struggle with sexuality

i know that homosexuality is a controversial issue in our society today, and it’s becoming more widely accepted. there are those who hold the view-point that the love between two people, regardless of sex is acceptable, as long as the two are consenting. i do not share that point of view. and while i realize that i may offend some people with this post (some of whom, i care about), i know that there is another segment of our society that is struggling with their sexuality, in particular because they seek to be people of faith who live lives that please the God of the bible. this is a post for that segment.

i hear a lot of churches condemning homosexuality. i’m not so much against that (as long as they make clear that that sin is no worse than any other sin), as i hold the biblical point of view regarding sex and sexuality. but what i don’t hear as much about are practical ways to help those who are struggling with their sexuality. i don’t mean those who are giving in to their carnal desires, but rather those who are have a sexual attraction to people of the same-sex, and don’t want to because they believe what the bible says about it. and let me say this: i don’t believe that anyone who has same-sex attraction (whether they struggle with it or have simply accepted it and live in that lifestyle) does so because they CHOOSE to. to use the argument that same-sex attraction is “against nature” with someone who has it will likely fall on deaf ears because for them, this desire came just as naturally to them as did opposite-sex attraction to the heterosexual. they didn’t ask for it, and i’m willing to bet that in MOST cases, they’ve desired to not have it or have wished it away at one point or another. i’m not sure if it’s safe to say that people are “born that way” or not, but one thing is for sure: jesus said that we ALL must be born again.

i know when we are reborn and filled with the Holy Spirit, there are some issues that God just takes away from us instantly. and there is also the laying on of hands that can bring instantaneous deliverance from various issues, including sexual sins, and i’ve seen that happen before. but there are other times in our lives when God does not take an issue away from us in an instantaneous fashion, but we have to “go show ourselves to the priest,” so to speak, and the Lord delivers us over time. so i’d like to provide some nuggets that might help Christians who are struggling with their sexuality (and, i suppose, sexual sins period) and are “on the way to the priest”:

  1. it’s important to always bear in mind, with this struggle and all others, that when we are in christ, we are NEW creations, old things have passed away. i know that probably sounds cliché nowadays, but it cannot be overstated. you have to begin to focus more on God’s grace than your old nature and/or the things that you desire for yourself that he does not desire for you. trust that the work that christ did on calvary truly was enough to eradicate sin and its effects in your life. the gospel message is that God knew how messed up ALL of humanity was (how separated we were from him), but that christ lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death in our place (taking on God’s wrath–because God passionately hates all that is wrong–and the consequences that our own sins merited) to bring all of mankind back into right relationship with the Father, and grant us free access to the Spirit of God to live the humanity that God desired for us from the beginning. jesus christ suffered punishment for all the wrong we’ve done and he experienced separation from God, so that we would never experience that punishment, and so we would no longer be subject to sin (doing/thinking/saying/desiring things that are against God’s way), and therefore separated from God. begin to pray for God to help you fully trust in the work of his redemption.

