Ray Boltz, Matthew Vine, Anthony Williams, Lance Bass, Jennifer Knapp, Justin Lee, Vicky Beeching, Trey Pearson, and Dan Haseltine(from Jars of Clay) are just to name a few who have made an impact to promote something now called Gay Christianity. More and more it seems that we are hearing of christians coming out publicly. And I think a part of the reason is because the church has failed to represent Christ.
- Misrepresentation #1: CHRIST’S MARRIAGE TO THE CHURCH
Scripture shows that Christ will return as a Bridegroom to marry the Church, His Bride. In Ephesians 5, Paul explains that earthly marriage points to this and so it’s only a shadow of the glory that is to come. Earthly marriage isn’t the end all, our marriage with Christ is!
“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new…It is done!” Revelation 21: 2,5-6
Yet, within and without the church, we’ve idolized marriage to represent wholeness and the lie that one can’t be fulfilled or whole unless they are married. We need to hold all things in balance like Paul states that both lifelong singleness and marriage are gifts from God. One isn’t better than the other. We should celebrate those that desire to remain unmarried instead of playing matchmaker.
I definitely understand this, being in my mid-30s and unmarried. I regularly get the questions, looks, and comments that still show just how much the church doesn’t know how to embrace others like me. This readily casts shame on an individual and pressures one to feel the need to find a spouse in order to be more acceptable. I know personal stories of men that struggle with same-sex attraction who entered marriage because they thought this would “fix” them, yet this ended up being a great challenge and hurting themselves and others.
No wonder that the LGBT Community pushed for same-sex marriage to be legalized and christians even think that this is OK for the sake of love. Earthly marriage has become the picture of wholeness and satisfaction rather than our true spiritual identity as the Bride joined with Christ.
- Misrepresentation #2: THE CHURCH IS PERFECT NOW
Sometimes like the church in Ephesus, we can forget where we come from and the mercy we have been shown. Doing so can cause us to slip into pride and self-righteousness. This can put on the facade that we have it all together and are perfect; thus causing someone dealing with same-sex attraction(or any issue) to not feel as though they belong or are welcome. We must remember that our good is not of our own, but only because of His good. It is only through grace that we have been saved, so we have no ground to judge anyone. What blows my mind is that Jesus was perfect, yet people always felt like He was approachable with their needs, sin and all! All I can think of is how He said to learn mercy. We would do well to not take this command lightly. Because He was so rich in mercy, I think people felt as if they could approach Him.
This topic of sexuality has been taboo for a long time within the church. I know for myself that I greatly feared ever sharing my struggle since I didn’t really see others in the church being vulnerable and sharing. So I thought that I had to appear to have it all together all the time. The church wasn’t a safe place to open up about what was really going on inside. I stuffed it all down until finally, at the age of 18; it wasn’t received well. That scenario confirmed my fear…and this scenario seems to repeat still today for many that I talk to that struggle with their sexual identity.
- Misrepresentation #3: THE CHURCH IS HOLY NOW
Jesus did say for us to be holy as He is holy and we do know that God’s will is for us to be holy. Holiness began when our spirits were made alive by being joined to Christ. Our souls and bodies are catching up to this reality and work that the Holy Spirit has already done. Holiness is a process. Because this is the case, discipleship is crucial! When I hear of another christian coming out, I always wonder whether they had people willing to disciple them the way Jesus modeled it. Would this have changed the outcome?
“I used to think that Jesus’ command to make disciples simply meant teaching people certain beliefs about God, helping them to accept Christ as Lord, and then educating them in doctrinal truth later on. Though all these are important, this way of defining discipleship showed that I, like many Westerners, approached the gospel primarily as information. The Eastern view recognizes that Jesus lived transparently in front of his disciples in order to teach them how to live. This approach involves not just information but transformation. A rabbi and his disciple were expected to form a close, personal bond–hardly surprising given the amount of time they spent together and the important life issues they were constantly discussing. Disciples often traveled with, lived with, and imitated their rabbis, learning not only from what they said but from what they did–from their reactions to everyday life as well as from the manner in which they lived.” Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus
Having people that don’t give up on you in the process is definitely a support and helpful, committed ones through it all. From my personal experience, this isn’t something the church gets how to do well when it comes to same-sex attraction. We need to grow in understanding, do research, read books, talk to people, etc if we want to learn how to not turn away this generation or those struggling. The answer instead is usually to just “pray the gay spirit away” or go off to this counselor and/or program(we look for a instant fix or for someone else to deal with it). Thankfully, Jesus IS always there! He promises to finish what He started within us. So that gives me hope and joy and the freedom to come to Him with anything because He’s always there and available. I don’t have to stuff anything that I’m feeling; I get to talk to Him about the good, bad, and ugly.
- Misrepresentation #4: JESUS OWES ME
There can be a dangerous thought out there that Jesus exists to make me happy, like a genie granting my wishes. God isn’t all about our selfish fulfillment, benefit, and pleasure…well not exactly in the way we normally think that is. God does promise to give us the desires of our heart…when we delight IN Him. And He does promise abundant eternal life…that can only be found IN Him. He says there are pleasures forevermore…at HIS right hand. So like John Piper said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” He doesn’t have to give me or do anything good..but because He is so kind and good, He does! Yet, we have the irony of Paul praying endlessly for God to remove a thorn from His flesh and He chooses not to. We see the process of it taking David the majority of His life, one hardship after another, to become king of Israel. We see the faithful mouthpiece John the Baptist denied deliverance from the Messiah Himself.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Change, a fix, or relief from any suffering isn’t guaranteed on this side folks. We still live in a broken and imperfect world. Healing and wholeness, life, joy, etc is God’s will and will be manifest fully when He returns. But until then, we see dimly. If we understand the Christian’s continual call to die daily and to suffer, then we can rightly instruct others that we no longer can live for ourselves. We must forsake all earthly passions and desires(whether they be same-sex attractions, gossip, anger, manipulation, lying, hatred, etc)to follow Him.
I understand this all too well because from a very young age, I prayed consistently for God to take away my same-sex attraction. I didn’t understand why He wouldn’t since it wasn’t something that I asked for nor wanted. Like others, I thought that if I was able to get rid of this one thing, then my life would be perfect. But God decided to let this remain and to use it to work faith, perseverance, and much more within my heart. Same-sex attraction is actually a constant reminder to me of my need for God and how I am broken without Him. But little by little, He is making me whole. I’ve come to realize that there are many layers to this that go far beyond just a “lustful unnatural desire/attraction” and the more that I let go and surrender to Christ(by dying to self), the more glory I get to experience of Christ Himself!
Instead of thinking that Jesus owes us something, we thankfully must live our lives in love because we owe him everything!
LEAVE A COMMENT – SHARE YOUR STORY
What has been your reactions to christians coming out? Which misrepresentation do you identify with the most?