While this coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted almost everyone in some way, one group of people finds themselves better off than most: the “preppers.” Preppers are people who make preparing for worst-case outcomes — anything from losing a job to nuclear Armageddon — part of their lifestyle (see Doomsday Preppers on Netflix for some ridiculous examples of things people are prepping for).

This pandemic is basically the ultimate “I told you so” moment for preppers. Once ridiculed as crazy, they now sit upon a throne of toilet paper rolls, scoffing at us unprepared peasants.

As a financial advisor, prepping has always been part of my job duties. I help people prepare for retirement, the unexpected (via insurance), and emergencies by encouraging savings. I’ve been a prepper all along — just with money instead of food.

This pandemic has showed me prepping comes in a variety of forms, but the real revelation came when I was reading through a passage in Luke.

Prepping should be physical (food and medicine) and financial (savings and planning), but prepping also must be spiritual.

Jesus says this in Luke 14:27-33 (ESV):

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

It’s interesting how Jesus not only makes it clear how costly it is to follow Him but also goes on to explain the importance of weighing that cost before beginning this journey. Rather than blindly following Him, Jesus invites us to do a little spiritual preparation to ensure we are committed to seeing our faith walk through.

As I look back on my own faith journey, I realize just how important this reflection and preparation has been in spiritually working through my sexuality.

As I first considered what God and Scripture asked of me in my sexuality, my gut reaction was to find an answer as quickly as possible. I just wanted to know if I was wasting my time trying to be celibate, or if that was really what God wanted from me.

Without realizing it, I found myself beginning construction of the tower with only half the funds needed. I found myself entering a spiritual battle without considering the size or strength of my enemy. I was moving full speed ahead in my sexuality without taking any time to reflect or prepare for the task ahead.

The truth is that it’s tough to find spiritual reconciliation with sexuality; our spirit and our flesh directly oppose one another in a more tangible way than any other aspect I’ve experienced in my faith.

I found myself being ripped apart trying to discern how God could ask me to give up something I wanted so, so badly.

And then, at last, I wised up and took a step back. Amid the chaos, I realized I had moved onto questions for which I was not yet ready.

All followers of Christ will find themselves in nearly unbearable conflicts between flesh and spirit; this is the cost of denying ourselves and bearing the cross of Christ. This tension is nothing unique to same-sex attracted (SSA) believers.

It’s what Christ forwardly states at the beginning of that passage in Luke — following Him costs everything. Our family, our friends, our jobs, the whole of our lives.

Can I honestly say I’m willing to give up that much?

What is Christ’s value to me? He costs everything, yes, but is He worth everything? Would I, like the man finding buried treasure in a field, sell all that I have to acquire that field and the treasure therein?

I found it difficult to honestly ask the question about what God wanted with my sexuality without first asking if He would still be worth following, even if it cost me my dreams. If I could never accept His saying “no” to a husband for me, then why go on asking in the first place?

I am not yet prepared to ask if I’m not ready to follow Him regardless how He answers.

If the answer is no, if I could not follow Him even into celibacy, then the problem is my faith — that Christ isn’t worth everything to me — not my sexuality. I’m destined to do more harm than good building my tower or fighting my battle.

Effort must be spent spiritually developing my faith until I find myself able to follow Him no matter the cost, regardless the “side” He tells me to settle with regard to same-sex marriage.

Discipleship is a journey, and we should not expect ourselves to be perfect in it. We will have our moments of doubt, and we will find ourselves needing to grow spiritually in a variety of ways.

The key, however, is to take time for honest reflection so that we may know what battles we are ready to step into.

Through this honest spiritual assessment, we glean the wisdom to prepare ourselves for the battles yet to come. Like preppers taking stock of our supplies and investing in a firm foundation with which we can face the spiritual unknown.

Have you experienced a particular instance of counting the cost to follow Jesus? What have you given up to follow Him with your sexuality or otherwise? Do you feel spiritually prepared for this journey ahead with Jesus?

  • It’s really hard to know what you are giving up at this stage of life (I’m in my mid 20’s). I look at my older friends and it seems like most of their lives revolve around their families. When I get older, I’m not going to have that distraction from “that barren wasteland that must be my life without (him).” I never really gave up much for my spirituality–porn would be the biggest thing; unfortunately I’ve had to give that up more than once. But as I look forward I can’t help but get the feeling that the things I’m going to miss out on are the hardest of all.

