Tuesday, 24 November 2015

we're all mad in our own way

Today, on my six month wedding anniversary, I was reflecting on those along the way who have felt unable to show my wife and I support in our marriage. To them, I dedicate this song by Natasha Bedingfield... with my interpretation...

We're All Mad In Our Own Way- Natasha Bedingfield 

I think the lady did protest too much
She wouldn't take the flower from my hand (well, you won't take anything from my hand actually, since I came out, in fact, you won't even speak to me)
She only saw the shadow of my circumstance
And perception can't describe what makes a man (you know absolutely nothing about my faith, my marriage or who I am)

I didn't mean to interrupt your stride
But a rose was all I had to give (sorry I'm not who you wanted me to be, but all I can offer is who I am)
Sometimes beauty isn't recognised
When it contrasts with what you feel inside (just because you're not down with it, doesn't mean it ain't great)

Who's to say the darkened clouds must lead to rain (you can't claim, for certain, that my 'lifestyle' is bringing destruction)
Who's to say the problems should go away (don't tell me I need to 'pray away the gay'
Who's to point the finger at what's not understood (the jury's out on this one)

Because, we're all mad (sinners) in our own way
Colours fade it all away (Jesus took it all away)
Different people all the same (needs no explanation)
Each reveals a meaning (we've all got something special to bring to the table)
We're all mad (sinners) in our own way
Fill the sky with different shades (we should celebrate our differences)
Read the story on each page (I am more than my sexual orientation)
Each reveals a meaning

Sometimes I think I overanalyse
As if I can control the time and place (I've tried to understand why you think it's wrong, I just can't)
Life (being gay) isn't something you try on for size
You can't love without the give and take (needs no explanation)

Who's to say the darkened clouds must lead to rain
Who's to say the problems should just go away
Who's to point the finger at what's not understood

Because, we're all mad in our own way.....

Sunday, 3 May 2015

LGBT Christian Resources


Changing Attitude

“Changing Attitude England is a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) and heterosexual Anglicans, lay and ordained, who are prepared to be open and visible within the Church, meeting to develop a strategy for change in the Church.”

Accepting Evangelicals

“We are an open network of Evangelical Christians…
who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life, and the development of a positive Christian ethic for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Accepting Evangelicals is for everyone who would call themselves Evangelical.”

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

“The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement is a UK-based international Charity which challenges homophobia and transphobia, especially within the Church and faith based organisations, as well as working to create and praying for an inclusive church.”

Inclusive Church

“Working with individuals and partner organisations we seek to raise awareness about the ways that people feel excluded by the church.” Including a directory of inclusive churches.


Two:23 Network

“Two:23 is a network of Christians, connected by LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues, who have discovered that God loves us just as we are. This realisation frees us to unashamedly include and encourage all to discover the love of God for themselves, pursue the call of Christ and live in a way that cherishes others just as God cherishes us.”

Diverse Church
“Diverse Church is a supportive community of 120 young LGBT+ Christians in UK evangelical churches. We aim to be a pastoral/mission resource for the wider church.”

LGBT Christian Fellowship
“We meet monthly around the Hull & East Riding area to pray, worship and discuss together. We welcome all who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning from the age of 16 upwards.” Open events every 6 months.

Unconditional: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs Christian Debate- Justin Lee
Living It Out-  Rachel and Sarah Hagger-Holt
God and the Gay Christian- Matthew Vines
Generous Spaciousness- Wendy Vanderwal- Gritter
More Perfect Union- Alan Wilson

Coming Out As Sacrament- Chris Glaser
Transcendent Vocation- Dr Sarah Maxwell
Permanent, Faithful, Stable- Jeffrey John
Memories of Bliss- Jo Ind
Walking The Bridgeless Canyon- Kathy Baldock
Changing Our Mind- David Gushee
A Letter to My Congregation- Ken Wilson
Dazzling Darkness- Rachel Mann


Liberty Church Blackpool http://www.libertychurchblackpool.org.uk
Metropolitan Community Churches http://mccchurch.org


Christians at Pride http://www.christiansatpride.com

Shared Conversations http://www.sharedconversations.org

“The facilitated conversations are taking place to create safe spaces in which questions of difference and disagreement can be explored in relation to questions of scripture, mission and human sexuality.”

