Chris­tian opens up on ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - HUGH COLLINS

For Wez van der Linde grow­ing up gay was one chal­lenge, but be­ing Chris­tian was some­thing dif­fer­ent again.

Born into a Chris­tian house­hold, he spent his teenage years wrestling with his sex­u­al­ity while main­tain­ing in­volve­ment in a Chris­tian com­mu­nity that per­ceived same-sex at­trac­tion as sin­ful.

He des­per­ately wanted to be straight, and fu­ri­ously ques­tioned why he wasn’t born like the ma­jor­ity.

‘‘I’m a per­fec­tion­ist, I want things to be right, I want things to be per­fect. And for me per­fect was not be­ing gay.

‘‘I’d wake up early to mem­o­rise scrip­ture and hop­ing that when those thoughts came into my head I had scrip­ture to block it out.

‘‘Be­cause you’re try­ing to fol­low Je­sus, you’re try­ing to fol­low this guy who epit­o­mises com­pas­sion and love and grace but yet for some rea­son you are ex­cluded by the very peo­ple that should be in­clud­ing you.’’

Orig­i­nally from Dur­ban in South Africa, van der Linde used his faith for many years as a means of dis­tract­ing him from his sex­u­al­ity.

‘‘The church was def­i­nitely an es­cape from my feel­ings,’’ he said.

Things be­gan to change in his early 20s when he started to take se­ri­ously the Chris­tian con­cept of grace - the idea that ev­ery­one is loved and ac­cepted by God re­gard­less of who they are or what they’ve done.

His aun­tie in par­tic­u­lar would dis­cuss it with him with­out even know­ing about his sex­u­al­ity.

Around the same time a friend, also un­aware of van der Linde’s sex­u­al­ity, started to share with him the idea that God loves all re­gard­less of who they are.

‘‘That was the be­gin­ning of go­ing ‘maybe God just loves me and that’s it, maybe there’s noth­ing wrong with me, maybe it’s all ok’.’’

This was the start of a process of self-ac­cep­tance through which he even­tu­ally went on to come out to his fam­ily.

‘‘I’m at peace with who I am, I’m not afraid to tell peo­ple.’’

Van der Linde, who moved to New Zealand last year and be­gan teach­ing English at Auckland Gram­mar, has now writ­ten Space for the Spec­trum, a book which fol­lows his ex­pe­ri­ences grow­ing up with feel­ings to­wards the same sex while main­tain­ing a Chris­tian faith.

Van der Linde now in­tends to fund the pub­lish­ing of his book through a Kick­starter page.

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