Note: 1.) I don’t usually talk about faith or religion, but I do very starkly in this one, I even use Bible verses, so if you choose to read it just be aware of that. 2.) Even though I welcome and encourage discussion and constructive criticism and have no problem with that, I will not tolerate hate on this post since it is about acceptance. If you choose to try to leave hate in my comment section, I will cheerfully delete it. You’ve been warned.
In writing this, I have to admit that this is not the first time I’ve breached the topic. I posted “Why God Made Me Bisexual” a couple of years ago which was me explaining why I feel convicted to be open about my sexuality and speak about it so often despite me not wanting to be labeled “the bisexual writer.” And last year I posted “Good Girl” which apart from being so revealing that I still cringe while reading it and ask myself why on earth I thought it was a good idea to expose myself like that is also a very emotional look into how tightly I sexually repressed myself because of the idea that bisexual women are immoral and finally accepting the fact that people are going to view me a certain way for being an openly bisexual woman regardless of whether that is fair or not.
In both those instances I blame religion in a very bold way for my sexual oppression. And I say very bold because it’s somewhat dishonest. Obviously, I believed it at the time of writing both posts, but if I’m being honest with myself and actually looking more closely into the past, however unpleasant that may be, I would have done a fine job oppressing myself without religion’s help. In “Why God Made Me Bisexual” I wrote the following:
“So naturally I thought everyone was attracted to both sexes…Up until that point, I had obviously noticed that women paired off with men but thought that that was because of reproductive purposes (it was the early 2000s, that was a totally valid assumption in 2001, okay?). The idea that the majority of the population preferred one sex over another never occurred to me because I was still befuddled over why Laura thought me talking to Chris so much in second grade meant I had a crush on him when I talked to girls the same way all the time.”
That was all true (well, Chris’s name might not have been Chris, I don’t remember because I never actually had a crush on him), but there’s something very telling in this paragraph that I think most people missed. I came up at a very young age with an explanation for why women weren’t pairing off with women, which means that while I realized I didn’t feel any way around boys that I didn’t around girls, my mind had still come up with an explanation that meant I was normal. Later in the post, I mentioned how the first time I saw a same-sex pairing in a movie I questioned whether I was gay and then concluded I couldn’t be because I liked boys. I made it sound like it was a one time thing but the thing was that it wasn’t, I routinely asked myself even before knowing people considered it a sin.
The question might have been casual and easily dismissed the first time I asked myself but it slowly became more uncomfortable. Because after I became aware that women and men were more commonly attracted to the opposite sex, I was slowly starting to police my own thoughts a bit more. I wasn’t having sexual thoughts about anyone, obviously, I was ten. But me idly thinking a girl was pretty didn’t feel so uncomplicated anymore, because I was aware that there were plenty of pretty girls in my class, and I wasn’t registering their beauty in the same way.
I still didn’t know what religion said about same-sex relationships when I kissed Alexis. And while I said I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, that was only half true. It didn’t feel wrong, but I still wasn’t rushing to tell anyone the way I might have if my first kiss had been with a boy. All of this goes to say, religion played a huge factor in what happened next, sure, but I was never going to be okay with being bisexual. And here I want to make something very clear. I did not feel conflicted about liking women until after I found out it wasn’t “normal” and only felt uncomfortable with it after because of what it implied about me. Liking women was not the problem, it was the word that classified me as something that needed labeling because it was outside the default. Sure, I wanted to be unique, but you know, in a “normal” way.
So when I heard religion condemned homosexuality, it felt like someone was telling me, “Tricked ya. You bit the apple and now you have no place in paradise.” It was something I was so ready to believe but also desperate to deny. So I more aggressively asked myself if I could be gay and assured myself I wasn’t, because I liked boys, but due to the fact that I’d kissed a girl there was an ever present “but” in my head. That’s why hearing the word bisexual was so painful. Yes, partly in the way it was presented to me as “an excuse to fuck everybody” when I was twelve and didn’t want to have sex with anyone. But partly because there it was, proof that just because I wasn’t gay didn’t mean that normal was an option for me and to add insult to injury it meant that I was sexually immoral.
Of-course, there is the challenging point of view that if I honestly believed I wasn’t sexually immoral, then the offhand undirected suggestion that I might be shouldn’t have caused me any pain. Which is true; but while I knew that I had no interest in having sex, I didn’t know whether or not I was sexually immoral, mainly because not wanting to have sex didn’t mean I didn’t think about sex. But this presents a problem that had very little to do with my sexual orientation. And it’s that during my teenage years, I was largely influenced by purity culture. Now that is such a triggering phrase for people because it causes defensiveness in those who have more conservative views on sex, so I urge you to hear me out on this point.
