To all the dear saints in Christ,
May I start out by saying I feel the whole “open letter” concept is really cheesy, but it seems to get people's attention. You are reading this after all. I would try another format, but I'm not really sure another way to get this out to you. Thank you for reading this and passing it along because I truly believe what I'm about to write is important for your to read, but I've been know to be pretty egotistical so take that for what you like.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Jason and I'm a 28 year old redeemed homosexual man. Redeemed, reformed, former, I'm not really sure what words to use. I've found myself attracted to men for as long as I can remember. I keep thinking that I've moved passed it, but then someone catches my eye or a lustful thought crosses my mind and I feel like I'm right back where I've always been.
My story is a little different from most. I grew up in church and considered myself a Christian from a very young age. I never lived openly as homosexual though I admit to sexual sin and about three and a half years ago I decided to “come out of the closet.” Well not exactly as openly gay, but as Christian dealing with that sin. I had no reason to do so. I could have gone my entire life without telling anyone, but I wanted to try to give hope to others and glory to God. I was interested in ministry and the whole Ted Haggard incident had recently taken place. I figured if I tried to be open about my sin I could never bring such shame to the gospel.
I told everyone by making a really cruddy YouTube video. I thought it would be so straight forward, but as was making it I just began weeping over my own sin. Of course, homosexual persons on YouTube have used my tears to tell me how miserable Christianity is. They have no clue about the joy that comes from a broken repentance before Christ.
I had no idea what people's reaction would be to the video. I fully expected to lose friends and I wouldn't have even been surprised if I was asked to leave my local church. I think we always assume the worst so we can take comfort when it is only a little rough. To my amazement though I had never felt such loving acceptance. Almost universally their was a great appreciation for the honesty of the video. Sure some morons online attacked me, both Christian and homosexual persons, but that was nothing compared to the love of Christ poured out in my local church. Telling my story gave me opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with thousands of others online and I was even given an hour on a local secular station (many thanks to the Dave Glover show for the opportunity and the way you handled all sides of the topic).
Telling people online was much easier than in person. Even tough I've never been openly shunned I always notice an unconscious crossing of the arms and step back so they can protect themselves. Yea, I watched the entire series of Lie to Me and notice these things.
I guess I should also tell you that I'm a fat guy. You're welcome to use big, chunky, thick or “run for the hills before he eats us” if you're uncomfortable with the F word. I'm certain God used that for my own good in keeping me from sexual sin, but it certainly didn't help growing up gay.
I went to public school and that was the closest thing to Hell on earth as one can get. I was kid that regularly ate lunch alone or with a teacher as I pretended to have some project to work on for another class. I'm pretty sure that teacher was a lesbian and didn't buy my excuse, but she never said anything. It is sad that out of all the Christian teachers in my school the only one I felt accepted by was probably not.
Having such a clear view of my sin without a proper understanding of the gospel led to major bouts with depression in high school. I clearly remember taking a knife multiple times and holding it to my wrist. By God's grace, I never went through with it.
Suicide is not about hurting yourself or even relieving pain though. At least it wasn't when I considered it. It was a warped since of revenge and justice. I remember thinking how sorry they would be when I was gone and how “that would show 'em.” And it might have, but we all know teenagers are really dense and self-absorbed so it would have been generally put out of their minds within a week. It really really wasn't worth it. Of course nothing is worth taking your life over. Especially when you realize it isn't yours anyway.
Even as a Christian, completely confident in the saving and transforming work of Christ, I think we all find it easy to focus on the sin in our lives. That can be a good thing as long as it leads us to repentance and trusting more in Christ, but it can also lead to an inward focus on self that is not godly.
As much as I remember and battle my flesh in a continuing repenting spirit, I must also remember I have a new nature. I know that I am not just forgiven and washed clean, but I've been covered in the righteousness of Christ. I am not just a servant of my Sovereign, but I am an adopted child of my King. I am an heir to God and a co-heir with Christ.
I am so much more than I used to be. I don't need to look for a self-image to bring me out of depression I need to look at the God-image I was created in and restored (and more) to in Christ.
Well that is my story and I'm sticking to it, but it wasn't what I wanted to write to you about today. I wanted to right to you about how the Church can and should respond to homosexual persons.
I love the Church. I don't just mean my local church (though I adore all the saints that make it up), but I mean the Church universal, the whole body of Christ. As much as I love it though I see the response and reaction to the homosexual persons to be off and often sinful.
People in general find it easy to fall into extremes. Either they come off as hating homosexual persons or as overly accepting of their sin. I understand that.
Homosexuality isn't just any sin. The Scripture does refer to it as an abomination just like idols, arrogance, dishonesty, murder, cheating customers, and those who sow discord. As much as some like to say that “sin is sin” it does seem to hold a special category. Of course we understand that all sin is and should be punished by God's wrath in Hell, but we can't deny certain things are more grievous to the Lord.
