When Ex-Gays Return to a Gay Identity

I recently received an envelope in the mail with no return address and no personal note, just copies of three articles about men who used to be part of Exodus International, who used to identify themselves as “ex-gay,” and now repudiate that part of their histories. It is consistent with emails and blog comments I have received pointing this out, and asking if that doesn’t negate my position that homosexuality is changeable.

No. The fact that some people, denouncing something they used to support, now represent themselves as proud gays and lesbians, doesn’t change anything. Just as people who lived in sobriety from alcohol and drugs for years have been known to get sucked back into their addictions, it isn’t surprising that some would get weary of the struggle against their temptations and stop fighting.

Some people gave up earlier than others, hoping and expecting that if they just kept living “the straight life,” their feelings would catch up with their resolutions. They kept waiting for homosexual desires and temptations to disappear, and they didn’t. So they decided that they were done with trying to pretend to be something they weren’t. I’m good with not pretending; I’m a huge believer in authenticity and transparency.

But if someone continues to experience same-sex attraction even if they don’t act on it, does it mean they’re gay, as the culture insists?

What the culture says—if you ever have same-sex feelings, it means you’re gay—doesn’t matter compared to what God says.

God calls us to make choices every day that contradict and violate our feelings and temptations, but which we choose because they are the right thing to do. From the basics of the Ten Commandments to the ultimate example of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, He calls us to choose obedience and behavior that honors Him and other people despite our feelings. What if we don’t feel like telling the truth? Don’t lie anyway. What if we don’t feel like not killing the person who really ticks us off? Don’t murder anyway. What if we don’t feel like remaining faithful to our spouse? Don’t commit adultery anyway.

So what if someone doesn’t feel like stewarding their sexuality in purity and self-control? Regardless of the nature of the temptation, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, God calls us to possess our own body in holiness and honor (1 Thess. 4:4).

Sadly, some men who had come out of homosexuality have left their wives and children to return to living as gay men. This isn’t really much different from men who leave their wives and children for another woman. Succumbing to temptation, regardless of who tempts us, is still sin. Heartbreaking, home-breaking sin.

We’re hearing people saying, “I’m not ex-gay anymore because trying to be ex-gay doesn’t work. ‘Pray away the gay’ (a rather offensive term used by scoffers) doesn’t work. Trying hard to be straight doesn’t work. ‘Claiming my healing’ doesn’t work. I’m done.”

And they’re right.

What doesn’t work:

Name-it-and-claim-it theology, the religious version of “wishing will make it so.” Trying to speak reality into existence, as in “I am no longer gay because I’m a Christian,” doesn’t work because we don’t create reality through our words. Only the Creator God can do that.

Casting out the demon of homosexuality. While there is always a demonic component to idolatry and unrepentant sin, homosexuality is not caused by a demon, any more than bigotry, selfishness or gossip are.

Trying harder, praying harder, reading the Bible, begging God to make the gay feelings to go away. These human efforts are the religious equivalent of mowing the grass to get rid of dandelions. (For a completely different approach—grace—check out True-Faced.)

What does work:

Laying aside one’s sexuality as the measure of identity. “Who I really am” according to our flesh is always going to be at odds with “who God says I am” according to His word. Seeking a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ through the spiritual disciplines moves us toward reframing our faulty identity, no matter who we are or what we struggle with. We need to choose to find our identity in what God says about us—most importantly, receiving and owning the truth that He says, “You are My beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”

Looking at the contributing factors that shaped the same-sex “hole” in one’s heart (and the lies connected to them) to process them in light of God’s love and sovereignty, and then forgive the people who inflicted the wounds.

Choosing to learn to live with a tension: our flesh wants things that are dishonoring to God, dysfunctional and dangerous, but God calls us to do the right thing anyway. Regardless of our desires and feelings. Right from the beginning, He told Cain, “[I]f you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it” (Gen 4:7). God didn’t say to Cain, “I know, you’re angry because I didn’t accept your offering. That’s who you are, an angry soul. Go and let your anger explode!” In the New Testament, we read, “The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28). God didn’t say to the thief, “I know, you feel compelled to take what doesn’t belong to you. That’s who you are, a stealing soul. Go and act on your desires to steal!”

Now we have people saying, “I am attracted to the same sex. Since everyone says I am defined by my feelings, I now realize that’s just who I am.” And God does not say to them, “I know, you are gay/lesbian/transgender/bi-sexual. That’s who you are, so go act on it!” God calls everyone to the same standard: sexual holiness and integrity, which means keeping all sex within the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman.

Adjusting one’s expectations. Accepting the truth that one’s attractions and desires may always be warped to some degree; they may always remain an area of weakness that can drive the disciple to a deeper level of dependence on God, which is essential for growing in relationship with Him. That may mean learning to live with a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-10) instead of insisting that the only culturally acceptable change is a 180-degree shift in attractions from homosexual to heterosexual.

There is no “easy button.” Submitting to the process of sanctification means crucifying the flesh, and that’s hard. For any Christ-follower. And that’s where lasting change happens—as we are made into the image of Christ (Gal. 4:19), as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). And that might, or might not, extend to our feelings. Regardless of who we are.

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sue_bohlin/when_ex-gays_return_to_a_gay_identity on May 7, 2013.


The Power of a Mother’s Prayers

Oct. 23, 2012

Jesus’ most famous parable in Luke 15 tells the story of a rebellious young man usually dubbed “the Prodigal Son” who demanded his share of his father’s inheritance while his dad was still alive, shameful enough, but then went off into “the far country” to squander it on riotous living. A modern-day prodigal and his mother have written their story, telling parallel stories from each one’s perspective. The son’s “far country” included drug dealing, living it up as a party animal, and gay promiscuity leading to a diagnosis of AIDS. But God brought both mother and son out of the far country to Himself.

Out of a Far Country book coverBecause I am privileged to walk with a number of people out of their own personal “far countries” of homosexuality, Out of a Far Country was a compelling read for me. But because I am also a mother, Angela Yuan’s testimony of trusting Christ and then entrusting her beloved son into His hands again and again as a faithful prayer warrior, was deeply encouraging as well.

I was reminded of several lessons on prayer through this book.

First, it’s better to pray big than to try to micro-manage the outcome. Angela continued to relinquish her own desires for her son to the Lord’s better plan, which was for Christopher to walk in his true identity as a beloved child of a loving heavenly Father. When her son was angry and rebellious, she kept her eyes focused on the Lord instead of Christopher. She writes, “I started fasting and praying, asking God for wisdom and discernment. I had no idea what it would look like, but I had a clear sense that Leon and I needed to step aside and get out of the way so that God could work in Christopher’s life.”

