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.
This page first appeared as a post on October 14, 2008. Click here for the original comments.