I started developing same-sex attraction (SSA) when I was in primary school, when my senior introduced me to same-sex pornography and molested me for an extended period of time.

I was not born with these desires, external factors had caused me to develop them.

Growing up as a second generation Christian, I never really faced these desires head on as I was afraid to face something so big, so unchangeable, something that I knew was not God’s design.

So, I always suppressed it. Or never fully processed it.

I knew it was wrong, not only because the Bible is clear about it, but also from the natural design of our human bodies: Put a man and a woman together, you create life. Human life.

Even so, I did not have any attraction to the opposite gender.

At this point, my relationship with God felt like I was a dog on a collar.

I wanted to love God, I wanted to go all out to Him and for Him.

But these attractions held me back for I did not understand their place in my life — what they meant in a Christian’s life.

I was leading two separate lives: A David that loved God, as well as a David who was same-sex attracted.

These two Davids were completely separated, which was why my love for God and our relationship had a limit, a ceiling.

His love for me had not permeated same-sex attracted David just yet.

Longing and bitterness

When I finally decided not to deny the attractions any longer, it was a rough and rocky journey.

I was engulfed in bitterness and anger, overwhelmed with questions for God.

While the theology and worldview of Christianity was (and is) the only worldview that could coherently answer all of life’s big questions — such as “why is there so much pain in the world?”, “what is the nature of morality?” and “what is objective truth?” — it was also a worldview that prevented me from finding romantic love.

I wanted to love and care for someone, to experience deep intimacy with another human. But it was forbidden fruit.

As my heterosexual friends entered loving relationships, I watched them with bitterness and jealousy.

I wanted that. I wanted to love and care for someone, to experience deep intimacy with another human.

But it was forbidden fruit.

I would ask God: “Why? Why didn’t You protect me from this? Did You not love me enough to protect me?”

I felt forsaken by God, as if God had forgotten about me and the rest of us who faced this.

Were we lesser? Why didn’t God bother to prevent this, something that was only in His control?

A war was waging within me. Should I turn away from God and lead my own free life, or follow God? My heart was completely torn, and I was greatly depressed.

I hated myself, I hated God and there was no way out.

Coming home

At my lowest point, I decided to tell my pastor about my desires.

This was an extremely difficult thing for me to do. I wasn’t used to vulnerability with anyone, especially in the church.

To me, church was a place of God’s love, but it was also a place where I did not belong. I had to suppress this part of me — a dark secret that I had to carry around.

I was like a spy. Imagine if they found out someone like me was on their grounds. I thought war would be inevitable.

My mindset greatly hindered, if not totally prevented, me from experiencing the wholeness of God’s love through the Body of Christ.

When I told my pastor, she responded with love, compassion, patience and understanding.

Instead of telling me what I had to do, what methods or mindsets I should adopt in order to “fight” this, all she did was seek to understand.

As she journeyed with me, she guided me in my thought processes, empathising with my emotions and unpacking the trauma that I went through as a child.

Leaving a lie

With time, I not only realised but also internalised the truth that God did not want my childhood trauma to happen to me. That was not on His heart.

To shed some light on how I had previously thought about God, here is an old excerpt from my personal journal:

“My mind knows too well (understanding the theology of the faith), that I can’t just decide to leave the faith. It has seen the truth, and to turn back on logic is too unnatural. And because of this, I feel like a slave. Cornered into the faith. To serve a God who will do whatever He wants with me. To serve a God who would put me through that much pain, and then deny me the freedom to do whatever I want to be happy.”

But my pastor guided me in unpacking these emotions and this wrong perspective.

All along I had processed my pain in the “God is sovereign” lens, leading me to the conclusion that God had willed and planned all of these traumatic events in my life for the sake of my “growth”.

The way I had seen it — I would not have matured and understood “theology” at such a young age without this pain.

I believed that if I had not experienced these things in my life, I would not be half as sensitive, aware and empathetic as I am today.

So great was the lie that, given the ability, I would not even have changed those traumatic events in my life, because I came out of it so much more “refined”!

I wanted to see God redeem this pain — as it was such a good thing — and so I internalised the lie that God wanted me to experience it.

But this was not the truth.

The truth was that God did not want this to happen, but He did not interfere with the free will He had given us humans.

He is not a sadistic God who looks at pain like a tool to be used.

Instead, He sees it, enters it, lives with it and with us — and redeems it.

God so powerfully redeems it to the point where pain redeemed is far more beautiful than pain removed.

Pain redeemed is far more beautiful than pain removed.

In truth, my mind was not the only part of me that needed convincing — my heart did too.

Even as I came to understand these new and true perspectives, my heart was unwilling to believe.

It took years.

But inevitably, God opened my eyes and impressed the truth onto my heart.

I was finally free of this bondage. The grudge and bitterness against God was finally gone!

The road ahead

Ultimately, living with SSA is not an easy thing.

It is very difficult to process and understand, especially so when society today has promoted sexuality to be identity defining — something that promises to give a sense of purpose.

As I reflect, I feel the Church has much to do in learning to walk with those who have SSA.

The theology itself can already be hard to digest.

Without elaboration, it is saying that desires stemming from SSA can never be acted upon — whereas only those who are heterosexual are able to experience romantic and sexual love.

It implies (even if unintentionally) that there is just no acceptance for them. Thus, when you reject the physical expression of their sexuality, you reject them.

That makes it very tough.

Another issue: There are churches that focus so much on simply analysing Bible verses on homosexuality and justifying the wrongness of it.

But what if they took a different approach? What if their approach to this topic was based on love and acceptance, just as my pastor did for me?

The Church must journey with such people. This is the love that the Church needs to show.

* The author has chosen to use a pseudonym for confidentiality.

This is the first article in a two-part reflection David Koh has contributed to us on living with SSA and discovering what the Church means. Look out for part two soon!

  1. What about David’s story stood out to you?
  2. What might God be speaking to you through this article?
  3. What is one practical way you can help to make your church a more inclusive and safe space for all believers?