Holy Sexuality (Batman)!

Alan & Leslie Chambers

Recently I appeared on an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).  The majority of what aired was from a past interview, but I was grateful that OWN released an unused portion of the interview online. In my opinion it was one of the best parts of my time with Lisa as it clearly portrayed my deep and unequaled love for my wife, Leslie.

Not everyone liked the interview, however.  In it Lisa asks, “So are you heterosexual?”  To that question I answer transparently, sharing that while I do experience same-sex attraction I am Leslie-sex attracted.  I state that I am not gay, which I see as an identity based around same-sex attraction that absolutely fails to describe me or speak to the majority of my feelings, desires or sexuality.  I stop short of calling myself heterosexual, though, too.  That seemed to irritate some and confuse others.

I think Christians have confused heterosexuality with holy sexuality.  As I have said for more than a decade now, the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality (or vice-versa) it’s holiness.  I didn’t take the role I am in at Exodus to make people straight or to promote heterosexuality.  I also didn’t take on the role to tell people with same-sex attraction how inferior that struggle is in comparison to others.  I chose to serve at Exodus International to proclaim that God created us to live out biblical, sexual, holiness even amidst great trial and sacrifice.  That is my story and it is my encouragement to fellow believers and others who might be seeking.

We in the Church, at least a portion of it, love neat and tidy.  We love putting God and people in a box.  When someone tries to communicate their own outside-of-the-box story or describe God in a way that doesn’t fit into our neat and tidy understanding we immediately begin to judge them by a set of man-made religious standards and rules that aren’t of God.

For example, I willingly surrendered my same-sex attraction to the Lordship of Jesus Christ 21 years ago.  In those early days it was a struggle that I lost fairly often, but a struggle nonetheless.  At times I was surrendering moment by moment.  As the years and decades have passed, my struggles have changed.  Non-existent are the days that I am tempted to have sex with men.  Non-existent are the days that I am drawn to a man emotionally in the way that I have been drawn to my wife for the last 15 years.  I have zero desire to be unfaithful to my wife because I have zero desire to be unfaithful to Christ.  And, yet, I am aware of my capacity as a human to be tempted–even in ways that I haven’t been tempted in years.

Trying to make a point here.  People want my story to fit into a box they can deliver as proof to themselves or others that change is simple and formulaic; absolute in every way.  For change to be authentic must it be absolute? Some have recently chided me for saying same-sex attraction, in and of itself, is not sin.  I don’t equate SSA to lust.  For me SSA is attraction without the lust because I’ve worked really hard over the course of two decades to get to that point.  Being honest and public about my SSA helps me live an authentic and transparent life that aids me in staying free.  It isn’t a white flag of surrender to my struggle.

But, does victory over lust and pure Garden-of-Eden-like attraction to my wife mean I should wear the badge of heterosexual?  I am in a heterosexual relationship and will be for the remainder of my life.  But, if I am not mistaken heterosexuality, like homosexuality, comes with its own set of struggles and lusts that I am thankful not to possess or complicate my life with.  Again, I didn’t choose to surrender my SSA (L-for lust) to be heterosexual.  I did so because I am the righteousness of God in Christ and bear His likeness.  I want to be an example of His life in me.  I was an example of that as a celibate and single man.  I am and example of that as a faithful married man.  The only label I want to wear when it comes to sexuality is Holy.  The sex or lust based labels of gay or straight, homosexual or heterosexual, feel like cheap trophies to me that I don’t want to put on my shelf for display.  Long ago I abandoned the quest for heterosexuality. I am content with Holy-sexuality.

In a day and age when who you are attracted to means everything and declaring your sexual identity, especially on Facebook, is essential, my hope is that Christians choose, increasingly, to reject the rigid and relatively recent push to be known primarily by their human sexual orientation.  My orientation is towards Christ because I am a new creation.  My orientation toward sin is gone, though the temptation isn’t, and the new has come.  I choose Christ. I choose Leslie.  I encourage you to label yourself according to what is most important and in ways that God would choose to label you.  I am a million other things before I am what I may or may not be tempted by.  First and foremost, I am a Son of the Most High, the righteousness of God in Christ, a husband, a father, a son, a friend, a brother, someone who is a lawn/garden and home enthusiast and the list goes on and on.

