you things I will never be able to. I only know what the Bible says but you need to know that for yourself. I am here to support you. I am here to lead you to Him. Whatever you decide, I will be here for you.” I felt so freed by my aunt’s words. Nothing was held over me. I was given the most hospitable embrace and our relationship was reconciled. She discipled me, loved me and taught me some of the most profound things I know of God.
I came to discover that Christianity wasn’t about living by the Law but in the new way of grace and the Spirit. I came to realise that my right standing before God was entirely dependent on Jesus’ death on my behalf and His work within me. I discovered the radical freedom of the Gospel and suddenly I grew a deep desire to give my whole life over to God. I wanted to live a life of worship and glory but I didn’t want to lose my sexuality either – eros love, I was taught from the youngest of ages was the most precious of idols.
In my final year of undergraduate studies, I had opted to live and study in France to finish my French studies major. When I moved there, I was stripped of all Christian fellowship and I couldn’t find a healthy Spirit-filled church. I was starving for intimacy with others and God wouldn’t take that need away. One night I cried out to Him for an answer on the issue of homosexuality. In the past I had a dream to live in France and find a partner and move there – I would watch the film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain, over and over, which was all about the protagonist, Amelie’s search for love. Eros love was trying to reclaim its place in my life. God had told me He wanted to transform this dream into something else and that I should still go to France. As I sat there on the bed praying to Him for an answer on the issue, he said, “I am sending you a birthday present.”
On my birthday weeks later I received only one parcel in the post. It was a book on homosexuality by Wesley Hill Washed and Waiting: Reflections on homosexuality and Christian faithfulness. It was the most honest account of the struggle I had ever read and I felt God’s presence wash over me as I read the book. As I finished the book I looked up at God, “What are you saying, Lord?” I said.
I felt God saying that I needed to give the identity I had made out my homosexuality to Him.
“You can have anything you want of me – you bought my body, all I am on the cross.”
As I said this, I felt the Holy Spirit come on me and felt the resurrection power of God fill me completely as I gave over my sexuality to God. The power filled my whole body and was one of the most natural things. I had experienced this power before but never to such an extent. After this, things changed but there were still challenges to God’s work in me.
Today, I am still attracted to men. I however have this grace that allowed me to surrender my life more fully to God. As Paul intimates in the Epistle of 1 and 2 Corinthians, there is a link between our sexual sin and the Resurrection. He was the One I worshipped, not eros, not my sexuality. You only know this when you truly give up your idols. The war of loves was won.
I remember at the age of fifteen sitting in Christ Church Meadow, Oxford. I was with my mother’s colleague who had let me come and stay in order to see England. My mother’s colleague turned out to be a passionate New Atheist and uncannily bought me a copy of The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. This was the seed that gave rise to my once strongly atheist/agnostic beliefs. As I looked up at the edifice of Christ Church College from the football pitches, I whispered to myself, “I will never study here.” It wasn’t until 10 years later, sitting in exactly the same spot, having been accepted to study at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics with RZIM and at the University of Oxford that I remembered what I had said. God had completely done the opposite to what I said. God reminded me that He had removed my old self and that I was a new creation. His plan had always been good for me, but I didn’t know His heart.
For the first three years of my walk with Christ I did not believe that there was anything wrong with me seeking a monogamous, faithful same-sex relationship that would eventually lead to marriage. When we talk about such issues, deep-seated desires, ideals and dreams hang on what we believe to be morally true about homosexuality. This is not a flippant or trivial issue and we cannot afford to keep our heads in the sand and not face these questions. People’s life choices and discipleship depend on them. When we discuss this topic we must do it respectfully, gently and sensitively to those who have often suffered and gone through profound pain, rejection and often very real forms of discrimination and pain. As I share in this article, I know not everyone will agree with me and I want to make it plain that these are my views, which come from a very long and profound search for God’s word on this issue. I pray that God would allow listening ears and that ultimately, He would be revealed through this article.
