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Gregory Coles says the church should offer “breathing room” for gay Christians, like himself, who want to pursue sexual holiness.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, my grandmother actively supported the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as well as her state’s amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. When I came out to her, she wanted to learn more. Upon first reading the story of someone who had grown up as a gay Christian and was committed to celibacy, she told me, “I’ve never heard an account like this before—from someone who involuntarily has these experiences but doesn’t pursue them.”

In previous decades, mainstream discourse on homosexuality had presented her with a false dichotomy: A person with same-sex attractions could either choose to totally embrace them and promiscuously act them out or else flee them entirely—ideally, with the goal of experiencing them no longer.

It is challenging to be caught involuntarily in the fallout of such a historically polarizing conflict, yet this is where Greg Coles has also been. As a Christian who, since the onset of adolescence, has experienced persistent attractions to other men, he has landed at the center of the debate about the correct moral response to homosexuality. From this place of tension, where a person can feel wrenched two directions, Coles decided to stand firm and tell his narrative of self-discovery. In Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity, Coles writes without an agenda but instead with the hope of lighting a beacon for other same-sex-oriented Christians who feel trapped a similarly daunting place.

Wrestling with God

Coles was raised in a Christian household, the son of American teachers in the politically restless Indonesia of the 1990s. Having no struggle with lust toward women, he believed …

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