Alan Chambers is the Chief Visionary and a Founding Partner of Speak. Love. He served as the final President of Exodus International, North America. Alan travels the globe promoting peace, reconciliation and understanding on issues surrounding the Church and the LGBT community. Alan and Leslie Chambers live in Winter Park, Florida with their kids, Isaac and Molly.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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48 thoughts on “Holy Sexuality (Batman)!

  1. Thank you Alan for this post love this statement “God created us to live out biblical, sexual, holiness even amidst great trial and sacrifice.”

    This year at the Freedom Conference I was able to come to a place where I could completely surrender my sexuality to Jesus; after hearing Christopher Yuan say “Jesus denied His sexuality for us, why can’t we surrender our sexuality to Him.”

    my Christian walk has been been a series of surrendering and many people have not understood the process I have been in or am in now. All that aside what really matters is that I walk and obey Jesus.

  2. great post, alan. a growing number of us are exhausted by the tired old categories and are seeking to find a new, more vibrant and true sexuality informed by the scriptures.

    thank you for your commitment and courage.

  3. Thanks, Alan. Healing and Life in these thoughts — so important for condemned strugglers to get a message of truth that clarifies God’s acceptance regardless of SSA. Your many opponents and critics so carelessly demonize those with SSA to the point that their slander fuels widespread and internalized hatred. Your work against this distortion brings hope to these strugglers and their families. “Providence” is on the side of the bullied and those who defend them.

  4. I’m glad there are people out there that realize that, us as humans and children of God, can’t fit into neat little boxes. And as for your interview on OWN. Wouldn’t that make you bisexual? I thought that was a category of sexuality. Of course, it isn’t the only aspect of your essence as an individual. We are all multidimensional people. But it is a part of who we are. So we must acknowledge that it is part of who we are. I’d have to agree with you on your perspective about the church. They should be teaching parents about how to build a loving relationship with their children. My parents are conservative Christians, and I don’t feel comfortable having a relationship with them. My interests growing up didn’t exactly fit into the box of “male.” So, they tried everything to prevent me from being homosexual. Therapy was something they enrolled me in, when I was seven years old. Yet, I still managed to turn out gay.

    I’d like for you and others to consider something. Homosexuality is being focused on by individuals because of the social implications (you’re a fag, dyke, being gay is gross, losing straight friends, family bonds will be broken, judgment from strangers etc.), and there is legislation that limits the rights of homosexuals (such as getting married, in some states you can lose your job), and because heterosexuality has been deemed acceptable by society in general. It’s rough to go against what society thinks, ask anyone who’s had an opposing view to it.

    Unfortunately, you are right, we are living in a world consumed with sexuality. I don’t think my homosexuality should be the main focus in my life. Yet, I can’t stand back and not address the issue of the segregation of homosexuals. Sound familiar? It wasn’t too long ago that black people were discriminated against. Notice the parallels? Hate crimes were committed against black people on the regular a little over fifty years ago. Matthew Sheppard and Teena Brandon are perfect examples of hate crimes towards gay people. Plus we are now going through a struggle for equality… It’s kind of weird to think about. When I was young, I remembering relating to black children more than white. Now, I know why… Children mimic the bigotry of their parents.

    • Dane, how is Teena Brandon an example of a hate crime? She was not attacked because she was attracted to women. She was attacked because she had lied again and again and the murderers felt they were protecting their friend from her. They only got angered when she continued to lie and would not fess up to their friend. What they did was wrong, quite obviously, but there is zero reason to assume or in your case outright claim that it was a hate crime based on her sexuality. It was just a hate crime based on hate towards an individual.

