By: Kyle Thorp
How my story begins
I grew up in the picture-perfect Christian household.
My father was the Sunday School coordinator at our church. My mother homeschooled my two sisters and me. We had family devotions, went to Sunday School, Wednesday night services, youth group, and every other church function that happened. But as I entered my teen years I began to learn something about myself that did not belong in my Christian family utopia.
Most guys my age were becoming interested in girls, and I too anticipated meeting a beautiful girl, falling in love, and getting married. But I had other thoughts too—thoughts I did not fully understand, thoughts directed towards other guys.
trying to make sense of it all
Eventually, I realized these thoughts weren’t normal. I knew about “gay people,” but I had always assumed that they were wicked, perverse people who had chosen to be that way. So the things I was experiencing didn’t make any sense to me.
I knew I needed help, I had to act. I couldn’t live with these thoughts and feelings any longer. But even knowing that, it took months to summon my courage. Eventually I confessed my feelings to my parents. I would not have been surprised, or even dismayed, if the world had ended at that moment.
Although the news was a shock for my parents, they responded with love. Neither they nor I knew what to expect next, but there was hope that Jesus would work in this situation.
Even with that hope, I could never have imagined the difficult road that followed. First I had to deal with the awkwardness of knowing that my parents knew about my struggle. They came alongside me through prayer, but we would only speak of my struggle in the vaguest generalities. As though my struggle were a plague or virus, that might go away if we were sure to only whisper about it.
We were all to blame. My father, my mother, and I were all afraid to raise the issue, so I began to bury my feelings even further, thinking that if I refused to act on them they would just go away… Unfortunately, that didn’t work and the feelings didn’t go away.
When I went to college, I made it a priority to keep my sexuality a secret. I became such an expert at hiding it that I managed to earn leadership roles in a campus ministry and the youth group at my church. But when my homosexual desires became too much to handle, I turned to pornography. Before long, I was living two lives. The life of the likable, successful Christian student, and the life of a porn addict scouring the internet for a fix whenever he had the chance.
After much Biblical research I came to see that embracing a homosexual lifestyle was not an option. I considered leaving the church and pursuing an openly homosexual lifestyle, but that would mean giving up the façade of the wholesome, innocent Christian everyone thought I was.
My desire to be that person in the eyes of others was not what ultimately encouraged me to give up porn and let go of my sexual impulses. It was my relationship with Jesus. I knew that if he loved me the way he said he did, he would give me an escape from the double-life I was living, even if I could not find one myself.
During that time I was so discouraged. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure that God could help me. But I gathered myself together, all of my courage and hope, to put my all into him.
a new life
I made the decision to see a Christian counselor for help. Although it was painful and terrifying to expose myself to a complete stranger, with my counselor’s help I was able to break free of the habits that brought me so much confusion and get back on the road to biblical purity. I learned to not be afraid or ashamed of myself. And for the first time in my life, I truly understood what grace was. I could say, like Job, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”
It was because of that grace that I’m choosing to share my story. Even though it’s difficult for me to talk about my homosexual desires—desires which I still feel—I know that they are nothing more than remnants of my old self, an old self who was purchased on the cross and made new at Jesus’ resurrection. Also, without community I wouldn’t be where I am, so I want to give back to the Body that I’m apart of, despite my fear.
Seeing things differently
It bothers me that the homosexual lifestyle has become so accepted by secular culture. But it bothers me more that those who struggle with homosexual desires may never experience grace because the community around them doesn’t know how to give it to them. When I confessed my sin, I expected hell but received grace instead. But this was a grace that didn’t just leave me where I was, it gave me love and has given me a path to walk on.
Before, my life was characterized by unbearable fear and shame. I felt as if no one who truly knew me could love me. God’s grace took all of my pain and replaced it with love.
I hope that my story can help not only those who struggle with same-sex attraction but all who need grace for their sins: past, present, and future. People need grace, not only grace to be loved, but also grace to love well. That is what the gospel gives to people — a new identity, a family, and a home to grow up in.
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Kyle Thorp holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Grove City College. He currently resides in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he is pursuing an MDiv at Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity and working part-time. He plans to enter full-time ministry after completing his degree.