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Conversion Therapy vs. Conversion to Christ

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What Are the Headlines?

Following Anchored North’s release of my video testimony last week, Newsweek’s headline was: “Christian ‘Ex-Lesbian’ Claims she Prayed the Gay Away in Controversial Viral Video“. Huffington Post reacted with, “Viral Video Claims People Can Stop Being Gay If They Pray Hard Enough.” TeenVogue’s lie was: “This Video Falsely Claims Praying Will Turn LGBTQ People Straight“. Sensational writing has an appeal. It allows people to work an agenda into their journalism, often at the expense of the truth. The articles that circulated made claims that were not only absent from my testimony, but that actually contradict both Anchored North’s and my own beliefs about conversion. “Solutions” such as reparative therapy and ‘praying the gay away’ were claimed to be my message when I said no such thing; I never actually mentioned prayer once. The common theme in almost all of these articles was that the Bible study “made me straight,” despite the video’s subtitle: “It’s not gay to straight. It’s lost to saved.” I say all this so you understand why I am compelled to respond sooner rather than later. The truth is, I’m not writing this for Newsweek or any of the other magazines who demonstrated their inability to distinguish between my testimony and what gets social media shares. I’m writing this to clarify what they, as people who do not know God, cannot understand; namely, the difference between manmade attempts to alter behavior, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves.

What is “Reparative Therapy”?

Reparative or conversion therapy refers to counseling or psychotherapy that attempts to eliminate individuals’ sexual desires for members of their own sex. The American Psychological Association states that “such efforts have serious potential to harm young people” because “they often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure.” In his article, “What’s Wrong with Reparative Therapy?”, Heath Lambert, the Executive Director at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, states, “…we should reject it as an approach to change” because it “misunderstands the problems homosexuals confront, misunderstands the goals they should pursue, and misunderstands the need to lay hold of God’s grace in Christ through repentant faith.” It seems both believers and unbelievers are in agreement that this is a practice that should be rejected. The methods used in conversion therapy range from basic behavioral modification, psychoanalysis (“therapeutic” techniques related to the study of the unconscious mind), and even sex therapy. I cringed as I studied the subject further for the sake of this article. In my early teens growing up in one of Texas’s smallest towns, I had a season of trying really hard to suppress my feelings and pretend they weren’t there out of fear for how my family and friends would respond. I chose not to deal with my desires and it made me absolutely miserable. It was after years of remaining silent that finally, at the ripe old age of fifteen, I opened up about my feelings and embraced them as my “truest self.” In contrast to my earlier attempts, I felt liberated and was thrilled to no longer attempt to make my behavior one way externally while my heart raced towards the exact opposite. Devoid of the grace, love, and hope found in Christ, there is no reason to believe that any of these approaches would help anyone at all. In fact, it makes sense that they would only lead to severe depression and self-loathing. In my video, I stated that I looked at Scripture, believed what it said for the first time, and repented of my sins (practicing homosexuality, drunkenness, and others – see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). There was no therapy. The Bible study I attended was about the attributes of God, and not homosexuality. When I went to this study, as I mentioned in the video, I expected them to bring up my lifestyle immediately, and that I would then use that as an excuse to stop attending; but they never did. They shared with me their love for God and His work in their own lives. The Spirit and His Word took it from there.

What does it mean to “Pray the Gay Away”? 

