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Trying to live with two different sides to myself

Question:

Dear Trevor,

I have a problem that I thought I could deal with, but is rapidly spiraling out of control. I’ve been a Christian since I was 5 years old, and I believe wholeheartedly in the Christian values I was taught. I was raised in a Christian home with Christian parents, I go to church every week, faithfully attend Youth Group, and if you ask anybody I know they will tell you I am a model Christian man. However, starting a about 4 years ago, I started experiencing things that I was totally unprepared for. Long story short, over the past several years I have slowly come to the realization that I am gay. But I find that hard to accept, because the Bible clearly states in exceedingly obvious terms that homosexuality is not acceptable.

And here is where my dilemma becomes apparent. I feel like there are two parts of me fighting to control my body. The one part of me is okay with being gay, that it is possible to be both gay and a Christian. But the other side of me insists that it is impossible to be both. This side of me points out verses in the Bible like Leviticus 18:22 and others that state that it is “an abomination” to be a homosexual.

When I try to find resources to help me accept who I am and what I believe (like this one), there’s always a voice in me head that screams at me that it’s not good enough; that nothing I can ever do will ever make it right. Or that I’m only trying to trick myself into thinking it’s okay, when it’s not. Or that the resource that I’m using is giving me false information. Sometimes I think that homosexuality is a religion, and that gays are just trying to “recruit” as many people as they can. So then I accept that I can’t ever fall in love, that I can’t ever marry the person of my dreams. But then there’s another voice in my head, a different voice this time, whispering to me that why would God make me somebody that even He won’t accept? Does God really want me to live a life full of misery?

This is the struggle I deal with every day. I used to be able to compartmentalize it; but now the stress of trying to be two different people is overflowing and affecting other parts of my life. How do I deal with living up to two different standards? How do I try to please two totally different sides to myself?

Thank you.

 

Answer:

 

Dear Michael,

Thank you so much for writing us and sharing your story. Like you, many of us have followed a similar path: having grown up in a Christian home and reaching a point of investigation, a point of intensely studying both ourselves and scripture in order to find reconciliation and peace.

I first want to assure you that it is possible to be both a practicing Christian and a gay man. There are even many such men who I am thankful to know personally, men who are lights in this world – serving God to their fullest and either in loving, committed relationships or open to finding the right man for them. And there are many churches that are more affirming of LGBTQ individuals, including: Episcopal, Lutheran, Metropolitan Community Church, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, and United Church of Christ churches. To find a welcoming and affirming church near you, visit http://www.gaychurch.org/. Because even if you do not wish to worship within one of these communities, they could still provide helpful in-person resources and conversation. From a quick search, it appears that the First Christian Church there in Albany is open and affirming: http://www.fccalbany.com/, so that could be a good place to encounter people within your own area who are both Christian and gay. And remember that not every place will be a fit, so don’t be downtrodden or give up hope, but keep searching.

Apart from a community, something I would encourage you to explore further is the hermeneutic context of the verses that may appear to clearly classify homosexuality as an abomination. It’s true, there are many “hot” passages that mention same-sex activity, but it’s important to understand the era and time-and-place in which they were written and to ask questions. For example, were the relations depicted and referenced similar to the love-filled same-sex marriages that we have today? Is there a reason why any relationships not resulting in additional offspring for the Israelites would be looked down upon? Ask those questions and form your own opinions, not influenced by anyone but yourself and your own relationship with God. After all, truth has nothing to fear from investigation. There are numerous resources to help with this exploration, such as SoulForce, http://soulforce.com/, and the Gay Christian Network, http://www.gaychristian.net/, which even holds conferences and has a good amount of material available online.

To your question about how to live up to two different standards and how to please two totally different sides of yourself, I would say that you cannot. The reason is because you were given one life to live and while it will never be “easy” per se, I have complete faith that through further study, prayer, contemplation, and exploration that you will come to find a healthy, balanced space where you are comfortable, confident and loving who you are – in all aspects. You are here for a reason and I believe that through your own personal introspection, reflection, and revelation that you will in turn inspire and help others.

Throughout life, remember that the journey is the destination. You’ll always be learning, growing, and discovering new things. Also remember that it’s normal for life to become overwhelming and that if ever you need a person to talk to, a listening ear or someone to help you identify your next steps, we’re here for you 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. We also have a great online community within TrevorSpace, https://www.trevorspace.org/, where you can chat with other guys and girls just like you who are in similar situations and who have similar questions. Finally, we also have TrevorChat, where you can chat in real-time with a trained volunteer. So remember that we’re here and that we support you. We’re thrilled to know you are seeking to discover and get to know the full you.

The Trevor Team

Additional resources for exploration:
Documentaries:
For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)
Jesus Camp (2006)
Books:
“What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality,” Daniel Helminiak, 2000.
“The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” Peter Gomes, 1996.
“Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality, Revised and Expanded Edition: Explore the Myths, Heal the Church,” Jack Rogers, 2009.