It is also a sin that committed against one's own body. While all other sins are committed outside the body, sexual sins are committed against our own body.
And of course it is a sin that is being shoved down society's throat on television and politics as many strive to make it appear as just another preference like chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
So how does one respond to this in a Christlike matter?
First, we realize who we all are with and without Christ. If God had not changed our hearts we would likely be just as sinful. It is only the common grace of God that keeps both Christians and non-Christians from being so much more wicked in deed than we act upon.
Second, we must repent for being such a terrible example in personal conduct and marriage. The greatest thing we can do is not go before the masses in protest, but to go before them on bended knee in repentance (with our Chick-fil-A sandwiches of course).
Third, we must be open and even blunt about how God views sin. Sin is so despicable to God that not only do we deserve Hell, but it took God the Son, Jesus the Christ, to suffer the perfect wrath of God the Father to forgive His people. That must never be taken lightly.
Fourth, we cannot expect full transformation. Yes, the moment we come to Christ we are justified and seen as perfectly righteous by God. And yes, one day we will be glorified and perfected, but today we are still being sanctified and becoming more like Christ. As much as I wish it were instantaneous it isn't. At times it is a slow process that may be three steps forward and one step back. Some days I look back over a few weeks and realize there is no progress, but when I look back over the years I can see how far my God has brought me.
The key is not to look at the moment or the last sprint, but the full track and to keep our eyes upon Christ, the object of my faith. Then I can run with endurance and finish the race.
Fifth, always be full of grace. When I came to Christ, I realize now I knew nothing about being a man, especially a man of God. Even though I was raised in the church I was never taught many of those things. I had to change and fight certain effeminate characteristics and those that have never been in the church will need even more patience. We must also understand the difference between modern day manhood and biblical manhood. I'm still not into most sports and that is perfectly fine (though I do love the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues Hockey).It is much more important to see proper examples of godly husbands and fathers. It is extremely important to be surrounded with male friendships centered on Christ.
Sixth, we must realize that there is probably some past event that has occurred to motivate this sin. I get asked a lot of I think people are born gay. The truth is I have no clue. I know from Scripture that we are sinful from conception and that sin does effect the body. Whether you're born gay or not does not give the excuse to sin. My personal belief is that we are all born with a bent toward certain sin and that our environment helps shape that.
I read a great book a while back called “Washed and Waiting” by Wesley Hill where he mentions that there seem to be three things found in most homosexual persons. It can be one of these or all three.
- Sexual molestation or rape as a child.
- An early introduction to pornography. - More and more common with the internet.
- A warped or non-existent relation with one's father.
I experienced all three of these and found it to be true in most homosexual persons I've spoken with. For females who consider themselves gay or bisexual it has inevitably been that they experienced rape or molestation at some point from those I've spoken with and for some it had even been forgotten as they tried to guard against the trauma.
Overcoming such past events is not easy and can requires a patient heart.
Seventh, watch the gay jokes. I'm not trying to be political correct, but I am trying to be honest. I don't personally mind most such jokes, but we must remember that we are talking about sin and it should not be taken lightly. We must also remember that we don't know who is around us that may be hurt. Since many people don't realize my past I hear “smear the queer” type jokes all the time.
The most hurtful one happened several years ago on the Fourth of July. I was outside at a church event and standing around with several folks discussing politics when the pastor's wife made the comment, “I believe we should let homosexuals join the military. That way they can go over to Iraq and die.” Everyone around her laughed and I chuckled so as not to be “found out,” but the truth is that I was weeping inside. I thought to myself, “that is the heart of it. If they knew the truth about me they'd want me dead.” That is not what they really wanted, but it certainly felt like it to me.
Yes, the Bible describes those outside of Christ and in open rebellion as enemies of God, but it also says to love your enemy. We miss the last part.
Eighth, remember that politics don't change hearts and minds, the gospel does. I love politics. I just returned from some activist training. I think Christians must take a lead in politic forums, but I also realize that it is no match for the transforming power of the gospel.
Only the gospel changes hearts. As a matter of fact that is exactly what God does for someone to respond to the gospel. He takes their sinful heart of stone and gives them a new heart of flesh. How glorious is our God that He would save a wretch like me!
If you want to stop homosexual marriage and the indoctrination of the nation well the answer isn't found it in the courthouse, or the voting booth. It is found in sharing with your neighbor, praying with your children, witnessing to the stranger, and caring for the orphan. The answer is found in laying down your life and your rights and picking up your cross and telling a nation that there is true hope and change, but it isn't found Washington, or at the bottom of a bottle, or in the bed of a stranger. True hope is found only in the eternal son whose name is Jesus Christ.
That is the message that changes the world. That is how you respond to the homosexual person. That is the love you show to a world that hates and despises you.
And when we respond like that then it doesn't really matter what they think or say, because in that we have given honor and glory to our King.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and pass it on. May the grace of God be seen in it and may He be made famous.
To God alone be the glory,