Dear homosexual friend,
I’m not writing this letter to you because I hate you, find you repulsive, or because I think you’re particularly more sinful than any other human being. I am writing you this letter as an opportunity for you to know and find depths of joy you might have only occasionally glimpsed in this life. I am writing so that you may know the quiet peace I posses in the midst of storms, that you may know the love that’s utterly unfathomable I experience almost daily, and that you might discover the fulfillment that comes with knowing one is doing exactly what the Lord desires for his precious people who are the very crown of his Creation. Jesus offers to you this day joy you cannot even comprehend.
There’s a story in the fourth Gospel that highlights this truth well. What is so odd within the account is the irony—Jesus, a first century rabbi, is talking to a woman. And she’s not just any woman. She’s a Samaritan woman with a past (John 4:16-18). Jesus asks the lady for a drink of water and she’s taken aback (vv. 7-9) because it was so uncommon for a man to talk to someone like her in the first century. It was beyond taboo. It was downright dirty! Jesus uses the conversation to offer something more important though than physical water. Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus offers the lady something that will satisfy her deepest desire. He offers himself. He goes on within the gospel time and time again presenting the same voluptuous gift.
Many years ago I met this elusive figure that offers such a treasure and he gave to me what he promised to that lady by the well. I grew up as a fatherless child with a mother who tenaciously held her family together amidst a rocky life. Anger, bitterness, and disrespect defined my life in the realest sense. Yet, there was always this figure within the shadows haunting the South. He haunted even me. I had heard stories of this man who was once dead but lived who turned history toward its way and end. People told me about a man who spoke like no other person had ever spoken before. Then, I met him. I met him at a church filled with hateful people. I met him among a people that scared the hell out of me and the legalism right into me. It’s strange where you’ll find the Lord sometimes. Nevertheless, I met him. There I was into myself full of envy, full of broken and unfulfilled desires, full of everything wrong and he said one word. Just one. “Live!” And it was so. He said “live” and I was full. He spoke the word and I was new. Friend, Jesus offers that to you today.
You might be thinking “I know what your religion says about me.” And I don’t deny it friend. Christianity teaches that man, made in God’s image, is to reflect and magnify the righteousness of their Creator. It teaches that homosexuality is an aberration from what God truly desires for humanity. He created them for his glory and he wants them to flourish abundantly and homosexuality is included within a list of things that do not foster such a purpose. You need to understand that the One who gives those commands found in Scripture is the Resurrected One. Dying on a cross does not make you the king of the universe. Rising from the dead however totally strengthens your claim to the throne. Jesus of Nazareth went into the grave and came out victorious on the other side. No one else has ever accomplished such a feat and there’s authority vested in his words because of that. There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which the Resurrected Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine! That includes human sexuality. If He made it and is sovereign over it, we must let him define the good and bad uses of our sexuality.
“How dare you call who I am wrong.” There’s the problem. The Christian message to you is that you’re infinitely more than your sexuality. You’re short-changing all that you are and all that you could be by defining yourself by that label. Furthermore, sin is neither a homosexual thing nor a heterosexual thing. It is a human thing. We all have fallen in many areas. Paul in Romans 1 builds this elaborate case that God has given all men knowledge of himself within them and within nature. But we have not cherished that knowledge as the highest of goods. We have spurned it by turning inwards and outwards instead of reflecting it upwards. Man is guilty of rejecting God’s revelation of Himself through the created realm and sinking into the miry depths of self-love and worship of creatures. We glory what we value most and it isn’t God. We glorify self instead of the Savior. The creature’s original impulse towards self-glorification ends in self-destruction. The refusal to acknowledge God as Creator ends in blind distortion of the creation. One Christian writer aptly writes, “The human problem isn’t just ignorance; it’s also stubborn pride. It’s not just oppression; it’s also corruption. That’s why newly liberated victims of oppression often end up oppressing others. The human problem isn’t just that we timidly conform to prevailing modes of life; it’s also that nothing human can jolt us out of our slump. Even a move to a pristine backwoods in British Columbia won’t save us because we carry our trouble with us. The real human predicament, as Scripture reveals, is that inexplicably, irrationally, we all keep living our lives against what’s good for us.” Sin is not just a homosexual problem. It’s very much a “me” problem. All have fallen short of God’s glory and all have turned toward themselves instead of to Him. Brother or sister, you’re wrong and so am I. Do not be offended that the Resurrected One desires to fix every broken part of you and me. That’s love.
