If you are reading this post and the title describes you, let me begin by saying that you are not the first person who has wondered about this issue. You probably are being a bit discreet, reading this privately to see what it says. Many people in this generation are asking the same question about whether they are gay or not. Though you are most likely reading this alone, you are not alone in the thoughts you are having.
Since you are thinking about this matter, and I imagine you have been considering it for some time now, please let me ask you to consider three further questions this issue should raise in your mind.
How is your sexual self-identity determined?
Wondering about or even calling yourself gay is not just a matter of sexual activity, but of identity. Those who refer to themselves as gay see it as a lifestyle. Many gay people describe their experience as a journey of self-discovery, as they come to a point in their lives where they realize they are attracted to the same sex. Perhaps you believe that you have arrived at this very juncture in your own life.
Yet have you given serious thought to how your sexual self-identity is determined? Is it based on experiences, feelings, and thoughts we have as we grow older? Can our sexual identity be changed, like clothes or food preferences, multiple times over our lives, or is it more “hardwired” into us from birth? As many claim, do social norms prevent those who are born gay from coming to this self-realization until they reach a certain point in their lives? Regardless, the first question to ask is this one: “Is it truly up to the individual to decide or discover his or her own sexual identity?”
You may think the answer to that last question is simply “Of course! Who else but the individual can determine whether he or she is gay or not?” Yet think about this for a moment. None of the rest of the factors that make up your identity is solely self-determined. You were born with a biological gender that you did not determine for yourself. You were also born into a family that you did not choose, which forms a great part of who you are. Your other physical characteristics, such things as your height, eye color, or ethnic make-up, were not your choices. Many of your emotional qualities, from being an introvert or an extrovert to whether you are generally melancholy or optimistic in your outlook, seem to most scientists to be given to us genetically. Even the vocation you have or aspire to, which forms a chief part of your identity and is often the means by which most people will refer to you, is not completely self-determined. Rather, gifts you possess are recognized, cultivated, and encouraged by others, leading you to see the unique contributions you can make in this world. If this is so, then should not others help you to determine your sexual identity, as this will affect all of your relationships in life?
Perhaps that’s the essence of why you are wondering if you are gay: influences, be they positive or negative, from family, friends, media, and personal interactions with others, have led you to think in this direction. That leads me to ask you the next question.
What thinking process have you gone through that has led you to this point?
“I think I may be gay.” The statement itself speaks of your thought process. Our minds have a constant stream of thoughts flowing through them; we meditate steadily on ideas and objects that interest and influence us. When and why did you start thinking about being gay?
Undoubtedly you can trace it to one or more key factors. Gay people have shared the diverse factors influencing their thinking in this direction, such as: someone of the same sex being kind and attractive to them; exposure by a friend to a sex act; teaching they received in a school; the portrayal by the media of the fun-loving and accepting atmosphere of the gay community; or a reaction against an authoritative parent. My point in raising this is that due to the influence of others, be it positive or negative, your thinking regarding your own gayness has been influenced and changed by other people, has it not?
If you think about the mental path you have been on, I imagine you will realize that you have been meditating on a host of influences such as the ones above. Questions about your sexual self-identity have been in process for quite some time. Since you are still questioning whether you are gay or not, I would like to ask you, as part of this process, to be willing to reflect a moment on a third and final question.
Are you willing to have your thinking influenced by the One who made you?
You have let others influence you greatly. Yet may I ask, “What about God?” Have you searched His recorded thoughts on sexual identity in the Bible and have you let them guide your thinking? Should you not consider what the One who caused you to be born into your family, chose your ethnicity, gave you your eye color, and made you with certain strengths and weaknesses has to say about an issue so important, one that will influence the rest of your life?
For your careful consideration, here are three basic truths from the Bible you can know about your identity.
First, as we read in the Bible’s very first chapter, you are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Whatever you consider as your identity, please first and foremost do not forget that you are made to be like God in many ways, such as being thoughtful, deliberate in your actions, and deeply communicative. Furthermore, He calls you to reflect His desire for your life in all that you do. This includes your sexual orientation. Sadly, both heterosexuals and homosexuals have made sexuality an end in itself, forsaking what God says about it, and consequently have made it a god in their own image. This idolatry creates the frustration, pain, and unhappiness we so often see in those whose lives are chiefly identified with sexuality rather than with the God whose image they bear. This is a vitally important point.
Next, you are either a male or a female according to the Bible (Genesis 1:27). This does not just speak of your “biological plumbing,” but that your gender is coded into your every cell, shaping your thinking, feeling, and doing. Yes, because both men and women are made in God’s image, there is so much the two genders share in common. A boy may be attracted to, think like, or do things that are typically associated with a girl, or vice versa. However, children still develop and reveal more and more of their gender differentiation as they grow in body and soul. As men and women, they have differing roles in the family, society, and church. The Bible’s pattern and precepts are clear. Men generally are to lead and protect; women generally are to submit and nurture. Boys are to grow up into men and, if married, be wed to a woman; girls are to grow up into women and, if married, be wed to men. Yes, as difficult as it may be to hear, desiring to be gay is contrary to how God thinks and wants you to think. What, or who, is the ultimate source in your thinking about being gay? Now please consider the final Biblical truth.
We all are born with hearts that one biblical prophet said are “deceitful and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:10). Your heart has been deadened by sin since you were first conceived by your father and mother, leading you and everyone else to all types of sexual confusion. Be it sex before marriage, intercourse with another’s wife, a man dressing up as a woman, or two women getting married, all of these inclinations and actions are symptoms of a far greater problem. One person thinks he is gay, another thinks having sex with many women is okay, and yet another thinks he is better than both because he has done neither. All of these thoughts are coming from hearts that reveal none of us are able to think or live as God designed us to do.
So what are you to do? At this point, you probably are expecting me to start talking about Jesus. I would love to do so; that is always where we want to go in significant conversations. But the purpose of this brief post is to prime your thinking as to basic questions. Because this is such a significant issue, you need to talk in person with a pastor who can help you. Please call or email one in a church that believes the Bible in order to talk this issue over with him, or write me and if you tell me where you live I can refer you to one. In the meantime, I would also like to encourage you to read two short books. One is called, interestingly enough as we are talking about thinking, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. It tells the story of Rosaria Butterfield, a former English professor in gay and lesbian studies, who describes her difficult journey from the gay lifestyle to Christ. Before you journey into this lifestyle, why not think with one who has been there and travelled out of it? The other is a book some pastor friends wrote treating more fully and faithfully the Biblical passages on sexual orientation.
May God help you truly think through this issue.