I was raised in a Christian home. A home where the Word of God was honored and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed. From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to give my life to Christ and become a follower of Jesus. My childhood was happy and incredibly blessed, but around 11 or 12 I knew something was wrong.

While the guys around me had begun to take notice of our female friends, I started having a very different experience.

I remember feeling inexplicably drawn to my male peers. I felt longings for physical and emotional intimacy with other men, and it terrified me.

While words like “gay” or “homosexuality” weren’t commonplace in either my home or church, I knew one thing for sure:

Gay people were not a part of the Church, and they definitely weren’t followers of Jesus.

Entering high school marked the beginning of incredible duality in my life. Unconsciously, I knew there was no way to reconcile my faith and sexuality, so I proceeded to divide myself into two very different persons.

There was the good, “Christian Jacob” who people liked, respected, and admired. And there was the other Jacob who had discovered gay pornography, drowning in sexual lust and fantasy. The divide was so great that I remember talking about homosexuality with other people in insensitive, almost cruel ways.

It was a very dark time in my life, but God would use my own sin to bring a part of me to light that had never been exposed.

I vividly remember the evening my older brother confronted me concerning stuff he had seen on the family computer. I feebly tried to deny it, but that didn’t last long. For the first time in my life, the two halves of myself collided, and I was faced with the reality of what I was doing and who I had become.

But even in the middle of that horrific night, I saw a glimmer of hope as my brother spoke these words to me: “Jacob, you’re still my brother, and I love you.”

I was known, and yet I was loved.

A couple years later, my parents found out about my same-sex attraction in a similar way, but the echo of hope continued to ring: “Jacob, you’re still our son, and we love you. We will walk with you as long as it takes.”

I was known, and yet I was loved.

For the majority of my college years, I had the privilege of attending a Christian university. At college, finally began wrestling with the big questions concerning my sexuality.

What does it mean for me to live faithfully as a follower of Jesus who also experiences same-sex attraction?

I had the option of altering my convictions of God’s design for sexual expression within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. I could join a church that would celebrate my desire to be married to a man.

But at the end of day, I could not reconcile that option. From what I knew about Scripture and orthodox Christianity, I would either have to abandon my faith entirely or figure out how to live with the real possibility of my exclusive romantic desires never changing.

Through a combination of friendships, mentors, books, blogs, counseling, and prayer, I came to the conclusion that for me to honor God with my sexuality, I would commit to remaining celibate with the possibility of long-term singleness.

I even began developing a network of supporters who would keep me accountable to that commitment and walk with me on that path. People who knew everything about me and still wanted to be a part of my life.

I was known, and yet I was loved.

While my college years brought significant growth in my relationship with Jesus and authentic community, I also experienced plenty of pain and anguish, often leading to prayers like this:

My spirit is crushed, and my heart feels broken beyond repair. I can’t go on with this pain. I absolutely need you, because I have nothing left inside me. This seems very selfish, but I simply don’t want to be alive. Please hold on to me and don’t let me follow this dark road of depression. Please draw near to me and speak life into my hard heart. Please be my joy when I have none. I need help from people around me, but I don’t know how to ask or who to ask. Please be my strength.

Even to this day, I get weary and overwhelmed by what this calling actually means. If I’m honest with myself, I still really desire a husband / partner / companion. Even though I know this isn’t the ultimate solution for loneliness.

I’ve cried myself to sleep more times than I can count over the impossibility of my desire.

All of this has led to the overarching feeling of being tired. I’m tired of struggling. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of long-distance friendships with other guys.

I’m tired of trying to compete with women. I’m tired of people at church trying to set me up with their daughters. I’m tired of being the only single person in my family.

I’m tired of feeling like no one would ever choose to live with me long-term if they have the opportunity to get married. I’m tired of being afraid that I’m not going to remain faithful.

I’m tired of feeling weak and selfish. I’m tired of being angry and jealous. I’m tired of feeling such intense passion, knowing it will never be reciprocated.

I’m tired.

