Archive for September, 2012

A Question of Identity

Posted by on September 17, 2012  |  1 Comment

Wayne, your journey has led you to proclaim a different message than what we often hear from popular culture. Why is that?

For years, feelings were my truth, including intense feelings for the same sex. So I lived according to those feelings for nearly 40 years.

One day I sat contemplating my life and destiny. And it suddenly dawned on me that the life Jesus has designed for His children isn’t all about us and our feelings. It’s about Him … Jesus Christ. He wants an intimate relationship with us where He is King.

The realization of this broke my heart and led me to give myself over to Him. And when I did, life changed forever. That sounds like a broken cliché, but it’s not. I have decided that my life is not my own. It’s been granted as a gift for a purpose. Everywhere we go today, people say, “Be yourself. Accept yourself.” But the core of what God has asked me to share is self-denial and complete surrender to my Creator. He owns my life.

After all those decades away, you are now active in your local Adventist church. In your opinion are the terms “gay” and “Adventist” compatible?

There are many who consider themselves gay and Adventist. But I have come to the conclusion that, as children of God, our identities should not be tied to our sexual inclinations, but rather to Him. In my opinion, the term “gay” is a worldly term that indicates a sexual preference. When I surrendered my life to Christ, I accepted the new identity He promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17. As it says there, the old is gone and the new has come, and I am a “new creation.” If I am not practicing gay behavior, it makes no sense to claim it as my identity. I am tempted by that old behavior, but God calls me to identity with Him, not with my temptation. I have not turned my back on my gay friends or become suddenly heterosexual. I’ve turned my heart toward the One who draws each of us to Him.

So are you suggesting that affirmation of those who claim LGBT identity can be counterproductive?

I understand the need we all have to be accepted as we are. In truth, no matter what our past or present issues are, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus accepts us as we are, but He doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. He calls us to something higher. He provides us with other believers and His Holy Spirit to help us grow.

If affirmation leads to a pathway of discipleship, then I’m all for it. But, if affirmation implies change is not necessary, then we are short-circuiting the very plan that God intends for our spiritual growth. It can lead instead to stagnation, which is dangerous and counterproductive to the Christian journey.

But affirmation has not typically been the norm in Adventist churches. Wouldn’t you agree that the opposite has more often been true?

Yes, we have a tendency to look with judgment. And we have made the mistake of putting anyone who identifies as LGBT in the same camp as pedophiles or other “perversions.” Those people are also in need of God’s grace and forgiveness but should not be lumped in with the issue of homosexuality.

At times Adventists have been uncertain how to act, and, as a result, those with same-sex attractions have felt shunned. This is not the way Jesus would respond. Failure to see gays as human beings with feelings, likes and dislikes, valuable knowledge, and fascinating personalities has paralyzed many and prevented an opportunity for the love of Christ to be seen. We desperately need to stop distancing ourselves from gays, but engage with them in cultivating an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit. Our church members need to be educated and encouraged to love every person as a child of God. Anyone open to the leading and discipleship of the Holy Spirit in biblical truth should have a warm welcome to ongoing fellowship in our churches. If someone is openly living in sin, homosexual or heterosexual, it is time for a Spirit-led combination of discipline and discipleship. Holiness is what God calls us all to — His holiness. There is no good thing in us. But we can invite Him in and allow Him to change our lives. I believe that applies to anyone — gay or straight.

What are some key passages of Scripture that inform your own beliefs, your journey of discipleship and your current testimony?

Several come quickly to mind. I love Revelation 12:11, which encourages me to speak up, for it says we will overcome the devil by the words of our testimony. Jeremiah 17:9 cautions me about depending on feelings: The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. I find the importance of growth and discipleship in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, which points out the kinds of sinners who will not be in heaven, but then beautifully states “and such were some of you.” I constantly claim 2 Corinthians 5:17: The old is gone, the new is here, and I am a “new creation.” Romans 8:1 provides the anchor point that there is now no condemnation in Jesus. And the godly reminder in Galatians 1:6–9, to beware of listening to and adhering to a different gospel, is something we all need.

