I have been reading your posts since the beginning. Every week I have more questions. I’m sorry, I don’t understand where repentance fits into all of this. I don’t mean to be harsh….I just honestly don’t understand.
Are you saying homosexuality isn’t wrong or are you saying it is wrong, but we have to be patient while God’s goodness brings the homosexual to repentance? I see that you are saying homosexuals can be Christians, but can they remain that way…never expecting a change?
A Dear Friend
Thanks for your question. I know you have been reading through the blogs and appreciate your willingness to read them.
You have asked a very difficult question to answer. In order to understand homosexuality, and Christianity, it is important to look at the much larger picture of our faith.
Repentance from something means it has to be something you can control, like actions.
So often people will say someone needs to “repent” from homosexuality. It is something that actually cannot be repented of! People are, or they are not, homosexual. It is an intrinsic part of their being or personally, my being. One cannot repent of something that is unchangeable. I have gone through a tremendous amount of grief over the many years that I spoke of change, repentance, reorientation and such, when, barring some kind of miracle, none of this can occur with homosexuality. The article today is a great example of how we as Christians pervert the gospel as it relates to homosexuality as though homosexuals aren’t welcome in the kingdom unless they repent (which many interpret to change). But since homosexuality is not “repentable” then we put homosexuals into an impossible bind. (I’ve written another article that also addresses the subject of repentance – Click Here to read it.)
Surely, indiscriminate sexual behavior, stealing, gossip, and other “behaviors” are things that need to be considered when we speak of walking in the kingdom of God. God desires to transform us into His image more and more each day. But in the larger story of the gospel, biblical repentance means to turn our lives to God’s kingdom and away from the kingdom of the world. To change our allegiance from the god of this age, to the Lord of Lords! In this repentance, it allows God to be in the forefront of our lives and we decide to allow His kingdom to reign in us. Therefore we enter into a road of change, transformation. The issue then is what will that change look like for each of us. Yes, there are homosexuals that make dramatic changes in their lives as they walk through the transformation process with Jesus. I have heard story after story of changes that have occurred as men and women find the grace of God in their lives as homosexual people. But, I’m sorry, this transformation process may not meet the expectations of many Christians. I also want to reiterate here that the transformation for the vast majority of homosexuals will not include a change of sexual orientation. Actually I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual. I have met some women who claim that is the case but then again, male sexuality and female sexuality are vastly biologically different so this would not be a fair comparison.
I have met men who find their transformation to include marriage to a woman and having a family and it is something for them that is a wonderful life experience. I’ve met some who find their transformation to include satisfaction in living a single life in Christ and His calling. But, I’ve also met some who experience transformation from sexual promiscuity to a faithful gay relationship that is truly, in their experience, a great blessing to their relationship with Christ. Oh, I understand the controversy in all of this.
How would you answer the question: “Which is worse, two men who have been in a faithful committed relationship for 30 years, or a heterosexual who has been married five times?”
Well, often the Christian would immediately go to the homosexual couple. But, I would say neither is worse. First of all, I cannot judge one from the other because Jesus needs to judge the heart. But on a practical level, I would say the homosexual couple show a tremendous amount of work on maintaining a relationship, through faithfulness and sacrifice, to remain committed for so long. Any relationship that lasts 30 years is an amazing feat! The person who has been married five times shows some significant issues with unhealthiness. Five marriages is certainly on the fringe of a lot of damage personally and with many who are family and friends of this person. How would you prescribe these two scenarios to repent? Do you know what the person who has been married five times needs to repent of? What does the homosexual couple need to repent of?
From a spiritual standpoint, I also believe the homosexual couple could be more faithful in their walk with Christ than the person married five times – and yet……
The person married five times could also have a walk with Jesus that might be very intimate even though they exhibit relationally unhealthy practices.
We cannot grade homosexuality in its own separate category. It’s a shame, as followers of Christ, that we’ve been so judgmental and arrogant with so many people that we deem “unrepentant” because of our homosexual prejudice.
When I was in San Francisco this year a man made the statement: “John, you know who most of the gays are in San Francisco, they are wounded Christians.” Oh, my gosh! I think he may be right! They have been thrown out of most churches and have sought out someplace where they would feel connected, wanted and maybe loved.
My dear friend, this is a very tough issue and I am trudging through some very deep waters trying to better understand God’s heart on this matter. I have now gone around the world listening to Him, listening to the stories, seeing the tears of rejection in some, and the peace of God’s love in others. This is so different than I always thought in my small world of ex-gay ministry. And yes, it was a small world because I made it small. I was completely unwilling to hear anything that didn’t fit my paradigm. I blocked out anyone’s life story or biblical teaching that didn’t match up with what I believed.
When I was at LiA I never taught a session on the scriptures regarding homosexuality that I understood. I know that sounds strange but it is true. I didn’t teach them because I really had never studied them for myself. I merely quoted what I saw that others had written on the issue. I felt an obligation to at least teach something on what the Bible said, but every time I attempted to study it for myself it made no sense to me and I just went back to the writings of others within the ex-gay subculture.
Now that I am not submerged into one sided perspectives, I am open to studying and reading the scriptures for myself, I am finding so many rich truths that I wasn’t ever made aware of before. For the first time in all of these years, the scriptures that many have said refer to homosexuality are making sense! I am reading them in context. I am asking questions about who the passages were written to. I am asking what was being talked about, and why the words were written in the first place.
