Before we can engage the sexuality issue, let’s make a conscious choice to do so away from political dramas of our day, from “praying the gay away” to Pride parades. It doesn’t help our confusion to have people of various persuasions shouting in our ears and incorporating personal struggles into wider causes. We need to sit down in our respective living rooms and have a conversation with the word of God at hand.
Let me also offer a word of encouragement at the outset: It’s not uncommon for people—Christians, included—to question their sexuality, especially when there’s so much pressure placed on it. Let’s face it, porn has normalized every sort of sexual relationship and you’d likely become more popular in secular venues, not less, for identifying as LGBTQ+. For the most part, all the external barriers are removed.
Inwardly, the struggle is even more intense. One of the greatest struggles of the Christian life is owning our identity in Christ. We spend much of our lives attaching our identity to anything but Christ, only to find it fleeting. Identity abhors a vacuum, and a new sexuality is an easy fill. On top of that, our sexuality is complex. Every part of our lives—including our sexuality—is touched by sin. That means it’s no longer extraordinary to struggle with our sexuality as we age.
The confusion is real, but there’s a few things we can do to add a little clarity along our journey of faith.
First, it’s important to know that you are not your sexuality.
You are not gay, straight, bi, pan, queer, trans, etc. You are child of the living God, adopted into his family through the blood of Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13). Do you know who you are in Christ? Before we can ever touch the issue of sexuality, we must wrestle with our personal identity.
Second, sexual desires are not destiny.
You will feel endless desires throughout your life—some will be godly, and some will not. Our desires do not define us. Most desires are fleeting, but even some of those that linger are not meant to be acted upon. I was recently caught speeding and thought for a moment about trying to flee. It was absurd, but I felt desperate. In the same way, our desires are not to be treated with God-like authority over our lives but are to be to be laid down at the foot of the cross.
Third, while we often don’t question the power of our desires, we do often question the power of the God’s word.
We’ll upend our whole lives to follow new desires and lifestyle choices, but when God calls us to submit, we resist. We in effect deny that the word of God can change us. Dear friends, God cannot only change our desires with his word, he can change our whole heart (2 Cor 5:17). Will you heed his word, or will you make your own confused heart into your Bible?
Fourth, consider how you spend your time and with whom.
For most of us, social media has become the pulpit in our lives. We listen far more to “friends” online that we do to the gentle man who teaches us about Jesus every Sunday. This is important. We’re always listening to sermons, but from whom? Are they from people and sources that genuinely value us and want to see us grow in Christ to the glory of God? In the same way, our primary friend groups often become our church and the foundation of our identity. Who in your life is pointing you to the cross? Are you listening?
I can make you a promise about any identity you seek out apart from Christ: It will break your heart. No sexuality can give you what Jesus can—life, hope, purpose, meaning, joy, peace, patience, perseverance. If you try to extract such things from sexuality, you will be left bitterly disappointed. Jesus called the rich young ruler to give up his most prized possessions in Mark 10 and he calls you to do the same. Anything that obscures our view of Jesus has become Jesus to us, and he bids us to lay them aside. They are not worth the price of losing Jesus; Jesus is worth the price of losing all other things.
Don’t follow your heart or try to pray the gay away. Follow Jesus. Find your contentment in him. Then follow him. The quest to define ourselves by our sexuality robs us of the joy of finding our spiritual identity in Christ. We go to Jesus to find our identity and satisfaction. We go to Jesus to offer up our desires, deny ourselves, and be transformed. We go to Jesus with the petition “thy will be done.” And in turn, Jesus conforms us to his image by the work of the Holy Spirit and the things of this earth—including our present struggles with identity—grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.