    • Ugh so true. As a mid-20s person myself, it is sobering to realize there is still a long road ahead. The older we get, the more taboo it is to be single and not have that typical nuclear family to lean into. My motto though has always been “one day at a time.” I never would have been able to survive coming out if I hadn’t operated that way. I did survive though, and through each struggle and each new stage of my sexuality, God has poured new grace sufficient for each day. I certainly believe there are some significant struggles ahead as we grow older. But I also know that “today’s trouble is sufficient” (Matt 6:34). And my hope is that I spend this time building up a non-traditional community to help lessen the blow of no spouse/traditional fam.

    • As a married man who struggles with SSA, I would encourage you to not think of it as “missing out”. I can tell you that it is perfectly possible to feel incredibly lonely even with what many might see as a “picture-perfect” family. I can’t say this absolutely, as I haven’t experienced both states (single adult with SSA and married with SSA), but it seems like this might be a case of the grass being greener on the other side. Although I say my wife saved my life in some ways, like the direction my life might’ve gone with SSA if I hadn’t married, there’s still times I felt like I missed out or am missing out on aspects of bachelorhood (I got married at 21). Your life circumstances are the vehicle by which God is sanctifying you, and every set of circumstances will have its own unique set of pains and struggles.
      I have the idea sometimes that if I could just find a good Side B friend to open up to and share physical affection, it would make things so much easier. Perhaps you similarly feel (if I may put words in your mouth) “if I just was able to go the traditional family route, life would be so much easier”. Maybe both of those things are true, but easy isn’t what God calls us to, and for me the temptation is to look at that as an answer that sometimes gets in the way of The Answer, which is Christ.
      I hope I don’t sound like I’m downplaying any of the struggles or pain, because it’s impossible to compare and I know I’ve suffered much less than many of the stories I read on here. I guess my main point is to say for those who would follow Christ the cost will always be high. Aaron describes it as “the blow of no spouse/traditional family”. If it wasn’t that blow, it would be another. Seems like walking with Jesus is uphill more often than not.

      • Yeah, I get that. “The grass is always greener” is a powerful illusion. And I know that the families that look perfect can be the most dysfunctional. There us something though that tugs at me. When I’m making pancakes on a weekend, I can’t help but think, “the kids should be up soon”. Or when I go to bed, I suddenly get this sense of emptiness beside me. I too fall into the same trap sometimes with friendships too. “If only I had Side B relationships, then I’d have someone who could really understand me.” I know it’s irrational, and it’s better to just Stoically muddle through it, but I still can’t help but feel like something is missing. The other thing is that I really don’t understand what “Jesus is the answer” means. I don’t know if my approach to my relationship with God is all wrong or if this is as good as it gets, but trying to spend time with Him doesn’t seem to help anything.

  • Thank you for writing this! Many of your thoughts here are ones I recently went through when “officially” coming to terms with my sexuality. One moment that specifically comes to mind is from the first day I decided to finally search the Scriptures, study what Side A and Side B had to say, and basically figure out what the rest of my life would look like (early 20s here). I basically prayed, “Lord, if you help me survive this season of intense doubting and searching, then help me survive the result. If you want me to try to become straight, then help me to be okay with Side X. If you want me to stay Side B, then lead me to an incredible community and help my family to at least be willing to listen. If you want me to go Side A, then make that very clear and point out how to go about that.” Many months later, here we are back at Side B. But this time, it feels more like a choice I’ve made with the Holy Spirit rather than it being the last resort option. Thanks for sharing Aaron! I hope your words will help my fellow queer and SSA siblings in Christ to prepare first before beginning the difficult journey of coming to terms with sexuality and our faith.

    • Thank you for reading, Reed! I really like how you went about searching. I think this is such an emotional topic, that many people go in looking for scripture to justify what they are already hoping for (whether that be Side A, B, X). Better to come to God with open arms letting Him do the leading. And it is amazing, when He calls us to something He always seems to give us the ability to follow through and survive it- though there are always moments it doesn’t feel that way.