I have felt seasons of difficulty and loneliness, of heartbreak and sorrow, but through everything God has been incredibly faithful and gracious beyond measure. In another prayer, I wrote:

Freedom from the bondage to sin is what I so desperately long for. Freedom from the endless struggle to satisfy my own desires. Freedom from the consistent desire to be romantically involved with a man. Freedom from lustful fantasies. Freedom from pursuing my own sexual pleasure. Freedom from arrogance, pride, people-pleasing, and showmanship. Freedom to pursue healthy intimate relationships. Freedom to love other people in selfless and sacrificial ways. Freedom to live a life of true worship in which the Holy Spirit sets my heart aflame.
Freedom to love you, fear you, treasure you, long for you, hope in you, wait for you, be in awe of you in the way that you deserve. Freedom to lay down my life for other people and for the sake of the Gospel. Freedom to feel content in all things and not be anxious about anything. Freedom to walk in a manner worthy of my calling. Freedom to never be ashamed to be called your child. Freedom to love well in all things. Please fill every corner of my being with this freedom.

God has shown me time and time again that true intimacy and wholeness are found in Him. He is the bread of life and the living water that satisfies the deepest longings of my soul.

He has given me the Church — the place I find community, friendship, and belonging. He has made me a part of His family where I’ve been given mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. God has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He promised that my hope in Him will never put me to shame.

I am fully known and fully loved.

Have you felt fully known and fully loved? Is is harder to practice true vulnerability with God, other people, or yourself? What masks do you hide behind for fear of being fully known?

About the Author

  • Jacob,
    It’s great hearing from you for the first time! You obviously have a lot of deeper emotional things to share and I look forward to hearing more. I especially want to know more about what you meant by “I’m tired of feeling such intense passion, knowing it will never be reciprocated.”
    For me, yes I have felt fully known and fully loved, especially by my friends here at YOB and by my straight and SSA friends at home. The brotherhood and friendship I have found have made a huge difference in battle against sexual sin.
    Why eat from a pig’s trough when you have a satisfying and nutritious meal lovingly prepared by close brothers?

    • Thank you so much, Marshall. It truly is an honor to be a part of this community and I’m excited about the opportunity to share more of my story and perspective. I’m so glad to hear that being fully known and fully loved has been a part of your experience. It’s such a powerful thing and I would even go as far to say that it’s essential when it comes to persevering in the path we’re trying to walk.
      I hope to flesh this out more in a future post, but what I mean by “passion” in that particular quote is “romantic passion” specifically. Sexual desire, sexual union, etc. I’ve only ever felt those kind of desires for other guys and I know there doesn’t exist a context for those romantic/sexual desires to be mutually expressed in a way that honors God. That feels tiring.

      • I look forward to hearing more in that future post.
        It is tiring to fight those desires for sexual sin, but well worth it! As both you and I said earlier, we will only succeed if we not only fight those desires, but also replace them with something far better: a loving relationship with God and loving non-sexual friendships with others!

  • Jacob,
    Loved what you had to write! The two parts that really resonated with me were about feeling overwhelmed with this calling of ours (honestly I’ve had to take a day by day approach) and also near the end as you spoke of how God has made us part of his family. That, for me, has been a recent feeling and idea that I think I’m only beginning to understand.
    Thanks for sharing bud!

    • Thank you so much, Bradley. I totally agree with you in regards to taking things a day at a time. If I try and think about doing this for possibly the next 60 years, it’s too much for me to handle.
      I’m glad to know you!

  • Dude!! Welcome to the blogging community! Love your first entry, and I think all of us can relate to what you went though one way or another. Fully known and loved is one of the thing we struggle with. To be known, and recognized by others that we, who struggle with SSA/sexual orientation, do exist, and want to be part of the Church community. Yet, we want to be loved unconditionally, whether if we’re in our very highs or in our deepest lows. Knowing a person or a group of people that you can count, no matter what is one of the greatest things ever! Btw, I’m gonna pick up on your whole section of being tired in a later blog post. Thanks for setting it up man! Can’t wait to read more of your stories!