That illusive word – “Change”
Now to the other part of your question. If there is a change to be made, it has to be from Christ! If the gay man or woman is alienated from Christ because of the judgment they perceive coming from the church then we are placing a burden on them that they are not meant to carry. Many times the church community sends the message that homosexuality is dirty, perverted, broken, and at times even a psychological defect. So, many homosexuals come to think they have to clean themselves up according to “our” standards in order for us to receive them into our pews and nurture them.
I am facing a challenging season in my life, my friend. I am at great risk of believers who have known me for many years rejecting me because I am daring enough to ask the questions I never would ask before. To be honest not many within the church are open to these kinds of discussions without being defensive and reactionary. I stand to lose some very close friends because I have chosen to unconditionally love gay people and to support them now without pressuring them to “change.” Someone has to take the fall for these folks whom Christ loves and desires a closeness with. I am willing to stand in the gap.
As I said, for many years I was unwilling to hear the hearts, the stories of so many gay people who were lost and afraid. I repeated the message “you can come here (to our program) if you want to change” and yet the matter of change was so ambiguous that no one could possibly have met the mark that was expected. For the homosexual, the word change is deeply misunderstood and most often mis-communicated by the church.
Oh, I wish you could have been where I have been to hear the hearts and to experience what I have in the last two to three years. The sad thing is that many Christians would have not been willing to have walked the streets I have walked on out of the fear they would be “condoning” sin, or that they might have heard things they didn’t want to hear.
I was one of those Christians!
As I walked into a conference two years ago with Christians who were gay, my life flashed before me. I was very anxious and concerned about what others would think if they knew that I was there. I didn’t talk about having been there for a while and certainly not with certain people. My friend, what’s up with that? Why should I have such a deep fear of what others might think about me sharing space with Christians who are gay? What kind of legalism is that rooted in? What does that say about my own heart?
Now, to your second question,
So, John, are you a homosexual who lived as a heterosexual for all of these years or a heterosexual who was living as a homosexual?
I am on my own road of discovery in this area. I used to define homosexuality or heterosexuality in terms describing one’s behavior. I thought it made sense and through the years often wrote articles and talked from that perspective.
Today, I understand why the gay community had such an issue with my writings. My perspective denied so many facets of the homosexual experience. I minimized a person’s life to just their sexuality but homosexuality is much more than sex.
There are perversions that occur just because of one’s lust and a breakdown of morality. These are the perversions that I think you may be speaking of. Men and women are certainly capable of extremes sexually such as in prostitution, pornographic exhibitionism and others. However, today I do not paint homosexuality into that broad brush. There are surely men and women who act in homosexual behavior but may not be intrinsically homosexual, but I would say that the vast majority of those who consider themselves gay would not fit in the “perversion” category.
As to the question at hand, I would consider myself homosexual and yet in a marriage with a woman. My sexual desires, attractions and lifelong struggle with common factors relating to homosexuality are pretty much all in the classification of homosexual. Someone once described this type of scenario a “mixed orientation marriage”. When I heard this term it sent me into quite the internal process. In many ways it answered many questions that had plagued me for many years. Now I had something that finally effectively described my personal experience with being married.
I am who I am, she is who she is.
I am homosexual, my wife is heterosexual. This creates a unique marriage experience that many do not understand. For many years I tried to fit into the box of heterosexuality. I tried my hardest to create heterosexuality in my life but this also created a lot of shame, a sense of failure, and discouragement. Nothing I did seemed to change me into a heterosexual even though I was in a marriage that included heterosexual behavior. Very often when I am in situations with heterosexual men I clearly see that there are facets of our lives that are distinctively different as it relates to our sexuality, and other things as well.
There is no question, I love my wife. God has worked powerfully in and through our relationship. The fact that she married me in the first place knowing of my past homosexual promiscuity said something quite profound about her love for me. Which, by the way, was not an enabling, “I can fix him” kind of relationship. My wife has never tried to fix me or change me in that area of our relationship. She truly unconditionally loves me. But this doesn’t change the fact that I am who I am and she is who she is.
This is why I say things like “you can’t repent of homosexuality.” In traditional homosexuality it appears that it is intrinsic to a person’s fabric of life. Nature or nurture, it is far to complicated to have a definitive answer for the origin of homosexuality. However, I hear story after story of men and women who accept themselves as being gay, in Christ, and finally find that life makes sense to them. Many are able to then nurture an authentic relationship with Christ because they are being honest and authentic with themselves and finally are able to accept His love unconditionally which changes the dynamic of their understanding of Him. Far too many homosexuals who are seeking Christ perceive that they cannot come close to Him if they remain a homosexual. In this mindset they search feverishly for change that will not come to them.
This kind of searching can lead to deep depression, discouragement and often an alienation from God!
Commonly when a homosexual finds God’s amazing love for them as they are, their perversion diminishes, their promiscuity decreases or goes away completely, and at times they accept being single or they may find a God centered relationship that also seems to be healthy and faithful.
There is a lot of negative power in someone who feels ashamed of their homosexuality, guilt from misunderstood aspects of their lives that they have no control over.
I hope this helps.
Anyway, I hope you will consider what I have written. I have loved you as a sister for all of these years. I am really trying to gain God’s heart for all of this and I am willing to allow Him to show me His truth.