If you have had a relationship with Jesus Christ for very long, you know that you can’t just push Him out of your mind indefinitely. I couldn’t! All the joyful memories of God’s goodness and Jesus Christ’s love for me kept returning to mind.

When I was about 13, I had a public school teacher who was unashamedly Christian. I found myself talking with her after class often. Mrs. S. could see that I was raised in a Christian environment but was experiencing a painful internal struggle, though I don’t believe she ever realized it was connected with gay attractions. She kept urging me to pray and read the Bible.

Thinking about prayer and the Bible brought back even more positive feelings. I just could not escape my emotionally charged recollections of my grandmother sincerely singing that Jesus satisfied her desires like nothing else or memories of my father’s answered prayer. It was clear to me that if I wanted to walk away from Christianity, I would be walking away from something very real, powerful, and deeply satisfying.
I knew I had to carefully consider leaving Jesus and not just push it out of my mind.

After much reading, prayer, and listening to recorded sermons, I saw I was faced with a stark choice: it was gay sex or Jesus Christ, a relationship with one or the other, but not both. Jesus was literally asking me to give up the most important thing in the world to me — that is, to give up all hope of a sexual relationship with another guy!

Remember, this hope of future sexual pleasure was what first kept me from suicidal thoughts. And yet I just couldn’t deny that my spiritual experiences as a Christian had been pretty good.

But were they better than sex? At this point, God had opened my eyes. If God could take care of me in all the ways He had already done, couldn’t He save me from the current “hell” of bullies? Wasn’t the future “heaven” of a gay relationship with a flawed man actually a fake substitute for the real heaven of a living, joyful, powerful relationship with God?

I don’t know how to put this defining moment in my life adequately into words, but after looking at both ways I could go — gay sex or Jesus Christ — I knew which way I gladly wanted to go. And I knew that God himself would be with me, helping me as I walked that way.

Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV) reads:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

With joy I chose to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus — to lose my gay life so that I would find a real life in Christ! I could drop what I believed to be the temporary, destructive pleasure of gay sex to have the perfect eternal joy of God’s fellowship!

Dropping a lesser pleasure is no problem when you replace it with a better one!

I have no regrets, and I have never turned back even though I have been weak and tempted more often than I care to admit. My choice was a permanently life-altering one that God enabled me to make.
And He keeps enabling me to make it as He walks with me every day!

Have you ever joyfully given up something very important to you because you believed it was incompatible with being a Christian? Have you struggled to give something up for Jesus? What enables you or hinders you from doing that?

* Photo courtesy Greg Khng, Creative Commons.

  • Wow, Marshall! You are an amazing man to have made such a decision and to live by it. I really admire you, and you’re also single too, if I remember correctly, so don’t even have the outlet of marriage to a woman to comfort you. I don’t think I would be able to do what you have done, as my resolve would not be strong enough so I would not be able to resist temptation, and nor would my faith be strong enough to rest and rely on Jesus to see me through the times of temptation.

    • Thanks for expressing that respect for me Jeremy! I do want to clarify one thing, own resolve alone would not be enough to resist temptation either. The ability to follow God’s command and abstain from gay sex comes from the joy of God being present with me. I can drop a lesser pleasure when I have a greater one! A relationship with Jesus Christ really is better than all pleasure. It also helps that God has given me Christian friends who love me and are sharing in close fellowship as I walk this path.

      • I find that hard, because I do have a relationship with Jesus, my Lord, but I have not found that was enough to keep me from desiring and seeking a relationship with a man. By implication, your certainty in your life has the tendency to condemn me in mine, and accuse me of not making Jesus enough or sufficient, and that is not easy to accept. I respect your choices, but like Stephen I do think that your way is not the only way and I do think our Lord deals very differently, but no less lovingly, with each of us. Your blog does not make this at all clear but implies that your way is the only true way.

        • Jeremy, I am just sharing my own life and views. It is up to you and other readers to decide how you will live your own lives. I just want others to know that I have found real joy in being with God and without sex. Celibacy does not equal misery!

