I got a road bike recently and have been swallowed up by the joys of cycling. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling like I can fly—spinning through the air on sunny spring days. But it can get pretty windy in Dallas, and fiercely pedaling into the resistance can be defeating. Sometimes I start to feel sorry for myself in the misery. I knew this was going to suck when I looked at the weather earlier; what was I thinking?? But every time I descend into self-pity, I quickly remind myself: “I’d rather be on a bike in the wind than not on a bike at all.” Every time. The truth of the statement sets in and I’m catapulted back into the thrill of riding my bike. While fighting against the wind might not be as enjoyable as zipping through still space, it’s infinitely more exciting than sitting stagnant in my house. So I pedal on feeling revitalized by the reminder.
When people find out I have attractions toward women that I don’t necessarily believe God will change, they almost always ask me: “Julie, if God doesn’t change your attractions, why won’t you just accept it as the way you were created and enter into a relationship with a woman? Why would you deny something as natural as loving another person, and resign yourself to a lonely life of singleness?” My internal answer is something like this: I’d rather be on a bike in the wind than not on my bike at all. I’ll flesh it out before you make conclusions that take it too far.
I’m on an adventure with Jesus. Every morning I awake to a new invitation to respond with a resounding “yes” to His invitation to play with Him. I see the whole world through the eyes of the Scriptures; I’m united with Him when I’m with kids in the hood or friends on front porches; I’m stirred to wonder when I’m lost in the mountains or standing by the ocean. Every moment of my life is amplified by other moments of choosing the way of Christ—they inform one another and play into one another. The more I say “yes” to Christ, the more unappealing everything looks that falls outside of His way. I don’t believe my salvation is dependent on the extent to which I do or don’t align myself with the way of Scripture, but I do believe my joy (and intimacy with Christ) is dependent on that, because I believe His laws preserve us.
Previously I’ve take two paths with regard to my sexuality that robbed me of the joy of the adventure. The first was when I accepted my orientation as a God-given gift and entered into relationships with other women. Lightening didn’t strike me and I still knew the Lord, but I didn’t experience the oneness I feel with Him now. The other path was when I tried to white-knuckle myself into heterosexuality by taking all the steps I thought I could take to control my orientation. My focus was misplaced on both paths, and my choices to take things into my own hands detracted from every single aspect of my life. Rather than taking things into my own hands to either fulfill my desires or remove them completely, I’ve come to see my sexuality within a larger story: The story of God’s eternal quest for restoration and invitation for us to merge in if we choose.
The doorway into His story starts with us laying everything on the table and saying: “It’s yours, Lord.” My time is not mine. It’s a gift He’s entrusted to me, and I have a daily choice to spend it for my own pleasure or to use it toward His quest for restoration (though I’m finding those two aren’t mutually exclusive). My money is not mine. My body is not mine. My sexuality is not mine. I can claim them as mine and run around acting like I have rights—a right to experience a robust marriage. But my experience has been that, while I might still have a relationship with Christ either way, the thrill of intimacy I experience with Him is forfeited when I take matters into my own hands and put my immediate desires above His bigger story.
Of course my days are filled with failed attempts. I can embody Silas Marner with the best of them and hoard my money for shiny toys from REI. I frequently make myself unavailable because “I don’t want to be bothered” by precious people that might need an ear. Does God love me any less when I stumble into selfishness? No! But I believe I miss out on a load of joy when I replace His ways with my “rights”.
We’re all in the same boat when it comes to the invitation extended to us to lay it all down to follow Christ’s way. Homosexuality seems to be moving into a separate compartment with the rise of acceptance in our culture and churches—a compartment that makes concessions for gay relationships because it’s clear no one chooses their orientation. I’m grateful there’s been a rise of acceptance of gay people because the shame and alienation that used to pervade stifled the souls of those of us who never chose their attractions in the first place. But I don’t see where the leap to acceptance of gay people means we should shift our view of what Christ calls each of us to do: lay the entirety of our lives down and say, “It’s yours, Lord. My money is yours, my time is yours, my future is yours, my relationships are yours. It’s all yours, and I want it all to be used to paint a picture of your beauty.”
Even if I didn’t experience infinitely more joy in aligning myself with His way than I had when I was on my previous paths in life, it would be worth it. It’s worth it because this life is short, and my life is so small when I see it on an eternal scale that culminates in Him making all things new. Yet I’m grateful for the life of vitality He grants me, nonetheless—it’s so much easier to say “no” to my immediate desires now that I’ve walked this path long enough to see the abundant fruit of it. So when I’m asked how I can possibly say “no” to something as natural as sharing life with another person, I can only say this: I’d rather be single on an adventure with Jesus than distant from the one I love most.