Evangelical voices persist: What about traditional believers who didn’t choose to be gay?

Here’s a remarkable book with news potential that no reputable evangelical publisher would have issued, say, five or 10 years ago: “Single Gay Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity” by Gregory Coles.

Significantly, New Testament scholar D.A. Carson, a staunch conservative, blurbs that the work “needs to be thoughtfully read by straight people, and by gay people, by unbelievers and by Christians” -- and read “with humility.”

The publisher is the book division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, long hassled by many colleges because its student officers are expected to uphold Christian tradition, including the limitation of sex to one-man- one-woman marriage. Last year, IVCF reaffirmed that policy for employees, sparking media coverage. (InterVarsity hires those of  “LGBTQI identity” if they support its orthodox stance on sexual morals.)

Coles is a church musician and active member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in State College, Pa. He’s solidly evangelical, thus takes seriously what the Bible teaches, carefully examined the arguments from liberal revisionists but concluded that scripture opposes same-sex marriages and sexual relationships.

What then? Though he has no idea why, since youth he’s been “unable to conjure even the slightest heterosexual desire,” and this is no “choice.” He prayed earnestly. He cried. He “felt dirty, worthless, irredeemable.” After long struggles he “stopped praying to be straight” and doesn’t see how that could ever occur. Thus, he’s concluded that he is “a thing that wasn’t supposed to exist: a single gay Christian.”    

The book is a heartfelt plea to fellow evangelicals to rethink their approach to this, the most divisive issue to face U.S. Protestantism since slavery. His case also carries major implications for church attitudes toward heterosexual singles and, though he doesn’t address it, perhaps for the difficult transgender issue as well. Meanwhile, he implicitly challenges Christian liberals to figure out ministry to gays like himself who are convinced God requires celibacy and singleness.  

What about the “ex-gay” movement? Coles says such groups “may have done some good even in the midst of their incredible damage.” They “vigorously promoted orientation change as the best hope for gay Christians” while ignoring the evidence to the contrary. Though Coles thinks orientation change is possible in “rare” cases, holding out that hope is “irresponsible” for most gays.

Then this: “Living without sex is difficult. Living without intimacy is a death sentence.” Society and the church celebrate intimacy within families and between spouses, but where does that leave celibate gays? “If my sexuality gives me an advantage in building non-sexual relationships with women, does it disadvantage me in my relationships with other guys?”

Among his conclusions: “Our deepest sexual desires can wait for another world, for another life, for another kind of fulfillment. But a life of longing isn’t a life without happiness.”

Simultaneously, newswriters should note this word from Rachel Gilson, a staffer with Cru, another major evangelical campus ministry. Her article in the October Christianity Today magazine (paywall warning) is bluntly headlined, “I Never Became Straight: God Hasn’t Removed My Attraction to Women. Perhaps That Was Never His Goal in the First Place.” She’d never insist that marriage is “normal” or “correct” for Christians with same-sex attraction. For them, “heterosexuality is not the end goal” but “faithfulness to God,” and that may mean lifelong celibacy.

Once again: There is news potential here for those with the eyes to see it.

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