Editor’s note: The person who wrote this article for us has chosen to remain anonymous.
“I was born this way.”
That’s the experience and the declaration of many in the LGBTQ community. Their sexual attractions are predisposed. They didn’t choose this, they say, so why should they be bound by moral definitions that claim their feelings and actions are wrong? When you move to those who are both LGBTQ and religious, especially those seeking to fit into Christianity, the question is asked: “Why would God make me this way if he didn’t want me to be this way?”
Honestly, with all of this, I sympathize deeply.
I was born into a loving, Christian home. I grew up in a socially conservative Baptist church that held the Bible as the supreme authority. I was never molested or abused. My father is a good, godly man who loves me and has always been there for me. I’m not trying to compensate for any “daddy issues” or the lack of quality male figures in my life.
Yet, when puberty hit a strange thing happened. I knew I was supposed to like girls, and I thought I did. Then as my sexual feelings developed I found myself attracted not only to girls but also to other boys. There I was, unsure of where to turn or who to talk to, knowing something was wrong but not sure what to make of it. So, I kept my feelings to myself and played along in the game of hormone-raging pre-teens and teens, yet never able to shake this other feeling.
The best I could tell this was my nature. I was born this way.
All of this happened in the days before Ellen, before gay gained broader acceptance. That was shortly to come and then the church began talking. Already at school “gay” and other words were a slam and a slur. The rhetoric at church was that people aren’t born that way, either they were abused, lacked strong male role models, or chose such a life style.
There I was, now a teenager, finding that my desires weren’t going away but growing stronger, no matter how many nights I would lay in bed praying for God to forgive me my evil thoughts and take these feelings away. Some days I felt I liked girls. Some days I felt like I only liked guys. Most days were spent in a blurred mix of the two.
And like I said: I knew I hadn’t been abused, I knew I didn’t have issues with my dad, and I sure as heck knew I wasn’t choosing these feelings. Things were awkward enough as is just being in junior high and high school. I wasn’t going to choose something that made me feel more awkward and potentially ostracized me from my family, peers, and church.
Throw the rise of the internet and a foray into pornography onto this fire, and things became worse. Eventually I found some light. Church had always been a part of my life, but I waxed and waned on just how serious I lived my faith. In college, though, I found people who encouraged me and lovingly pushed me into the Bible, prayer, accountability, and community.
My faith grew. I felt a deeper love for Jesus that brought new joys.
Yet the feeling still churned. I knew that if I were to honestly seek to define myself by my sexual desires, then “straight” would not cut it. I found the young ladies attractive, I dated some, and I desired a family with “the one.” I also still found other guys attractive, sometimes wished to date some, and could see myself being happy in a committed relationship with one. Each day I woke with this struggle of feelings and trying to figure out how all of this squared with my growing faith.
That’s when I came to realize, no matter how I felt and no matter how I got there, born that way or not, as a Christian my sexual desires did not have the final say in defining my identity and my life. That fell to God and his word.
And this is what God says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
First comes the bad news. Paul listed sins representative of the greater whole. Included on that list is the practice of homosexuality. I can say that my desires never took me that far; but when a wrong-focused desire is left unchecked long enough, sin inevitably results. Those who practice this sin, or any sin for that matter, are left with nothing but pain and hardship for eternity. We have two possible destinies: with Jesus in his kingdom or in hell. In Paul’s words the “practice” of sin seems to be the embrace of it, letting it be the story of your life with no repentance and no desire to turn to Jesus instead.
Yet there is also good news. In verse 11 Paul wrote, “And such were some of you.” This reminds us that the kingdom of God does not consist of people who lived perfect God-honoring lives before they came to Jesus. No, we all have sinned and we all have fallen short. My sin may have looked different than your sin, but the result was the same. We were in the same boat, lost and sinking, with no escape. Until we came to know Jesus. “Such” we were, but something new has happened. We have been washed. The stain of sin is removed. We have been sanctified. Our destiny is set; we will become like our Savior. We have been justified. We are cleared of all guilt and now belong to God’s family.