Sunday, 1 June 2014

through the eyes of a gay Christian

It's 8am. I wake up and say good morning to my same-sex partner. I say good morning to Jesus. Everyday I wake up and the first thing I am confronted with are the thoughts
"I'm still gay. I'm still a Christian. I'm still a gay Christian".

I put on the Christian radio while I make breakfast.
"Gay marriage… the church… Bishop's statement…"
I listen as a privileged, married, straight man tells the airwaves that being a gay Christian isn't possible.
I look over to my partner. I wouldn't lose her for anything. I start thinking,
"maybe I need to leave the church and stop pretending I can be both."
Then the man stops talking and a Christian song starts blaring out. It's my baptism song. My spirit is lifted. I could never give up on Jesus.
Another day, still a gay Christian.

"We've run out of milk" I shout to my partner as I try to make breakfast.
"Go and get some" she yells back.
The only thing is, I woke up this morning and knew straight away it was an anxious day. I can't leave the house.
"I can't" I yell.
"I'll come with you then".
She holds my hand as we walk down the street.
Suddenly the words cut through the air from a couple of lads overtaking us.
"Dirty lesbians"
By this point I am not sure if the voices are theirs or if I am talking to myself.

We get home and I have post! I get excited, no-one sends me much post. I tear it open and my heart sinks. It's more information from a Christian organisation who regularly bombard me with their campaigns against gay people. I wrote once and asked them to stop sending me their propaganda. It never stopped. Words on a page but the only ones I see are painted in red across my head…
"gay Christian"

I'm not doing much after breakfast. I check my Twitter. I've got a new private message.
"You're a freak and a heretic" it says. Then it said those words I dread:
"you can't be a gay Christian".

I wonder if my notification on Facebook will be more loving. It's a request for sponsorship for a marathon form a friend who was once so close and has never spoken to me again since that time she told me
"you can't be a gay Christian".

It's about 11am now and we need to go to town to get a birthday present for a friend. On the bus two boys mess around.
"You're so gay" one says to another.
"Well you are more gay" the other proudly says.
Two boys, one can't be older than 10, and they are using the word 'gay' to try and serve each other the worst possible insult. 'Gay' seems to be the worst insult they come up with and they stop throwing insults at each other after that.

We're in town. There are images everywhere. Adverts in shops, people walking down the street, love songs on the shop radios.
"Do you ever feel like the only gay person in existence?" I ask my partner,
We figure we will go to the Christian bookshop for a present for our friend. The images are overpowering. The book titles shouting about men, women, the church, heterosexual connotations everywhere.
Our friend loves a certain Christian singer. I ask if they sell her CD.
"No" the shop assistant says, "she's a leper, sorry, lesbian".
I'm not sure if I heard that right or whether it was my imagination again.
As we walk out I see a noticeboard that looks like it hasn't been updated for a while. Pinned proudly to the middle is a petition against equal marriage.
I just wanted to buy a simple gift but I found myself face-to-face with other Christians campaigning against my life, my love. I see some names I recognise on the petition from old friends of mine.
"That narrows down our wedding guest list" I mutter to my partner.

We're walking to the bus stop when I see an old friend I haven't seen since school.
"Hi ___, this is my partner ____."
My friend smiles and jokes,
"Really? But you're too pretty to be a lesbian"
Seems I don't fit in the gay world, just like I don't fit in the Christian one either.

I don't suppose there's much point describing how I am walking past a man with a placard, shouting that gay people will go to hell. I tighten my grip on my partner's hand and walk a little faster.

The laptop chirps to say we have an email. It's from a family member. It's full of bible verses about gay people not inheriting the kingdom of heaven. I thought we were over this. The parting line,
"you can't be a gay Christian".

Another family member calls.
"How's your friend?" they ask.
I'm too tired to correct them.

I turn around and see my partner is crying. The email set her off. I give her a pep talk about how we will conquer the world together. I'm not sure whether I am trying to convince her or myself.

