Rachel Gilson never expected to become a Christian. She grew up in a home where God wasn’t part of the equation, and placed much of her identity in her intellect and her relationship with her long-time girlfriend. But as a student at Yale University, she encountered a God she couldn’t dismiss. After a time of earnest searching, she came to faith in Jesus.
“A couple months into my new Christian life, I’m following the other Christians around like a baby quail learning what to do! I realize, overall, my attraction to women isn’t going anywhere. And today it’s been sixteen years, and my attraction to women hasn’t gone anywhere. So it has been a continual question in my life. What – as a disciple of Jesus Christ – do I do with that?“
It was a question she came face to face with almost immediately on her path of faith.
“I was asking Him, ‘Why do you say this is wrong?’ Because I’ve seen in Your Bible that You say no to same sex lust & relationships. And I’ve since learned Greek and Hebrew, and it still says no! But what I want to know is why. If You could just tell me why, then I will obey with perfect understanding.”
“Where the Lord pressed me on this was that the most important question isn’t why. The most important question is, ‘Can you trust the one who’s asking you?’ And that really formed the foundation for the rest of the questions I’ve had to explore in my discipleship even more broadly than sexuality.”
Rachel found a fascinating parallel in the Bible’s opening narrative.
“Particularly in that early time, I thought a lot about the Garden of Eden. It’s this really interesting scenario where God gives Adam and Eve just one prohibition. And it’s interesting, really. On the face of it that prohibition isn’t even sort of intuitively wrong.”
“We would understand if God said to Adam, ‘Don’t murder your wife Eve.’ You know? I mean, we know murder is wrong. We kind of get it. But instead, God says – here’s your one rule. Don’t eat that the fruit on the tree in the middle of the garden. There’s not a lot of intuitive reality going on with that, but the serpent presses Eve. He gets her to use her data. She sees it’s attractive. That it would be desirous to make her wise.”
That set up leads to a remarkably similar scenario.
“So – on the one hand – she’s got data that makes this fruit look really good. The only thing in the other category is God’s word. And He says, if you eat it, you’re going to die. And, for me, that felt so much like the sexuality question. I couldn’t figure out on my own data why it would be wrong. But I knew clearly on the other side I had God’s word saying if you eat this you’re going to die.”
“Eve and Adam made the choice that actually they were going to be God, and they were going to decide what was right. We’ve all been living downstream of that terrible decision, and so it was a struggle for me to say – in order to obey when I don’t understand, the person asking me to has to be deeply trustworthy. So I had to go back again and again, is he trustworthy? And it turns out in the garden, and in our life with God, it’s about faith and not about sight.”
Rachel Gilson is telling her remarkable story and inviting us to fresh and freeing understanding in her brand new book Born Again This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith & What Comes Next. She serves on the leadership team at Cru & her writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Desiring God & the Gospel Coalition.On the Road with Rachel Gilson