Before my eyes ever saw this world, a very determined mother proclaimed during her entire pregnancy, that she would not have a boy. My arrival was her bitter disappointment. After being abused for eighteen months, I was adopted into a conservative Adventist home. As I grew, so did my new parent’s concern. I liked beauty pageants, dressing up, and wanting to play with dolls, rather than trucks and other boy toys. They sought help from various sources during my developmental years, but they found none. I loved Jesus, went to church, church schools, sang in church choirs and even read the Bible to patients in the Adventist nursing home, but the nagging desires for male companionship and attention haunted me from my earliest memories.
By the time I was eighteen, the church had not provided any answers or support for me. So I turned toward the welcoming arms of the gay community. No rules. No guidelines. Just jump in and start playing. The play caught up with me and I was twice hospitalized for Hepatitis. More years passed and it seemed I might as well have been playing with dynamite. Each time I would test for AIDS, I would pray to God to please give me an HIV-negative result. I promised God I would change. He spared my life numerous times, but I kept returning to the sex and drugs. In my early twenties I had been approached by SDAKinship—a support ministry for homosexual Adventists, and attended a meeting. The idea that God didn’t know much about homosexuals and therefore did not give much guidance on the topic seemed preposterous. Kinship seemingly took this into their own hands. Our Heavenly Father, who knows the beginning to the end, needed to say more about homosexual sex? This ministry didn’t engage me and I moved on.
As the lone survivor of all my friends, I began to wonder if the whole AIDS survival was punishment for my lifestyle. Loneliness, pain and grieving many precious losses consumed my world. I would remember that my dad had told me again and again how God had told him He had a very special plan for me when they adopted me.
One day God called me and finally got through. In an intense search on the web for a thread of hope, I was drawn to a Christian web site of outreach. I read everything on the site and found no license to indulge in gay sex, but most amazingly, I found that God loves me in spite of my same-sex attraction. It all made sense. I fell to my knees and sought God’s forgiveness. After years of disillusion and confusion, I was overcome once again with His love and was convicted to return to His church.
My beliefs are founded in God’s Holy Word. The Bible is the final authority on all human relationships. God ordained and sanctioned one kind of union on earth – that of love and marriage between a man and a woman. The Bible makes clear that homosexual sex is sin, (Romans 1:26-27) and willfully continuing in sin leads to eternal death. In this light I believe no homosexually oriented person who continues practicing gay sex should be given any church office. It’s not biblically sound.
The only perfect people in the world were Adam and Eve. Our human race has degenerated after many generations of sin, and various traits and behavioral inclinations were passed on through heredity and prenatal environments. Thus it is possible for a person to be born homosexual. And it most certainly feels that way to me. Nevertheless, a lifestyle that includes gay sex is chosen. My orientation does not have to dictate my actions because Christ gives me the power of choice and that is what decides my destiny. (Galatians 5:16-25) *footnote
God could easily make gay people straight if He so chose. But it seems that is not the way He usually works. Even those who have claimed forgiveness and earnestly prayed for right desires, have married and stayed married, find that they are still attracted by the same-sex – just like those of us who are single and same-sex attracted. God has not promised to take away our sinful natures before He comes. (1 Corinthians 15:50-54. See also Romans 7:25-8:23) That would explain why He does not miraculously take our homosexual orientation away, as many of us would like. But I know He loves me and that in His love, He calls me to deny self and follow Him. (Luke 9:23-24)
I believe God died for ALL sinners – the adulterer, the thief, the fornicator, the proud, the gossiper, as well as the homosexual. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) And I believe that it is very possible that those who demonstrate hatred towards the homosexual are in as much discord with God as the homosexual they hate. (Proverbs 16:5) Had I had this clarity in the church as a child, I might never have followed the desire to explore my feelings that led to sin. But the church was and remains very hush hush on this topic, and souls continue to flounder and be lost to the devastation of rejection and sometimes suicide.
More than thirty-seven years of living a promiscuous gay lifestyle lapsed before I would come to know that God doesn’t see my orientation as a sin. How was it possible that the simplest of truths regarding God’s love could be overlooked for one particular sin for so many years?
Within a few weeks after encountering this Christian website, I met with my pastor. It was awkward to have such a conversation when he did not understand homosexuality. But I persisted. While he is a God-loving man, he was skeptical and unprepared for dealing with a homosexual in his congregation. I hoped I might be welcomed home as the homosexual prodigal son, but I felt guarded against. A successive visit would provide mutual clarification. We prayed together and I declared my love for God and desire to do His will. I was rebaptized, and my pastor and I continue to grow in our communication.
What was missing in the Adventist church when I was eighteen is still missing today. Of all the sins lit up in neon, the homosexuality one is still flashing. I seek what all sinners seek – understanding, loving and prayerful brothers and sisters who will help one another recognize that the safe haven is in the arms of Jesus and in the church. There are no answers in the gay community – only false hope and deception.
I felt a wave of warmth come over me when I discovered that a conference on “Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church” will be held at Andrews University in October. I am grateful to see attention being drawn to a topic that has weighed heavily on so many men and women who love Christ. I see this long overdue conference as answer to a multitude of prayers. God’s direction to love the sinner to Him has been ignored for too long. Self-proclaimed Christians standing on street corners with “God Hates Fags” signs are not drawing sinners to our Savior. It’s time for our church to wake up.