I staunchly reject the “pray the gay away” narrative, despite what the news outlets are reporting. This concept says that if you pray hard enough, or have enough faith, God will remove your desire for the same sex; essentially, you’ll be “cured” of your sin. It’s easy to see that this way of thinking is also dangerous and unhelpful, as God never talks like that regarding our sin. As a matter of fact, identifying a person by one’s sexual desires, whether sinful or godly, is an unhelpful and unbiblical way for believers to discuss these matters all together. See Rosaria Butterfield’s answer for “Is sexual orientation a concept that Christians ought to use?” Biblically, we have no reason to expect God to totally take away our want for sin upon being born again. Can He remove your sinful desires? Of course! I believe at times that He does. We ought to be pleading with Him to do so, knowing that if His will is to remove it entirely, He’ll do it. Generally, though, that is not what we see in Scripture or what we should be relying on. Although HuffPo quoted chunks of a Facebook status from my page to state that I’d equated homosexuality with murder, they conveniently left out the paragraph directly prior, because it would have ruined their entire premise. What they chose to leave out was: “Nowhere are we told to pray to stop liking our sin in order to turn from it. We are commanded to stop the sin. Period. He gives us something greater in return, but the command to repent is still a command to repent. Apply that logic to another sin…” We’re not told that He’ll remove our want for sin. Instead, we’re told to “abstain from fleshly lusts” (1 Peter 2:11) and not to “gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:6). There’s definitely a fight that Christians are to have against sinful desires. We couldn’t do so if, upon conversion, those desires were immediately eradicated. Believers who promote this view are misinformed and are harming others by making claims and promises that God has not given.

What Is the Solution?

Homosexuality is a sin. See Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, etc. I’m not going to spend a lot of time here making this case. Any honest reading of the text leaves one with the conclusion that God’s design for sex and marriage is for one man and one woman, for life, and that any variation of that (homosexuality, sexual immorality in opposite sex couples, adultery, etc) are deemed sinful time and time again. They contradict His moral law and for that reason alone, they are transgressions not only against the other participant but against God Himself. God is perfect, holy, and without any kind of sin or failing. He’s all knowing, all powerful, and unchanging. The big problem with sin is that it separates us from Him because it’s so contradictory to who He is and what He esteems. Every human being is made in the image of God and because of that we all have intrinsic value and worth, but that image is distorted because of the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. God said that everything He had made was good, but that was before sin entered the world. Scripture tells us that now, because of sin, “no one is good; no not one” (Romans 3:10). God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness create a divide between the two. This is why God sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us back to Himself. He lived the kind of life we’re commanded to live but have all failed to do. He then took the punishment we ought to get, the entire wrath of God, on behalf of those who would repent, turn from sin, and put their trust in Him. This is a concept that those both inside and outside of evangelicalism are guilty of distorting and the consequences are lethal. People end up hearing that either repentance is not necessary and one can stay in their sin while holding fast to Christ, or that you should attempt change yourself via these worldly and unbiblical means. If they don’t work, God has failed you or has changed His mind on sin. Neither of these approaches are biblical, and both are condemning. Jesus came to save us from sin because He hates it and because it leads to destruction. The human heart cannot change itself (Jeremiah 13:23), so attempts made at that without God are in vain.

This is biblical conversion: that we have our eyes opened to see our sin as sin and see Him as the good and worthy Creator; because of that new sight, we joyfully forsake our sin and turn to Him by grace through faith. Scripture tells us this happens to all people when they’re ‘born again’ (John 3, Ezekiel 36:26), regardless of the kind of life they lived before knowing Christ. We’re all living in unrepentant sin until that moment. We need God to intervene and create in us a desire to obey out of a right kind of ‘fear’ that comes from reverence and love for Him, not confusion or self-hate or any other reason that is not centered on Him. It isn’t always easy, but He is worthy.

What Does it Look Like?

So what does all of this mean for believers in Christ who struggle with same-sex attraction? According to what we see in scripture, it means that one must ‘walk by the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16) and ‘make no provision for the flesh’ (Romans 13:14). Those battling desires for the same sex must, like Jesus said, “deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow” Him (Luke 9:23). The instructions given to Christians battling this sin are not different from those given to every other believer. All of us “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3). We must now obey God rather than these desires. Each of us are marked by sin, but because of Christ, have the will and ability to follow Jesus instead of our feelings. This doesn’t mean a perfect walk without trials and sin on our part, but as we grow in Him, we will have greater and greater victory over sin and will slowly, but surely, be conformed to the image of His Son who was without sin.

