We learned to claim our true reality
that, as humankind, we are part of God's heterosexual creation
and that God calls us to rediscover that identity in Him
through Jesus Christ, as our faith perceives Him.
If we have believed a lie about ourselves, where do we find the truth? Over three hundred years ago, a great Christian philosopher wrote, "Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but we know ourselves only by Jesus Christ.... Apart from Jesus Christ, we do not know what is our life, nor our death, nor God, nor ourselves. Thus without the Scripture, which has Jesus Christ alone for its object, we know nothing, and see only darkness and confusion in the nature of God, and in our own nature." [Blaise Pascal, Pensees, #547]
A Christian poet puts it this way:
"We wait for God
to tell us who we are" [From The Secret Trees, c Luci Shaw, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1976. Used by permission of the author.]
All this certainly proved true in our experience. When we looked to ourselves, we lost ourselves. We "accepted a lie about ourselves, an illusion that...trapped us in a false identity" (Step 5).
To find ourselves, we must look away from ourselves. We must confess that sin has distorted our ability to perceive our own nature. We are fallen, broken men and women who no longer understand the truth about ourselves.
Instead of trusting in our own darkness, we must look to the One who is the light of the world (John 8:12). We must look to our Creator in whose image we were made, but whose image sin has distorted. We must look to God in Christ as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. Here we can learn "our true reality" and "rediscover" our authentic "identity".
1. What has God revealed about Himself?
"If a ship should have two pilots of equal power, one would be ever crossing the other; when one would sail, the other would cast anchor; there would be confusion, and the ship must perish. The order and harmony of the world, or the constant and uniform government of all things, is a clear argument that there is but one Omnipotent, one God that rules all." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 104]
Note that while God clearly states that He is "one" and calls Himself "I", He also refers to Himself by the plural pronoun "us".
"It does not say, 'In the names [plural] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost'; nor..., 'In the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Ghost,' as if we had to deal with three separate Beings. Nor...does it say, 'In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,' as if 'the Father, Son and Holy Ghost' might be taken as...three designations of a single person. With stately emphasis it asserts the unity of the three by combining them all within the bounds of the single Name; and then throws...into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article: 'In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' (Authorized Version). These three, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, each stand in some clear sense over against the others in distinct personality: these three, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, all unite in some profound sense in the common participation in the one Name.... The Hebrew did not think of the name...as a mere external symbol; but...as the adequate expression of the innermost being of its bearer. In His name the Being of God finds expression.... We are witnessing...the authoritative announcement of the Trinity as the God of Christianity by its Founder..." [B. B. Warfield, Biblical Doctrines, p. 153-155]
2. What has God revealed about what He planned for us?
The Hebrew word translated "God" is plural as are the pronouns "us" and "our" referring to God. The singular pronouns "he" and "him" also refer to God. Many scholars see this mixture of singular and plural as an Old Testament foreshadowing of the truth that though God is one, there are within His unity three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
With man we have a similar change from singular to plural. Man (singular) is created male and female and is referred to as "him" and "them".
Thus, both God and man are not beings in isolation but beings-in-community. As there is unity (one God) with differentiation (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in the Godhead, so God intended unity (Adam and Eve were both human) with differentiation (God made man male and female) in humankind. "The differentiation of the sexes is so constitutive of humanity that...it appears as a primeval order (Genesis 1:27; 2:18ff.) and endures as a constant despite its depravation in the Fall (Genesis 3:16)..." [Helmut Thielicke, The Ethics of Sex, p. 3] "To be human is to exist in a masculine and feminine complementarity, and without this Man [generic] is incom- plete." [Urban T. Holmes, The Sexual Person, p. 3] "In a given man or woman there is...an incompleteness, that is only resolved in the union of man and woman to achieve Man." [ibid. p. 8] "The statement that God created them, man and woman, implies that the myth of the androgynies is an impossibility for Christian thought.... The desire for the overcoming of sex duality belongs to an (openly or hiddenly monistic) way of thinking." [Emil Brunner, Man In Revolt, p. 348-349]
One reason for this differentiation of the sexes is that the loving relation between the three persons of the Trinity is to be mirrored in the loving union of man and woman in marriage. What this passage "primarily means is that not mankind as male but male and female together make up the image of God." [Sakae Kubo, Theology and Ethics of Sex, p. 24] "By God's will, man was not created alone, but designated for the 'thou' of the other sex. The idea of man finds its full meaning not in the male alone but in man and woman." [Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary, p. 58]
This is further confirmed by the command to be fruitful and multiply. "As the image and like- ness of the Creator, man is creator too and is called to creative cooperation in the work of God." [Nicolas Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man, p. 53] "...The power of cooperation in creation, which is the image, is expressed in human sexuality." [Urban T. Holmes, The Sexual Person, p. 4] "Psychiatrist Erik Erikson identifies generativity, pouring our life back into future generations, as adults' most meaningful function. And that occurs most profoundly in procreation. There, in an ongoing way, we function 'in the image of God' by participating in His act of Creation. But this participation is restricted through Creation itself to the union of the two sexes." [Ed Hurst with Dave and Neta Jackson, Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 17]
Homosexuality seeks undifferentiated oneness (the sexual union of two males or two females) instead of seeking oneness in the union of two who are the same (human) and yet different (male and female). In doing this, it denies the creation intent. "A community of simply one sex does not reflect God's intention for us or His character in the world." [Donald Williams, The Bond That Breaks, p. 57]
As we thought on these things, some of us felt threatened. Did this mean we were rejected by God because we were unable to marry? We had forgotten two important truths.