When Christopher was three months away from graduating from dental school, he learned he was expelled because of his foolish, illegal and sinful choices. His parents went to meet with the dean. Both the dean and the son expected the senior Yuans to put pressure on the school, but instead, Angela said, “Actually, it’s not important that Christopher becomes a dentist. What’s important is that Christopher becomes a Christ follower. Leon and I have flown down to Louisville to tell you”—I looked over at Leon—”that we will support whatever decision you make. I only pray that my son will turn to God.”

And he did. It didn’t happen until he was incarcerated for his drug dealing, but God answered the far more important prayer.

Angela's Prayer ClosetSecond, let go of your time line. We are such impatient people! We start praying and we want God to answer in the next day. Or week. Or month. But while He is at work behind the scenes, unscrambling the mess we tend to make of our lives, we don’t think He is listening or answering. Angela prayed for years for God to bring Christopher out of the far country, and when He did, it was glorious. Christopher went from prison, where he met the Lord Jesus, to Moody Bible Institute, and then graduate school at Wheaton College, and now has a worldwide ministry telling his/their story and bringing great glory to God in the process.

Third, prayer is essential for the spiritual battles against the forces of darkness. Christopher’s choices to engage in ongoing sexual sin, drug use and wild living went hand-in-hand with a spirit of rebellion and a strong delusion. Both of these involve demons, because his sinful choices opened up doorways to demonic influence. The Yuans’ book provides plenty of examples of the spiritual blindness that resulted. But Angela’s faithful time in the Word of God and intercessory prayer tore down the strongholds that held her son captive to his fleshly desires and his spiritual bondage. She turned a shower stall into her prayer closet, where she spent literally hours every day immersing herself in the Bible and prayer.

Blessing listFourth, remain thankful. When Christopher called his parents to tell them that he had been arrested and was in jail, Angela recognized this as the answer to her frequent prayer: Lord, do whatever it takes to bring this prodigal son out of that far country to you. For the first time in years, she knew that where her son was, and that he was safe. She grabbed a length of adding machine tape and wrote down that blessing. And then, as God unfolded His glorious plan for drawing Christopher to Himself and then redeeming the pain of his rebellion, she kept adding to the blessing list over the years. When I heard her tell her story at an Exodus International conference several years ago, she held up her rolled-up blessings list and let it drop: it’s about six feet long! Christopher tells me it’s almost full on the second side as well. Choosing to focus on the ways in which God continues to bless us in the midst of suffering, developing an attitude of gratitude, keeps us from losing heart in a hard situation.

Fifth, persistent prayer changes the one praying. Desperation for her son drove Angela Yuan to an incredible intimacy with her Savior. Her daily time in His word and her gift of intercessory prayer drew her heart ever closer to Him. Out of the Far Country isn’t just a story of a mother’s and son’s spiritual journey, it is an inspiration to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

Christopher and Angela

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sue_bohlin/the_power_of_a_mothers_prayers


“How Do You Answer a Person Who Says You Can’t Take the Bible Literally Because It Promotes Killing Homosexuals?”

How would you answer a person who says, “You can’t take the Bible literally because it promotes killing homosexuals” (Lev 20:13)?

There are a number of things that one might say to this, but I will mention just a few. In addition, I will not only speak to the issue of interpretation, but will also address some of the issues which give rise to a statement like this. Of course, we must also remember that there is oftentimes a lot of anger behind a statement like this. Hence, it is important to remember that while we always want to speak the truth, we want to be careful to do it in love. This is the most important thing to bear in mind in responding to someone making such a claim. We want to be kind, gentle, and patient in our response. But concerning the response itself, here are a few things that occur to me as I think about this issue.

First, this particular law was only given to ancient Israel under the terms of the Old Covenant. But God is not relating to anyone under the terms of this covenant today. Rather, God is now relating to all men under the terms of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8). Hence, this is not a law which should be implemented today. In addition, I think it is also important to point out that this passage does not PROMOTE killing homosexuals. This is simply false—and it is important to say so. This particular law requires that those who engage in homosexual activity be put to death. Even under the Old Covenant, a person with homosexual inclinations or attractions, who refused to act on them, would NOT be put to death. What is at issue here is homosexual activity—not homosexual attraction. Hence, even interpreted literally, this law does NOT promote killing homosexuals. Rather, it stipulates that those who engage in homosexual activity are to be put to death. But again, it is important to remember that God is no longer relating to mankind under the terms of this covenant.

Second, the law reveals the awful truth about human sinfulness and the holiness of God. God takes sin very seriously and his holiness and moral perfection require that He deal with it as it deserves. Under the terms of the Old Covenant, homosexual behavior was not unique in meriting the sentence of death. Adultery (Lev. 20:10), blasphemy (Lev. 24:16), murder (Exod. 21:12), striking one’s father or mother (Exod. 21:15), kidnapping (Exod. 21:16), cursing one’s father or mother (Exod. 21:17), and other acts as well, all merited the death sentence under the Old Covenant. Even Sabbath violations received the death sentence (Exod. 31:14). Hence, homosexual activity was not unique in meriting the death sentence under the terms of the Old Covenant.

Third, God disapproves of ALL sexual sin—not just homosexual activity. God disapproves of adultery, fornication, rape, incest, bestiality, as well as homosexual sin. Again, homosexual sin is not unique in being prohibited by God. All sexual sin is prohibited. The Bible allows for sexual activity only within the confines of one man/one woman heterosexual marriage. Any kind of sexual activity outside of this is sin—whether that sexual activity be homosexual, heterosexual, sex with animals, etc.

Fourth, the moral law is based upon the morally pure and morally perfect character of God. If the Bible really is the word of God, then homosexual behavior (along with all other sexual sin) is sin. All such activity, then, would constitute a violation of God’s moral law.

Finally, I think we can agree that we should not ALWAYS interpret the Bible “literally.” The Bible, after all, does contain a wealth of figurative and metaphorical language, and it would be inappropriate to interpret such metaphorical expressions literally. The problem in this case, however, is that the verse in question is not making use of such figurative or metaphorical language. Indeed, the writer is quite explicit in spelling things out for us. It would strike me as dishonest to suggest that this passage should be interpreted non-literally or metaphorically. What would it be a metaphor of? What would be the literal truth behind (or underneath) the metaphor? In addition, why should anyone think that God does not disapprove of sexual sin? What sort of argument or evidence is there for believing that God’s attitude toward sexual activity is essentially the same as that of a modern secular American? Why should we think that sin (all sin) is not a deadly serious issue to an utterly holy God? It seems to me that the statement you mentioned simply makes some unwarranted assumptions about God’s attitude toward human sin.

Of course, the good news is that God has provided atonement for sin through the substitutionary death of His Son, and His resurrection for our justification. Anyone who is willing to turn from their sin, and trust Christ for salvation, can and will be forgiven and saved. No one needs to die for their sins (since Christ has already done so). But everyone who rejects Him and His sacrifice will have to pay for their sin themselves. Hence, we want to communicate, I think, that God takes sin very seriously. But He has also provided for our forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross.