  • Good stuff, Aaron. I love the financial/physical lens through which you approached this very spiritual concept of “preparation.” Had never thought about that word in such a way before. It’s interesting that I was recently thinking about Jesus’ words from Luke, even tweeting about it. Growing up with an incredible family, I always used to think His words so harsh; now I see them as incredibly kind to tell us what we’re getting into when we climb into the boat with Him. Indeed, He is the beginning and the end, the entire journey. Not just one trailing aspect of it.
    There are times I certainly don’t “feel prepared” for what’s next. Or even what’s now. Right now is an especially tough season for me with my unforeseen physical ailments. But we can’t always trust our feelings. And I know I’ve counted the cost. I know what I’m signing up for, and I’m all in for this journey. Learning daily to find that sweet spot of preparation and also trust for Him to provide that “daily bread,” literal or metaphoric, whenever I don’t particularly feel it.

    • So true- even “counting the cost” doesn’t save us from feeling woefully unprepared for what we encounter. But like you said, you are not surprised when things surprise you- you know what you are signing up for. And so while we often still feel unprepared, we are not uncommitted. And that commitment and trust in Christ is what continues to carry us through regardless.

  • Someone commented to me yesterday, “you who experience same-sex attraction but still follow Jesus anyway–you’ve rejected the lie of cheap discipleship; the church can learn a lot from your following Jesus in spite of the costs.” I don’t think he’s wrong, but at the same time I thought of all the non-straight people I know who have gone from Side B to Side A, or have lost their faith altogether. I feel like the exception rather than the rule. I hope I never look at those folks judgmentally, but I do wonder why some people have stuck with it and some haven’t. Did all those other people not count the cost, or not count it fully until after they had invested a lot in Side B? Maybe. I’m having a hard time putting it into words but maybe what I’m trying to say is, I think you do see a healthy robust cost-counting in our little sub-community, but I wonder if it’s mostly because folks without that perspective don’t hang around long. Like, if the greater church wants to get into cost-counting, our experience says they had better get ready to lose a lot of folks.

    • Mmm I really resonate with feeling “like the exception rather than the rule.” I’ve been asked a few times why I’ve chosen the path I have when many don’t. Its hard to say. All I can say is that I really have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good,” and somehow or another my theology has held firmly Side B. I do think part of the problem is America holds to cheap Christianity. Its too cultural for its own good. People are “Christian” for tradition and convenience, rather than for Christ. And so when it actually requires sacrifice, there is no compelling reason for people to stick around in the faith. Counter-intuitive though it may be, our costly faith really is a blessing in many ways. There is no middle ground for us to remain lukewarm in.

    • That is something I wonder too, Ryan. I also wonder if a lot of them are just oblivious to the idea of brotherhood. Or perhaps just get sucked into cultural narratives about relationships. Or maybe they just wanna have sex.

    • Wow! This is both profound and insightful; Thank you Ryan! It resonates with me too. I feel the weight of sacrifice when I soberly and sincerely reflect on how nothing can ever compare to the relationship and fellowship we have with Christ, not even the experience of SSA intimacy. I intellectually know this to be true, but I continually pray that I come to know it in my heart as well. In the mean time, I lean on faith and continue on one day at a time. I’m reminded of a campus ministry gathering during which the speaker reiterated from Scripture that forgoing our precious faith in exchange for all the riches in the world would be a bad deal, and that the eternity filter puts things in context. In applying this to my faith journey, I substitute the riches with SSA intimacy and the resolve to sacrificially keep the faith remains, a sure call to pick up my cross and follow Christ.

  • Yes! Giving up ourselves actually brings about more fulfillment. Its hard to read any part of scripture without doing so through the lens of the rest. Christ calls us to give up everything, but He also promises abundant life in return. We sacrifice, but in return we gain Christ. To me, and to many of us here, we find that trade-off completely worth it.

  • Oh dear, you’re making me self concious that maybe I ran into this without meditating on it. lol Well I think I ran right into it because it “felt right” I have had to do some self reflection later on which can be difficult. I went through a period where I read three pro Side A books to understand their arguments, really an essential thing if I am to be in a position like this as a blogger. But I have also spent time with God, and gosh do I ever feel a ferocious force in my to pursue celibacy but help others as well. Its hard to describe.

    • “But I have also spent time with God, and gosh do I ever feel a ferocious force in me to pursue…”
      It just works out that way so often, doesn’t it?

  • “Counting the costs” is definitely something modern Christians are not quite used to doing. It means considering that maybe there’s more to faith than “just believing.” However, this is what the book of James talks about. Anyone can just believe — even demons believe! But to actually live out discipleship? That’s something entirely different.
    Thank you for sharing your heart, brother. I resonated with this a lot.

