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?