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?

  • I identify so much with what you have written. I too have romanticised marriage to a woman and fatherhood. I also desired to have exactly 10 children. And I have also felt angry at young married Christian couples – the husband or the wife who didn’t want the bother of children. I have learnt that sometimes what these couples’ say is said out of their immaturity (can they help this?) and other times it’s just a defence mechanism because they acutely feel a cultural pressure to start producing children/grandchildren. Other-times its just plain selfishness. God is their judge. You’re right in that God comforts the disgraced and that that does not necessarily mean that he takes away the cause of their disgrace.
    By God’s kindness to me I have been able to find work at a Before and After School Care where I get to supervise and interact with school age children. I get to be like a big brother or uncle type figure to them and I get a window on their world. Even though as a job it doesn’t look very successful, I plan to stay in this line of work as long as I can because marriage & children are just not looking tenable (and as hard as that is, it is not the end of the world). There is no reason why the legitimate choice of celibacy should mean that a person’s life should be devoid of joy, laughter or children for that matter.

  • While I’m not sure that celibacy is right for me, the message in this post really hits home.
    As a current kids ministry and foster care volunteer, I work with tons of kids and I wonder everyday when my chance will come to be a father. In fact, one of the most powerful and clear promises I believe I received from the Lord was that I would be a “father to the fatherless.”
    Sometimes, when I think about the semantics of becoming a biological father (marrying a woman and loving her deeply), I get so discouraged because that reality seems so very far away
    if it’s possible at all.
    I’ve had to come to terms that while there are no promises that I’ll one day be married with a house full of biological children, God’s promises will still come to pass. I spend a large portion of week ministering and being a friend to multiple boys/young men who have either lost their dad or their dad is emotionally absent. I’ve become a big brother and a positive male figure for these guys and I couldn’t be more thankful. There are so many moments with my little brothers where I start to feel a fatherly affection, responsibly and passion for them and their success in God. It’s become so clear to me that God is aware of those deep desires because he placed them there in the first place. Now it’s just a waiting game of trusting and doing all I can in the here and now.
    All that said, I still have hope that, one day, I’ll be deeply in love with a woman I can call my wife and have kids (and adopt a ton too!) I’m only 25 years old currently and I know that there is a lot of life to live and years to seek the Lord in.
    This has been one of the most relevant and tender topics to me for the last 10 years or so. Thank you for sharing!

  • I got with a woman to prove how manly I was. A couple of weeks later she announced she was pregnant; so I did the right thing and was a father to my children despite my same sex desire. It turned out she was pregnant with twins. I was so excited – at last I was a man. I don’t think she was excited nor did she want the children, but kept them because of her religion. She was always cold and distant, and did not share my enthusiasm about being a parent. I was the best dad I could be. Not having a father figure in my life, I had to make much of it up as I went along. Later we had a third child and turned out to be extra special. Still she was cold and distant, not unkind mind you, just unmotherly. I had to step in and be the mother to my kids also.
    I had not consulted God about marriage, I was just trying to be manly.
    Six years ago, after I got out of the hospital from my stroke, she declared she was ‘in a dark place’, went into the bedroom and I didn’t see her again for five years. I now had to recover while being a single parent and dealing with puberty, boyfriends, broken hearts, teenage attitude, more puberty, prom, first jobs, concerts and plays. Now the twins are grown and have jobs. One joined the Air Force, the other sits at his computer and has a job at a hospital. The youngest composes music and plays the violin and is brilliant (a bit nerdy too) (like me).
    My wife has missed out on so much. She didn’t even bother to sit with me at the twins graduation. She has never gone to a concert for my youngest son.
    I recently asked her to move out. The boys didn’t seem to care. She had so little to do with their lives that one couldn’t expect them to be upset even as she is moving out. In fact I think it is dawning on them how much she neglected them over the years. I am sorry for her loss.

    • Bradley, I’m glad you made the decision to ask her to leave. That must have been very difficult. Call me when you have time.

  • Will, I love your attitude about the tough choices you are having to make. You and other young men like you in this community are heroes. I am contrasting the beauty of your piece with the bitter and ugly things I have read on the internet from “The Church” about the recent ReVoice conference and many of their ideas that overlap with your own. I pray that those harsh voices could truly see your heart and understand that such difficult choices can only be made by one who is living under Christ’s grace. I was fortunate to be able to live much of your dream, although we jettisoned MarioKart and Beowulf. I can think of few things better than reading LOTR to the twins (apart from making the twins themselves). It certainly was not easy. My wife is a sexual abuse victim, and no chemist in his right mind would direct you to mix that with SSA. But God is great, and somehow it seems like an ideal union right now. Thank for continuing your story, Will!

    • It seems like those who are the most broken, have the most compassion. There is room for compassion when the walls come down. The most “normal” among us are also the most rigid.
      My wife and I have a similar relationship. It works because of mutual grace and compassion, an abundance of love, and God’s redemption in our brokenness. SSA can be the place where grace, compassion, understanding, mercy, love is born. Our greatest shame can be turned into our greatest victory, the ability to withstand, to live, to redeem and love, despite it all.

  • Great article! Its been hard for me giving up the prospect of marriage and kids as well, especially since its what I imagined myself for my adult life. At first it was hard, but when I was honest with myself I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted anyway. I only wanted it because it was what society expected of me and because I wanted to be “normal.” But I realized a wife would be difficult to devote time to, especially if I had no sexual attraction. Also, kids would be a massively stressful handful. I just feel like I wouldn’t be able to devote time to it. Especially when I desperately need my brothers with me for my life.
    Like you said, I unfortunately see way too many SSA guys blunder into marriage simply because they want to be normal or do what society considers to be manly. And it ends up being disastrous afterwards with so much hurt. Marriage is not the answer to loneliness. I think even straight people make this mistake.

