While some say – God created some men and women homosexual; acting out sexually doesn’t matter, you are saved by faith and not works; homosexuals were created to be lost; God accepts you where you are and no change is necessary – each an every one of these misguided false statements flies in the face of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have even tragically heard it said “the very best a homosexual can hope for is celibacy” when it comes to change. Too often, the individual trying to follow and be obedient to the full Gospel of Christ encounters someone who is there to tell him he doesn’t have to change his life, just change churches. It’s far easier to change churches than it is to be obedient and change your attitude and behavior.
Often, caught in the middle of the emotional conflict regarding “change” is the person who struggles with unwanted same-sex attraction. To him, (and I use the pronoun generically for both men and women) the issue of change is more than just an issue of emotional debate. It strikes at the very core of his being – either bringing hope or despair.
The Oxford American Dictionary defines change as to make or become different; to pass from one form or phase into another. Certainly, for any individual the greatest change is to become a Christian and know that your destination has been changed from hell to heaven; to become born-again.
The question, “can homosexuals really change?” is a fair and monumentally important question. Based upon the ministry experience of His Way Out Ministries, each person seeking to overcome same-sex attraction is different. The men and women that have exited homosexuality span a wide variety of ages, personalities, occupations, nationalities, and church denominations. Some of these men and women have been free from homosexual involvement for ten or twenty years. They are not just suppressing their homosexual or lesbian longings. There has been a true resolution of this issue in their lives.
Having been around the phenomenon of change for quite some time, I am convinced that much of the conflict regarding same-sex attraction and change comes from a misunderstanding of the meaning of change. Redemptive changes occur in all of us as human beings and are precipitated by many things – God’s timing, our desires, our commitment to God and the healing, restoration process, our past involvement in sinful behavior, and what it was that pushed us toward the particular sin in the first place. With same-sex attraction it is no different. The contributing factors to a person having an issue with same-sex attraction are numerous and complex. However, that does not minimize God’s power and sovereignty, nor does it change the undeniable biblical evidence that God can change the life of a person involved in homosexuality. Homosexuals have been experiencing change since the Bible was written. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Yes, change occurs within a process; a process that takes time. Spiritual growth is a lifelong process. Working through character faults and past hurts, immaturity’s and insecurities is a long process for everyone, not just the recovering same-sex attracted individual. What are some of the specifics within the process? What are some of the battles each man and woman will undoubtedly face?
There must be an admittance I need to change. It’s pretty tough to admit I need to change, especially if I can recall having same-gender desires for as long as I can remember, and they feel natural. To admit I need to change is to say there is something wrong with the way I am or the way that I live. That’s a pretty tough pill to swallow because it hurts our ego. However, admitting that I need help is a courageous first step. Change is a cooperative venture between God and ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Leaving homosexuality is something like submitting to major spiritual surgery. Identity becomes in absolute turmoil. That should not be so surprising since anytime we make a change in our behavior, it is usually because the pain involved in that behavior outweighs the pleasure. Maybe you’ve noticed? While we know intellectually we must make a change, our feelings do not necessarily follow – men and women that say good-bye to homosexuality or lesbianism, experience grief, disorientation, and confusion. This is because when we lose something or someone important, the loss registers deep within our being. Not surprising, the loss impacts our life and we grieve. For men and women coming out of homosexuality the loss can be multifaceted: an identity, possibly a partner, a secure living situation, etc. The change is often dramatic and the grief, disorientation and sometimes confusion that often follows, can be devastating.
Exposing the roots and opening old wounds can be costly. Why study or explore the root(s) of any form of brokenness? In terms of same-sex attraction, understanding homosexuality development points the way to true resolution. The changing of any behavior necessitates retracing the steps that have brought us to this point. Looking at family dynamics, painful childhood experiences, physical or sexual abuse, peer pressure, temperament and interests, societal influences, all can play a part in shaping a persons sexual orientation. If I desire to understand how I arrived at this point, I must delve into my life, examining the path I have taken and what might have robbed me of a healthy heterosexual identity. Identifying painful situations and working through them is part of the process.
Being totally committed to the will of God. Why do some make it out of homosexuality while others don’t? One common denominator among those men and women that have experienced significant change involves the issue of surrender and control in their lives. Nothing short of total commitment to the will of God (despite feelings, emotions, hormones, temptations, etc.) will hold the same-sex attracted individual to the discipline needed for the change process. Ultimately, the Lordship of Christ and the Authority of Scripture must prevail in all circumstances and take priority regardless of what I think or feel. Sexual sin is very insidious. At its core, it is a need to be loved – to be held and treasured. But like many of Satan’s tricks, sex becomes a cheap substitute – the means to an end. Commitment to God’s will necessitates death – a death to self – a death to “what I want when I want it” and giving over to what God wants for me. It is putting God on the throne of my life instead of self.
Indeed, there is a cost to “change.” This is often, as the saying goes, “where we separate the men from the boys.” Ultimately, a person’s freedom or deliverance from homosexuality comes from a Person, rather than a method. Ironically, the interesting thing about the change process is that change itself is not the goal. Change of any type or to any degree will only occur when that person pursues a far more compelling goal and focus. Freedom, change, healing, restoration only occurs when we look upward to Jesus and are purposed to enter more deeply into fellowship with Him. As our Creator, God is the only one who knows exactly how to restore us and bring about change.
While it continues to be taught and preached God can do the impossible, do we still believe that? When it comes to the issue of same-sex attraction, the Church has become fractured and viewpoints can differ from church to church, denomination to denomination, believer to believer.
As true faithful followers of Christ Jesus, may we never forget that while our obedience to the Great Commission may cost us personally, the good news of spiritual deliverance through Jesus Christ remains an important and vital resource that all faithful followers of Christ Jesus must share.
If we are truly in love with Jesus, our willingness and obedience to go in His Name does not really cost us anything, it is a joy. But, it just might cost those who do not know Him or refuse to follow Him a great deal.
“I tell you the truth…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25 NIV)
Finally, when an individual who was once controlled by his sin is now free from that sin and engaged in a new kind of life pattern, hasn’t change occurred?
Oswald Chambers states in My Utmost for His Highest, “A man is a slave for obeying unless behind his obedience there is recognition of a holy God.” I find it remarkable that God never insists on our obedience, but when we truly know Him, we want to instantly obey Him and live according to His perfect will from sunup to sundown.
Pastor Phillip Lee
His Way Out Ministries