depression, divine agenda, Gospel, homosexuality, insecurity, loneliness, old testament, Scripture, sexuality, temptation, theology
In his book The Mission of God, Christopher Wright discusses the knowledge of God that Israel had in the Old Testament, specifically in His acting by delivering them through the means of a pagan king who had no allegiance to Yahweh.
[I]f Israel should be inclined to protest at the means by which God would bring about their deliverance (i.e., through a pagan king who did not even know YHWH, yet is provocatively described as YHWH’s “shepherd” and “anointed”), they would do well to remember who it was they presumed to argue with–the Creator of the universe.
“Concerning things to come, do you question me…? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands have stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness:…He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free” (Isaiah 45:11-13).
So, the reason why God’s planned action for Israel’s deliverance will be spectacularly successful is that it is grounded in his universal sovereignty as Creator. And the effect of that saving action will be to demonstrate the unique identity and status of YHWH to the rest of the world. Israel would do well not to protest, for they have a role to play in that divine agenda. If Israel’s ultimate mission was to be a blessing and a light to the nations, they need to cooperate with God’s means of executing that purpose, whether they approved of it or not. (from The Mission of God, pg. 90)
I complain to God fairly often about the means by which he brings about my deliverance. I presume to argue all the time with the Creator of the universe. Surely, He could’ve cooked up a better scenario than me being disposed to crushing hard on my friends and having to pick myself up from those emotionally charged situations, bravely continuing friendships with those whom I’ve crushed on and legitimately love. He could’ve at least made it easier for me to be physically attracted to a girl who was once very interested in me, but whose interest seems to have waned. It’s painful, really–all of it.
I need to cooperate with God’s means of executing the mission of being a blessing and a light to the nations. This sounds grandiose, but if I am indeed called to the ministry (which seems to be the consensus amongst those who encouraged me to go to seminary in the first place and amongst those I serve alongside at my present church), then I am called, in the duty of preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, to be a blessing in the same vein as Abraham was called so long ago.
And the means God has seemed to use in my life is being attracted, sometimes unbearably so, to the same gender. Can I obey the call of God’s mission? Can I be faithful even though everything within me sometimes cries out for companionship?
I was talking recently with a friend and told him about how I loathe sleeping by myself. When I was in college, the basketball band would go on trips to various cities to perform. I had a wonderful friend who I always roomed with. He was a bit of a bed hog, and I’d wake up with him right next to me. But once I got over having him so near to me, I relaxed…and I slept very soundly. Him being so close was so…reassuring. Nothing remotely inappropriate ever transpired, and I counted him as one of my best friends in college. But that sort of thing never happens anymore. How could it?
Sometimes I just want to hold or be held. Isn’t that what everyone wants? I’m told it is. But guys don’t really even hug in American culture–not very often, or for very long. Seems sad to me, really.
Admitting that I want to hold or be held is scary, especially since the last time I wrote something along those lines, I got grilled in my pastor’s office for two hours about why I’d write or even want such a thing. Fortunately, I no longer attend that church.
I am struggling to understand the freedom of the Gospel in light of my light and momentary troubles. Right now, sitting here at my messy desk as I ruminate, they feel neither light nor momentary. Will I trust that Paul wasn’t just blowing smoke? Or will I crack under the pressure? Should I even write things like this? Sometimes I wonder if I’m not foolish, given the words that the psalmist wrote in Psalm 73: 15:
If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
I’m “speaking thus.” Am I betraying Yahweh’s children? Am I bowing down to the idol of authenticity? Or, am I being honest about my life right now so that others can see the process of God working in my heart and life? Am I being set on fire by God, purified, with the intent that some would watch me burn, all for the glory of God?
Who can say? I surely can’t.
I do not have a trite or easy answer for your position and emotional needs right now, and I may never have one. My solutions to many of my own problems rarely fit into the world view and belief system of others that call themselves a Christian. I do ache for you though and know the solitary places that you walk from personal experience, though not for the same reasons or justifications.
One thing I did want to note was the mention of some type of consensus of people outside of yourself that seemed to lend credence to the fact of your “calling” to ministry. While you may place a great deal of importance on the fact that others seem to bolster the path that your have personally chosen, I would urge you to place NO stock in what others think about your ministry or calling. Your personal existence and service is in no way predicated on their approval, social vote or consensus and if it is even a remote pillar in your explanation to yourself for your choices, I would suggest you replace it quickly with something of more value and lasting integrity.
I can tell you all day long that you have a phone call and other people that you love and trust can agree that the phone certainly did ring for you, that they heard it as well, but unless YOU take the phone call and talk to the person trying to communicate with you personally about a matter, then we are just making mouth noises and you have no reason to trust us about our speculations about whom the caller may be or what his message might be for you.
I think you make a great point. The reason I talk about other people “validating” my calling as it were is because I think the biblical example is that a person receives a call and then the people in the Church acknowledge that call so that the call doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. However, you are right when you say that my personal existence and service is not predicated on their approval. It’s less of a pillar…more of the porch on the structure. Does that make sense?