Hopefully some of this will be helpful to you as you continue to wrestle with an appropriate response to claims of this sort.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted May 28, 2012
© 2012 Probe Ministries


Responding To President Obama’s Same-Sex Approval

President Obama recently gave public support to gay marriage. How do we respond from within a biblical worldview?

Some Christians have used this news event to highlight the way the church is blowing it on the opportunity to be “Jesus with skin on” to the GLBT (gay | lesbian | bi-sexual | transgender) community. This sentiment is especially prominent among people under forty who often have good friends who identify as gay.

There are two different issues that need to be kept separate: how the church treats gay-identifying people, and the church’s position on the culture-affecting issue of gay identity and so-called gay marriage. The first provides an opportunity to display a welcoming attitude of grace, which says, “We’re glad you’re here like the rest of us messed-up sinners who desperately need Jesus. He loves you and accepts you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way. Come embrace holiness with us as we learn it together.” (And this message is just as true for drug and porn addicts, as well as Pharisaical holier-than-thou folks addicted to judgmental moralism.)

The other is about refusing to budge on what God has said about sexual sin, which does not change. Homosexuality is no more right, holy or acceptable today than it ever was in Bible times. Neither is heterosexual fornication, adultery, or pornography-driven lust. It’s not just that sex outside of God’s plan for marriage (which is limited to one man and one woman, per the created intent in Genesis 1 and 2) breaks His law-His rules are given as a gift to keep us from breaking our hearts.

Jesus said He came to bring a sword (Matt. 10:34), and this issue is one of the areas of conflict He was bound to cause because His standard of holiness, and His call to live in it, is at odds with the human desire to do what we want regardless of what God thinks. Is homosexuality a sin? This is a simple question, but it needs a complex answer. Same-sex attraction (SSA) is usually not a choice; it’s something people discover, usually with pain and horror. (Females, naturally more relational, can cultivate it and be emotionally seduced toward lesbianism, though, even with no previous leanings that way.)

But does it “fall short of the glory of God,” one way Scripture defines sin (Rom 3:23)?

Certainly.

Same-sex attractions are a corruption of God’s intention for healthy personal and sexual development, the result of the Fall and of living in a fallen world. I get this. I have lived with polio ever since I was six months old. I didn’t choose this disability, but is it a sin? It certainly falls short of the glory of God, and polio is part of living in a fallen world. It’s one of the ways I experience the infection of sin. I did not choose the fallen-creation consequence of polio, yet I have to deal with it. My responses to it can be sinful, just as those who experience unwanted SSA have to deal with the fallen-creation consequence of homosexuality, but their responses to it can be sinful.

(By the way, there is no evidence of a genetic cause for homosexuality. The “born that way” myth cannot be supported biologically. But there are good reasons that many people end up with same-sex feelings; for more information, please read my articles in the homosexuality section of the Probe website, as well as articles on the Living Hope Ministries website at www.livehope.org.)

When people give in to the temptations of SSA and engage sexually with other men or other women, God’s word has a very serious word for it: abomination (Lev. 18:22). But it’s important to understand that the abomination is the act, not the people.

President Obama referred to the golden rule (treat others as you want them to treat you) as his rationale for supporting gay marriage:

[Michelle and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.{1}

In 2008, in defending his current position against same-sex marriage but for civil unions, he said concerning people who might find his position controversial, “I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.” {2}

Two things strike me about this. First, he’s not consistent about his application of the golden rule; he’s pro-abortion-but of course he doesn’t want to be hacked to pieces without anesthesia, which is precisely what certain abortion procedures entail.

Second, choosing the golden rule over “an obscure passage in Romans” shows he doesn’t understand that “the entirety of [God’s] word is truth” (Ps. 119:160). Both the Golden Rule and the Romans 1 passage are true; it’s not a choice between the two. Since he used to give lectures on Constitutional law at the University of Chicago, I doubt that he would ever use the term “an obscure phrase in the Constitution,” because obscurity is about one’s perception of importance, not the actual importance of a matter. To a Constitutional lawyer who respects the document, every phrase of the document is important. To a serious [true] Christ-follower, every word of His scriptures is important.

The issue of same-sex marriage isn’t about people’s right to live in committed relationships, to do life together. It’s about demanding society’s approval for “the façade of normalcy.” It’s about demanding approval for what God has called an abomination (the sexual act, not the people engaged in it).

Ryan Anderson wrote in the National Review Online,

“What’s at issue is whether the government will recognize such unions as marriages – and then force every citizen and business to do so as well. This isn’t the legalization of something, this is the coercion and compulsion of others to recognize and affirm same-sex unions as marriages.”{3}

American culture is definitely moving toward normalizing homosexuality, but from God’s perspective it will never be normal or natural (Rom. 1:26-27). And it’s God’s perspective that matters.

Notes

1. www.dennyburk.com/president-obamas-scriptural-defense-of-gay-marriage/
2. www.wnd.com/2008/03/57975/
3. bit.ly/LGZ1z1

© 2012 Probe Ministries


Glee’s Pro-Gay Theology

Feb. 28, 2012

Recently, the wildly popular TV show Glee‘s Valentine’s Day episode featured a group of religious students called the “God Squad” discussing whether they should accept money to sing love songs to gay people (their term). The writers had students spouting pro-gay theology that was doubtless quite persuasive to the majority of viewers who don’t know the truth that counters the propaganda.

“They say that one out of every ten people are gay, and if that’s true than that means one of the twelve apostles might have been gay.”

That’s a very old, very inaccurate statistic from Alfred Kinsey. A more accurate estimate is in the 2-3% range.{1} The idea that one of the twelve might have been gay is sheer speculation with no grounding in truth and no evidence for it, but it certainly planted the idea in the minds of millions of people to normalize it.

“The Bible says it’s an abomination for a man to lay down with another man. But we shared tents in Cub Scouts, and slept next to each other all the time. So that would make Cub Scouts an abomination.”

No. No, it wouldn’t.

What the Bible actually says is, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” (Lev 18:22). This passage is talking about same-sex intercourse, not guys in sleeping bags sharing a tent.

Further, it’s always important to look at the context of any verse. That same chapter contains prohibitions against sexual activity we still condemn today: incest, bestiality and adultery. Those who want to dismiss verses prohibiting same-sex relations as archaic usually (but not always!) won’t take a pro-incest, pro-adultery, or pro-bestiality stance. Neither should it be okay to take a pro-homosexuality stance.

My friend Randy Thomas had a powerful “lightbulb moment” concerning this verse. He writes,

“The Father brought back the memory of Ron, the first man I thought I loved, and me together as a couple. In my memory we were in an embrace and I saw the Lord standing next to us. We were oblivious to His presence and He was grieving. His grief was so bitter I could see Him shaking with tears as He looked upon us. I was immediately struck with grief that God was so grieved. It’s a grief I will never forget.

