Washed and Waiting by Wes Hill
Wes Hill is a Christian pastor and professor who has grappled with homosexual desires all his life despite desperate attempts to be rid of them. Washed and Waiting is a book about his experiences in the church, his thoughts as he contends with his “handicap,” and a beautiful statement of a strong man’s commitment to the holiness of Christ outside the frontiers of ordinary comfort which most of us experience. I was most surprised, not by the strangeness of his temptations and struggles, but by their familiarity. No, I have never experienced same-sex attraction, but I have experienced brokenness in many areas of my life, including my desires. Sometimes known as “disordered affections,” we ALL have them in some form.
Hill’s greatest challenge is a deep and abiding loneliness. In fact, his sexuality seems almost easily set aside (though I doubt it has been easy) compared with this disconnection, the feeling that he will never really belong to anyone or anything. First, Hill wonders whether the love of Christ is sufficient to cure him, and he speaks poignantly about the physical dimensions of companionship which we cannot experience with Christ on this earth. Next, he looks to the community of believers as a source for the agape love he most needs. While he has had some amazing friends and mentors, his loneliness has not abated.
The author’s desire for intimacy reminded me of the deep, true and yet sometimes naive longing I hear from my never-married friends and clients. Someone who has not experienced the joys and challenges of married life imagines it to be the cure for what ails them. They color it with a healing hue that marriage only partially and intermittently possesses. They fail to consider that marriage can be the loneliest place on earth and one of the most difficult, that in many cases, God intends marriage more for our refining than for our enjoyment. In all honesty, my closest relationships have always been with other Christian women, though I believe that the committed aspect of marriage meets a deep need for belonging that no other institution quite satisfies. Being (or having been) married tells us that we are worthy in a way nothing else does. Truly, it is not good for man to be alone – it is very hard.
In the modern western world, we do not expect to do hard things. We don’t expect to lose children, to suffer the privations of war, to be persecuted for our faith or to be deeply unfulfilled in any area of life. We don’t cultivate a faith big enough to carry us through those trials; we go out and change our circumstances. We change jobs, change houses, change spouses, change churches. We consider unfulfilled longing to be a fixable and unnatural state – whereas, it is utterly the state of fallen man, and faith alone is the foundation which can hold us fast when other anchors drift. Unlike so many today who demand their cravings be fulfilled, who give up on their promises, who prefer to ask for forgiveness than to live in obedience, and some who would even change Scripture rather than deny their disordered desires, Wes Hill is willing to live with his loneliness and longing for one lifetime so that his King might be glorified for eternity.
Washed and Waiting is a book for every single (never married) Christian and a book for every single (all, everywhere) Christian. May we all become more like the author. May we cultivate a faith which is deeper than our brokenness, more willing to suffer for Christ, more committed to holiness and more compelling for all that.