I have always held a soft spot in my heart for the LGBT community—which was once my community—and have labored vigorously to write about sexuality and faith with gentleness and respect. I’ve never hammered down on gays with hellfire and brimstone; I’ve pled with them to receive the love of Jesus and relinquish their sins. I’ve never demonized people who experience same sex attraction or gender dysphoria; I’ve been clear that every human being is corrupt and in desperate need of transformation. I have publicly criticized the whole “pray the gay away” mess, being honest with my readers about my own ongoing experience of same-sex attraction. And I have continually called professing Christians to repent of their fear and hatred of the LGBT community.
Nevertheless, many voices in this community sharply declare me a self-loathing bigot. They say the words I write about faith and sexuality are perhaps the vilest, most damaging thing a struggling LGBT person could run across. They tell me that my “good news” is a damnable message that has led thousands of LGBT teens into depression and even to commit suicide. They say that I have gay blood on my hands—that the brand of Christianity I promote is directly responsible for the inner turmoil that has led so many gays to their self-inflicted deaths.
I want to spend the rest of this article speaking directly to these people—to LGBT men, women, and allies who despise the Christian message and vilify those who proclaim it. Have you ever pondered the possibility that your message may be the damaging one? Have you ever considered that it could be your beliefs that are wrong and harmful to people who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria? You say my beliefs are flimsy because they are informed by a 2,000-year-old book. But what informs your beliefs? I know you say your worldview is grounded in biology and science—but is it really? You defend the moral goodness of homosexual behavior by arguing that a gay person is biologically hardwired to be attracted to the same sex. You say the gay person must live according to their supposed biological “wiring” in order to live a full and healthy life. Yet, when it comes to transgenderism, you say people should live in contradiction to their biological anatomy in order to live a full and healthy life. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems inconsistent.
Can you and I just admit that, at the end of the day, we both believe what we believe because it feels right to us? You look at the I decide what is best for me message of postmodern individualism, and it resonates with you. I look at the God decides what is best for me message of the age-old Scriptures, and it resonates with me. Personally, I think there is a plethora of objective evidence that supports the legitimacy of the Christian faith. But for the sake of this argument, I’m willing to say that you and I both believe what we believe simply because it’s what feels right to us. So, if we’re standing on equal ground as far as our reasons for believing what we believe, how can you assume with absolute certainty that I’m wrong and you’re right? There isn’t any objective, beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt “proof” that your beliefs are correct, is there? I know you don’t think there’s any chance you could be wrong, but just entertain this self-loathing bigot for a couple of minutes.
Let’s say there is a God, and, for our own good and flourishing, he has set boundaries around human sexuality. Let’s say “sin” isn’t just a figment of the religious imagination, but there really is something inside of every person that inclines us toward evil and self-destruction. Let’s say homosexual desires and gender dysphoria are byproducts of the sin within us, and as we indulge these distorted thoughts and desires, we intensify the sickness of our souls. If these things are true—and I believe they are—isn’t the message you propagate the harmful one?
When you encourage people to embrace and satisfy their homosexual desires (sin), aren’t you the one pushing people toward a “lifestyle” that is destructive to their overall wellbeing? When you encourage people to define themselves according to their gender dysphoria, aren’t you the one pushing them away from what is good (God) and right (the way he designed them) and toward increased confusion and dysfunction? If the God of the Bible is the true God and the content of the Bible is legitimate, aren’t you the one who is persuading people away from vitality, joy, and freedom—and perhaps fueling depression, substance abuse, and even suicide in the LGBT community?
And let’s say the cure for the human condition is found in Jesus. Let’s say he sacrificed himself to cleanse us from the guilt of sin, break us free from sin’s dominion, and, one day, free us from the presence of sin. Let’s say that cherishing Jesus, basking in his love for us, and denying our fleshly inclinations is where the most robust vitality, joy, and freedom are found. Isn’t the message of Christianity, then, the healing message? When followers of Jesus encourage LGBT persons to trust in Jesus and walk in ongoing repentance, are we not encouraging them to live in a way that is beneficial to their overall wellbeing? If separation from God is the deepest cause of all brokenness—including depression, addiction, and suicidal tendencies—isn’t being reconciled to God through Jesus exactly what the depressed, the addicted, and the suicidal need most?
I can only speak for myself, but living in submission to the Savior and enjoying his love for me have brought greater peace, happiness, and emotional stability into my life than embracing my homosexual feelings ever did. Do I have to resist strong desires on a daily basis? Yes. Is it sometimes extremely difficult? Sure. But doing so hasn’t been the doom and gloom experience many allege it to be. I don’t spend my days obsessing about same-sex desires and feeling miserable because I can’t pursue them; I spend my days obsessing about Jesus and feeling thankful that I get to pursue him! Living in relationship with a good and loving God has been a far more fulfilling experience than living according to my broken propensities. Believing and obeying the gospel have not caused me to be depressed or addicted; I was depressed and addicted when I was rejecting the gospel and embracing my sinful desires. Rather, walking in faith and repentance has set me free from depression and addiction!
I’m not asking you to admit, right now, that you’re wrong and all the Jesus stuff is right. I’m just asking you to begin considering the possibility. Could the message you think is so harmful actually be the message of healing that the LGBT community needs most?