Does the Christian coming from this particular background have his or her own specific difficulties? You bet. We all vary in how sin and its consequences effect us once we’ve been born again, but our journey towards holiness and knowing Him deeper should look very similar to those who were saved out of other lifestyles of sin. The church should not be surprised at my conversion to Christ out of a life of sin that included practicing homosexuality. The fact that it has reacted so is indicative that we too lack faith and a rich understanding of the doctrine of sin. It’s my prayer that He uses stories like mine, His Spirit, and His word to grow His church in that understanding. In the mean time, believers must be patient with one another. A misinformed or shallow understanding of regeneration can lead to odd questions and harmful statements. We must demonstrate grace in those instances, for we’ve received far greater grace for our offenses against our Creator.

Speaking of such questions: Is the new believer bound to remain single or should they run fast towards marriage, or something in between? We, like all Christians, should seek first His kingdom. Some will marry because the Lord has given them desires and a spouse to do so. Some will remain single and focus their hearts wholly to the Lord. In either case, we are to strive for holiness. The believer who remains single is no less ‘new’ than the one who marries and has eight children. In either case, we should be aiming to glorify God in our bodies with a ‘holy sexuality,’ a term coined by Christopher Yuan in his book, “Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God.” The body of Christ, consisting of various stories and experiences and gifts is what enables us to edify and encourage one another so well. Had He desired we all be the same, we would be.

I sincerely hope my testimony will be a blessing to many and something that points others to the true gospel. The misinformation that is out there on this topic is easy to find, but the truth is a precious find. Your best source for truth in conjunction with scripture is a church that is faithful to preach the word of God. If you have any questions regarding my position, or any other topic, you can find out more at emilythomes.com or send your questions to emily@emilythomes.com.

Love Is Love

"It's not gay to straight. It's lost to saved."

Posted by Anchored North on Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Conversion Fallout and Advice for Parents of LGBT Kids

By | Featured, Interview | 2 Comments

Back in June, Emily Thomes took over our news feeds as countless friends began sharing her conversion story written for The Gospel Coalition. She raised a much needed credible voice of someone saved out of an LGBT lifestyle. Like so many others, I sent her a Facebook friend request to hear more and to stay connected. (It’s time for a fan page, Emily, as you’ve reached the magic 5K friends mark!)

Her unwavering commitment to a biblical response to same sex attraction and practicing homosexuality among professing Christians is refreshing. Unfortunately, it’s also counter-cultural with so many popular Christians ignoring the biblical record in favor of their feelings. I reached out to Emily to ask some questions I had not heard asked.


>j: Since your conversion in April of 2014, and even since the TGC article, can you share how you have been received by the LGBT community—both the good and the bad?

Emily: When I got saved, even on my first night as a believer, changes started to occur between me and the people I did life with. The night of my conversion I was being massively convicted of my sin and attempted to talk to my best friend about it. We’d smoked weed like we did most nights, and even while high I could not shake the fear that my understanding of God and homosexuality could be wrong and that the effects of such a misunderstanding would be catastrophic. When I brought up my concerns to my friend, she told me I was killing her high and left. That was only a glimpse of what was to come! In the coming weeks, I would sit down with many of my friends and ex-girlfriends with an open Bible to explain that our sin put us all in grave danger and that we need forgiveness. Most of those I talked to believed in a god; some even professed faith in the God of the Bible, but all of them rejected that God would require someone to abstain from “loving who they love.” Through tears, I flipped through the pages I had marked with post-it notes about sin, repentance and the new birth. It didn’t take long for most of my friends to remove themselves from me entirely.

The group of people I regularly interacted with on Facebook responded similarly but with more zeal; it’s easier to cuss someone out behind a keyboard than it is in person. I remember one night I had posted a status begging those whom I loved who were in various sins, that I listed explicitly, to repent and believe the gospel, lest they be damned. Within a couple of hours I had over 300 very hostile comments. My mom and stepdad showed up at my doorstep with a milkshake and offered to sit with me for a while. Watching everyone I knew and loved reject Christ, and knowing that it meant that they were choosing to die in their sins instead, absolutely killed me. That night my mom put various notes in my room and on my bathroom mirror reminding me that she loved me. I wasn’t suicidal, but I think she thought I could’ve been. That initial wave of pushback lasted about 6 months, and really was the worst of it. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of hate mail and had people say really awful things to me and to the others that have remained in my life, but it was nothing like it was at first. God used that down time for me to stay home and to study, to grow in my understanding of His word and of myself, and to learn how to stand alone, if need be.

