Walking a Mile with Wesley Hill: Thoughts on "Washed and Waiting"
The first I heard of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, was on Rachel Held Evans blog earlier this year. She is doing a series on Christianity and sexuality. First stop: homosexuality. Through that series (including the posts about this book) I was challenged to think about this issue in a different light. One of the things I realized about myself was that I had never thought about homosexuality apart from practice. Just because someone is of a homosexual orientation does not mean that they are out having sex any more than my heterosexual orientation means that I am. My assumptions began to make my heart heavy the more I looked into this issue, which is so much more than that to so many people.
As a believer, called to love, I have been lax in research of this area and empathy for the people who struggle with it every day. I am beginning to rectify that.
Rachel's blog posts about this book were intriguing for me, so I asked my local library to purchase it. I read it yesterday on a plane (yes, it's that short) and now, after crying at least three times, I will be purchasing it to re-read.
I have never personally struggled with same-sex attraction, but I have certainly struggled with sin. I have not always won that struggle. In that way, Wesley and I are similar. Even though his book is about this specific topic, it was so relatable that I couldn't help nodding along.
As you might expect from a spiritual memoir, Wesley is extremely honest, but unfailingly gracious. His orthodoxy and love for God radiated from the pages. The book is well-written and long enough to be thorough and brief enough that I wished it was longer.
Since he says it up front, I will tell you that Wesley has come to the conclusion that the only way to behave under the attractions he currently finds himself, and with his faith at the center of his life, is with celibacy.
This is a hard choice for him, that is clear. He did something in this book, just at that point when I wondered if he would falter. He said that it was hard, for sure, but then he thought about all the other hard stuff that God asks of people, things that don't make sense to us, because we can't see the whole story, and suddenly the burden didn't seem quite so heavy.
As a single woman, I am making that same choice every day.
No matter where you are in life, I'm sure you're making hard choices every day. Hard choices to deny yourself and deny sin.
Sometimes life in Christ is hard, sometimes it is not instantly gratifying. That is sometimes hard to swallow.
I love this quote:
My homosexuality, my exclusive attraction to other men, my grief over it and my repentance, my halting effort to live fittingly in the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit—gradually I am learning not to view all of these things as confirmations of my rank corruption and hypocrisy. I am instead, slowly but surely, learning to view that journey—of struggle, failure, repentance, restoration, renewal in joy, and persevering , agonized obedience—as what it looks like for the Holy Spirit to be transforming me on the basis of Christ's cross and his Easter morning triumph over death.
This is Wesley's story. It is different from my story, but it is not worse. We both fit into the narrative of what God is doing to redeem His creation. God is using this hard thing, to mold Wesley into the person he will be, just as He uses the hard things in my life, and yours.
We are both lonely, and longing for the little tastes of Heaven that come in community and human affection. This book had made me acutely aware of how much we have in other believers and in God, and also how much of a shadow all of this is of what will be, as we stand together in perfect unity and fellowship.
At that point, if not before, I want to look up Wesley Hill and see what God has done in him. I think it's going to be beautiful.
I encourage you, as part of the Body of Christ, find a copy of this book and read it. I think that you will be challenged and encouraged, just as I was.