First, we had forgotten that we are accepted by God, not on the basis of our performance (works), but on the ground of the blood and righteousness of Christ. There is no condemnation for anyone who truly trusts in Him (see Steps 2 and 4).
Second, we had forgotten that this step calls us to a process of rediscovering our heterosexual identity. Had our same-sex, parent-child needs been met when we were young, we would have no problem. Because they were not met, we got stuck in our emotional and sexual development somewhere in childhood. Just as it would be foolish to demand that a six-year-old child be ready for marriage and parenthood at once, so it is foolish not to realize that a period of growth is necessary before we are ready for such matters.
Our task is to recognize our true reality, work on healing the wounds and tearing down the walls that have kept us from getting our needs met in appropriate ways, build a healthy relationship with God and with others of the same sex so our needs can be met, and remain open to rediscov- ering our true identity in our experience when we are ready. "As an African proverb states: 'The best way to eat the elephant standing in your path is to cut it up into little pieces.'" [Steven J. Danish in Leadership, p. 100]
If we still feel frightened, perhaps we have not really accepted the fact that we are fallen creatures and that salvation has not yet perfected us. We must be patient. God is not finished with us yet!
3. What was God displeased with in creation?
God rejects any conception of man in isolation as "not good". "Solitude is...defined here very realistically as helplessness..." [Gerhard von Rad, Genesis, p. 80] Man needs a helper suitable for him. "Helper" is not a demeaning term. "Clarence Vos cites the other Old Testament refer- ences to" this word: "15 times it refers to God as the helper and 3 times to the help of man which is ineffectual. He concludes, 'Thus, if one excluded Gen. 2:18,20 it could be said that only God gives effectual help to man.'" [Susan T. Foh, Women and the Word of God, p. 60] "Now since God assigns the woman as a help to the man...he...pronounces that marriage will really prove to men the best support of life.... The vulgar proverb, indeed is, that she is a necessary evil; but the voice of God is rather to be heard, which declares that woman is given as a companion and an associate to the man, to assist him to live well." [John Calvin, A Commentary on Genesis I, p. 129]
4. What did God do to meet man's need?
"In Semitic thought, naming implied the ability to learn the inner secrets or essence of an object, just as man has such powers in science today. Man's power to so 'name' the animals was notably set in the context of his recognition of his own relational needs." [James M. Houston, I Believe in the Creator, p. 81]
"The man no doubt recognized the animals which were brought to him as helps, but they were not counterparts of equal rank. So God moved on, in the most mysterious way, to create the woman--from the man. As distinct from the animals, she was a complete counterpart, which the man at once recognized and greeted as such. So is elucidated the age-long urgency of the sexes for one another, which is only appeased when it becomes 'one flesh'...; for the woman was taken from the man, and they must in consequence come together again." This "gives the relationship between man and woman the dignity of being the greatest miracle and mystery of Creation." [Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology I, p. 149-150]
"Another way of expressing what God did is to say that He created a 'woman-sized void' in man, a void that none of the animals nor even another man could fill." [Dwight Hervey Small, Christian: Celebrate Your Sexuality, p. 243]
5. How did Adam feel about God's gift of woman?
"It was not Adam who thought up woman as his helpmate; she was exclusively the thought and plan of the Creator. He alone knew man's need and what would fully meet it." [Dwight Hervey Small, Christian: Celebrate Your Sexuality, p. 138] Adam, however, joyfully accepted God's provision for him. These words, Adam's first recorded in Scripture, acknowledge "with complete freedom and the wisdom of his unfallen state...the woman to be the perfect...compan- ion to share his life and divide his labor." [ibid., p. 136]
6. What did God plan for humanity?
"The powerful sexual drive found in mankind is explained by the fact that God created man and woman so that, having come from one flesh, they are strongly moved to become one flesh again. Verse 24 answers the question of why a man will forsake his own parents and cling to his wife. Monogamy is rooted in the very order of the universe as created by God. Although Moses had to alter the divine plan and permit divorce because of sin (Deut. 24:1-4), Jesus argues against divorce in the New Age on the basis of this passage in Genesis (Matt. 19:3-9), and Paul sees in the union of man and wife the highest earthly expression of the ideal relationship between Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:31-32). Marriage belongs to God's pure creation from the begin- ning. There is nothing inherently wrong in the sexual attraction of man and woman." [Charles T. Fritsch, "The Book of Genesis," The Layman's Bible Commentary II, p. 30]
"Heterosexual intercourse is much more than a union of bodies; it is a blending of complemen- tary personalities through which, in the midst of prevailing alienation, the rich created oneness of human being is experienced again. And the complementarity of male and female sexual organs is only a symbol at the physical level or a much deeper spiritual complementarity. To become one flesh, however, and experience this sacred mystery,...certain preliminaries are necessary, which are constituent parts of marriage.... Thus Scripture defines marriage in terms of heterosexual monogamy. It is the union of one man with one woman, which must be publicly acknowledged (the leaving of parents), permanently sealed (he will 'cleave to his wife') and physically consummated ('one flesh'). And Scripture envisages no other kind of marriage or sexual intercourse, for God has provided no alternative." [John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today, p. 346]