Although most of the feedback I get from the LGBT is oppositional, I’ve still had many peaceful conversations with people who genuinely desire to understand what’s occurred in my life and how the Bible speaks to them in their particular circumstances. I’ve even had people message me and say that they, too, understand their guilt and need for forgiveness, and now desire to obey Christ. Those are some of my favorite conversations! I’ve made many friends that I still talk to regularly who experience same sex attraction and are choosing to deny themselves and follow Him instead. I’ve been so encouraged when talking to others who were also once dead in their sins, particularly sins I relate to dealing with, and seeing them pursue Him wholeheartedly. There have been seasons when I’ve felt like an absolute alien, and often God would have someone message me, reminding me that I’m not alone in the fight. They have encouraged me to know that a public fight for faith isn’t in vain, because He’s using it to admonish and exhort others.

>j: You mentioned your parents support after your conversion. How should Christian parents think about and respond to their same-sex attracted children still under their authority? I recognize there would be a scale here—from the child they suspect may be struggling all the way up to a child openly practicing homosexuality.

Emily: This is where that biblical worldview comes in. Parents should be helping their children understand, at an early age, that all people are born sinful and that each of us has a flesh that sincerely desires what God hates. If the framework for the gospel is laid, as sinful desires and behaviors arise, parents are then able to point their children to Christ. Rather than panic when a “perfect” child suddenly desires something totally foreign, parents should be expecting children to indeed be sinful and, be it homosexuality or pride, explain to the child their need for a new heart that desires God and not sin. Parents are in a perfect place to prime their children for the gospel by making it clear, when confronting each act of disobedience that the human heart is the problem and that it only evidences their need for grace.

>j: How should Christian parents think about and respond to their practicing homosexual child outside of their authority? I’m thinking first of family gatherings (holidays), interactions with their child’s partner, and having Gospel clarity while still being “family.”

Emily: The way to answer this question completely hinges upon whether or not that family member professes to know Christ, whether we’re talking about children, their partners, or siblings. If someone claims to be a part of the body of Christ, the right and loving thing to do is to attempt to pull them back from their sin, which consists of being direct with them about it (Matthew 18, James 5). Being direct doesn’t require that we are harsh or unkind, but it does require clarity. We tell those who claim the name of brother that they’re walking in rebellion in order for them to repent. They may very well turn away from their sin, should the Lord grant them. However, what often happens is that they recognize the need for repentance in order to be sincere and simply stop calling themselves “Christian”. If they do retract the profession, you’re free to treat them as an unbeliever. Being transparent with professing Christians, be the profession sincere or not, is the only way to go about it. As the church, we often give people false assurance of right standing with God when we pretend that things are okay when they’re not. 1 Corinthians 5 is quite frank regarding how we ought to interact with those that profess faith versus those that don’t.

If someone does not claim to be a Christian, we have no charge to abstain from interacting with them; we ought to engage them and point them to Him with our words and actions. I’m intentionally meeting with people weekly that aren’t saved, sometimes discussing the Lord, but often just the day to day events we’re both taking part in. They allow me to pray before we eat and about various struggles they’re facing, and I get to tell them about the things God is doing in my life, all the while making His character and attributes known to them. I discuss sin with them, but not usually the sin that they most closely cherish, in order to keep the conversation open.

Parents who have grown children who don’t claim the title of Christian ought to be intentional towards them and not refrain from spending time with or talking to them. Instead, they should desire all the more to be examples of unwavering love and patience. Rosaria Butterfield makes a great point when she says that those in the LGBT are great at love, support, and hospitality. We, as believers, should be better. We have the source of true love within us.

>j: What resources would you recommend to parents of LGBT children to help them understand their struggles and know how to respond to them biblically?

Emily: Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition both have really great articles regarding same sex attraction and homosexuality. Rosaria Butterfield’s articles and videos through those ministries are some of my favorites and some that have benefited me the most. Matt Moore is also an excellent resource for insight into what it feels like to be same sex attracted and to count the cost. His ability to articulate and be completely transparent in his struggle is something that could benefit every believer who does not themselves experience same sex attraction. For those looking to understand exactly how scripture addresses homosexuality, Kevin DeYoung has a great book called What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?

