Answers for Women 2019: Sacred

By April 8, 2019Featured

A. Testimony:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Matthew 7:21-23

I remember understanding from a young age that I thought girls were very pretty. I also remember wondering if I thought about that more than my friends did. I kept those kinds of thoughts to myself for the most part. Looking back at myself as a young child, it was abundantly clear that my desires were already quite sinful. Apart from a physical attraction to my female friends, I displayed that nature in lying, disobeying, and bullying my little brother.

Although I was always the type of use kid to push boundaries and reject authority when I perceived it was unjust, it was at 15 that I started really acting out. I experimented with drugs and alcohol some. This is also when I first came out, publicly, as being gay. My understanding of my faith was very shallow at that time. I saw no contradiction in my actions and in my profession of faith. I believed with my head that Jesus was God, that He’d come to die for sin, that He was raised on the third day, etc. I would think to myself, “Everyone sins, so sin must not be a big deal.”

As my time in high school progressed, I continued getting in trouble. I was suspended more than once for alcohol and narcotics and began to act more boldly with the girls I was dating. While living at home, I was grounded if I ever displayed anything that even remotely suggested my homosexuality; whether that was a love letter from a girlfriend in the laundry or that time I organized the clothes in my closet by color to look like a rainbow just to give my stepmom a hard time. Just a couple of months into my senior year, I moved out. When I turned 18, I gave my dad an ultimatum: allow me to date my girlfriend, the girl I was altogether obsessed with at the time and I’ll continue to live under your roof, keep curfew, make good grades, and whatever else he wanted. He didn’t budge so I felt I had to leave. I lost everything I had, including the new car I’d gotten just a week before for my birthday.

I viewed it as my sacrifice as something honorable; that I would forsake it all for ‘love’. I was fully convinced that this was, in fact, a civil rights type of issue, and that the cause needed people like me willing to suffer to defend it. I believed I was facing a type of persecution and that only motivated me further.

The next couple of years I only went further into my sin with drug use and exploring more taboo behaviors privately. I partied constantly, hooked up with random women, tried ecstasy, you name it. I enjoyed my social life in the circle I was in. I had no shortage of people to talk to, to drink with, to have over for pizza and a movie, or whatever else I wanted.

I eventually met a woman in college who was in the middle of a divorce, and we started spending all of our time together. She had a son and a daughter, who were 5 and 3, when we started dating. Though we would drink some and I would occasionally smoke weed still, I slowed down a lot out of respect for her and the kids. After about a year, I asked her to marry me. I never once felt out of place with her or them or in that lifestyle. I felt like I’d found a family I fit nicely into. I had responsibilities and people who were depending on me; I felt I had a purpose for the first time. It felt good. My parents allowed her kids to acknowledge them as their grandparents; we were a real family. Just 6 months before I would come to know the Lord, we parted ways after being together for about 2 years. I was devastated when we split up, but all the more convinced that my role in this life would be to marry a woman, raise children with her, and help to provide for a household.

In March of 2014, I was invited to a Bible study that my coworkers were doing. My aunt and I worked together and she was participating in it so I felt I should go, too. Honestly, I expected my lifestyle to be brought up pretty early on and that I could use that as an excuse to stop coming to the study. The book we read was “The Real God” by Chip Ingram. It’s an ‘attributes of God’ book, so I was learning about things like the goodness of God, holiness of God, and sovereignty of God. These were things I had never considered before. My views about God began to grow, and the bigger He got in my mind, the smaller I was in comparison. Until that point, what felt right to me was probably right, whether that was sexual immorality or sleeping in on Sundays. I remember a few nights before I surrendered, I would lay in bed asking myself, “Is this really me?” And I was referring to my sexuality. The next morning I would wake up and scoff at myself for such a question. “Of course this is me! I’ve always been gay!”

I came across 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

As I read the passage, I became heartbroken. I was in the “will not enter the Kingdom of God” line up and was terrified. In those three verses, I understood my need for Him to save me and His ability to do it. I noticed that it didn’t list those who “have been sexually immoral or who have been drunkards,” but instead was talking about people that used to be walking in those sins but that were no longer doing so.