We are getting ready to go to church.
"Do I look too gay? she asks.
"I don't want that woman scowling at us again."
"You look fine" I said.
In church I see the worship leaders, the preachers, the cell group leaders, the children's worker.
I think I've got a leadership gift. But I'm not allowed any of those positions. I'm not allowed to be in leadership. They're reserved for straight sinners only.

I flashback to the time I was kicked out of church. I felt directionless and homeless. Well, I mean I had a house to go back to. But the church was my home. Maybe I wasn't homeless but I was certainly left with a homeless heart.

I lie awake in bed. The day runs through my mind. I think of all the things said and done. That I don't belong anywhere. That I am different. Unaccepted. My whole life is built on an impossible concept of 'gay' and 'Christian' being compatible. 'Gay Christian': the oxymoron. Maybe I'm the moron. It's time to sleep before facing the whole day again tomorrow. But before I fall asleep I pray the same prayer I find myself praying everyday:
"Lord, is it ok that I'm gay?"
The peace then fills my heart. As it always does every time I ask that question.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

before i was gay… to life as a lesbian

Just kidding with the title. I was never straight but, interestingly enough, I never actually realised this until I was 19. My life changed one evening when I kissed my best friend. Over time we realised the reason we suddenly had kissing on our list of favourite pastimes (alongside the more usual choices of baking, bike riding and clubbing) was because we had actually fallen in love. Were we pansexual, bisexual, experimental? I'm still not sure what label we should take but the one which seemed to explain the situation best was… lesbian. We were certainly fitting the bill in the present time, and as we eventually chose to be together, we fitted the bill for the future. And looking back on the past… well, it explained a lot- the lack of attraction to the opposite sex, the obsessions and crushes on other females, the failed heterosexual relationships, the questioning that had been done- to therapists, in journals- that question of, 'am I gay?'.

Anyway, the point is that I grew up believing I was straight. I had a dream of marrying a man in a white wedding, I imagined having a 'perfect' little Christian family. I thought with some practice and a lot of hard work I could meet the requirements of being a wife in a heterosexual marriage, with the man as the head of the household and me as chief child bearer and housewife. Any small nagging doubts at the back of my mind that I could be gay were immediately squashed- or 'held captive' as I was led to believe was right. I didn't even entertain the thought and even less did I entertain the thought that it would be ok for anyone else to be gay and Christian.

I've been in this Christianity business a long time. From the age of 5 I knew that God was real, I understood the implications of his death and resurrection in a more profound way than you could expect from a five year old. Apologetics and debating for Christ came naturally to me, as did my understanding of the bible- I absorbed the teaching in sunday school, all the way to youth group. I was that perfectly, self assured, self righteous, pious, religious Christian that we all recognise. As a teenager, I was declining offers of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. I professed to anyone who would listen how sinful it was to have sex outside of marriage, how important a pure life is. I used any opportunity to preach to my non Christian friends and to hold my Christian friends to account. I was exactly the sort of Christian I have grown to resent.

Because realising I was gay smashed every perception I had about God, the church, Christianity and life out of the window. Before, I was that teenage Christian everyone has high hopes for- the one that they expect will be ordained, the one they asked to lead in church, the one who was seen as a good example to the younger Christians. And now? Now I'm out the proverbial closet? Now I will not be able to get ordained (once I am married, next year), I am not allowed to lead in church, I am seen as a shame to Christians, far from a good example to anyone. But, the thing is, I am real now. I am really me, no hiding, pretending, striving, acting. And I think God is all for the real people.

So, some things that changed…

1) Before, I saw the world in black and white. Now I see not only the grey but all the colours. I thought everything was either right or wrong. Which led me to have ZERO grace for other people. That depressed person who commits suicide, that desperate single mother to be who had an abortion, that couple living together unmarried- I had no understanding of how life sometimes doesn't work out the way our heart thought it should. I realised life isn't all about the actions we take but about our heart and our relationship with God. I wasted so much time and energy judging other people without being in their shoes. I thought what the bible said was applicable in any and every situation. But now I see that Jesus certainly didn't stick to the letter of the law when He was on earth and He had grace for people- saw through their choices and actions and saw to what really mattered, the state of their heart.

