If I am a Christian then how can I still want to be with a man? How can I look others in the face and tell them that they are wrong when I am living a life of sin myself? I know that you get upset with theses questions but this is really bothering me. Because I am still having feelings for guys and I don’t see a change in sight. I mean I could be wrong but as of now I don’t see my attractions changing.
It’s incredibly frustrating to become a Christian, be told that Christ is sufficient and then feel an insufficiency in what has been done because we have been lied to and told that our desires to sin will evaporate because we know Jesus now. Let me enumerate how I’ve come to terms with this, and perhaps others will have more input and discussion.
How can I look others in the face and tell them that they are wrong when I am living a life of sin myself?
Certainly, we should be living a holy life before God, but even if we are not, our testimony is not without validation because it speaks of events which are apart from us. The commands of God are not actualized in us; they were fulfilled in Christ. Even if I am unable to, in and of myself, cease lusting, I can still tell others that God says lust is a sin. Why? Because sin is not determined by what I’ve been able to stop doing, nor is my mandate from Christ to “preach the laws you’ve been able to keep.” In declaring a pattern of life to be sinful, we condemn ourselves in the process…and this is authentic, right and true.
But there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus: for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). This is why Christ tells us in Luke 24 to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ. The comfort we offer people in telling them of their sin is not, “Emulate me…I can do this or that…and the stuff I can’t do, God forgives.”
No! The comfort is that “I sin. I can’t pull this off at all…but God, being rich in mercy has made me alive together with Christ, killing sin’s power in my life and helping me to kill sin progressively (sanctification!) as I walk with Him, not having obtained perfection yet, but being assured that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So even as a man who has watched many hours of porn in his life, masturbated lustfully since he was old enough to respond to such things physically, and who has desired even his friends sexually, I can declare God’s law to be righteous and good because it shows me my sin, brings me to the cross, and then at the cross, the gospel gives me a healing balm for my wretched sinfulness.
I am still having feelings for guys and I don’t see a change in sight. I mean I could be wrong but as of now I don’t see my attractions changing.
This is a depressing realization. I was just wondering aloud with a friend last night, “Will I ever find someone I can just love? Am I trapped in a life of one crush after another? I don’t think I can handle that.” And I’m not certain that I can handle that sort of life. But change is not what we’re striving for. We’re striving for sanctification through Christ’s work in our lives. This will bring about change of a sort: I mean, one doesn’t have Christ working in one’s life and simultaneously live a life devoid of any vestige of Fruit of the Spirit. At the same time, will we be disheartened about a lack in our lives when we’re told in Scripture that our seal by the Holy Spirit is dependant on nothing, save for Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf? This is a cause for rejoicing!
And, as a postscript, if someone is following Jesus because they thought that Jesus would make their life easier, or He would grant their dreams, or bring healing, that person is seeking the gift rather than the Giver…and they aren’t even looking for the REAL gift: right standing before a Holy God who is not only wrathful against sin, but loved them enough to redeem them even so by sending His Son to die in their place…then they are not following Jesus for the right reason.
Solution? Repent of wrong motives…and then believe the Gospel: Christ died even for that sin to bring you to the Father, spotlessly clothed in His righteousness. This news is infinitely better than Jesus making my life better, because it is not invalidated by my life sucking.
ok, david. i get where you’re coming from. i understand your point about “change.”
but. (you knew there was a but coming, didn’t you?) let me respond to your post as if i was a believer desperate for change in his behavior and affections (as if!). here’s what i would say:
“so you seem to be saying that there are real, solid benefits to our redemption (specifically our sanctification) that we can’t always see or recognize, much less prove. well, shit! are you saying things won’t necessarily change for me? because i am, like, freaking out here! i desperately want deliverance, rescue, and hope. should i just lump it because change isn’t the crucial thing? i might start being nicer and more helpful to others because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life, but are you saying he isn’t going to touch my promiscuity and my lust? and lastly (probably the thing that shocks me the most) are you saying i’m at fault for expecting change from God? that i’m coming for the wrong reasons and would be better off not wanting it easier, not dreaming, not hoping for healing, not asking for any gifts at all from my heavenly father? boo!”
of course, i’m fine. i don’t have any problems. but this is what i would say if i did.
