The Goal of Change

The issue of “change” is as complex as every other question concerning homosexuality.  Many say that one cannot “change” their sexuality (sexual attractions); so therefore, “change” is pointless to consider.  And furthermore, they say, it is harmful to try and change their sexuality.  There are others who insist that presenting the idea of “change” to a gay or lesbian suggests that one is trying to push heterosexuality and therefore, suggesting that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality.  The third camp, on the other side of this argument, says that since some have changed, anyone and everyone can “change”.  Are you in one of these three camps?  All three of these are really misconceptions about change.  The thinking behind these statements is not correct.

We must define change… biblical change.  The people that surround this debate, for the most part, misunderstand the idea of “change”.  Here in lies the problem:  both sides falsely assume that “change” means a person being restored to full-heterosexuality.  This was my thinking for a time.  This means that a person never struggles with or is tempted by same-sex attractions again, and they eventually get married.  Both sides state that if these things do not occur then the person is not “changed”.

Well, this assumption fails on so many levels and keeps many people from experiencing the abundant life that God offers us through Jesus Christ (John 10:10b).

I have read or heard the testimonies of “ex-gay” men and women who were born again, but did not think they were experiencing biblical change because they were still experiencing and/or struggling with same-sex attractions.  Some were convinced they will never experience “change” and even concluded it was because God was punishing them… and at times they thought He even hated them.  Some of the thoughts they would entertain were the following:  If He really loved me, He would take these feelings away.  Why doesn’t He make me straight like my friends?  Why couldn’t I struggle with the lust for the opposite-sex, instead of the same-sex?

Here’s the problem.   When we make the goal of “change” heterosexuality and/or marriage, our thinking is faulty.  The end result of one’s journey out of homosexuality is not marriage, nor is it to become “straight thinking”.  Think about it.  Is it really biblical to trade one lust for another?  All lust is bad.

So, if this isn’t the goal of change, what should it beWell, all true believers in Jesus Christ experience change.  This change is not about making all believers heterosexual, is it?  No, the true change is about being made new in the image of Christ.  (2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 5:1)

Think with me for a minute.  Believers often quote Romans 8:28… “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”then we stop.  But our question should be, what is the good that God promises to bring about in our lives?  The answer:  Christ-likeness.  The next verse declares,  “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren”  (Romans 8:29).  God predestined, or marked out before, that we (believers) be conformed to the image of His Son.  That’s the goal of change.  God not only saves us; He also begins to transform us into the His image.

How is this accomplished in you and me, all sinners saved by grace?  It begins at salvation with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and it continues to be achieved through three things:  our proper relationship to God, our response to the Word of God, and the suffering that attends the life of every child of God.  And for the one coming out of homosexuality, suffering or trial may be dealing with same-sex attractions, not allowing them to derail your new life in Christ, while God continues His work in your life to make you more like Jesus.  “Change” happens for everyone, but how much or how little, depends on the person.  Many who make these three things a priority in their lives, are able to leave their same-sex attractions behind,, 100%, and marry.  Others are able to deal with their attractions, and not succumb to them, and either get married or live a life of celibacy.  It’s about changing how one lives their life.

Yes, marriage is a wonderful thing; and I hope many people who deal with same-sex attractions can experience it (with the opposite sex).  But marriage does not make you a “man” or “woman”.  We, the church of Jesus Christ, must take this expectation and burden off of our brothers and sisters who deal with same-sex attractions-especially those who truly have no desire to date, or marry the opposite sex.

The “change” process involves cleansing one’s heart of the past (we all had one, not just the homosexual), and seeing and doing things God’s way (1John 1:8-10, 1Cor. 6:11).  We must view life as God views it.  True “change” involves embracing the Father’s unconditional love; and loving Him right back, by taking hold of His promises and claiming them as our own (Rom. 5:5, 8; John 14:21).  It’s about walking in the truth of God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18), and living life from God’s perspective, focused on Him and His perfect will for our lives!

If you can only get one thing from this post, may it be the following:  For the born again believer coming out of homosexuality, the goal for change is not heterosexuality and/or marriage.  It is to be made more and more into the image of Jesus.  Every true Christian undergoes this transformation process (sanctification).  The Christian faith is about making disciples who live in their identity as God’s child, and who walk in His power and for His glory.  It’s about people who have been captured by God’s incredible love and abounding grace, desiring above all else to live for Him.  And may we all be “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it…”  (Phil 1:6).  So be it!

