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.