Tweetable Thoughts from the Interview:

  • Expect your children to sin and be ready to point them to Christ.Tweet This!
  • The loving thing to do for a professing Christian in sin is to show them their sin and call them to repent.Tweet This!
  • Being direct about sin doesn’t require being harsh or unkind, but it does require clarity.Tweet This!
  • Parents of adult unbelievers, love your children by being patient and spending time with them.Tweet This!
  • Believers should be the best at love, support and hospitality because we have the source of true love within us.Tweet This!

Originally posted as Emily Thomes’ Conversion Fallout and Advice for Parents of LGBT Kids by > jonah

A Conversation with Emily Thomes

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Today, I’m publishing an interview with Emily Thomes (@Emilysatt19), a young Christian lady who once identified as a homosexual.  I initially met Emily at a recent G3 Conference, and since then she has been actively speaking out about her former sin struggles and her new life as a Christian.  Since her conversion and over the past year, Emily has become Mrs. Benjamin Thomes.


Hi Emily.  Thank you for joining me for this conversation.  We first met at the 2016 G3 Conference. Since then, you’ve had a busy year. You’ve recently married your husband Benjamin Thomes and you’ve written some articles (see: “Girl in the Picture“) that have become rather controversial. In this interview, I’d like to talk through your conversion to Christianity and your views regarding marriage, headship, and the sin of homosexuality.

In recent days, you have spoken out about your life before you were converted by Christ. Can you briefly walk us through what that looked like?

Sure thing. I grew up in a relatively moral home and family. I attended church occasionally and even church camp some during the summertime. I made a profession of faith and was baptized pretty early in life. While believing I was saved, fully trusting in that sinner’s prayer and the water, I grew into being a really rebellious individual. Before graduating high school, I was smoking weed regularly, drinking, and sleeping with girls. In my young adult life before coming to know the Lord, I’d slowed down slightly. I was working full time so I wasn’t able to really party as often but was still smoking marijuana daily and was still dating and sleeping with various women. That was my life up until the day I was born again.

As you well know, our nation has recently faced a decision to legalize same-sex marriage. What do you think about this decision?

It breaks my heart. I know how easy it is for our own flesh and heart to deceive us and provide us comfort and assurance in sin. It makes it all the more easy when the world around us not only affirms but encourages our sin, too. When I first realized I was attracted to girls as a child, I kept it to myself for years because it wasn’t accepted like it is today. I can’t imagine growing up with same-sex marriage being legal and celebrated. I’ve got a few friends that are now legally married to their partners, and it’s even harder to try and point them to truth. With it legalized, the message I’m attempting to share daily is even more ridiculous.

It’s becoming increasingly popular to hear people toss around the category of “gay Christian.” Is it possible to be a gay Christian?

I hear that expression far too often. It’s really important to be clear with our terms when discussing things like this, and it’s why I try and use phrases like “practicing homosexuality” and “same sex attracted” in order to maintain clarity because “gay” means different things to different crowds. It is absolutely possible for one to be battling same sex attraction as a believer. I’m in that camp currently. Even as believers, our flesh will always pull us towards various types of sins. Now, can one practice homosexuality unrepentantly, meaning without contrition, conviction, and without a daily desire and attempt to abstain, and be a Christian? No. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 makes that very clear, regarding homosexuality specifically. In a general sense, we see throughout the epistles and the gospels that those who are saved don’t continue in unrepentant sin and that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Though our flesh desires sin, believers will deny themselves and follow Jesus instead. We won’t make any provision for the flesh and we will flee sexual immorality rather than leap into it. This isn’t to say that believers won’t ever fall into sin. Undoubtedly they will; it’s why we so eagerly await the glorification and removal of these bodies of death we currently carry around. When believers stray, the Lord convicts and disciplines those whom He loves and they will repent and be restored or else they were not of us.

As a former homosexual, what advice would you provide to the church today (in general) regarding methods and strategies of reaching people with the gospel?

