A few weeks ago I was talking with this guy who said he didn’t want to have kids even though his wife wanted to have kids. Kids were just too much of an “inconvenience” for him.
I was angry. Angry that someone capable of having kids chose not to have them.
When I was a kid, my dream was to grow up and get a wife and kids. A lot of kids. And when I say a lot, I mean it — I wanted ten to twelve kids.
My family and church taught me to pray for my future spouse. So, I did. Everyday for years. I prayed for the girl I’d one day marry, that God would protect her and care for her, whoever she was.
I had the lives of my future kids all planned out. I even thought names for them, named after all my favorite theologians — yes, I am a geek. I’d name them Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Anselm, Berkhof, Hallgrimur, Aquinus, Wilhelmus, Berkouwer, and Bavinck. I assumed all my kids would somehow be boys. Maybe the girls could be Calvina and Augustina, and my wife would go along with all my names for our children.
I’d introduce my kids to The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. I’d read them Beowulf at bedtime.
I couldn’t wait to watch Star Wars with my kids or play Mario Kart with them.
Or spend Sunday afternoons on a nice summer day in the park with my family playing in a creek.
I wanted to cook meals for my wife. Make her a nice cup of coffee, read books with her.
Obviously, I romanticized the life of a husband and a dad. Humans have a tendency to do that. We do not think of the possible hardships.
These dreams for a wife and kids developed into something unhealthy. I grew discontent, and discontentment always destroys.
When I realized I was attracted to the same sex, I got worried that my prayers and desires for a wife and kids might not happen. They caused so much anxiety and shame.
I grew up in a culture where a successful life was the married life, and I did everything I could to change my sexual orientation.
I first heard of “conversion therapy” in eighth grade, and I contacted a local “ex-gay” ministry. Their youth person said he could not meet me without my parents’ permission since I was a minor.
A year later I came out to my parents, and they gave me permission, even encouraged it.
I think my parents had the same dreams for my future that I had.
I took part in those ex-gay ministries for a few years, but those years crushed me. Nothing changed in my sexual orientation, and my life seemed hopeless.
I’ve since had conversations with others who had similar involvement with those ministries, but they attended when they were much older. They knew not to put all their hope into a ministry. I was simply too young and driven by discontentment.
Eventually, I had to give up on my dreams.
I know there are “mixed-orientation marriages.” In the ex-gay world, I encountered a lot of unhealthy mixed-orientation marriages that caused a lot of hurt. But I also know some healthy mixed-orientation marriages.
I went on a couple dates with women, but I think I underestimated the role of romantic and physical attraction, at least in my life.
Who knows — a mixed-orientation marriage may still happen for me. But I am not seeking it out.
I have chosen celibacy; that is the vocation I am living out.
I always get pity from affirming people because of my choice for celibacy; they want me to get married and have a family. They somehow do not understand my desire was for a wife and biological kids.
Having a husband doesn’t fulfill either of those desires.
Overall, I have learned to adjust my desires and dreams. But there are still moments when it pains me that I do not have a wife and kids — most recently with that guy at the beginning of this post. The man who does not want kids.
I was angry that he was married to someone who wanted kids, and he just didn’t want them. Too much of a pain to raise kids.
And here I am, someone who’s prayed to God a million times to make me straight or even attracted to just one woman. It was unfair.
This guy had no idea that some people would give anything to have a family.
The day after talking with this guy, I read from the book of Luke. Near the beginning, Zechariah offers incense in the temple, and an angel appears to Zechariah telling him that his prayers have been answered: his wife Elizabeth will bear a son.
Later, Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and she says in Luke 1:25:
“The Lord has done this for me . . . In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
This hit me. The Bible is filled with people who love God and yet experienced disgrace. But God never forgot them.
Zechariah and Elizabeth never thought their barrenness would turn into a key part of God’s redeeming humanity.
I am not saying that one day I will have kids. But the God who comforted Zechariah and Elizabeth and removed their disgrace is the same God who has included me into the family we have in Christ.
Life is messy and confusing. Sexuality is messy and confusing.
But I know that Christ has taken away my disgrace. That my lack of a wife and kids will be used for God’s wonderful purposes.
Thus, in the meantime, I am seeking contentment in the situations God has given me.
Do you dream of having a wife and kids? Have you been forced to give up on your dreams because of your attraction to the same sex? How does same-sex attraction cause discontentment in your life, and how does God give us hope?