2) Before, I thought my reasoning was the correct reasoning. My knowledge of apologetics allowed me to pull out the fancy stops- if someone disagreed with my theology I could, rather smoothly, explain where their lack of understanding was coming from and how their biblical approach to reading the bible was incorrect. Now, I know that there are a lot of different ways to read the bible, approaches to take and ways to understand it. The information I was soaking up in my years of apologetic research was from questionable sources- those which claimed context and time have no bearing on the bible as it is infallible. Most importantly, I quote what I read on twitter recently- the trinity is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Not God, Jesus and the Bible. When we start putting scripture first, above God then we are in deep water.

3) Before, I never even imagined how it would feel to be an outsider of the church. I believed those who had been excommunicated must have deserved it. I thought that belonging to church was about being a good Christian, a good example, a 'true' follower of Jesus. I was very happy being a poster girl in my church and being part of it that I never stopped to think how it would feel to be exempt from that sacred club. Now I know that the church is made up of all sorts of broken people. At the end of the day, we are all outsiders. We are all sinners who want into God's kingdom. Of course, the way in is to have redemption through Jesus and to believe and trust in him. It's not about fitting in a box. Being straight, well behaved or anything else.

4) I was blind to the big picture and dangerously committed to the details. I was so careful to live my life right, to not act on any gay feelings, to be a 'good' Christian, that I sort of lost the whole picture. For every specific situation- for example being gay, I had a list of bible verses up my sleeve to explain my understanding of it. Now I know that God is so much bigger and so much more than we will ever know. We will never be able to describe or understand God through a few human words. The bible gives us that little window into God's world- that small, human understanding of what God means in our world. By reading the accounts of Jesus' life we start to grasp the point of our existence, start to see God's plan unfold. We see the bigger picture of what our existence is about. Yet we still do not fully grasp it. We still do not know all of God's purposes and ways. When I read my bible, that is my focus and my interest- I am looking to the big picture of who God is, what 'life' is about, who I am and why I am here. I don't read my bible to find out what to have for breakfast, what I should do with my time, who I should be in a romantic relationship with. I personally (although admittedly without any theological clout whatsoever) don't look to the bible for the finer details. You know in the bible when they're all arguing over what they are allowed to eat (Romans 14) and Paul is just like 'yo it isn't about the little things- it's about the big stuff' or more specifically "the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (v17). It's not about getting your knickers in a twist over disputable topics and getting weighed into pointless debates… it's about living in the righteousness we have entered into through Christ's resurrection and living in peace and joy about that.

For me, the bible is about the whole picture and, as Philippians 2v12 says- about working out my own salvation. We become so complacent and narrow minded that we start reading the bible with the view of understanding every little verse. We think being a Christian is about knowing why there should/shouldn't be women in leadership, about what the bible says about being gay, previously about slavery and disabled people etc etc. We think it is our job to understand, to be sure. But you know what, we will never be sure because our small glimpse of God is not enough, we are only starting to get an understanding of who he is- and then we limit Him to a few words. We limit who we think are allowed to know God through a few words. We limit who we are and our potential to live for Him by a few words. We read the bible looking at how we can be disciplined, what exactly we are or are not supposed to do, we get so into figuring out whether the creation story is literal or not… that we miss the point- the point of the free and limitless grace available to us, the freedom, the purpose, the vast love and power of God. And we forget we are supposed to be living in the peace and joy of our salvation.

I could write a whole book on how my perspective of God and the bible has changed since having my preconceptions destroyed by realising I'm gay. I suppose my parting note is that, from a straight perspective, it is very easy to see ourselves as the ones on the right side of the law (so the speak), very easy to believe our understanding of God is superior to our gay friends, because they have obviously strayed from what the bible is saying. But I leave you with the thought that maybe it's right for preconceptions to be turned upside down- and certainly right to really examine our hearts, our attitudes, our agendas and our purposes when 'understanding' what being a Christian is really about.

Monday, 14 April 2014

i was there...

I've been so tired lately of people who are completely and utterly on the outside of my relationship, looking in and trying to give my partner and I their two cents about why it is so wrong that we are together. So, here's an inside story, here's what our relationship really looks like and this is why nobody ever has the right to intellectualise love.