“At that point I felt the Spirit asking me, ‘Randy . . . what is the sin?’ The only Scripture I knew was Leviticus 18:22 (that’s only because it was on the signs that the Christians held up at pride parades and outside of clubs). I told the Lord that I didn’t like that Scripture. But He persisted, ‘What is the sin?’ I thought through the verse again: ‘When one man lies with another as a woman it is an abomination before the Lord,’ (emphasis mine). The word ‘it’ jumped out at me. I sensed the Spirit asking, ‘What is “it”?’

“I answered, ‘A gender neutral pronoun?’ I was a little surprised that in the middle of this powerful time the Holy Spirit would be giving me an English pop quiz. I felt Him say, ‘EXACTLY!!!’

“Then my world fell apart over one little word. ‘It’ meant that I was not the abomination, Ron was not the abomination. It was the abomination – the act itself was keeping Ron and me looking toward each other and not to God for fulfillment of who we were and what God intended. For the first time in my life I knew that God is aware of every secret and not-so-secret thing I have done. Instead of sending hellfire and brimstone, He sent a grieving Savior to pay the price of my ignorance and sin.

“He forgave and redeemed me.”

“You know what else the Bible says is an abomination—eating lobster, planting different crops in the same field, giving somebody a proud look. Not an abomination? Slavery. Jesus never said anything about gay people.”

There are different kinds of laws in the Old Testament. Civil and ceremonial laws, such as those concerning religious sacrifices and dietary laws, were time-bound and limited to the people of Israel. They are no longer in force for a variety of reasons: first, all the OT sacrifices and ceremonies were given as a foreshadowing of the Messiah’s ministry and of His death, burial and resurrection. They are no longer necessary because they were the preparation for the Reality that has come. Second, the civil laws pertained to a nation of people who no longer exist. (The current nation of Israel is a political one, not the same as the group of OT people God called to follow Him alone as their Ruler.)

Moral laws, such the Ten Commandments and all the laws constraining sexual immorality, are not time-bound because they are rooted in the character of God. It is always sinful to have sex with someone you’re not married to, regardless of gender.

Slavery, as ugly as it is, is not inherently unnatural the way homosexual practice is. Dr. Robert Gagnon, a theologian who has a breathtaking understanding of homosexuality and its attendant arguments, writes, “The Bible accommodates to social systems where sometimes the only alternative to starvation is enslavement. But it clearly shows a critical edge by specifying mandatory release dates and the right of kinship buyback; requiring that Israelites not be treated as slaves; and reminding Israelites that God had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt.”{2}

We don’t know that “Jesus never said anything about gay people”; it’s quite possible that His comments on eunuchs in Matthew 19 included those who would have never sex with women because of their same-sex attractions.

Usually, the argument goes, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.” What He DID say about God’s intention for His creation and sexuality in Mark 10:6-8 excludes homosexuality, along with other forms of sexual sin such as polyamory, incest and bestiality. Scripture powerfully indicates His intention for a male-female prerequisite for sexuality.

“Love is love” (so let’s sing a love song to two lesbian students)

Is it? How would the “God Squad” feel about singing a love song to a woman committing adultery with one of their dads? How would they feel about a father paying them to sing a love song to the daughter he’s regularly raping while calling it love? Our culture is so anxious to justify anything by slapping the label of “love” on it that we dishonor the God who IS love: a sacrificial, others-centered, giving love that took Him to the cross to pay for the very sins that are being elevated and celebrated on network TV.

Notes

1. For citations, see my article on the Probe Ministries website “Homosexual Myths.”
2. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/03/my-take-the-bible-really-does-condemn-homosexuality/

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sue_bohlin/glees_pro-gay_theology


“I’m 15 and I’m Afraid I’m Gay”

Dear Mrs. Bohlin,

I really need your help, I am 15 and frightened of being homosexual. About one and a half years ago I was at an all-girls summer camp where a girl told me she had decided to become bisexual. I didn’t know why but this upset me a lot. I had two weeks of camp left, and I was terrified that everyone was gay, finally I became scared that I was gay. I hadn’t really thought that I was attracted to girls before, but I used to be a tomboy and envied all the “girly-girls”. Ever since I went to camp and that happened my fear has gotten worse and worse, I haven’t told anyone for fear of being told that I was. I heard about the “ex-gays” and read a few articles of yours. I don’t know what to do. Please help me I’m very scared, all I want is to live again normally. I’ve been raised Christian and my parents are divorced. I’m sorry to bother you, but I need your advice. God bless you.

______, I’m so glad you wrote to me!

When God made you a female, He made you more emotional than analytical, more intuitive to other people than most males, and very relational. This means you are open to being influenced by other people, especially when you were only 13. For someone to tell you she had decided to label herself as bisexual at the very beginning of puberty, when you both have a LOT of growing, maturing, and learning about yourselves ahead of you, no wonder you were upset! That’s way too much pressure to process information and label oneself at the beginning of adolescence. Which is a time of intense confusion to begin with, totally apart from the whole sexuality issue!

It makes sense you’d be scared that you were gay, for the same reason that when people take health or medical classes that cover different kinds of illnesses, it’s typical to think they’re experiencing the symptoms of a bunch of them. It’s typical to be susceptible to ideas, especially at a time in your life where you “try on” all kinds of identities and values and beliefs to see if they fit.

If you were a tomboy, it’s because God loves tomboys and that’s why He makes you that way! It’s our culture that incorrectly limits femininity to only the “girly-girl” end of the femininity spectrum. Femininity also looks like jeans and t-shirts, tree-climbing, sports- and outdoor-loving girls. It makes sense for you to envy girly-girls because they are a different kind of girl than you are, but they aren’t a BETTER kind of girl than you are! It makes sense because of the false message that tomboys are inferior to girly-girls. Nope! If God won’t agree with it, it’s not true!

Now for another part of the equation: what we know from talking to literally thousands of gay-identifying folks over the years is that envy drives a lot (if not most) of same-sex attraction. Both guys and girls are drawn to whatever they feel they lack. Instead of saying, “This means I’m gay,” it would be far wiser, and true to God’s design, to say instead, “Hmmm. I see where I need to work on myself so I become the kind of person I admire, or to develop the kind of attributes I admire.”

I was teaching at Probe’s Mind Games conference for high school juniors and seniors when I said that many people who are afraid they’re gay, or who think they might be, need to give themselves grace to finish growing up. Being attracted to same-sex peers is part of normal adolescent development, complete with intense crushes, but all we hear in the culture is, “If you like other girls (or boys), it means you’re gay.” No, it doesn’t. It means you haven’t finished growing up yet. One of the students came back the following year as an alumnus and come up to me in private to tell me, “When you said this last year, it was the first time I’d ever heard it. I was able to relax and just give myself permission to finish growing up. And you know what? In the past year, I have! I find myself attracted to girls now, instead of being so stuck on my attractions to other guys. Thanks for speaking truth to us.”