7. Must I marry to please God? Aren't there times when it is better not to marry?
Jesus lists "three categories of men who, in fact, do not marry: (1) those who are unable to do so by reason of birth defect; (2) those who are rendered incapable of marriage at the hands of others; and (3) those who choose to remain single in order to more effectively serve the kingdom of heaven..." [Garry Friesen with J. Robin Maxson, Decision Making and the Will of God, p. 287]
I Corinthians 7:7-9
"Persecution was impending. There were signs of a coming storm. The man who kept himself free from the entanglement of earthly ties would save himself from a bitter conflict: he would not have to face the terrible alternative--the most terrible to sensitive minds--between duty to God and affection to wife and children. A man who is a hero in himself becomes a coward when he thinks of his widowed wife and his orphaned children." [J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul from Unpublished Commentaries, p. 231]
I Corinthians 7:26
We must always remember that we cannot please God of ourselves, but that we are perfectly pleasing to Him in Christ. Christ, having lived a spotless life in our place, died on the cross to pay for all our sins. All that Christ is--His righteousness, His completeness, even His perfect sexuality--has been imputed to everyone who believes. It is in Christ, and only in Him, that we are fully acceptable to God.
However, since we know God loves us, we want to experience what He says is right for us. To experience our heterosexual identity, all of us who are unmarried will need a period of celibacy. Homosexual activity and masturbation to homoerotic fantasy block our progress and must be dealt with. For us, celibacy is a necessary port on the voyage to freedom.
We must not, however, mistake the port for the destination. Some of us, seeing compulsive activity subdued, were tempted to slacken our struggle to build a good relationship with God and others and to work through old hurts, buried emotions, and character defects. We had come to a place where we were comfortable, and some of us were tempted to stay there.
If we are not to miss out on the blessing God has for us, we must press on to full recovery. To choose celibacy in place of healing is to settle for continued bondage and distortion. When our wounds have been healed and our heterosexuality restored, then, if called, we can joyfully and freely embrace a celibate life, not because of unresolved psychological problems, but in obed-ience to and out of love for Christ.
Let us press on in faith, not in fear. "The homosexually inclined, even if they are...willing to change, initially have serious doubts whether there are realistic chances of a profound improve- ment. There are periodically returning doubts, notwithstanding clearly observable progress... These doubts are just another variant of neurotic complaining: 'I shall never be normal; it is my fate; poor me!' Therefore, hope and faith are excellent barriers to these harmful thoughts that are a drain on the person's enthusiasm and energy.
"A realistic stand is also a good remedy for these paralyzing doubts: 'In any case, I see that I have to fight what I have recognized as childish, as wrong, and if I persist in doing so I trust that there will be progress...'
"We can establish over and over again that the one who makes the effort becomes happier. Let him not be obsessed with the question of whether or not he will reach 100 percent, but let him be content with every step forward and enjoy it. That is, after all, the mentality that appears to bring the client closest to his goal." [Gerard van den Aardweg, Homosexuality and Hope, p. 89]
8. What happened to spoil God's plan?
"...The Bible begins and ends with a paradise. The one at the beginning of time and the other at the end of time. They both show the world as it would be if man were what God created him to be. When men are like God in their natures, then a world of peace and harmony and unend- ing joy comes into being. But this world is not a paradise... What has happened to make a world of disorder and conflict and cruelty?... The answer of the Bible...is that man deliberately chose to be something other than God intended and that, as a consequence of his choice, he found himself in a world of selfish strife..., of confusion and misunderstanding, of suffering and disaster." [David Noel Freedman and James D. Smart, God Has Spoken, p. 29]
"Concerning this prohibition, we may note (1) It was a needful prohibition. Man must be kept in remembrance that....there is another will in the universe besides his own... (2) It was but one prohibition. There was but one point in which his will and God's could come into colli- sion. In great lovingkindness God had made it so. Man was not burdened, or fretted, or perplexed with many points of this kind. Only one!... (3) It was a simple prohibition. It had nothing intricate or dark about it. There was nothing...in which man could mistake, nothing which could leave room for the question, Am I obeying or not?... (4) It was a visible prohibi- tion. It was connected with something both visible and tangible. It was not inward, but outward.... (5) It was an easy prohibition. Man could not say it was hard to keep. He was only to refrain from eating one fruit. Being a negative, not a positive requirement, it reduced obedience to its lowest form and easiest terms. Hence man's sin was the greater. He was wholly inexcusable. (6) It was enforced by a most solemn penalty.... In the day that man ate of the tree...he became a death-doomed man.... This death....brought with it, or included in it, condemnation, wrath, misery, separation from God; all endless; all immediate; all irrever- sible, had not free love come in..." [Horatius Bonar, Thoughts on Genesis, p. 79-81]
"Those words were a lie, but the truly devilish lies are those...that twist the truth so that the resulting lie looks like the truth. Certainly it was true that by eating the forbidden fruit Adam attained a knowledge that he did not possess.... He had not known sin before; now he knew it.... He now knew good and evil; but, alas, he knew good only in memory..." [J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man, p. 195-196]
"If purified nature did not stand, how then shall corrupt nature? We need more strength to uphold us than our own.... Adam stood on his own legs, and therefore he fell; we stand in the strength of Christ." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 131-132]
Sin corrupted man's relationship with his Maker and his mate. It left him hiding from God and blaming another, and his children have walked in his footsteps ever since.
