by Dr. David Kyle Foster Sept. 29, 2014
There are two levels to the “Gay Christian” movement:
Level 1 – Those who claim that God made them homosexual, that it is good and can be practiced as a lifestyle with God’s blessing. They claim that as long as they “believe” in Jesus, they are going to heaven.
Level 2 – Those who claim that they are constitutionally homosexual by identity and orientation (and some believe, by creation) but who recognize that homosexual practice is a sin. They do not believe that God can (or wants to) change them, however, so they choose to remain celibate while continuing to identify as “gay”.
The first believes that they are homosexual by God’s creation and blessing and the second believes that they have been left by God to live with a homosexual orientation but are expected not to act on those attractions.
Basic Problems with Level 1
Adherents at the first level reject the Bible’s own claim to be THE God-breathed, infallible and authoritative witness to God’s will and creative design (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Acts 1:16; Genesis 2:18-24). Yet, despite rejecting its divine authorship and authority, they often employ it to “proof text” their position by adding to or twisting the meaning of its words. It’s like Karl Marx using the U.S. Constitution as a proof text for communism! Sadly, such hypocrisy and/or duplicity is lost on our biblically illiterate culture.
They also reject the unbroken, historical and universal witness of the Church, as well as Bible scholars (even unbelieving ones), who for the last 3,500 years have agreed that the Scriptures proscribe all sexual practice between humans except that which occurs in lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual, covenanted (marital) unions. Though the Bible describes other sexual practices (-e.g., the multiple wives and concubines of some of its characters), it only sanctions and commands that one man and one woman become one flesh, for life (Matthew 19:3-9). Only with the advent of liberal “scholarship” in the nineteenth century and the emergence of the gay activist movement in the twentieth century did anyone fail to honestly recognize such truths.
In fact, not only do these new “liberal/gay scholars” presume to know better than the inspired Scriptures, they also seem to know better than the universal and historic teaching of the Church and just about every Greek and Hebrew scholar who has ever lived, not to mention non-Christian cultures worldwide throughout history.
In order to overturn the historic moral order, however, they have understood the need to create the illusion of holding the high moral ground. So they reinterpret Bible passages that condemn homosexual practice to mean condemnation for narrow subsets of homosexual practice, such as coercive acts, or acts committed by those who aren’t truly homosexual. The problem with such claims is that they are not found in the text, (see John Stott’s commentary on Romans), nor are they found in the thought and practice of believers who were living when the texts were written and used, nor in any biblical, historical scholarship on the matter for thousands of years. They are inventions that depend on the fact that most people haven’t studied their Bible and its history well enough to see through the chicanery.
In his day, (and within a few decades of Jesus’ death and resurrection), even the brother of Jesus (see Jude 4) sounded the alarm that “godless men” had already “secretly slipped in” among believers, and had “turned the grace of God into a license for immorality”.
As the great theologian Yogi Berra once said, “It’s dejà vu all over again”.
A second way that self-proclaimed “gay Christians” of the first level try to assume the high moral ground is by claiming that theirs is the only position that expresses love for the homosexual. It is a worldly definition of love, however, constructed out of romantic feelings, sexual pleasure and the avoidance of genuine, sacrificial commitment. Even the most superficial examination of gay culture bears this out in the high rates of domestic violence, substance abuse, suicide, depression, disease and bodily harm that comes as a direct result of homosexual acts, early death rates, and an extremely low rate of fidelity among supposedly “committed” gay couples. Published by the premiere research organizations of the world, (even by “gay researchers”), these rates are significantly higher than those of our woefully dysfunctional heterosexual culture.
First tier “gay Christians” actually believe that God created a percentage of the population to act contrary to their anatomical design and that they are just going to have to live with the physical damage that results from such actions, not to mention the damage done to spirit and soul (see 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Peter 2:11). Read the literature in the fields of urology and proctology on this issue and it is clear that our bodies were not designed to interact in such ways. The result is a myriad of serious diseases and eventually for many, incontinence. Romans 1:27 may refer to this very thing when it warns that when men commit indecent acts with men in this way, they receive in themselves the due penalty for their perversion”. That statement seems to be referring to the more immediate, physical consequences of homosexual behavior rather than to the even more frightening eternal consequence found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Knowing all of that – is sanctioning, encouraging or ignoring the harm that they are doing to themselves really the loving thing to do, especially when their Creator stands ready to heal the brokenness that is causing their misguided attractions and forgive their immoral behaviors?
He has done that for me and for uncounted thousands (probably millions) of people over the years since the Apostle Paul declared to same-sex attracted people of his day – “Such were some of you!” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Since “God is love” (1 John 4:8) we must get our definition of love from Him. His definition of “love” is “demonstrated commitment and self-sacrifice for the good of the other”. Jesus models true love for us by doing what is in our best interest, even when our finite vision causes us to misinterpret His actions and His commands. And He supremely demonstrated His love by sacrificing Himself for us (John 15:13; 1 John 4:10) and by reiterating the deepest character and intents of God’s moral universe (Matthew 5:17-19; 28; 7:15-23; 19:3-9; John 14:15, 21, 24). But He also gave us a choice whether to follow Him, or not, (Matthew 16:24-27), because “love” must be pursued willingly and willfully (John 12:25- 26).