This is not the way it’s supposed to be. We were meant for communion, joy, happiness, love and a life of all things good but that’s not what we have. That’s not what we daily pursue in feeling, word, and deed. I do not deny that you may have had these fallen, homosexual desires for all long as you can remember. You may have had the inner proclivity to the same sex your whole life. That’s not offensive to me in the slightest because, for as long as I can remember, I have been fallen too. I do not struggle with that specific sin but sin has been with me since the very beginning. The Christian message does not require you deny your desires exist or your daily experience; it says what you desire is not always right. It says your desires are fallen and have turned inward on themselves. It says let someone do what you cannot do for yourself, implant new desires that honor God.
You’re likely thinking “if I have to not be myself to receive this joy, I don’t want it!” Friend, that’s not what I am asking you to become. I am not calling you away from yourself; I am calling you away to your true self, who you were meant to be all along. Sin has marred us in the most vindictive of ways. It tricks us with the most abrasive falsities. The battle against sin is one of belief. The battle is to recognize who God is and trust that what he says is actually right and true. Sin is always bound up with lies, empty promises, and dissatisfaction. It begins with a lie, a rationalization that the One who sits on the throne is unworthy and cannot ultimately offer true joy. It continues by teaching the one who is lied to that his unnatural desires are in fact natural and no one else has the right to say otherwise. It ends with the deceived one ultimately dying in the midst of lies without true, eternal joy. You die gorging yourself with mudpies in the slum when Someone else is holding out a four-course meal with steak by the sea. God is not calling people away from who they truly are. Your desires are fallen and not the sum total of who you were meant to be! He is calling people to be who they should be-truly image-bearing humans reflecting God’s virtues and existence. God’s ultimate goal for us is that we be truly conformed to the likeness of His Son in our person. He is on a mission to make us new by returning us to our former glory. He is creating a new humanity made after the image of Christ. This is what we should do and be.
But you cannot do this by yourself. The Christian message has never been and will never be “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s bullshit in the highest of degrees. The Christian message is God helps those who cannot help themselves and those who turn away from themselves to Someone who is able. In the fullness of time, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. God came himself in the face of Jesus Christ to do what we could not do, to keep a law we could not keep, to die a death we deserved to die, to be raised to life for justification and world in dire need of help, and much more. The Christian message is another has done what you could not do. Friend, I am not asking you to be a heterosexual so you may get to heaven. The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality. It’s purity! John Piper writes, “Homosexual sinning, like all other sinning, is an echo of exchanging the glory of God for other things. So restore the sun of God’s glory to its place at the center of your soul and all the planets of your desires will begin to return to their God-given orbit.” I am asking you to reconsider not only your lifestyle but your other desires and actions bent towards self instead of Christ. I am asking you to consider that someone else is in a better position to define what we should be. Someone who is the sum total of all that is precious and good desires for you and I to be reflective of what is most excellent—Himself.
This is not and will not be easy. I cannot and will not lie to you and tell you this process of conformity to God’s image and will is painless or without its struggles. God is after a new humanity and there are others who are against such a reality. As one writer said, “This other war is the war not to conquer but the war to become whole and at peace inside our skins. It is a war not of conquest now but of liberation because the object of this other war is to liberate that dimension of selfhood which has somehow become lost, that dimension of selfhood that involves the capacity to forgive and to will the good not only of the self but of all other selves. This other war is the war to become a human being. This is the goal that we are really after and that God is really after. This is the goal that power, success, and security are often forlorn substitutes for. This is the victory that not all our human armory of self-confidence and wisdom and personality can win for us, not simply to be treated as human but to become at last truly human.” This journey, if you so decide to travel on, will be one full of groaning. You’ll groan and all creation will groan with you. Paul says that “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (Rom. 8:22-23)” We will groan because the process hurts but its necessary. But let me remind you that the one who begins this process is not a cosmic killjoy. He holds out eternal pleasures that are in his hands for those who would willingly go with him (Psa. 16:11; 73:25-26). Becoming human, truly human, is difficult but it is oh so joyful. I would not turn back the sands of time in my own life for a moment despite the difficulties of the process. Jesus has seemed to pour every part of me out time and time again only to mold it and fill it with a deeper capacity for new experiences of joy. That’s tough but it’s so good. Jesus said, “…everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property [or even “honored” views of sexuality], for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” What we give up is not even worth comparing to what will get in return now and will receive in the future.
I am sorry if I have failed to communicate well what God is after. I am also sorry if my brothers and sisters in the Church have treated you as if you do not have worth or dignity. We love you because God loves you. We want what He wants and it is to turn away from yourself to Him. Jesus said once that “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” But you must remember that the same person who said take up your cross also said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” He loves you abundantly and truly desires to see you satisfied and whole. He desires to see us rest from the heavy burdens of your and my fallen desires. I hope this letter finds you well and causes you to think deeply on such things.