We’re called to love God and love our neighbors. In order to do both of those, we must be reaching out to those that are lost in order to bring them into the fold. We’re all sovereignly placed in our communities and workplaces and families in order that we be ambassadors for Christ in those roles. Charles Spurgeon said that every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter; that’s because those who are regenerate have a burden to see the lost saved. In our congregations, we ought to be being equipped and exhorted to be faithful witnesses when we’re outside of the assembly. It’s crucial that we be uncompromising but also gracious and humble in our evangelism. We’re to be Jesus to those who are still in darkness and that cannot exclude truth or love.

Would you encourage churches to develop homosexual support groups that reach out to those who struggle with the sin of homosexuality and seek to provide support for former homosexuals within the church?

Hmm. That’s a good question. My initial instinct is to say “No” though I’d be open to persuasion. It’s not been of much benefit for me to discuss, regularly anyway, my battle with same sex attraction with those who battle it also. It’s actually been most helpful for me to discuss the differing struggles that myself and others face in order to see that though the specific sin struggle varies, the human condition does not. It’s also helped others to better understand homosexuality and see it through the lens of scripture and as another sin that one can fall into rather than something completely foreign. Too much of an emphasis on same sex attraction, in my experience, can nearly glorify the sin and make the struggler feel like more of an alien than what comes with it anyway. It’s also an easy way to continue holding on to the identity that’s rooted in sin rather than in Christ for those that are prone to that type of thing.

What advice would you provide for people who are dealing with sexual identity problems and are thinking about pursuing a homosexual lifestyle?

I would say that if someone is seriously considering entering into an unrepentant state, they need to be questioning if they do in fact belong to the Lord or if they’re actually already unrepentant. It’s very normal, because of the fall, for believers to think on sin and to wrestle with the thoughts that can entice us, but deliberately choosing to walk in and remain in rebellion to God is a very serious matter and is not the fruit of a regenerate person. Experiencing an inclination towards sin proves you’re human; it doesn’t give one a license to sin and the believer won’t take it as one.

Other than the Bible, what resource (book, article, or sermon) has helped you think biblically about the homosexual agenda in our nation?

Rosaria Butterfield has probably been my greatest influence regarding understanding sexuality and identity thus far. Her books, articles, and videos have been very helpful to me personally. I’ve actually recently been hearing and reading Kevin DeYoung regarding homosexuality and our culture, and he articulates it wonderfully. Listening to Al Mohler on The Briefing daily has also been instrumental in helping me to understanding the sexual revolution and how our world is moving forward into it in both blatant and more subtle ways.

How prevalent is pornography in the homosexual community and what would be your advice for people who find themselves trapped by the pornography industry?

I can only answer this one from my own experience in my life and that of those whom I’ve spoken with in the LGBT. From what I can discern, porn is unfortunately rampant across all groups of people presently. I used to watch it and knew many others that did also. I also know that it, like heterosexual porn, is available in ridiculous quantities. For those struggling with porn, like those battling any sin, it’s important not to elevate or diminish it. Yes, it is a deplorable sin that God will not overlook. He’s either dealt with it at the cross or will do so in eternity. But no, it is not a sin or a sin struggle that the Lord cannot enable the believer to overcome and even use it for His glory and the good of the user. Accountability with this sin is a huge benefit to the one wrestling it whether that be believing friends, Covenant Eyes, a browser that filters through explicit content, or all of the above. As with all sin, the fight is real and though we will fall, He will sustain and keep His people to the end.

Often times you hear people who are former alcoholics consistently referring to themselves as former alcoholics as their mark or identity. Is it helpful to consider yourself a former homosexual as your true identity in life?

I can see no reason that one would label themselves by any sin struggle, past or present. If I’m speaking to someone about sin and specific struggles, I’ll be open about my battle with same sex attraction, but I’m not going to use it as a modifier for my place in Christ. Biblically, in Corinthians specifically, we see that Paul while carried along by the Holy Spirit said “As were some of you” regarding those who were practicing homosexuality. He also tells us that we’re new creations in Christ, that the old has passed away, etc. Part of growth and sanctification is that we’re no longer fixating on our sin but on the finished work of Christ. We will see our shortcomings daily and everyday, we’ll look to Jesus instead of ourselves. We’ll fight and mourn our flesh but cling tightly to the promises of God and put off the old self in exchange for the new one.

