A couple of years ago, I started off down a slippery slope of sexual experimentation and sin. I’d felt increasingly sure of my sexuality and increasingly unable to tell anyone about it. So, I started hooking up, thinking I could just try it out and deal with everything myself.
Long story short: I ended up with a mountain of regrets. I essentially lived a double life, acting hypocritically and lying to pretty much everyone.
By God’s grace, I left all that behind, came out, and committed my life to him in a way I hadn’t previously felt able to.
Yet I still find myself living with all that regret and have spent a lot of time beating myself up for what I did. In some ways, it’s harder to deal with than being in the closet was.
For anyone who’s already halfway down the slope, or who finds themselves spat out at the bottom of it in a crumpled heap like me – don’t lose hope.
My selfish actions hurt real people and had real consequences. I still find it hard to talk about, so no one really knows the full extent of the mess I made. I’m left constantly seeking people’s approval and the reassurance that they still like me.
So, for anyone who is stood at the top of that slope right now, thinking experimentation is the only way to deal with your sexuality, my advice is simple: turn back. Save yourself the time, regret, and pain. Run into the open arms of your loving heavenly Father.
But for anyone who’s already halfway down the slope, or who finds themselves spat out at the bottom of it in a crumpled heap like me – don’t lose hope.
I say that because we know God is ‘gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love’ (Psalm 145:8). We know absolutely nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:39). We know that ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins’ (1 John 1:9).
We know all this, and yet, it can be hard to truly feel it and believe it. There’s so much shame and stigma around sex and sexual sin, which is perhaps only amplified for those of us who are same-sex attracted and who therefore commit ‘same-sex’ sexual sins.
In a culture where sex is simultaneously taboo and also an area where almost anything goes, it feels awkward to call any form of consensual sex ‘sinful’, so we try and avoid dealing with it.
Avoiding it doesn’t make it any less real or serious, though. We might not want to sound like regressive killjoys, or like sex is something inherently shameful – neither of which is true. Sex is an incredible gift from God.
It’s when we abuse sex that we run into trouble. God’s design for sex is good. I know this first-hand because doing things my way was not good.
God’s design for sex is good. I know this first-hand because doing things my way was not good.
But by our silence and avoidance, we needlessly pile shame on top of shame. We give the impression that none of us struggle with this stuff, when in reality we all go there in different ways – be it lust, or porn, or cheating.
All these sins are serious – the Bible tells us so: ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). But, at the same time, all sin is equally nailed to the cross and forgiven.
The way forward
Really understanding ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1) can be tough when we’ve made a big mess of things. But it’s the most incredible, liberating news! Beating ourselves up for what’s already been forgiven robs us of the true joy and freedom Jesus has won for us, exposes our unbelief, and can blind us to other ways we’re sinning.
Our sin should disturb us and compel us to ask God’s forgiveness. But we’re no longer slaves to it, so it shouldn’t weigh us down.
To help us properly grasp all this, we need to take our eyes off ourselves and our regrets and fix them on God. We need to continually revisit passages like Psalm 103 which remind us of God’s character and forgiveness, and pray that by his Spirit these truths would sink in.
Then, even as we continue to mess up, we’ll start to leave the past in the past and lean daily on God’s grace as we look forward to a sinless eternity with him (Philippians 3:13-14).
As churches, we need to have more open and honest conversations about sexuality and sexual sin. This stops people struggling in silence and being driven to sin in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. Jesus isn’t ashamed of us (Hebrews 2:11) or unable to sympathise with us (Hebrews 4:15), so shame and judgement have no place in his Church.
This, then, is how we find freedom from the weight of sexual sin: not by our own efforts, but by God’s grace, knowing him better, in fellowship with other redeemed believers.