Another problem with level # 1 is that in claiming to “know Jesus” while being homosexually active, they misinterpret the concept of “belief” (or “faith”) to be mere “intellectual assent” or experience. They think that since they felt God’s presence once, or have agreed that He is Savior and God and/or mouthed the words to a prayer that they have believed. But the biblical concept of faith is not limited to intellectual assent or spiritual experience — it is agreement that runs so deep in the heart and mind that there is a change in the person’s actions that is consistent with the teachings of the One they claim to believe in a realignment of their allegiance, if you will. They have been born from above (John 3:3-8,21) ontologically changed (meaning, in the very nature of their being) – and are now inspired and empowered toward greater and greater obedience to God’s will by His presence and character now resident within them (John 14:15,21,23-24; James 2:17-22; 1 John 2:4-6, 3:6-8,18,24). This obedience does not come perfectly, but it does come progressively.
Unfortunately, this first level of the “Gay Christian” movement is in search of an excuse to reject God’s prohibition against the sinful idolatry that underpins homosexual lust and behavior (Romans 1:25; 8:13-14). In the absence of confession, repentance, the presence of new, godly impulses, and the manifestation of progressive obedience that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, according to Scripture, they have NOT yet believed in Jesus Christ.
Basic Problems with Level 2
Level number two of the “Gay Christian” movement, however, seems to be a population in search of an excuse to avoid the sometimes painful and difficult healing of issues that created their same-sex attractions.
One problematic scenario is that some may be using their “gay” identity, (though remaining celibate), as an excuse for embracing and acting on homosexual fantasies via pornography and/or masturbation, or to engage in non-sexual but enmeshed same-sex relationships. If so, they are continuing to practice the idolatry that is the foundation for homosexual lust and behavior (Romans 1:18-25). Their contention that God made them homosexual or that He has decided not to progressively reduce or change their attractions allows them to justify lusting after people in their heart, or at best, harboring unhealthy friendships that fuel and perpetuate emotionally arrested impulses and behaviors.
Unbelief is also a big problem in this population. They either do not believe that they are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) or for some, they aren’t yet in Christ. We know that to be “a new creation” means that the transformation of the very nature of our being that Jesus promised to those who believe (John 3:3-6,16) has taken place. However, to see that new life manifest, they must believe that it has taken place, even before there is any evidence of it (Hebrews 11:1; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7). They must be “sure of what they hope for and certain of what they do not (yet) see”, simply because of God’s promise (Exodus 15:26). Then and only then, (and generally over time), will the manifestation of the new life, identity and power that is in them come forth.
The problem is, they want to see the evidence first. They want to see their attractions change before they give up their “gay” identity (possibly so as not to appear naïve or foolish to their friends or colleagues). They want the temptations to stop first. In that, they are still trapped in the “arrested emotional development” stage that created the ground for their sexual confusion. They are still bound by the “magical thinking” of the preadolescent that typifies homosexuality. It demands a quick, supernatural change of attractions – or else. It’s almost as if their commitment to God is predicated upon an inner stopwatch. If He doesn’t change them the way they want and in the time they expect, their unbelief increases and becomes self-justifying.
Some are afraid to get close to God out of fear that He will ask something of them that they do not want to do. They want to be in control. These are trapped in idolatry, with the idol being their own will. They have not yet surrendered completely to the will of God, nor believed that He has only their best in mind.
Others have a hidden, inner fear that the healing process is going to hurt too much, and are thus afraid to go after all that God has for them. People in ministry and counseling see this kind of resistance all the time, especially when the root issues (such as abandonment, rejection or abuse) are very painful. And so they retreat into making excuses for not “pressing toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-16), which is Paul’s exhortation for faith- induced, enthusiastic engagement in the sanctification process that all of us are called to. Curiously, Paul writes in vs 16, “Let us live up to what we have already attained!”
I well understand this fear of pain, having had to face it many times, so I mean no condemnation for those who have hesitated to go for it. It is so much easier, knowing you’re saved and going to heaven, to surrender to what your feelings and experiences say you are, rather than working through the pain to get to the manifestation of who God says you are and can be. But it’s worth every minute of the journey because God will never give you more than you can handle — a principle found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 in relation to temptation, but a universal principle nevertheless. God the Father is the great Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), Jesus is the great and flawless Physician, and the Holy Spirit is the brilliant Counselor (John 14:16-17). And we will be transformed into His image if in faith we enter into an intimate relationship with Him and regularly gaze upon His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The right focus is critical, however. If you pursue the removal of homosexual temptations as your goal, you’ve missed the point. You will be disappointed because the memory of every pleasure that you’ve ever had is stored in your brain and can get triggered by any number of things no matter how healed you become. So that is not the goal.
