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Identity and Orientation Part 1

We’re looking at Sexual Orientation in a special two-part series. If this feels personal, that’s okay.

It’s important to recognize that sexual orientation is quite personal. But, the world has laid out it’s terms and it’s ideals for what sexual orientation means.

Our culture tells us who we’re attracted to in fact, defines us.

In this series, we’ll be discussing the cultural conversation set up with cultural standards and comparing it to what Jesus has to say about you. The world is feeding you a narrative.

Jesus is inviting you into your identity.

Highlights:

A Definition: Sexual orientation is the direction of your sexual or romantic attractions.

Culturally, we talk about sexual orientation not as something people experience, not just as a feeling that they’ve got but as a matter of identity, a matter of who a person is

Christianity would teach that people are much, much more than the direction that their sexual, romantic desires point them.

We have to recognize Christ’s perspective about sexual orientation is that every single one of us has a sexual orientation that needs His redemption. Every single one of us.

Homework:

Matthew 5:27-28

John 4 Woman at the Well

For more on this topic, check our latest article Did Jesus Talk about Sexual Orientation?

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Hey, everybody, good afternoon, or good morning, depending on when you’re listening to this, I have no idea. Good evening, good midnight to, you know, whenever it is that you’re, you tune in this podcast, hey, today we’re going to talk about something can be a sensitive topic certainly can be a hot button topic for a lot of people, but a really, really important topic to our ministry. And it’s certainly a really important topic in the Christian church today, important both on it on a church level as we’re trying to love. Well, in a culture that’s sexually confused, certainly important on a family level, as a lot of families are dealing with what I’m gonna be talking about today. And then on a personal level, because a lot of us individually are wrestling with this on it personally. So I want to talk about we’re going to talk about sexual orientation, sexual orientation, it has become almost sacrilegious to talk about sexual orientation, from a Christian perspective, a traditional Christian perspective, especially when we get around the idea of can sexual orientation change, is it possible for it to change. So let me start off with a definition of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is simply the direction of your sexual or romantic attractions, it’s the direction that your sexual or romantic attractions point you. So whatever your sexual orientation, it’s, it’s, it’s where you find yourself drawn, when it comes to your sexual romantic desires that you have. Now, one of the reasons is because it’s such a difficult topic to talk about culturally and even among Christians is because culturally, we typically talk about sexual orientation, not just as something that people experience and not just as a feeling that they’ve got. But as a matter of identity, a matter of who a person is, we, by and large, culturally, have, have accepted the narrative that who you are attracted to physically, romantically sexually, tells you something about who you are, who you’re attracted to tells you something about who you are. And so, so, resisting your sexual orientation, or trying to change your sexual orientation, it’s not just a matter of addressing attraction, it’s a matter of, you’re trying to suppress or reject who you are, and you’re trying to change who you are. Now, that becomes much more personal. So if that’s true, it’s worth paying attention to. But one thing I want to highlight in this in this podcast is that the conversation that we’re having in the culture and the conversation, sadly, that a lot of Christians are having among themselves, when it comes to sexual orientation issues. The conversation that it’s like the table has been set for us on how to have this conversation and what our terms mean. But the table has not been set with a Christian worldview with and what I mean by that is, is with with a Christian sense of what is real, what reality is, but rather, it’s been set with the world’s perspective on what is real on on, it’s a worldly worldview. Now, I’m not just talking about, you know, faith beliefs here, I’m literally talking about on some level, what we believe real is. Now of course, faith comes into all of this because it’s impossible to live without faith, every single one of us has faith. I mean, if you if you’re sitting somewhere right now, and you’ve got to get some more later in your car, and you listen to this podcast, in case you have faith that your car is going to start, otherwise you you would be doing something about it, you’d be getting up and going to try to start your car to find a tow or to find some way to fix your car to find a ride. But because you have faith, you’re able to be in one place right now it should be centered, or if you’re driving, you have faith that the other drivers in the on the road are not going to steer into you, you may not have a ton of faith and that be of some faith, otherwise, you wouldn’t be out in the road. Or at least you wouldn’t be listening this podcast while you’re driving. So it’s impossible to live without faith. But faith is not, it’s not a separate thing altogether from from what’s real, we have we have faith, because faith is required to embrace the things that are real, that we actually cannot control or cannot manipulate in a moment by moment fashion. And so all of us have to do with faith, but we’re talking about so going back to this illustration. It’s like we’ve walked into a room and we’re gonna have talked about sexual orientation. But somebody else has kind of set the stage they’ve laid the table they put down the silverware they put on the plates they put on the drink, and we walk into the room and and all that setup there is telling us what is real and we’re trying to have a