The “change” question.

The issue of “change” is as complex as every other question concerning homosexuality.

There are a few misconceptions that need to be stated right off the bat.  I will briefly state them now, and then go into more discussion later.  First, many say that one cannot “change” their sexuality (sexual attractions), so therefore, “change” is pointless to consider and discuss.  While to an extent these critics have a point, their conclusion about “change” is wrong.  Second, many insist that presenting the idea of “change” to a gay or lesbian suggests that one is trying to push heterosexuality … suggesting that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality.  Again, this thought is only partly true.  Third, on the other side of this argument, many state that since some have “changed” anyone and everyone can “change”.  Again, this isn’t exactly correct thinking.

As we talked about briefly in the previous question, concerning “ex-gays”, we need to define what we mean by “change.”  While their beliefs about homosexuality are divided, the people that surround this debate from both sides, for the most part, misunderstand this idea of “change.”  All too many falsely assume that “change” equals a person being restored to full-heterosexuality.  This means that a person never struggles with, or is tempted by, same-sex attraction, and that they eventually get married.  Both sides state that these things are the litmus tests for authentic “change,” and that if these things do not occur than the person is not “changed.”

This false idea, fails on so many levels; and not only that, it destroys many people’s lives.

I used to think that I wasn’t “changing” because I was still struggling with same-sex attractions.  I was convinced that I would never experience “change”, and therefore also concluded that God was punishing me, and, at times, hated me.  I mean, why wouldn’t He take away these feelings?  Why doesn’t He make me straight, like my friends?  Why couldn’t I struggle with a lust for a woman, instead of a man?

See, when we make the goal of “change” heterosexuality and/or marriage, we have missed the point, and we allow others to miss the point as well.  As I have said over and again on this site, the end result of one’s journey with homosexuality is not marriage, nor is it to become “straight-thinking.”  Is it really Biblical to trade one lust for another?  No.  All lust is bad.

Yes, marriage is a great 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 a “woman”.  We, the Church, 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.

So, then, can people “change”?  Yes, some can and do.  Some people 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.  (If we are honest, the majority of “ex-gays” fit into this category.)  The issue of “change” is not about changing one’s sexual orientation, then, rather it is about changing how one lives their life.  See, “change” happens, for everyone, how much or how little, though, depends on the person.

In speaking in terms of Christianity, everyone who encounters Christ experiences a change.  Everyone.  “Change” is not about making everyone heterosexuals.  In reality, one’s sexual preference does not (nor should not) define who that person is.  If we are made anew in Christ, then our identity has changed from “ours” to “His”.  See, true “change” is about being made anew in the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 5:1).

True “change” involves cleansing one’s heart of the past, and setting off on a path back to the Father’s Heart.  True “change” involves embracing the Father’s unconditional Love; it involves taking hold of His promises and claiming them as our own; it’s about walking in the Truth and living with a Kingdom perspective, verses living with a worldly perspective.

Every Christian undergoes this transformation – sanctification – and no one is beyond, or above, needing this type of presence and power in their life.  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 not about making nice, cookie-cutter, converts, who attend church once a week.  It’s about people who have been captured by God’s wild and passionate Grace-Love, and who desire nothing more but to live for Him – because we are so in love with Him.

______________________________________

A frequent question you may be thinking right about now is this: can a gay person be a Christian? So let’s talk about this, in light of what we have already been discussing.

Can a gay person be a Christian?  Yes.

What are the requirements for being a Christian?  Is it not that one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Paul says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).  So, then, really, anyone can become a Christian.  In fact, in today’s culture, if a person only believes in God, they are considered a Christian; they don’t even have to accept Jesus.

The definition of a Christian is, it seems, loose.  In today’s terms, does a Christian simply mean one who believes in God.  Does a Christian only imply that one is a “convert of Christianity”.  Maybe so.  However, like I said above, our mission isn’t about making converts (Christians).  That is not what Jesus called to Himself.  Christ made disciples of people, and then commissioned them to go and make other disciples.  At the heart of it, this is God’s Mission: making a people for Himself, of all Nations, that live for His glory.

So then a better question to ask is this: can a gay person be a disciple of Jesus? Now, my answer has changed.  It depends on a few things.