The journey with God the Father is the goal — that intimate relationship during which (among many other things) He reveals the causes and the remedies for the broken places within and then empowers their healing to the degree that we seek and allow, and to the degree that we come to love Him more than the idols that we have been serving. For those who begin the process later in life or who have many broken places to heal, the progress can be slow and imperfect, but it’s the journey with Him that is the goal anyway, and thus should remain the focus. As I said in my book Sexual
Healing: “Sexual healing is a result of falling in love with Jesus at deeper and deeper levels.”
Any misguided sense of needing (or wanting) to pay God back for saving you, or trying to maintain His love by performing for Him is also the wrong motivation for pursuing transformation of life. Those with perfectionistic tendencies are at risk here and must come to understand that it is the grace of God that teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and to live a godly and upright life in this present age (Titus 2:11-14). It’s not law, or duty or performance — it’s in the love that is generated for God as He forgives us again and again and again — and in learning how to appropriate His power to overcome temptations by faith (Romans 8:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 10:4-5). And when we fail Him, it is His grace that puts us back on track (1 John 1:9).
In summary, I have found at either level (1 or 2) among those who call themselves “gay Christians”, those who insist that God cannot change the homosexual are often legalists who demand perfect and timely change and who allow their temptations to define them. They will not listen to the thousands of former homosexuals who have experienced real and substantive change, either because they love their sin too much, they’re too frightened of the pain that is involved in the sanctification process, or they believe in and pursue only that which they can first see or experience.
I urge those in camp one to believe in God’s Word and to study it well. It is crystal clear on this subject. Those who claim that it doesn’t condemn homosexual behavior are either ignorant of its meaning or are imagining excuses for themselves because they have determined not to obey it. But it will stand true (1 Peter 1:24-25). And our choices will have eternal consequences.
For those in camp two, I urge you not to ground your identity in what tempts you or in the brokenness that drives you. You were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) before original sin and your own sinful choices began to dominate your life. It is a great insult to God to believe that He would create you to commit acts that He condemns.
The truth is that we were never homosexual. We struggled with homosexual confusion, but were from conception, heterosexual in design. Neither the brokenness of our life, the slowness of our healing, nor the fallenness of everything around us can change that. That seed of heterosexuality may be damaged or as yet un-nurtured, but it has always been there. And here’s why: in creating us male and female, and calling us to unite in lifelong, covenanted, monogamous, loving unions, God has established us as signs and symbols – prefigurements of the marriage between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32). When we submit to Him by yielding to that anatomical and spiritual design, the glory of God is manifest in our bodies.
We recently produced a documentary film featuring the stories of twenty-nine people who once identified as homosexual and practiced that lifestyle but who now identify with and follow Jesus. An important part of their healing was that faith step in believing themselves to be broken heterosexuals rather than settling for the false identity of homosexual.
The most important statement in the entire film was made by a man who told God that he was going to follow Him by forsaking homosexuality whether or not God healed him of his same-sex attractions. It was the lynchpin moment that made all the difference in his relationship with God, and I believe, a key component in the progress of his healing.
God’s pleasure is found not in our achieving perfect performance or in attaining an absence of temptation, but in our heartfelt pursuit of Him in the midst of the lying voices that haunt our fallenness, and repentance in the midst of failure – and that pursuit being motivated by a genuine love for Him. It is that love-inspired focus on Him that transforms us into His image and gives Him the greatest joy (2 Corinthians 3:18). It is also the thing that results in the most change in our identity and our behavior.
After coming to Christ, a great many people are still tempted to do things they once did (-e.g., smoke cigarettes, or marijuana, get drunk, look at porn, live a promiscuous life, or have sex with their own gender), and perhaps will be for the rest of their life. That’s the reality of our fallen world and the spiritual warfare that goes on. But don’t make that your identity! To do so is to deny who God says you are and His power to keep you from falling. He wants to rescue you from those false gods, false identities and destructive behaviors (Isaiah 62:1-5). He wants you to believe, possibly even in the midst of all evidence to the contrary, that you are the new creation that Jesus promised you would be if you followed Him. And in that believing, your transformation will begin.
In that same documentary, we asked Dr. Neil T. Anderson if it was possible for homosexuals who had given their life to Jesus Christ to see change in their behavior, beliefs and identity. His reply: “God has only one plan. It’s that we conform to His image. And so: Is change possible? That’s what it’s all about! That’s what Christianity is — it’s the process of becoming somebody we already are. We’re children of God, now we are becoming like Christ.”
Dr. David Kyle Foster is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M-Div) and Trinity School for Ministry (D-Min) and the author of Love Hunger: A Harrowing Journey from Sexual Addiction to True Fulfillment. He is also the author of Sexual Healing and Transformed Into His Image and is the producer/director of www.SuchWereSomeOfYou.org.