We sipped our iced coffees to combat the warm, humid Nashville summer and to deliver some much needed caffeine to our systems on a Thursday morning. In between interruptions by my dog, Juniper, dashing into the room—squeaky toy in mouth and begging us to wrestle and throw the stuffed animal—my friend proceeded to share with me his exhaustion.
He was tired of experiencing same-sex attraction and trying reconcile that with the traditional sexual ethics of his family and church. He was tired of attempting to quench his loneliness in friendship, only to find Christian community to be surface-level and noncommittal. He was tired of being alone but being blamed when he reaches out from his emptiness for forbidden things. He was tired of being told that his relationship with God should be enough, when those telling him that are married with children—they don’t practice God alone being enough. He was tired of being gay in a Church where there are seemingly no good options for gay people.
We mourned that when God made Adam, he made him in a way that God alone would not be enough. He saw that Adam was alone when all he had was God, and He saw that that was not good—even before the fall! Life would be so much simpler if all we needed was God.
We shared our frustration with a Church that has been corrupted by western individualism—where any true sense of community or family or belonging has been cast aside. The Body of Christ is no longer a believer’s first family: it is more like a book club that gathers weekly to sing songs, study an old book, and share a light snack. So for those without a nuclear family, there is nothing for you. My friend was tired of holding out for the day when this changes, saying, “I can’t endure a lifetime of being alone, and the Church doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon."
To him, it seems like the only option left is the option that a majority of Christians have selected out of default: seek a monogamous, loving relationship with a person you are attracted to and navigate the complexities and imperfections of that union. Get your needs met. Take care of yourself. And hope that God sees your desperation and has mercy.
What is even more saddening for me, is that this is not the first time I have sat across the table from someone I love and heard these words. I would have shed tears with this brother in Christ but for the fact that I have no more to shed—sadness for these brothers and sisters in Christ can easily become despair after you hear enough stories and see so little change in the Church.
But I refuse to despair. I refuse to abdicate. We can be a Church where sexual minorities find acceptance, unconditional love, and community. We can be a Church that fosters a rich culture of singleness where the Body of Christ is our first family. We can be a Church where sexual minorities can belong.