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Ex–Lesbian Discusses Her Transformed Life in Christ

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Emily Thomes is a wife and speaker. Prior to meeting Benjamin “Ben” Thomes, Emily would mock Christians, dabble with drugs and lived a life of promiscuity. She was also a staunch lesbian and would use male washrooms. In 2014, Thomes started to attend her aunt’s Bible studies. Emily was never pressured to change her lifestyle but was personally convicted after learning about the different attributes of God and reading Scripture. Thomes decided she need to change her life and left the lesbian lifestyle and drugs. A couple of years after getting saved, Emily met the love of her life, Ben. In this interview, Thomes goes in-depth to discuss single – hood, marriage and tragedy. In the midst of it all, Thomes sought to keep Christ in the center.

Habiba Abudu (HA) : The life you live now is a stark contrast to your life a couple of years ago. Can you discuss the change that occurred in your life?

Emily Thomes (ET) : In short, God saved me. I was granted to see myself as a wretched sinner in need of a new heart and a new life and He gave me that. My life had been marked by various sin : practicing homosexuality, smoking marijuana, and drunkenness to name a few. Today, it’s marked by imperfect but sincere obedience, by His grace.

HA : Did you ever deal with loneliness when your were single ?

ET : I did. He used that season to glorify Himself all the more. He showed Himself sufficient for me when I didn’t have a significant other.

HA : In your season of singleness, how did you prepare to be a wife ?

ET : I spent time with married women, usually wives who were also moms, and learned from them.

HA : You met Ben via Facebook ? How did you navigate a long distance relationship ?

ET : I did! His mom introduced us actually. We weren’t long distance for long. The first few months, we started each day with a phone call where he’d read the devotional book Morning and Evening, by Charles Spurgeon with me. We’d also text and FaceTime each other throughout the day. We both desired marriage in one another, so he moved to North East Texas pretty quickly.

HA : Was it awkward sharing your past with Ben ?

ET : Thanks to Facebook, I actually didn’t have to tell him much about  it. Once we became friends on Facebook, Ben came across my testimony video. We discussed it, and to my surprise Ben never once made me feel like the greater sinner, though our pre-conversion lives were nearly opposite. Ben understood his own depravity and need for grace. That caused Ben to see us as equal recipients of His grace. It made conversation with Ben easy and safe for me.

HA : What has your first year of marriage taught you ?

ET : Marriage has taught me that although I’ve been made new, I’m still often plagued with fallen flesh and a desire to have my own way and not the Lord’s. This is also true for Ben. As wise as I had believed I’d become and as perfect, dreamy and intelligent my husband is, we’re both still in need of grace daily. The Lord has humbled us both and we needed it. He’s given us a partner to walk the gospel out with and for that I’m forever grateful. I pray that in the coming years we grow in our love, patience, wisdom and trust God to continue the good work that He started in us.

HA : Last year, you shared the tragic news of suffering a miscarriage. How did Ben and yourself handle this difficult period of your life ?

ET : Ben was incredible. He was devastated, when I first contacted him at work to tell him I was going to the hospital. He wept and expressed sorrow for our child and me. By the time he got to my side, he had put aside his own grieving and gave me the floor to hurt for the next few weeks while he patiently loved and served me. I saw two sides of Ben : a dad who was mourning the loss of a child and a husband willing to put his feelings on the ” back burner ” for some of my darkest moments. He provided a shoulder to lean on and comfort. I loved him even more because of the miscarriage. 

 

HA : Finally, what advice would you share with those aspiring to be married ?

ET : To those desiring marriage, knowing the spiritual condition of the person you’re considering is the highest priority. I don’t say this because I learned the hard way. It’s something I believe Ben and I did rightly. Before we allowed ourselves to develop incredibly strong feelings for one another, we discussed doctrine, theology and the fruit in our lives. We talked about literally every topic we could think of for weeks. Once I was convinced that Ben could lead me spiritually and Ben was convinced that I love the Lord and was seeking to honor Him, did we move beyond that. Romantic feelings alone cannot be what a relationship is based on.

Desiring God has an article called “When the Not-Yet Married Meet.” In it, the author says, “Intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity.” That’s the best advice that I could give to a couple considering marriage. Take the time to investigate the other person before your heart jumps in and distorts what you’re seeing. Once you know that person is someone that you desire to marry and that, most importantly, the marriage would honor God, go for it.

Marriage is a wonderful and godly commitment. Being married is challenging, sanctifying and beautiful because He created it for man. Paul encouraged marriage for those that desire it. Ben and I were married within six months of knowing each, (Ben was 20 and Emily was 24 when they got married). While neither of us are perfectly mature or holy, we wouldn’t be in ten more years either, especially as single people. Marriage has been the sharpest tool that he Lord’s given me for growth yet. 

Originally posted as Ex–Lesbian Discusses Her Transformed Life in Christ by Married and Young

Conversion Fallout and Advice for Parents of LGBT Kids

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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?