As God walked me through my anger and healed the pain of rejection I had felt for my sexual orientation, I built enough trust to let God be holy; to be utterly different to me. I stopped clinging to arguments to justify my sexual desires as right and was able to really weigh my belief that homosexuality was a subaltern but accepted form of sexual expression within the bounds of marriage. As I allowed God to really speak to me, I came to the realisation that homosexuality was essentially not about my desires. I realised that sexuality involved something much more important: God’s own image in His creation, as well as His Kingdom coming to Earth in our embodied and sexual lives.
When Jesus talked about marriage, He did so in the context of Genesis 1 & 2 and a Jewish understanding of sexuality being rooted in the expression of the Imago Dei. For Jesus, it was assumed in the Law that homosexual expression was a sin and a moral offence, not just a purity infringement like eating shellfish or pork, which were atoned by a sacrifice at the Temple. The purity laws like these were repealed in the New Testament but at the Jerusalem council, sexual offenses from the Law remained a guide for the early church and sexual immorality, including homosexual sex was to be avoided. For Jesus, similarly divorce can directly mar the Image of God in humanity, the very expression of God’s glory between a covenanted man and woman. As I grew in Christ, I suddenly had a profound desire to worship God with all of myself and to allow God to be who He truly was. I came to ‘fear’ God and rever Him. This holy desire arose in me to cherish God’s glory. I realised I could not love God if I was doing something that directly marred and contradicted His Image and glory in Genesis 1 where he created them male and female. I realised that this unity within diversity of a male-female marriage covenant was an incarnation of God’s own triune unity within diversity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I realised that even the physical differences of the genders mattered in imaging this unity within diversity as they differed but became one in the consummation of a marital covenant between a man and a woman.
On a mission earlier this year, I decided to attend a multifaith discussion on same-sex marriage. I met a gay rights activist that reminded me so much of myself before meeting Christ. As we discussed the issue and I presented my view of why I saw homosexuality as a sin, and talked about the beauty of God’s glory and Image in humanity, he spoke in response and said “I suppose sex does get a bit old after a while.” My response was gentle but revealing. “Worship doesn’t,” I said. He seemed to nod in agreement and understood that I had found a higher form of transcendence that made it feasible, if not joyous, to live without the transcendence of eros love. For a moment something clicked in the room, and people realised my point. The worship of God is the most sublime and beautiful thing, and part of that is sacrificing whatever does not express His Image in humanity. This involves so much more than sexuality but sexuality lies right at the root of it. Worship is the end point of grace, the central activity of Heaven and the fulfilment of God’s saving action.
Many of the gay Christians who are advocates for this view, like I once was, are sincerely fighting in their minds for a place in the Church to express their desires in a holy way. However, are they allowing God to be holy? They argue from negative Biblical grounds such as ‘the Levitical code no longer indicates what is sinful to New Testament believers’, ‘Jesus never mentioned homosexuality’ or ‘Paul did not have a modern, enlightened view of sexuality that was equivalent to ours today’ or ‘In Romans 1, Paul was clearly talking in the context of Pagan temple worship, not a committed, long-term homosexual marriage.’ Yet the Bible remains resolutely silent on any positive case of same-sex congenital expression putting such a view at a massive disadvantage. NT Wright, one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars states that:
“There are no surprises on this in the Bible. For Jews, homosexual behaviour wasn’t an issue, except as part of a larger whole to which Jesus refers in traditional biblical terms. For non-Jews, such as those addressed by Paul, it was an obvious issue, since every possible kind of sexual expression was well known in cities like Corinth and Rome (there is a popular belief just now that the ancients didn’t know about lifelong same-sex relationships, but this is easily refuted by the evidence both literary and archaeological).