  • I appreciate your perspective, Will. I’m one of those people who never went to a conference or large-scale ministry gathering with any kind of expectation of “change.” But I know plenty of people did, yourself included, and I’m sorry for this wrongly communicated expectation. I pray for your continuing growth from those hard years. It sounds like a lot of growth has already transpired. I’m right there with you on this topic, blazing a trail away from the typical American dream. As are many other brothers in your midst.

  • “The Bible is filled with people who love God and yet experienced disgrace. But God never forgot them.”, and
    “But I know that Christ has taken away my disgrace.”
    Yes, brother, so much. God is the God of the redeemed. He takes away our disgrace, and gives us a new name.

  • Will, what an absolutely beautiful and honest post. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice in choosing to follow Christ. He truly will always be there for you Brother.
    Much love,
    Kastle

  • This post struck a chord within me. As a Christian with SSA, I’ve been pushing myself to date women. I’m not terrible, so as long as the lady finds me attractive, I can keep the relationship going–although I haven’t had a long relationship yet. A couple of months in I ask myself whether I can have sex with this girl (which I do not intend to experiment until after marriage), and I end up breaking it off.
    Anyone else with this dilemma? I guess SSA is quite the obstacle, so given the circumstance, should I just allow sex to “push me over the edge”? After all, who can deny physical intimacy, even if it’s not the one you’ve been watching on porn?

    • Hey Tim, I’m not married so I can’t speak out of personal experience, but I’ve heard a few married SSA men’s stories, and it doesn’t sound like you’d want to count on sexual intimacy to make the relationship work, to somehow seal the deal or cement your relationship in place. It sounds like would put a lot of pressure on you at a time where pressure isn’t going to help! In the stories I’ve heard, it sounded like a healthy, successful marriage was based on complete honesty, vulnerability and transparency, not a busy sex life. (Which isn’t to say they didn’t have a robust sex life–it sounded like the quality of their sex life was based on that emotional intimacy of honesty, vulnerability and transparency, rather than the other way around.) Those couples accepted that in mixed-orientation relationships sexual intimacy happens at different times and in different ways than in straight-straight relationships. If marriage to a woman is something you want to pursue, I suspect you’ll find that comparing your relationship to straight-straight couples will just lead to anxiety and frustration.
      But don’t take my word for it! There are three excellent podcast episodes on marriage in the Podcasts section:
      https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/2018/03/16/yobcast-episode-032-marriage/
      https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/2018/03/30/yobcast-episode-033-marriage-another-story/
      https://www.yourotherbrothers.com/2018/04/13/yobcast-episode-034-marriage-middle-ground/
      (Episodes 032-034, in case the links don’t come through.)
      Hope this helps!

  • Hey Will, God’s gift of singleness is a beautiful but difficult gift to embrace, and I’m so glad to see you are embracing it in faith. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, you can now devote yourself to serving him wholeheartedly without the distractions of marriage and family. Looking back on my life, I probably should have done this. God had called me to the mission field, and I obeyed and went overseas as a single man to serve him… but the loneliness was overbearing. I knew I wasn’t attracted to women, but I thought marriage was the only way to cure my loneliness. I didn’t trust God to provide. So I got married… and to make a long story short, I am no longer on the mission field, mostly because my wife didn’t share my calling. I know God is still using me, because He’s awesome that way, but I do regret not trusting Him enough to embrace singleness and serve Him wholeheartedly on the mission field.

  • Will – wow – I so agree about the “inconvenient” perspective, they are missing out on a lot.
    I am a married man – 4 kids 30 – 21. I’ve had a ton of trouble with SSA, I have an amazing wife who has stayed with me they it all. If I had to change one thing(other than not have SSA) I would have shared my struggle more openly prior to marriage.
    I feel like it’s totally possible and can be incredibly powerful to be in a relationship that understands the different temptations but makes it work to the glory of a redemptive God. I’m not saying you are going down a wrong path or anything, more to just not write your future possibility of wife and fatherhood off.
    Man – it’s so hard to write all my thoughts! I love that you are opening this topic, painful I am sure, God is all about the miraculous !

  • I appreciate your sharing. Thank you! Please pray for me, and my son. I have SSA and after 38 years of marriage I finally told my wife. She really does love me, even though it took me so long to confess. My son, 32, has lived the homosexual lifestyle for 10 years, and then almost 3 years ago he left his partner and got saved (I guess his little boy salvation didn’t take because he says he was saved at 30). He has left the lifestyle and now leads a group of married/ unmarried men in Bible study each week. A true miracle! But, I know he has longed for a wife and children. It hasn’t happened yet. He is getting discouraged. I can’t imagine him living the celibate life, I’m sorry, I don’t understand how any man can do that. It truly must be a gift from God. I like sex way too much. I want my son to know the love that I have experienced with my wife. It may not happen-God may be calling him to celibacy. I cry for him all the time. God sees my tears, but we would appreciate any and all prayers.

  • Will Cooper

    Greetings from the friendly country of Canada. While writing this bio I am drinking a French press coffee and listening to Arcade Fire on vinyl with my prayer journal, a pile of books, a piano, and a typewriter beside me. Some may say I am a hipster, but I do not really like culturally constructed identities in an attempt to place my personality in a box. I read a lot of theology and philosophy, and I do much research in that area (it's kind of my job). When I'm feeling particularly adventurous and motivated, I will watch a hockey game and drink a beer with my friends – like every good Canadian.

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