“I want to become a Christian.” I was 48 and speaking to my civil partner of 15 years. What followed was a heart-wrenching conversation about what that meant for our relationship. This wasn’t something that I had flippantly jumped into. God had been talking to me for a few months, and I was fully aware that this would mean the end of our sexual relationship and eventually a full break-up of our partnership.
I had been brought up in a Christian home but stopped pursuing faith as a teenager. On arriving to college as an 18-year-old, I threw myself into the gay scene. I didn’t look back, fully embracing my newfound identity.
Fast forward 30 years, God called to me, and I responded. I wasn’t looking for Him; in fact, spiritual matters were totally off my radar, but God had not forgotten me! He first reached me through a Christian radio station, and I started to recognize that God wanted a relationship with me.
“But God,” I responded, “I’m gay.” As He spoke to me inwardly about attending church, I held back, insisting that I would not be welcome there. Eventually, one Sunday in August 2014 I walked into a local church, and a new chapter began. I was welcomed, I was loved and I was given space to learn and grow. But I still had lots of questions about my sexuality.
“Can I be a gay Christian?” I typed into Google on a regular basis. The range of responses was shocking, from “You’re despicable and going to hell” to “There’s no need to change—God celebrates your sexuality.” I continued to research. I was desperate to keep both my long-held “gay identity” and claim the title “Christian.” I wanted to give my life to Jesus, yet I knew that simply saying the words wasn’t enough. I learned that God wants us to be holy and that holiness demands that we sacrifice those things that separate us from God. For me, that would mean asking Him what He said about my sexual identity and responding in obedience to His Word.
After six months of wrestling with God, I finally recognized that my sexual identity was a false identity, a response to hurts and wounds that I had never addressed. I faced up to the truth that I had never found full satisfaction in my adopted identity and found that God was offering me a new identity as His child. That realization was what brought me to speak those life-changing words, “I want to become a Christian,” and later led me to repent, to ask Jesus to forgive me and to come into my life.
I won’t lie—it’s been a long and difficult journey, yet it’s one where I have found my true, and most fulfilling, identity through my relationship with God.
This world increasingly encourages us to wear labels, whether it’s our gender, sexuality, relationship status, career or something else. We put ourselves in boxes, trying to show the world who we are. But take away those labels, and what are you left with? That was what I was about to find out, and I soon discovered that behind the label I had proudly carried for 30-plus years was a person God created with unique talents, gifts and a personality that He could use to make a difference in the world.
I was finding fulfillment in my relationship with Jesus, in becoming part of a vibrant church community and in discovering that I could make a difference simply by taking the lens off myself and putting it on those who needed to be shown the love of God.
Now I find that the only identity I take on is that of a Christian, and it’s such a satisfying place to be. I follow Jesus Christ and am trying to become more like Him every day. I’m not perfect, but God is shaping me through my mistakes and my successes. Where I used to seek security in material things, I now find it in my trust in God. Where I used to feel a lack of self-worth and hide behind a mask of pride, I now recognize that I am worthy by virtue of Christ, and God delights over me! Where I once saw my sexual attractions as worthy of a label, I now surrender them to God, having allowed His Word to transform my thinking.
The devil is a liar. His desire is to make this generation question who God made them to be. But I am a testimony to a change that is taking place, a growing movement of thousands leaving the LGBTQ+ community after waking up to these lies and reclaiming our identities as men and women of integrity and faith, trusting fully that we are simply who God says we are, and that’s enough. ©2023 Sarah Sedgwick
Sarah Sedgwick works for Transformed Ministries, transformedbygodslove.com, supporting Christians and churches around the world impacted by questions of sexuality and faith.