This past Wednesday night (May 1) on The Colbert Report, the mock-conservative pundit hosted a hip-hop group known as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, performing the song “Same Love” off their album The Heist. The song, based on Macklemore’s family experience with homosexual uncles, stands as a piece of cultural protest aimed in favor of same-sex marriage. The lyrics speak to the predisposition of homosexuality, bash the notions of therapeutic and religious change, and quote the Bible—particularly from 1 Corinthians 13 and Paul’s admonition that love is patient and love is kind.
The chorus line of “Same Love” professes:
And I can’t change / Even if I tried / Even if I wanted to
I can’t change / Even if I try / Even if I wanted to
Here, in my opinion, we find the saddest part of the song whether in reference to homosexuality or in reference to any aspect of the human experience. We are predisposed to act the way we act, to feel the way we feel and nothing can change that.
I can’t change…
It is a haunting idea. And it is completely anti-gospel.
There are some self-identified conservative Christians (and some very vocal at that) who bristle and protest loudly at the notion of a homosexual predisposition. A biblical worldview, however, would indicate otherwise. In the storyline of the gospel narrative, God created human beings with a good and sin-free nature. Yet, when we come to Genesis 3 we find Adam and Eve, the parents of the human race, choosing the voice of Satan and the desire of pride over the good commands of a loving God. This creates a fundamental shift in human nature.
No longer are we predisposed to godliness, but we are predisposed to sin. Adam and Eve introduced corruption, decay, and death into creation. Human nature was drastically altered at all levels—including spiritual, relational, emotional, and physical brokenness. This brokenness involves the corruption of everything: spirit, mind, DNA, hormones, brain chemistry, etc. Everything that affects our feelings, behavior, and choices. Homosexuality is a symptom of the greater issue, as is gossip, rebellion against good authority, pre-marital heterosexual sex, adultery, hate, selfishness, pride…and the list goes on.
No matter our sexual tendencies, every single human being is now born with an ingrained disposition against God’s righteousness and towards sin. And there’s nothing we can do to change it, or change us…
But there is One who can.
In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Right there we find a great promise of freedom—a freedom offered by Christ, a freedom found by abiding in his word which also means dwelling in Christ himself. The Jews Jesus spoke to responded in much the same way any would (and do) when bound in the blindness of sin. They argued, insisting they had never been enslaved to anything or anyone. Jesus countered in 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” Our nature, inherited from Adam, is sinful. We undoubtedly commit a plethora of sins. We are, by such nature, completely, totally, and helplessly enslaved to sin.
We don’t even know we need freedom.
Until we come face-to-face with the truth of Jesus. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Read that again. And again. And again.
If the Son, that is Jesus, sets us free—and how? The Bible tells us: by delighting in his grace, by trusting him in faith, by turning away from our sin and clinging to Jesus and Jesus alone as the one who bore our sins on the cross that we might have the fullness of his perfect life, his righteousness. If the Son sets us free, we will be free indeed.
I can’t change. You can’t change. But Jesus will change us.
This change is both instantaneous and progressive. It happens instantly—we are a new creation, filled with the Holy Spirit, and promised eternal glory and joy. In that instant we go from being the enemies of God under his wrath to being the sons and daughters of God who can forever delight in his love. The effects of this in our lives, however, happen with time. We must fight the good fight, run the race, and endure, keeping our eyes forever focused on Christ. Because God is at work in us, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).
The change Jesus brings to our lives will one day be complete when the body of sin we now possess is dead, buried, and then raised and transform into something perfect and beautiful. As we live now, we live in the time between where part of us desires to always and forever follow Jesus and the other part desires to return to the dirt and grime of our sin.
But, we are free. Jesus changes us.
There are some things of the old life that seem to fade away instantly. Other things, other temptations and sins, truly become struggles. It is not always easy. We sometimes have to engage in a bare-knuckle, knock-down fight. We’re going to get bloody. It’s going to be messy. But it is worth it and we can prevail since the One who changes us is alive in us.
That is the message of the gospel, the message of hope. It doesn’t matter if your sin is defined in the world as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. It doesn’t matter if it has to do with anger, fear, or anxiety. It doesn’t matter if it manifests itself in gossip or hate. It doesn’t matter if it has to do with food, drink, or drugs. Jesus can and will free us.
In this life we might have to deal with feelings and thoughts due to our predispositions or factors of our environment. At times we might think we will never be free from our feelings, that we can never change. All the more that we need each other and we need to be reminded of the grace of God cleansing us and empowering us.
And the world needs to see God at work in us.
They need to know that we’re not perfect, that we all have our own struggles against our own predispositions, but that Christ is alive in us and changing us. They need to see true expressions of a love that is patient and kind, a love that will not be offended, but a love that will reach out and befriend. They need to see us fight against sin in our own camp that manifests itself in hatred, bullying, and the likes. They need to know that Jesus came down to dwell with us and to meet us exactly where we are, and if we truly follow him he will lead us to a freedom with greater joy than words can tell.
I can’t change, but Jesus will change me.