The people being discussed there by Paul weren’t going to be in hell just because of they’d committed the specific sins listed; they would have been in hell if they’d never turned from them, and because they were actually washed, sanctified, and justified by Jesus. But these people were. This accounts for their new lives.

I’d read and come to understand that in scripture, phrases like “having believed” and “obeyed” were used almost interchangeably and that they’re used to describe people after they’ve been born again. Those that are believing and obeying do so because they have the new heart that God gives people when they’re born again.

The lost are those that do not obey Him because they still desire sin more than God. And I knew that good works, like obedience, don’t save; thankfully I’d always heard that growing up.

But what I didn’t understand is that good works, our fruit, do show that you’ve truly been saved. In Matthew 7, Jesus said, “On that day, many will say to me ‘Lord, Lord. Did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name? and I will declare to them, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you.” Jesus affirms that those who truly know Him have turned from their sins and are actually following Him with their lives. Those who have not repented don’t truly love Him. We know this because Jesus doesn’t lie. In John 14:23, Jesus said “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with them.”

I was grieved to realize that the whole thing was a sham. My whole life I’d been sinning against Him, not only in my dating life but in every other way, too, and calling myself a Christian. My drunkenness, my haughtiness, my refusal to submit to what the Bible so plainly said- all of the bad fruit I had evidenced that I was in fact still lost; I claimed faith but had no concern with what God actually said or wanted of me. In an instant, I was overwhelmed with the love and mercy He was showing me in letting me live long enough to repent and truly trust in Him. 

I didn’t know what my life would be like or what I was going to do, but I knew what I was not going to do anymore. For the first time, it was incredibly clear. That day was the day the Lord granted me eyes to see Him as holy and righteous and myself as a sinner desperately in need of His forgiveness and grace. Surrendering my life in that moment was no question. In the coming days, the Lord would make very clear to me that apart from my outward depravity and external sins, I had sins like pride and anger and those were even deeper ingrained in me than same sex attraction; I still battle those today as well, but I trust God to complete the work He’s begun in me.

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to share my story with believers and help the church understand homosexuality with a biblical worldview intact. Rather than viewing this sin as an identity that someone’s forever stuck with, we’ve got to see this sin as a just more bad fruit of unbelief and treat it and the sinner like we would any other lost person, for the most part. Those still in the LGBTQ lifestyle have yet to have their sin and their need for a new heart made clear to them. It is my hope that in sharing today, you guys can take away that I wasn’t saved any differently than anyone else who is saved, and that this group of sinners is in need of the same mercy and grace that we’ve all been shown if we are in Christ. I also hope to better equip you all so that you’re not lacking the knowledge and confidence to stand fast in a time where so many have wavered out of fear. We are the body of Christ. We must stand firm.

B. Biblical Worldview of Homosexuality

1. God’s design for sex and marriage:

a. In the Garden… (Genesis 2:24)

The church has to maintain a biblical worldview for homosexuality.

Almost as soon as we open the Bible, we can see God’s design for sex and marriage. We see from the very beginning of Genesis, with Adam and Eve that God intended unions bebetween man and woman, specifically one man and one woman. God gave full approval to such a union. It was good and it was honoring to Him. It took almost no time at all for man to distort that design with sin. We see constant sexual immorality in the scriptures, most often in the form of polygamy but not limited to just that.

b. Scripture regards all forms of sexual immorality… (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Scripture regards sexual immorality OF ANY KIND as a different nature than your average sin. Not only is sexual immorality a sin against God but it’s also a sin against one’s self. Sexual immorality is any kind of sexuality that is outside of God’s intent for it. Different forms of it have different consequences and effects and some are further away from God’s design, but all sexual immorality is high treason against God.

c. Jesus affirms Genesis account… (Matthew 19:4-5) / All scripture is from God (2 Timothy

Then we see Jesus affirm the creation account in Genesis that when He says “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5). We see Jesus affirm the need for sexual purity (“go and sin no more”, in John 8, to the woman caught in adultery). Plus, we’ve got to keep in mind that the Bible is supernaturally inspired (2 Tim

d. How biblical marriage should look… (Ephesians 5)

Ultimately, God’s design for marriage was intended to mirror to the world the gospel, as we see in Ephesians 5. That was His intent from the beginning, even before the fall. It wasn’t an after-thought He constructed to help us understand the relationship between Jesus and His bride. In His wisdom and sovereignty, God gave us a picture of His ultimate plan of redemption at the very beginning of creation. 