The danger then is that we think of things in this area as ‘rules’; for the Jew, it was a matter of living in accordance with the covenant, which was the means of God rescuing creation from the mess into which it had fallen. For Paul, it was a matter of living in accordance with the covenant that had been renewed in and through the death and resurrection of Jesus, through which God had launched his project of new creation. People often suggest that since Paul believed in grace, not law, all the old rules were swept away in a new era of ‘tolerance’, but this is a shallow and trivial view. Paul (and all early Christians known to us, right through the centuries) stuck with the Jewish view: no worship of idols, no sex outside marriage.” — NT Wright 
Celibacy and Marriage
I am often reminded that we live in a culture today that aims entirely at Earth. Naturalists believe in a closed system, which cloisters us from the power, majesty and grace of the Almighty God. Perhaps the greatest concern on most people’s minds, without Heavenly intervention, is romantic love. In fact, in many evangelical churches, when an engagement or wedding is mentioned or announced in the congregation there is often a greater enthusiasm than when God Himself is worshipped. Whilst biblical marriage is a beautiful expression of love that glorifies God, Wesley Hill who is a celibate gay Christian and Theologian says that “the New Testament views the church -rather than marriage- as the primary place where human love is best expressed and experienced.” For C.S. Lewis it was not the loves in of themselves that were bad, whether Eros or Storge, but the order in which they were placed.
God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape. We can thus see how the reception of the Song of Songs in the canon of sacred Scripture was soon explained by the idea that these love songs ultimately describe God’s relation to man and man’s relation to God. Thus the Song of Songs became, both in Christian and Jewish literature, a source of mystical knowledge and experience, an expression of the essence of biblical faith: that man can indeed enter into union with God—his primordial aspiration. — Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI
We need to see this synthesis where agape love sanctifies our erotic desires turning them toward the worship of God and the furtherance of the Kingdom and Gospel of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, the gay catholic writer Andrew Sullivan who himself is an activist on many LGBT issues also believes that “we live in a world, in fact, in which respect and support for ero shas acquired the hallmarks of a cult.” In his book, Love Undetected, he states:
The great modern enemy of friendship has turned out to be love. By love, I don’t mean the principle of giving and mutual regard that lies at the heart of friendship [but] love in the banal, ubiquitous, compelling, and resilient modern meaning of love: the romantic love that obliterates all other goods, the love to which every life must apparently lead, the love that is consummated in sex and celebrated in every particle of our popular culture, the love that is institutionalized in marriage and instilled as a primary and ultimate good in every Western child. I mean eros, which is more than sex but is bound up with sex. I mean the longing for union with another being, the sense that such a union resolves the essential quandary of human existence, the belief that only such a union can abate the loneliness that seems to come with being human, and deter the march of time that threatens to trivialize our very existence.
What we must realise is that those who define themselves by their erotic longings are seeking the transcendence of union with God but have sought to fulfil this in eros love. We see this much broader problem everywhere in our culture. As Christians, the marriage and romance we celebrate in all states is the marriage of Heaven and Earth; Christ and the Church. Often when we as Christians focus on outlining sin and morality to our world, we miss the communication the solution: a higher form of transcendence, God’s love in Jesus Christ. In effect, we may sometimes be dangerously putting people under the Law and increasing their sense of condemnation, not conviction, before they’ve had the chance to know God’s grace.
We forget that above and beyond morality, it is really only God’s love through the grace of Jesus Christ that can save us and fulfil this void. When we appear to be saying to the gay community, “you can’t have God, and you can’t have marriage”, do we realise that in their mind they see us as trying to deprive them of the highest or most ultimate forms of transcendence in life? We need courageous saints to shift the sexual culture of the Church to return to the New Testament view of a community that has everything in common. We need to model a positive moral vision where all people, LGBT[QI] people included, can find their true life and identity in Christ without compromising sexual holiness.
Matthew Vines, one of the founders of the Reformation Project that seeks to promote the affirmation of same-sex relationships in the Church states that “Christians throughout history have affirmed that lifelong celibacy is a spiritual gift and calling, not a path that should be forced upon someone.” I would go further to stay that for Christians, celibacy was the default gift from God, not a special charism for a select few. In fact, celibacy is a sign of Heaven itself where our sexual desires will be fully fulfilled by the love of God and neighbour. In Isaiah 56, the prophet receives a word about the future acceptance of people whose sexual orientation or gendered state is different. Do we see the radical nature of Isaiah’s revelation in a society that saw eunuchs or ‘same-sex attracted people’, like Gentiles as unable to enter God’s holy presence in the Temple. Ultimately, this New Covenant promise was fulfilled in both Jesus and the Apostle Paul who were unusually celibate in a Jewish society that highly valued marriage:
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
In the New Testament, the celibate life is a most blessed state and in Paul’s ministry and the book of Revelation, those who decide to remain celibate are seen as the firstfruits of Christ’s saving work: “[those who remained celibate] follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.” We need in the Church to return to the foundational truth that the celibate state is of paramount good and that we are given a “name” or “progeny” that is superior to even having a physical family. The issue of sexuality is more about God’s will for our lives than whether or not we marry. This is good news for our eros-worshipping culture and was good news for me.
