Get off the Line
It would be thinking too small to simply say that the seven men sitting around my living room are gay. All of us love Jesus. All of us are a part of a diverse Christian group of men who gather regularly. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, all of the men in my house this Saturday morning do find themselves sexually attracted to other men.
Three in the group are married to women, one for over 40 years, one for over 20, one for not yet two. One man was monk. One went to seminary. One of the men in our group who was a missionary in China asked that we assemble together to share stories of where we are currently on our journey. I can't help but be struck by the diversity of our simple group. One of the men is tired of feeling as if he has been living a double life, occasionally meeting up with strangers for brief sexual encounters. He's at a point where he wants to be above board and date men to explore finding a lasting, healthy relationship. The friend to the left of him on the couch was in a relationship with a man for almost two years and had a horrible experience. He has no desire to be in a sexual relationship with a man ever again.
My young married friend to my left loves his wife deeply and finds himself sexually attracted to her and no other women. Our wise elder of the group, who felt God called him to marry his wife many years ago, is deeply devoted to her and his family and could never remotely fathom identifying as "gay," despite whatever sexual feelings he may have. The third married friend's marriage is crumbling, and he is in the process in mid-life of embracing his identity as a gay man.
Then there's me, a 47-year-old who has remained celibate for a lifetime. I have jokingly come to refer to myself as a "Quagga"—an animal that went extinct in the 19th century that looks like a combination of a zebra and a small horse but, as I like to point out, was neither. Although I have always embraced the conviction that God's desire for me is to not sexualize my same-sex impulses, I have intentionally as of late been having conversations with gay couples and men of faith who embrace a gay identity to hear their story and to see what God is doing in their lives.
This morning talking with the friends in my living room I ask, "What is God saying to you right now about homosexuality?" Various non-committal replies are given, but the youngest among us says, "I feel like there are these two points: gay and straight, and I have been trying to figure out where I am on the line between these two fixed points. God has been saying to me, 'Get off the line and move towards Me,' and that is simply what I'm trying to do."
My heart resonated with the truth, and I too have set my sights there as well, on a Savior who loves me beyond comprehension, in a world larger than a thin line and two dots.
Tim Timmerman is a visual artist and professor of art at George Fox University in Newberg, Oreg. He participated in ESA's first Oriented to Love dialogue in 2011. The image here is the author's own and can be found on his blog, A Bigger World Yet.