  • Beautifully and eloquently written, Aaron. Thank you for your story and for your willingness to follow Christ, no matter the cost. I know I don’t know you personally, but I’m so grateful for and proud of who you are. Carry on, brother :).

    • Thank you, Kass. I really appreciate you reading, and for all of the kind words 🙂 There is a lot negativity out there, so encouragement is always welcome.

  • I’m at a loss for words at how timely this blog post is for me in this season of my faith journey. Thank you for sharing these profound insights that I greatly needed. The following part of the post deeply resonated with me: “I found it difficult to honestly ask the question about what God wanted with my sexuality without first asking if He would still be worth following, even if it cost me my dreams. If I could never accept His saying “no” to a husband for me, then why go on asking in the first place?” For a long while now, I’ve been stuck at wanting to be honest and sincere with God while being in denial about where my heart really was. The line that comes after the ones I have quoted above hit home for me all the more: “I am not yet prepared to ask if I’m not ready to follow Him regardless how He answers.” Finally having the frame of reference to better understand myself and this adjacent struggle beyond my SSA has been very freeing. I am also most appreciative for the actionable counsel you share in saying: “Effort must be spent spiritually developing my faith until I find myself able to follow Him no matter the cost, regardless the “side” He tells me to settle with regard to same-sex marriage.”

    • Praise God! So glad you were able to connect. Thank you for reading, Emmanuel. It’s a “one day at a time” kind of journey.

  • What a thoughtful post Aaron. Spiritual prep a lotta times seems like gathering yourself and gearing up to face things. Y’know, put on the armor and fight, and there’s alot to that. But the fight more often is to let go of things. All those things in Luke you quoted, hating your own life, bearing your own cross, renouncing all you have, always seemed like a place you get to, but Jesus said they’re a starting point, that you cannot be a disciple, you can’t learn Christ, from any other place.
    Following Jesus with ssa can be really tough on the soul is an understatement. You reach dead ends with no answers to so many questions, and you kinda have to give up the need for immediate answers. It’s great there’s a YOB hearing from others who are living this, but the point of following Jesus bearing your cross, according to him, is losing your old self, and you have to experience that. How do you get spiritually prepared for losing that goes that deep?
    Too often I’ll avoid it or find distractions but on this journey you’re always brought back to the place you need to grow. And everything I read in the Bible, all the stories and teaching, encourage you to keep going, that there’s more & better ahead if you’re faithful to the real thing in Christ you’ve received from God. And that’s thru all the craziness in life and the unanswered questions, including the ones about sexuality. I’m believing that when we get to heaven we’re gonna meet side A guys who were faithful to what they received in Christ.

    • You are very right, the battle is so often letting go. And I love your point that it feels like a late game challenge to face, when really it’s where Jesus calls us to start. It’s the key to obedience- being able to give up everything. But what lets us make those sacrifices? What gives us the strength to endure such a deep loss? Having “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” and having a love for Christ that can weather such a storm. Not easy, and every day is a new battle to try to remember how beautiful Christ really is.

      • It’s so true Aaron, love for Christ and His love for us gets you thru everything. There’s a verse that’s like a promise that helps me keep focused on the reality of the love of God. It’s the last thing Jesus prays for in his prayer in John 17: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” It’s that phrase, that the love that the Father has for the Son would fill us. God’s love for the Son as a reality in us, that we love Jesus as the Father does. It’s helped me to leave space for what’s real from God given thru the Spirit.

  • Aaron, this is very interesting. Celibacy was never even a remote possibility for me. Frankly, I don’t quite understand how God could make us “sexual beings”, and then tell us “but no sex for you”. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t compute and better men than me, like Jesus and Paul could do it. I knew I could not. My conflict was great though because I was having sex with my college roommate and we both loved every minute of it. But, God scared me to death through a vision of a fork in the road, and I went to my roommate and told him “no more”, and that was all I ever engaged. God promised if I stopped he would give me a wife and family, what I had always wanted since I was a little guy. I did count the cost. I had to give up sex with my roommate. I had to launch into dating a woman and wondering if I could perform on our wedding night. I did, we did, and I have had 39 years of a great marriage and great sex. What I gave up was actually nothing at all but errant flesh. Celibacy? I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t make any sense to me. I see it as my mission to tell SSA men to get married to a woman. I probably need to adjust my attitude, but for me, sex is too important. I do know some are called to celibacy, but I am struggling with the concept.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts! True that celibacy is not for everyone. And when I use “celibacy” in this setting, I really mean abstaining from Same-Sex marriage and sex, not necessarily marriage/sex altogether. Personally, I don’t have much desire to marry if it isn’t to a man. But everyone is different, and God has a different plan set out for each of us. Rather than feel that all are called to marry or all are called to no marriage whatsoever (even to the opposite sex), I think it’s important to encourage people to do some searching and try to discover where God is calling them specifically.