These passages are supportive of any sin struggle. They are not intended as condemnation, but as promises and instruction to any who are willing to let God fully into their lives. Jesus has provided us with so much wisdom, and His generous redemptive gift is available to all sinners. We are in this together. There is nothing that cannot be conquered through Jesus.

But Scripture that seems critical of homosexuality is not very politically correct. Some passages have been used as “clobber texts.” Many in our culture today consider biblical injunctions about this topic to be “hate speech.”

Well, in fact, a gay couple recently wrote me and referred to the nine references to homosexuality in the Word of God as the “hate verses.” I found that interesting, sad and perplexing. Our heavenly Father does not seek to gain our obedience and dependence upon Him with hate. There is nothing but pure love in our God. Pure love will eventually destroy evil because it will self-destruct in the presence of such a force of love and light. The texts about moral sexuality are there for a reason. They are a guide. Helpful instruction for our good isn’t always pleasant to the ear. It may not seem logical or practical to the human mind. But the Bible isn’t all about our immediate pleasure. It’s all about our eternal salvation.

Is there a “gay agenda” within certain circles of Adventists that in your estimation does not match Christ’s ideal for His church?

Absolutely. In the church’s silence, the pendulum has swung another direction. Many parents, brothers, sisters and friends react much differently today when someone declares that they are “gay.” Many don’t even flinch. They say, “That’s cool … God loves you just the way you are.” Well, yes indeed, He does. But as in any sin temptation combined with someone who is in Christ, He wants us to grow in His love, accept His truth and trust the wisdom of His laws. It sounds like a simple formula. But I am well aware of the constant struggle to focus away from self and on Him. My efforts can never make me holy — but I continually claim Him, and He is holy.

I don’t need to parade my temptation as my identity. To continually identify with temptation, rather than who I am in Christ, anchors me to the world. We are Adventists. That term makes a statement about our beliefs and foundations in the truth we believe in through Christ. Jesus saves us from our sin, not in our sin. When I identify in the victory of Jesus, my healing is advanced. I’m no longer weighted down in sin.

There are a growing number of people who want to push against God’s Word and the beliefs of the denomination by insisting upon actions and lifestyles that are not biblical. In my opinion this is a delicate danger. I believe we should neither condemn or condone, but love and engage while we together seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We should determine never to misrepresent Christ and His Word.

Adventist parents often struggle with the reality of a LGBT child.

Mine certainly did. But they always loved me, and I knew that. There are a number of parents today who think that unless they approve of their son’s or daughter’s sinful behavior, their child will not recognize or believe their love for them. They worry the child might even commit suicide if they are in question of a parent’s acceptance. They are in agony because they feel ultimately responsible.

This again is where we must each hold on to Jesus, trust and believe in Him, at any cost. We cannot take on the responsibility for our children’s choices. Behavior is a choice, not the feelings. Jesus asks us to bring our feelings to Him and trust Him apart from our feelings. So this rings just as true for the parent as it does for the one struggling with same-sex attraction. Of course, I know this is much easier said than put into practice.

What sort of steps should church members take to be positively engaged with these issues and ready to welcome a gay seeker to their services?

Well I hope you are referring to a gay person who is seeking truth and guidance. This is a huge area of opportunity. The first step I recommend is to invite a redeemed homosexual/gay person to speak at their church. This opens the dialogue and is the first step in developing an outreach to the gay community at large.

Then make sure to integrate these individuals in your “small community groups” that exist in many churches that meet, eat, study and pray together on a night during the week in between Sabbaths. I have been part of such a group for the last three years. I have been so blessed, and my church family has been a backbone of support.

So if you are still same-sex attracted, but seeking to live according to biblical counsel, are you espousing celibacy for anyone not married to someone of the opposite gender?

