recovery in Christ when life is broken

As a Gay Man, I Never Thought I Would Be Free To Marry

 

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay people were free to marry. But what is true freedom?

I grew up in a Christian home and became a Christian at an early age. For years I struggled with being attracted to the same sex. I knew the Bible said that I wasn't created to live that way but I couldn’t reconcile this with my homosexual feelings. As a young man, I was confused and frustrated, living in guilt, shame, despair and hopelessness.

How was I supposed to find freedom as a Christian? Could I have these attractions, be a Christian and live “the Christian life?” Should I “come out” and embrace the gay life? Find an interpretation of the Bible that allowed me to act on my feelings? Renounce my faith in Christ even though I was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah? So many of us struggling with unwanted homosexual desires are left to settle these questions ourselves with no help from the church. I didn’t want to be gay, but I did want freedom. I felt as if I were living out a prison sentence.

Jesus launched His ministry by proclaiming that his mission was to release captives, give sight to the blind and set free the oppressed (Luke 4:16-21). Christ’s mission was freedom. But how was I to live free when my natural desires are contrary to God’s will? Well, Jesus answered this question:

 

“…If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Jesus Christ, Luke 9:23-25)

 

Wow! Following Christ means to deny yourself and take up your cross daily (die to your sinful nature) in order to save your life. Self-denial of sexual desire is counter-cultural. To even suggest it opens one up to criticism and ridicule as a “hater,” "bigot" and "homophobe." Our culture tells us that natural thoughts and desires are what define us and characterize our identity. When people conform their lives or transform their bodies to fit natural thoughts and desires, they are celebrated in our culture. But Christ said that following Him, not natural desires, will save your life.

I had a decision. Did I trust my Savior with my sexuality, desires, and hopes for happiness in the future? Was Christ going to determine my identity or something else? These are the same questions that need to be reconciled for anyone at this crossroads. My decision to follow Christ was no different than other Christians tormented by desires of human nature. If Christ is truly my Savior, am I willing to trust Him daily for freedom regardless of what the law, government or culture dictates?

I chose Jesus. I surrendered my life and will to Christ (Step 3). Jesus was now both my Savior and Lord. Funny thing…the Bible says that when we follow Christ fully, the Holy Spirit will begin to transform our minds and hearts to conform to God’s will (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Romans 12:1-2). This is opposite of what the world tells us—which is to transform our bodies and conform our lives to our natural desires.

A few years after surrendering my sexuality to God, I felt an unexpected spark for a woman who I had watched faithfully follow Christ. Apparently, sparks flew for her too because we got married. We now have two children. I never thought that a heterosexual marriage was possible for me—it is not why I chose to follow Christ. I chose Him because I knew He had my best interest in mind, He died to save my soul. He is (and will always be) my greatest reward. But life with my wife and family is a wonderful bonus. My freedom to experience the joy of marriage as He intended came when I surrendered to Christ.

Sometimes, I still have homosexual desires when I am not resting in my relationship with Jesus—I am still learning that daily death thing. My struggle is different now—it is a battle to remain close to Christ rather than a battle against sexual desires (Step 7). But I know where freedom rests. God meets me where I am at, picks me up when I am down and leads me to life. Freedom is not gained by embracing homosexual desires, being married to a woman, fatherhood, having money or building a successful career. Freedom is found in a daily, intimate relationship with Christ. In that relationship, He changes everything about me. He isn’t just my Savior for eternity; He frees me daily to walk in His will to experience abundant life today.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jesus Christ, John 10:10)

 

By Leonard B.

 

For more stories like this, listen to Jon's story and Marisa's story, or watch Michael's story.  Also, check out Same-Sex Attraction in the Struggles section of our website.

How To Make Amends With Someone Who Is Dead Or Unavailable

 

Making amends is an important part of recovery and God's peace-making process. It involves engaging those you have hurt to do your part to repair the damage of your sin. A Biblical amends makes no excuse for your sin and carries no expectation of receiving any good in return from those you have hurt. 

But what do you do when a face-to-face amends meeting is not possible or may cause more harm than good? Consider writing a letter.

Letters can be useful tools when making amends. Letters organize your thoughts before a face-to-face amends meeting. Using a letter can be a safe way to contact someone if you are unsure of his or her availability, or if a meeting could potentially cause greater damage. When someone is dead, unavailable or godly counsel advises against an amends meeting, an amends letter can be effective tool for healing. Read the example below of an amends letter from a dad to his child.

 

Dear David,

This is your dad. Until recently, I would not acknowledge that I had lost a child. But today, I need to be honest. My sin contributed to the loss of your life. When your mother told me she was pregnant, we were starting college. We were not married. We were terrified. I was selfish. I did not want to give up my life for anyone. I told her, “I will support your decision but I cannot be a dad now.” Then, I stopped talking to her. I cannot imagine what it was like for her to be alone at that time. A week later, she told me that our problem was taken care of—she had aborted you. Initially, I felt relief but then I could not forget you. Relief was replaced by guilt, then shame, then emptiness. Soon our relationship ended. I realize now you were not the problem to be taken care of—you were our child who we did not care for. My sin and selfish plans for life were my real problems. I was supposed to protect and provide for you. It was my job to care and be a voice for you. But, I loved me more than you, God or your mom. I was wrong. Over time, my emptiness grew. I tried to fill the void with everything until I finally broke. That’s when our Heavenly Father showed up to take care of my problem. He showed me that he loved me despite my sin. His Son laid down his life to pay for the sin that wrecked my life and yours. When I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, I accepted God’s forgiveness for my role in your death and God began to heal me. I wish I could say this to you face–to–face, but a letter is the best I can do. Will you forgive me too? I cannot repay you but I can begin to honor your life. Until now, you have not had a name, a dad, or anyone other than God to love you and say that you matter. But, today I am naming you David. It means “beloved.” I will not be silent about you anymore, David. Your dad will tell the story of your short life, my sin, and God’s grace. I pray that God uses your life to protect others, to offer hope, to bring healing and to reveal his love and mercy. Your life matters. I love you. You will always be my son.

Love, Dad

 

Romans 8:1-4, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

Romans 13:8, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

 

If you would like more examples of how making a Biblical amends can change your life, watch Melody's story or watch re:generation's Step 9 teaching.

 

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.