  5. Hi Allan,
    While I agree in theory with what you are saying here, I wonder what you might not be saying so I’ll ask the question:

    In your opinion, can a sexual relationship between two men or two women, ever be considered holy before God? As the scriptures tell us, the marriage bed must be kept holy.

    • Hi Cathy, So sorry for the late reply. I tried posting this on Friday about 3 times and it wouldn’t let me. I’m not sure if there is a limit for posting comments. I’m not incredibly tech savvy.

      Anyhoo. No, in my opinion, same-sex sexual expression can never be considered holy. My biblically based beliefs are that sexual expression is reserved for a monogamous heterosexual marriage.

  6. I love this and completely agree that we should take up no identifying label other than the one given us by our Father.

    Another point: I think we do need to address the fact that some labels are not self-applied, some come from other people as they view our lives. As the Lord told the prophet Samuel, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” We often forget that people are looking at our “outward appearance” – our demeanor, our words, and our behaviors and are labeling us accordingly. When they look at me, I want them to see Jesus through my Jesus-orientation and through my Judy-orientation. :)

  7. Here we go again…better start prayin’ myself up…so stinkin’ proud of you that a fall must NOT be far behind for your Texas mama! THIS is the bombdotcom and your best truthful share to date, sir!

  8. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:21 NLT)

    All true oneness flows from true Oneness :). There isn’t a thing His fire won’t refine. Now that’s hot ;)

  9. Thank you so much for this.
    You have so eloquently stated what I have been thinking and feel as I’ve been struggling to turn away from this poor lifestyle and way of thinking. So many of my friends are upset with me for “Not being true to myself” and say I just lack self esteem and can’t accept my homosexuality. I’m sending everyone of those friends a copy of this and telling them for once I truly feel self esteem.
    Again, thank you for post and all the work you do.

  10. Hello Alan.
    I just left a comment beneath your video interview on oprah.com then ran into the post here. Let me share what I wrote with you:

    Isn’t it sad to show porn to someone for any reason besides maybe a test to see if they molest children? So sad. Alan touched on it but I don’t think framed it – we need to seek a relationship with God and let God guide us – and empower us if it’s His will and ours. It was God’s will to call me out of the life back in the 80’s. Exodus / Metanoia were there for me. They didn’t put me through this reparative therapy when I walked through the door. They held my hand and understood what I was going through internally and socially as I turned my focus to seek God in a more serious way. They were there for me, understanding and supporting me, as a real, loving, and living God moved into my heart and soul and changed everything. That’s what I wanted and needed from someone. If Alan is moving towards that – towards being there for people as they wrestle, struggle, climb or spin seeking their OWN peace with or about God, that would be great.

    I commend and applaud him for thinking and seeing and doing on his own and following what he himself feels is right.

    God bless everyone in the world. :)

  11. Alan’s got it exactly right. Not too long ago, there was a big controversy over a “gay” man being put into leadership in the Anglican Church in England. And there should have been, if he was gay–but he wasn’t. He was a celibate Christian who admitted to same-sex attraction.

    In my mind, he was a terrific example for people in the church who were going through the same thing. Unfortunately, some of the church made it clear what such people could expect in their fellowship.

  12. Most excellent post, Alan! Keep fighting the GOOD fight–to be found in Him. Nothing more, nothing less. It is the gospel. So simply, and yet beyond profound. And I dare say, it comes only as the eyes of one’s heart are enlightened (opened). That being the new eyes “of the heart (…of the new creation)–seeing all things new through the loving, indwelling power of God’s Spirit. And there is absolutely no work involved. I dare say, it is all pure grace! :)

  13. Thanks so much for your article Alan, it helped me understand so much about how Christians who struggle with SSA must feel. I wish Christians were more loving towards those struggling and to those who are in sin. We all have areas we struggle with. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. It is awesome to see God’s glory at work in you.