  • Marshall, thank you so much for sharing this piece. I respect that this is where faithfulness to Jesus has led you.
    With all humility, I also thought I would share some thoughts. Perhaps, for you, it truly was about choosing between gay sex and Jesus. However, for many of us, sex is a very small part of a much larger ecosystem of love in gay relationships. When many of us yearn for gay relationships, it isn’t just the sex, but the whole complex mystery of relationship. For me, it is less about sex and more about family, connection, partnership, mystical union, being a team. Sex is important, but plays just a part in the whole.
    I wonder if many people reading this won’t see this as reductionist or even dehumanizing. Reducing the drive for a marriage or partnership to the need for sex can be very hurtful. For many, it isn’t a choice between Jesus and sex, but a choice between Jesus and family, partnership, kinship, and the stability of marriage (especially for those of us who do not see heterosexual partnership as an option.) My partner and I have a wonderful sexual relationship, but if the sex were to vanish we would still be committed to each other, because we weren’t there for the sex in the first place, awesome though it may be. We comitted ourselves to each other, first and foremost, because we love each other.
    The reduction of gay relationships, and gay yearnings to sex, and then making the choice a simple dichotomy between sex or Jesus, while it works for some, does not really reflect the desires, longings and relationships of a complex humanity. Don’t misunderstand me – I believe you when you say it was that way for you, but also wanted to point out how others (those for whom the choice isn’t so simple, and others who are in a gay relationship) might hear it.
    Peace be with you,
    Stephen
    sbradfordlong.com

    • Stephen, thanks for being so respectful and considerate in the way you presented your views! I don’t want to argue either, just share what I have experienced myself.
      Although I do not believe that gay sex has a place in the life of a Christian, I DO believe in close, committed, loving friendships. They make an enormous difference in not only the emotional fulfillment in my life, but also in my motivation to accomplish worthwhile goals. I believe I can have these kinds of deep friendships without sex. There are men with whom I have had decades-long friendships, and others who care so much about me that I know they would sacrifice their own comfort, reputation, and even money if necessary to help me. Part of why I can be celibate is because I have this kind of loving brotherhood. Actually, I believe that these close friendships are what I was really looking for when I considered using gay sex as a way to find this kind of love.

      • I am incredibly thankful that you have found such support in singleness, and that you have such close relationships. I too believe strongly in non-sexual friendships and communities that are as great as any marriage, and I’ve had several such friendships. I believe that friendship is as important, and sometimes even as intimate, as marriage.
        Where I think our journeys differ, perhaps, is that such friendship could not support me in celibacy, or be a substitute for marriage love. I found that for me, they were quite simply two different nutrients that I yearned for. One could fill the other no more than food could satisfy thirst. Friendhsip, deep and profound and spiritual though it may be, could not fill the void next to me in bed every morning and night.
        I’ve observed two sorts of people on this path – those who find that friendship alone is sufficient for them, and others who may or may not have great friendships, but who additionally deeply desire partnership love in such a way that friendship does not extinguish. Erotic love, for them, is not something that can be filled with friendship. I believe that both are telling the truth. It would seem that you fall into the former category, while I fall into the latter.

        • Appreciate your civil discourse on this subject, Stephen. Definitely a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other interactions I’ve seen/experienced on similar topics. Thanks for being here and being an example. Much love, brother!

          • Thank you for your kind words, Thomas. I certainly understand why people become so angry with these discussions – it is a very, very hard topic with a lot at stake. It’s understandable that people on all sides become angry and then don’t necessarily know how to express it well. Talking about this issue is an exercize in the fruits of the spirit for everyone.