"The breaking of man's relation to God means that the image of God in man has also been broken. This does not mean that it no longer exists, but that it has been defaced.... It has not simply gone, but it has been perverted." [Emil Brunner, Man In Revolt, p. 136]
"Sartre tells us that man owes responsibility only to himself. The Bible has another message. The mature man, the man come of age, the man of power, is responsible to God...for everything he does.... His first job on earth is not to develop himself. His first job is to serve God and his fellows. When this finally and fully happens...the earth will be a paradise, an Eden made real again. The Bible has a name for this situation: the Kingdom of God." [J. Rinzema, The Sexual Revolution, p. 37]
"Adam was made in God's image, Seth in Adam's'; but Adam was no longer what he once was. It is the image of a fallen man, wrinkled and distorted with sin. 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh.'" [Horatius Bonar, Thoughts on Genesis, p. 274]
"In the preceding verses he had confessed his actual sins; and he here humbles himself still more before God by acknowledging his innate, hereditary depravity... To this inherent, hereditary corruption he refers in the subsequent parts of the Psalm as his chief burden from which he earn- estly desired to be delivered. 'Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.... Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.'" [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology II, p. 241-242]
"On September 1, 1943, Camus wrote in his journal, "He who despairs because of the news is a coward, but he who sees hope in the human condition is mad." [Herbert R. Lottman, Albert Camus: A Biography, p. 290]
"Take the happiest man, the one most envied by the world, and in nine cases out of ten his inmost consciousness is one of failure. Either his ideals in the line of his achievements are pitched far higher than the achievements themselves, or else he has secret ideals of which the world knows nothing, and in regard to which he inwardly knows himself to be found wanting." [William James in Eerdmans' Handbook to Christian Belief, p. 247]
"I have found little that is good about human beings. In my experience most of them, on the whole, are trash." [Sigmund Freud in Gerald F. Lieberman, 3,500 Good Quotes for Speakers, p. 175]
"We would often be ashamed of our finest actions if the world understood all the motives which produced them." [Duc de La Rochefoucauld in Laurence Peter, Peter's Quotations, p. 340]
To come short of the glory of God means "...to come short of reflecting the glory of God, that is, of conformity to his image.... We are destitute of that perfection which is the reflection of the divine perfection and therefore of the glory of God." [John Murray, "The Epistle to the Romans," The New International Commentary on the New Testament I, p. 113]
9. Has God changed His plan for humanity?
In Genesis 2, we see that "...God created human sexuality as a vehicle whereby men and women, created jointly in his image, could experience and express a union called 'marriage' in which all of life is shared. Note that this is the account to which Jesus appealed when he addressed these questions. From the perspective of God's intention in creation, marriage is the only context in which sexual union is to be experienced and expressed. Marriage is lifelong, faithful, heterosexual, the commitment of a husband and a wife to each other 'in heart, body and mind' that reflects something of the very nature of the triune God himself." [John Howe, Sex: Should We Change the Rules?, p. 17]
"One of the first things to do with the man (or woman) fearing there is no hope or healing for his deep gender confusion is to assure him that there is no such thing, strictly speaking, as a homosexual (or a lesbian). There is only a person (an awesome thing to be), created in the image of God, who is cut off from some valid part of himself. God delights in helping us find that lost part, in affirming and blessing it." [Leanne Payne, The Healing of the Homosexual, p. 1]
10. Does God approve of homosexuality?
"...The words 'as with a woman' clearly suggest that what is all right for a man to do with a woman is not all right for him to do with another man. If we read prostitution into the passage we make it say that homosexual prostitution is forbidden, but heterosexual prostitution is per- missible. If we read rape into the passage we make it say that homosexual rape is forbidden, but heterosexual rape is not. Of course, Scripture speaks decisively against both prostitution and rape. These verses say that what is permitted between the sexes in marriage is not permitted between members of the same sex." [John Howe, Sex: Should We Change the Rules?, p. 31]
"...All the capital offenses listed in Leviticus 20 have to do with sex outside marriage, including homosexual activity. The others include adultery, incest and bestiality." [ibid., p. 32]
"As to the...death penalty, it has already been served in Christ." [Ed Hurst with Dave and Neta Jackson, Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 23]
By "natural" and "against nature" "...Paul clearly means 'in accordance with the intention of the Creator' and 'contrary to the intention of the Creator'..." [C. E. B. Cranfield, "A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans," International Critical Commentary I, p. 125]
Consider the medical evidence. Dr. Bernard J. Klamecki, a graduate of the Marquette Univer-sity School of Medicine and a physician and surgeon specializing in proctology, writes, "The lining of the mouth cavity and rectum was not designed to be conducive to the traumatic, on- going push/pull motion of sodomy or fellatio. In contrast, the lining of the vagina is composed of cells that lubricate themselves and are resistant to the mechanical forces of intercourse. Persistent rubbing easily abrades, breaks down, or injures the tissues of the mouth and rectum." [The Crisis of Homosexuality, p. 119]
Consider the historical evidence. Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, who served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School's Department of Psychiatry, noted, "'No society, past or present, has ever tolerated the institutionalization of homosexuality, for to do so would be to sow the seeds for its own extinction because homosexuality undermines the basic unit of society--the family --and of course precludes procreation, which means the extinction of the human race.' Accord-ing to Nicholi, the claim that homosexuality is an irreversible condition is patently untrue and flies in the face of a massive body of clinical research." [John Jefferson Davis, Evangelical Ethics, p. 112]
Consider the psychological evidence. Dr. Irving Bieber and his research team of 77 analysts, each a member of the Society of Medical Psychoanalysts, provided information on two patient samples consisting of 106 male homosexuals and a comparison group of 100 male heterosexuals. After nine years of careful study they concluded, "In our view, every homosexual is, in reality, a 'latent' heterosexual..." [Homosexuality, p. 220] They found that "almost one-half of the homosexuals...reported erotic heterosexual dreams, in contrast to 25 per cent of the compar- isons with homosexual dream-content. Clearly...the homosexuals showed no exclusive interest in males in their dream-life. It is also noteworthy that there were twice as many homosexuals who had heterosexual dreams as heterosexuals who had homosexual dreams." [ibid., p. 222] "The foregoing data indicate that male homosexuals give evidence of a basic heterosexual poten- tial--most clearly discernible in the bisexual but also evident in exclusively homosexual patients..." [ibid., p. 228] Drs. Louis S. London and Frank S. Caprio state, "Psychoanalysis has proved that all homosexuals have shown heterosexual tendencies in early life." [Sexual Deviations, p. 40]
Thus, deeper than our homosexual feelings, which deceive us, is the bedrock of our God-given heterosexuality which will become "visible to us in God's good time" as we clear away the debris of childhood hurts and losses.