    • Thank you, Matt! It’s truly an honor to be a part of this community.
      Being fully known in a way that you’re also understood can be an exhausting process in and of itself which is why a group like YOB is so refreshing. Our shared experiences (even though we’re all unique in this struggle) are so helpful in feeling known by those who can truly empathize.

  • Welcome Jacob and thank you so much for sharing such a heartfelt post! What a blessing you are! As you know, YOB is a fantastic place to belong to.
    I have always been celibate…not easy for sure…but I find God’s blessings in it too as it gives me the opportunity to be available to serve others and the Lord in ways I could not otherwise. Even if I have never been fully known by anyone, much less loved…I cling to God and His promises.
    I don’t like to offer just pious platitudes, but I am most sincere in saying welcome and God’s richest blessings to you Jacob.

    • Thank you so much for those words of affirmation. I really do appreciate that. I’m so encouraged to hear that denying yourself in certain areas of life has led to opportunities for service. It’s so important (for me in particular) to remember that whenever I’m saying “no” to something in the path of obedience to the Lord, I’m always saying “yes” to something better.

      • amen, brother. Keep shining and showing Christ to others…and I trust you will be encouraged in your walk here at YOB. It’s just great to hear from other brothers who walk similar roads…and although we may never meet this side of heaven…we can be assured of a reunion on the golden streets because of Calvary…

  • This was great! I have a quote by Tim Keller on my computer about being known and loved. I think that’s what we all long for no matter our situation. Someone who fully knows us and understands us and loves us all the same – even us married folk. A longing we have and try to fill with people only to continuously find that only God can satisfy it. Can’t wait to read more of what you have to write

  • Glad to have you aboard, Jacob. Excited for the stories you’ll tell.
    I felt fully known and fully loved at my missions camp a few summers back. Never have I worked in such consistent, vulnerable, authentic community with other believers. We worked together, ate together, slept together, and bore our souls together day after day, night after night, for three straight months. I’ll never forget those moments of knownness and lovedness. How I wish I could go back.

    • Thank you so much, Tom. I’m so glad to be a part of this community.
      Those are some precious memories you have there and my prayer is that they would be a source of hope for you for the future. You are known and loved.

  • Thanks for the posting, Jacob. I look forward to reading a lot more from you.
    My first reaction—and please don’t take this personally, because this is entirely my own issue to deal with—came early in your posting, as I read…
    “My childhood was happy and incredibly blessed, but around 11 or 12 I knew something was wrong…”
    I don’t know why I’m still so incredibly uncomfortable with accounts of SSA issues that have no identifiable origins to speak of; no real place to point the finger of blame. And I guess that’s why it brothers me so much, knowing the tendency of so many is to point the finger of blame right back toward God, or to embrace the belief that He actually does create some of us to be “gay.”
    But I personally have just never been able to accept the theories which reason that God creates us with these distortions of desire. Belief in a God who would do such a cruel thing just doesn’t work well for fostering any spiritual hope. In my own reasoning, it’s got to be part of what happened to mankind back there in the Garden.
    But, like I said… this is just one of my own many stumbling blocks that I have to deal with, and certainly not a negative critique of your enjoyable post, Jacob.
    To get to your question, though, for me it’s always been most difficult to practice true vulnerability and authenticity with other people. I mean, God has never hurt me. It has always been other people who end up hurting me.
    If I’m completely honest with myself, however, I do think there is a certain reluctance I have at times to be completely vulnerable with God as well, because I have such difficulty extending any grace at all back to my own self, and I tend to see my personhood through the eyes of the negative and hurtful things that I’ve experienced. It’s no wonder that I also experience the trouble I do in maintaining the lasting and close relationships that my heart so deeply desires to have.
    Your “freedom to…” prayer resonated with me as well, Jacob. But I know that in my own heart, I certainly would add,
    “Freedom to love other people in selfless and sacrificial ways, and freedom to allow myself to be loved by other people in selfless and sacrificial ways.
    For I know that this is the deeper cry of my heart in all of this, and that I have often become my own worst enemy in the receiving of it. I am also keenly aware that it was the God who loves me more than any other—yes, even the very same God who is all that any of us will ever need—who paused to look at his perfect creation, and said of our human nature,
    “I is not good for the man to be alone.”
    So, even God himself is aware that He is not enough in fulfilling our need of genuine and authentic, human companionship, while we remain in this lifetime.

