In the past year been I have been in a conversation with a young woman who has been moving towards a lesbian relationship. I’ve been pondering what she has seen as her only two choices: go deeper into this relationship for seeming oneness/life-giving intimacy or live a single, celibate, lonely life, hardly worth the labor.
The problem is, I don't think I have a marketable vision of a third alternative. Third ways are real (I’ve explained to her that though sometimes it aches, I have not grown shrunken and isolated being unmarried), but when surveying typical church life, appealing third way visions are scant.
And yet, I really do believe that God can create paths through the wilderness, Red Seas can part, empty oil containers can be surprisingly refilled, dead bodies can rise. I do so believe that steps in the direction of obedience and surrender (not appealing words, I know) can open doors which--before such steps are taken--appear tightly shut. I imagine Paul choosing to sing in the jail not knowing the door would come open, or I picture the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader when the children must step through the blackened doorway knowing only that Aslan has beckoned. All this is to say, with God, the visible options are not always the only options.
I was reading Genesis 3 a few days ago and thinking about the tree. It's strange, right, because what Eve saw in that tree—pleasure for the eyes, good food, a wisdom source—were real. She wasn't making that up. And her desire for those things was not wrong. It's just that there was a bigger story she couldn't see as she contemplated that forbidden fruit.
Reading Genesis 3, I couldn't help but be reminded of all the different people, encounters, longings, etc. which have made me want to reach out and take something to which God has said, “No.” I'm a woman replete with hungry (and I think fundamentally good) desire for connection. My urge to merge speaks, I think, of something relational and fruitful in God's nature.
But for what it's worth, I've seen in my 50 years that such an urge finds its only fit outlet in a commitment to love. And love which is fruitful and life-giving (for others and for me) is that which flows in ever greater alignment with our trinitarian God's desires, known through his Word (the revelation of Scripture) and Spirit (making the eternal Jesus internally real). And I do believe his Word, in revealing how best to love, gives parameters for sexual/relational connectedness--for the sake of Life.
So, I’ve encouraged my friend to risk believing that there is a bigger story, one we live into by faith, and that saying “no” to seemingly eye-pleasing, wisdom-giving, nourishment-laden fruit, if for no other reason than ‘God says so,’ could actually be saying "yes" to a bigger and more beautiful story whose contours are not visible in advance. In essence, I've encouraged her to consider trusting in the goodness of the father-heart of God in his capacity to lovingly lead us in ways beyond that which we can ask or imagine.
I don’t know where, if chosen, such a path could lead in my friend’s life; I do know it will include suffering, even with good friends in the journey. But I am convinced that as she risks travelling around blind curves of daily following our Father’s lead, hers will be a path into a beautiful and deeply good story.