(waiting for lightning to strike…)
ok now. the pr agent inside my head is clucking his tongue. really, new blog push? the public wants quick comment responses, witty throw-away posts while you think about the next big one, and readers with saucy attitudes. you can’t do much about your readers, i suppose. but throw me a bone on the other two, eh?
(seriously, no pressure. my own blog is diagnosably social-phobic. definitely not one to judge.)
Emma Jayne said:
I’m not an evangelical, but I am gay and I love Jesus and he loves me. He doesn’t mind that I’m gay: he accepts me the way I am. More than that, he stands between me and those who would hurt me because I am gay. He loves them too but they make him sad.
I guess I make him sad sometimes too; but mostly he makes me happy — and he’s happy about that too.
I wouldn’t want to be Jesus. I think I’d top myself in despair at all the hate people throw at him when he stands up for people like you and me. But he doesn’t top himself: he just keeps getting crucified over and over again by all the bigotry and hate and prejudice; and he keeps standing there as the stones they want to throw at you and me become hammers and nails that they use on him.
That’s when I cry: when I see all the hatred and he just takes it without hating them back.
So don’t hate yourself, David: you are what you are and Jesus loves you and accepts you as you are. Let his love grow in your heart and one day you’ll find that his love, his perfect love, will drive out your fear.
Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t got it all together. Far from it. But his love holds me and carries me through.
This is a great little bit of discussion. I too struggle with these feelings and my life has been a world of turmoil due to a desperate desire to be in a loving committed relationship but being attracted to the same sex only complicates finding an opposite sex mate – believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve been in several healthy dating relationships with women and we were physically intimate, just kissing, and my body responded as it was supposed to, but there was no serious passion or drive for her. Could there have been eventually? Would I feel differently after having sex with a woman? I don’t know and I can’t test the waters to find out. This has to be the most frustrating thing about this whole situation. I want so badly to “practice” to work on having feelings for a woman. I want to rid myself of the desire for same sex relations, but I’m stuck here at 33 a virgin who by the grace of God has stayed pure and I haven’t so much as hugged another man in a sexual way, but I want to. I understand that my desires are sin and lust. I am 100% positive that I would not be happy in a same sex relationship. There is a big difference between being lust and love. Lust is like a drug, it meets a temporary need, but it is a bottomless pit that is never satisfied and eats away at our souls. I want so badly to be a father and a husband. There are days that I am so depressed and lonely that I could just die and I have to remind myself that Christ is there and my suffering, despair and feeling sorry for myself will not change my situation nor will continuing to sin. But it’s hard fellas, very hard.
Emma Jayne said:
Oh albus – reading that makes me so sad. You are the way you are: how can that be sin? The sin, it seems to me, is in the attitudes of those who tell you that the way you are is sinful, that your desires, your perfectly natural desires for you, are sinful.
When those who condemn you for being the way you are drag you in front of Jesus and demand that he condemns you, what is he going to do? He’s going to tell them that when they point at you, they’ve got three fingers pointing back at themselves. “Go and sin no more,” he’ll say — to them; and to you: he offers grace made perfect in weakness.
Emma Jayne: Who was condemning homosexual behavior in 1 Cor. 6:9-11? Was it simply one man with his opinion, or was it via inspiration of God Himself?
Emma Jayne said:
David, I suggest you obtain a copy of the book Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring The Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis — the issues are far more complex and nuanced than reading a single passage outside of its historical, sociological and literary context might suggest.
As for God: as David Jenkins once expressed it, “God is; God is as he is in Jesus; therefore there is hope.” The Gospel records are incomplete, of course, but there’s no record of Jesus saying a word about homosexuality: that alone speaks volumes to me; and I’ve written about my own experience of Jesus here: Notes from a Gay Christian Woman. All I know is that he understands and accepts me: he doesn’t condemn me.
I would love for you to show me which passage I have misused. I think a cursory reading of 1 Corinthians in context, beginning with 1:1 through 6:11 and even beyond will validate my reading thereof, but I am open to correction. Obviously, Scripture must always have the final say and I am neither Scripture nor the One who penned it. Even so, I must give readings of all passages which are in fidelity with the testimony to all passages of Scripture, not simply an isolated case.