We are kingdom people and it is all thanks to the work of the King. Paul would write in his subsequent letter, 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God.” Here is the work of Jesus on the cross that justified, sanctified, and washed. A few verses before this, 2 Corinthians 5:17, says: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”
Maybe I was born a certain way. In fact, we see from Scripture that we were all born that way. We were all born under the curse of sin and far from God. We would all grow from our birth to be people who practiced various sins and not care what God thought. Until we came to Jesus.
I may have been born that way, but I have been born again this way. I am a new creation, with a new heart and God’s Holy Spirit living within. I am a beloved son, whom God has washed, sanctified, and justified freely by his grace. I belong to Jesus. The King sets the rules of my life but he also brings greater joy.
I don’t know why God operates in the way he does. When I came to grow in faith and really, for the first time, live as a new creation, certain temptations and desires vanished. The ones that I described did not. I pray that one day I will wake up and my desires would be right. I know that even if it never happens in this life, it will happen the moment I step into eternity.
What we as Christians have to offer those in the LGBTQ community is much greater than what they can find in the world, but we must put aside our fear and walk in love in order to do so. There are some in that community who operate under an extreme anti-Christian bias, but most aren’t looking to restrict our worship or way of life. They are looking for acceptance and a place to belong.
We cannot offer acceptance with no qualifications. We accept them as a person but we cannot accept their sin. The Bible draws this line in black and white. The only expression of sex that honors God is that between a husband and a wife. Any other possible expression one could imagine is sin. This is why as a man who would fit into the “B” category, I must reject acting on certain desires that to me feel otherwise natural. Either I find sexual fulfillment in my marriage to a woman or I remain abstinent.
Let’s not downplay the fact that for people of any orientation or state of life, abstinence is difficult. Paul wrote about people who “burn with passion” in 1 Corinthians 7:9. That’s most of us. Sexual desires are strong desires. This is why sexual sin is an easy temptation to fall into and a difficult pit to crawl out of. Someone like me has a legitimate outlet since my desires go both ways. Those who fall into the “L” and “G” categories do not, unless they are willing to act against their inclinations and feelings. Some try and others find this impossible.
When we speak of “abstinence” to them, we are telling them to spend the rest of their lives fighting against their strong desires. Are we willing to walk through them in this war? Are we willing to be their friends and companions? Are we ready to listen to their struggles and to weep with them when it is painfully difficult? We are calling them to holiness but holiness is a community effort.
We say that Jesus is the only one who can give a person complete satisfaction and joy, and Jesus said that of himself. Following Jesus and keeping our eyes fixed upon him is a community effort. We say that He is worth it but for them (and us) to experiences this takes other Christians being involved in their lives, about which Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:14-21.
I decided to write this in part because of what we are seeing on the news and reading even on this blog. The “T” is finding a more prominent place in our present cultural and political vocabulary. Despite my own struggles, I cannot begin to imagine what is going through the mind of someone who tries to live transgendered or, a step further, one who has transitioned their gender.
We don’t have to look far to see a disgusted response from some Christians. In political rancor and fear of losing a culture war, do we look past the person? Are we willing to get to know them as friends? Will we hold their hands or put our arms around their shoulders when they hurt? Will we love the person as a person? Will we show them through our own lives, grace, and words that the better identity isn’t found through a different face staring back in the mirror, but the new life from the Savior willing to dwell within their hearts?
As one who the world could call bi-sexual but the word calls born-again, I offer this final plea: Never forget both the beauty and the power of the gospel. What is impossible with man is possible with God. Your temptations and sins might be different than those in the LGBTQ community, but without the grace of God your condition is the same. Jesus offers all of us a new life, new identity, new community, and new heart. He offers each of us that opportunity to be “born again this way,” if we will receive him. Don’t look upon a crowd marching with rainbow flags as your enemies. Don’t look in disgust as a man dressed as a woman walks past you and your family. They are people who need Jesus just like you, and you have the very Savior and Gospel who can give them life forever as your brother or your sister.