There's a beautiful, clever, wonderful girl who walks this earth. Who, when I met her, was beaten and battered by the tribulations of the world. She was shy and quiet but the moment I saw her I could see so many other layers, waiting to be stripped off to show underneath her exterior there was a vulnerability. Yet, even deeper still there was a fiery, adventurous and tenacious spirit.

I was there when she began to face up to a trauma she had experienced years earlier. I was there when she started to peel back the layers, exposing her inner self as we investigated her past to bring the hidden darkness to light.

I was there when she was consumed with depression. I was the one who helped her accept her illness and helped her to seek the support she needed.

I was there when she started having panic attacks, when she was caught off guard on so many moments, locked away, struggling to breathe. I was the only one who she would unlock that door for, because I was the only one who had started to unlock the layers of her.

I was the one who knew about those times she cut her skin. I was the one who kissed her wounds better, who told her that no cut could run as deep as my love for her.

I was there when she shut off from the world. I became her world, as did she mine, and together we re-entered reality and found our paths back to life and back to God.

I was there when she found herself without a penny to her name, reassuring her that it would all work out. I would have given her every cent I owned if I could have.

I was there all those nights she cried until her eyes ran dry. All her tears were wiped away by my hands. All those sobs at 3am were heard only by me. I was the one who comforted her with safe arms.

I was there when she took flight. When she ran away from all the hurt and pain, I ran with her because as long as I was there she would never be alone.

I was there when she questioned, questioned what she was here to do, questioned her very worth and even the point of staying alive. I was there to help her find answers, to find a level of satisfaction in this world, to guide her out of the darkness.

I was there when she started to shed the layers. When she found her voice, her strength, and her self. I watched her grow. I watched her learn. I watched her blossom to become not only somebody loved by the world but someone who knew how to love herself.

I was there through every illness, through all the anxiety, confusion and sadness. I was there when she had to do some of the things which terrified her more than death can terrify me or you or anyone.

I was there time and time again. I have been there so many times, listening to her heartbeat, hearing her breathe. I have been there as she has lived the past six years. I have been real, present and relentless.

When I met her, she was a girl of silence and now she has a song. The most beautiful song which I see play as she smiles, dances, sleeps and lives. Her song is so beautiful because it is the song of a life that is full, satisfied. A life that has seen pain and has risen from darkness. A song that has as many layers as her soul and a melody as beautiful as she is.

Can you hear her song? Does it play when you hear her voice, when you imagine her face? When you speak her name?

I fear you cannot hear it. You hear her name, you see her face and you hear a song. The song played in movies when the villain enters the room. Your own song, a fanfare, drowning out her own rhythms. Or even silence. Because you know her as that girl she once was, the girl with all her layers on, the girl with a song that can only be heard by those who were there. I was there.

Because I was there, and because I love her, unconditionally, unchangeably, incomprehensibly, my own song fits perfectly with hers. My heart sings my song even louder when inflamed with the passion she draws out of me and my song joins with hers in perfect melody. You weren't there. You sing your song so loudly in the vain hope her melody will fit to yours. But without being there, without a love that goes beyond the judgement of her exterior layer, you are simply a repetitive drone and your song and hers are like clashing symbols.

I will always be there. I will hear every sob from her mouth, wipe tears from her eyes, kiss her every cut. And I will hold her hand until the very end.

Our songs will never stop playing in harmony together. Before drowning her out with empty noise, why don't you try to hear her song? Start being there, start listening, start peeling back the layers. This is love, when two souls meet. This is reality, when your understanding is not excluded by your 2D vision of a girl who once was but is no more. This is salvation, when your song is listened to by a God who could listen all day to the beauty you exude. A God who wants to hear the hurt and love in your song. A God who sings in harmony with you. This is life. This is how we live life, how we survive, how we reach our potential. By being there. By listening. By going deeper into a person's soul. By understanding their hurts, by collecting their tears, by guiding them with gentle hands.

God was there, I was there, she was there. We all hear her song and we all know how to love her right. We know who she really is and we will always be there to keep her song in tune and her heart beautiful.

But you were not there.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


Where does compassion come into all of this?

