This is part 2 of an interview with someone who shouldn’t exist: a “unicorn”, as far as secular culture is concerned.
You see, “Jenna” is same-sex attracted, but has decided not to act on her attraction, nor define herself by it.
Akos: You’ve told a number of people now about your same-sex attraction. How did that go?
Jenna: At first, they were the scariest and weirdest conversations I’ve ever had. But after the initial four or five people knew, all of them had the same advice for me: pray about it, and you need to tell somebody else. At first, I was like: That’s so stupid. I can’t tell anybody else. Don’t you get that this was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done?
But they said: In order for you to be able to live your life, it has to be done. So I eventually wrote a letter explaining things that had happened in the past, and where I’m at now.
Akos: So what sort of responses did you get, as you told more people?
Jenna: I sent my first batch of letters by email to three people. The next day I got emails back from each of them. And all three of them said: ‘I’m so proud of you. You’re so brave’. And I’m just sitting there, thinking I couldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for God. I felt a little uncomfortable with all the praise they heaped my way. But the response was so overwhelmingly positive. Not what I was expecting.
Akos: What response were you expecting?
Jenna: The end of my world.
Akos: What you mentioned earlier [in part 1 of this interview]?
Jenna: The ripping apart of everything I held dear. But looking back now, I think that’s ridiculous: how could I possibly think that could have happened?
Akos: I wonder if those fears aren’t completely unfounded? I wonder if the church is in a better place now to care for same-sex attracted Christians than, say, 30 years ago…
Anyway, what have been some helpful things Christians have said/done after you told them about your same-sex attraction?
Jenna: Individual Christians have responded in different ways, but the majority have been good and helpful. The first thing I needed to hear was along the lines of: this doesn’t change the way I see you. Thank you for sharing. I still love you. They are the most important things at the time that I needed to hear: that I’m still loved and accepted.
Akos: What are some perhaps good-intentioned, but unhelpful responses from Christians?
Jenna: At first, I was very thankful for people advising different literature: articles, talks, and books I should go check out. But after I had told more people, people would be coming to me, telling me to go watch this online, or talk to that person, and that became very overwhelming. I understand the good intentions behind it: they’re not quite sure how to react, or what to say, so they’ll point to other people who’ve had a similar experience to me.
But it’s not helpful, because I’m not coming to them for answers or advice, or for them to “fix it” (they can’t fix it); I’m coming to them because it’s something I struggle with, and I don’t want it to be left in the dark anymore.
Akos: There may be people reading this interview, who are Christian and same-sex attracted, but haven’t told anyone. What advice would you give them?
Jenna: Find an older, more mature Christian that you trust, and tell them. It will be awkward, and the hardest thing they ever do. But the benefits will be phenomenal.
Akos: There will also be non-Christians reading this. And as you know, we live in a culture where same-sex desire is celebrated as a good thing. When you told non-Christian friends about your same-sex desires, what were their responses?
Jenna: First of all confusion. Like: ‘So you’re not a Christian anymore?’ Which really made no sense. Of course I’m still a Christian: I can have these desires, and still be a Christian.
Another response was: ‘That’s awesome! You’ve finally figured it out! You can go out and have a relationship now!.
Akos: So in non-Christian eyes you were boxed in as someone who can’t be Christian for merely having same-sex desires. And having same-sex desires meant you had to act on them because it’s key to your identity?
Akos: Being same-sex attracted yet determined not to act on those desires is pretty confusing for a lot of non-Christians in our culture today. What might you say to someone reading this, to help them better understand where you’re coming from?
Jenna: I’m not looking for my [same-sex] desires to be fulfilled because I know that God is real, and I know that I’m going to heaven, and I’ve been forgiven of my sins. It’s a very strange concept, I’ll admit.
Then add on top of that, not acting on same-sex desires is completely counter-cultural. But I’m not going to act on those desires because I’m putting God first. And it’s hard: it’s unbelievably hard, and there are days I don’t want to, but nothing is ever going to change my mind.
Akos: Is there anything else that Christians can do to support people like yourself: same-sex attracted, yet wanting to live a godly, faithful life?
Jenna: Let me say there’s a stereotype that Churches don’t accept same-sex attracted people at all. But I feel more accepted by my church than I do by society.
Akos: Is that because society would look at you, and think you’re weird for not wanting to act on your same-sex desires?
Jenna: That’s right. When my non-Christian friends found out that I was same-sex attracted, they could not comprehend why I would not act on this desire.
Akos: Have you any desire to connect with the LGBTI community, say on your campus?
Jenna: None whatsoever. Because for starters, it wouldn’t be helpful for me: I’ve made this decision not to act on my same-sex desires, so if I was to surround myself with people who are acting on these desires, and celebrating our [sexual] brokenness, it would put me in a position of temptation.
It would put me in a position where I had to choose between my acting on my feelings, or serving God.
Akos: Is there anything else that you’d like to say about your journey, and where you’re at?
Jenna: Once I realised this is what I struggle with, I could only see four options for my life:
Firstly, deny God, and go out and try and be happy as best I can. I did that, and it just didn’t work. It had terrible, terrible consequences.
Secondly, deny that my same-sex attraction was there. And keep up the facade that I had it all together as a Christian, but leaving this in the dark. And that didn’t work.
Thirdly, as drastic as it sounds, it was to deny my life, to kill myself, because I didn’t feel I could live with these feelings. This didn’t work, obviously, and it’s not a viable option.
Fourthly, not follow my feelings of same-sex attraction, but follow God. To bring it out into the open, and say: I do struggle with these feelings of same-sex attraction, but I’m not going to act on them. This is the option that works.
Akos: Jenna, I’m so thankful for the way God is working in you. Thanks for helping Christians and non-Christians better understand what’s it like to be a same-sex attracted Christian.