Let me encourage you to bundle up your fears and your feelings and hand them to Jesus, who loves you more than you can possibly imagine, and He will help you sort through them. In fact, the more you concentrate on your relationship with Him, the better every other part of your life will become. In fact, I respectfully urge you to pray every day, “Jesus, show me how You love me,” and then pay attention to the little intimate ways in which He says, “I sure do love you, ______!” When you know God loves you, that gives you a confidence in yourself that nothing else can even come close to. And it helps you sort out the rest of life, and put people in their proper perspective.

Relax and give yourself time to finish growing up without the unnecessary complication of being paralyzed by fear that you’re gay. God doesn’t make anyone gay; He DOES make people to be relational, and the more we do life in community, with friends who will love and accept just as we are, we can grow into emotionally healthy adults.

So. . . how does this hit your heart? Does it make sense?

Warmly,
Sue

© 2011 Probe Ministries


“Why Doesn’t God Answer Prayers to Take Away Gay Feelings?”

I was reading your article about Gay Teen Suicides and Bullying, about how some people pray and pray for God to take away their gay feelings and there is a reason that he doesn’t that they don’t know about. I’d like to know what that reason is. My best friend committed suicide when we were both 18 because he couldn’t accept that he was gay. I learned to accept it and now I’m 36 and quite happy. Luckily, I have found a church that accepts me for who I am and I know that God loves me as does Jesus but I am always curious to hear the ideas and opinions of Christians on what the supposed cure for this condition might be.

First of all, ______, I am so very sorry to hear of your best friend’s suicide. I’m sure that has left a wound on your soul that troubles you to this day.

I want to VERY respectfully suggest that “accepting one’s gayness” is not the best solution to the grief and sadness that comes bound up in realizing one has same-sex desires. That would be like seeing the “check engine” light on your car and deciding to learn to live with it. I know the culture’s pro-gay message is that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality so just accept it, but that’s not God’s position. Which leads me to answer your question: why would God not take away someone’s gay feelings?

First, because everyone has an area of weakness that makes it easier for us to recognize our need for God and depend on Him more fully, which is His design and intent for us. Some people have physical trials; others struggle with a weakness for alcohol, drugs, or other forms of self-medication. Some struggle with same-sex attractions. Whatever our area of weakness, this is the very avenue by which God can reveal Himself to be strong, to be enough for us. And it is the best way for God to develop us into the people He made us to be, permeated with Christ like character and maturity.

So often, people pray and ask God to relieve their symptoms and make their lives easier (and this, of course, goes way beyond asking God to take away gay feelings. It’s something we all do). Being broken and fallen people, when we pray for that, what we’re really asking is, “I want You to make me comfortable so I won’t need You.” But Jesus doesn’t answer this prayer because there is something so much bigger than our comfort at stake; He wants our hearts. He wants our dependent trust. He wants us to repent of the sin and separation from Himself that results in our brokenness. He wants to heal the real brokenness, not just the symptom of the brokenness. True brokenness is our broken relationship with God.

The struggle (against same-sex feelings) itself is not an evil. The struggle can be a holy instrument in God’s hand if we let it. Please read through to the end of my answer for more on that.

Secondly, it’s helpful to understand the bigger picture of why someone has attractions for someone of the same sex in the first place. No one is born gay; we are such complex creatures, being made in the image of God, that feelings, attitudes and beliefs are shaped over time by our life experiences, and filtered through our temperaments. This is complicated by the fact that we live in a fallen world that has been poisoned by sin, which is separation and independence from God. Fallen people love each other in fallen ways, or not at all.

The three-Personed God (One God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit), who have enjoyed love and fellowship with each other for all eternity, created us in Their image (Gen. 1:26). This means we are created for relationship: to connect and bond with others in ways that would make us feel loved and secure. Living in a fallen world means that sometimes, we don’t connect and bond with the people God intends to love and accept us, and there are serious repercussions from that.

After listening to people’s stories in literally thousands of intake interviews, my friend Ricky Chelette of Living Hope Ministries has identified several common denominators that provide perspective to same-sex desires:

• Little boys are born at some point on a gender spectrum that ranges from the rough-and-tumble athletic boy to the emotionally sensitive, artistic and/or musical, aesthetically gifted boy. Little girls are born at some point on a feminine gender spectrum that ranges from the girly-girl to the tomboy jockette. Our spot on the gender spectrum is God’s choice for His glory and our benefit. Most male same-sex strugglers are on the sensitive end of the spectrum.

• God’s intention is for babies to bond first with Mom, then with Dad, then with same-sex peers, then with opposite-sex peers. Learning to exercise our “attachment muscles” is an essential part of becoming emotionally healthy. Most Moms don’t have any trouble bonding with their babies. (But when something disrupts the process, it seriously messes people up.)

• When emotionally sensitive little boys are born into a family with a rough-and-tumble, emotionally insensitive Dad, the little boy can find himself more comfortable identifying with Mom and her emotionally sensitive femininity than with his Dad. It’s as if Dad speaks Spanish and the little sensitive boy speaks Chinese. They may want to communicate with each other, but they don’t speak the other’s language. Unless the “Spanish-speaking” Dad purposes to learn Chinese to relate to his son on his level, there can be a disconnect between the two.

• There’s a point in a toddler boy’s development where he should realize, “I’m a boy. I’m more like Dad than like Mom.” When Dad involves his son in his world and communicates love and acceptance to his son, he comes to believe that he belongs in the world of males with his Dad.

• The wise author Toni Morrison says that a child knows he’s loved when he walks in a room and his parent’s eyes light up. All children are created with the need to receive “the three A’s”: attention, affection and affirmation. When a Dad pays loving attention to his son, when his eyes light up when his son enters the room, when Dad affirms his son for who he is and not just what he can do, a boy will probably feel secure in his Dad’s love and acceptance. But if there is a disconnect between a Dad and his son, if the Dad thinks it’s too much trouble to try and connect with a son in ways that the son can receive, there will be a father-shaped hole in the little boy’s heart. A rough-and-tumble boy can try and fill that hole with all kinds of activities and risky behaviors to earn his Dad’s attention, affection and affirmation. An emotionally sensitive boy can easily detach himself from Dad and connect himself more strongly with Mom, or detach from everyone. Both kinds of boys are at risk for trying to get a legitimate need met in unwise, illegitimate ways.

• Most little girls don’t have trouble connecting with Mom, but if Mom is not warm and nurturing (or if something happens to disrupt the relationship), they can live with a mother-shaped hole in their heart. A Dad’s role is to support and cherish his daughter’s femininity, regardless of what form it takes. If he remains distant and unsupportive, or if he treats her like a son, she can have serious questions about her feminine identity: “If Dad doesn’t think I’m okay, then I’m not.” Or, if there is no Dad, she can be wracked with doubts about herself; a Dad’s attention, affection and affirmation is huge in a little girl’s life as well. Girls can have a father-shaped hole in their heart as well.