Are we talking about gay people who desire to pursue a committed relationship with the same-sex, while claiming to be a disciple of Jesus?  Then, no, I do not think this is possible.  Scripture states that all same-sex relationships (sexual), either committed or not committed, are wrong.  A disciple of Jesus upholds what scripture has revealed and put forth.  So how can a person claim to be a disciple and yet go against the teaching of the One they claim to be following?  You can’t.

However, if you are talking about a person who considers themselves to have a gay orientation, and desires to pursue a life that lives in accordance with scripture, then yes, one can be gay and a disciple of Jesus Christ.  See, while Jesus did not speak much about sexuality, He did have a lot to say about those who would define themselves as “disciples” of Him.

  • Luke 9:23, 14:26-27, 33 – Jesus calls His disciples to deny themselves in total devotion
  • John 8:31 – Jesus says that His disciples uphold and abide in His Word
  • John 15:8 – Jesus calls His disciples to bear lasting, and good fruit, all of which brings Glory to God
  • John 13:34-35 – Jesus calls His disciples to Love one another, in the balance of Truth and Grace (as He showed)

From these verses (and these are not all of them), we see clearly the path Christ has marked out for those who want to be disciples of Christ.  It isn’t enough to know about God; the Father wants us to know Him – intimately and sacrificially (Matthew 7:21-27, 1 Corinthians 8:3).

Living as a follower of Christ implies that we no longer live a life that serves us, but that serves Him.  It implies that each day, we die to ourselves, in order that He may shine and live through us.  Being a disciple of Christ is about walking in His Spirit, saying no to past desires and current temptations; being a disciple means that we hand our life over to God as an offering of worship to Him, and that we submit to His will and authority.

Read the following passages: Romans 8, 12:1-2, Titus 2:11-16, Galatians 5, Philippians 3-4.

This is the “change” we at Six11 Ministries strive for in everyone, including ourselves.  To be honest, this should be the only “change” anyone strives for in life – regardless of what temptation you deal with.

Can people change?  Yes.  Should people change?  For Christ, yes!  Will people change?  That depends on them, not us.

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10 responses to “The “change” question.

  1. I’ve believe you got it right, but that is true with any sin. We cannot be pursuing our sin and not handing it over to Christ and truly be following Christ 100%. It is a struggle with any sin. We have to make that choice to follow after Christ and take up our cross. (Taking up your cross in no easy task) but he is with us through all of it and when we fail we can hand it over to him. Let us pursue the Lord instead of sin.

  2. Shawn wrote:

    “Additional assumptions could also be made that either you agree that homosexuality is a sin, but choose to ignore it; you believe that homosexuality is not a sin, and choose to ignore the scriptures that says it is; or you choose to remain neutral in this debate and strive to live both ’sides of the fence’. I think I can safely say, that those who live an openly gay Christian life fall into one of these three assumptions.”

    Your assumptions rest on one glaringly false assumption – that the Ex-Gay view of the clobber passages is the correct view.

    Yet the Ex-Gay view of the clobber passages is most assuredly NOT the view of Jewish believers before the coming of Christ and is most assuredly NOT the view of the body of Christ for 2000 years.

    It should also be pointed out that your personal experience is not normative for others.

    If Ex-Gay beliefs were true, we would expect to see a much higher success rate in your change ministries.

    The low percentage of genuine change, from homosexual to heterosexual, even in the most ardently committed clients, testifies to the falseness of your views on the clobber passages.

    Rick Brentlinger
    GayChristian101.com

  3. Rick,

    Yes, I am making those assumptions – as stated above – just like you make the assumption that those particular passages have been misinterpreted wrong.

    The bible scholars, and Jewish leaders, that I have talked with do confirm that these verses have been translated correctly. But as I have noted on a previous blog, both of us claim we’re right … can we agree that we both disagree? Each has our ‘proof’ … I’m confident that GOD’S Word speaks for itself. Besides my above question still stands, “out of all the sins mentioned in the Bible why are the verses about homosexuality the only ones mistranslated?”

    And while I agree that my experience is not the norm for others, neither is your experience the norm for others.