The husband is to represent Christ and the wife, the Church. He is to love her and lead her and nurture her. She is to trust in his leadership, honor him, and follow him as he leads her in love. It’s a beautiful picture that models for us what Paul called the “profound mystery” between Jesus and His bride. It shouldn’t surprise us that God doesn’t take lightly the defacement of marriage when we understand all it stands for.

2. Scripture addresses homosexuality specifically:

a. What is homosexuality? (Romans 1)

In addition to putting forth a right view of sexuality and marriage for us, scripture actually addresses homosexuality specifically for us, too.

So What is homosexuality?

Romans 1 gives us the best description of it; it’s turning from God’s intent for sexuality, which are male and female unions, to a union between two people of the same sex. In the same chapter, we see that it comes from idolatry. In our sin, we suppress the truth and we stop worshipping God and instead start worshipping creation. It goes as far as to say that the Lord in a sense gives us over to our desires, and that those desires inevitably harm us.

 

b. Is homosexuality unforgivable? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Now… What does Scripture NOT tell us about homosexuality? That may sound like a silly question, but we need to make sure we are clear here, too. Scripture does not say that homosexuality is unforgiveable. 1 Cor 6:9-11 shows us that people are saved and made new after living in all sorts of sins when they trust in Christ. It also doesn’t tell us anywhere that it’s the worst sin one can commit. Often the church has so much confusion and fear regarding this one that we act as if that’s the case. It’s not. It’s not new. Mankind began distorting sexuality almost immediately; we see homosexuality as early as in the days of Lot. This isn’t something that God didn’t know would happen and that He’s not equipped us to understand and biblically combat. He has. His word is sufficient for it.

c. How is homosexuality unique from other sin? (Romans 1)

So, how is homosexuality unique from other forms of sin?

It goes against the design of our natural bodies. There is an aspect of perversion to what we are created to physically do as men and women, regarding sex. Scripture is our owner’s manual. And He gets to decide what is good and what is right. Look again at the creation mandate: be fruitful and multiply. Homosexual unions cannot create offspring. The union is purely for the fleshly or earthly pleasure of those involved. God cannot sanction it because there’s no redeeming value there. For the lost heterosexual couple sleeping together outside of marriage, they can marry. Their souls are not closer to being saved because they do marry, but they can discontinue that particular sin once in the confines of marriage. Of course, a license given by the state doesn’t wipe away sin that’s already been committed. Only Jesus can do that. Should God later save that couple, they’ll still have to repent and confess their immorality as sin, too, but at least are able to continue in their union together with God’s approval.

That’s not so for the homosexual relationship. It’s like idol worship. There’s no way to make it good and honoring to God. You’ve got to turn from it entirely. As a people, in more ways than this one, we’ve distorted sex and its purposes for our own purposes. It’s as Romans 1 describes “inventing ways to do evil”.

3. Where does same sex attraction come from?

a. “Born that way”? (John 3:18, Ephesians 2:1-2)

So… Where does same sex attraction come from?

Are people ‘born that way?’

To put it very shortly, it comes from original sin. Innately, through and through, we are sinners. We ARE born set up to sin in ALL KINDS of ways thanks to Adam.  So, are people “born this way”? Sure. Does that make it okay? NOPE. You must be born again because it is not okay for us to continue in the state that we were born. Jesus said in John 3:18 that the one who doesn’t believe is condemned already if he doesn’t believe. We all need be born again and believe in Christ.

Recently, I got the question at a church, asking whether there are other factors that could contribute to this sin. I know people in the gay community who have moms and dads and nearly perfect childhoods… I know people in the lifestyle that had horrible upbringings and experiences. We have enough sin in our hearts that we don’t have to be set up to sin in a certain way. I have no doubt that our experiences shape us, but we don’t require “anything extra” to sin horrendously. And we are not excused because of that. Our inability to keep the law should drive us to the Savior because we recognize that without Him, we are in serious trouble. We really are that bad apart from Christ.

b. Idolatry (Romans 1)

Like I said earlier, in addition to original sin, homosexuality specifically stems from idolatry. Romans 1 says that when we refuse to worship God, we will necessarily worship creation instead which leads to all sorts of sin from gossiping, to murder, and also to practicing homosexuality.