• From four to ten years old, the next stage of development is for boys to learn to attach to other boys and girls to attach to other girls. Both sexes usually have intense “BFF” (best friends forever) friendships that are not romantic or erotic, they are just emotionally intense as they learn to exercise their friendship attachment muscles. If a boy doesn’t learn to make these connections with buddies, he will continue to walk around with a “buddy hole” in his heart. If a girl doesn’t learn to make these connections with other girls, she will walk around with a “girlfriend hole” in her heart. And since nature abhors a vacuum, and because we are all fallen creatures, we will try to stuff all kinds of things into the holes in our hearts.

• At puberty, sex hormones flood the body and hit the mother hole or father hole or friend hole in the heart. That aching desire to connect and attach, the painful longing to be nurtured and to bask in attention, affection and affirmation (“the three A’s”), then gets sexualized. If the adolescent boy or girl fantasizes about the object of their affections accompanied by masturbation and orgasm, brain chemicals get released that act like emotional super-glue. Physical (synaptic) connections are made between the object of affection and sexual pleasure, and then strengthened with repetition. When someone buys into the lie that “if I feel it, it must be true,” the end result can be a homosexual identity.

• (This last point is not limited to same-sex strugglers by any means.) When people experience the trauma of abuse or neglect, when they don’t get their God-given emotional needs met, they stop growing emotionally. They shut down inside. Their bodies keep growing but inside, they are still the emotional age of the point when they stopped growing. Although this sounds like an insult, it’s actually a simple descriptor: many people are emotionally four to ten years old. (Ever see road rage?) This is why wounded people tend to live lives driven by drama, self-centeredness, a lack of self-discipline, and emotional dependency (which is relational idolatry).

Why doesn’t God take away homosexual feelings? Because they are not a separate part of the person like a nasal polyp or an infected appendix that can be cut out to restore health. Feelings are a part of us. They are the product of beliefs, actions, and the way one sees life and reality. Feelings are like the caboose on a train; they trail along at the end, pulled by the parts that do the work.

God will not “zap” us because to do so would be to eradicate who we are. He will not remove feelings because feelings are part of the imago Dei, the image of God. He made us, He loves us just as we are, and He wants to work with us to transform our thinking and our understanding of who He is, who we are, how life works, and what is true. Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” When we change the way we think and the way we do life, our feelings will eventually change. (Not necessarily 180 degrees, but some degree of transformation is part of the power of the Gospel!)

Homosexual feelings come from legitimate, unmet longings for connection, for the “three A’s.” God wants us to be connected to other people; He created us to function best in community. He wants us to experience His love, and the love of other people, in the context of relationship. God wants us in HIS community of believers, and the church is a second chance to be in a different family. He wants to meet our needs for connection and relationship through healthy God-honoring friendships. Many people testify that their same-sex longings decreased as their security as a man or as a woman grew because of belonging to the world of men or the world of women in God’s family. As they took their place in the Body of Christ with their new (church) family and friends, the longings and desires shifted to age- and gender-appropriate feelings. They finished growing up.

But even in those who did not experience a shift in orientation, they still report having a home with God’s people, with relationships that help fill the hole in their hearts.

Let me suggest a related but less emotionally charged illustration. In his excellent book Changes That Heal, Dr. Henry Cloud writes,

It is not unloving for God to say no, even to our healing. He knows that sometimes we need to work out our healing instead of his doing it for us. For example, if I am depressed because I don’t bond with others, for God to “heal” my depression would prohibit me from learning how to bond and becoming loved. He may then say no to my prayer for healing from depression for my benefit. We like Job, must trust God’s no and his timing. It does not mean that he doesn’t love us. It may mean that he wants something better for us.

I believe that God says “no” to zapping away homosexual feelings because He has something better. He is passionate about growing us up to maturity (Eph. 4:13-15). There is no shortcut to maturity; it means struggling through to connect, attach and bond with healthy people until we finish growing up.

Some years ago, someone sent this email about the value of struggling:

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of his life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been, and we could never fly.

I hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2011 Probe Ministries


The Gender Spectrum

The Gender Spectrum

When I use the term “gender spectrum,” you might think in terms of masculinity on one end and femininity on the other. We hear men being prompted to “get in touch with your feminine side.” (For some reason, women never seem to be exhorted to “get in touch with your masculine side.” Huh.)

But I don’t think that’s the way it works.

In Genesis 1, we are told that “God created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27). I think, rather, that there is one spectrum of masculinity and another spectrum of femininity. I also think that God is the one who chooses where on the spectrum babies are born, according to His design and for His pleasure and glory.

The Femininity Spectrum

I suggest that little girls come into the world at some point on a femininity spectrum. On one end  is the girly-girl who comes out of the womb asking for the little flower headband to wear in the hospital nursery, and she keeps on running toward all things frilly and girly. She loves pink, loves to wear dresses and twirl around to “be pretty,” wants to wear nail polish and makeup just like Mommy (or like the other ladies she sees on TV).

Femininity Spectrum

On the other end of the spectrum is the tomboy jockette, who can’t stand wearing dresses, wants to climb trees and play tackle football with the boys. These girls are often gifted athletically and many are natural leaders. When these little girls’ type of femininity is supported and encouraged, they are comfortable in their skin just the way God made them. Wise parents also make sure they wear dresses and “act like a lady” when it’s time to do that—with the promise that when they get home, they can put their jeans or sweats back on and be comfortable.

Sometimes, though, girly-girl types can morph into “mean girls” and inform the jockettes that they’re not good enough as girls, and they can receive the message that it’s not okay to be the kind of girl they are, the kind of girl God chose for them to be because He has a good plan for them. They can grow up not feeling secure in their femininity.

The Masculinity Spectrum

On one end is the rough-and-tumble boy—athletic, noisy, enjoys getting dirty. He bonds to other boys shoulder-to-shoulder, engaging in common activities or tasks, and tends to find face-to-face interaction intimidating.

Masculinity Spectrum

On the other end of the spectrum from the athletic boy is the aesthetic boy: emotionally sensitive, gifted in art, music, theater, dance, or some other kind of art. He usually avoids athletics, getting dirty, and anything having to do with balls coming at him. He bonds eyeball-to-eyeball, connecting to others’ hearts through their eyes the way most girls do, but they are not girls. And then, of course, there is everything in between.

