I have to say, that in the past few years that I have been a contributor to Whosoever that it has been nothing but a positive experience for me. Candace, the editor, is truly an angel to all of us in many ways, and this magazine shows that it is a true labor of love. It certainly was appreciated by this “Whosoever” as I had recently committed my life to Christianity, and around the same time, was coming out as a bisexual man. And it is a labor of love for me to contribute.
I recall the very first time I was reading Whosoever, I was having a very rough time. I was coming to the realization that although I had found Christians who were supportive of gay and lesbian individuals, there were very few, or so it seemed tome who were supportive of bisexual Christians. It was especially hard to find support for people like myself for whom bisexuality means that I am happiest when in a relationship with both a female and a male partner. I had heard people use the term “sexual outlaw” in the past to describe gays and lesbians but I felt like I was really on the “most wanted” list. It did not matter that I enter into all my relationships with complete honesty and respect for anyone I am involved with, or that I was faithful to the individuals I was involved with, or that I entered into everything with a pure heart and lived by the Golden Rule. Even to the gay and lesbian and some of the other bisexual friends I had at that time, I was seen as a poor excuse for a Christian as bisexuality for me in my life meant two relationships. I was right with God about it, and in the end that is all that really should matter to us regardless of our sexual orientation or whether we are totally monogamous or not. But I wished I could find others who had as strong of a Christian faith (however liberal) as I did who were in the same situation.
Then I came across an article in an issue of Whosoever, where a bisexual woman openly talked about the story of how she had come to terms with her bisexuality, come out to her husband, and how God had blessed her with a wife as well. It was an amazing feeling to see a Christian place where all points of view and diversity was truly respected and even more special that the emphasis was on reconciling spirituality and sexual orientation rather than politics. Any doubts I ever had about God Loving me unconditionally just the way I am were dissolved at that moment, and any feelings of me being unfit to be a Christian just because of my dual attractions and relationships vanished forever. When I saw that the magazine was seeking articles written from a bisexual point of view, I instantly knew it was something I wanted to do. First off, because of my love of sharing the wonderful inspiration I have found in the teachings of Christ and how His messages and the Bible and Christian faith. Secondly, because I see my bisexuality and my sexuality as a gift and a blessing from God. And most importantly because I wanted to know that someday something I wrote might help another struggling person know they are not alone. To know that they don’t have to hide or apologize for who they are to more conservative Christians, and to invite God’s Loving Spirit into every aspect of their life, including their marriage/commitment/relationship or relationships.
I normally sit down a few weeks before the due date to write something, but something truly compelled me to begin now. It was an article I read in the newspaper regarding sexual orientation, and a study that was done to attempt to determine if reparative therapy really can work, and if one’s sexual orientation can be changed from homosexual to heterosexual. The results of the study, completed by someone who was skeptical, said that he believes that some people, given their motivation, can change. My thought on that? Maybe some can. But I think that regardless of whether or not sexual orientation is fixed or changeable, a far more important question to be asked is if it should be changed. And my answer is a resounding “no,” for to do so would be playing God.
Anyone can modify behavior, especially when they are given the incentive by being threatened with punishment, whether it’s through having love (God’s or friends and family) withheld from them until they consent to conformity. It’s understandable to want to change when one is told that they will receive dire consequences if they do not change (AIDS, persecution, burning in Hell), or if some of the Reconstructionist movement had their way, execution. But my thought on that would be, are they happy? Do they enjoy life, or are they merely “serving time on Planet Earth?” And if they are not, why would one worship, let alone love a God who would rather they fit a certain mold than find a way of being happy and who they are with Love and respect for the rest of God’s children as Jesus taught as the core of His ministry? The answer is quite clear to me — fear. And fear is the core reason that in my faith homo-trans or bi phobia exists. I spell “Satan” with one four-letter word, and that is fear. And isn’t there a verse in the Bible somewhere about the perfect Love casting out fear?
I tried once to change, to become “totally heterosexual.” I failed miserably. I failed, and I was totally miserable. I tried to do so out of fear — fear of God’s wrath and fear of the “consequences” I was led to believe in if I did not, which at the time was losing the girlfriend I had. Later on, after I had realized that God loved me as a bisexual, I tried to become totally monogamous, having only one love in my life. That also was a decision made out of fear, not out of love as the woman I loved was completely understanding of my bisexuality and did not want to ask me to shut my feelings towards the same sex down. In both cases, I went to God in prayer. Both times it felt as if I was asking God to strike me dead, and I really felt wrong about the prayers I was saying. They did not feel right at all. And this was truly a case of the kind of prayers you look back on later and thank God for NOT giving you what you asked for. I finally went to God out of Love instead of fear and said, “God, I love You, and this is who and how I know You made me to be, regardless of whether or not some of Your other children may not approve or see it in accordance with their beliefs about Your Will. I don’t feel right trying to be someone I am not just because of another’s opinion, and I know I am hurting no one at all. I am a Loving child of yours, and seek only to spread the joy of Your Love to others. I have been afraid, but I know You Love me regardless. Please show me a way to live the Truth of who I am with Love and respect for the rest of Your children. Amen.” And then my prayers were all answered. Had I changed and lived in fear I would never have known just how unconditional and beautiful God’s Love truly is, and the beauty of what Jesus did to show us all that.