      • Your right Aaron. We need to find God’s will for us and what He has designed for each.

        • For sure. I really love your story though, and am so happy a mixed-orientation marriage has worked so well for you! Its very encouraging to hear from you. Thanks for posting 🙂

  • This was a great read! It is definitely a daily question of, “Is God worth following?” This is not to say that I doubt Him every day, but to acknowledge that every day can present new obstacles or opportunities for God to be proven right. He is leading me on a road very seldom traveled, and sometimes I feel like the answers to the questions we ask are really nuanced by the world. I came out to my parents this year, and through the reactions of these spiritually strong people in my life, I quickly realized how little the average conservative Christian has to deal with this kind of thing. One of my parents was gravely concerned that my loneliness would drive me to sleep with a man: something that I know is not worth the cost of my virginity. It immediately became a matter of “not letting Satan get a foothold in your life”, which is SUPER important, but also…
    There’s something in my heart that needs attention! I need to avoid things that take advantage of my SSA to turn me away from the Gospel, but I am not going to force myself to date woman or try to “pray it away”. God has answered some very specific prayers in my life, leaving me to curate His love and light in ways that I never could have imagined. He has used my SSA to reveal truths about the true nature of love and how much the world DOES NOT understand it. He has reminded me, time and time again, that He IS worth following…
    At the end of it all, the only hard part left is dealing with a world that can’t understand what I’m feeling. The upfront “cost” for me is not giving into physical loneliness/desire, but there’s another cost: isolation. I can’t gush (like many men in love do) about how deeply I appreciate my male friend because, if I did, it would be perceived as “gay”. I have God’s pure love for another human being bundled up inside me and I feel like I can’t express it. I feel my soul being knitted to someone else’s, and I have to keep most of it inside!
    This love in my heart is worth holding onto though. Giving up sexuality for real love, the love that GOD provides, is worth the cost.

    • Nathan! Thanks for reading and sharing your story and experience with this. I love this. I resonate with a lot of what you said here.
      Its true its a daily battle, and that often our spiritual “support” around us is not actually very supportive. I’ve had many wonderful Christians trying to look out for me by telling me I’ll be lonely and stumble if I carry on down the path of celibacy. Unfortunately its the path I feel called to, and so their “encouragement” is just discouraging haha. I’d rather them spend time and energy helping ensure my path isn’t hopeless and lonely, rather than spending all that time telling me to turn around.
      Its true though. It costs us the obvious things like marriage and sex with a same-sex spouse, but it also costs us isolation, loneliness, and leaves us largely misunderstood by the rest of the Church. Thank the Lord for YOB and other guys in my life walking the same path. I couldn’t do this alone.

  • Great post! This deserves to be put on the wall and framed:
    “ All followers of Christ will find themselves in nearly unbearable conflicts between flesh and spirit; this is the cost of denying ourselves and bearing the cross of Christ. This tension is nothing unique to same-sex attracted (SSA) believers.”
    This may seem like a fairly random connection, but it reminds me of Twilight, or any sci-fi/fantasy where the characters are constantly resisting a consuming appetite or desire against their nature. The difference is they accomplish it with force of will, while we have Christ.

    • Thanks for sharing! We all are called to sacrifice deeply in our pursuit of Christ. That sacrifice looks different for each of us, but He is always well worth the cost! In my experience, force of will can only go so far haha. Thank God for Christ!

  • Aaron

    Financial professional by day and SSA author by night, I have the privilege of discussing people's most private affairs: their money and their sexuality (though typically not at the same time). When I'm not discussing people's darkest secrets, I am a reader, gamer, and enjoyer of the outdoors. For those who care, I am an ISFP and Enneagram Type 6; for those who don't, suffice it to say I'm easy-going and enjoy both time alone and with friends. Jesus is the author of my story, and I look forward to sharing His work in my life!

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