Emma Jayne said:
I wouldn’t say that the idea that “Scripture must always have the final say” is obvious at all: it’s just a book, a record of humanity’s wrestling with its concepts of God over time, written by dozens of disparate writers over several thousand years who disagreed with one another except for one thing: they believed in the reality of God and believed that reality was worth trying to comprehend.
That book describes Jesus as God’s living word: it’s in him, in relationship with him, that we find our true identity. As one of those writers said, the Spirit gives life, the letter kills. God’s truth is alive and active, not static: his grace transforms, changes everything, sets us free. We can accept that freedom as his gift, allowing his Spirit to transform us and renew our minds, or we can tie ourselves in knots and guilt complexes by trying to pretend that the Bible is a single coherent work when we know it isn’t. The law sucks: grace liberates.
Emma Jayne, we really don’t have a common touch-point. Saying that Scripture is “just a book, a record of humanity’s wrestling with its concepts of God over time” etc. does not allow Scripture to speak for itself, concerning itself. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is “God-breathed,” and Peter reminds us in his second epistle that “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1:20-21).
Realizing that German 20th century scholarship insists that the two letters I have just referenced are pseudepigrapha, I would put the burden of proof on the one who would level that charge since the early church reacted strongly against those who wrote in the names of others falsely. Writing pseudonymously in personal letters was not common in personal letters, though common in the culture, and was rejected by the early church. I would direct you to reflect on Tertullian’s testimony that when it was discovered that a church elder had written “The Acts of Paul” pseudonymously, he “was removed from his office” (On Baptism, 17).
The letter killing, by the way, is referring only in a specific context to sin working its way out through the law.
And finally, please be cautious about what you’d say about the law. Paul does not say the law sucks…rather, he says that the law is “holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). All of Galatians and Romans 1-7 (among other passages) address the charges you’ve leveled against Scripture, namely the Law, so I will commend them to you.
Emma, His freedom DOES come as a gift. But without Scripture, you cannot even hang your hat on any gift having been extended to you. Please don’t be too quick to accept readily the assumptions of the German higher-critical school of thought in these matters, without investigating Scripture for yourself.
Emma Jayne said:
Well for sure, David, we certainly don’t share a common view of the Bible — but then, you are an evangelical, I’m not. Can’t say as I’ve ever paid any special attention to German scholarship: I’ve simply read the Bible for myself and drawn my own conclusions, which I’ve outlined briefly above.
But we do have “a common touch-point” as you put it: we’re both trying to make sense of our experience of life, of our sexuality, and of Jesus, which is precisely what New Testament writers such as Paul were doing. But I see Paul as a fellow pilgrim, not as someone to put on a pedestal.
As for “All scripture is inspired by God…” — irrespective of who wrote it, that can just as well be translated as “Every scripture inspired by God…”. Like so much of the Bible, it’s ambiguous, it’s useful for all the things Paul (or whoever) says it is, but I’m not inclined to get wound up about the bits that I don’t find useful. I kinda like John Lennon’s Mother Mary’s take on things: Let it be 🙂
Emma, I would respectfully submit that the passage which I quoted is nothing anywhere close to ambiguous. You did not answer the objection I raised in my last paragraph. Whether or not you are familiar with German theologians, they profoundly influence the style of theology you’re espousing. Without a sure and certain word from Scripture, you don’t even know Christ as a person, as God, as anyone. Flush the Bible as authoritative and you lose everything. Paul WAS a fellow pilgrim, but the writings preserved in the Bible were God-breathed.
Paul was not trying to make sense of his experience. Paul was preaching the Gospel: that Christ lived and died in Paul’s place, for Paul’s sin…and the sins of all who believe. This was an act which happened outside of him, not “in his heart.”
So I ask: what experience was Paul trying to work out? Can you give me an example to consider?