    As far as the ‘success rate’ for ex-gay ministries, that depends of the person not the ministry. Put this perspective in view of going to church. I can go to church all I want, spend time in GOD’S Word, and get involved with every Bible Study being offered … BUT if I am not willingly taking this information and actively applying it to my life, then it’s MY fault that I’m not growing – not my churches. The same is said for ex-gay ministries. Many who attempt ex-gay ministries, and fail, do so with wrong intentions and too high of expectations. Their focus is on ‘getting straight’ instead of seeking CHRIST as their source of wholeness.

    shawn

  4. I totally agree Shawn. I am also an ex-homosexual, and I made excuses for my sin all of my life, until by the grace of God I woke up and saw that I was living in deception. While I am not married with children, I have found complete freedom from homosexual behavior. Jesus says very plainly in Revelation 22:14 and 15 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I am sorry, but no matter how you slice it, homosexuality is sexual immorality. This verse means ALL sexual immorality. And Paul said in Acts that there should not even be a HINT of sexual immorality among believers. Once I truly submitted my life to Christ, and gave up homosexuality I entered into a deep, loving relationship with Jesus Christ. He changed me! I did NOT go through an ex-gay ministry… I sought the Lord on my own and when I was really dedicated to Him he brought freedom and filled me with the Holy Spirit. Now, I DO NOT want a relationship with a man. Nothing compares with what I have found in Jesus. It is WONDERFUL to be free from homosexuality! Feel free to click on my name and go to my page and read my testimony.

    There is real freedom. That was the whole point of Jesus dying. He has given us a chance to seek him and find freedom. If we do not take advantage of that now, we will not be spending eternity with Him. These are not my words, they are His. I wish it were not so, as I know a lot of people that are deceived into believing a lie. I do not want to see them go to hell. But God made the rules, not me. And what HE says goes. I do not get to choose what I agree with and disagree with.

    Great post Shawn!

  5. You’re right A.J. – it’s all about your relationship with JESUS. Man cannot fix man … man can help man find restoration … but JESUS is the only one that can fix a person and restore a person.

    While I participated in ex-gay ministries, it wasn’t until I actively pursued CHRIST and HIS wholeness – not a program – did I experience true freedom.

    Click here to read more about this: https://six11.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/the-411pt3/

    Thanks for your encouragement man. And praise GOD will your story of HIS glory!

  6. Gay Christians have been around for a very long time, going back to martyrs in Roman times.
    Jesus healed the Centurian’s slave, and eunichs were made for the kindom of heaven.

    Ex-gay people or people who are bi-sexual are not a good example of this. We have to look to gays who have been gay, are committed to Jesus, and who do build churches in his name.

    There are many biblical scholars that call a lot of anti-gay quotes in the bible historically suspect, and also plain weird. I too have talked to Jewish scholars and academics as seminaries, and they disagree with the anti-gay bias or the cultural mischaracterization. If you are ex-gay, then I think your issue is different. You didn’t like being gay, or were bisexual, but most certainly you weren’t in any committed gay relationships, nor did you serve in gay ministries. I’m not counting right wing conservative churches here, because there just as many liberal scholars that simply refute the homophobic interpretations of homosexuality itself. This article is suspect, and not inclusive of lesbian and gay scholars who challenge the heterosexism inherent in this.

  7. Shawn,

    you are sitting on a panel tonight at my former University, Huntington University in Indiana. i say former because i am a gay Christian woman who cannot attend that school for identifying as such. i disagree with your statements listed above about homosexuality and Christianity. I love Christ and he is my first. i do not believe that sex before marriage is acceptable no matter what your orientation. i fully trust that the Lord loves me and has guided me to the person i am called to join with for life, that person just so happens to be another woman.

    i am intrigued that HU would even have a conversation about this topic but even more that you are apart of it.

    however, the topic i wished to converse about is this: i do not believe that only the 6 verses on homosexuality are mistranslated . in fact, i believe there are many that are, but i believe that the contextual relevance is being ignored. we are forgetting that women were property, that two men being together would mean one man had to defile himself and become a ‘woman’ in the eyes of the law, and that many things that the Bible states to be sin are ignored and declared inaccurate for todays time.

