Op-ed | Why I am a leader in TCF
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 15:12
My name is Jessica Laporte and I am a junior serving as part of the Vision and Planning Team (VPT) of Tufts Christian Fellowship. I am sharing my story with the Tufts campus because I think that it is relevant to many of the current issues and conversations on campus regarding Tufts Christian Fellowship.
I wanted to offer how I have come to understand sexuality in my own life and how that plays out in my role as a member of the VPT.
On Nov. 22, 2009, I answered a call to faith sitting next to a friend who had illuminated the Gospel to me through her life and through the story of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. The decision to give over my life to Jesus was motivated by a new understanding of what the “good news” I had heard Christians talk about actually meant. That morning, I realized that the call to follow Jesus was not dependent on me “living by the rules” or being a “good person.”
I came before God with baggage (and a hangover). I came with things that tormented me, like depression. I came with decisions that I regretted, like hook-ups and the ways I had failed to respect the sacrifices my mother had made for my education. I came with a heavy responsibility that I had put on my accomplishments and work. But I realized that in light of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, it didn’t matter what I came with. When God looks upon me, he sees the perfection of Christ — not my million and one imperfections.
In response to the Gospel I have chosen to submit my life to Christ. Luke 9: 23-25 reads: “Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
Everyday, I am learning what it means to deny myself — my desires, my preferences, my dreams, my everything — and follow Jesus. The crazy part is that in denying to myself, I am not receiving the raw end of a deal, because God blesses me with true, abundant life. I’ve found that in surrendering my life to Christ, I have not lost what was given, but have had it returned to me in a way that more fully satisfies my longing for purpose and passion.
But Luke 9 goes on to say: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:26-27).
This I am also learning to do. Originally, I thought that this just meant explaining to people who God is, but I have come to see that it also means displaying the glory of God by embracing the transformation that continues to happen every day that I choose to follow him.
Sexuality — mostly just sex, at first — has been a very present part of my walk with Christ. I was not a virgin when I received the good news, and from day one I began to try to figure out what following Christ meant in regards to my sex life. I knew that Jesus had healed me from previous negative experiences and messed up relationships, and that I was now free in him to live abundantly. What I didn’t know was what this meant for my sexuality.
Naturally, I wanted it to mean that I was now free to do as I please, but I quickly realized that I found more joy and satisfaction in submitting my sex life, my attractions, and my potential relationships to God.
I slowly learned that I am a not a sexual being, but a spiritual being — God’s daughter. And his love has satisfied my hunger and thirst for emotional and physical love.
Here’s where this gets relevant for this campus. I am a woman who is attracted to both men and women, which is something I finally had the courage to see and accept in my life. Before understanding my unconditional acceptance by God, I was unwilling to admit that I was attracted to women because I was afraid of what that would mean for my life.
I believe that God intended sex between one man and one woman in the context of marriage, and therefore, I will remain sexually chaste for the rest of my life or until I get married. This means that I will not date a woman, and even in a relationship with a man, our sexual intimacy would reflect a mutual desire to glorify God before seeking human pleasure.
Although my orientation is not strictly “heterosexual,” I am a leader in TCF because of my beliefs about what God intended for relationships. I am not a leader in TCF because “I chose to be straight” but because I have chosen to deny myself in all things and take up my cross daily in order to follow Christ. My sexuality is only one part of my identity that is being transformed by God’s will.
It is difficult to hear people speaking out against TCF as an unsafe space for LGBT students because it’s actually one of the only places that I feel comfortable discussing my sexuality. Until now, only a small number of good friends outside of TCF knew this about me, because I have been ashamed of sharing what God has taught me about sexuality. For me, TCF is the safest place on this campus for me to explore, understand and grow in my sexuality because the community shares in my doubts, my struggles and my faith.