I was struck today by some comments on twitter. I've put them down at the bottom of this post if you want to torture yourself with some very odd (at best, offensive at worst) comments.

What got me was the striking lack of compassion. After throwing a sarky comment at one of these little commentator warriors, pointing out his lack of compassion, I had the comment "not sure where compassion comes into it" bounced back at me. Which made me think... well, where does compassion come into it?!

How many people can say they know for sure that everything they do is either right or wrong? I don't see my lovelife as being sinful. Many people don't see women in leadership as sinful. Or swearing. Or white lies. Or getting divorced. Or having a massive wad of cash in the bank etc etc. The jury is out on many of these things and we are left to discern whether we think we are sinning or whether it is something we see no conviction for and feel no conviction for. No-one would repent for doing things that they don't believe are wrong things to do.

So we all live our merry lives, doing good things and bad things, repenting for the things we know we shouldn't do, being ignorantly blissful about many of our sins, doing things we sincerely believe are right (which in many cases are) and not doing good things because we perceive them as sinful.

Not one single person on this planet does it right all the time. If God was a judgemental God, with no compassion (as we all seem to spend half our lives trying to replicate) then we would all be screwed. It isn't as simple as 'repent and be un-screwed' because we don't even know half the things we are supposed to be repenting for and we get muddled. If God wants anyone to be saved, then He is going to have to have compassion on us and forgive us for the things we never knew to repent for.

The CofE confession liturgy says this:
"We have left undone those things that we ought to have done;
and we have done those things that we ought not to have done"

Now, does anyone look at their day, week, month etc and recognise every single thing they ought to have done? No, because we can't even recognise when we are sinning by omission. So we pray this blanket prayer- we ask for forgiveness in general for anything which wasn't pleasing to God. Similarly, we can't recognise every sin we have done. So we say a blanket prayer (as well as specifying anything we do know was wrong) and we ask for forgiveness for our wrongdoing- including things we believed to be right. We are all asking God to be compassionate and not to penalise us when we sincerely do want to do right by Him and we do sincerely recognise our need for forgiveness and ask for it. 

If a Christian doesn't believe that being in a same-sex relationship is sinful and you tell them they should be judged for this 'sin'... then surely you are saying you should be judged for all the things you do, or should have done, which are sinful but you think are OK or you didn't realise you should have or shouldn't have done. Yet you don't think this- you think that  you are covered because you've repented with a blanket prayer- asking that God will have mercy on you for the sins you didn't think you'd committed. Which is the same confession LGBT people say- and so if God's merciful judgement extends to you then it should extend to them... right? 

So that's where compassion comes into it. We need God to be compassionate in His judgement of us because we have no way of meeting his standard. And so we need to have compassion when judging others. It makes me think of a little baby who is yet to learn what is right and wrong. She does lovely things, like nuzzling her head into you for a cuddle and then she does that thing which really hurts you- she grabs your hair and she pulls on it (with some sort of superhuman strength only babies have when on a hair pulling adventure). How many times have my nieces pulled my hair, ripped my nose stud from my nose, scratched me with their little baby nails? What is our response- we don't punish them, we have compassion on them. We accept that they don't know any better, that they don't realise how much it hurts us. Then, as they grow older we start to teach them right from wrong. We teach them the general principles of morality- not hurting others and so on. We don't hold it against them forever that when they were babies they hurt us by pulling our hair. We let it go and spend our time worrying about the times they deliberately hurt us, once they knew right and wrong, rather than dwelling on their accidental wrongs. If we only punished, and never showed compassion, then we would be seriously lacking love in this world. And God does not lack love.

James 2:13 says "judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement". 

And Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as God's chosen people... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

So call me sinful if you like and tell me I am damned based on the small fragment of my life which is on display to you, but I think I'm alright because I trust God's compassion and He sees the whole picture and will therefore judge fairly. And as for you, I hope this small fragment of your life I'm seeing- you as a compassion lacking, judgement spewing Tweeter- doesn't represent the whole picture of your life. Because then we'd all just be as damned as each other.

