A few months ago a relative of mine, Ed, sent me and other members of our family a letter. It was open and honest about his struggles with his sexuality. He described how he found himself attracted to people of the same sex and yet he knew that the bible was clear that he shouldn’t put those desires into practice. It was a moving and beautiful letter. Ed said he wanted to be honest about his sexuality whilst at the same time he didn’t want to join the practising gay community. He said how he wanted to support other men and women who experience same-sex attraction, encouraging them to live a celebate life. His letter was amazing – full of integrity, truth and love.
It’s now some months later and Ed, along with some others, has launched livingout – an online community of Christians who experience same-sex attraction. Their website – livingout.org – says that they ‘are a group of Christians who experience same-sex attraction, and we want to share our stories, answer your questions, and recommend resources about Christianity and same-sex attraction.’ It’s a great site full of interesting articles and videos which I commend. Those who aren’t followers of Jesus will, I’m sure, think such a site and its proponents are strange and probably deluded, encouraging gay people to suppress their natural sexual desires. Maybe. Or maybe they’re just honest and caring people who genuinely think that gay practice is not the best way to live and that there’s an alternative. I choose to believe the latter.
livingout was launched in time for Advent. Advent is a good time to consider such things, as most people forget that the first Advent was full of questions and issues around sex. Ok, not gay sex, but sex in general. So most people, when they hear the stories want to know things like…
How can an elderly woman like Elizabeth get pregnant at her age?
Is it normal for ‘old’ people like Zechariah and Elizabeth to be having a fulfilling sex life?
Did Mary really get pregnant by the Holy Spirit, or was it really by Joseph, or someone else…?
And did Mary and Joseph really wait and, even after getting married, choose not to have sex until after Mary’s baby was born?
All this reminds us that questions about sex and relationships have been around for quite a long time!
At The Belfrey we recommended livingout at a recent seminar on same-sex attraction. The issues it raises are real and important and are worth considering. In fact relationships, sex and sexuality issues need talking about more often in life and particularly in church. That’s why The Belfrey’s recent Real Relationships series was a good introduction that we will develop further in the future. (The talks are online. The talk that my wife Sam and I did on ‘Married and really bored?’ interestingly sparked a lot of interest. You can listen by clicking here).
In all this I’m conscious that we’re treading on sensitive ground that people feel strongly about. I understand that. Nevertheless in a world where we’re increasingly told there are no sexual boundaries, I’m pleased that livingout offers an alternative voice.
Have you visited the livingout site? What do you make of it?