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"I walked away from Alice, the love of my life": same sex attraction and the cost of discipleship

John Stott | May 16th 2017

This moving story of one woman’s struggle to remain faithful to the Bible’s teaching is one example of the many thousands in our churches...

Alice was everything I had ever wanted in a partner. After two previous long-term relationships and a few dalliances, I just knew that she was “it”. We were destined to grow old together.

And then randomly, as a non-believer, I started reading the Bible.

When I wasn’t at work, I had my head stuck in this book, and was devouring every word in front of me. During the subsequent months, although I don’t recall reading any of the specific passages, I came to realise that my gay life and behaviour were simply not compatible with this holy and all-powerful God. I just knew that I couldn’t become a Christian and continue with life as I knew it.

I just knew that I couldn’t become a Christian and continue with life as I knew it.

This left me in a dilemma, for I had only been attracted to my own gender since childhood. The sense of feeling different began around the age of three and only ever deepened and clarified as I entered puberty. While my friends at school started to drool over pictures of pop stars and became giddy at the sight of certain lads from the boys’ school, I longed to be the recipient of their affection. I longed to love and be loved. In the 1970s, however, these were not the kind of feelings to which one could admit. I entered university at 18, finally finding other like-minded women, and soon engaged in my first physical relationship.

Over time, being gay not only felt completely natural to me, but it also became central to who I was as a person; and besides, at this particular stage in my life, I loved and was committed to Alice. The ideal scenario would be for me to become a Christian and continue actively living my life as a gay woman.

I didn’t speak to anyone about my conflict, and in those days, there was precious little to read on the subject. As much as I wanted to absorb Christianity into my life, the more I read God’s word, the less I was convinced that this was possible. This God, if he was who he said he was, demanded so much more than mere integration; he demanded sole rights.

And yet, I was smitten. I was being been wooed by someone who offered everything—everlasting life and love, protection and vision, peace and unfailing commitment. In return, however, this someone demanded that I lay aside all that I had ever known and commit fully to a person I hardly knew.

The angels may well have been rejoicing in heaven at the moment of my conversion, but joy was far from me. I knew that what I was doing was right, but I cried tears of sorrow knowing, at least in part, the immediate cost of taking up the cross of obedient discipleship. I walked away from Alice, the love of my life, a keenly anticipated future, and a mindset that had been fashioned over a 25-year period. My conversion to Christ happened at 2:30 am on January 23 1985.

It would be a lie to say that these past 32 years have been ones of unremitting joy. Like everyone else, my life has been a mixture of both blessings and loss. Choosing to live life in obedience to God’s created order is a tough call for every believer, irrespective of orientation, attraction or marital status. But it is not an impossible call, and neither does it automatically resign a man or woman to lifelong doom and gloom. However, I haven’t always found the single life to be one of endless joy and satisfaction. I have often found it to be a difficult and lonely path, especially during my 30s and early to mid-40s when my contemporaries seemed fully focused on and engaged in marriage and child-rearing. During that time, their friendships seemed forged at the school gates and via their children’s friends and hobbies. It was hard not to think back to seemingly happier days (Numbers 11:5) and wonder “what if?”.

Obedience to God’s word truly offers a quality of life that far exceeds the cost of commitment.

But obedience to God’s word truly offers a quality of life that far exceeds the cost of commitment. Denying myself the easy option of self-satisfaction has exposed the sin-infected attitudes and behaviours that are inherent in all who fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and has driven me to find solace and solution in him. This treasured relationship has opened the door to service both in my local church and all around the world.

This is an extract from Same Sex Relationships —an updated and extended edition of John Stott’s masterful exposition of the subject from Issues Facing Christians Today. It is launched on July 1.

John Stott

John Stott CBE (1921 – 2011) was a Christian leader and Anglican clergyman who is noted as a leader of the worldwide evangelical movement. He is famous as one of the principal authors of the Lausanne Covenant in 1974. John Stott was ordained into the ministry of the Church of England in 1945 and has served the same church ever since. He was assistant pastor of All Souls for 5 years, the senior pastor (Rector) for 25, and Rector Emeritus since 1975. During the last quarter century he had been set free (under the auspices of the Langham Partnership) to travel the world, especially for ministry to pastors and students. He has been a Chaplain to the Queen since 1959. He was President of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

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