    we’ve been fooled to believe that the purpose of life is finding “that special someone.” wrong. the purpose of this life is to find God.
  2. know that the purpose of life is not to find “that special someone,” but rather to find our creator and respond to his love with our complete and undivided worship. our culture is so focused on relationships and finding “that special someone” that we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that that is the purpose of life. it’s not! it’s to the point that with both the world and the church, being a single adult is often viewed as a curse (like, what’s wrong with him/her?). you cannot be that focused on relationships. heterosexual, homosexual, or anything in between – if you find yourself always looking for someone to be with, you are revealing such a void within yourself. why are you afraid to be alone? what is it that you’re missing? know that only God can truly fulfill your love needs, and relationships are to give love, not to receive it and/or fill some void. spiritually speaking, you believe in heaven, right? and you want to be there with God after this life, right? will you be in a sexual/romantic relationship then? of course not! look, i’m not saying relationships are bad, i’m just saying that we cannot center our lives around finding mr./mrs. right. we MUST center our lives around finding out the perfect will of God, and then conforming to it. remember, we exist to fulfill God’s purpose, he doesn’t exist to fulfill ours. pray for God to reveal your love void(s) to you, and to fill them. and pray for him to help you make him your heart’s first desire. he will do it!
  3. you have to begin to look at yourself the way that God looks at you. because this world has such a focus on relationships, we’ve given out terms regarding who we’re attracted to that have come to be a part of our identity. heterosexual = one who has a sexual attraction to someone of the opposite sex. homosexual = one who has a sexual attraction to someone of the same-sex. and so we say things that make who and what we like (something external) a part of who and what we say we are (something more or less internal…or something that is our unchangeable core). gay, lesbian, bisexual, bicurious. release yourself from terms, and stop saying that you are that (in your head or out loud or both) because God DOES NOT define you by them. God does not look at us as gay or straight, but rather as either his or not. he defines us based on our relationship with him and who we are to him. God doesn’t look at us as american or mexican or french or italian. he defines us based on our relationship with him and who we are to him. God doesn’t look at us as black or white or red or yellow or brown. he defines us based on our relationship with him and who we are to him. listen, this doesn’t mean that you have to be ignorant about where you are in your struggle, if you are sexually attracted to the same sex, but it DOES mean that the FIRST and most important part of your identity is CHRIST’S. romans says that God has given us the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry “abba, father.” so that needs to be the FIRST part of how you identify yourself. I AM GOD’S FIRST BEFORE I AM ANYTHING ELSE. before i’m american, or black, or female or [fill in the blank]. this is key. this means that every other part of how you’ve come to identify yourself is subject to the first part. if being christ’s means that i have to denounce being american, so be it. if being christ’s means that i have to denounce being black, so be it. if being christ’s means that i have to rethink my gender identity, or my sexuality, SO BE IT! let me take a moment to talk about 1 corinthians 6:9 –“do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? do  not be deceived. neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortions will inherit the kingdom of God.”
    view yourself how God views you.

    i know there are a lot of people–christians and nonchristians–that will look at that verse and say, “see! God hates homosexual people.” i’d like to say again that i believe the reason we say things like “homosexual man” or “gay woman” is because of our strong focus on relationships (and finding happiness in another person). and so, we use words like homosexual and gay as adjectives and in the same vein as we would other, unchangeable, undeniable and innate parts of our identities such as “caucasian, asian, or african-american.” but since the apostle paul didn’t write this bible verse in today’s social context, i simply do not believe that the bible is even examining it in that way. we don’t say “fornicator man” or “adulterer woman,” as a part of the core identity and something unchangeable. this bible verse is talking about those who have put God in second place to their sexual appetite (which is why i think “idolater” is included, because sex then becomes an idol). please don’t misunderstand what i’m saying here: these first few groups of people paul lists here are those who are practicing sexual perversion, meaning something that is used in contradiction of the purpose for which it was formed. God intended sex to be a wonderful experience had in the committed, marital relationship between a man and woman. when you fornicate, you are committing sexual perversion; when you commit adultery, you are committing sexual perversion; when you commit homosexual acts, you are committing sexual perversion–they all pervert the beauty of sex that God designed. this verse is not saying that God hates the person that commits adultery, but rather that he passionately and fully hates their sin of misusing the good thing he created, exchanging it for self-centered purposes. he hates their sin so strongly that it will cause them to not be able to stand in his presence, because he is a holy God. (paul goes on to further explain in verses 13-17 that our bodies are not meant for sexual immorality/sexual perversion, but instead to be temples of the Holy Ghost.) let me cut to the chase and put it like this: God loves you, but he has a passion hatred for any desire you have for sex (or ANYTHING) outside of his intentions for it. so if you are christian and struggling with your sexuality, look to verse 11 – “and such WERE some of you [paul is writing to fellow chrisitians here, not unbelievers]. but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the lord jesus and by the Spirit of God.” walk in the newness of life. in jeremiah 29:11-14, God spoke these words to his people who were in bondage: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity…”

    God desires you, and has great plans for you, but that involves you conforming to his good and perfect plan. he only wants you to be fully his. if you are a nonbeliver and you are struggling, and want to come out of this, i believe the first thing you should concern yourself with is surrendering your life to christ period, and not necessarily trying to change before coming to christ. trust christ with your life, and he will change you. 🙂 to both: pray for God to help you replace your view of you with his.