Yup. I was pretty sure you took the phone call, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t relying on the messages other people took for you. 🙂
That picture is heart breaking. Love you friend and I empathize with your pain.
You know where I stand on this. It pains me to see you continue to suffer…. and suffer unnecessarily. You are not the first or last to suffer through this struggle. I finished my own struggle 15 years ago. I have seen this struggle from seemingly countless friends and acquaintances over those 15 years. The resolution for everyone usually falls into a few different categories:
1. Self Acceptance – The ability to finally realize that one is not a mistake. The ability to finally realize that God did not make you a certain way and then expect you to live a lonely and sad life.
2. Constant Struggle – These people can not resolve their Biblical teachings (what I call Bible abuse). I’ve never met ONE person who actually claims to have achieved “victory” over this struggle. Not one! I have found that people that get stuck in this never-ending struggle end up making poor life decisions (getting into a miserable marriage, falling into a cycle of secret sexual trysts, etc)
3. Bad endings – I’ll let you use your imagination. Over the weekend, I had a close friend who was almost successful at self terminating. This is a person who has achieved self acceptance. Unfortunately, years of guilt induced Bible abuse….. clinical depression….. and addiction are hard to keep at bay.
I know that only YOU can resolve your struggle. Sometimes it requires difficult decisions. It has been my experience that only 1 resolution results in personal happiness. We’ve heard time and again the same old dogma about how everlasting life with God is worth our strugglings and suffing here on Earth. That is B.S. What kind of religion, faith or God would have you live a miserable and lonely existence just so you have peace when you die? Why would anyone want to be part of that kind of emotional abuse. Please read through some of the stories of my friends on the following blog. Most have finished their struggle …. but there are some still trying to find their way. My story is included in the blog.
Like Jared (the first story), I needed to get away from all the “Christian” dogma for a good while to finally be able to see and think more clearly. Just a suggestion.
Don Hartness said:
I stumbled across your blog by accident. I’m moved at the openness and transparency by which you share the state of your inner spiritual life along with the struggles you continue to grapple with.
This one moved me most of all.
I, too, complain fairly often about the means by which he brings about my deliverance. I, too, am called to be a blessing to others and a light to the nations (and I also struggle with how grandiose this sounds). It is a calling that has disallowed not just companionship, but sometimes friendship and fellowship as well. Lonely doesn’t even begin to describe it.
It is a state that has left me bitter on more than one occasion, tempted to take the advice of Job’s wife: curse God and die. Psalm 73 was the answer to my bitterness, a slight comfort in the midst of troubling times.
The desire for companionship has high and low tides. During the low tides, when the ache is not so strong, I am able to look at things a little more objectively. Sure, I am alone, but I haven’t always been. During those seasons when I was not alone, I was sown into the lives of others for specific purposes, with the resulting blessings seeming to come long after I am gone.
One case in point was my now ex-fiancee. She was an unbeliever when I first met her, but I fell in love anyway, and we became engaged. For two years, I struggled through being unequally yoked, working desperately on the relationship through one storm after another, too numerous to mention. At the end of those two years, she ended the relationship, breaking my heart.
And, yet, my deliverance came in the form of discovering that, no matter how much natural virtue a person has, without the Spirit, a person cannot withstand the fiery trial that may consume a relationship. The blessing came in the form of her conversion after I was gone. Her and I keep in touch now. Just yesterday, when I marveled at how much she had grown, she replied, “I had a good teacher.”
Given Paul’s exhortation to not be unequally yoked, I was wrong to pursue her. But it is our weaknesses that the Lord uses to sow grace and blessings into the lives of others. That is freedom exercised.
Never apologize for speaking honestly. Blessings flow when we share our struggles with others. As for myself, I am comforted in knowing that I am not the only one that suffers through struggles such as these.
May the Lord continue to utilize your weaknesses for His glorification. 🙂
I can see James is very evangelical with his sworn conviction that we ought to give ourselves to freedom of sin. I wonder if he would be content if we allowed thieves to freely exersise their indulgences of plundering from others.
Anyway about the article; in many ways I can relate to your lament indeed, however mine is a bit different in that even though I have homosexual attractions I have been in a heterosexual relationship before. So the yearnings of embrace and the emotional bond that the body lusts for I am well aquainted with.
Having had my share of sexual indulgence either way in sinful lust, I can testify that be it be heterosexual or indeed homosexual, the body can never be satisfied ever. Even those who have never been homosexual will suffer the same loneliness and yearnings for complete love and emotional connection with another even when they are married. Sin does such perverse things in us , in that even when rightly married the body will still yearn for that which it forbidden and push the boundaries.
So take heart brother in that know that the flesh can never be satisfied. Indeed I pray that we be moved for spiritual fullfillment in Christ who alone can satisfy eternally.
Send me your email brother that we may correspond more about these issues..
May The grace of Christ be poured out to you in abundance….
I meant to enquire if you are a Calvinist?
I am a Calvinist, yes.