Christian people put a huge weight on sexuality like it’s on this pedestal but for something we talk so much about, there’s very little understanding. Many people see sex as a beautiful expression of love that is to be expressed in a sacred and God-blessed union such as marriage. I don’t entirely disagree with that, I just think that that answer is very simple and clear cut, while sexuality is not. Sexuality is not simply how we describe sexual expression and/or acts. It has mainly to with how we identify toward love and beauty. There is something inherently God-like about sexuality. Obviously, sexual expression in its physical form comes from sexuality, but when you act like that’s the only factor, you’re cheapening it to an act, not an identity.
So the problem is not how we define sexuality after marriage, it’s that we treat it like it shouldn’t exist before that point. Except in many of us it does. And that creates a lot of pain and religious dissonance in how we start experiencing our sexuality before marriage. Whether you believe in premarital sex, masturbation, LGBT+ issues is not as important to me as whether or not you believe that sexuality exists outside of a marriage bond (again I don’t mean sex, just the presence of a sexual identity). Because I think if you don’t, then we’re never going to see eye to eye on such a complex issue. Purity culture tells us not to get in touch with our own sexuality, that that is for our partner to uncover. However, if most of us are sexual beings, then we have to recognize that God made us that way, and consider Him as a part of our sexuality instead of outside of it.
I think as Christians we have to recognize that if God doesn’t exist in a particular aspect of our lives, then there is something inherently unholy in that aspect. When I started repressing my sexuality, I didn’t just repress my attraction toward women, I repressed anything that even hinted at the idea that I was a sexual being that longed for love, beauty, touch and intimacy the same way most people do. And I did this with the belief that sexuality could not exist in a holy way outside of marriage, and that any sexual feeling I had meant that I was sexually immoral because I couldn’t control that in the same way that I couldn’t control my attraction toward women. That started the cycle of shame and self-hatred that set the scene for my split with religion, Christianity and, to a certain extent, God even though I never stopped believing in His existence.
The problem is that if I believed that my sexuality couldn’t even be a part of me, then my sexuality had nothing to do with God. And it took me ages to understand that the moment I started pushing my sexuality out was also the moment I started to push God out. Because I was no longer being authentic to the person He designed me to be. And because I started viewing my sexuality with shame and self-hatred, God was unable to help me in any way. All of us hear that a heart full of hate does not have room for God in it but it’s like we come up with a special exception for sexuality. People that say that God hates LGBT+ people and that we’re all going to hell think they have God on their side. But I see it in the same way that I thought I had God on my side when I was repressing my sexuality, and then was confused and anguished that I was still bisexual even after consistently praying to Him to make me straight.
If it was possible to pray the gay away, I can promise you I would be 100% heterosexual. But it’s not, so I’m not. And I look back on all those sermons that I heard about self-acceptance and remember how after that I would honestly pray to God crying and saying, “I’m trying, but I can’t, I need you to make me someone I can accept.” I still feel so much pity for myself looking back on that because I know that I shouldn’t have had to feel that kind of pain. And that’s the reason why I’m so outspoken about my bisexuality is because I don’t want anyone else to feel that way either. I wish I could go back and tell myself in a way I could understand that to accept God, I had to accept myself, I could not do one without the other. And that the reason I couldn’t deny my bisexuality was because it was given to me by God.
I wrote in “Why God Made Me Bisexual” that I knew God intended to make me bisexual for a reason, and I still feel convicted that that reason is to help others. However, I think most people are under the impression that I don’t understand the other side of this argument, except I do. There is obviously people that refuse to believe that my bisexuality was given to me by God and have no intention of swaying from that point of view. I’m not interested in that misconception because I don’t think they’re interested in the truth and complexity of the matter. I think the most important argument comes from people who do fully believe and think that they sympathize with the fact that I am bisexual. And I believe that they also do believe God made me bisexual with the purpose of helping others. But I think that they believe that the only way I could help others is by telling them to look toward God and believe that He does not want us to live a life in accordance with our sexuality. So here I would like to pause and tell everyone, straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, whatever-sexual, the following:
Look toward God and live the life He is telling you to live. Him. Not your family. Not your friends. Not your neighbors. And not your church.
I fully recognize my bias in this subject as a bisexual woman. But I reject the idea that anyone that anyone that is not LGBT+ is looking at this matter objectively. Bias does not only come from your own experience. It comes from outside, from society, from media, from your family, from your church. And many people will tell you that’s why we have the Bible to guide us. The problems is that there are six Bible verses that are supposedly against homosexuality, and all of them are contested. This post was originally going to be me contesting them, since I don’t believe they condemn homosexuality, but the thing is that the information is out there if you want to look at it, you don’t need to hear it from me.