I Timothy 1:8-10
"The lawless were those who lived as though there were no law; the unruly were those who had thrown off every form of discipline; the ungodly were those who had lost all reverence for God; the sinners were those who had defied God as open rebels; the unholy were those for whom nothing was sacred; the profane were those who would barter spiritual birthrights for a mess of pottage." [Marcus L. Loane, Godliness and Contentment, p. 9]
If one engages in homosexual behavior, Scripture classifies him or her with the lawless, the unruly, sinners, and the profane, for such practices are, Paul teaches, contrary to the sound doctrine of the gospel.
As William Muehl states, "Both Old and New Testaments condemn homosexuality. Any effort to make a case to the contrary involves the kind of torturing of Scripture by which racists seek to defend segregation..." [Male and Female, p. 167]
It is important to remember that the passages we have considered are not expressions of contempt, but strong warnings from a concerned Father to His endangered children. Dr. Arno Karlen notes, "No one knows better than homosexuals that gay is a euphemism. There is a squalid side of the life--lavatory gropings, prostitution, rampant venereal disease, play-acting, promiscuity, mercurial and crisis-ridden romances, abuse of alcohol and drugs, guilt, suicide. Almost all homosexuals except gay militants have said to me that the causes are as much inherent in homosexuality as in the anti-homosexuality of the rest of society. The gay world has a bruising, predatory quality that gives many in it a far grimmer view than their heterosexual sympathizers hold." [The Sociology of Sex, p. 232-233]
Two gay men themselves describe the lifestyle thusly: "Numerous psychologists, sociologists, and men of letters have written at great length on the aloneness of man in today's impersonal mechanized world of gadgets, technology, and scientific management. The homosexual is perhaps even more alone because of...his homosexuality... He needs a life mate even more desperately, he feels, because of his increased need for communication with others like himself, so that he need not feel so lonely. As a result, he searches assiduously for the ideal type of person, who, he imagines, might help put an end to his problem and his search. He may not be a drinker, but he goes to gay bars, cruises the streets, and makes regular appearances at other places where homosexuals congregate, in hopes of meeting his ideal type. Each passing sexual encounter is hoped to be the 'one and only,' but numerous short-lived affairs are usually the result. Time goes by. Years pass. The attractiveness of youth fades. The muscles become flabby. Gray hair increases. Bald spots appear. The affairs continue. As the man gets older, he must work harder to coax others to take an interest in him. If this fails, there is the despair of old age, to be ended only by the inevitability of death." [Donald Webster Cory and John P. LeRoy, The Homosexual and His Society: A View From Within, p. 19]
Another homosexual writer says: "There is...the panic that one day you'll wake up to the fact that you're through...--that everyone has had you, that those who haven't have lost interest--that you've been replaced by the fresher faces...--younger than you now...and....someone will say about you: 'I had him when he was young and pretty.'" [John Rechy, City of Night, p. 159]
A newspaper editor in his mid-sixties says, "Regarding my sex life, I put zero effort into the chase. I am not interested in pursuing paths that inevitably lead to rejection. And ninety-nine out of a hundred times, the older man is rejected sexually--not only by the young, but by the old. We are the discards, wanted by few and feared by many." [in Alan Ebert, The Homosexu-als, p. 309]
"Homosexuals themselves, despite expressions of contentment with being homosexual, almost all say...that if they had children they wouldn't want them to be homosexual. Martin Weinberg says that most of the homosexuals he interviewed emphatically agreed with the line in the play The Boys in the Band, 'Show me a happy homosexual and I'll show you a gay corpse.'... It makes little sense to see homosexuality other than as a compulsion." [Arno Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality, p. 532]
God has spoken in love to spare us all that. Further, God has spoken to keep us from missing our true identity and the possibility of the blessings of marriage and children. We are not shut up to facing life alone or living in ways contrary to God's will. We may choose to heed God's call to rediscover our God-ordained heterosexuality through Jesus Christ by faith!
