I've spent something like 14 years in various men's groups. There was the reparative therapy group, the ex-gay support group, the accountability group, the new-age male initiation group, the gay bible study. What can I say? I'm a professional groupie.
In all those years, there was one question no one could answer. It was the question that bubbled to the surface time and again among ex-gay and Side B Christians: How can I ever be sure same-sex relationship is OK? How can I know, unambiguously and unreservedly, that God would bless my relationship? How can I know I'm not stepping into sin?
My inability to answer this question left me in moral paralysis for years, in no small part because the spiritual leaders in my life latched onto this uncertainty and twisted it into a weapon. They'd say things like: "If there's even the slightest chance that same-sex relationship is sinful, you can't do it." And: "Anything that could lead to sin is simply not worth the risk." And: "The only safe path is celibacy." These are easy declarations when your own life isn't on the line.
I consider this type of Christianity "answer worship." It's a kind of spirituality that relies so heavily on the need for answers that believers refuse to move until they have an unequivocal message from God. What they fail to see is that uncertainty is not a weakness, but rather a strength. What they fail to recognize is that a life of faith is, by its nature, a life characterized by uncertainty.
My friend Mindy shared with me a quote from Franciscan friar Richard Rohr that I rather like: "People of deep faith develop a high tolerance for ambiguity, and come to recognize that it is only the small self that needs certitude or perfect order all the time. The Godself is perfectly at home in the River of Mystery."
It's magical, this space of ambiguity. I felt so free the moment I realized that God would never fully answer my questions about same-sex relationship. It sounds counterintuitive, but it saved my faith. I was free from the endless quest for answers. I was free from having to know. Instead, God invited me into relationship with Him, and He offered to hold all of my confusion and anger and grief over my uncertainty. His only answer to my question has ever been: Seek me.
This idea may sound radical: I've come to believe that inaction based on fear of sin is more sinful than acting with a genuine intention to follow God. Another way of putting it is, I think it's better to misstep with the intention of following God, than to never take a step at all. How can God ever use us if we refuse to crawl out of our self-imposed cages? How can we offer anything to others when all of our energy is focused on withholding and repressing?
If we step out in faith, seeking the way to God in the dark wilderness of life, He will guide us to the wild adventures intended for us. I believe He will correct me when I'm off course, as long as I seek His light. And He will find a way to draw me back to the right path. We are all on a hero's journey, and the outcome is never certain. Inherent to adventure is risk. And the first step is to answer the call. This does not mean everyone should pursue romantic relationship; it only means we should act out of a trust in God rather than fear of sin.
People ask: How can you be so sure of your marriage when you don't have all the answers? Keep in mind that I'm not jumping straight from singleness to marriage with nothing in between. Tino and I have taken more than a year's worth of slow steps together on this wonderful adventure. I've checked in with God constantly, and have experienced His blessing over us time and again. I've felt His presence in the way He has grown us, and I've seen the fruit our relationship has borne within us and in the community around us. I have confidence in my love for Tino and in the way our love makes me feel closer to God.
That's evidence enough for me. It's better than certainty; it's trust. That's what I believe God wants of us: not certainty in knowing every step of the way, but trust that He will guide us.