I believe that is the biblical counsel — that sexual relations can only be blessed within a committed, marriage relationship. I can only share the experience and truth that God has revealed to me. This is not a new concept or belief. He promises to provide us with His strength, and He will.

Easy for you to say at your age.

Aha [smiles] … Let me assure you that I long for physical intimacy like anyone else. But I am determined to remain dependent upon Jesus and His strength. And that is the same method regardless of who we are, how old we are or what sexual persuasion we are. Of course I know of men in their 20s who are sorely tempted. Some have found victory, and some are still struggling. But it is theirs if they choose it. It is nothing that we conjure up or white knuckle our way through. The only good in us is from Jesus.

How should Adventists relate to efforts that attempt to “cure” gay people? Does redemption necessitate denial of who they inherently are?

The so-called “cures” some have promoted over the years have at times done more harm than good. Someone who is a babe in Christ needs to be nurtured. It is not helpful for them to face demands or expectations of instant performance.

My experience is not focused on a “cure” for my same-sex attraction. In Christ, I am not straight, I am not gay. I don’t even identify as ex-gay. I am a “new creation” in Him. I live to serve Him and do His will instead of my own. Even heterosexual Christians don’t go around saying … “Oh, by the way, do you know I’m a ‘straight Christian’?” We should seek to be all that we can be in Christ, which is of far greater scope than our sexual inclinations.

As 1 Peter 1:13–16 says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled, set your hope on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all that you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'”

In your opinion, is the Seventh-Gay Adventists movie being screened now around the country a helpful tool to build better understanding?

A film drawing attention to our need to talk about homosexual issues in our church has been long overdue. It portrays stories from members who have struggled to gain acceptance within the Adventist Church. These stories are indeed heartbreaking. We need to pay attention and learn from them. But we shouldn’t stop there. We should look to God and His divine Word before letting ourselves be reshaped by stories of heartbreak. I have a story of heartbreak as well. But in my heartbreak God brought me to Him to kneel at the cross in my brokenness and receive the healing He freely offers any sinner. Let’s not allow our emotions to affirm what God’s Word clearly calls destructive. Jesus calls us to follow Him, no matter what our story, no matter what defines our personal struggle with self.

In this, as well as many other issues, how do we discern what is an emotional response versus an informed, biblical response?

Well, emotions are indeed a God-given gift, critical to our quality of life. But we must guard against letting our emotions become a weak link in our Christian walk. Satan’s introduction of sin into our world was through an emotional draw.

We have many examples in the Bible that show us where people made choices based on their feelings, lusts and selfish desires. They did not temper their decisions even when God directly cautioned them. They let their emotions act as their truth. When we are not willing to submit ourselves to Christ and let His will be done, we are re-enacting the very attitude that got Lucifer cast out of heaven and Adam and Eve thrust from the Garden of Eden. Why would we want to follow that path?

So what can you say to a gay person who is seeking today to live according to God’s way of life as portrayed in Scripture?

If there were one single thing I could say to a person struggling with same-sex attraction, it would be this assurance: God will send all the resources of heaven for you to experience the freedom He offers. I know because each day He continues to do so for me.

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Seventh Gay Adventist Review

Posted by on September 11, 2012  |  3 Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

As I gasped for my first breath of air, my mother pushed me aside as she was filled with grief and disappointment. She was adamant about giving birth to a precious baby girl. During her pregnancy she had declared over and over that she had no desire for a boy. She was certain that would not happen. Every ounce of her mental determination to have a baby girl left her in anguish. It left me without the love and crucial bonding needed in those first few hours of life.

Her anguish and disappointment manifested itself when she broke my arm on two different occasions before I reached the age of two. My father was a career air force man who was frequently on assignment. As he returned to the base one day, he saw my arm in a sling. Now the abuse rumors which had been circulating became real to him and he found it necessary to give me over for adoption to his Adventist, Christ-centered, sister and husband.