11. What has been done to restore God's image in humanity?
"The highest standard God has is Himself, and it is up to God to make a man as good as He is Himself; and it is up to me to let Him do it." [Oswald Chambers, The Shadow of an Agony, p. 23]
"Every homosexual has experienced some emotional deprivation that has driven him to seek sexual experiences with the same sex. He thinks that the word homosexual is a fundamental description of his personal identity, that it represents who he really is. But the moment a person becomes a Christian, he receives a new identity in Christ.... Rather than being in Adam as all unbelievers are, the Christian who struggles with homosexuality is now 'in Christ,' with all rights and privileges that accompany such a change. The key to overcoming any sin is for us to disbelieve what our emotions and thoughts tell us and to believe what God has said about us. Only such faith can take the victory of Christ and enforce it in our lives." [Erwin W. Lutzer, Coming to Grips with Homosexuality, p. 38-39]
I John 3:5
"He buys them off from Satan's bondage with the price of His own blood, in order that He may have a band of sons and daughters who will yield themselves willing instruments unto Him, for His work of righteousness in the world. He redeems them from their sin, that He may employ them in His...service." [William Arnot, Lesser Parables of Our Lord, p. 252]
12. How can God's image be restored in my life?
II Corinthians 5:21
"There is no sentence more profound in the whole of Scripture..." [Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, "Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians," The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 211]
Martin Luther wrote a friend, "I would be very glad to know...what is the state of your soul. Is it not tired of its own righteousness? does it not breathe freely at last, and does it not confide in the righteousness of Christ? In our days, pride seduces many, and especially those who labor with all their might to become righteous. Not understanding the righteousness of God that is given freely in Christ Jesus, they wish to stand before Him on their own merits. But that cannot be.... Oh, my dear brother, learn to know Christ, and him crucified. Learn to sing unto him a new song, to despair of yourself, and to say to him: Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, art my right- eousness, and I am thy sin. Thou hast taken what was mine, and hast given me what was thine. What thou wast not, thou didst become, in order that I might become what I was not!--Beware of pretending to such purity as no longer to confess yourself a sinner: for Christ dwells only with sinners.... If our labors and afflictions could give peace to the conscience, why should Christ have died? You will not find peace, save in him, by despairing of yourself and of your works, and in learning with what love he opens his arms to you, taking all your sins upon him- self, and giving thee all his righteousness." [J. H. Merle D'Aubigne, History of the Reforma- tion of the Sixteenth Century, p. 76]
II Corinthians 3:18
"In the old dispensation only one man, Moses, gazed with unveiled face on the divine glory. Now, in the gospel age...this is the blessed privilege of all who are Christ's.... To gaze by faith into the gospel is to behold Christ who...is...'the image of God' (4:4).... And to contemplate Him who is the Father's image is progressively to be transformed into that image." [Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, "Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians," The New International Commen- tary on the New Testament, p. 117-118]
"Immediate deliverance is only from the guilt of sin; there is progressive deliverance from the power of sin; but total deliverance will not come till the next world, when this body of ours is finally redeemed, for then its bias towards sin will vanish..., and so will its mortality and infirmity and tendency to disease." [Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love, p. 87-88]
I John 3:2
"...God's eternal purpose concerning man....finds expression in Gen. I.26, where God.... declares His intention of bringing into existence beings...as like Himself as it is possible for creatures to be like their Creator.... But Genesis 3 tells how man, not content with the true likeness to God which was his by creation, grasped at the counterfeit likeness held out as the tempter's bait: 'you shall be like God, knowing good and evil'. In consequence, things most unlike God manifested themselves in human life... The image of God in man was sadly defaced. Yet God's purpose was not frustrated... In the fullness of time the image of God, undefaced by disobedience..., reappeared on earth in the person of His Son.... With His cruci- fixion it seemed that hatred, darkness and death had won the day... But instead, the cross of Jesus proved to be God's chosen instrument for the fulfillment of His purpose.... The last Adam by His obedience has restored what the first Adam by his disobedience forfeited and has ensured the triumph of God's purpose.... The children of God, who enter His family through faith in His Son, display their Father's likeness, because of their conformity to Him who is the perfect image of the invisible God. They display it in measure here and now; they will display it fully on a coming day, for 'we know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is'." [F. F. Bruce, The Epistles of John, p. 85-87]
"In justification through faith into Christ the sinner is accepted in Christ...who Himself is the pure and perfect Image of God, and that divine image is freely imputed to the believer. In sanctification, through the operation of the Holy Spirit who enables the believer constantly to behold the glory of the Lord, that image is increasingly imparted to the Christian. In glori- fication, justification and sanctification become complete in one, for that image is then finally impressed upon the redeemed in unobscured fullness, to the glory of God throughout eternity." [Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, "Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians," The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 120]
These truths hit some of us like a bombshell! We had believed there was no hope and had fallen into a 'victim' mentality, complaining bitterly, "This is what my genes, my hormones, my parents, society, or God has made me." We felt we were homosexual and nothing could be done about it.
Now we saw in God's own Word that we were mistaken. God did not make anyone homosex-ual. "An enemy hath done this" (Matthew 13:28). Satan has tried to spoil God's good plans for us. We are part of God's heterosexual creation but sin has given us a homosexual struggle. Still, deeper than our homosexuality, is the heterosexuality God gave us in creation.