  14. Alan, I have been a Janet fan for a very long time and for Janet and I this is the parting of ways. Thank you for standing up for truth. We stand with you, Alan. We love you. As a fellow spouse-attracted man I can not thank you enough for all your ministry has been to us. Blessings to you. -Ty

  15. Thank you all so much for your feedback here. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate each of you taking the time to share your thoughts with those who stop by and for your sweet encouragement.

  16. You are in a wonderful position from which to spiritually encourage an increasing contingent of my friends who have married but still struggle with SSA… I’m sharing what you’re sharing — Keep gardening and keep blogging — we all need to hear His voice. :-)

  17. Why do people seem to have so much trouble with your honesty and openess Alan. I guess it challenges their denial and possibly false sense of security…..and also possibly their hope that one day they would be ‘normal’ and therefore accepted. Personally I feel normal and secure in the acceptance of my orientation as a man of faith. It was not always this way though. I do respect peoples right to live the way they choose. I think we should all reject the pressure others put on us that are intended to make us feel dysfunctional or lesser. Hope my comment is accepted in the spirit it is intended and given. Grace.

  18. Our sexual attraction is but a small part of what someone battles. Our preferences in all areas need to be surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We are not made whole by our outward appearance of what is considered to be pure. We can look clean on the outside, but be filled with inner turmoil. I know of no better way to be free than to surrender my sexuality to God, and to not pursue the triggers that entice. My heart being committed to God, integrity, intentions, desires, our love for Jesus and Truth found in scripture is what really matters. Allowing others to put us in a box, defining who we are, is simply opinion. Finding out who we are, is discovered in scripture. That is the measure that defines me, becoming more like Jesus.

  19. Hey Alan. I’ve never heard of you before today, but this article is excellent. Your honesty is a breath of fresh air. I don’t struggle with SSA, but I have plenty of other struggles. I can often see where God has put things in my life to help prevent me from falling by the wayside. He has been so gracious to me because He knows how weak I am. I hope you continue to be faithful in your walk to Christ and nothing less. Thanks for your writing.

      • Love your perspective Allan. But the world does want to know whether SSA can disappear. Ambiguous answers are not really satisfying. But as I Christian I totally get it. You’re setting an amazing example but not being put in a box!

        • I had heard you had gone AWOL many months ago, Alan. Being someone who has been greatly influenced by your ministry, I wouldn’t even look at anything with your name on it for fear of what I would discover. I purposefully would close my ears if your name was mentioned or look over an AOL article with your photo. Then I accidentally saw your Oprah interview and my perspective changed. It was a lesson in influence. You had not gone AWOL. In fact, you and I were now aligned more than ever. I was encouraged and embarrassed at the same time. How had I let myself believe so easily what I was told and how (in this information age) had I let fear lead me? I judged before knowing the facts. I never prayed for you before. It never occurred to me that it was something I needed to do. Now I am deeply compelled to pray for you and I will continue.

          I used to play this game with my family that asked a question. If you could have dinner with anyone past or present (besides Jesus Christ) who would it be? I almost always answered Martin Luther. If we play again, no doubt someone is going to say ‘Who is Alan Chambers.’ No pressure… but yeah, you’re that important.

          I looked my daughter who struggles with a poor self-image in the eye last night and I told her everything about her that made her special.

          “People like you,” I said to her… “Women like you will change the world one day.”

          I said it and I meant it. I’ll say the same to you, Alan. I am greatly pleased to be in this war with you. Fight on.

          • That’s a really cool and encouraging comment. I know it isn’t toward me ::: laugh ::: but I like your humility and encouragement to Alan.

  20. Alan, this is very articulate and honest.i appreciate you sharing this. I feel believers do need to get back to the basics of who we are in Christ. I liked how you said that to basically label yourself as “heterosexual” meant you took on the issues that come with that, and that’s clearly not the case.My prayer is that those who have ears to hear clearly what you are saying would begin to identify themselves in what God alone says about them and not take on labels that were never intended for them to carry. It’s freeing. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the conference.