Coming Out and Coming to Faith, by Rachel Gilson
MAY 9, 2020
I became a Christian much to my own surprise. It was as if the sun of the gospel had evaporated my atheism in an instant.
But as time went on, one reality remained like a stubborn puddle: I was sexually attracted to women. I still am.
So many questions pressed for attention. How could something that felt so right be condemned as wrong? Why would God prohibit acting on these desires for love? Would I ever have sex again? What words should I use to describe my experience—since neither gay nor straight seemed to fit? How should I navigate close female friendship in my new Christian community without everything getting… complicated?
My new Christian friends didn’t know where to point me. They had never had to consider these questions from my angle; they were all attracted to the opposite sex—a fact which presented enough challenges of its own in the fight for joyful obedience. And all the while, we were bombarded with the loud, monotone declaration of our culture: “You must obey your sexual desires.”
I remember one cool morning in Wyoming, sitting outside with a friend who also happened to be named Rachel. We were discussing one of our guy friends who had come to Christ in college. Before that, he had lived by following his own intuition of what would make him happy and fulfilled. He had had a girlfriend with whom he was sexually active, but when he met Jesus, he called it off and broke up with her.
Rachel and I had learned that this ex-girlfriend had recently also come to know Jesus as her Savior, and it seemed that she and our friend would now resume their relationship—this time both as Christians. Perhaps they would even one day marry! Wouldn’t that be a lovely story of redemption?
It seemed like it to us. But it also made me quietly realize that that story would never be mine. If any of my ex-girlfriends came to Christ, I would rejoice. But none of them would be my future wife. Redemption could not look like that for me. It just felt so unfair: an ache in the heart that pulsed dreadfully, not letting me ignore it. I voiced it to Rachel and received sympathy. Yet neither of us really had an “answer.” It felt like uncharted territory. It was.
Our culture sings that we’re “born this way,” as if that settles the matter. But I’m born again. My life has told a different story than what society expects for me and what I expected for myself, because God himself has written his own twists and turns into the narrative: unexpected blessings that are more powerful, more lovely, than anything I could have imagined in my former life.
This book is my story. It’s just one among many, and it’s not intended to be weaponized against anyone else or used as a pawn. But my hope is that my account of coming out, coming to faith, and what came next will be a refreshment to you on your own journey. Though I have experienced failure and pain, I have also received freedom and joy. In later chapters, I’ll also share stories of others who are walking this path with their eyes fixed on the Lord.
Even more than stories, I want to offer you the Scriptures, and show you how those ancient, God-breathed words can meet us right in our very contemporary circumstances. They will challenge us and comfort us, and ultimately root us in the God who loves us. And whoever we are, that’s what we most need.