If you could speak to all evangelical preachers, what advice would you give to them regarding their preaching ministry and the need to reach out to people struggling with sexual identity and the sin of homosexuality?

It sounds simple but I’d encourage pastors to holdfast to a biblical worldview when dealing with the sin of homosexuality from the pulpit and personally with those who are battling it. Faithful pastors will discuss homosexuality in the same way that they discuss sexual immorality among heterosexual couples. They won’t cower back from it, but they won’t elevate it to being so heinous and unknown that those who are in it are beyond the hand of God should He draw them. In the same way that pastors and those they’re shepherding should reach out to the lost battling alcoholism or pride, we must attempt to reconcile those practicing homosexuality to Christ knowing He gives the growth if He chooses to. Remembering that if not for the grace of God we would all be practicing every single kind of wickedness ought to drive us to push past our discomfort and into loving our neighbors with truth. As bothered as we are by the sins we don’t understand, the sins that we coddle are far more grotesque to God, yet He loves us still.

If you could talk to law makers and politicians, what advice would you give to them as they continue to embrace and further the homosexual agenda in our nation?

I would proclaim the gospel to them firstly and explain that like all those who have yet to be born again, they stand in rebellion to a holy God who will not overlook their sin. I’d plead with them to reason within themselves concerning creation, the clearly intended design, given our anatomy if nothing else, and the unignorable Creator who will hold all of humanity accountable for every word and deed.

Apart from the Lord opening their eyes to see His glory though, they’re unlikely to view the “homosexual agenda” as a bad thing. Without a biblical worldview, this is another civil rights matter and we would truly be on the wrong side of history. I remember believing that in standing up for the LGBT I was standing for the underdogs, and I saw that as noble. Apart from the God of the Bible and a right understanding of sin and sexuality, telling people that their desires are wrong and that they must stop doing them, especially because they don’t cause physical harm to another person, would make us actually bigoted. Remembering the ideals I held for so long allow me to pity those who are under this strong delusion rather than to be angry with them. Their hearts are darkened. They truly do believe that sexual orientation is as much of one’s personhood as race or gender and unless He grants them sight for spiritual matters, they’ll continue in that understanding. I pray for those who are blinded by all sin but this sin in particular because so many believers view them, and not the spirit that leads them, as the enemies. May we look at those propagating the homosexual agenda as broken, fallen people who are in need of a Savior and are attempting to find peace and happiness apart from Him like we all once were.

Is submission to Christ and submission to your husband (the idea of complementarianism) belittling or oppressive to women?

Submission to one’s husband is God’s design for wives as it’s His design for husbands to love their wives like Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. Scripture makes it very clear that wives are coheirs with their husband of His grace and that both bear His image and are therefore equal in value and in worth. Contrary to my previously held ideals and those held by so many today, gender has significance. Gender is assigned by God and the roles prescribed to each are as well. As the Creator, God knows how His creations best function and has lovingly provided a system for us in which we can best operate (and be sanctified if you’re like me and meekness doesn’t come at all natural to you) and model His gospel to the world. Like Jesus to His Father, wives are to humbly submit in all things to their husbands. Like Christ to His bride, the church, husbands are to sacrificially love, pursue, and nourish their wives. Before becoming a believer, complementarianism was preposterous. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t because I lacked worth but was instead because I had worth that God intended me as a helpmate to a husband who was to love and provide for me. I feel not belittled but made much of understanding that I’ve been given protection, security, and unconditional love from both the Lord who saved me and the husband He ordained for me.

Will you pass this on to your friends?

Girl in the Picture

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Recently I came across the photo on the left and did a double take. The girl in that photo, with her hollow eyes and hopeless heart, no longer bears any resemblance to me. She was dead in her sin (Eph. 2:1). (To be clear, I am not saying everyone who looks like the girl on the left is dead in sin, or that everyone who looks like the girl on the right is not. Spiritual reality runs far deeper.)