    • Thank you so much for your encouragement, Dean, and for sharing some of your own thoughts and story with me. I totally resonate with you regarding feeling uncomfortable with not being able to point to a “cause” of my own SSA. I’ve often wished I had some thing or some event or some encounter or some person who I could blame for my experience of being drawn to men. There are several contributing factors that I hope to write about in future posts but nothing really concrete that I can point to and say, “Yep, that right there. That’s what did it!!”
      You mentioned it being a “part of what happened to us (to mankind) back there in the Garden” and I’m inclined to agree with you there. A reality of that original sin is that we live in a world that is utterly broken in a myriad of ways. I would go as far to say that every single human being on the planet experiences some kind of brokenness in their sexuality meaning that all of us desire things we ought not to desire. All of us are bent towards things that are not good for us and are not a part of God’s design of sexual expression. SSA is just one of the hundreds and hundreds of ways that brokenness is experienced. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:19-23 ESV
      Looking forward to reading more of your comments in the future!

  • This is one of those things that I have sought for a long time. I realize too that a lot of my desires towards men’s bodies is, at the root, a desire to know and be known.
    I have a lot of other SSA friends that I’m very open and, hence, very close with. But I only have one OSA friend that I’m out to that I still talk to. When I’m around him, I feel like I am at my most authentic. I am known, and I am loved. Still, we don’t really talk about this issue.
    I’m working on being more authentic with my other friends. At the moment, that’s simply being less worried about them finding out. Hopefully soon it will be actually telling them. Though that fear of not being loved when I am known is always there…

    • Thank you for sharing that with me, Steven. It’s true that being vulnerable and open with others is always risky and sometimes terrifying but I wholeheartedly believe that it’s worth it. I applaud your courage to be more authentic with those around you!

  • What a beautiful first post, Jacob. I’ve been following things here for awhile and I typically choose to watch quietly from the sidelines without speaking up. I felt this required a comment of praise.
    I don’t have any specific new insights to offer or profound statements to add, but your story about growing up – inexplicable sexual confusion, feelings of internal division, outward expression of two different people at different times – that was me, too. Thank you for sharing your story. Praise God that He has given you community and support in those closest to you. He is so good!

    • Glad Jacob could help beckon you out of the shadows, Alec! Glad to have you here with us. Feel free to comment all you’d like. Would love to see more of your story unfold here. “Me too” is a powerful thing.

    • Thank you so much for those incredibly kind and encouraging words, Alec! Praise God, indeed. We’re really glad you’re here with us and I look forward to the possibility of hearing more from you in the future.

  • I lived a life of two-faced duality for about two decades; being the nice religious guy (though I didn’t go to church) and then turning right around and living a life of debauchery. My exboyfriend often used my religious beliefs to get me into bed, calling our encounters ‘holy’. Of course I was so codependent on him, I fell for it EVERY TIME. I was too bitter and angry with God to turn to Him, as I had lost my best friend due to death (suicide)and the church I was going to declaring that all gays go to hell. When I had my stroke in 2012, I came back to the Lord, and was shocked to relearn that I had lived the gay lifestyle because my internet browsing history (I have porn addiction).
    I kept it a secret for about two and a half years, embarrassed it ever happened, wondering why God would have spared my life. Things changed in January of 2016 when a boy at our church asked for prayers because he was gay. For the first time I outed myself to a straight, our pastor and the youth minister. The boy had become suicidal – I would have none of that. I outed myself again to the mother and father and began counseling the whole family on matters of homosexuality.
    Being out and in the open was liberating. I don’t have to hide anymore, and I have a lot of support in being celibate and fighting my addiction. I am known and fully loved!

