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By Mark Timson
I became Orthodox because I didn’t want to be gay anymore. I wanted to write a high-minded, spiritual reflection for you about my deepening walk with Christ, but I’ve torn up rewrite after rewrite because none of them were true. I became Orthodox because I was a gay man in denial, which as we all know is more than a river in Egypt!
I was raised by devout Evangelical Protestant missionaries in the developing world, longing from middle school on for some way to change who I was, to stop being one of the guys responsible for the collapse of Western Christian civilization as my parents’ church knew it. I couldn’t love God and love another man, and I was tormented by this reality. When I finally discovered the strong, deep peasant Orthodoxy of my parents’ last mission field I thought I finally had a way to live in God as well as all the rules I needed to live righteously. And if you live in righteousness, the evils that beset you will be removed. Right? Right…
You would think this story would end in disillusionment and departure, and it has certainly included a fair amount of both. It’s been well over a decade since I started attending Orthodox churches, and there have been gaps in that attendance. Yet I am so deeply thankful for my delusion, for my vain hopes for change. Not because of the torture coming out has been or the struggle of being Orthodox and gay, but because through all of those struggles I’ve been kept in the Church by the depth and beauty of its life and continually drawn back to the loving, merciful God Who created us for a life in communion. It’s this God of love that I’ve discovered in Orthodoxy Who has led me to accepting myself as He made me and to realize that it’s not the gender of the person you love that matters, it’s the saving nature of loving someone else and discovering deeper communion with God through them.
I wish I had a story of victory or illumination, but I don’t, just the love of a God Who has, time and time again, rescued me from myself and tried to keep me living a life of love. I don’t know what the future holds and I don’t know whether I’ll always be welcome in this Church I’ve come to love so deeply, but I do know that she will always be a part of my life, as will her God.