I recently came across this fascinating article by Christy McFerren while reading Denny Burk’s blog. Burk has been posting about gay and lesbian issues for a while now, and he has done a better job than most evangelical bloggers because he promotes the stories of men and women who actually struggle with same-sex attractions. He has written about Wesley Hill‘s Washed and Waiting, and now McFerren has thrown her hat into the ring of this emerging genre I call “struggle memoir.”

It’s hard to critique a memoir. Everyone’s struggle is individual. Everyone’s struggle is unique. I don’t just mean struggles with homosexuality; I mean struggles, period. So, let me clarify that I’m not criticizing McFerren’s struggle. In fact, her story is as glorious, miraculous, and touching as any redeemed sinner’s story. There’s a lot of good in this essay. The passage that Burk underlined, which I’m quoting here, is one of the best bits of prose I’ve read about any Christian struggle, not just against homosexuality:

“Sometimes I agreed with God about my sexuality because He is Lord, and love is a choice, and that is all. My emotions were left out of the equation so many times because I had to believe either my feelings were lying to me or God was. I purposed in my heart to honor God’s design no matter how it felt, for a very, very long time. I could feel in the waiting that Life was at work in me. Hope was at work in me.”

That’s pretty awesome, right?

But the rest of the article leaves me a little underwhelmed for reasons that I haven’t encountered before in all my years of blogging. The article isn’t the typical, tired, mainstream ex-gay narrative. McFerren doesn’t devolve into therapist-speak or pseudo-scientific theories about unfulfilled childhood needs that caused her sexual orientation, nor does she conflate dangerous lifestyle choices with homosexuality (that’s more of a male ex-gay thing, anyway).

As I’m writing this, even I’m having a hard time expressing what exactly rubs me the wrong way about McFerren’s article. Maybe it’s the first paragraph, where she says that even from a young age she knew homosexuality was intrinsically wrong. I think that might play into the evangelical stereotype that all gays and lesbians know their behavior is intrinsically wrong and that they are secretly ashamed of it. I know that’s not true. While you might be right to say that I should have had an early emotional conviction against my budding sexuality, I can’t say that I did. I didn’t. I liked men, I wanted to be with a man, romantically much more than physically, and I was angry with God for saying “no” to all of that.

McFerren had an emotional repulsion to the idea of growing old and dying with another woman. I had no such repulsion. It took convincing. It took the Bible. It took sound theology, a deep understanding of God, and wise friends who could point me in the right direction (even though many of those friends were just online acquaintances at the time). Maybe my natural aversion to charismatic Christians tripped me up when McFerren started talking about the “voice of God.”

Or maybe it’s simpler than that. McFerren does a great job of recounting how unbearably lonely this struggle can be. In fact, she says that she felt the loneliest after checking in to a live-in program.

But then, a paragraph later, she says she was never alone. OK, now we’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s what rubs me the wrong way about McFerren’s memoir. It’s inconsistent. Now, far be it from me to complain about someone having contradictory recollections of her struggle. My entire previous two blogs are a plethora of contradictory recollections. But I think McFerren hints at the fact that this is a lonely struggle, something that straight Christians don’t often understand (even when they mean well), and then she backtracks so that she doesn’t offend people.

It’s OK to fight. It really is. But I think the negative side effect of an article like McFerren’s is that those who do give up the struggle—and I see more and more of them every day—will be seen as simply giving up the fight as if that’s all their fault. It’s not. If McFerren is totally honest about the people that surrounded her, then she is a truly blessed woman who had incredible support and love. We don’t all have that, though. In fact, I’ll say that most of us don’t have that. Most churches are not well-equipped to deal with this issue (and many other “taboo” issues, too). What makes me cringe about this article is that a straight Christian man will see it and say, “Fight on!” to a struggling man or woman, and then he’ll do nothing to aid in the battle.



“Whether sexual orientation can change or not, hearts can change and turn any sexual orientation into an occasion for the glory of Christ.”

That’s a pretty incredible quote, and it’s coming from someone who is, to me, a pretty fantastic source. John Piper wrote those words in this recent post, and I’ve wanted to write about them for a few days. Work and school have gotten in the way—the thesis revisions are kicking my butt—but it is truly a great post, and I wanted to give it a shout-out.

Piper’s words remind me my last post, where I mentioned that my same-sex attractions aren’t necessarily “unwanted.” That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that they are disordered, as Piper calls them in his post. Nor do I see them as immutable. Like I wrote in “Unwanted,” I have friends in godly, beautiful heterosexual marriages, and I love and celebrate them.

I suppose what I like about Piper’s post is that it represents “a wise and cautious balance.” He’s right when he says that there aren’t just three groups: homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual. Sexuality is complicated, and even though I may sometimes call myself a homosexual for the convenience of using a single term, I know there’s more to me than that. I’m celibate. I’ve been in nonsexual, but real, romantic relationships with women. I’ve also been in nonsexual romantic relationships with men. I’ve been both promiscuous and chaste. My attractions are complex, and they wax and wane like the moon. I could be married with children one day, but I could still be attracted to men in general, the same way that a typical heterosexual man still finds women other than his wife beautiful. These attractions are temptations for both the homosexual man and the heterosexual man, but the ability to say “no” to them indicates regeneration.