    • Thank you for sharing that with me, Bradley. You have an incredibly powerful testimony and it’s so encouraging to see how God has used your struggles and journey to love His people and support those around. Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

  • Thank you for sharing, Jacob. This hit me very much where I am along the journey. I especially like how you acknowledge your tiredness (how deeply I empathize with you!) but also acknowledge something beyond it. If I read you correctly, the tiredness and the feeling of being known/loved somehow manage to dwell together. Thanks again for the vulnerability. May you continue to know strength and rest and peace.

    • Thank you so much for that encouragement, Jason. You’re absolutely right that my tiredness and feeling of being known/loved do often exist together. As Christians, we live in all sorts of tensions as a redeemed people who are not yet experiencing in the fullness of their redemption. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons
      of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but
      because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will
      be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the
      glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has
      been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not
      only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the
      Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the
      redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:19-23 ESV

  • “I’ve cried myself to sleep more times than I can count over the impossibility of my desire.”
    If I’m honest, I still cry myself to sleep most nights over this very thing (I’m 28 now) and I also feel that tiredness from fighting desires all the time. And oh do I fail more times than I’d like to admit – not just with lust but also with hopelessness. But there’s a part of me that continually holds on and keeps pushing forward, despite how low/depressed I may get. I’m hoping it’s God teaching me and pulling me through and not just me clinging to whatever I can in order to survive.
    There have been a few people I’ve opened up to, but they all seem to float in and out of my life with seeming ease, which just makes it more difficult to open up the next time. So I usually end up with the “Jackson is always fine” mask on.
    All that said, I do believe that God is orchestrating all these things together not just for my ultimate benefit but for others’ benefits as well. Some days, like today, that mindset is almost all that keeps me going.
    Anyways, thanks for sharing part of your story; hoping to hear more in the future!

    • Thank you for sharing that, Jackson. I greatly appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. Being somewhat of a people-pleaser myself, I often find it difficult to be honest with those around me when I’m experiencing “the dark night of the soul”. But when I have allowed myself to be fully known and fully loved by others, that’s when I’ve most sweetly experienced the grace and mercy and kindness of God. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26

  • Reading this, I forgot someone else wrote this and that it wasn’t my own thoughts! It’s amazing how many parallels we can draw from each other and this post gave me so much hope! Thank you!

  • I felt the loneliness because Christians had shamed me and made it seem like my relationships would be less than and evil. Then I met my husband and that all melted away. For the first time I had someone to share my joys and my disappointments. Somewhere to share quiet times together just cuddling or watching a movie. Next month we will be together 30 years. I am glad I broke the shackles of shame heaped on me. I thank my lucky stars that I found a man who completes me.

  • I loved this blog. This is so what I want. I want be known and loved. I’ve been so afraid to lay bare my dysfunction and unhealthy sexual habits. I hope and pray God will put me in a group of people that will love me despite of my sins. It’s really tough for guys like us with SSA to be vulnerable. We are seen sometimes as the worst sinner of the bunch.

    • You’re not alone, Caleb. I’m afraid, too. It gets easier with time, being vulnerable with others, but it still takes effort. It will always take effort. It’s so important that we share, because the more we share, the more others will too. The more we’ll all see there is no “worst sinner in the bunch.” We are all sinners. And we are all saved by Grace.