4. How then should one live?

a. Repent and believe the gospel.

So, how then should we live in light of all of this information? Firstly, we must repent and believe the gospel.

Those who naturally have these unnatural affections have the same gospel call that the rest of the world has. We’re commanded by Christ to repent of our sins and to believe the truth: that Christ came to set us free from the penalty and power of sin and that we must submit to Him as Lord.

b. Be holy. (1 Peter 1:15)

We must be holy.

This applies to all of us and our sinful proclivities: 1 Peter 1:15 says to be holy as He is holy. If you love Him you will obey His commands; you will fight like every single sincere Christians has to fight to kill your sin and live unto the Lord. And His grace is enough for you to do that and to have JOY in that. It’s not a life of misery. You ARE more than your desires. In Christ we have a LOT MORE value than whatever sin we’re inclined towards. It really is that simple… and also that hard.

It’s a struggle and it’s REAL. All of us, when we submit to Christ in our lives, have to set aside our sin. For many of us, that won’t cause the end of all the friendships and relationships and community we have built. But it will for those who are in the LGBTQ community.

There is a REAL cost, and we shouldn’t minimize that. But we shouldn’t distort the cost either. We don’t do anyone any favors when we water down the truth. Telling someone they can keep their sin and just add Jesus is to give them a different gospel. It’s telling this group of people they don’t have to repent. That’s incredibly serious when scripture tells us that God commands all people everywhere to repent.

C. Practical Applications for the Church

1. It’s helpful to group this sin with others like it.

So what are some practical applications?

It’s helpful to group this sin in with others like it, like other forms of sexual immorality, when studying reading the text to understand where to go from here.

a. Profession without repentance? (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

If someone does profess faith but they refuse to turn from this sin, we must refuse to regard them as brethren but instead exhort them to repentance and belief in the God of the scriptures. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us to not to even eat with one that calls himself a Christian but lives in sexual immorality.

b. Walk alongside the true brother in his fight. (Hebrews 3:13)

For those that are actually battling this sin, meaning fighting and striving daily to honor God in their bodies, we shouldregard them as brothers. The Church must come alongside them and walk that repentance out with them. The church has gotten better it seems at dealing with those outside the church in regarding this sin, but we still discuss this like it’s far off and removed from the true Christians. In a room this size, we assume people there battling porn and other things like it but not same sex attraction. Over and over again, I speak and have people come to me after, sincere contrite believers, who battle this sin and have a clear understanding of it biblically but feel unable to reach out to others for accountability and encouragement in their fight. And I am not saying we need specific support groups for this or any other sin because I believe that’s probably incredibly dangerous, but we shouldn’t be naive. We should speak with compassion regarding this sin and others like it because there are brethren among us that are fighting and they’re going to do a lot better if they’ve got support. The church should be such a support to one another as we all fight our sin.

How each person wages war against this particular sin in Christ is going to vary. Some are going to need a lot of personal boundaries and more consistent accountability where others won’t require as much. I know some believers that were drunks before they were saved and can’t touch alcohol anymore where others can; kind of the ‘weaker brother’ situation. I know I’ve had seasons where if I had I not had others around me in the know of my struggle, I would’ve fallen into really serious sin even as a Christian. The Church has to hold one another up in this fight. We’ve got to be willing and prepared to be what our brother or sister needs as they fight their sin.      

c. What about the lost?

So, what about those that are obviously lost?

If they do not profess faith, we share the gospel and plead with them to repent of their sin, which would be unbelief primarily. Our first objective isn’t behavior modification for those that are unregenerate. When the person is truly saved, a change in action will follow the new heart.

2. Question I get most often:

I wrote down some questions I get most often to go over briefly-

a. Can I be friends with someone who’s in the LGBTQ lifestyle without condoning their sin?