  4. this one sounds very similar to number 3, but i think it deserves its own point: do not define yourself based on your sexuality. i’m making this one separate, because it can, perhaps more than the others, be applied to any sort of sexual struggle that you may experience as a christian. there may be times when you feel like your urges are out of control; that is a part of your pre-christ humanity. and it’s the job of your “old man” to rise up and remind you of the old you. but if you indeed have the spirit of christ, the “new man” the holy spirit will be prompting you to walk in christ’s light and in the newness of life. this is just how it is when you live in the “house” of your flesh. both peter (1 peter 2:11) and paul (galatians 5:16) wrote to believers about how the flesh and the spirit war against one another, that they are contrary to one another, and fight against each other. but one thing that paul has stated is true: “i say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh”(galatians 5:16).if we’re craving carnal things, it’s usually because we’re not walking in the Spirit. we’re not communing with God, spending time with him in prayer and in reading the word. we’re not meditating on that which is pure and lovely and true, but we’re allowing carnal things to come into our gates (eyes and ears). you’re going to have to watch what you allow to flow through your eyes and ears. you can’t watch every music video, tv clip, commercial or youtube video. you can’t listen to every song. and you certainly cannot watch internet pornography or view suggestive (or blatantly sex-filled) images online. why? because there is a war taking place inside of you whereby your flesh and your spirit are fighting one another. paul penned it best in romans 7:15-25, but he reminds us that jesus christ our lord is our help! so stop focusing on your carnality and focus on christ. in romans 6:13, paul admonished believers to not use our members (our body) as instruments of unrighteousness, but rather as instruments of righteousness. God did not give human beings the desire for sex for it to consume and control us, but rather for it to be used in the appropriate context (see point number 3). God can be glorified in your sexuality. it glorifies the Father when you keep yourself, and make yourself a willing vessel for his use, and not a vessel of dishonor that you make available for sin. sin does NOT have to control you. pray for God to show you how to glorify him in your sexuality.
  5. stop telling yourself that this struggle is a part of your identity. there are some black americans that think that a part of being black in america means you must struggle. these folks believe having  a hard time making ends meet is just a part of being black. they’ve seen black people struggling for so long, they’ve come to identify it as a part of the black identity, and don’t see any real possibility of EVER living beyond it. it is a lie. and so is the lie that you HAVE to struggle with your sexuality. it may seem hard sometimes to see how there could ever be another side to this, but there is such thing as the other side of it. but you can’t develop stockholm’s. don’t believe the lie that you HAVE  to struggle with this. christ’s work has freed us from sin. period! and john 8:36 says that if that if christ has set us free, we are truly free. choose to believe that! there are some things that we deal with for so long that we just come to expect to deal with, even when we don’t have to. we are creatures of habit. i’m not diminishing the fight that this struggle requires, or trying to say that it’s no biggie. but begin to think about yourself on the other side of it. begin to thank God for your deliverance, because christ’s power to save, deliver, heal, set free and change is real. prayer: thank God for freeing you from this struggle.
  6. be committed to your current marriage vows. if you were married to someone, and you saw a good-looking person (that turned you on) walking down the street, what would you do? would you approach that person and try to get his/her number, hoping to start a relationship or get a jump off later? would you focus on that person’s body, taking mental polaroids of them to recall later on in the day or later that evening? or would you want to honor your spouse by not sweating this stranger with whom you have no marriage vows? would you want to be committed and faithful to your husband or wife? (i hope the answer is yes.) then be committed to christ in the same in a more intense way. ephesians 5:21-33 paints a beautiful picture marriage, which not only depict the natural marriage between a man and a woman, but really moreso the marriage between christ and the church. as you are a part of the church, you must, as verse 24 says, “be subject to christ in everything.” so just as you would not be unfaithful to a natural marriage, be even the more faithful to your covenant with christ. pray for God to show you how to submit to him, and to show you practical ways to submit this struggle to him.
  7. decide to fight! at the end of the day, it truly is about your decision. again, i don’t believe that anyone decides what draws and stimulates them sexually, but you CAN decide what you will do with those urges and attractions. you can. and if you name the name of christ, you MUST decide to bring them into subjection to the name of jesus christ. as 2 corinthians 10:5 says: “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
    if satan tempted jesus, why are you surprised that he tempts you. decide to fight!