It’s just tough to figure out the terminology. I still struggle with it, to be honest. Maybe my career as an English teacher makes me struggle. I want everything to be defined clearly. Change is inevitable. A soul touched by Christ cannot remain the same. It’s not possible. Even if that change doesn’t include a shift in sexual orientation, it will include a shift in outlooks, attitudes, ideas, and behaviors. Since we’re all on such a vast spectrum, how do we define each other? Should we even try to? That’s something I’m still thinking about. Obviously, we have to communicate about these issues, and words like “gay” and “straight” are helpful parts of the conversation, even though they also limit individuals.

These issues are always somewhere in the back of my mind, and I’m glad I have a blog where I can write them down.


One of the reasons I decided to blog again was because I was starting to feel old. Seriously. I know; I’m still only three years out of college, and I haven’t even hit the quarter-century mark yet, so I’m sure a few people are rolling their eyes at me right now, but it’s true. Back when I was blogging as a Christian collegian, things were exciting. I forced myself to engage with issues, stand up for my opinions, think about things from multiple angles, and, most importantly, connect with people of various viewpoints in a respectful, civil manner. I also learned how to slay trolls.

I wouldn’t have blogged if I wasn’t gay, and if I hadn’t blogged, I’m not sure I would have gained the personality traits I acquired over those four years. Those traits are some of the many positive things that came directly from my same-sex attractions. I acknowledge those positive things, and I often bristle when someone else notices my celibacy and my traditional stance on sexual morality and concludes that my homosexuality is “unwanted.”

Sin is unwanted. Evil desires must be put to death. Putting on Christ means putting off sin, not coddling it or making excuses for it. C. S. Lewis put it this way in one of my favorite quotes:

“Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: My own will shall become yours.’”

But note that I said “sin” here. When I talk about the positive things that have come from my same-sex attractions, I’m not talking about pornography or promiscuity. I’m not talking about lust or narcissism. I’m not talking about the subversion of God’s created order. I’m not talking about the moral relativists and their watered-down gospel that attempts to love without truth. Conservative is a bad word in many contexts these days, but that’s what I am. I’m a Christian. I believe in biblical infallibility.

I’m also a homosexual, and I don’t consider that an unwanted trait.

A gentleman named Jordan, who has quickly become one of my favorite bloggers in this ever-growing community of chaste gay evangelicals, recently wrote about what he would say if he were offered a magical cure to make him heterosexual. It’s a great read, so read it. He found that the decision would be almost impossible to make, and so would I. If some old man in a robe who looked like the late Richard Harris offered to wave a wand and make me straight, my response would be, “Why? What would that do?”

Seriously, what would be the benefit of that? If you bypass all the social and political injustices that gay people go through (and that’s a big “if,” I know), then, morally, heterosexuality has all the same problems as homosexuality. The pornography and promiscuity that I mentioned earlier? The lust and the narcissism? The preachers who say that God’s commands are relative or irrelevant? The progressive theologians who say that the values of chastity and monogamy are relics of a suppressed past? Straights deal with all of that crap too, so what’s the point? The only difference I can see is that I’d be trying to keep my eyes from lingering on different people and different body parts.

Oh, OK. Marriage is a big issue, I suppose. Being heterosexual would make it easier to enter a godly covenant with a Christian woman. Note that I said “easier.” I know that I gained a reputation during my college years as an outspoken advocate for lifelong celibacy, but it’s not like I’m opposed to gay men and women marrying heterosexually. I was merely reacting in opposition to the overwhelming pressure to marry that was very common among the typical ex-gays, and they were a little more relevant back then than they are today. Celibacy is my path right now, and I think it’s a good one, but it’s not for everyone. I get that.

I know gay men (whether they identify themselves by that term or not), who are married heterosexually. Some of the relationships seem wise, healthy, and Christ-centered. Others seem like disasters waiting to happen. Shocker of shockers, I’d say the same thing about the heterosexual couples I know! Marriage isn’t easy for anyone, and it’s less about sex than society makes it out to be, so the magic wand wouldn’t even ensure a healthy, happy marriage for me. It wouldn’t even open the door for one. That door is already open, and I’ve just chosen to go through a different door. (It’s a door that, incidentally, is also open to straight people. It’s easy to forget, but many straight Christians remain celibate too, and many of them by choice.)

So, sexual sin is unwanted. Lust, selfishness, pride, perversion, and greed are unwanted. What’s essential for well-meaning straight counselors to remember is that homosexuality isn’t limited to those things, just like heterosexuality isn’t. My struggles with homosexuality are experiences that helped me understand what it’s like to be “other.” Homosexuality is the issue that made me totally rely on Christ. It’s the issue that opened my eyes to my depravity (in all manners, sexual and otherwise) and my desperate need for a Savior. It’ll be completely gone one day, as will our human concept of heterosexuality, but the good work that Christ has done in me through that frailty is most certainly not unwanted.