Terminology has been a source of confusion for many. While conservative Christians may use the same terminology as the rest of the world, frequently their definitions are not the same. This has resulted in misunderstanding and miscommunication. So let’s look at some terminology:
- Gay – Same-sex attraction (SSA)
- Openly gay – Same-sex attraction and affirming gay sex.
- Homosexual – Same-sex attracted (SSA) Gay and Homosexual do not automatically indicate engaging in sexual activity.
- SSA Christian – Same-sex Attracted Christian (SSA Christian)
- Gay Lifestyle – for most this translates into casual same-sex, yet not to all, so clarification is needed when using this term.
To many Christians, homosexual automatically refers to someone who is having sex with the same gender. In society at large, homosexual simply refers to being attracted to the same-sex very much like heterosexual refers to being attracted to the opposite sex. Being gay means the same. Among Christians, same-sex attraction (ssa) is often used instead of homosexual or gay. If a person is “openly gay,” this more likely implies sexual activity, whether with one partner or many. Many gay Christians are celibate or heterosexually married, faithful to their spouses. The gay lifestyle more often than not, refers to frequenting gay night clubs and establishments, living in trendy gay neighborhoods, and usually participating in casual sex. However, there are some monogamous couples who may be referred to as living the gay lifestyle.
Church leadership needs to clarify that temptations come from every conceivable angle for every kind of sin. But the sin is not in the temptation.
To gain an overview of how same-sex-attracted Christians see themselves and their relationship with Christ, it would help to have a moderated panel of same-sex-attracted individuals – a broad cross section. Perhaps a Christian same-sex couple, a heterosexual couple made up of a heterosexual and a same-sex attracted individual. Or one or two Christian, same-sex attracted celibate individuals, and representatives from “change” ministries, and SDA Kinship. Our church leaders/members could agree upon a set of questions to ask such a panel.
- When did you know you were SSA (same-sex attracted)?
- Did you choose to be SSA?
- What can we as pastors or as a church family do to help you?
- Do you believe that same-sex attraction is a sin?
- Do you think gay sex is a sin?
- Do you think God sanctions same-sex unions?
- What is your feeling about SSA individuals holding church office?
- Do you pray for God to make you straight?
- Do you believe he will make you straight?
- What rights do you, as a SSA individual, believe God offers you?
For those who claim to be “ex-gay,” these questions might be revealing:
- Do you believe you are now heterosexual?
- Do you ever experience temptations to fantasize about sex with someone of your own sex?
- When you see a couple walking towards you, do you tend to focus on the man or the woman?
- If you were to have a sexual fall, would it be with a man or a woman?
There is no need to change theology or revise church doctrine. That is not the wedge between the church and the sinner. It is the lack of an outpouring of God’s love regardless of what the sin may be – love every sinner thirsts for.
Many Same-sex-attracted Christians believe exactly what the Bible teaches about sex – that God sanctifies unions for one man and one woman. Due to sin and the passing down of various sinful inclinations, they feel strongly attracted to the same sex. The sin is in giving in to the feelings and fantasizing or engaging in sexual behavior with someone of the same sex. By God’s grace, abiding in Him will give us victory over sinful inclinations. Thus, same-sex attracted people may live lives of chastity as single people or married to someone of the opposite sex. From some of my, I have learned that it is not necessary to be attracted to everyone of the opposite sex in order to benefit from marriage. It is only necessary to be attracted to one person of the opposite sex, and I have seen evidence of God working such miracles. However it should not be seen as mandatory or even the primary goal.
My life today is changed. I begin and end each day talking to Jesus. It is God’s grace combined with my choosing that sees me through each day’s experiences. I’m still tempted. I’m still attracted to men, but I choose day to day, moment by moment, sometimes even second by second to abide in Christ and turn my will over to Him, and I ask for His will to replace mine. He provides the strength combined with our human effort.
As difficult and unwelcome as the topic of homosexuality may be to some Adventists today, the Apostle James advises us to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed. The church is a hospital for sinners.
I pray for God’s blessing on this conference – that it may be more than a corporate huddle to protect the interests of the church. I pray that it may result in a greater love for God’s homosexually oriented children. I believe that if the church seeks to represent Christ to the sinner, He will take care of its corporate interests. If it does not represent Christ, nothing else much matters.
* Of great significance since my conversion, is this. Early in my walk with Christ, I was not sure how I should identify. Dealing with this issue from a Christian perspective is relatively new. I took direction from one I looked up to with knowledge I believed to be Biblically sound. As I have grown in Christ, I recognized that instead of focusing on my homosexual, same-sex attraction or orientation, I should have focused on what Christ offers every sinner. Being a New Creation in Him. Not focusing on my sinful nature. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Today I am overjoyed that I can allow Jesus to represent Himself through me and direct the sinner’s focus and new life in Jesus, not in a sinful orientation. As Christians we have a responsibility to lead the soul to Christ, not to be self absorbed in a “homosexual orientation.” It only makes sense for the converted sinner to accept an orientation in Jesus. If I focus on self, I am not allowing the power of Christ to come to its full fruition.