There is a serious challenge facing Christians who struggle with same-sex attractions or gender confusion in our day.
Whether or not these are issues for you personally, for the sake of our brothers and sisters who do, read on.
A few years ago, I read an article about a man I know who left his gay identity and gay relationships because of his Christian convictions. The article outlined how he got support from other Christians and Christian organizations, eventually married, and he and his wife (who had walked away from lesbianism) had two children together. For several years, he advocated that same-sex attracted men and women can change, and he and his wife spoke widely about their experience.
Over time, however, he drifted. His internal struggles continued to resurface and he eventually divorced his wife, broke up his family, and is once again living as an openly gay man.
He’s not the only one.
But to read the article, you’d think this kind of thing is the unique experience of LGBT+ men and women. It’s not.
Many if not most people experience conflicting desires and struggles to remain true to their convictions and commitments. This is not unique to those with same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria. What is unique, however, is that no other group in our culture gets pounded so relentlessly that their desires are innate, unchangeable, and must be obeyed if that person is ever going to be truly happy.
Men and women who are overweight and try to change but regain the weight they’d lost aren’t told it’s because it’s just who they are, and they should go with what they feel.
A man who’s been sober for 12 years but succumbs to that old desire for a drink after a stressful season isn’t pointed out in the news as evidence that recovering alcoholics are just suppressing their true selves.
A woman who’s gotten out of two abusive relationships and finds herself in a third isn’t told by her therapist it’s because battered women can’t change.
A young man who chooses to wait until marriage to have sex may be a cultural rarity, but he’s not usually told he’s a fraud or a liar.
A married husband and wife going through a rough patch would find a new marriage therapist if the one they had told them they will continue to be unhappy unless they divorce and find their true soul mates.
A single woman in her forties may feel lonely and disappointed to not be married, but a good pastor will not tell her she’s doomed to a life of lonely disillusionment unless she gives in and has sex with random guys.
Admittedly, a Christian sexual ethic is a radical one for all of us, and more counter-cultural today than a generation ago. But in contrast to the culture, which has different standards for different groups, orthodox biblical Christianity is consistent for all people in its teaching about desires, including sexual desires:
- God gave us desires and they’re very good.
- Because of sin, each of us experiences desires that are out of alignment with God’s will and our design.
- Because of Christ’s work, God can change our desires and sometimes does, but whether he does or not, he calls us to obey Him.
- In Christ and with the help of his body, we can walk in obedience to God, one day at a time.
Alone, none of us could bear long a relentless chorus proclaiming that our misaligned desires are innate, unchangeable, and must be obeyed.
So Christians, let’s be in this together. For the sake of all, we must hold to a more ancient chorus: That wherever our attractions point us, we all are in need of . . .
- God’s mercy through Christ’s atoning death.
- God’s holiness through Christ’s resurrection.
- God’s power through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit.
- God’s family within the community of the saints.
- God’s promise that He is coming again and His reward is with Him.
Christian brothers and sisters, whatever your struggles, you who hold to that radical Christian sexual ethic, you who seek to live it out, you who hold on to Christ, you who are tempted, you who are looked down upon because you do not bow to the sexual gods of the day, you who are strangers and exiles on the earth (Heb. 11:13), we are honored to be counted among you, and there’s a place for you here.
“For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:14-16 ESV)
Question: How can we pray for you? In what area of your life are you saying no to temptation (however successfully) or holding onto hope as you seek to follow Jesus day by day?
Josh, this article is so true and beautiful! Thank you for fighting the good fight. We are in it with you and we love you. A good book I’ve read this year is “Gay Girl, Good God”. Praying for your good work in the midst of the strong pull of our culture today.
Thanks, Tee. Jackie Hill Perry’s voice has been a great gift. I’m glad you enjoyed her book! I’m grateful for you.
Josh, thank you for presenting a dynamic that hardly ever gets addressed — Justifying behavior because it’s too difficult to resist or work through. There are days I want to lose weight and I take steps to do so. But when it comes to sexual desires they become more difficult to manage. It really comes down to what you desire – I prefer to be pure and live beyond reproach more than I desire to be sexually active. That’s not to say I always lean into the more perfect way but it gets easier the more I practice it.
When I find myself struggling with sexual desires or orientation I simply pray this: “Lord create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.”
Scripture talks about the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. We need to be diligent and watchful where our emotions and thoughts gravitate towards and not embrace the world’s wisdom rather lean into God’s wisdom, who gives it illiberally to those who ask, without doubting.
Thank you for this platform and keep fighting the good fight of faith!
Good words, Stephen. Thank you for reading and for sharing!
This you, Josh.
You’re welcome, Susan. Thank you for reading. The body of Christ needs each member!
Well written thought provoking article. Thank you!
Ah yes, the confusing dichotomy that gay Christians face. I know one thing: I’m really, really glad that I’m (mostly) straight and don’t have to live with either being in sin or being lonely! And that’s not to cast a bad moral light on gays. I’m actually somewhat bisexual myself. It’s built into who I am. It’s not a choice I made. So, I do get the struggle.
It just underscores how much our true home is Heaven, not earth. There, we’ll have no more of this body of death as Paul puts it, and no more pain.
I’m just holding on for that day.
Hi Andrew, thank you for bringing up a few important points, including that people don’t choose their attractions and the importance of holding onto hope for the coming Kingdom. I did not follow what you meant by the “confusing dichotomy that gay Christians face” though. Could you explain?
Amen. More teaching is needed in the Church on this topic. Shame/guilt aren’t the Jesus way. Today’s culture is promoting alternative lifestyles and often glorifying them in many ways. Christians can walk with someone in love without agreeing with their sexual orientation. I pray for sound teaching on identity and the unconditional love of Christ to draw nearer and restore more hearts and minds, in Jesus name!
Amen. More teaching in the Church is needed on this topic. Casting shame and guilt are not the Jesus way. Today’s culture is promoting alternative lifestyles in many ways and often glorifying them. We can walk alongside someone in love without agreeing with their sexual orientation. I pray for more sound teaching on identity and the love of Christ to penetrate the hearts and minds of the Body, in Jesus name!
An excellent article! Our society is suffused with a neo-gnosticism that says the body is but a shell, and the “authentic self” lies within, waiting to be discovered by introspection and by obedience to one’s deepest feelings and longings. So, people are discovering their sin nature, and blessing it as their identity…
At Celebrate Recovery, I introduce myself by saying, “Hi! I’m Charlie, a believer in Jesus who is being freed from addiction to pornography, overeating, depression, and co-dependency.” Thank God that, by his sovereign grace, I am eleven years sober from porn and longer for the others (except overeating, which is a daily battle, although my weight has been stable and within normal range for quite a while now). But if I listened only to my inner longings and believed them, I’d probably be dead, or divorced, fat, and miserable, by now.
Great thoughts, Charlie. Thank you!