conversation around the question of sexual orientation and the question of sexual orientation change. But that but but the, the the setting, the table settings are not conducive to having that conversation from a Christian worldview. And so I want to unpack that a little bit because unless we we can set the table for ourselves, we’re having this conversation. What we end up doing is is trying to use the world’s language and the world’s perspective to address matters that really, the world is not interested in addressing in the same way and they’re certainly not enabled to address in the same way. Now they there’s certainly good points and for everybody to share. We can listen well to our neighbors on these things. I’m not trying to say, you know, only Christians know, what’s real, our neighbors who are not Christians have, can teach us a lot. So I’m not trying to suggest that there’s that we should just, you know, plug our ears and, and, you know, shout out. That’s that is not what this is about either. But I think you’ll understand more as I as I go forward. So the main setting that the world sets for us is what I just mentioned a few moments ago, which is the idea that sexual orientation, your sexual orientation, that the direction that your attractions point, you sexually romantically, tell you something about your identity. And so to try to deny that change that address that in some way, means that you’re rejecting not just a behavior, not just an attraction, but you’re addressing your identity, you’re talking about your identity, and that feels much more personal. And that’s important for us to recognize that it feels personal, because a lot of times what Christians end up doing in these conversations is they end up just making claims about what real is. But they’re kind of shouting at people in some ways and coming in a way or they’re coming across a shouting without really understanding and recognizing some of the real life pain and challenge that people experience, who have sexual orientations, directing them in different directions. So it can feel much more more personal, we want it we want to get after who people are. And Christianity would teach that people are much, much more than just the direction that their sexual romantic desires, point them. And I’m gonna talk about that a little bit more next week’s podcast. The other reason I think this topics get so sensitive is because there are a lot of testimonies of people who have sought to change their sexual orientation, but who have not experienced a significant change, if any. So if Christians say that God can change sexual orientation, but some Christians don’t experience that kind of change, then what does that mean about those who haven’t experienced change? Does it mean that they’re not truly Christians? Does it mean they haven’t, quote unquote, fully surrendered to Jesus or, quote, unquote, haven’t fully surrendered their sexuality to Jesus? Does it mean that they have uncovered some piece of the puzzle about where their sexual orientation came in the first place, you see how it becomes much, much more personal here, and, and pastorelli, we’ve got to pay attention to these things, too, because we have a pastoral responsibility to meet people where they are. And so we want to recognize where people are in this in this journey. But this is these are part of why this conversation has gotten so sensitive and is so difficult. Now, let me pause there because I want to point out something really important. I’m about seven minutes into this podcast. And I’ve been talking about sexual orientation. And I want to just kind of pivot a little bit and look at you and ask you a question. What have you understood me to be talking about when I’m talking about sexual orientation? What have you understood me to be talking about specifically, my guess is that for most of you, where your brain has gone, because this is where the culture would point you. So again, thinking about how the culture has set the, the the table for us here, where the culture points you and where your brains likely have gone, is thinking about LGBT plus issues, thinking about whether a gay person can become straight with their lesbian can become straight. That’s where most of us go, when we think about the topic of sexual orientation change and whether or not it’s possible. Now, there may be other things that mixed in there, too. But that’s one key area. But I just want to point out, I have not talked at all about LGBT issues yet. I have not named and explicitly said that when I’m talking about sexual orientation change, I’m talking about gay to straight or lesbian to straight. The reason I haven’t is because the other dynamic when a Christian when we set the table for the conversation, from the realm of Christianity, we have to recognize that that Christ’s perspective about sexual orientation is that every single one of us has a sexual orientation that needs his redemption, every single one of us, we all of us have romantic or sexual desires that point us in directions, that that need his redemption that need to change the need to move from death, to life, from lust, to love, all of us do, whether that’s a same sex orientation, whether that’s an orientation towards somebody who’s not your spouse, whether it’s an orientation, towards just a part of your spouse’s body, but not the whole of your spouse, whether it’s whether your sexual orientation is just numb, you’ve got no sexual desire whatsoever because of things that have happened in your life that that part of you has been shut down. All of us are disoriented in the area of our sexuality, and Christian worldview, it suggests that all of us need the baptism of Christ, we need our sexuality like the rest of us, plunged into the blood of Christ and the death of Christ, that it can be raised up to new life. This is why Jesus was a sexual being. This is why he came as a man as a sexual being with sexual feelings to because in order for this part of our lives, to be reborn, Jesus needed to assume it. This is this goes back to the early church fathers Athanasius said that which I think was