I just want to compel everyone who looks at the Bible for guidance, to seek the truth with a completely open mind, not with the hope of finding something that supports your preconceived notions. Because if you want to find something that supports your point of view, you’re going to find it. However, if you’re then going to come to me with verses you’ve taken out of context, I’m not going to feel compelled to listen to you. Because I’ve read those verses too. And I’ve done my own investigation into the contextual, historical and linguistic meaning and interpretation of those verses. Also, I find the idea that the reason I don’t live my life in a different way must be because I’m not acquainted with these verses is mildly offensive just because it’s the simplest of arguments you can give me so obviously it’s one of the first obstacles I overcame. Furthermore, you can find a lot of Christian LGBT+ people who are familiar with the clobber passages but don’t find the meaning of these as interesting as other theological arguments.
Many people will cite 2nd Timothy 3:16 – 17 and say that all Scripture is God-breathed. And while I do believe that Scripture is God-breathed because it guides people toward God, I think asking people to believe every single interpretation that came out of it is setting people up for failure, because there are contrasting interpretations. Me looking at a verse and deciding that it had to mean what people were telling me it meant, despite the fact that it didn’t affect them in the same way, and didn’t cause the amount of psychological dissonance I was feeling, was not the most effective way of finding the truth. If you have a question about the Bible, if something doesn’t feel right, then I urge you to pray for God to guide you and then dive into it and look at contrasting view points and interpretations from historians, linguists, translators and theologians, people who are intimate with the subject. Because if you believe you are right, then you should have no problem finding your beliefs in your research. The fear to investigate comes from the fear that you’re wrong and that you may have to find a new way of looking at the world. And if you are spreading doctrine that you’re not sure is true, then you are doing a disservice to the people you could otherwise help.
“Study to shew thyself approve unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
I’ve looked toward God and I’ve accepted that my bisexuality is a part of me and a part He consciously gave to me and is a part of. And I believe that He meant for me to live in accordance with it and the only reasons I ever chose to repress my sexuality came from within myself and other people, not Him. However, before I give you the reasons I feel okay with that decision, I want to say that I am fully aware that I might be wrong. And I am not saying this to give you permission to try to persuade me I’m wrong, because if years of sexually oppressing myself did not do that for me then I sincerely doubt you’re going to have much luck with it. It’s because I am not an authority, so I can tell you what I believe to be the truth, but not that it is definitely true because then all I am doing is playing God and asking you to worship at my church. That is not my intention. If you have looked into the issue and feel convicted in a way that opposes mine, then fine, that is between you and God and I have no voice or authority in that relationship. All I can do in that instance, is to urge you to make sure that conviction does come from God and not from people who are a hundred percent more fallible than Him.
The verses that I feel affirm my bisexual identity are Genesis 1:26, Isaiah 43:2 – 7 and Psalms 139:13 – 17. To me they claim that God has made us in His image with purpose and intent and loves us. Again, I do recognize that some people think that LGBT+ people are not born this way. All I can tell you is that I never would have chosen this if it were indeed a choice and I did try to pray to be straight and it didn’t work, so the only conclusion left to me is that I am bisexual, full stop, end of story. And if I believe that God made me willfully then I have to believe that He made me bisexual. Therefore that is an aspect of myself that He chose and that He still loves me and still sees me as precious and honorable as any and everybody else.
To answer the question of why I believe that I am supposed to live in accordance with my sexuality instead of choosing to be celibate is answered in Matthew 10 – 12. In these verses Jesus explains that not all people are called on to be celibate. And I think that this is important to note. It’s a calling, not a mandate, most LGBT+ people have not received that calling. Likewise Paul also says in 1 Corinthians that marriage is a distraction from God and should be avoided. But then in 1 Corinthians 7 he also says that it is good for some to marry due to sexual desire so that they will not fall into sexual immorality. Again it’s a calling, not a mandate and the problem with setting up celibacy as a punishment for being LGBT+ is that it stains the beauty and gift that a vow of celibacy is supposed to represent. Additionally, if LGBT+ people try to make a vow that God did not call on them to make, then, like Paul said, it could lead them onto the path of sexual immorality. Something that we all know is rampant in the church and causes enough pain that I think we should all be wary of mandating celibacy on people who don’t want to be celibate. I rather live a life full of integrity in which I am being honest with myself and my desires so that if I am tempted by true sexual immorality, I will not be led into sin by equating it to normal, healthy and harmless sexual desires.
Finally, I also look onto Romans 8:1 which states that as long as you are living in Christ there is no condemnation. Again, I cannot claim that I have the absolute truth, but I do wholeheartedly believe that I am living in accordance with Christ and the life He laid out for me. Therefore, I do not believe my bisexuality or my living in accordance with it will lead to my condemnation. And I want anyone reading this who also does not feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to deny their identity to know that He does not condemn you either.
In conclusion, my goal this year for Bisexuality Awareness Day is to hopefully persuade you to believe that you are valid, you are loved and your sexuality was willfully and consciously integrated into the person you are today. Therefore you should call awareness to it, even if that awareness is just in your own life, and celebrate it and love it just like God celebrates and loves you.