God already had a plan for me. In the years ahead, it would be difficult to recognize what that plan was. At three years old, I ran around the house screaming, “I don’t want to be a boy! I want to be a girl!” Whenever I was lifted into the arms of a woman, I would scream, “Put me down! I hate women!” Was it any wonder?

You see, even prenatal conditions deeply affect the fetus and what lies ahead. We arrive stained with the effects of sin. Thousands of years of sin and wrong choices. Choices mapped in the brains of those who have gone before us.

Christian author Ellen White says; “They have lost their manhood, and this they must win back. Many have to battle against strong hereditary tendencies to evil. Unnatural cravings, sensual impulses, were their inheritance from birth. These must be carefully guarded against. Within and without, good and evil are striving for the mastery” (Ministry of Healing 173).

I have a story. A story of heartbreak that ends beautifully because of the power of choice God gave me. His grace, love, power and truth are magnificent! Unlike the stories portrayed in “Seventh-Gay Adventist,” my story brings me to the foot of the cross denying self and looking up to Jesus. His blood cleanses me.

Decade upon decade Christians have acknowledged homosexual behavior as sin and have done nothing more. Even today, homosexuals are viewed by self-righteous Christians as modern day lepers. Is God impotent? What about the multitudes of those who in their brokenness He healed and brought restoration? And isn’t the relationship of intimacy with Jesus and His truth seen in the healing and restoration of the demoniacs?

Oh what a work there is to be done in educating the believers of Jesus Christ. We lovingly need to teach how a plugged-in and intimate relationship with Jesus will safeguard us from any sin temptation. As a result of decades of this horrible silence and darkness, stories need to be told. Stories that can ignite the immense love, power and truth of Jesus Christ.

The making of “Seventh-Gay Adventist” provided such a glorious opportunity to engage the subjects of this film into an intimate relationship with Jesus. Knowing that his time is short and how he has maintained sexual intimacy as a cornerstone of deception, Satan exercises his howling cry. Through every minute in this film, Jesus is just association, rather than being lifted up as Healer and Redeemer. Instead of calling the broken to live in Christ, He is portrayed as an earthly relative. This was a prime opportunity to draw the sinner to the foot of the cross with the promise of hope and redemption. But I didn’t sense that.

When I wrote my original review of the film, Stephen and Daneen (film producers), protested and stated it was not right for me to make such observations without having first seen the film. There are many things in life that we don’t need to personally experience to know they are not of God. I had prayed many times prior to going. When I reserved the tickets, they were the last two. It seemed like I was meant to attend. I had been invited by Stephen and Daneen to come and dialog and to finally see what they said they knew I would write and speak about.

The film is not about acknowledging sin and reaching out with an offer of hope and redemption. This film is artfully and craftily designed to deceive you into believing that we are powerless over sin. Any writer or filmmaker wants you to know its subjects in order for you to relate to them and draw the conclusion that the author wants.

If you begin to live with the subjects, you develop a relational understanding that cultivates the thought process of those being portrayed. The film is sprinkled with humor as well as painful moments that bring clarity of each person portrayed. You fondly develop compassion for them. As you should. What a tremendous set up for magnifying God’s incredible love and truth. But that never happens.

Instead, in the midst of heartache, adaptation replaces victory and a follow-your-feelings mode captures the audience and draws you into thinking that nothing else is possible. Oh how Jesus must have wept when He was dethroned and perceived as powerless in this film.

One of the young characters David Carlson, states that he has been given two choices. To be straight or to be celibate. God has given us many choices, but He requests that we choose, that we call upon Him and seek to do His will instead of our own. Nowhere in the Word of God does He point us to any kind of physical relationship of intimacy except under the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. The fact is that every son and daughter of God is called to the same acknowledgement of God’s perfect plan. We have the right to choose whether we are going to follow God’s will or our own. David made the choice to live according to his desires. And he does so with the blessings of His Adventist mother and father, who is a conference president, as well as his brother who is an Adventist pastor. His brother said something to the effect that there can be too much rejection or too much acceptance, and so he was going to err on the side of too much acceptance and let God can slap him on his wrists later.

