I am waiting for my divorce to come through from my wife of 28 years. All through my marriage, really I have known that I am attracted to men more than women. I first felt attracted to boys my own age when I was 13 years old. I’ve never had a same sex relationship and I believe that the Bible is against homo or bi-sexuality. However, after 24 years I am giving up as I can no longer cope with making love to a woman and my wife understandably can’t cope with this. I feel ashamed of my sexuality and don’t know where to go from here. I want to be authentically ‘me’ as I can see this lifetime denial has affected many areas of my self-expression beyond the purely sexual. I have tried so hard to be straight, but I just can’t manage it. I have had counselling to try and change the root causes but nothing has changed. Please help.

As you are painfully aware, scripture does outline to us that God’s plan for sex is between a man and a woman: ‘A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ (Matthew 19:5) in the context of a covenant, which we call marriage. However, we also know that God’s plans were shipwrecked by the Fall and none of us lives up to our creator’s ideals. This is why we would all be lost without Jesus and why without grace none of our lives would hold together. While I believe God’s creation plan for us is to build into us an attraction towards the opposite gender sexually, due to the complexities of this fallen world we grow up in, sometimes our orientation gets loaded as same-sex. For all of us, our orientation is a complex mix of the relational and psychological influences we have been exposed to, our traumatic and our warm life experiences, our genetic mix of chromosomes and the way society has responded to us. Most Western societies provide very limited options on gender expression, pushing us deeper ‘one way or the other’ or leaving us increasingly confused and stereotyped in between. The Bible’s focus is predominantly on sexual acts rather than sexuality as a deeper and pervading gender expression. It focuses on describing a man and woman being united as one flesh and tells us ‘do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman’ (Leviticus 18:22). It does not throw much light on gender style expression – most of this is culturally and historically developed. Many societies historically and currently have actually made room for a three or more gender framework. The ‘third gender’ in some cultures is often a more nurturing, sensitive, nondominant male. My point is that there is a difference between sexual acts and gender expression. I am not trying to give you another ‘third gender’ label, rather seeking to give some liberty to find healthy self-expression outside of our pervading cultural stereotypes. It would be wonderful if this could be a new era in your life when you give yourself permission to love your gender sexuality and find God’s grace in it. For complex reasons, you are clearly not classically heterosexual and I guess drawing a line on your marriage is acknowledgement of this. The gospel tells me God’s heart is to weave his grace into the sexual non-perfection that we all carry, strengthening us to handle who we are as fallen human beings with as much integrity and self-love as we can muster.

People will read this answer scanning for which of the options I conclude with: will I tell you it is fine to pursue a same-sex relationship, or that you must continue to seek heterosexuality, or that you can express a gay orientation but commit to celibacy? Life becomes an irresponsible game of judging others’ holiness when we get into this and the casualty is the tragedy of sons and daughters of God living far from their Father’s home because they feel impossibly dislocated from fitting the cookie cutter. I cannot tell you what only you have to pay the price for. What I can tell you is that I know with a passion that God wants to stay closer to you in this than your own skin and help you find your own place of peace and fulfilment under his grace.