From Lesbianism to Follower of Christ: An Interview With Emily Thomes

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I read about 100 articles a month, and my favorite piece last month was Girl in The Picture, by Emily Thomes. Originally posted on The Gospel Coalition, Thomes shares her inspiring story of lesbianism to follower of Christ1. Today, Thomes stops by the site to share more of her story and give advice to Christians ministering to those who identify as LGBT. You can read the full interview below.

Emily, thank you for taking time to stop by the site. I’ll start broadly. Tell us a little about your life before God saved you. 

Before God saved me, I was an incredibly selfish person. I was pretty well liked by most people but had a tendency to overstep boundaries and act impulsively. I did what I perceived was best for me. This lead me to sleeping around, smoking marijuana, and doing other destructive behaviors. Even when it looked like I was helping and serving others, it was actually for my glory and pride. I had very little respect for others but knew how to act “upstanding” outwardly that few people saw the depths of my poor behavior. In short, my driving factors before conversion were pride and self-exaltation.

Take us through your conversion experience. Do you remember the moment you realized that you had become a Christian? 

I do.

I was in my apartment sitting on the floor with the book (God: As He Longs for You to See Him) from the Bible study I was participating in when I realized I was now a believer. I had been in a study only for a couple of weeks and was learning about the attributes of God. Slowly but surely my view of God and of myself began to change and the balance tipped to where God was bigger and mattered more than I did.4

I read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and saw that I was in the “will not enter the kingdom of Heaven” group but that He could save me and make me new. In those verses I understood my need for Him and His offer to me; it was really incredible.

I remember feeling terrified and at peace at the same time. I realized where I had been until that instant and that scared me. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t understood before what was so clear to me all of a sudden. But there was no denying it and no suppressing it any longer. I didn’t know what I was going to do or what my life was going to be like but I knew what I wasn’t going to do. I wasn’t going to defy Him any longer. His will was my new life.

That’s very encouraging to hear. Now let’s talk about outreach. When you see the church attempt to reach those who identify as LGBT, what are things that encourage you? What are some concerns? 

Seeing the church reaching out with truth and love to the lost has been the greatest encouragement. I’ve seen Christians be humble and open with their struggles against sin with others. I’ve seen them acknowledge their own need for grace with those who have not yet received it. Believers should discuss their own fleshly pull towards sin while making it clear that in Christ we deny ourselves and follow Him. 

There are two major concerns I see in how the church reaches out to those in the LGBT community. 

The first is when churches speak with no love at all. We cannot approach those outside the church like they’re believers who refuse to repent; they’re lost. We must approach them with the gospel — all of it. We explain that He is holy and that we are fallen and in need of forgiveness and a heart change. Both the law and grace must be presented for either to make any sense. 

The second concern I see is when Christians cast aside what His word says on homosexuality in attempts to “love” those who are lost. God’s word stands forever; what He deems as sin will always be sin. To ignore that truth is incredibly unloving. Those who do not repent will not inherit the kingdom of God. Pretending that one can remain in sin and belong to Him is deceptive and cruel.

 So what do you think are some of the biggest obstacles in our outreach strategies? 

A poor understanding of sin in general, homosexuality specifically, is by far the greatest obstacle I’ve seen in our attempts at outreach.

A mindset has developed (whether Christian or not) that homosexuality is linked to identity. Obviously, the LGBT community embraces that wholeheartedly, but most Christians don’t realize that they have also embraced that idea. Believers inadvertently reinforce an unbiblical understanding of homosexuality when they treat those who are same-sex attracted as a segregated class of sinners who are more depraved than ‘normal’ people. In doing so, well-meaning Christians are unwittingly buying into the notion that homosexuality is part of one’s identity, much like one’s race or gender. Basic Christian principle regarding things like sin, repentance, and obedience are cast entirely to the side when dealing with homosexuality to the detriment of both the lost and those in the faith. An inclination towards a certain sin doesn’t mean that one is destined to walk in that sin; it means that they, like all other people since Adam, are born bent towards sin and are in need of forgiveness and a new heart.10

Thankfully, our God offers us that in the cross. We can be born again and made new.

What are some practical resources you can recommend to help? 

The short answer is the Bible. We’ve got to be consistent and biblical in our dealings with all sin. 

On another note, some practical tools I’ve found helpful are ministries like Rosaria Butterfield and Matt Moore and Desiring God. Butterfield and Moore were both radically saved out of homosexuality and offer much insight into various circumstances and struggles. 

So the three links I’d recommend are: 

Finally, Emily, what’s your #1 biggest piece of advice for Christians who are trying to reach those who associate as LGBT?

To put it simply, do not elevate or diminish the sin of homosexuality, and be humble and transparent in your own battle against sin.’

Originally posted as From Lesbianism to Follower of Christ: An Interview With Emily Thomes by Gospel Relevance