    i love how that’s penned. “against the knowledge of God.” what do you know of God? if you are a believer, you know that he is mighty to save because he saved you. he is therefore equally as capable to deliver you from this. if you are not a believer, i hope that you know that your Creator loves and desires you, and desires you to be wholly made in his likeness (his character), pure and holy just as he is. that’s a great starting point for you to know that he wants to deliver you from not only this, but from ALL of your sins. so we cast down the argument that God wants us to remain bound, and we bring that though into captivity (jail it) that it would obey the law of christ (who defeated all sin once and for all). i’ve heard some christians who were struggling (well, at the time i supposed they’d given in to the fight) with their sexuality reason, “well, if God didn’t want me to be with gay/bi, then he would take this away from me.” DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE. consider paul’s experience in 2 corinthians 12. he said that he was sent a thorn in his flesh, “a messenger of Satan to buffet me,” as he put it, and he prayed to God three times for him to take it away. but instead of taking it away from paul, God allowed it to remain, and showed paul how strong He really was even in paul’s weaknesses. God was glorified in that “the power of christ [rested] upon [paul]” (v.9), even in paul’s weakness. God is interested in showing his perfect strength and his perfect grace through this situation when you submit it to him. so when you feel like giving in, and when you’re fatigued from the battle, consider the believers that have cancer, diabetes or any physical disease; would it be fit for them to say, “well, i’m just going to give up on God, and go my own way. i’m not going to trust him or believe the bible anymore.” if you had a disease that took some real effort on your part to rid your body of (daily insulin shots or dialysis or chemo), or if it didn’t change the first time you prayed about it, would you say, “forget God’s way, because i should be healed now, and i’m not, so i’m not going to walk in line with the way of christ anymore?” i know there are some who would/do/have, but the truth is that God wants us to trust him when times are unfavorable, when we experience sickness or when it seems the disease of our own sin is overtaking us. we must realize, as paul did, that God’s grace is truly sufficient for us. now is not the time for you to give up on God; now is the time for you to cling to him even more vigorously and more decidedly. God knows that you are imperfect, but what he WANTS is for you to trust him no matter what you encounter on the road of life. he knows that we have weaknesses, but what he WANTS is for you submit them to him, so he can demonstrate his power and strength. pray for God to help you rely on his proven, sufficient grace to trust him when your weakness is at its peak, and when you’re tired of fighting, to give you the grace to choose him.

i hope this post is one that brings encouragement to those who have a real desire to please God, but are struggling with their sexuality/gender identity in their actions, words, thoughts and imaginations. to the unbeliever who may be struggling with sexuality/gender identity for whatever reason, know that the best thing you can focus on before “ridding yourself” of issues regarding your sexuality is being redeemed to your Creator and brought back into right relationship with him before you concern yourself with anything else. if you change your sexuality but still do not choose christ, your soul is still burdened by sins. because we each have a sin debt that we owe to our holy Creator, and unless yours has been paid by the sinless blood of jesus christ, you can’t be in right relationship with God. i would say to focus FIRST on learning of christ, and his intense love for you, before you try to “fix” yourself so to speak. the fact is that only God can change us. know that as your Creator, God is intensely interested in you living out the type of humanity that he designed for you. that includes sexuality and experiencing sex in the way he intended, but that also extends to EVERY facet of your life.

recap of helpful prayers:

  1. pray for God to help you fully trust in the work of his redemption.
  2. pray for God to reveal your love void(s) to you, and to fill them. and pray for him to help you make him your heart’s first desire.
  3. pray for God to help you replace your view of you with his.
  4. pray for God to show you how to glorify him in your sexuality.
  5. thank God (in advance) for freeing you from this struggle.
  6. pray for God to show you how to submit to him, and to show you practical ways to submit this struggle to him.
  7. pray for God to help you rely on his proven, sufficient grace to trust him when your weakness is at its peak, and when you’re tired of fighting, to give you the grace to choose him.

helpful scriptures:

ephesians 6:10-13
philippians 1:6
galatians 5:16
galatians 6:7-9
2 corinthians 10:3-6
2 corinthians 7:1
1 corinthians 9:27
1 corinthians 10:13
1 corinthians 6: 9-20
1 corinthians 5:9-11
romans 8:1-15
romans 6:11-14
romans 2:11
philippians 4: 8
colossians 3:5-10
1 thessalonians 4:5-6
hebrews 4:14-16
hebrews 12:1-2
1 peter 2:9-10
1 peter 5:6-7
1 john 3:7-9

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