In our culture, we tend to define masculinity in terms of the rough-and-tumble type ONLY, but I don’t think God agrees, since He delights to create so many sensitive boys and those who are a balance between the two. In fact, even as toddlers, they can reveal themselves by responding to another child’s upset by dropping what they’re doing and going over to pat them, soothe them, and attempt to comfort them: “You okay? It’s okay.” This sensitivity is a beautiful thing to behold, but it can get a little boy in trouble. Since we define masculinity so narrowly, it is easy to marginalize and shame the masculinity of the sensitive boy. Especially if his daddy is a rough-and-tumble sort of man who is flummoxed by a little boy who would rather Daddy read to him than throw a football.

If the sensitive boy is affirmed in his type of masculinity, he can grow up to be a phenomenal husband, father, pastor, counselor, artist, musician, dancer—the list goes on. When tomboy girls are loved and accepted by their parents just the way they are, they can grow up to be great moms and teachers and scout leaders, especially of boys.  If, however, they are ostracized for the way they are designed, they can burn with the indignity of being “other than.”

It’s these sensitive, gifted boys that are most at risk for embracing a gay identity, especially when others wound them by slapping false labels on them, even from a young age: gay, queer, homo, fag. Tomboy girls, especially the ones gifted athletically, are quickly tagged with ugly false labels as well: lez, queer, gay. They can easily think, “What do others know that I don’t know? If they say it, it must be true.”

But it’s not true. They’re not gay, they’re gifted. If only they could be helped to see themselves that way!

Our goal as adults should be to help all children grow into gender-secure, emotionally healthy kids who are glad God made them a boy or a girl, and are comfortable in their own skins just the way God made them. I think it starts with affirming the different kinds of masculinity and femininity. It’s ALL good!

 

This blog post originally appeared at
blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/the_gender_spectrum
on January 4, 2011.


“Homosexuals Are Going to Hell!”

Dear Mrs. Sue,

I really enjoyed Blue School at Super Summer Arkansas and I had a blast. Unfortunately, I highly disagree with the answer you gave from the Ask Box question about if homosexuals are going to hell. From what I understood, you said that homosexuality is not a heaven or hell issue, and that homosexuals proclaiming to be Christians will still go to heaven if they have a “relationship with God.” The Bible says in Romans 1:26-27, “for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even the women did change the natural use that is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working with that which is unseemly and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” And it goes on to say in verse 32, “who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (KJV)

Would Jesus have sex with another man?

In the amplified version, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you know that the unrighteous and wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor cheats, nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foul mouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.”

You only get saved once, however, you can stray away into sin and lose your salvation, but you can gain it back by rededicating your life whole heartedly and I truly believe that if you are a homosexual, you are not truly saved.

I hope you don’t hate me for my views because I don’t mean to put you down or anything close, I was raised up different. I hope you understand where I’m coming from and I hope you don’t take it wrong.

Hi ______,

I think there are two parts to your comments, one about if homosexuals can be saved, and the other about losing our salvation.

First, about homosexuals. I am very glad we are having this conversation because at some point you will know someone who loves Jesus AND is attracted to people of the same sex. If you try to tell them they’re going to hell because of their feelings, it will cut off all chances of having a relationship with them. People who are attracted to their same sex don’t choose those feelings, they don’t want them, and most of them pray and pray for the feelings to go away. When God doesn’t answer that prayer (because He answers it in other but harder ways), they often either turn their back on God or they buy the lie that God must have made them that way.

Those who identify themselves as homosexuals embrace their feelings instead of their true identity. They are deceived and wounded. All of us are deceived by the enemy in one way or another. The problem is, we don’t even know when we’re being deceived, which is why it’s so important to follow the Bible instead of our feelings. I know several people who identify themselves first as Christ-followers and secondly as gay; I pray for them, because they are swallowing a lie. They have truly put their trust in Jesus, but they are tired of fighting their feelings and tired of waiting for God to take their attractions away. The ones who are buying the lie also don’t want to do the hard work of looking at the causes of their attractions and addressing the problems that caused them, grieving the pain of their wounds and forgiving those who hurt them in various ways. They want the easy way out, and God doesn’t have an “easy button” like on the commercials.

One time a lady called me whose son had come out to her as a homosexual. She had said to her son, “I thought you were a Christian! I thought you prayed to receive Christ when you were a boy! You can’t possibly be a Christian and gay!” He answered, “Mom, I AM a Christian. I’m a Christian with problems.”

As am I.

As are you, sweet ______.

As are all of us Christ-followers.

It’s not OK to act on homosexual feelings. God disciplines those He loves, Hebrews tells us. And those who pursue their feelings instead of who God says they are—His beloved child who needs to depend on Jesus for the strength to stand against their temptations—will experience the hard consequences of their sin. Some are HIV positive. Some are unable to have healthy friendships with others of the same sex because they haven’t learned to depend on Christ for their deepest heart-needs, and insist on expecting others to be what only God can be for them. Some have lost their family relationships because of choosing their gay relationships over all others. God lets that kind of pain happen in order to discipline those He loves and draw them back to Himself.

Yes, Romans 1 really does say what it says. It describes the downward spiral into degradation when people refuse to accept God’s right to rule in their lives. But there is a difference between those who identify with their sin, saying that “homosexual” is who and what they are, and those who identify with Christ but who still experience the strong pull toward sinful behaviors and relationships. In the re:generation recovery ministry of our church, people say things like “I’m a believer who struggles with homosexuality” or “I’m a believer who struggles with anger and control” or “I’m a believer who struggles with alcohol” or “I’m a believer who struggles with perfectionism” or “I’m a believer who struggles with idolizing food.” Their identity is that they are a Christ-follower, but they are also honest about their struggles. Some of them stumble and fall in the process of becoming like Jesus. I certainly stumble in my walk. The stumbles have become fewer over the years of walking with Jesus, but I still do stumble. And I will continue to stumble my way toward heaven, as do all Christians.

Those who identify with their sin instead of identifying with Jesus are described in the 1 Corinthians 6 passage. But then, when we repent of identifying with our pet sins and identify with Jesus instead, as Paul says, “That is what some of you WERE.”

I want you to consider the possibility that someone can be a Christian and still experience the same temptations that they had before becoming a Christian. That’s what I’m talking about when I say that being a homosexual is not a heaven-or-hell issue. When someone puts their trust in Christ, they don’t get a lobotomy—their brain and their history are not changed. They bring all their baggage with them into their relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. And Jesus invites them to release their pieces of baggage into His hands one by one. Some refuse to relinquish their baggage, their sin habits, to Him until later when they experience His loving discipline. But it doesn’t mean they’re not a Christian. It means they are a Christian still in process.

As am I.