I think that the reason so many people in both the heterosexual and homosexual worlds are so anxious about bisexuality is that it really does take apart black and white thinking and creates new questions. It can also create the need for some who may have been previously judgmental of others to question the validity of their judgments or just how non-judgmental Christ has called all of us, regardless of sexual orientation, to be. I feel that when there are individuals in the gay community who call the validity of bisexuality into question, it goes back to the internalized shame heaped on the gay community for far too long. For an individual to be bisexual, it means that there is at least some portion of that person who feels a profound level of attraction (whether it is ever acted upon or not) to the opposite as well as the same sex. This can overturn the thinking that being homosexual is not a choice. Therefore, the assumption can be made by those who are against same sex love, sexuality, or relationships that this behavior is a “defect” or “illness” (and in some extreme cases, even “demon possession”), and can somehow be “healed,” “cured” or “corrected.” To me, all forms of caring sexual expression are God’s sacred gift.
Again, I reiterate — so what if sexual orientation was a conscious choice? I have wondered for years why the church has so demonized not only those who refuse to conform to a doctrinally mandated sexuality but any others who dare to question what the Bible is really saying, or what Jesus truly meant. Refusing to conform to the dogma, according to my faith and understanding of Jesus, does not violating the Golden Rule. To me, it is only those who willfully or carelessly act in ways that will harm others while they are pursuing what they want in this wonderful life God has blessed them with that violates Christ. To me, Christ is the final authority on what God is communicating to us through Christian faith.
Even if one were to interpret the Bible literally judging others is a direct violation of Jesus. How often are we as LGBT Christians accused of “finding loopholes” in the Bible to “justify our behavior” when our accusers are doing the same to justify their prejudices against things which in their hearts they may to really believe to be “wrong” but simply do not understand. I really believe that all judgment against LGBT people is born of fear. It’s not so much the fear of God these people have, but it’s a fear that if every single detail about life is not thoroughly spelled out in black and white in the Bible with all of the answers right there that the foundations of their faith will come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho. They fear that God will somehow have “failed” them. They have a fear of knowing that some things are not spelled out and unknown, and we have to learn to trust in God and what we do know about God through Jesus to make our decisions rather than letting others tell us what that is. The fear of trusting oneself as a child of God. And the fear of God somehow changing. If you really read the Bible, I think it is obvious that although God never really changed, our understanding of God has evolved over time. This to me is obvious in the contrast between the Old and New Testament. Jesus simplified all of the oppressive religion of the time before him, which was based mostly on Laws, to a New Commandment of Loving One Another which simplified everything. He revealed that all one needs do to discover the Kingdom of God was look within rather than far away. And He showed that the purest way to express our faith in God was not what doctrine we believe or how we pray or by making a public display of our faith by merely talking about it. He showed us how to live our faith and love for and gratitude towards God by letting God’s Love, Mercy, and Grace flow through us to the rest of God’s children: finding the Kingdom within us and sharing it with others.
Back to the bisexuality issue and how it relates to all of this. If it were revealed through research that bisexuality, homosexuality, heterosexuality, or being transgender were all conscious choices, who is to say that these are not directly put into us by God? When we call any one of these the “wrong choice” and demonize the others, I feel we are quite potentially questioning God’s Will for others, which to me seems a bit like trying to play God and decide for God what the sexuality of another should or should not be. For the record, I think that sexual orientation is made up of two components: One, God creates us as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender and then a lot of the rest is our conscious choice. I fully believe that whatever sexual orientation someone is, it is then their choice what to do with that self-knowledge. Then there are two choices: deny your true self, and risk the bitterness, anger, and self-hatred that can result not only in emotional pain for yourself but others, or be honest about who God Created you to be and find a way to live that truth with respect for others. In all the research I have witnessed, as well as in my own personal experience, making the first choice, to deny one’s true sexuality, can lead to a state where it is not only difficult to love oneself but their neighbor as well.
As a bisexual man very happily committed to both a female and male partner, it at times has been so difficult for me to avoid the judgment of those who may hold the belief that although it is okay to be bisexual, they take issue with the fact that I am in a relationship with more than one person. I have said it many times before, but I think it bears repeating that to say that is just as hurtful as someone saying, “It is okay to be gay or lesbian, so long as you are celibate”. True, there are a lot of bisexuals who choose monogamy as a way of expressing their commitment to one special person, and I think that’s great. But it does not make the relationships of bisexuals such as myself who choose differently any less valid. There are a great many bisexual men who go behind their wife’s back to have numerous anonymous and often unprotected sexual encounters with other men. There are bi men and women who believe they have to leave their marriage and family in order to find expression of their true selves, as well as those who live in repression and misery. I truly feel that if more people who have found happiness in situations such as mine where a commitment to two people can be seen as an ethical alternative for the bisexual who feels an equal attraction to men and women, and a desire to act upon it, some of the betrayal and hurtful actions which some bisexual people find themselves caught up in would end. I know that God created me to be this way. I know that I have God’s blessing in my relationships. But I wish that as more denominations begin to speak out on behalf of bisexuals that those of us who have chosen to be neither monogamous with one gender nor promiscuous with many anonymous partners will be spoken up for as well. And some of us are Christians, too.
Regardless of your sexual orientation or your sexuality and how you express it, remember that you too are a child of God and have a plan and a purpose. If you are waiting for God to tell you what that is, look no further than listening to your heart, for that is where God speaks the loudest and the clearest. Others may try to tell you that who you are is not God’s Will, but they are not God, nor do they speak for God as Jesus did. He said very clearly that “Whosoever believeth” in Him would have eternal life in the Kingdom and Oneness with God. To believe in Jesus does not mean you must change your sexual orientation or sexuality, it only means that you must believe in what He said and live His teachings as you understand them the best you can, and always from a place of Love rather than fear. And then I know you will see what He meant when he said that He came that we might have life more abundantly. Praise God, and thank God for Whosoever, and the angel that LGBT Christians have in Candace. Bless you for all your efforts, and thank you for letting me share here.
John Campbell is a native of Alabama.