I was always the type to push boundaries. Even as a child, I never really had a moderate pace. I tried everything once but most things at least twice for my own curiosity. Growing up in a small town, there wasn’t much to do, and I acted out often. In high school, I met my need for attention by constantly “going against the grain,” but in a way that maintained my popularity. I partied, slept around, and by 15 I came out as a lesbian to some friends.

By the time I was a young adult, I fully embraced the LGBT label. I cut my hair short, wore boy clothes, and used men’s bathrooms and dressing rooms. I enjoyed the thrill of doing and being what was outside the norm—trying harder drugs, exploring even more taboo sexual acts, and getting a couple of regrettable tattoos.

By 22, I had settled down a little. Shock value, though still something I enjoyed, was a lower priority. While still smoking weed and having sex with women, I maintained an outward appearance of morality. I considered myself a good person; I worked full-time, loved my friends, and usually balanced my budget. Family relationships were improving, and I was finally attempting to lead a relatively respectable life.

SURPRISED BY ATTRIBUTES

In March 2014, a group of coworkers started a Bible study and invited me to join. Because my aunt was part of the group, I agreed to participate. I actually considered myself a Christian at that point, though I had no desire to read God’s Word, let alone conform my life to his will. I told myself that at the first mention of my “lifestyle” I’d quit the study, and I felt pretty confident that moment would come.

The book we studied was on the attributes of God. For the first time I was confronted by the justice, holiness, and sovereignty of God. The more I read and understood, the bigger God became and the smaller I felt. I knew what the Bible said about homosexuality and other things, but I hadn’t cared before. I had little understanding of the God I was sinning against.

This study was slowly shifting my perspective. I would catch myself, just before falling asleep, questioning who I was and why I made these choices. I asked myself, Am I sure that gay behavior is as much of my identity as my gender or my race? But I’d wake up and laugh and say, Of course you can embrace your homosexuality—that’s who you are! It felt like I was almost convincing myself it was okay to continue on that way.

Two weeks later, a friend (also a lesbian) waited for me at my apartment after work to smoke marijuana and hang out as usual. After we smoked, I asked her, “What if they’re right?” She knew I was doing the study and understood immediately what I meant and said, “I don’t want to talk about it.” I pushed further. “We have to. If this is true, we need to talk now and not later.” She left soon after, so I picked up my book and read.

That evening, I read a chapter describing a “salad bar religion,” where you pick and choose parts of different religions, combine them into one, and call that your belief system. The book made clear that such an approach isn’t following Jesus at all; that’s following yourself and calling it some other name. I realized I was doing just that. I believed the parts of the Bible that suited me but rejected the parts that didn’t. His Word wasn’t my guide or a light to my path; I merely claimed Christianity because I had grown up in the South and prayed occasionally.

‘SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU’

This realization was like being struck by lightning. I searched for verses on homosexuality and found 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. I’d read these and other verses like them before. I’d argued against them to those who opposed me, but suddenly I could no longer argue. It was clear. I was in the “will not enter the kingdom of God” lineup. I was lost, wretched, and blatantly opposed to him. But the next verse said, “And such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11). Clearly, the Lord could save me. He’d extended his hand to me, the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). I grasped his hand by faith, and I felt overwhelmingly awful and grateful. Although I’d ignored him and lived foolishly, he showed me mercy when I deserved nothing but justice.

My whole life changed that day. Homosexual practice and drug use were my most obvious sins, but there are many others he revealed and—continues to reveal—to me. I still battle same-sex attraction, pride, anger, and a slew of sins, but I trust he’ll complete the work he’s begun (Phil. 1:6). He’s also allowed me to be a wife, and one day, Lord willing, a mother. Two months ago—on the two-year anniversary of my conversion—I married the most Christlike man I’ve ever known.

The Lord has been so gracious to me. I’m grateful that he opened my eyes and saved me from the temporal and eternal consequences of my sins. He takes the worst of the worst and redeems them for his glory.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Originally posted as “Girl in the Picture” by The Gospel Coalition