I was shocked to learn that they had called off the relationship. They had been together for 12 years and there had been no sign that there was any trouble between them. What happened? The answer was even more surprising then the news of the change in relationship status. She blamed Jesus.
The relationship had gotten serious shortly after Sally’s divorce from her abusive husband. She and Adaline started as roommates but soon became lovers. They did not hide their love for one another and the relationship endured many challenges. Sally was nearly disowned by her children. She was not invited to their weddings and excluded from the lives of her grandchildren. She talked many times over the years of the pain she felt at the loss of relationship. She desperately wanted to be involved in their lives but did not think it right that relationship with her children would require the loss of relationship with Adaline. Sally and Adaline seemed to be deeply committed to one another.
At a recent visit the topic of marriage came up in conversation. Given that same sex marriage is now legal, I asked what her feelings were on the subject. Her answer caught me off guard, “Adaline and I are not together anymore in that way.”
I was stunned. “What happened?” I asked. Her answer stunned me more.
She told me they had been going to Bible study together for a while, and one day they realized that they couldn’t be together as lovers and be followers of Christ. “We want to go to heaven, so we decided we wouldn’t be involved like that anymore.” They continued to live as roommates but had ended all romantic involvement.
It was a remarkable conversation and it revealed much about her new faith. The conclusion she had reached about abstinence seemed to be a personal one based on a realization that she had reached on her own. No one had forced it on her, no one had told her that she had to do it. She had not been bullied or badgered into the decision. What was even more remarkable was how she and her partner had reached this conclusion together. They simply decided that eternal happiness was more important than earthly intimacy, and that heaven was worth the sacrifice.
Their reasoning was simple. They believed in Jesus and the Bible. They believed that following Jesus meant that they would need to set aside their ideas of right and wrong and follow the teachings of Scripture. The Bible's teaching on sexual morality was clear- sexual intimacy outside of traditional marriage was sin. They knew that they could not continue living in sin and follow Jesus. Following Jesus came with the promise of eternal life in heaven. They did the math and made a decision.
Being new to the faith she was unaware of the power in her testimony. She was not preachy or arrogant, she did not condemn others with her words. They had simply decided that Jesus was worth it.
She did not know it but she is a living illustration of the truth found in many of the parables of Jesus. Two of them are found close together in Matthew 13.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Jesus’ point was that eternal relationship with Him is so valuable that we should be willing to sacrifice everything for it. In other teachings He makes it clear that all who follow Him will need to make sacrifices and that self-denial is one of the hallmarks of true faith.
Sally has true faith. As with the man who found the treasure in the field, her sacrificial decision was made with joy, not sorrow. She embodies the truth that when we focus on the promises of Christ, of the joy that awaits, we will find ourselves wanting to let go of anything that could get in the way.
Note- There may be some who will read this post as anti-gay. Such a reading misses the point entirely. The post is not about the specific actions laid aside, it is about the fact that faith requires us all to lay aside things of value to us. The Christian faith does not require that we give up something to follow Jesus. It requires that we give up everything, and she models this. A previous post addressed a similar issue in a heterosexual couple. In each case, I simply related the truth of the story as it occurred.