As are you. <gentle smile>

About the issue of losing your salvation, I invite you to look through some short articles on our website, starting here: www.probe.org/articles-on-losing-salvation.htm. When Jesus said, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” (John 10:28-29) the “no one” includes us. We are secure in His hand; eternal life is forever, and it’s permanent. We will not lose our salvation when we sin, but we will experience a loss of fellowship with God and He will discipline us because He wants what is best for us. In fact, I have heard a number of people who gave up struggling against their homosexual feelings and dove headfirst into the gay lifestyle thinking it would give them life. . . but they came back saying, “It was death, not life. And I missed Jesus. He seemed very far away when I was pursing my sin. I couldn’t live without Him. So here I am, ready to struggle again. But this time, in His strength and not my own.”

OK, I know that’s a lot. I hope your heart is open to what I have to say. I LOVED having you in Blue School this year and look forward to next year!

Hugs,

Mrs. Sue

© 2009 Probe Ministries


“How Do I Talk to My Friend About Her Son’s Homosexuality?”

My very dear Jewish friend and mother has a gay son. She insists that she knew from age 5 forward, that he was different and going to be homosexual. She loathes Christians who say that being homosexual is not genetic, but learned behavior, and is sinful. How can I best respond to her biblically, about homosexuality? Or to anyone I meet with this perspective?

I’m so glad you asked! I see several issues in your email.

She insists that she knew from age 5 forward, that he was different and going to be homosexual.

If she was sensitive to her children, it is not surprising that she noted he was different from very early in his childhood. There’s nothing wrong with being different. But it’s sad that she “knew” he was going to be homosexual because it didn’t have to turn out that way.

I believe there is a spectrum of masculinity in boys, and they are born at whatever place on that spectrum that is God’s choice, and gift, to them. On one end is the rough-and-tumble physical, athletic, emotionally insensitive boy. Our culture would deem him “classically masculine.” He loves to play ball or engage in various sports, to get dirty, and to play with other boys. On the other end of the spectrum from the athletic boy is the aesthetic boy: gifted in music, art, poetry, performing, enjoying reading and other quiet activities, and emotionally sensitive. Songwriter and musician Dennis Jernigan, himself a former homosexual, calls these boys the “Davids” of the church.

Unfortunately, our culture has too narrowly defined masculinity, labeling the sensitive, artistic boy different and gay. One man I know, provided with this perspective, exclaimed, “If someone had explained to me when I was 17 that I wasn’t gay, I was gifted, that would have changed everything!”

When a boy’s father, especially, gives him warm attention, affection and affirmation, supporting whatever kind of boy he is, he usually grows up accepting and comfortable with his particular kind of masculinity. When a boy knows that his daddy believes in him and is his #1 cheerleader, he can connect with the world of males and continue to develop without incident. But when a boy doesn’t receive the masculinity imprint from his father that makes him feel like he belongs in the world of boys and men, he can remain stuck at that place. (If he DOES have a great relationship with his dad but doesn’t make the connection with other boys, the arrested development can happen a few years later.)

How do I know this? From being in ministry to hundreds of men whose stories are heartbreakingly similar. There are a few wild cards, such as sexual abuse, that can produce same-sex attractions even when a boy has a great relationship with his dad and his peers, but most of the time it’s a very similar story.

[Incidentally, I see a similar spectrum of femininity for girls, ranging from the foo-foo girly-girl on one end, to the tomboy jockette, allergic to dresses, on the other. Our culture also too narrowly defines femininity, just as it does masculinity.]

She loathes Christians who say that being homosexual is not genetic, but learned behavior, and is sinful.

Well, being homosexual is NOT genetic. There is not only no evidence for a genetic cause for same-sex attractions, there is strong evidence for certain pre-conditions that characterize the histories of those who eventually take on a gay identity: the sensitive temperament, a lack of warm, affirming connection with dad, a lack of affirming connection with other boys, and a resulting lack of self-confidence in being male.

And yet it can feel like people were born that way.

Maybe this analogy will help. My friend grew up in the south where everyone in his family was prejudiced. It was just the culture of his family and pretty much all the people his family ran with. As long as he can remember, he always hated and feared black people. Everyone he knew hated and feared black people. He didn’t know there was any other way. But he wasn’t born prejudiced. He was shaped that way because of countless interactions and modeling. He told me, “You grow up being taught and thinking that black people are bad and evil and you believe that until the Lord reveals something else. Then you change and you were not what you once were—what felt ‘normal’ to you.”

No one chooses the feelings of a lack of confidence in one’s masculinity, of not belonging to the world of boys and men. Then, once the sex hormones start flooding his body in adolescence, no one chooses the resulting sexual/romantic attraction to a guy who possesses what a boy wishes he had or were. The feelings are not learned, but the resulting choices and behaviors are. The Bible, including the Old Testament passages, does not condemn the feelings, only the chosen behavior. (And sexual sin is always a choice.) So I would make a distinction between the feelings and the actions.

So homosexual feelings are not chosen, but acting on them is, and it’s sinful. It’s not a sin to be tempted (what same-sex feelings constitute), but it is a sin to step over the line and give in. You might mention to your friend something like the fact that it’s not a sin to be tempted to shoplift, but it is a sin to give in and steal. I would imagine she could get that.

How can I best respond to her biblically, about homosexuality? Or to anyone I meet with this perspective?

The first issue is to determine if they’re even open to hearing another viewpoint. It’s not a good idea to try and “correct’ someone’s values and beliefs when they are content in them, but Jesus told us to be salt and light. So we need to be careful with our words and offer another viewpoint with respect and gentleness, as Peter tells us (1 Pet. 3:7). You might say something like, “You know, there are lots of former homosexuals who see things very differently than what we usually hear in the media.”

I would suggest simply stating what God has said in His word: that His plan for sexuality is within the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman. Anything outside of His intention is not only sinful, it’s harmful, and that’s why he tells us to avoid it. God’s rules for sexuality are rooted in His love for us, and He knows that when we insist on doing things our own way, trying to meet legitimate needs in ungodly and illegitimate ways, we will suffer from negative consequences. We can point out that the biology of sex shows that God designed it for male-female coupling. (This argument holds true for an evolutionary perspective as well.) And when people who have been immersed in a culture of anything-goes sexuality insist that homosexuality is a viable option, gently ask what would happen if a group of gay-identifying people populated an uninhabited island. What would happen over time?

All you can do is respectfully offer God’s truth as revealed in His word, and trust God with the results. We live in a culture that has been shaped by a definite agenda designed to normalize and legitimize homosexuality, and suggesting people think differently than the culture demands can be like asking a fish what it’s like to be wet. A fish doesn’t know the meaning of “wet” because it doesn’t understand the concept of “dry.” And people don’t realize there’s a legitimate, though politically incorrect alternative view.

And it’s probably worthwhile to mention that someone whose child is gay can easily react very defensively to the offensive idea that homosexuality is preventable and changeable, because that would indicate they played a role in it. And that just hurts too much to consider. Parents usually beat ourselves up with guilt anyway; this issue can push the guilt factor to an unbearable weight. So I think it’s wise to be aware of that dynamic.

Hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2009 Probe Ministries