    are you aware that there is no word for homosexual in neither greek nor hebrew? how is it then that we find that word in our Bible today? are you aware that the hebrew word for abomination “toevah” means ritually unclean or unacceptable? are you bound by ritual? or did the cross set you free from it? is a wife still the husbands property? can a man still buy a woman he raped from her father for 50 sheckels of silver? are women also silent in your church or slaves allowed to be sold? are you bound to the law presented in Acts 15 that you cannot consume blood or meat of strangled animals? how can you pick and choose which laws were created for past people, that are now outdated?

    homosexuality was just an act until about 100 years ago when the APA began to understand it as an orientation. how then can we, with our growing knowledge and understanding of the human psyche, remain bound by laws written more than 1500 years ago?

    i wish that i lived closer to Huntington so that i could come and have a civil conversation with you instead of this post, im interested in the way the Spirit has led you, but thus far i respectfully disagree with the convictions you hold.

    also i was wondering if you had watched the documentaries “fish out of water” or “for the bible tells me so” both speak to a large number of people that are considered “Bible scholars”.

    looking forward to your response.
    in Him,
    alex

    • Hey Alex,

      Thanks for commenting. It’s a shame you can’t come to HU tonight, cause I would like to talk about things – it’s easier than trying to converse through posting.

      I agree with you that the Lord loves you – He always has and He always will. I have no doubt that you love the Lord, as well. Saying otherwise wasn’t the intention of my post. I’m sorry if you took it to mean something else. What I am mostly writing about here, is the fruit that a Christian produces in his or her life – especially a person who is gay and a Christian. Jesus is very clear about Christians and the fruit that they bear – be it good or bad. He states that upon these things we will be judged (John 15 is a good place to start on this topic). What I am simply saying here is this: while a gay person may in fact be a Christian, I disagree that they can fully live as a gay person and as a disciple of Christ.

      This is my conviction. I’m not asking you to believe it, but rather check it out for yourself.

      As for the Bible questions … I am not a scholar by no means, but I have spent many years studying (from both sides) what the Bible says and doesn’t say about being gay. I hold that all scripture is God-breathed, and that all scripture is infallible. I trust what God’s Word says, and because of that I align my life to it accordingly – no matter what I am called to give up (even my gay identity). I firmly believe that ALL Christians are to do the same. Again, and again, Christ calls us to deny ourselves, to pick up our cross, and follow after Him. We are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord – daily. We are called to trust Him, walking by faith and not by sight. We are called to endure hardships – even face inward struggles – as God refines us and further sanctifies us.

      The playing field of being a Christian is the same – no matter what you are struggling/dealing with. Jesus never said that our life would be easy, but He did say that our love for Him would be seen through our obedience to His Word. Right?

      As for the comment about “homosexual”, read this interesting article on the subject. And no, I have not seen “Fish Out of Water” or “For the Bible Tells Me So” … I really have no interest in seeing them.

      -SH

  8. Shawn ,
    I am not in anyway saying that this is what you mean or how you feel but to me it feels like you view gay Christians as less than “regular or normal” Christians . . . I feel like you say that the only way to be a “good and right” Christian is to be forced in this little box that people say you should fit into. But the problem with that is that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE fits in that box. Everyone has something that makes them not fit snugly into that little box that Christians and religions in general have constructed but I feel like you belittle people who don’t change and who took years to love themselves and finally get comfortable as being gay and are finally happy with who they are. It seems like you are trying to say I did it why can’t you . . . I feel kind of hurt by this. I do not wish to offend you in any way I am simply stating what I have interpreted from this and how it makes me feel.

    No disrespect intended, yours truly,
    Lucrezia Borgia

    • Hey Lucrezia,

      Thanks for your comments. I in no means meant to state that “gay Christians” are less than “straight Christians”. Both can love Jesus, both can follow Jesus, however, both are called to a higher level by Jesus. This is what I am talking about.

      Yes, everyone struggles with this – gay and straight. Still, it is a level of devotion Christ calls us to. Time and again He tells us to deny ourselves and live for Him. Does this seem hard and ridiculous? Yes!! But He still calls us to it, cause He believes that, through Him, we CAN do it.

      I am going to respond to this question with a few posts that I hope will clear some things up.

      I did not mean to upset or offend you … and I certainly did not mean to belittle you. Please know this was not my intention.

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