What is it like to be a Christian who believes the Bible’s teaching that homosexual activity is a sin and who realizes that he is sexually attracted to others of his sex? Wesley Hill knows the answer to that question. He decided that the only way he could be obedient to the Bible was to live a life of celibacy. He has written a book called Washed and Waiting in which he describes his experiences. Here is what he says about his reasons for writing the book.
When I began to wrestle with my homosexuality in a serious way, I was a Christian and a committed church member. The first people with whom I wanted to talk about my experience of same-sex desires were the pastors and elders at my church. Compassionate and understanding people that they were, these leaders looked for books and resources to help me grapple with what I was facing.
Disappointingly, however, we all came up short. There just didn’t seem to be any books we could find that described what it felt like to wrestle with homosexuality from the inside, as it were—as a Christian. There were plenty of books that talked about the causes and the results of homosexuality in individuals and families. There were also lots of books that talked about the “culture wars” and the relevant biblical passages and the governmental legislation about homosexuality and marriage. But, unfortunately, it was hard to find a personal, pastoral book that said, “Here is what it looks like to be a Christian and experience the reality of homosexuality firsthand. Here is my story…”
That’s why I wrote my book—to describe, primarily for celibate gay Christians themselves, my experience of homosexual desires and my commitment to Christianity’s traditional position that sex is intended to be experienced only within marriage between a man and a woman. I wanted to assure gay Christians, many of whom remain deeply committed to Scripture, that their struggles—with the “why” questions, with loneliness, shame, and the hunger for love—are shared by many in the church. I wanted gay Christians to realize they aren’t alone as they seek, in their own way, to “grow up into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15) along with the rest of their fellow Christians.
My hope is that this book will help pastors better understand what it looks and feels like to be a Christian facing the reality of one’s own broken sexuality. The result, I hope, will be a greater sensitivity to one another’s weaknesses, and a deeper commitment to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) in the fellowship of Christ’s Body.
In addition to telling the story of his own life he tells us something about the lives of Henri Nouwen and Gerard Manley Hopkins, who both faced the same problem and found the same solution to it.
There are three groups of people who would be helped by reading this book.
The first is Christians who face the same temptation that Hill does. They will find that they aren’t alone and that like any other Christian they can rely on God’s promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13,
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
The second group is Christians who want to understand homosexuality better so they will know how to help those who are facing this problem.
And finally the book will also help nonChristians understand what the Bible really teaches about this subject.
There is a wide range of attitudes toward homosexuality on the part of professing Christians. At one extreme there are groups like the Westboro Baptist Church who condemn anyone who is tempted in this area even if he never gives in the the temptation and at the other are churches who encourage homosexuals to follow their impulses and who never warn them that what they are doing is wrong. The Bible teaches that we should avoid both these extremes and this book gives practical advice on how to do this.
Wesley Hill is also an editor and contributor to this blog: