By Pastor Phillip Lee
During my 18 years of ex-gay ministry, I have talked with many men and women dealing with same-gender feelings and attractions. Without exception, each man and each woman experiences and battles many different influences which undeniably heightens the pull of temptation into homosexuality.
More than not, the individual’s first step into homosexual practice involves a breaking down of one’s resistance. That said, I do believe each and every one of us has an inbuilt barrier to any sinful activity. This is our conscience which is the moral law of God Himself written on our hearts (Romans 1:19). This spiritual barrier often keeps a person from gay or lesbian sex, even when they begin to experience same-gender desires. However, the enemy of our soul has his ways and schemes of gradually eroding away this wall of protection.
Without a doubt, one way this has and continues to occur throughout American society is by the constant and continuous exposure to the gay subculture. When our attention is constantly being focused on the homosexual issue through magazines, news broadcasts, newspapers and specials on television, a sin which initially might have created intense repugnance has the potential of evolving to becoming less and less objectionable and ultimately attractive. The initial repulsion can turn to apathy, which has the capability of birthing curiosity. When curiosity makes its home in one’s mind, God’s wall of protection is beginning to crumble.
The lure of the unknown regarding homosexuality has been enough in some cases for the individual to begin wondering, I wonder what homosexuality is really like? This question has the capability of developing into the visualizing of sexual acts which is often aided by the readily available wealth of gay pornography. Once again, when anyone continues to ponder and daydream about same-gender activities, the erosion of one’s wall of resistance crumbles. As an individual that has traveled this road, I vividly recall that my novice and innocent approach to thinking homosexual practice as being exciting and ultimately fulfilling was terribly naïve and I did not consider the realities of what homosexual practice actually enables. The costs of sexual involvement are extreme and no one can anticipate the emotional and spiritual baggage that you drag along with you when you come away from or break away from an immoral relationship or being sexually active and once again embrace abstinence.
Frankly, today, I don’t know if it is at all possible to avoid full, complete sexual stimulation given our present culture – unless of course we hide at home with a bag over our heads. Today sexual stimulation is around every corner – television, movies, magazines and newspapers. Therefore, I do believe an important question to ponder is – Is it a sin to have homosexual or lesbian feelings? Does God condemn an individual for being attracted to other members of the same sex? No, being tempted is not the same as sin. God does not condemn anyone based on our feelings. All men and women experience sexual feelings. All of us experience sexual attractions every day. Married people may be attracted to individuals other than their spouse. Are these feelings sinful?
The Bible distinguishes carefully between such feelings and sin. Inappropriate feelings, in biblical terminology, fit the category of “temptation.” And temptations are not sin. Being sexually attracted to another person is not the same as “committing adultery in your heart” (Matthew 5:28). You have to act on the temptation, either in your mind or body, in order for it to become sin. Hands-down, most men and women struggling with same-gender attraction tend to forget this huge and critically important distinction between temptation and sin. They walk around underneath a black cloud of continual condemnation and thinking that God is disapproving of them because of their same-gender attractions.
All Christians deal with inappropriate sexual feelings and attractions. Frankly, I don’t believe it’s a stretch to say that we are all sexually broken given this fallen world in which we live and the fact that we all combat a sinful nature. Therefore, those that are working toward overcoming homosexuality are not unique; they do not belong in a different subclass than the rest of the Church. For everyone, sexual struggles are part of being human.
Within the Church here in America, I have become increasingly concerned that many have all but dismissed the idea that the devil is a being that most certainly can influence our lives. Scripture clearly and abundantly teaches that Satan is a fallen angel of great power, with direct access to our lives. I believe it is a huge mistake by ignoring his existence especially when Scripture clearly identifies him as a temper “who leads the whole world astray” (1 Thessalonians 3:5, Revelation 12:9). I strongly encourage anyone combating an issue of same-gender attraction to study the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18 which specifically lists the parts of our spiritual armor and challenges everyone to make specific applications with regard to combating and struggling with homosexual thoughts and temptations.
Looking back, I distinctly recall how my attitude and mindset regarding homosexuality was very tentative at first. However, little by little, thoughts and activities regarding homosexual practice as “ok” become more and more reinforced which ultimately enabled me to embrace the gay identity. Now, I understand that I succumbed and fell prey to an unbiblical way of thinking about myself. For Christian men and women, their identity must center around what the Word of God says about them and their relationship with Jesus Christ. Very soon after I surrendered my life to Christ in October of 1985, God clearly showed me that my temptations do not determine my identity. Unfortunately, this is a very, very common and dangerous error especially for Christians who are experiencing same-gender attractions. Our Christian mindset develops slowly but consistently over a long period of time. The Bible refers to this process as “renewing the mind” (Romans 12:2), which I believe is one of the most important principles of attaining significant freedom from both gay and lesbian thoughts and feelings.
Today, I remain alarmed that celibacy or sexual virginity continues to be ridiculed and scorned in American society. Rather than celibacy or sexual virginity being viewed and upheld as an admirable trait, it is too often viewed as old fashioned and even as an embarrassment. Sexual purity is an undeniable, wonderful gift from God. Please do not allow anyone to ever try and convince you that it’s not worth much. Ultimately, when you and I are disobedient or rebellious to the holy boundary lines clearly defined for us within God’s Word, we do not get to choose the consequences that may come our way as a result of our being disobedient. Truly, “obedience is much better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).
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