Next time, I’ll share how having the proper goal for change played out in my life and how it helped me deal with the same-sex attractions that did not go away as soon as I was born again.  To God be the glory!

 

Evangelize… Don’t Moralize! Part 2

The unbelieving homosexual, no matter what they believe about homosexuality, is a sinner and needs Jesus! In my case, after I was lead to tell my new Christian friend, Jill, I had been leading a lesbian lifestyle for many years, let’s remember how she spoke the truth in love. She responded by telling me that it’s wrong because the Bible says it is. And she balanced it out with “but God love’s you and I love you… that is something you need to take to God.” It was a word fitly spoken (Pro. 15:2; 15:23b). Had she been in my face that it is an abomination… or had she begun to espouse her beliefs that it is unnatural, harmful, and destructive to civilization, all of which may be true, it would not have gone well with me. All those answers are to a certain degree subjective. They can be and will be dismissed as just your opinion. Because Jill didn’t do that, and she humbly and lovingly pointed me to the Lord and His truth; no defensiveness surfaced on my part, and I didn’t feel or sense any condemnation.

The important truth we want to remember here is that homosexuality is wrong is because God, who gave us our sexual capacities, simply said so in His Word! When we present the case in that light, we remove our personal opinions and experiences from the argument, thus bringing the person face to face with God Himself and the truth of His Word. This was my situation. Jill knew I believed in God, but I was not born again and she sensed I was opening up to spiritual things. She looked for an opportunity to be a minister of reconciliation, sharing the gospel of peace with me. That opportunity came the next day!

So, if God gives you an opportunity to minister to a person struggling with homosexuality, keep it simple and focused, praying for an open door to share the gospel. Be patient and let the Holy Spirit work, but don’t moralize by overemphasizing the sinfulness of homosexuality. In the New Testament, homosexual behavior is not singled out as more sinful than adultery, fornication, idolatry, blaspheme, greed, hatred, or any other specific sins. Paul consistently placed homosexual behavior right alongside a variety of other sins (see Rom 1:29-31; 1Cor 6:9-10; 1Tim 1:9-10). Neither should we single it out as the worst of sins. One reason they didn’t single it out was because homosexual sex was as common in the Roman world as it is becoming in ours. That has not been the case with us until recently, so we have tended to overreact to homosexuality more than to other sins. And, some have thought that Paul identified homosexual sin as more sinful in the first chapter of Romans, but I agree with most good Bible teachers, that that is not the case. In verses 26-32, Paul is using homosexual behavior to illustrate the inevitable moral insanity and sexual perversity that follows when people, nations, cultures, and civilizations reject the true and living God. We’re seeing the fruit of turning away from God and doing our own thing in our country, are we not? All unrighteousness is sin!

Once I was born again, then I dealt with the homosexual issue. I thought, ok, I’m a sinner… I’m saved… but is homosexuality really sin? With the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God I was convicted that it was a sinful lifestyle. If I had a problem with that, I would have had to wrestle with God about it. I’m a firm believer that conviction over specific sins is better left to the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t clean us up and then save us. He saves us and then begins His “open heart surgery”… changing us from the inside out. Remember, specific sins are fruit of the root problem: all men and women sinners, who are dead in our trespasses and sins. The only remedy is the salvation that comes through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

In closing, it’s time to get back to the important question. How did I come out of homosexuality? First I received the gospel message, became a new creation in Christ, truly born again, a sinner saved by grace! Praise the Lord! And, very soon after I was born again, I agreed with God that according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin. I could not and would not lead that lifestyle any longer. Is that it, you ask? No, there were some struggles to overcome. But I was so grateful for my salvation. I loved Jesus much more than the homosexual lifestyle. I allowed Him to be the Lord of my life, and by His amazing grace He opened up His storehouse of blessings that canceled the past, equipped me to deal the struggles of coming out of homosexuality and secured my future! Again, I say, praise the Lord. Stay tuned… more to come!

Prayer thought: Precious Lord, give us the heart of a minister of reconciliation and the opportunity to share the gospel of peace to a hurting world!

Related source:  (Speaking the Truth) In Love  (standupforthetruth.com)