    • Thank you so much, Caleb. It’s so true that vulnerability is often difficult and always risky but I wholeheartedly believe that it’s worth it. All of us are broken. All of us groan inwardly for redemption. All of us need a Savior. All of us are being transformed and renewed day by day. “To be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot
      like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” -Timothy Keller

  • I can’t say I have ever felt felt fully known and fully loved in my adult life. There has always been something, some secret about myself left hidden from people. Even people here who know me still don’t have a full picture of who I am completely. As a child I was much more extroverted, sociable and certainly more of an “open book” to the people around me. It was then, surrounded by loved ones, I was at the peak of being fully known and loved. However, I grew up more and more and discovered the world to be rather sinful and exploitative. This shattered my idyllic impression of the world and I became more and more withdrawn because of it. Today I just don’t trust the world. Yes, there is still good in the world and you have to put forth some time and effort to find it, but it seems like a rarity. I guess the only one who fully knows me and loves me is God. Is He enough?
    I suppose it is harder to practice true vulnerability with other people and to a lesser degree myself. In being vulnerable we fear rejection from others which can lead to loneliness, isolation and depression. We’re also left to our own devices of dealing with our own internal pain without the benefit of disclosing to others as a means of venting. As to God, what can you say about true vulnerability with God when He is all knowing and all sovereign? There’s nothing you can hide from Him. We are fortunate God has an “open door” policy whom we can cast our frustrations, vent our suffering and petition forgiveness for our transgressions.
    I wouldn’t say I wear a mask, per se, but I don’t live my life like an open book anymore. I transitioned from being an extrovert to an introvert and began harboring a distrust for the world around me. Do I wear a mask? No, I’ve built walls/barriers that people either have to slowly tear down or I have to break down to let them into knowing me. A lot of it has to building a trusting relationship and such a trust with me can be a fragile matter. Violating my trust can severely damage the relationship. I make no apologies for the way I am. We’re broken and we live in a broken world. I’m grateful for communities like these to allow me and others to help mend our broken pieces.

  • Jacob, your story is very similar to my own when I was a younger man. I have felt broken and discouraged many times over the years…especially when, after years of being told through the ex-gay ministry that I could be healed: here I was as gay as ever. I was angry at God because I know Jesus can and did heal…so why not me? However, like St. Paul, maybe His grace is enough and He would not be able Tom use me as effectively without the wounds and pain I carry and have carried most of my life. He has blessed me with 3 kids and a faithful wife. It has not been easy but He did say to take up my cross. I know I am able to love others because of it. Thank you for blessing me with the sharing of your story…I cried with you and for you. Rest assured of my prayers for you and all the brothers here.

  • *Two years later and I’m just reading this for the first time*
    Such a relatable story. I really resonate with the incredibly strange feeling of living a dual life as a teenager and young adult, even going so far as to act disgusted or annoyed by other gays. That’s something I lived from the age of 13 up until a couple of months ago (age 23). In some ways I’m jealous that you got caught. For years, there was always a part of me that hoped that someone would find out (there were some close calls) because I could never bring myself to confess it to anyone. I think if someone had known about my struggles earlier, I could have avoided a lot of mistakes. But God has a plan for all of us and no two journeys are the same.

  • I’ve read quite a few posts here on YOB now, and I keep coming back to this one. It’s the current favorite. It speaks to a broader need and issue in the church. It may seem that SSA is the ‘worst’ sin, the one no one speaks about. But it’s not. The church needs to be reminded of that. There are *so* many other ways in which we fail and end up in a pit of shame. Empathy from others is the antidote. We desire (and *need*) to be fully known and fully loved. I was going to post the Tim Keller quote, but I noticed someone else already mentioned it.

    In my own life, I can tell you that finally being fully known and fully loved by at least one person has been the most healing experience ever. I’ve disclosed things I’d carried since childhood, as well as all my adult sexual sins, to one of my best friends from my youth. He has proven himself to be my *very* best friend. There is never judgment, yet he never ceases to challenge me and to push me onward to seek the Lord and to live like Jesus. I can be wrestling with any issue, and he helps me tease apart the truth from the lies. The Christian maturity and love are convicting to me; I hope I can one day be like him for others.

    I had a fear of being fully known for a long time. I figured if people knew the real me, the broken and awfully sinful me, they’d turn away. There will be those who will do that, to be sure. But there are others who will be steadfast. These are your real friends.

    There is no greater feeling than to be fully known and fully loved. It truly “liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

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