Further, God has intervened in Jesus Christ to "destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8) and "to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18). Christ has come to restore to us the image of God which sin defaced. He has broken sin's power to condemn and to rule. The question is, will we fall back into our old, easy, destructive ways of thinking and living, or will we take the difficult but rewarding path of responding to God in faith.
Our position is like that of the children of Israel when poised on the brink of the promised land. They could possess it by faith or lose it through unbelief. The God who promised them the land has promised us freedom, if we will take by faith (II Timothy 2:24-26). Unbelief murmurs, "We be not able..." (Numbers 13:31), but faith cries, "We are well able.... The Lord is with us: fear...not" (Numbers 13:30; 14:9). Which voice will you heed? "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29).
13. What must I do to enjoy these blessings?
Christ can only be perceived by faith. Our recovery is determined by the way in which our faith perceives Him. Unbelievers, the Bible says, are blind, deaf, and dead in trespasses and sins. As we trust in Christ, the scales fall from our eyes, our ears are opened so that we hear His voice, and we are raised from death to life. We make contact with Him. Now we must go forward, no longer trusting in our feelings or thoughts, but living under the guidance of God's Word. A weak faith produces a weak recovery; a distorted faith, a distorted recovery. Test your faith by the plumb line of Scripture. Our Savior says, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29).
It is for us as it was with Israel. We must take what God has promised. During the process we too will be tempted to doubt and despair. Only the Word of God, received in faith, will give us the strength and courage to keep at it until all God has promised is ours.
"Mercy more overflows in God, than sin in us.... Mercy swims to us through Christ's blood." [Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, p. 73]
The choice for most of us is simply whether we will believe what we feel or what God says! We know our feelings have misled us many times in the past. We know God cannot lie! The choice seems simple.
When temptation is strong, however, we may find the choice difficult because our feelings seem powerful and our faith pitiful! It is then that God calls us to "fight the good fight of faith" (I Timothy 6:12)--to close our hearts to every voice but His and to go forward at His word (Luke 5:5). To do so often involves painful struggle, but it is struggle which issues in present comfort and certain triumph! "Faith brings the fullness of the future into the poverty of the present." [Erich Sauer, The Triumph of the Crucified, p. 96] "Faith...is...an act that bids eternal truth be present fact." [Vance Havner, Day By Day, p. 147]
"Don Quixote, Cervantes' sad figure of a knight, met a young prostitute in a village cafe. The people in the village treated this young woman as a common whore... But Quixote treated her like a lady, and told her she was in fact a noble lady. She became Don Quixote's Dulcinea. What he did was to appeal to the noble woman who really lay hidden in the prostitute's inner self. She saw in his loving and respect-filled eyes an image of her real self...and so she began to act nobly; the prostitute became a lady, the whore became a Dulcinea." [J. Rinzema, The Sexual Revolution, p. 72-73]
God has told us the truth about ourselves. Will we believe Him and discover our true nature, or will we doubt, and miss reality?
MY EXPERIENCE WORKING STEP 6
Step 6 has been, for me, the most difficult of all. It was easier for me to renounce the lie than it was to embrace the truth. It is still easier to say, "I am not homosexual," than it is to say, "I am heterosexual." It may be because of the embarrassment and secrecy which surrounded sexual matters in my childhood or my inability to relate well sexually when I was married. Whatever the cause or causes, this step, for me, is tough.
However, when the Bible asks, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14), it expects a resounding "No!" Further, Jesus Christ has assured us that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). It may be difficult, it may take time, but when God says, "This is the way, walk ye in it..." (Isaiah 30:21), there is no excuse not to press on. So what am I doing?
I am acknowledging to my heavenly Father my powerlessness to produce heterosexual responses. I am not trying to force such responses, but I am trusting God to produce them at the proper time, as I follow Him. After working the program about four years, I had my first spontaneous heterosexual response. I emphasize the word spontaneous because I believe it is a mistake to try to manufacture such feelings and urge you to just work your program and look in faith to God. My heterosexual feelings have continued. They come and go, and I still have minor homosexual feelings on occasion, but God is at work and I am waiting patiently for Him.
I am trying to keep God's love for and acceptance of me in Christ continually before my mind. I do not have to rediscover my heterosexual identity to be saved or gain God's approval. He has imputed to me the righteousness (including the perfect heterosexuality) of Christ and that is what He sees as He looks on me. He does not put me under any pressure, but gently, lovingly, patiently encourages each faltering step I take toward what He knows is my real identity and true happiness.
I have committed myself to God and am looking in faith to His Word to show me what I was meant to be. There I find that distorted heterosexuality is just as much a deviation from God's norm as is homosexuality. The true heterosexuality I see in Christ saves me from the folly of trying to measure up to the false notions of a fallen culture. God's Word is a plumb line which enables me to know when what I feel or lack in feeling is a lie. It is a compass that guides me through my times of emotional storm. It is an anchor which keeps me from running onto the rocks when temptation assaults.
I endeavor to regularly praise God for the heterosexuality He has imputed to me in Christ, is slowly working in me by His Word and Spirit, and will make perfectly mine one day in glory.
I am working to renounce my perfectionistic tendencies to see things in an all or nothing perspective. I am learning to be grateful for progress and not to despair when old feelings remind me that I have not yet arrived.
