Some of us would say he struggles with same-sex attraction. It’s our way of avoiding the word “gay”.
But Greg Coles doesn’t avoid the word; he embraces it.
His book–Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity–is beautifully written and raw.
When he realized–as an adolescent–that he was not attracted to girls, he prayed to God to make him straight. He continued to pray. Over the years, he dated girls.
He did not become straight.
Here was a young man, fully devoted to Christ, with no form of rebellion in his heart, yearning to be normal, yearning to be right.
He suffered two seasons of doubt–first briefly questioning God and the Bible–then questioning the biblical view of sexuality. He still has questions and challenges. But he is steadfast in his commitment to biblical purity.
Life today–gay, single, celibate, and Christ-honoring–is “exhilarating”, he says.
His journey to single faithfulness was not short or easy. But it was worthwhile if complex.
“I’m happy, and it’s a very complicated kind of happy.”
Yet he doesn’t seem to feel that he alone is challenged–even if his challenge is different from mine or yours.
“Following Jesus in costly ways is something we’re all called to.”
He says the church could “uncomplicate the experience” for people like him, referring to those who were less than accepting despite his deep commitment to sexual purity.
Yet there were those who “cared more about loving me more than they cared about my life lining up with their view of what life should look like.”
I suspect these people made the difference for him. They made it possible for him to come out of the closet where he hid his own challenges–and minister to others like him–and others unlike him.
From his book: “[T]he road of celibacy for gay Christians remains a distinctly complex calling. To not only resist sexual urges but to try to banish the thought of ever fulfilling them. To have no daydreams of a future romance, no wistful marriage plans. To feel like the very core of your sexual desire and the faith you hold most dear are at odds with each other. There are sufferings far worse than this, but there is none quite the same” (39).
Greg Coles isn’t just a Christian guy with a sex problem. He is a worship leader at his church. He ministers to people. And he has some advice for those of us who might seek to minister to someone struggling as he has.
“If someone comes out to you, I hope you love them more.”
Many of us tend to think of LGBT issues in terms of US and THEM. We are standing up for God’s truth. They are working to undermine our freedom to freely declare truth.
On the other side of the coin is the LGBT view of freedom of expression vs. a perception of our bigotry.
But as Greg might say, it’s more complicated than that. He and many others stand between US and THEM.
Greg is one of THEM in his understanding of the challenges they face. Yet, he is one of US in his Christian commitment. He is my brother.
To others walking on his path, we can show the love Greg sometimes received and sometimes did not. It’s the love that sees him as God sees all of us–each with our own sufferings.
I heard Greg speak at the Pure Freedom Master Class last week. His joy and his transparency impressed me. Because he is open about his faith walk, others can be open with him about theirs. That is true Christian ministry. That is the church.
There were several speakers at the conference who delivered profound messages. Another spoke to the issue of ministering to those with challenges such as Greg’s. She said, no matter who we’re serving, “the Gospel remains the same.”
May we always show the love of Christ to those who hurt in ways we cannot experience–who walk in a way we do not understand.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
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