How Born Again This Way Was Born

Rebecca McLaughlin | March 27th 2020

A few years ago I read a beautifully written story in the New York Times. It was the story of a woman, Kristen, who had grown up in the church, gone to a Christian college, moved to the city, found a church home, and fallen in love with a woman. At first, she thought she needed to repent. But then, step by step, she realized that her love for Jess did not cut against her love for Jesus. In fact, the closeness of their names matched the closeness of their characters: Jess modelled Jesus’s love better than anyone she’d ever known. And, she reasoned, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. So, how could their relationship be wrong?  Forced out of the church they loved, Jess and Kristen found another Christian community where they could lead and be themselves. Right now, they’re living happily ever after.

I too grew up in the church.  Rather than being surprised by same-sex desire, I’ve experienced romantic attraction to women since childhood. Like Kristen, I used to believe that same-sex marriage was against God’s word. Unlike Kristen, I still do. And as I read her powerful, moving, mind-changing story, I longed for a counternarrative – a story equally beautifully written, a story to speak to the heart and move the mind. I prayed late-night, desperate, grieving prayers for God to write that counternarrative.  

And then I met Rachel Gilson.

Born Again This Way

Born Again This Way

£8.99 £7.64

A rich portrayal of living faithfully and happily as a Christian with same-sex attraction that paints a compelling picture of discipleship for every believer.

A story that needed to be told

Rachel and I had been at the same church for a year, but we’d never really talked. To be honest, I’d thought she was boring. But then a mutual friend told us we should meet. So, we did. And when I heard Rachel’s stunning story of coming to Christ from an atheist background after her girlfriend broke up with her at Yale, I realized two things. First, that this was one of the most specific answers to prayer I’d ever received. Second, that Rachel didn’t just have a great story  . She was also a theologically formed, spiritually hungry, intellectually gifted woman, perfectly designed by the Lord to voice his counternarrative.

I told Rachel she needed to write up her testimony. She said no: the world had Rosaria Butterfield, she reasoned, so it didn’t need her. I sat her down in my kitchen with a computer and said, “Write!”  She started writing. Before long, we had the story down, and I sent it to a friend at Christianity Today. It became one of their most read pieces of the year. Then it became one of their most read pieces of the decade. Hundreds of thousands of people have now read and been moved by the story God wrote in her life: another answer to prayer.

A book that needed to be written

I took Rachel out to dinner to celebrate how the Lord had used her testimony and I told her now she had to write a book. She said, “No.” I said, “OK.” But secretly I thought, “Just you wait.” I’d heard that before. As part of my work I’d spent years identifying Christian professors who had a story to tell and helping them to tell it. The first barrier was often their belief that the world didn’t need what they had to say.  But over time, they came to realize that it did, and that the Lord had given them something they uniquely had to share. And gradually that dawned on Rachel too. Fast forward nearly three years, and you can now read that story in Born Again This Way.

Often, it’s the people who least want to promote themselves that God uses most. Rachel is one of those people. 

Often, it’s the very parts of us that once brought us down that God uses to build his kingdom. Rachel’s pre-conversion idols were her girlfriend and her intellect. Now, God is using her history of same-sex attraction and her striking academic gifts to build his church. 

Born Again This Way is literally a Godsend. It’s not just for Christians with same-sex attraction. Straight friends of mine have been moved to tears by this book. It’s helped them better understand both their brothers and sisters in Christ who do experience same-sex desire, and their own experiences of marriage or singleness under the Lord. 

Get hold of it and read it. You won’t be disappointed. 

Rachel Gilson is the author of Born Again This Way. In this powerful and personal book, author Rachel describes her own unexpected journey of coming out and coming to faith... and what came next. Drawing on insights from the Bible and the experiences of others, Born Again This Way provides assurance and encouragement for Christians with same-sex attraction, and paints a compelling picture of discipleship for every believer. Buy a copy here

Rebecca McLaughlin

Rebecca McLaughlin holds a PhD in renaissance literature from Cambridge University and a theology degree from Oak Hill College in London. She is cofounder of Vocable Communications and former vice president of content at the Veritas Forum, where she spent almost a decade working with Christian academics at leading secular universities.

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