Incredible Busyness

I’m a very busy person. It’s something that I’m used to because I don’t cope well with boredom. Even my vacations are eventful. Either I’m with my family, spending the majority of my time playing with my nieces, or I’m packing up and driving across the country to visit a friend whom I haven’t met in person before. Having nothing to do kind of horrifies me.

The year 2012 is my first year as a full-time classroom teacher. For the previous two years, I was a waiter and a substitute teacher here in Baltimore. The two jobs frequently overlapped, and I would come home from subbing only to turn around, put on my uniform, and work the closing shift at a restaurant. Now and then, I would get fed up and take a hiatus from one of the jobs. I’d tell my manager at the restaurant to not put me on the schedule for a few weeks, or I wouldn’t pick up my phone when the secretaries from the surrounding schools went through the list of available substitutes. I was exhausted, and keep in mind that I was also taking night classes for my master’s program a few times a week. But even then, I couldn’t stay away from both jobs for too long. Finances were only a partial factor. Ultimately, I just didn’t know what to do with myself on my nights off.

I said earlier that I struggled with depression about a year ago. I think working so much helped me get over it, especially since I didn’t receive any formal counseling or treatment. (By the way, don’t be an idiot like me. If you’re struggling with depression, see a professional. I was a fool not to, and it’s only by the grace of God that things got better on their own before they got horrible.) Working brought me outside of myself. Waiting tables and substitute teaching aren’t glamorous jobs by any means, and each job has its fair share of attached horror stories, but each job can also be enjoyable. These jobs put me in contact with a wide variety of new people almost every single day, and they allowed me to reinvent myself frequently. They forced me to learn how to be charming, personable, and authoritative.

They also provided excellent personal contacts. I met several good friends by bringing them their cheap beers and appetizers. That’s also how I met the secretary of the first school I ever subbed for. She helped get me that job, and through that post, I made friends with a fellow employee who helped me get my current, permanent position.

Being busy has been good for me, and this semester will not be an exception. It’s my first year as a full-time teacher, which means I will have to create lesson plans for my students every night. Unlike experienced teachers, I don’t have a big filing cabinet full of old lessons from which to choose. It’s also my last year in graduate school, and my thesis is due in December. It’s mostly written, but the revision process is a pain. Nevertheless, I’m excited about the work I’m doing. (I’m especially excited about being done!)

Blogging might seem a strange thing to take back up in the midst of all this incredible busyness, but I recall that I was just as busy in college, when I maintained my old blog. I was one of those kids who was in every club, worked every campus job, went to every social event people invited him to, and still got As (don’t hate). I also maintained a moderately successful blog and a ton of personal contacts. I think what helped was that, unlike recently, blogging gave my “free time” a structure. Instead of mindlessly waltzing around Facebook, not realizing where the time was going, I would go online, write something, and respond to some e-mails. Then, I’d close my laptop and do the actual work I had to do.

So, even though I’m incredibly busy, I hope this blog will help keep me task-oriented throughout the rest of this year. However, if you e-mail me or leave a comment and wonder why I don’t respond right away, know that I still get to use busyness as an excuse!

Getting Started Again

Hello! If you’re new, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Jay. I think I have a few more pen names floating around the Internet, but “Jay” is the one I’ve used the most.

It’s confusing, I know. I wish I could write more openly, but I’m a teacher, and my students are old enough to do a quick Internet search. The Internet is one of the few places where I can be outspokenly Christian, outspokenly gay, and outspokenly conservative all at the same time. If I didn’t use a pseudonym, my students could read about all of that stuff. I doubt I’d lose my job over it, but it would still be an unwelcome distraction.

So, I’m a chaste, gay, conservative Christian. Actually, most political quizzes, like this one, tell me I’m an “average independent.” I hate being an “average” anything, but I’m a registered Democrat who tends to vote Republican, so I guess that makes sense.

I used to write this other blog back when I was in college; it got a lot of hits and made me famous in the emerging chaste, gay, conservative Christian blogosphere. OK, not really. But it did help me meet a lot of interesting people, many of whom have become good friends. We’re not just “like each other’s Facebook statuses” friends; we’re “get in a car, find random weekends to visit each other, call each other when we’re feeling blue, and send birthday and Christmas cards” friends. That has honestly been special.

Although Adventures of a Christian Collegian is six years old, I still think of it very fondly. Even though I went through a lot of angst back while I was writing it, I had a lot of fun maintaining that blog. Although I’ve been a graduate student and working adult for the past two years, I’ve periodically felt the urge to start blogging again. I did attempt another blog. It started off well, but it ended up chronicling my adventures in depression. Other than that, I’ve stayed away from the blogosphere.

Now that I’m mentally in a much better place, I think it’s time to start blogging again. I am a schoolteacher, and I’m also finishing up my master’s thesis, so this blog might end up getting buried under the weight of all my other responsibilities, but I certainly hope not. Blogging is a great chance to vent, and even when I’m lesson planning, grading papers, and turning in a revision to my thesis adviser for the 30th time, I can always take a short break to vent. I hope whoever reads this enjoys the ride!