By Jeffrey Colen. Jeffrey Colen is a Christ follower who loves when people get to see Christ in his story but loves it even more when people find themselves and their stories in Christ Jesus. He holds a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry from North Park Theological Seminary.
Being gay and in love with someone of the opposite sex confuses people. Honestly, it confuses me too. I never prayed to be straight or to get into a mixed-orientation relationship. But here I am, two months away from marrying a woman who God has allowed me the privilege to know, to love, and (on a fairly regular basis) to annoy.
My story might raise a lot of questions for you. Sadly, I don’t have many answers for you, or for myself. What I do have is my story. I hope God uses it to inspire something true and beautiful in you, no matter how different your story is from mine.
I denied my sexual identity for a long time—outwardly, at least. But in private, I knew I was gay. I would chat with other gay guys online (though I never met up with them in person) and watch gay porn. I found shame in what I was doing. I did it in hiding, never daring to tell anyone else who could hold me accountable.
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One day, I started praying for God to use my sexuality for His good and not for my own fulfillment. I knew I wasn’t gifted for celibacy, so I did what I thought I needed to do and jumped right into a serious relationship with a straight woman, without telling her that I was gay. I didn’t realize at the time how unfair it was to her—and even to me—to not disclose my sexual identity to her at the beginning of the relationship. I had no idea how much work I still had to do personally, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally before I’d be ready to enter a mixed-orientation relationship.
After that first relationship failed, I started wrestling even more with what God wanted from me and what I believed about my own sexuality. I stepped away from being a youth pastor because I knew I had to figure all this out. It wouldn’t be fair to me, my students, or the churches I was working with if I was being dishonest with them and with myself. Once I stepped away, I felt this sense of freedom to explore, and I did.
In the summer of 2019, I found someone—someone of the same sex. Our relationship started out as a platonic friendship, but it quickly grew into something more. I loved him… It took me a while after I broke off our relationship to admit that. Everything I had learned about love in church, I felt for the first time with him. I kissed him and melted away. When I looked into his eyes, he saw me. I knew that our relationship didn’t line up with God’s calling on my life and the fruit God wanted me to produce. So I chose to die to myself; I chose God over our relationship. But even though I knew what I had done wasn’t pleasing to God, I’m grateful for how God transformed me through that experience. I learned so much about how I needed to be loved, how to love, and how God loves me.
When I met the woman who would become my wife, it was August of 2017, back when I was still in denial about my sexuality. I was at a youth leader retreat in Santa Cruz, sitting in the back of the room, watching the sun set over a California beach. Then a woman came onstage to speak to us about prayer. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember that suddenly I stopped thinking about the sunset and started admiring her instead. I remember the Spirit moving inside me, giving me my first hint that this person was meant to be in my life forever. I still had a long road ahead of me before that would happen: doubts and mistakes and false starts that stood between me and the marriage I never planned. But I can see looking back that God had been preparing the way for me, long before I realized what he was up to.
I may not believe in soulmates, but I do believe that I was set apart for the woman I saw that night at the youth leader retreat.
In two months, I will be marrying that woman from Santa Cruz. We got to this point in our relationship through honest communication, through actively seeking each other and understanding that we might not get everything we want. I love her in the way she needs to be loved, and she loves me in the way I need to be loved. She sees me for how God has created me, recognizes how the world has broken me inside, and pursues me in the same faithful way that God pursues me. Our mixed-orientation relationship has taken a lot of work, both before it started and now as God sustains us through it. But the work is worth it.
I may not know why I’m gay, or why my calling has unfolded the way it has—but I know without a doubt that the fruit God wants to produce in me will be produced through our marriage covenant. I know I am called to her. And for now, that’s enough.