Reaching our world
One of the ways we as the evangelical church can regain the hope of the Gospel for homosexual people is to remember past stories of those used by God in amazing ways. One such story is the Hippy preacher, Lonnie Frisbee who was a founder of both Calvary Chapel and Vineyard church movements. Whilst he was far from perfect and was tempted to live a double life in the gay world, his ministry was abundantly fruitful. Lonnie encountered Jesus Christ during a drug-inspired spiritual search for meaning in a valley in California. During his search he said, “God if you’re really real, reveal yourself to me.” Jesus appeared to Lonnie and he was baptised in the Holy Spirit and sent to the Hippy generation. Through his preaching of repentance and baptism, he saw the salvation of 100,000s of the baby boomer generation. Lonnie today is largely remembered as one of the main catalysts for the establishment of the Jesus Movement. During his years of success in ministry, Lonnie secretly struggled with his attraction to men and eventually Lonnie contracted HIV/AIDS. According to the maker of the documentary about his life, David Di Sabitina, Lonnie’s early testimony “was that he had come out of the homosexual ‘lifestyle’, but he felt like a leper because a lot of people turned away from him after that, so he took it out of his testimony—and I think that’s an indictment of the church.”
We see in the figure of Lonnie the need to understand this issue on a more profound level for the Church. This was exemplified three months before Lonnie’s death when a nurse arrived at John Wimber’s door after God had told her to give him three months to help him with something. A few days later, John received a phone call from a hospital where Lonnie was being cared for in the last three months of his life. Lonnie had asked if John could care for him as he died. John took Lonnie in and the nurse helped him until his dying days and their relationship was reconciled. I believe this is a prophetic picture of the future days of the true Church of Jesus Christ. We are meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus loving those who are spiritually or otherwise facing death and starving for intimacy and understanding. God wants to welcome in his prodigal sons and daughters and wants elder brothers and sisters to repent and love them. We are meant to be there for the LGBT[QI] community.
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis says, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” The only problem is that if you’re a naturalist, there is no other world and the most ultimate source of transcendence is romantic love. Right now we are seeing a war over which love is truly ultimate: Eros or Agape? Can a homosexual person really live and flourish without Eros love? If I had not found agape love of God I could not have given up the lesser good and god of this age, romantic love. As per Augustine of Hippo, the real problem is that the heart is restless until it rests in God. The marriage debate aside, we all need to know the agape love of God.
When people ask me whether homosexuality is a sin I point them to a greater sin; refusing to share or receive the love of God. Like that girl in the pub, I am praying for more Christians to step out to share this love and refrain from hanging the morality of law over people’s heads. Gay rights activist or not, when agape love wins the war, we find the permission to repent from sin and death and live – the very good news of Jesus Christ. Nothing is more transcendent or ultimate than the God who is Agape Love and for whom everything is worth giving up.
Without my sister, that young filmmaker, full of the love, power and compassion of Jesus Christ, I would not have been reached. We are here to show people Jesus in this world and the way of rescue from the condemnation of false religion, Law and death. As I’ve shared my story I hope it is capable of one particular thing; to motivate, equip and encourage you to reach your LGBTQI neighbours with the love of Christ and to live a life of costly worship to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 For the sake of the story I have used different names.
 Isaiah 56:4-5
 Revelation 14:4
 Chattaway, Peter. “Documentary of a Hippie Preacher”. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved May 17, 2007.