I hope so. Apply that question to other sinners and other types of sin. Can you befriend the woman living with her boyfriend? Of course you can. And you should do so mindful of her need for the Lord so you can be intentional with her. The same goes for the one practicing homosexuality. There are of course general guidelines I will give; I wouldn’t attend a gay pride event with your friend, just as you shouldn’t go to the strip club with your unbelieving friend simply to “show your friendship” to them. We’ve got to be wise but also willing to be uncomfortable. It seems like the reason a lot of believers refrain from entering into deep friendships with those in the LGBTQ is primarily because it’s not easy. It may make us feel weird or icky. I’m sure Christ felt that way when He was here with sinners, too. We’ve got to be willing to be close to those who are without Christ that they may come to know Him.

b. Should I attend a gay wedding?

I could not. Be mindful that you’re attending a ceremony where two people are vowing before God to continue to sin and reject God. We have no good reason to celebrate that. That should break our hearts and cause us to do nothing but mourn during the entire thing if we were to go. I can absolutely sympathize with why one would want to; oftentimes Christian parents or siblings are backed into a corner with this one and you may feel your only way to maintain the relationship is to attend. But I have to encourage you to consider whether we’re to please God or man first. Marriage ceremonies are for the purpose of celebrating a union between two people. Even if we were to tell someone that we were not in support of their relationship, by going, I believe we’re inevitably giving some credence to what’s being celebrated. Would you attend a ceremony where an adult was marrying a child or a sibling? I think that culturally we’ve given way too much here. Also, not going can have a lasting impact on how they understand your beliefs and may even be a source of conviction later. Although I know that many sincere Christians have done so, I wouldn’t risk the appearance giving of approval.

c. Are people born gay?

People are born sinners; for some, that looks like homosexuality. I don’t think it’s worth it to fight the culture on the terminology when we can see that we’re born sinners from the womb. Original sin looks different on different people but Adam marked us all up pretty good. We all need new hearts and right desires in place of the bad ones we’re born with.

d. Can’t you just leave people alone to love whom they want to love?

Not if you believe the Bible. To leave someone in their sin is to leave them without forgiveness for it knowing that they need it. That may look like love externally but it’s actually incredibly hateful if you know the truth.

e. Does same sex attraction go away when one becomes a Christian?

Does any sinful desire go away immediately upon conversion? It can. It does. But that’s not promised in scripture and oftentimes that is not the experience of the new believer. We have a new hate for sin and love for God, but this flesh continually pulls us astray and has to be called back in by the Spirit who is faithful to sanctify us. Praise God.

f. If I’m one who struggles with same sex attraction, what counsel would you give me regarding this sin, transparency, friendships, etc?

The first thing I’d want to do for the person who’s struggling with this sin is to encourage you to be gracious with those in the church that may not know how to handle this topic. It’s touchy for us and often confusing for others who can’t personally relate to this sin, but I believe that Christ is constantly growing and maturing His church and that most of our brothers and sisters are willing to be the support but are just unsure of where to begin. One of my biggest goals with today’s talk was to help those that don’t experience it to sympathize with those who do and to give all of us some biblical backing for how to see and go about this.

Second, Christ is worthy. He is worthy of your life and your obedience in this regard and in every other.

I want to encourage you to fight this sin, and believe wholeheartedly that if you are in Christ, you will, however imperfectly.

Get with people you can trust. Talk regularly with believers that are much older in the faith than you and ask for accountability. I’d recommend acquiring more than one person for this just for the sake of wisdom and care and give them full permission to ask you where your heart is, how you’re doing, and if there are any new struggles that you’re facing. If they don’t ask, force yourself to tell them anyway.

Don’t think too much about your struggle. Trust me. It’ll become a whole other kind of issue if you dwell on it too much. You’ll either become really discouraged or you’ll think you deserve a special badge because of the particular sin struggle the Lord ordained for you. Neither of these are helpful for your walk with Jesus.

Be careful in your friendships; keep accountability with them but don’t feel like you’ve got to isolate yourself and keep anyone from getting close. I’ve found that it’s not been a lack of female attention but instead a healthy amount of the right kind of attention that’s most helped my heart with feeling as it should. Alienating yourself from friendships, in my own experience, has been the most damaging thing for my walk. Friends are a GOOD gift from God.

Thank you all for your time. I pray that God would be glorified today and as we move forward bearing His image and name.

Emily Thomes

Author Emily Thomes

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