Emma Jayne said:
I’m sorry, David, but I guess we’ll just have to agree to differ: my faith doesn’t require “a sure and certain word from Scripture” — I engage with Scripture as I find it, in all of its ambiguities and inconsistencies. I don’t need the Bible to be “authoritative” in the sense that you seem to: it’s enough for me that we have these ancient writings and can interact with them.
What is the object of your faith, Emma?
Emma Jayne said:
I object to all sorts of things, David, but my faith makes me more accepting than I would be otherwise: after all, Jesus accepts me the way that I am, so I try to accept other people the way they are. I’d say love is the guiding principle — my objective, I guess, is to live a life Jesus would approve of. Whether I’m successful at that is another story, of course.
How about you?
OB-ject, not ob-JECT. What is the object of your faith?
And how do you know what Christ approves of?
Emma Jayne said:
Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re getting at? Jesus said we should love God with all our heart and mind and strength and love our neighbours as ourselves: makes sense to me; but you know that, surely?
@Emma Jayne: Faith always has an OB-ject. It is not something everyone has and then some people invest in various religious systems. JESUS is the object of my faith.
And the only way I know anything about Him is Scripture. He said many wise things…I mean, He was God in human skin, right? Of COURSE He’s going to be wise. But His teachings have not been left to us in gnostic chunks, devoid of context. No, instead they have been left to us with Holy Spirit-inspired context…not something manufactured by the writers, but things that actually happened in history…and with Holy Spirit-inspired commentary from apostles, such as Paul and whomever wrote the book of Hebrews.
Saying “I love Jesus” but “I don’t believe the Bible” undercuts the very object of your faith. Anyone can claim to know someone, but the question is “how do you know?” You don’t know Jesus because he “lives in your heart.” That language is completely unknown historically until very recently. Instead, you know Jesus because the Bible tells you about Him…it reveals Him. And then the Holy Spirit uses that revelation of Christ to bring you from death to life.
So to reject the means by which God shows His grace to you (the Bible) is to reject Christ Himself. This is not bibliolatry…this is consistency. Let me put it another way. Saying “I like Jesus, but I’m suspicious of the Bible” is like saying “I like indoor plumbing, but I’m suspicious of all those pipes in my basement. I’ll take my indoor plumbing without them, please.” The pipes are the very thing that bring the water you would probably claim to value to your house and you can’t experience the water without them there.
This analogy isn’t perfect…what analogy is?…but hopefully, you are starting to see what I’m saying. Jesus is not a warm fuzzy feeling in our souls…He is a King who loves His own, calls all men to repentance offering the free forgiveness of His blood…and is a Judge who will restore justice to the earth, punishing the guilty and rewarding the righteous.
And just to tack this on: Jesus saying to love God & love people is not good news. Breaking one part of the law is breaking the whole thing. Jesus talked about that too. So love is not good news precisely because you can’t love perfectly. And Jesus does not pass over your sins just because you’re sorry. Instead, the wrath of God is being revealed against all unrighteousness, both of believers and non.
So why Christ?
Because He bore the wrath that is being revealed so that His people don’t have to!
Emma Jayne said:
As I said, David, I think we’re just going to have to agree to differ: you’re an evangelical, I’m not. You’re assuming all sorts of things about my faith that — well, if you’ll forgive me speaking bluntly, from my point of view they’re a load of tosh.
To me, Jesus isn’t an object: he’s a living person. The Gospels testify to his life and teaching, to his love, his compassion, his welcoming of social outcasts, his tendency to side with the poor and weak against the rich and powerful — to tell them that God loves them and accepts them (forgives them, if that’s how you prefer to say it). That’s good news!
Did I say anything about warm fuzzy feelings? About Jesus living in my heart? I didn’t say anything about being suspicious of the Bible, either: I simply said I engage with it as I find it. To me it’s not a question of authority but of authenticity — and most of the biblical writings have the ring of authenticity about them.
Jesus accepts me — forgives me, if you like — because he loves me. How can I not love him in return? His love turns my life around: that’s good news 🙂
This has been a most instructive exchange. I appreciate your feedback on my site and look forward to hearing what you think of some of my other posts, should any get your attention. 🙂
Emma Jayne said:
Thanks David: I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I’ll be exploring your other posts…