My family and I had been faced with this very same situation. But rather than show approval for my choice, my parents neither condemned me nor condoned my choice. They loved me with the love of Jesus and never stopped. For forty years my parents prayed for me. God hears and answers every prayer. My heart was not completely hardened. After years of Satan’s deception and delusion, I was at a point where I could hear the Holy Spirit. Under His conviction I responded with deep repentance, reached out and accepted the hope, love and restoration offered by Jesus Christ.

My story and others like it are truly the missing stories in this film. They were offered to the film makers and refused. The filmmakers have an agenda. They made the film in response to the voting down of Proposition 8 in California over same-sex marriage. It is very clear that they do not see homosexual behavior as sin. And they don’t want you to see it as sin either.

In fact, they promised in writing that they would portray the life of someone who chooses to live celibate as part of their film.

They made a film that represents sinful behavior as benign, having no effect on the Adventist faith. They want you to accept the sinner and the sin, voiding any redeeming power of Jesus Christ. It’s just as though Lucifer is saying … I have a better plan. It is the introduction of arrogance and deceit without the flashing red warning lights.
Terror struck my heart as this film continued to unfold. Immediately I could sense how Jesus must be pained and how it was so reminiscent of Cain’s offering of fruit, not the offering God had instructed Him to give.

Only a redeemed homosexual can see the extent of deception being introduced to the awe struck, innocent and unaware viewers the producers are seeking to captivate. My stomach was nauseous. This is no truth from the Word of God. This is exaltation of self. The film cleverly seeks to craft a new truth. The Word of God – the flesh translation.
As I watched, I felt the love that Jesus has for every character portrayed on this bigger than life screen. These people were immersed in all the cultural trimmings of Adventism. But do they know Jesus?

This has been foretold by the Holy Spirit:

It is a masterpiece of Satan’s deceptions to keep the minds of men searching and conjecturing in regard to that which God has not made known and which He does not intend that we shall understand. It was thus that Lucifer lost his place in heaven. He became dissatisfied because all the secrets of God’s purposes were not confided to him, and he entirely disregarded that which was revealed concerning his own work in the lofty position assigned him. By arousing the same discontent in the angels under his command, he caused their fall. Now he seeks to imbue the minds of men with the same spirit and to lead them also to disregard the direct commands of God.

Those who are unwilling to accept the plain, cutting truths of the Bible are continually seeking for pleasing fables that will quiet the conscience. The less spiritual, self-denying, and humiliating the doctrines presented, the greater the favor with which they are received. These persons degrade the intellectual powers to serve their carnal desires” (Great Controversy 523)

The story of love that needs telling is not the hippie love of the sixties and early seventies where sex and drugs influenced a non conforming culture. It had consequences. The same is true today. If we promote a self love rather than a Christ love, there will again be consequences–terminal consequences.

If you’ve been duped, or if you want to make sure you are not duped, consider the stories of those who were met with divine intervention. Five such stories are available to you today via ‘Coming Out’ Ministries. These are stories of hope and redemption. These individuals speak from a combined total of more than a hundred and twenty five years in the gay culture. God spoke to them and they allowed the Holy Spirit to humble them and redeem them.

A documentary has been under production over the past year. But you don’t have to wait to see the documentary. You can hear them share the testimony and the teachings God has graciously given them directly from the Word of God. Their message is one of love. This deep penetrating pure love has won hearts from the beginning of earth’s history. It is the life changing love of Jesus Christ.

Any one or all five individuals are available to speak at schools, churches, universities and conferences. Arrangements for these presentations can be made at www.knowhislove.org. ‘Coming Out’ Ministries is currently an umbrella ministry for four supporting individual ministries.

Dialog is long overdue regarding homosexuality and the precious lives it has affected. But in such dialog both love and truth must be present. Neither is valuable alone and Jesus clearly shows that His truth is love. We are nothing without Him.

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