There isn’t a person on Earth who is safe to stay the way they are. That’s because there isn’t a person on Earth who is like God. None of us is without sin, and sin destroys. Thus, we all need to change all of the time.
We’ve touched on the fact that we just aren’t all that different, and that none of us is better than another. But when the word “change” enters the LGBT world, I fear we start to think things we don’t think about other people or about ourselves. Let’s walk through a couple of those differences and see what the gospel has to say.
Gay to Straight
If the church is going to treat gay people differently than everybody else, this is where it’s most likely to happen. There is a gut-level drive in many believers to try to make their gay friends straight. This might be because, for many, straight people are simply more comfortable to be around because it’s something familiar. It might be because of our widespread (and errant) belief that singleness is a problem that needs to be fixed. Regardless of the reason, I need to say outright that “gay to straight” is not only unwise, but it is damaging and counter-gospel. It goes against Jesus’s aims for our lives.
The thing is, idolizing the opposite sex will kill you just as quickly as idolizing the same sex. The opposite sex will not fulfill you any more than the same sex will. That’s because marriage was not intended to fulfill you. God is here to fulfill you. Further, being single is not a disease that needs a cure, but it’s an important and God-ordained role that we need in the church. It’s a measure of diversity without which we will have a collectively warped view of God as a church body.
We don’t strive for an alcoholic to switch his addiction to drugs. We don’t strive for a workaholic to idolize their family instead. We don’t replace one creation-oriented idolatry with another. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to strive for a gay person to be straight. The goal for all of us is to cease being so preoccupied with ourselves and with creation and to fix our eyes and hearts on Jesus alone. A gay person is no better off in the slightest with opposite-sex desires. But their whole world changes when they desire God instead of the same sex. I’m a living testament to that truth, and there are many others as well.
We don’t supplant desires for the same sex with desires for the opposite sex. We overwhelm same-sex desires with greater desires for God Himself, basking in His character, His promises, and His future home.
“Take It Away”
Another way we treat our gay friends differently than other believers is in our expectations of what it looks like for them to find life in Jesus. There is a notion, albeit usually unspoken, that believers who have same-sex attractions must get to a point where they never feel same-sex attractions again. I suspect this often comes from a measure of discomfort believers feel when a person desires the same sex. Comfort isn’t a good rudder for us, though.
I believe this is a double standard. Nobody expects a straight man to get to a point where he never desires a woman lustfully again. Rather, we expect him to overcome those desires and put them down by anchoring into Jesus and His promises in the middle of every day life. We expect lustful desires for women to wane, and we expect desires for God to wax. Surely he will continue to feel the tug of lust, but he’ll have another desire tugging more strongly, with which he can fight against lust. I think it’s right to expect the same thing of believers with same-sex attractions.
I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for God to just take my same-sex desires away. But He loves me too much for that. He loves you too much for that. God sent Paul a persistent, plaguing difficulty so egregious that he begged God over and over to take it away. But God didn’t take it away. He left it there. Why? Because He knew Paul, and He loved Paul. God used that persistent suffering to keep Paul from being conceited and to remind him of his dependence on Himself. He did it because His power was more vividly displayed in Paul’s weakness. He did it to make Himself known, to rescue more people from sin.
I wouldn’t love God if it weren’t for my continued attractions to the same sex. I wouldn’t depend on God if it weren’t for my continued struggles with depression and anxiety. You wouldn’t be able to see His strength through my life if I believed I had no need of it. My weakness is a blessing. Stubborn sinful desires are a grace. They keep me near to Jesus, and they keep you near to Jesus too.
Biblical change involves an idolater belittling the pull of this world by fixing their gaze on Jesus’s character, promises, and future home. Only with our eyes fixed on Jesus can we lay sin aside like the mere hindrance and distraction it truly is. A gay person should never try to be straight. They should seek to love Jesus above all things. Heterosexuality won’t save them. Marriage won’t satisfy them. Jesus alone is their rest, their completion, and their home. Don’t draw them toward yet another trap. Draw them to Jesus.