I do praise God for the progress I see. I rejoice in the more manly responses to life situations (such as new assertiveness) that are growing in me, and I encourage myself in the faith that they are the first fruits of a greater harvest yet to come.
I faithfully attend HA every week to encourage my faith, stimulate my working the steps, and help meet my emotional needs for love and caring. I also work on building friendships with those (especially Christians) who have never experienced a homosexual struggle, not only to help meet my emotional needs, but to give me further insight into what heterosexuality is, so that I may have a clearer idea of what I am seeking to experience, how much progress I am making, and how far I still have to go.
From all this, it should be obvious that I make no claim to spiritual perfection. I can, however, tell you I have seen real progress! I am not where I want to be, but I have come a long way from where I was. Do not let the fact that I am still in process discourage you. We must be honest with each other, not only in sharing our victories, but also in sharing the difficulties along the way. For myself, I have determined to continue on in company with my fellow-strugglers till we all come to "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). How about you?
HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 6
1) Write your thoughts on what heterosexuality means in your journal. Remember that heterosexuality does not necessarily involve getting married or having children (Christ did neither and people involved in homosexuality have done both). Rather, heterosexuality involves a personal acceptance of yourself and your gender and the ability to accept and relate to persons of the other sex in healthy ways. If you have believing, heterosexual friends who are aware of your struggle, ask for their thoughts on the subject in general and what you have written in particular. Try to correct your ideas and those of others by Scripture. Share what you have found with your step coach and ask for feedback. Con- tinue refining your thoughts and refer to what you have written from time to time to see where you are, where you are heading, and what progress you are making.
2) Listen to the tape Will the Real Me Please Stand Up? under "STEPS 5 AND 6" in the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read the brochure The Bible and Homosexuality under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY" on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read in Experience, Strength and Hope up to Step 7. Continue reading the book your step coach recommended to help you with Steps 1-7 while continuing to work in your workbook. Journal what you learn from all this and share your findings with your step coach.
3) Meditate on one description of your standing in Christ in the brochure Who Am I In Christ? each day and praise God for it and as much of what it involves as you understand.
4) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessing on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.
Blind unbelief if sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
- William Cowper
Manliest Thing You've Done? | Gentleman on the Street
Manliest Thing You've Done? | Gentleman on the Street
The idea of carrying a cross and denying myself has been on my mind a lot lately, and I just read a book this week that had an excellent chapter about it.
Nowadays there is such a move on for an easy religion where we decide what parts of the Bible apply to us and what parts don't. There are too many Christians who are reasoning around Scripture, instead of taking it as God's inspired Word.
I have been of the thinking for a long time, that if we truly love God, want to do His will, and live a life that pleases Him, we aren't going to try to weasel around as much Scripture as we can. We won't live as close to the edge as we can.
There is such a move on in this day to throw out what the Bible says about homosexuality being a sin. They use all kinds of excuses:
"Its not fair for God to let me be born this way and not give in"
"As long as its a loving relationship, God doesn't condemn that" Oh really? Where does it say THAT?
And other excuses.
Being a Christian isn't supposed to be easy. That whole carrying your cross thing.... that doesn't mean warm fuzzies. It means dying out to everything - even ourselves and our sexuality - and serving God no matter what.
It took me a while to decide I needed to get serious about serving God, and casting aside the life I have been living. I knew what it meant to do that:
No sexual fulfillment at all
It doesn't sound fun. Picking up my cross means battling what comes so naturally to me, being gay, lusting after guys, fulfilling that lust. Will it be hard to stop? A thousand times yes. Am I alone? No, and there could be worse crosses than to carry a gay cross.
Look at Nick Vujicic. He was born with no arms or legs. Does he have a heavy cross to carry? For sure, and if I had to pick, I'd pick homosexuality. Its a hard thing to deal with, but I can't imagine dealing with what he does.
Joni Earekson Tada. Paralyzed from the neck down since 1978. What a heavy cross. How difficult it must be to serve and trust God, a God who I am sure she has prayed to for healing many times and never got......... sound familiar? If you struggle with same-sex attractions, you have probably done the same. I have. I have begged God to make me "normal", begged him to fix me. He hasn't. And maybe there is a reason.
God has used, and is using these two individuals in ways they could never have been used if they didn't have the physical limitations that they have. If I had gotten a true relationship with God and determined to serve Him no matter what, picked up my very heavy cross and kept going, who knows how God could have used me...... and who knows how He still could use me if I get total victory over my desires and stay surrendered to God.
Those among us who deal with same-sex attractions and want to reason around what the Bible says, who want to "have their cake and eat it too" - have a sexual relationship with the same sex and be a Christian...... they aren't taking up their cross and denying themselves. They have decided they are going to make the Bible fit into their lifestyle, and have tossed the cross aside. How sad it will be for them when they face God.
I wish it weren't so. I wish I could be gay and Christian, as in give into my desires and serve God, but that isn’t possible. God wants it all, even my sexuality. It isn’t easy, but those who truly sell out for God rarely do have it easy. It could be worse. I could have no limbs, or be paralyzed, or be in prison for my faith, being beaten and tortured. Same-sex attractions/struggles? We have it easy compared to many, and who do we think we are claiming we are the exception to carrying our cross and denying ourselves? God wants us to pick up our cross, our gay cross, deny ourselves and our sexuality, and follow Him. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.