It's hard to believe that it's only been a few years since this reality dawned on me. I had been a Christian for almost two decades, and this idea had never before crossed my mind. Maybe someone said it to me as they tried to help, but if they did, it obviously didn't sink in. Too bad! Had I understood it years earlier, it would have saved me much grief. It's a simple truth, but one that most same sex attracted disciples have a really difficult time conceptualizing, much less actually believing. Here it is.
My Life Changing Realization
Our value to God and his love for us is not based on our sexual attractions. He is not concerned about what we are attracted to, he only wants to love us, and in return, asks us to show him our love through our obedience to him. Our goal in life therefore is not to become heterosexual, but to be holy. Heterosexuals go to hell. Christians go to heaven.
When the Holy Spirit first started putting these thoughts on my heart and mind, I was blown away. I had sadly spent years feeling as though I were a failure, that I had let God down, that I was not worthy of his love because I was same sex attracted and therefore not worthy of anyone else's either.
It's a lonely (not to mention unscriptural) way to live as a disciple. But when I started to believe that my identity was in Christ, and it was that identity that made me special, I felt a freedom and joy that I had never experienced before.
Why do I mention all of this in an article entitled "Knowing what to say"? Because in order for you to be able to communicate effectively with your brother or sister who lives with this reality, it will be necessary for you to believe the same thing!
Same gender attracted disciples are simply God's children. They are not gay, or lesbian, or bi-sexual, or transgender, or homosexual, or even ex-gay. There is so much more to all of their lives than their sexual orientations, sexual identity issues or other areas that are broken. They are great husband's and wives, loving parents, loyal and trustworthy friends, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, trusted employees, hard working students and helpful contributors to their communities and churches, but first and foremost they are Christians; loved sons and daughters of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
Their value to God and his church is not lowered one iota because of their sexual attractions. Whether someone is homosexually attracted, or heterosexually attracted is not the issue; we all must deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. Faithful obedience is what God wants from all of us, regardless of the kinds of temptations we face. We are all equal at the foot of the cross. Your brand of temptation is no worse than mine, and mine no worse than yours, and God's grace is sufficient and grand enough for all of us when do we sin.
If you can understand and believe these truths, then you will be well on your way to being a person who is wise, patient, loving and discerning in the way you communicate with a disciple who struggles with homosexual temptations.
Christians who live with unwanted same sex attractions are an easy target for Satan to constantly accuse them, discourage them, and fill their minds with hopeless and disparaging thoughts. Your friend will need your help to overcome that. Therefore it is important for you to see as one of your primary roles the duty of speaking words of biblical truth in order to counteract the negativity put there by the devil.
Also know that when the news is first revealed that they are homosexually attracted, they will be terrified of what you will be thinking of them; that they are strange, dirty, evil, wicked, and unlovable, someone to avoid, and someone to pull away from; the list goes on and on. I know I suffered with all of those fears. Deciding to tell Christians that I was homosexually attracted was a terrifying event; and still, even decades later and now leading this world wide ministry, still feel awkward and anxious about what others will think of me when they find out.
Here are some helpful words that have been spoken to me over the years by wise and trusted friends that brought comfort, security and courage to my soul.
"I love you and you are my friend, and that will never change."
"I do not think less of you because you are tempted with homosexuality."
"I admire the courage it has taken for you to share this part of your life with me."
"I'm so sorry you've gone through this alone, my heart breaks to think of how difficult this must have been for you."
"You can tell me anything, and I will not pull away."
"I am here for you, no matter what you do or how long this takes."
"There are so many great qualities in you, what you are sexually attracted to is not an issue to me."
"We are all the same; your sin and my sin are equal at the foot of the cross. I am no better than you are."
"I'm sorry, I don't understand, can you please explain it to me."
"I'm sorry I was insensitive with my comments; please tell me when I do this so that I can learn."
Proverbs 20:5 says that "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out."
This means there must be thought, prayer and discernment in your words. And listen!
Proverbs 18:13 says "He who answers before listening- that is his folly and his shame." The person whom you are trying to help has most likely been bottling up these feelings, emotions and sins that need to be confessed for years. All of that won't come out in one or two conversations. It may take months or even longer. That's why they need more than a casual friend or acquaintance. They need a loyal and trustworthy friend to walk alongside.
Proverbs 18:24 says "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Are you ready to be that person for someone in need?
What We Don't Expect
We don't expect you to fix all our problems, we don't anticipate that you will understand everything; we know that this will be confusing and even awkward for you at times. We just need a loyal friend who will love and believe in us, even when we expose the worst parts of our lives. Everyone needs this kind of friend.