  • I don’t know exactly when I was taught that gay sex is wrong, but I had fully internalized and accepted it as one among many moral teachings. So when I realized I was gay, there was never any question of engaging in gay sex. I took it for granted that, unless my orientation changed, I’d remain celibate. I didn’t feel deprived; that’s just how it was. Since there was never a question in my mind about what path I should follow, remaining celibate was easier for me than for those whose stories I read for whom it was an open question they wrestled with or continue to wrestle with.
    I’m not saying that I couldn’t be tempted. I don’t think I ever consciously wanted sex with a man, but there have been those who were attractive enough that I could have yielded to a temptation to engage in conduct that could have started me on a path thaat would have eventually led to sex. In other words, I’m not immune to lust.

    • I am definitely not immune to lust either. There are still times I am tempted to go after gay sex, but then I remember God and my close friends and sex just doesn’t have the power over me that it once did.

  • Thanks for sharing Marshall! One thing that trips me up frequently is spending time with happy (or seemingly happy) couples. I enjoy their company but afterward I come back to my apartment, with no one to talk to and nothing to do. I want something like what they have so much that it just wears me down (I guess that’s envy and /or idolatry??)… But marriage is NOT some sort of “ultimate” thing to strive for – it’s not. But not having that friend or someone to talk to, who answers, when my mind goes crazy, someone whose life doesn’t remind me of just how abnormal I am, that’s what I miss/want. (This entire comment has been very selfish and depressing – I do apologize… It’s just how I’ve been feeling for the past month or so.)

    • I think of this scripture when I am at weddings or with a happy couple
      John 3:29
      “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete”
      I pray that God will help you be happy for your friends when they are blessed with a relationship. I have found much happiness myself by taking on this “friend of the bridegroom ” attitude.

  • I struggled with same-sex attraction starting as a teen. In college I acted out in a homosexual relationship with an older man, but found that relationship never satisfied my need for real connection, love and acceptance in the male world. So I walked away from homosexual sex and never returned. That was 40 years ago.
    However, I never dealt with the underlying causes of my same sex attraction. Things like shame, lack of meaningful non-sexual male friendship, poor self-image which led to envy of “real” men, fear of men, codependency that kept me tied emotionally to the the world of females all kept me from feeling I was really a normal man. I could never accept myself and always felt insecure and inadequate.
    About 5 years ago after I moved to a new city to begin a new job I felt stress and loneliness. These things triggered a lot of things from my past that were unresolved. I got drawn into gay porn and found myself addicted. This was so incompatible with my my faith and Christian profession that I was utterly miserable.
    I prayed earnestly to the LORD asking for help to give up this addiction. He answered me, but not in the way I expected. He showed me that porn was not my main problem. It was only he symptom of my unresolved past that made me feel less than a man and led me to feel same-sex attraction. That began The most amazing journey out of same-sex attraction into my manhood. I had to surrender the porn addiction to Him, and when I did I found the most amazing power of God in my life to change what I could not. Now I feel that I am primarily heterosexual in my sexual orientation and feel an attraction to my wife that I have never experienced before.
    I still have my ghosts of SSA, but they do not control me. So I continue to seek God’s help one day at a time. He has been so amazing to me.

  • I had a strong desire to pursue a homosexual lifestyle when I was younger, but I was scared to try it. Even more, I was touch phobic and knew that it would not be possible. Still, I eventually traded that life for a virtual one and became an observer through porn. That became a replacement for something I thought would satisfy me, only I didn’t imagine myself with that man in the video or picture because that was too unthinkable. It seemed safer to be a bystander and get my false satisfaction from a distance. I’m porn free now and have been thinking about this voyeuristic side of porn watching, realizing it is a crutch for getting myself in real romantic relationships, only with women. I think I’m closer to making real life happen now that I’m no longer attracted to porn like I was.

  • Marshall

    Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. I seek to do that with great joy, because He is better than everything we give up! Also I want to love others in an unselfish way as Jesus taught. I currently do my best to live out that kind of love with 15 other friends on a farm near the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. I love talking about what really matters, and seeing a friend's heart turn from pain to joy, from fear to peace, and from despair to hope! My writing tends to focus on the topic of friendships with other guys. I have never married and am currently the oldest author on YOB.

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