From Twitter:

"welcoming, yes. Loving yes. Accepting sin as being ok and not doing anything to turn from it, no. "

"put that down to propaganda by the media, soaps, celebrities, BBC, repeal of clause 28, PC, Stonewall etc" (in response to why we are finally making progress on this issue)

"Tired of people trying to turn the Church into the Libdems or some other PC horror show."

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


When I first saw the Living Out website, I struggled to find words or reason to explain why it made me feel so sick to my stomach, so wounded and so devastated.

After initially wanting to pick apart every unfounded thing they say I realised that it struck a deeper chord with me than a battle of intellectual wills.

The views on the website are widely focused around sex and sexual attraction (there is very few mentions of 'love'). One of the arguments put forward is that same-sex attracted couples should sacrifice a sexual relationship because, in light of Jesus' sacrifice, it is a small price to pay.

And this got me thinking about what 'sacrifice' means. For the men who wrote this website, they obviously believe they are called to sacrifice sex and same sex relationships. I say, if that is the first thing in their life that has to go- the 'big' sacrifice that they need to sing and shout about- then lucky them. Oh how, when looking back on my life, I wish the only sacrifice I ever had to make was a relationship with another human.

I believe we are all called to sacrifice different things in our lives- the things that hold us back from a full relationship with God. I do believe though that these are things which are detrimental to our souls, not things which bring us peace and joy.

I feel that my own experience of sacrifice in my life demonstrates this. Without going into too much detail, I suffered from a life changing, recurrent mental health problem throughout my late teens and early 20s, which had been a second sting after living with other mental health problems since childhood. My entire existence was defined by my illness. I used it to control everything in my life, yet in reality it controlled me. It caused me more pain and darkness than I have ever thought possible for a soul to bear, especially one which was already as battered and bruised as mine. My illness became far more important to me than God- it was my only focus, my only interest, it was the thing I found every aspect of my identity and self in.

At some point, I was going to have to relinquish control. To sacrifice something that I wasn't sure I could survive without. I was going to have to take a massive leap of faith, and allow God to bring healing and restoration. I couldn't just 'give up' my illness- because I was ill and being ill or well is not a choice, but I could reduce some of the behaviours my illness made me want to find comfort in. I could allow my heart to trust that God would fill the gap which losing my illness would leave. I could let go of the identity I had and find a new one in God.

This was sacrifice to me. I did it because I know God is Sovereign and would never leave me out of my depth for longer than I could survive.

My partner has been a massive support in my recovery. She came into my life at just the time I needed a arm to hold me. Her rational responses to adversaries in life was exactly what I needed to help me become anchored to reality after years of disillusionment and false expectations and beliefs.

At the time I met my partner, many people tried to convince me it was wrong and I should sacrifice the relationship in order to lead a godly life. But I had spent all my remaining energy and strength on sacrificing the thing which was literally killing me, and I could not believe that while still trying to overcome my biggest nemesis, that God would expect me to sacrifice even more- but this time something that legitimately brought me hope, and helped me to draw closer to God. I know it would have killed me, and to be honest, I don't think God actually wanted me dead.

Although the Living Out writers might advocate 'sacrificing' same sex relationships, for me personally, this wasn't an option I could just take. I had already given up my entire identity to let God rebuild it, and I was in no place to have my identity stripped all over again. I believe that God is merciful, and I believe he knew what he was doing with me and my life all along. And I certainly don't believe he ever placed any expectation or demands on me to sacrifice my relationship. And I am very glad I didn't because as much as I wanted to be dead back then, I know that wasn't in God's plans for me.

I don't believe sacrifice is ever about giving up everything God has blessed you with. Perhaps in some cases it is, but how dangerous is it to think that our God would ever want us to throw away the things he has given us under the pretence that it somehow demonstrates our commitment to him. How much more does God want us to give up the evil and unhealthy things in our lives? Or the seemingly good things which veil wrong motivations and ungodly hearts?

I believe that one day I will live in a world where I never have to experience the despair I was chained to ever again. That is the injustice and hurt in this world which I believe requests a response of sacrifice. I believe in a heaven where only good exists and in our world, where we ask for God's kingdom to come, I think we should be weeding out the bad in anticipation of this kingdom, not sacrificing the good and love-filled things which will one day be reflected in the everlasting goodness of our God.