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I Am Not Disgusting. I Am Not Alone. I Am Redeemed.

I was 17, and nothing in my life up to that point shocked me as much as this slow and gradual realization: I was gay.

I had always liked boys, but I never knew there was a word or even a category for my specific experiences. I’d grown up in a Christian environment where gay people were dehumanized and called “zombies.” Christians had always given me the impression that it was impossible to struggle with homosexuality and to love Christ at the same time. I was taught to fear people who weren’t straight, and so my own sense of self-worth plummeted when I realized the portrait of homosexuality they painted was actually a mirror I was looking into.

I realized the portrait of homosexuality they painted was a mirror I was looking into.

I felt so disgusted with myself, so isolated from other people, so alone in my struggle, and so guilty in front of God—more guilty than anyone else. If Christians say lusting after my own sex is the worst sin in the world, why should I not just cut out my own eyes and blind myself? Wouldn’t that end the lust? I thought. Didn’t God require all his children on his good earth to be straight in order to be loved? I’d wake up each morning in distress; it seemed that ending it all and just going to heaven would be so much easier.

That’s when I encountered Living Out. For the first time in my life I saw that I wasn’t alone. I kept listening to the stories over and over again—stories from people just like me who were attracted to the same sex.

But something was different about these people. They knew that Christ loved them without distinction.

I realized I didn’t have some kind of unusual disease; I was just human. I didn’t have to try to be straight in order follow God’s will for my life. I knew my sexuality described so much of me, but I discovered it didn’t define me. As a Christian, Jesus defined me, and he looked at me with love.

As a Christian, Jesus defined me, and he looked at me with love.

I understood that it was with love that God could say “no” to same-sex relationships, and I came to understand that his intentions were best for me. I also came to realize that God says “yes” to a life full of joy and deep friendships. Obedience to God’s sexual ethic wasn’t just saying “no” to the pleasures that tempted me, but saying “yes” to a more intimate relationship with God involving humble submission to and utter vulnerability with him. 

Growing up in a home where singleness was portrayed as bad, I never understood that celibacy could actually be beautiful. The stories told by Living Out showed my fearful heart that I didn’t have to be alone for the rest of my life, and that the church community was a family who could love me as a child of God. Through the lessons I learned, I gained confidence in my identity in Christ, and have since grown in openness with my Christian friends.

I’m 20 years old, single, and have such joy from Christian community filled with people who truly love me, struggles and all. I’ve found that the reality of “me” is not that I’m perfect and righteous. I am a sinner. But I’ve also found that I am not disgusting and hideous. I am redeemed. I am covered in Christ’s righteousness, and that’s where I can find true security. 

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at Living Out