On June 25th, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay couples were free to marry. However, now several years removed from this event, what exactly is true freedom?
I grew up in a Christian home and came to faith at an early age. For years I struggled with same-sex attraction. I knew the Bible said I was not created to live that way, but I couldn’t reconcile this with my homosexual feelings. As a young man, I felt 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 still live “the Christian life?” Should I “come out” and embrace a homosexual lifestyle? Maybe I could find an interpretation of the Bible that allowed me to act on my feelings? Or simply 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 actual 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 our freedom. But if this was true, how was I to live free when my natural desires conflict with 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?” (Luke 9:23-25)
Following Christ means denying yourself and taking up your cross daily (dying to your sinful nature). Doing this is going to be counter cultural. To even suggest these practices of self-denial opens one up to criticism and ridicule as a “hater,” "bigot," or "homophobe." Popular 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. However, Christ said that following Him, not our natural desires, will bring true life. So, I had a decision to make. Did I trust my Savior with my sexuality, desires, and hopes for happiness in the future? Was Christ going to what determines my identity or will it be 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 of re:generation). Jesus was now both my Savior and Lord. The Bible says that when we follow Christ, the Holy Spirit begins to transform our minds and to conform our hearts 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 romantic spark for a woman who I was watching faithfully follow Christ. Apparently, sparks flew for her too, because soon we got married. Several years later, we now have two children.
I never thought that a heterosexual marriage was a possibility 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 is (and will always be) my greatest reward. 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 to daily die to myself. My struggle is different now—it is a battle to remain close to Christ rather than a battle against sexual desires (Step 7 of re:generation). I now know where freedom rests. God meets me where I am at, picks me up when I am down, and leads me to true life. Freedom is not gained by embracing homosexual desires, being married to a woman, becoming a father, 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.” (John 10:10)
- Leonard B.