Let me start by saying that this book is probably my favourite book I have read so far this year. It is insightful, thought-provoking, challenging, and vulnerable, and it brings a unique perspective to one of the topics most likely to spark a heated discussion among Christians.
It’s easy to debate the “issue” of homosexuality and to forget that we are actually talking about people- people made in God’s image, each unique and with their own story to tell. We need to hear the voices of these people- to listen and to seek to understand, and in this book, Gregory Coles bravely shares his story of being a single gay Christian.
He makes no claim to have all the answers:
“I’m not a story with a moral, I’m just a half-written story, untidy and full of tangents, everything up for grabs. I’m just a human being.”
Instead he describes his journey and his struggle in wrestling with the question of what it means to identify both as gay and as Christian.
His account is sprinkled with wisdom gained, often painfully, along the way as he tries to walk this difficult path, frequently feeling that he belongs nowhere: judged by many Christians for something that feels involuntary, and misunderstood by much of the LGBTQ community because of his choice to interpret the teaching of the Bible as a call to celibacy.
I hope you will read the book for yourself as it shares a perspective that needs to be heard, but I am going to share some of my favourite quotes to whet your appetite.
On reading the Bible and accepting its authority:
On the cost of Christian obedience and the suggestion that celibacy is too costly a calling:
“Obedience is supposed to be costly. When Jesus told his followers to take up their crosses and follow him, he wasn’t just calling them to place heftier checks in the offering plate or to put up with the occasional irritation at work. He was calling them to blood and sorrow and unspeakable agony. He was calling them to death.”
On his struggle with Christians who want to pray repeatedly that God will change his sexual orientation:
“I do believe orientation change is possible, just like I believe in parting seas and multiplying bread and water turned to wine. But it’s irresponsible for us to treat miracles like everyday occurrences. If we do, the miracles lose their wonder when they come, and we shatter thousands of fragile hearts as we promise miracles in vain.”
On the lack of understanding he faces from some Christians:
“When a straight Christian says to a celibate gay Christian, “Forget labels- we all have to resist sexual temptation,” it feels a bit like a person on a diet telling a diabetic, “I know what it’s like to avoid sugar.”
On how his calling to gay celibacy has deepened his relationship with God:
“The calling of gay celibacy is a calling to longing. It’s an admission that our deepest sexual desires can wait for another world, for another life, for another kind of fulfilment… And someday, when I look into the face of my Saviour, I will taste the fulfilment of intimacy a thousand times sweeter than any pale earthly imitation.”
There are no easy answers and Christians will continue to have a range of different views over homosexuality and sexual identity, but surely we have to listen to those directly affected- to make space for them to share their stories and to come with an openness to listen, to learn, and to understand.
If you are interested in exploring the topic of faith and sexual identity some more, I would also recommend reading The Way Of Hope by Melissa Fisher. You can read my review here.
I’m grateful to InterVarsity Press and Netgalley for access to an advance digital copy of this book. I only share books here that I believe will genuinely be beneficial to my readers.
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