Athanasius who said that which is not assumed cannot be healed. And what he meant is that which Jesus did not assuming to his humanity cannot be healed and our humanity and So when I’m talking about sexual orientation, and when Christians are talking from a Christian worldview about sexual orientation, they’re not just returning or referring to LGBT issues or talking their time at all of us. What needs to change their own sexual orientation? Will all of us need redemption there. Now, let me go right to Scripture to talk about this. And you might be thinking, Wait, scripture doesn’t talk about sexual orientation change? Well, I beg to differ. I think it does. Let’s look at Matthew five. Matthew 527, to 28. Jesus, this is Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount. He says, You’ve heard it said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, anyone who lusts after a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So in other words, the Jewish listeners of his day were understanding their sexual orientation was all okay, it was good. You know, it was good. I haven’t committed adultery. And maybe other persons is bad because they had committed adultery. But But mine’s okay. And Jesus saying, No, no, your orientation also needs to be fixed. Because you’ve been lusting, you’ve been lusting, you looked at people with lust in your heart, and that is the same as committing adultery. Jesus is elevating the standard for us. So if you have experienced lust in your life, if you have wrestled with lust, whether you’re a man or woman, I’d suggest you and whether when we’re whatever direction that lust is aimed at, using another person’s body for your own selfish sexual gratification, whether in person or visually or mentally, then you you need your sexual orientation to be reoriented. That’s certainly been true for me. Also, let’s take a look at john for this is Jesus famous interaction with with a woman of Samaria the woman at the well, just to summarize that this woman had five husbands, and the man she was living with was not her husband. And so she was ashamed and visiting the well on her own, and that we don’t know what all was entailed, entailed in her sordid past, but, you know, it was it was not sexually pristine. And she keeps moving from man to man to man, whether it’s her fault or the men’s fault. And Jesus, in essence, says, I think, considering this current conversation, we can reframe what Jesus says, as you have been orienting yourself around relationships with men, maybe around sexual relationships, men, we don’t know. But you’ve been orienting your loves around relationship after relationship after relationship with men. And I say to you, there’s there’s not enough water there to quench your thirst. Your thirst is only going to be quenched when you orient your loves around me, around me, I will be the one to give you living water that will well up inside of you and overflow to eternal life and she is hungry and thirsty for that water. Jesus is inviting and his words there, not just for her there for all of us. All of us have been taking our thirst, our desires, our romantic or sexual or relational desires, to wealth that do not satisfy and we need to reorient our sexual, relational, emotional, physical lives around Jesus, around Jesus, we all need reorientation. So the brief answer to the question Does Jesus change sexual orientation is Yes, he does. He intends to do just that through his life, his death and cross and his resurrection, as the sexual creature that he is, has because he’s taken on flesh. And because he’s taken on flesh and become a sexual physical being as a male, than than that which he is assume now is accomplished for us to we can have our sexual orientation reoriented away from focus on self, and making me happy towards orienting on God, and what he how he satisfies us with his living waters with his love. And then from there, we can be receiving his living water, his love, to be reorienting ourselves to be obedient to Him, and loving others, not with a lustful love with a self giving love. And that’s that can take place in friendship and take place in a marriage. But we all need that kind of reorientation. So whether you’re having conversations with non believers, or you’re having conversations with people in your church, or other Christians, you know, or you’re having conversations within your family or within yourself, as you’re addressing topics of sexual orientation, I think just recognizing the sexual orientation. And that simple definition of this is my sexual romantic desires pointing me in a certain direction, that the ground is equal the foot of the cross that Jesus wants to reorient all of us towards a greater love and obedience to Him. And we all need the same blood, the same, the same redemption that he offers us. So, next week, I want to come back to this topic because I want to continue to kind of lay that the table so to speak for this conversation, I think in some ways that will help us to greater understand what this change actually look like for sexual orientation. What are we talking about? And how can we get after that in a way that that more people might understand including in our in our own selves? Jesus, we need you. We definitely do. We need you because we live in a culture. That’s That is talks about these things in sound bites and talks about these things in ways that don’t connect with what your word teaches us about what it means to be human being about what you’ve done on the cross for us. So why would you raise us up? Open our eyes to see Jesus, I pray for those who are listening. Would you open their eyes to see in their ears to hear that they might be reoriented in their own understanding even about what it means to be a sexual being and what you’re calling them to learn. It’s not a life of, of rigidity for rigidity sake. It’s a life of freedom and love, for your sake, for our sake, for the good of the world. Jesus make it so through your life, your death and your resurrection I pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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